Destroying angel (Bible)

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The Angel of Death, sculpture of a funeral gondola, Venice. Photo by Paolo Monti, 1951.

The destroying angel or angel of death in the Hebrew Bible is an entity sent out by Yahweh on several occasions to kill enemies of the Israelites. In 2 Samuel 24:15, it 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 Jerusalem." Later, in II Kings 19:35, the angel kills 185,000 men of Sennacherib's Assyrian army, thereby saving Hezekiah's Jerusalem.

The angel (malak) is referred to under various terms, including Mashḥit, meaning "destroyer" (pron. mash-heet(h) or -kheet(h)) (Mashchit(h), מַשְׁחִית and Ha-Mashchit(h)/Ha-Mashḥit, הַמַשְׁחִית), "destroying angel" (מַלְאָך הַמַשְׁחִית, malak ha-mashḥit or in the plural מַשְׁחִיתִים, mashchitim/mashchithim/mashḥitim—"spoilers, ravagers"), Angel of the Lord, (מְמִיתִים, memitim—"executioners", "slayers") is found in Job 33:22 and 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.[1]

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  1. ^ 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.

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