The Names of Angels

Meir Bar-Ilan

This paper is interdisciplinary in nature and aims at analyzing in broad terms the names of the angels from the Bible through the Pseudepigrapha, Qumran, Talmudic, and Hekhalot literature as well as in magical texts.

The angels' names are treated from the onomastic standpoint only, without entering into theological implications. The vastness of the subject prevents a full discussion of angels' names, such that only relevant samples or selected phenomena will be presented.

Two angels are mentioned in the Bible: Gabriel and Michael; their components, origin, date, and post-biblical use are dealt with. The names of Raphael, Uriel, and Penuel from the Pseudepigrapha are discussed, but other names are mentioned as well to aid better understanding of their formation. From Talmudic literature two phenomena are discussed: Greek loan words for angels (e.g., Metatron and Sandalphon), and compound names constructed according to the Xyxy-el pattern. A few paragraphs from 3 Henoch show folk-etymology of angels' names in Late Antiquity, and further names from Sefer HaRazim are cited.

A concise comprehensive survey of the basic problems of angels' onomasticon ends the discussion.

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last updated: March 12, 1997 - March 3, 2002