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Who are the 7 Archangels?
An archangel is a powerful angel. Although the term “archangel” is primarily connected with Abrahamic faiths, entities that are extremely like archangels may be found in a variety of religious traditions. There are only four archangels mentioned or can be found in the bible. The others, on the other hand, are listed as works surrounding and connected to these religious texts and concepts, thus we don’t know much because the descriptions are brief. The Seven Archangels and their representations are as follows:
- Archangel Michael — The Protector and Defender
- Archangel Gabriel — The Messenger of God
- Archangel Raphael — The Healer of Physical Illness
- Archangel Uriel — The Pillar of Devine Strength
- Archangel Jophiel — The Giver of Joy
- Archangel Camael — The Peacekeeper
- Archangel Zadkiel — The Guide of Life Paths
Having already covered the Seven Demon Princes of Hell, it seems only fitting to also cover the Seven Archangels of Heaven. Archangels are something mentioned very sparingly in religious texts, and most will only describe a few.
In Catholic belief, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are the only Archangels to be named. The Archangels that appear in the Orthodox churches do differ. The Eastern Orthodox Church does mention Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, but expands upon this list, giving us seven Archangels and sometimes even eight.
Like the Demon Princes of Hell, there are numerous different classifications, each one with some slight variations in names and even the Angels themselves. Today, I’ll be using the Archangels referenced in the work of the Greek author known as Pseudo-Dionysius.
So, let’s take a look at these Archangels; who they were and what roles they played in heaven?
The Seven Archangels in Heaven
Archangel Michael — The Protector and Defender
Archangel Michael is commonly depicted as a warrior or leader and appears in the New Testament, the Tanakh, and the Quran.
When the Book of Revelation discusses the Great war in heaven, the Dragon is defeated by Michael, who leads the army against the Devil. For God to choose him to lead his army, he must have been stronger or at least a better leader than the other Archangels.
The Christian Church then saw Michael as a guide and the protector of the Christian armies against attacks from the devil and other heathen influence. Hence why, when we see Michael depicted, it’s a winged figure in the Armor with a great sword or a spear trampling on a Dragon or the devil.
The Catholic Church often refers to Michael as Saint Michael, and there are four roles he performs in their teaching.
The first is the role we see most often, he is the leader of God’s Army, the angel who triumphs over the powers of hell, a symbol of the constant struggle from outside forces as well as the conflicts of one’s demons.
His second role involved the afterlife. Michael would carry the souls of the deceased to heaven. Regardless of their actions whilst alive, they are given one last chance to redeem themselves, one last chance to battle the devil and their sin.
With him, Michael carries scales because his third role was to weigh the souls. If the scales remained perfectly balanced, he would carry them to heaven.
His fourth and final role was as the Guardian of the Church. We may go into more detail regarding Michael in the future, as he does appear in numerous cultures and religions, but for the most part, he is portrayed as a spiritual warrior, leader, and defender against evil.
Archangel Gabriel — The Messenger of God
Archangel Gabriel, like Michael, appears in the three Abrahamic religions but is instead considered the Holy Messenger, the Word of God.
He appears to the Prophet Daniel to explain his visions of the Ram and the goat are related to the end of days. He also appears to Zechariah informing him of the birth of John the Baptist. He does this again with the Virgin Mary, this time for telling the birth of Jesus, rather than announcing the birth of children to their unknowing parents, Gabriel’s name only appears a few times in Scripture.
For those who remember when we covered the Book of Enoch and the Watchers, Gabriel was the angel given the task of destroying the children of men born from sin as well as the children of the watchers, the Nephilim. He does this by inciting a great battle between the children of men and the Nephilim.
Enoch also describes Gabriel as one of the four figures he had seen in his vision. When he asks who these figures are, the response he is given is as follows: “The first is Michael, the Merciful and Longsuffering, and the second who is set over all disease and all the wounds of the children of men is Raphael, and the third who is set over all the powers is Gabriel.”
Gabriel’s appearance is an interesting discussion. Sometimes he appears as a man with a spear. Daniel describes his encounter with Gabriel as terrifying, so perhaps it refers to this more intimidating or imposing portrayal of Gabriel.
We then also see Gabriel appear as a figure dressed in white, carrying a scroll similar to how he appeared to the Virgin Mary.
Sometimes Gabriel is portrayed as a man with feminine characteristics, and other times it is almost impossible to distinguish between the two.
Now, all Angels, in general, are gender-neutral, given they can appear as whatever they like, but they are referred to as ‘Him’ often. With Gabriel being a messenger and the midway point between God and humanity, I can somewhat understand being portrayed in a neutral, balanced, or almost hybrid way.
Archangel Raphael — The Healer of Physical Illness
Raphael, whose name derives from the Hebrew meaning to heal, is an Archangel mentioned in the Old Testament, the Book of Enoch and the Quran.
In the Book of Tobit, he appears to Tobias disguised as a human who accompanies him on his journey. The woman Tobias loved was plagued by the demon Asmodeus, and so Raphael gave Tobias a box containing fish entrails, telling him to burn the entrails before they were next visited by the demon.
When Asmodeus came, they did as Raphael instructed and the smell was enough to repel and wither Asmodeus until Raphael could later bind him.
He then told Tobias to take the fish’s eyes, grind them into a paste, and rub them over his blind father’s eyes. When he did, his father’s vision was restored, and thus, Raphael has the Association with healing and physicians.
This also led to the belief that Raphael was the angel who guarded and stirred the waters in the pool of Bethesda—waters known for their magical healing properties.
In Enoch 1, Raphael is the Archangel entrusted to bind Azazel as well as the rest of the fallen watchers, and then throw them in the Valley of fire.
The Quran mentions an unnamed angel who eternally stands with a trumpet pressed against his lips, ready to announce the day of resurrection. This Angel’s name is thought to be Israfil, which is fairly close to Raphael, and thus the connection is drawn between them.
Outside of the three Angels just mentioned, the following four are normally interchanged and up for debate.
Archangel Uriel — The Pillar of Devine Strength
The fourth Archangel common in Christian belief, is Uriel, an angel heavily associated with the sun, light, knowledge, and wisdom. Hence, depictions of him carrying a large book or tome, as well as sometimes holding a flaming sword or simply a palm-full of fire.
When the Prophet Ezra asks God a series of questions, Uriel is the angel sent to answer them. When Herod the Great ordered that all male children in Bethlehem, two years old or younger, would be executed, Uriel carried a young John the Baptist and his mother to safety—a story captured by Leonardo Da Vinci in his painting ‘Virgin of the Rocks’.
In the Book of Enoch, Uriel is the fourth angel to be named and is mentioned in relation to Tartarus. Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael were the Angels who observed the fall of the watchers and made the case for God to intervene and save humanity.
Throughout the Book of Enoch, Uriel appears to Enoch himself and guides him, explaining and helping him interpret what his visions mean.
The rest of the Archangels on today’s list are not mentioned in Scripture. More so works surrounding and relating to these religious texts and ideas, so we don’t know much as these descriptions are rather brief.
Archangel Jophiel — The Giver of Joy
Jophiel is considered the angel of beauty and is the only Archangel consistently portrayed as a woman. Jophiel is also associated with wisdom, watching, understanding, and judgment. The name has been interpreted as ‘Watchman of God’, which refers to Jophiel as the Guardian of the Torah, and in turn, the Guardian of Wisdom.
A trope you’ll see often amongst the depiction of Archangels are flaming swords, and Jophiel is commonly shown wielding one.
Archangel Camael — The Peacekeeper
Another archangel, shown with a flaming sword, is Camael, the Archangel of courage, strength, and war. Camael is never mentioned in the Bible but is considered an angel who is there to maintain peace and enforce justice by any means necessary.
The poet Gustav Davidson includes Camael in his work ‘A Dictionary of Angels including fallen Angels’. He goes as far as to say that Camael led the forces that expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Archangel Zadkiel — The Guide of Life Paths
The last Archangel on today’s list is Zadkiel, the angel of freedom and mercy. Zadkiel, along with Jophiel, is considered the Angels who command the armies of Michael in his absence and thus followed directly behind Michael in battle.
Zadkiel is depicted holding a knife or sacrificial dagger. The only story of note he appears in involves Abraham, where some believe he was the angel to appear and prevent Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac.
There are plenty more classifications out there involving the Archangels and some other important Angels. The likes of Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel are topics we may return to, to cover in some more detail.