Destroying angel (Bible)

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The destroying angel passes through Egypt
The destroying angel passes through Egypt.[1]

In the Hebrew Bible, the destroying angel (Hebrew: מַלְאָך הַמַשְׁחִית, malʾāḵ hamašḥīṯ), also known as mashḥit (מַשְׁחִית mašḥīṯ, 'destroyer'; plural: מַשְׁחִיתִים, mašḥīṯīm, 'spoilers, ravagers'), is an entity sent out by YHWH on several occasions to kill the enemies of the Hebrews.

These angels (mal'akh) are also variously referred to as memitim (מְמִיתִים, 'executioners, slayers')[citation needed], or Angel of the Lord. The latter is found in Job 33:22, as well as in Proverbs 16:14 in the plural, "messengers of death". Mashchith was also used as an alternate name for one of the seven compartments of Gehenna.[2][3]

In 2 Samuel 24:15-16, the destroying angel kills the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In I Chronicles 21:15, the same "Angel of the Lord" is seen by David to stand "between the earth and the heaven, with a drawn sword in his hand stretched out against Hebrews's enemies". Later, in II Kings 19:35, the angel kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers.

In the Book of Enoch, angels of punishment and destruction belong to a group of angels called satans with Satan as their leader. First they tempt, then accuse and finally punish and torment, both wicked humans and fallen angels.[4]

In Judaism, such angels might be seen as created by one's sins. As long as a person lives, God allows him to repent. However, after death, the angels of destruction are allowed to execute the sentence proclaimed in the heavenly court.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Foster, Charles. c. 1879. The Story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation Told in Simple Language for the Young. PA: Fifty Second Thousand.
  2. ^ Boustan, Ra'anan S.; Reed, Annette Yoshiko, eds. (2004). Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521121774.
  3. ^ Raphael, Simcha Paull. 2019. Jewish Views of the Afterlife. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-538-10346-3 p. 150
  4. ^ Caldwell, William (1913). "The Doctrine of Satan: II. Satan in Extra-Biblical Apocalyptical Literature". The Biblical World. 41 (2): 98–102. doi:10.1086/474708. JSTOR 3142425. S2CID 144698491.
  5. ^ Israel Meir Ha-Kohen. 2005. Above All Else: The Chofetz Chaim on Torah Study: Collected from His Writings, Volume 1. Feldheim Publishers. ISBN 9781583308004. p. 112

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