on Genesis 32 :1
The angels of God met him - Our word angel comes from the Greek αγγελος aggelos, which literally signifies a messenger; or, as translated in some of our old Bibles, a tidings-bringer. The Hebrew word מלאך malach, from לאך laach, to send, minister to, employ, is nearly of the same import; and hence we may see the propriety of St. Augustine's remark: Nomen non naturae sed officii, "It is a name, not of nature, but of office;" and hence it is applied indifferently to a human agent or messenger, 2 Samuel 2:5; to a prophet, Haggai 1:13; to a priest, Malachi 2:7; to celestial spirits, Psalm 103:19, Psalm 103:20, Psalm 103:22; Psalm 104:4. "We often," says Mr. Parkhurst, "read of the מלאך יהוה malach Yehovah, or מלאכי אלהים malakey Elohim, the angel of Jehovah, or the angels of God, that is, his agent, personator, mean of visibility or action, what was employed by God to render himself visible and approachable by flesh and blood." This angel was evidently a human form, surrounded or accompanied by light or glory, with or in which Jehovah was present; see Genesis 19:1, Genesis 19:12, Genesis 19:16; Judges 13:6, Judges 13:21; Exodus 3:2, Exodus 3:6. "By this vision," says Mr. Ainsworth, "God confirmed Jacob's faith in him who commanded his angels to keep his people in all their ways, Psalm 91:11. Angels are here called God's host, camp, or army, as in wars; for angels are God's soldiers, Luke 2:13; horses and chariots of fire, 2 Kings 2:11; fighting for God's people against their enemies, Daniel 10:20; of them there are thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, Daniel 7:10; and they are all sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14; and they pitch a camp about them that fear God, Psalm 34:7." One of the oldest of the Greek poets had a tolerably correct notion of the angelic ministry: -
Αυταρ επειπεν τουτο γενος κατα γαια καλυψεν
Τοι μεν Δαιμονες εισι, Διος μεγαλου δια βουλας,
Εσθλοι, επιχθονιοι, φυλακες θνητων ανθρωπων· κ. τ. λ.
Hesiod. Op. & Dies, l. i., ver. 120.
When in the grave this race of men was laid, Soon was a world of holy demons made, Aerial spirits, by great Jove design'd To be on earth the guardians of mankind. Invisible to mortal eyes they go, And mark our actions good or bad below; The immortal spies with watchful care preside, And thrice ten thousand round their charges glide: They can reward with glory or with gold, A power they by Divine permission hold - Cooke.
on Genesis 32 :1
Jacob has a vision of the heavenly host. This passage, recording Laban's farewell and departure, closes the connection of Jacob with Haran and all its toils of servitude, and is hence, annexed to the previous chapter in the English version. In the distribution of the original text, it is regarded as the counterpart of the two following verses, in which Jacob's onward progress is mentioned, and so placed with them at the beginning of a new chapter. "The angels of God met him." Twenty years ago Jacob saw the mystical ladder connecting heaven and earth, and the angels of God thereupon ascending and descending from the one to the other. Now, in circumstances of danger, he sees the angels of God on earth, encamped beside or around his own camp Psalm 34:8. He recognizes them as God's camp, and names the place Mahanaim, from the double encampment. This vision is not dwelt upon, as it is the mere sequel of the former scene at Bethel. Mahanaim has been identified with Mahneh, about eight miles from the cairn of Laban and Jacob.
on Genesis 32 :1
32:1 And the Angel of God met him - In a visible appearance; whether in a vision by day, or in a dream by night, as when he saw them upon the ladder, is uncertain. They met him to bid him welcome to Canaan again; a more honourable reception than ever any prince had that was met by the magistrates of a city. They met him to congratulate his arrival, and his escape from Laban. They had invisibly attended him all along, but now they appeared, because he had greater dangers before him. When God designs his people for extraordinary trials, he prepares them by extraordinary comforts.