Various sources treat Noah and Abraham in the same manner, ascribing their wisdom to their intimate knowledge of the world of angels. In addition, various religious concepts accepted by the Jewish people under the influence of pagan magic and demonology — insofar as they were not in direct contradiction to monotheism — were eventually incorporated into the doctrine of angels.
The doctrine of angels was not evenly spread among the various parts of the Jewish people. The apocalyptic wisdom teachers imparted the knowledge that they had secretly acquired through their contact with angels, only to a narrow circle of the specially initiated. Consequently, the doctrine of angels found its widest distribution among the secret societies of the Essenes.
The latter Jos. The Qumran scrolls testify to an organized system of angelology, in which the "Prince of Light" and other heavenly princes were expected to fight alongside the Sons of Light on the "last day," and they thought them present at meetings of the Qumran sect. A certain dualism is seen in the struggle for power between the forces of evil Belial and those of goodness over the sons of man 1 QM The Pharisees, on the other hand, showed little interest in these problems.
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The Sadducees, who were opposed to any kind of mysticism, are described by the Acts of the Apostles as denying the very existence of angels; this however, was undoubtedly a false assumption, derived from the Sadducees' rejection of apocalyptic teachings. Among Jewish magicians and sorcerers, the concept of angels was particularly confused, influenced as they were by the pagan literature on the subject, where the angels usually appear in the company of pagan gods, to combat disease.
In some literary sources biblical figures, such as Solomon, are mentioned as having been in possession of secret formulas or means whereby they were able to induce angels to come to man's aid. The Greek "Testament of Solomon " cites a number of angels with whose activities Solomon became acquainted only with the help of demons.
A similar manipulation of angels through the use of magic is found in the Sefer ha-Razim. Angels appearing in post-biblical literature may be divided into several classes. The angel appearing in one of the visions of Zechariah is not mentioned by name, but his active advocacy of the cause of Israel indicates that he was not a "messenger" in the strict sense of the term. In the Book of Daniel ; the angel Gabriel appears as an interpreter of Daniel's vision. In later apocalyptic writings various angels appear as interpreters of symbolic visions, such as Uriel I En. James, passim.
A group of seven angels is frequently described as heading the world of angels; also designated as "archangels," they have "entry to the presence of the glory of the Lord" Tob. They are Uriel, whose function is to lead the angelic host and guard the underworld Sheol ; Raphael, who is in charge of the spirits of humans; Raguel, who takes revenge upon the world of lights; Michael, who watches over Israel; Sariel, whose duties are not defined; Gabriel, who rules Paradise; Jeremiel IV Ezra , who according to a later apocalyptic composition Apocalypse of Elijah ; Ger.
These seven angels are always in the proximity of God and are the ones that are always called upon to carry out tasks of special significance for world history, such as the punishment of the fallen angels, or of the 70 angels who act as princes of the peoples of the earth I En. Their names, however, were omitted. The War Scroll describes two angels of prime importance: "The Prince of Light" and "The Angel of Darkness," with whom were associated "the sons of righteousness" and "the sons of darkness" respectively 1 QM — These angels were in perpetual conflict and thought to fight on the sides of the two armies at the "last battle," when the Angel of Darkness and his army would be destroyed.
This is likewise expressed in the Manual of Discipline 1 QS —22 , "In the hand of the Prince of Light is the dominion of all the sons of righteousness… and in the hand of the Angel of Darkness is the dominion of the sons of evil. The Angel of Darkness seems to have been Belial: "But for corruption you have made Belial, an angel of hatred and his dominion is in darkness" 1 QM Related to the group of seven is a group of four angels, most of whose names appear also among the seven; designated as "the angels of the Presence" Malakhei ha-Panim they are in Enoch: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Phanuel sometimes Raphael and Gabriel are interchanged.
They have an important role in the punishment of the fallen angels I En. Their place is on each of the four sides of God's throne ff. Contrary to all other angels, they move freely in and out of the Palace of God — the "Heaven of Heavens" — to serve "the Ancient of Days" i. The names of a similar group of angels Michael, Gabriel, Suriel, and Raphael were to be inscribed on the battle-towers at the "last battle" 1 QM Another special group of angels are the 70 "princes of the peoples," appointed over each of the 70 peoples of the earth.
They are first mentioned in the Septuagint to Deuteronomy — without their number being given — from which it may be gathered that at this time the number of all angels was thought not to exceed the number of peoples. Ben Sira Ecclus. The latter source relates that at the time of Peleg cf. Later, Michael, at the behest of God, asked each people to choose its patron angel, and each people chose the angel who had taught it its language, with the exception of Israel, which chose God Himself as its patron. According to a concept found in the Book of I Enoch ff; , 25 , at the time of the destruction of the First Temple, these 70 angels were appointed to rule over Israel whom God had rejected until the Day of Judgment.
Another category of angels are the "guardians. At times the title of guardian, similar to the title "he who never sleeps," is employed to designate all angels I En. The guardians are also regarded as a superior category of angels, although not equal to the "angels of the Countenance. Due to their special importance, they are also designated as "the holiest of the holy" I En. A reference to the "Irin" has been found in the Genesis Apocryphon in which Lamech expresses concern over the conception of Noah, who, he fears, was a child "of the watchers Irin , the holy ones, or the fallen angels" IQA poc.
Perhaps the divine cherubim described by Ezekiel are also to be regarded as "guardians" in the sense that the term is used in apocalyptic literature. According to the Book of Jubilees, they descended from Heaven at the time of Jared cf. As a result, the guardian angels are sometimes identified with the fallen angels see I En. Apart from these angels, who were thought to resemble man, the stars were also assumed to be living entities and regarded as angels Isa. However, the more widely accepted version was that certain angels rule the stars Jub.
Connected with this was the concept of the spirits of elements a concept which came into being under pagan influence , e. This category also includes the angels of the seasons of the year, all of which — with hardly any exception — bear Semitic names I En. A foreign influence may also be discerned in the concept of angels functioning as the originators and inventors of human civilization. Thus in "The Life of Adam and Eve," Michael appears as Triptolemus in the mythology, the hero who taught man grain cultivation teaching Adam how to work the soil.
In addition to the angelic hosts mentioned in the Bible and Apocrypha under generic names, such as cherubim, seraphim and ofannim , there are also angels of power, and angels of dominion; angels who serve as patrons of individual human beings already alluded to in Ps.
Offering praise to God is regarded as the major function of angels I. Their functions as intermediaries between God and man were, however, also of special importance. As early as the Book of Tobit ; , 15 Raphael is depicted as one of the seven angels charged with bringing the prayers of man before God's throne compare Test.
At times, an angel is ordered by God to accompany a man on his travels in order to ward off dangers that may beset him, or, as in the Greek Apocalypse of Baruch, to guide Baruch through the seven heavens and explain the sights. More frequent is the angels' role as intercessors, pleading for man before God I En. Angels also appear in opposition to evil angels who wish to act as prosecutors before the throne of God.
It is significant, that in spite of Exodus "God would speak to Moses face to face" , the prevailing opinion of later traditions is that at the giving of the Law the angels acted as intermediaries between God and Moses Jos. Specific mention of the presence of angels at the right hand of God, during the Revelation on Sinai, is made in the Septuagint, Deuteronomy Although no traces of a cult of angels were retained in normative Judaism, in the Sefer ha-Razim angels seem to be used for purposes of magic.
Formulas for influencing the angels, stars, and the moon by means of incantations over flasks of wine and blood, by burning incense, sacrifices, and other methods all appear in Sefer ha-Razim. Likewise the names of the angels, when coupled with those of Greek gods and magic phrases, were efficacious for incantations Sefer ha-Razim , ed.
Margaliot, —6; ; introduction, 8—9. Testament of Levi 5 makes mention of an appeal to an angel; the passage, however, does not imply that an angel can be venerated as an independent being, for the context makes it clear that the angel acts only as an intermediary between God and Israel. The imperfect nature of angels is frequently stressed. Although they are regarded as immortal I En. Nor are they omniscient; sometimes they are incapable of answering questions put to them and have to confess their ignorance IV Ezra It follows from this that communication between God and man by means of angels is regarded only as a temporary situation.
Before the First Temple was built, communication between God and Israel was by means of an angel, but afterward God and Israel communicated directly, without an intermediary Job. This concept of the nature of angels permitted the view that no unbridgeable gulf existed between the material world and the world of angels, and some righteous men could be transformed into angels I En.
Similarly, in the fragments of the pseudepigraphal "Prayer of Joseph," Israel, known to mankind as Jacob, declared that in reality he was "the archangel of the power of the Lord" and no mere mortal Origen, Commentary to John, 11, 84, Even the people of Israel as a whole, by virtue of its covenant with God, was in some ways regarded as being equal to angels; in consequence, while other peoples are in the custody of angels, Israel is under the protection of God Himself and is independent of angels Jub.
This idea may be similar to the concept found in Coptic texts and the Prayer of Joseph of an angel "Israel" who serves God in heaven. A special category are the so-called Fallen Angels, frequently mentioned in post-biblical literature. This concept is also common to all Semitic peoples; the idea of vanquished gods or demons, who then appear as accursed and damned, is one that prevailed among all the peoples of antiquity.
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It is found in a special form in earlier versions of the story of the creation, in which Rahab appears in the role of the vanquished god. Although for a variety of reasons little trace has remained of the ideas upon which the Rahab legends are based, the dualistic concepts of paganism have nevertheless exerted a profound influence upon Judaism, and the concept of the existence of good and evil powers, contradicting as they did the idea of monotheism, found their way into Judaism through the story of the Fallen Angels. It must be pointed out, however, that the passage Genesis ff.
Not only is the interpretation of "Nephilim" as Fallen Angels of a doubtful nature see Num. The earliest report of Fallen Angels is found in the Book of Enoch 6 ff. Hermon to carry out their plans from there. They consorted with the daughters of men, who gave birth to a generation of giants who set about mercilessly destroying human beings. The Fallen Angels also taught man the use of weapons and other tools promoting immorality and crime. In this manner a demonic wisdom came into being, in addition to Divine wisdom, and this led to the corruption of mankind.
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Moved by man's outcry, the four archangels appealed to God and were given the order to punish the Fallen Angels. Each of the Fallen Angels taught mankind a particular evil or perversion, thus destroying mankind's innocence ff. The story of Fallen Angels, in the same spirit, appears in the Book of Jubilees ; ff. A hint at this latter idea is preserved in the additional chapter at the end of the Book of Enoch , called the Fragment of the Book of Noah.
Here the angels are feared for having taken to themselves the daughters of man. Apart from the punishment meted out to them before the Deluge, final sentence on them would be passed on the day of the Last Judgment I En. Talmudic sources contain a different version of the legend of the Fallen Angels.
According to Midrash Avkir see Smaller Midrashim , the leaders of the Fallen Angels, named Shemhazai and Asael as in the Book of Enoch , heaped scorn upon the sinfulness of the generation of man after the Deluge. God submitted that if they were on earth, they would also commit sins, and in response to this challenge they offered to descend to earth. They did so and were at once seduced by the beauty of the daughters of men; they revealed the secret Name of God to a girl named Istehar, who by virtue of this knowledge was able to escape from the hands of Shemhazai and ascend to heaven.
This experience did not have any effect upon Shemhazai and his associates. They took wives unto themselves who gave birth to two sons, Hiva and Hiya, whose names the syllables Hiva and Hi-ya henceforth became the cries of pain uttered by suffering men. Thus, this version is closer to the story told in the Book of Jubilees, for in it the Fallen Angels commit their sin only after their descent to earth. Other versions in talmudic literature contain even more far-reaching variations from the story as told in the Book of Enoch: in these versions, it was only after the angels had assumed the nature of man that they committed sin Pd RE 22, et al.
Some talmudic circles attacked the interpretation of Genesis in the sense that it is found in the Book of Jubilees. On one occasion, R. Simeon b. Similarly, Midrash ha-Ne'lam on this passage interprets the term "Nephilim" as referring, not to the Fallen Angels, but to Adam and Eve who had come into being on earth without having had a father and a mother.
Gaster, in: Devir , no. This opinion was also shared by other Jewish scholars in the Middle Ages. Related to the concept of Fallen Angels is another concept found in apocryphal literature, that of the 70 angels whom God had charged with the power over Israel after the destruction of the First Temple and who abused this power by persecuting Israel I En. By these deeds the angels violated God's will and came to be regarded as rebellious angels to whom punishment would be meted out. It was under the influence of this concept that Satan — who in the Bible appears either as a punishing angel of God or as an angel testing the sincerity of the Righteous — came to be regarded as an independent evil demon.
According to an apocryphal source, his fall followed immediately upon the creation of Adam: the angels were ordered to bow before Adam, but Satan refused and was deposed Adam and Eve, 12 ff. Other concepts of Satan appear to have come about under the influence of Parsiism see Satan.
Satan was also known by two other titles, Belial and Samael. The former was frequently identified as the spirit of evil, and in the Dead Sea Scrolls he stood at the head of the forces of darkness. The latter appears as a prime foe of Michael. In the talmudic age, belief in angels was general, among both scholars and laymen.
There were, however, differences of opinion among the sages as to the nature of angels. Some maintained that a new group of angels was created every day, who praised God on that day and then sank in the river of fire nehar di-nur. The distinction between eternal angels and those created for a specific purpose only seems to have been widely accepted among talmudic sages engaged with problems of religious philosophy; Ben Azzai mentions the two categories of angels as though their existence was a generally acknowledged fact Sifra The Mishnah makes no mention at all of angels and this may be due to the tendency to minimize their significance.
Other tannaitic sources, while containing references to angels, rarely mention those angels who bear proper names. It is also significant that even eternal angels are said to be incapable of viewing the glory of God. The Talmud and Midrash contain a variety of opinions on the origin and nature of angels.
The angels were created on the second or the fifth day of creation R. Johanan and R.
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Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot , 1 2 , 25; cf. Creation of angels is continuous since every pronouncement by God results in the creation of angels. Thus angels have something in common with both men and demons. Mandelbaum, 6; Song R. Adam and Eve 13— According to one concept the size of an angel is equal to a third of the world R. Berechiah, PR ; Gen. Angels are divided into angels of peace and evil angels; the former dwell near God, while the latter are remote from Him R.
Johanan, Tanh. There are also angels of life and angels of death R. Samuel b. Isaac, Gen. The number of angels is countless; they are classified into groups of higher and lower angels. Like apocryphal literature, the aggadah regards Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel as the archangels and refers to them as the ministering angels malakhei ha-sharet ; the angels Sandalfon, Zagzagael, and Suriel appear only rarely.
The angel Metatron assumes great importance in the Midrash. There are angels who control such matters as prayers, hail, rain, anger, Gehinnom, birth and pregnancy, and other matters. The names of angels, according to talmudic sources, became known to Israel only after the return from the Babylonian exile. The aggadah elaborates upon the concept already developed in the apocryphal literature of the guardian angels of the nations of the earth and of individual kings.
The former are regarded as hostile to Israel and have to be put in chains to prevent their doing harm to Israel Ex. When their nations fall, the guardian angels fall with them, and when they are punished the angels also suffer punishment Mekh. SbY to ; Deut. A similar concept of guardian angels is, incidentally, also found with Christian Neoplatonists see A.
Daehne, Geschichtliche Darstellung der juedisch-alexandrinischen Religions-Philosophie… 2 , 62 ff. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria , 2. Dubiel, the guardian angel of the Persians, was known by name to the rabbis Yoma 77a ; the guardian angel of Edom is also mentioned Mak.
Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash , part 3 , 70 ; in some instances, the guardian angel of a people pleads on its behalf in order to avert Divine punishment. At the time of the Exodus from Egypt, the guardian angels of all the nations were summoned by God to discuss His quarrel with Egypt. Angels surround us all the time — figuratively if not literally — especially during the holidays. They appear in paintings, etchings, figurines, T-shirts, posters and just about everything else. Angels appear in several religions; for example, in Islam, angels are said to be made of light, while Christian angels were willed into being by God.
Early versions of angels had no gender, though later Christian angels were tall, slender males with soft features, often dressed in flowing robes specially tailored around their large white wings. Angels are said to be either immortal or greatly long-lived. Though originally they were specifically religious figures, angels have become more secular over the years, and today they are widely associated with the New Age movement populated by pagans, atheists and those who consider themselves "spiritual. Popular television shows such as "Highway to Heaven" and "Touched by an Angel" helped cement the prominence of angels in American popular culture.
Angels occasionally feature in reports of near-death experiences, though mostly in those who have a pre-existing belief in them. Among UFO believers, some claim that alien abductors are actually angels instead of extraterrestrials. Erich von Daniken, for example, author of several popular if scientifically dubious books in the s, claimed that Biblical stories of Abraham and Joseph describe them meeting aliens, not angels. The word "angel" comes from the Greek word "anglos," which means "messenger" in Hebrew. Angels can take many forms, usually appearing as human or a glowing light or aura.
Often — especially in cases of averted tragedy or disaster — angels will not be seen at all, but instead their presence recognized by their actions. If something good, unexpected, and seemingly inexplicable happens, it's often assumed to be the result of divine or angelic intervention. The angels most people are familiar with today are the Christian angels, which originated from the Hebrew Testaments. The Catholic Church devoted considerable effort to describing and developing an extensive hierarchy of angels.
There were many different types of angels, archangels, seraphim, and so on, with an official census of nearly half a million. Here's how to recognize signs of Michael's possible presence with you. God often sends Michael to help people who are facing urgent needs during a crisis, believers say.
No matter what sort of situation you find yourself in, Michael will give you the necessary courage and strength to deal with it. In her book, The Miracles of Archangel Michael , Doreen Virtue writes that people may see Michael's aura nearby or hear his voice audibly speaking to them during a crisis: "Archangel Michael's aura color is a royal purple that's so bright, it looks like cobalt blue Many people report seeing Michael's blue lights in a crisis During crises, people hear Michael's voice as loudly and clearly as if another person were talking.
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But no matter how Michael chooses to manifest, he usually announces his presence clearly, writes Virtue, "More than seeing the actual angel, most people see evidence of Michael's presence. He's a very clear communicator, and you're likely to hear his guidance in your mind or sense it as a gut feeling. Michael may visit you when you need encouragement to make faithful decisions, to reassure you that God and the angels are really watching over you, say believers.
He writes that when Michael is close to you, "you may get a clear picture of Michael in your mind" or "you might experience a sense of comfort or warmth.