Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Angel of the Divine Presence

In 1802 Blake painted this beautiful picture in watercolor; it may have been one among
the series that he did for Thomas Butts.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Angel of the Divine Presence

It refers of course to the second chapter of Genesis, especially to verses 20-24:

[20]And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was was not found an help meet for him.
[21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
[22] And of the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
[23] And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
[24] Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 3
[21] Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

In Exodus 14:19
And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them;
and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

Isaiah 63 King James Version (KJV):

1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
5 And I looklored, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me.
6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.
7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.
8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour.
9 In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them:

The 'Presence of God' and similar expressions appear often in Psalms:

The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;
Psalm 113:7

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

Look now at some passages in Blake's poetry:

Milton, Plate 32
"And Milton oft sat up on the Couch of Death & oft conversed 
In vision & dream beatific with the Seven Angels of the Presence 
I have turned my back upon these Heavens builded on cruelty 
My Spectre still wandering thro' them follows my Emanation 
He hunts her footsteps thro' the snow & the wintry hail & rain 
The idiot Reasoner laughs at the Man of Imagination 
And from laughter proceeds to murder by undervaluing calumny 
Then Hillel who is Lucifer replied over the Couch of Death 
And thus the Seven Angels instructed him & thus they converse. 
We are not Individuals but States: Combinations of Individuals 
We were Angels of the Divine Presence: & were Druids in Annandale 
Compelld to combine into Form by Satan, the Spectre of Albion, 
Who made himself a God &, destroyed the Human Form Divine. 
But the Divine Humanity & Mercy gave us a Human Form as multitudes 
Because we were combind in Freedom & holy Brotherhood"

A Vision of the Last Judgment, (Erdman 559)
"The Aged Figure with Wings having a writing tablet taking
account of the numbers who arise is That Angel of the Divine
Presence mentiond in Exodus XIVc 19v; in other Places this Angel
is frequently calld by the Name of Jehovah Elohim The I am of the
Oaks of Albion"

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