Esau had potential to improve. Did his angel have 2 natures?

The angel that wrestled with Jacob through the night, but could not prevail, told him (Genesis 32:27), “Let me go, for dawn has broken.” What is the meaning of this?
Rashi explains there that the angel requested to be released because he was required to “recite song by day,” as described in Isaiah 6:2-3, “Seraphim [angels] were standing above, at His service… And one would call to another and say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is G-d, Master of Legions; the whole world is filled with His glory.’ ” G-d’s angels must assemble for their praises in groups of “watches” throughout the periods of the day, which is why the angel of Esau demanded to be released from the grip of Jacob before the break of dawn, so it could return to its place in Heaven to recite its praises to G-d in the morning watch. That is the “spiritual side” of the angel of Esau.

On the other hand, the “materialistic” side of Esau’s angel is reflected its efforts to fulfill its specific mission to bring physical bounty and success to Esau. Esau was the father of the nation of Edom, which later became spiritually identified with the Roman Empire after its conquest of Judea.

It is well known that G-d gives each angel a name in Hebrew which reflects the mission that G-d gives to the angel. However, in several places in the Hebrew Bible, an angel appears to an individual to deliver a message from G-d, but the angel refuses to reveal its name, saying that its name is “hidden”. For example, the angel that wrestled with Jacob told him (Genesis 32:30), “Why is it that you ask my name?” Rashi explains there that the angel was communicating to Jacob that “We [angels] have no fixed name. Our names change according to the command of the task of the mission upon which we are sent.” Another example is in Judges 13:17-18, which relates that “Manoah [the future father of Samson] said to the angel of G-d [without knowing that it was an angel], ‘What is your name, so that when your word comes about, we may honor you?’ The angel of G-d said to him, ‘Why is it that you ask for my name? It is hidden!’ “

The explanation is that G-d gives each angel a general mission in the heavenly realms, and He can also send an angel on specific missions in the physical world. Furthermore, an angel is never sent on two or more specific missions at the same time. If two missions need to be done at the same time, G-d sends a different angel for each specific mission. Since the life force of an angel comes to it through its Hebrew name, when it has to go on a specific mission it receives a special temporary and hidden name which is reflective of that mission. In other words, an angel can be given many different specific consecutive missions. But it is only given one mission at a time.

For example, in Genesis 18:2, G-d sent not just one, but three angels to visit Abraham, and each one had a different mission: the archangel Raphael to heal Abraham after his circumcision, the archangel Michael to announce to Abraham and Sarah that she would conceive and give birth to Isaac, and the archangel Gabriel who was on his way destroy the metropolis of Sodom. (See Rashi there; in that particular case, the names of the archangels were not changed, because their main names were already reflective of the missions that they were being sent to accomplish).

The general mission of the angels is to stand in their places among the infinite troops of angels in the infinite levels of the Heavens, and sing praises to G-d at their appointed times during the day. As mentioned above, each day the angels assemble and proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the L-rd of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” In love they rush toward a level of G-dliness which is spiritually beyond them, and then they immediately retreat in fear of that awesome G-dliness which is too great for them to behold. And upon retreating, they are overcome with a longing to return toward that G-dliness, which they again rush toward in love. This advance and retreat of the angels in their heavenly service to G-d is described in Ezekiel 1:14 – “The Chayos [angels with four faces] would run and return like the appearance of a flash.”

The back and forth rushing of the angels generates a periodic rhythm of spiritual energy on each heavenly level. The level of spiritual energy that is generated by the angels that are serving in a higher heavenly level gets projected down to become the spiritual life-force for the next lower heavenly level and all the angels within that lower level. That is why the angels of an upper spiritual level are the souls of the angels of the next lower level. This is referred to in Ezekiel 1:21, which states, “for the will of the [higher-level] Chaya-angel was in the [lower-level] Ofanim-angels.”

This oscillating spiritual energy gets projected down to lower and lower levels (analogous to alternating electrical current that is reduced by a series of step-down transformers), until it finally reaches the physical realm. That is why all the manifestations of physical nature are in the form of orbits, cycles and waves – from the astronomical level to the quantum mechanical level –  because the life-force for our universe is generated from the angels by their constantly oscillating spiritual movement.

For more information about the angel of Esau as the “prince” (sar in Hebrew) angel assigned over the Roman Empire, please see this page on our site: