Hebrews and Second Temple Jewish Traditions on the Origins of Angels

Angels are mentioned at important points in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The author spends much time arguing for Jesus' superiority to the angels in 1:5-14, reflects the Jewish tradition that angels delivered the Sinai covenant in 2:1-4, and may have traditions of enmity between angels and humans in mind when quoting and building on Ps 8 in 2:5-18. Other explicit references to angels reflect descriptions of theophanies (12:22) and patriarchal hospitality (13:2). Also, his description of Melchizedek in 7:3 and subsequent elaboration in the chapter seems to demand that the author understands him as an angelic figure since both he and Jesus lack a Levitical genealogy and endure forever. An objection to this interpretation states that the language of 7:3 cannot imply that Melchizedek is understood as angelic because angels are created beings, thus not lacking origins as the verse implies. This paper considers traditions about the origins of angels in Second Temple Jewish thought and the significance of such ideas for interpreting Hebrews.