Angels in Judaism
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In Judaism an angel (Hebrew: מַלְאָךְ malak, plural malakim) is a messenger of God, an angelic envoy or an angel in general who appears throughout the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. Angels in Judaism are categorized in different hierarchies.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 In the Hebrew Bible
- 3 Second Temple Period Texts (Not Part of Mainstream Judaism)
- 3.1 Angels in Jubilees
- 3.2 Fallen Angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Book of Enoch
- 3.3 Angels and Healing in Jubilees and the Dead Sea Scrolls
- 3.4 Angels as Warriors in the War Scroll
- 3.5 Angels as Teachers
- 3.6 Angels and Knowledge
- 3.7 Angels with Demonic Qualities
- 4 In Rabbinic literature
- 5 Kabbalah
- 6 In Jewish liturgy
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Hebrew "mal'akh" (מַלְאָךְ) is the standard Hebrew Bible word for "messenger", both human and divine, though it is less used for human messengers in Modern Hebrew as the latter is usually denoted by the term shaliyah (שליח). In the King James Bible, the noun mal'akh is rendered "angel" 111 times, "messenger" 98 times, "ambassadors" 4 times. The noun derives from the verbal consonantal root l-'-k (ל-א-ך), meaning specifically "to send with a message" and with time was substituted with more applicable sh-l-h. In Biblical Hebrew this root is attested only in this noun and in the noun "Mel'akah" (מְלָאכָה), meaning "work", "occupation" or "craftsmanship".
The morphological structure of the word mal’akh suggests that it is the maqtal form of the root denoting the tool or the mean of performing it. The term "Mal'akh" therefore simply means the one who is sent, often translated as "messenger" when applied to humans; for instance, "Mal'akh" is the root of the name of the prophet Malachi, whose name means "my messenger". In modern Hebrew, mal'akh is the general word for "angel"; it is also the word for "angel" in Arabic (malak ملاك), Aramaic and Ethiopic.
In the Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible reports that angels appeared to each of the Patriarchs, to Moses, Joshua, and numerous other figures. They appear to Hagar in Genesis 16:9, to Lot in Genesis 19:1, and to Abraham in Genesis 22:11, they ascend and descend Jacob's Ladder in Genesis 28:12 and appear to Jacob again in Genesis 31:11–13. God promises to send one to Moses in Exodus 33:2, and sends one to stand in the way of Balaam in Numbers 22:31.
Isaiah speaks of malak panov, "the angel of the presence" ("In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old") (Isaiah 63:9).
The Book of Psalms says "For his angels will charge for you, to protect you in all your ways" (Psalms 91:11).
Angel of the Lord and the origins of angels
The figure of "the angel of Yahveh" (Heb. מלאך יהוה) has been perceived by generations of exegetes and interpreters as theologically troublesome due to its obscure and perplexing identity. Yet, mal'akh Yahveh seems to conceal the answer in regards to the origins of the idea of angels as heavenly commissioners. Almost every appearance of this figure in the Hebrew Bible complies to the following pattern:
- the narration introduces the angel of Yahveh;
- it behaves as if he was a deity e.g. promising bewildering fertility (e.g. Genesis 21:18), annihilating the whole army with a single blow (e.g. 2 Kings 19:32-36) or merely delivering a speech where he presents himself as Yahveh or Elohim (e.g. Exodus 3:2-4);
- the interlocutors of this figure address and revere him in a way reserved exclusively to deity.
As such, the incident leaves the reader with the question whether it was an angel or a deity who had just appeared.
There is a wide array of explanations striving to elucidate this confusion. The most widespread theological ones try to deal with the problem by introducing additional concepts: the angel might be an earthly manifestation of God, some kind of God’s avatar or pre-incarnated Christ. The different answer comes from the cultural studies which argue that the ancient commissioners during their proclamations used the first person point of view and spoke as if they had been the consigner himself. Both approaches however resort to additional theoretical concepts retroactively introduced to the source text itself. Meanwhile, the problem can be addressed by means of S.A. Meier's interpolation theory - a linguistic resolution of a seemingly complex theological and cultural dilemma. Accordingly, the word mal’akh would be a mere addendum preceding the divine name and simultaneously modifying the narrations in order to meet the standards of the “new” Israelite theology of single and transcendent God. The “default” form would be that of the ancient Near Eastern literary standards presenting a deity as manifesting to humans directly without any intermediary.On the grammatical level aforesaid augmentation resulted in forming the genitive construction and as such it was characterized by an exceptional ease of use deriving from two factors.
- Both mal’akh and a deity, be it Yahveh or Elohim, are of masculine grammatical gender.
- The introduction of the modifier noun neither affects the modified noun on the consonantal level nor does need any change in the form of the verbs connected to it.
In other words, mal’akh becomes “automatically” incorporated into the genitive construction and all the related verbs change their subject or object accordingly. On the other hand, the removal of the word mal’akh from the narration usually makes it far more coherent, meaningful and in line with its ancient Near Eastern literary context. In a nutshell, the interpolation theory, while basically explaining the function of mal’akh Yahveh, can be very well expanded so as to elucidate the nature of the rest of biblical “angels”. From this perspective then, the “angels” understood as metaphors would be the “semantic offspring” of mal’akh Yahveh who at certain moment in history started their literary existence.
Angels and healing from impurity
There are instances in the Bible where angels have the ability to heal an individual from impurity. For example, in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah ascends into heaven and sees angels praising the Lord. Their voices were so powerful that they make the pivots on the thresholds shake and filled the temple with smoke. (Isaiah 6: 3-4) All of this power made Isaiah feel unworthy and unclean so he cried out, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5) Then one of the angels flew to Isaiah and touched his mouth with a live coal that “had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.” Once the angel had touched Isaiah’s lips with the coal, he then said, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” (Isaiah 6: 6-7) 
In the Book of Zechariah, Joshua was standing before the angel of the Lord, Satan, and God. (Zechariah 3:3) He was “dressed in filthy clothes” when standing before them. The angel then commanded him to take off his filthy clothing and gave him “festal apparel” and a clean turban to put on. At the removal of Zechariah’s filthy clothing, the angel proclaimed, “See, I have taken your guilt away from you.” (Zechariah 3: 4-5) Thus, the removal of Joshua's filthy clothing was like healing him from his guilt.
Angels and prayer
In the Book of Zechariah, Zechariah hears from the Lord that He had been angry with his ancestors due to their evil deeds. He promised them that if they “return[ed] to [Him], [He] would return to [them].” Then the angel of the Lord prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord of hosts, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which you have been angry these seventy years?” Thus, the angel of the Lord prayed to God in order to petition for the people (Zechariah 1:12).
Angels as warriors
In the Bible there are some references to angels acting as warriors, the protectors of all that is good. One of these references is The Book of Daniel which contains four apocalyptic visions. However, in Daniel 10:13, it makes reference to a sort of battle between the prince of the kingdom of Persia and the speaker whom we[who?] believe is Gabriel. Here Gabriel tells Daniel that the chief of princes, Michael, helped him in the opposition he was facing from the prince of the kingdom of Persia. Thus, both angels are acting as warriors for the good against the bad opposition from the prince of the kingdom of Persia. In addition, in Daniel 12:1, the speaker, Gabriel says that the angel Michael is the protector of the Israelite people and is a great prince.
Angels as messengers
In many passages from the Hebrew Bible, angels are utilized as messengers; indeed, there is no specific Hebrew equivalent for the English word “angel”, relying instead on the Hebrew word for “messenger.” Angels seem to have the appearance of ordinary humans; they are typically men and (unlike seraphim), have no wings. The presence of an angelic messenger versus a human messenger must be determined by the context of the passage. Regardless, messenger angels are a highly important part of preserving and strengthening the link, as well as necessary distance, of God to humans. The nature of the knowledge that angelic messengers carry is always heavenly; that is to say, it is divine, and only by being sanctioned by God can it be transmitted to humans, and only for necessary reasons. When an angel transmits knowledge from God, his own identity is effaced by that of his Lord; that is, he speaks directly for God. Examples of this role can be seen in numerous famous passages from the Old Testament, including the three mysterious men in the story of Abraham and the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 18:1-19:23, as well as the angel who informs Samson’s mother of the nature of the baby she carries in Judges 13:3-5. In these examples, the angels are disguised, their identities unimportant in relation to the heavenly magnitude of the knowledge they possess; they are entirely defined by their jobs.
Angels as Teachers in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature
Angels in the roles of teachers become especially important in Jewish apocalyptic literature, in such books as Daniel, Zechariah, and 4 Ezra, which feature enigmatic and terrifying prophetic visions experienced by unknowing humans who need heavenly guidance to understand what they have witnessed; no longer does prophecy come with full or immediate understanding, as in previous Old Testament works. Rather, with such a privileged insight into the heavenly sphere, a type of commentary or explanation of the vision is provided through the figure of an interpreting angel, whose teachings dispel the ignorance of the prophet and allow him to better understand, and thus better propagate, the heavenly knowledge of the end times that his vision contains. Such knowledge of the apocalypse had both heavenly and earthly implications, and assumed a great deal of importance to the oppressed people of Israel at the time, who needed explanations for why God would let them go through so much hardship; thus, the knowledge was “good.” Because of the bizarre features of the visions contained in such apocalyptic literature, interpreting angels assume the roles of teachers rather than just messengers; instead of just conveying information, they must explain it. As teachers, they convey the full might and authority of heaven, while being able to comfort their distressed human charges in a more relatable way that if the prophets were directly spoken to by God. Thus, angels as teachers function as relatable interpreters and testaments to God’s power, while also increasing His transcendence. Most of all, they were important in establishing human prophets in their proper role as comforters, with “good” knowledge, to the people of Israel.
In 4 Ezra, the interpreting or teaching angel is Uriel. When Ezra expresses his distress about issues that would be similarly preoccupying Jews of his time—namely, why God would allow His chosen people to suffer under the oppression of the Gentiles—Uriel is sent from heaven by God to help relieve his ignorance. In the passage, Ezra argues with Uriel about matters of justice in a way that he never could with God; however, the angel argues back with a series of riddles that eventually show Ezra the misguidedness of his thinking (4 Ezra 3:1-4:21). Importantly, Uriel does not simply transmit information or “speak at” Ezra; the two are engaged in an animated dialogue that reflects that of a teacher and a student, with the former guiding the latter to a realization. Ezra could never argue with God the way he argues with Uriel; however, this argument and its accompanying emotional catharsis is partially what leads him to discover the truth and main message of the passage on his own.
In Daniel, angels also assume the roles of interpreters and teachers, notably in their abilities to explain visions concerning the eschaton, and help human prophets unknot knowledge from it. In Daniel, it is the archangel Gabriel who is sent down from heaven by God to explain Daniel’s perplexing visions and help relieve some of his distress (Daniel 8:16-17). In Daniel 7-12, the good knowledge that is transmitted to Daniel and thus to the rest of the population, is that the earthly events that have been so oppressing the Jewish people are being mirrored in heaven, and that justice will eventually reign in the form of a final battle pitting the armies of heaven against evil forces, which will be vanquished. However, Daniel is only aware of this information due to the assistance of Gabriel, who teaches him the correct interpretation of his vision, and encouraging him when he falters (Daniel 8:15-27). This role of angels is mirrored in Zechariah, where angelic interpretation and teaching is necessary to unravel the bizarre visions that the prophet witnesses. In the passage, the angel literally walks through Zechariah’s visions with him, explaining and teaching him as they go along so that Zechariah properly understands God’s intended meaning (Zechariah 1:9-5:11).
Second Temple Period Texts (Not Part of Mainstream Judaism)
The Dead Sea Scrolls, apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, and Book of Enoch - discussed in the next sections - are second temple period texts in Hebrew, which have not been considered authoritative in Judaism, are not part of the Jewish Bible, and should not be considered as part of the sacred literature of modern or medieval Judaism.
In the story of Mount Sinai, Exodus has no mention of angels at all while Jubilees chooses to include them. The inclusion of the angel in this passage indicates that the story had an, “interpretative artistry in both method and content; it also carries a message”. In Exodus 19-20 God speaks to Moses directly, telling him to write the ten commandments and to follow God, but in Jubilees 1:26 and Jubilees 2:1 God speaks to an angel who then relays the message to Moses, sending quite a different message to readers about God’s role and His intentions. Not only is the message related to Moses by an angel, but it is the “angel of the presence who enjoys a special intimacy with God”. The text reveals the “authority of the specific, angelically licensed interpreters”. The goal of the addition of the angel is for the “distancing of God from the everyday events of the world”  Angels are also used as voices in God’s court. In Genesis 21-22, God decides on his own accord that Abraham was faithful to Him and therefore needed to be tested. In Jubilees, however, “there were voices in heaven regarding Abraham, that he was faithful in all that He told him, and that he loved the Lord, and that in every affliction he was faithful” (Jubilees 17:15).
Fallen Angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Book of Enoch
Second Temple era literature such as the Dead Sea scrolls, pseudepigrapha and in particular the Book of Enoch, begins to have extensive mythology about Fallen angels, Azazel, Shemihaza, and so on, though these did not become part of rabbinical orthodoxy later.
Angels and Healing in Jubilees and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Healing from evil spirits in the Pseudepigrapha
In Jubilees, God command angels to teach Noah how to physically cure illnesses, they told Noah about the healing of the diseases along with their seductions, and how to heal them using herbs of the earth. Noah wrote it out in a book, which he gave to his eldest son so he too could learn the use of medicine. This happened because Mastema had been given evil spirits to test man, try to make them stray from the path of righteousness, and cause them to succumb to diseases which they will cause. Mastema was given complete control over the spirits and thus Noah need some form of protection (Jub. 10:7-14). Mastema helps the Egyptian’s magicians to counter and mimic the acts Moses was doing, but the angels did not give them the power of healing so that the Pharaoh’s problems would be due to the magicians’ mistakes. This shows how the angels have the ability to give the power of medicine and healing out to people, yet refrain from teaching it to just anyone, only appearing to use it when helping to fight against evil forces (Jub. 48:10-11). In the Book of Tobit, God sends Raphael, who is thought of as the angel of healing, to aid Sara against the demon that is killing all her husbands (Tobit 3:17). Tobias follows Raphael’s instructions (Tobit 6:15-16) about the fish innards and scares away the demon terrorizing Sara thus making it possible for them to be together. Raphael passes the knowledge onto Tobias, instead of actually taking the spirit away from Sara (Tobit 8:2).
Healing from Illness and Disease in the Pseudepigrapha
In 1 Enoch, the watchers (angels from heaven) made wives of some women on Earth and taught them medicine, incantations, and the usage of roots and plants. Although God did not approve of these actions, He actually punishes them for it; it still shows that angels have knowledge for healing diseases that they can pass on to people on Earth. It also shows that people are able to comprehend this knowledge, since it is not mentioned that the women struggled or were too overwhelmed by what they learned (1 Enoch 7:1-2). In Tobit, God sends Raphael so that he could heal Tobit’s eyesight. Only angels, including Raphael, appear to know how to cure certain ailments (Tobit 3:17). Raphael instructs Tobias how to use the fish’s gall in order to cure Tobit’s eyesight. Tobias uses it on Tobit’s eyes and Tobit regains sight by causing the whiteness to fall from his eyes (Tobit 11:7-9).
Healing from Impurity in the Pseudepigrapha
In 1 Enoch 10:9, the Lord tells Gabriel to get rid of the children of impure relationships. That is, the children, also known as the giants, that were conceived from the relationships that the Watchers had with human women. The Lord tells Michael to tell the Watchers that they and all their children will die because of the defilement that they caused. He also tells Michael to punish them for their wrongdoing by binding them underneath rocks. (1 Enoch 10: 11-15) Both of these angels’ deed would essentially cleanse and heal the earth from all of the pollution, sin, plague, and suffering, caused by the giants, allowing everyone to become righteous once again.
In the Community Rule, those who are sons of light and walk with the Prince of Light are said to be given counsel in order to be holy, pure, humble, faithful and show great charity. It is also stated that for all who walk with the Prince of Light “it shall be healing.” Thus, it seems as if it will be healing from anything that is not pure and holy.
Angels as Warriors in the War Scroll
The War Scroll is an apocalyptic text, which describes a battle between the Sons of Light, who are fighting alongside the angels, and the Sons of Dark, who are fighting alongside the demon Belial. This battle is ultimately between good and evil. The angels serve as warriors for good while Belial serves as a warrior for evil. In the battle, each side wins three phases, becoming a tie. At this point, God intervenes and destroys evil, allowing for good to triumph. In the Community Rule in the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is said that there are two kinds of people, those who are “born of truth” and “spring from a mountain of light” and those who are “born of injustice” and “spring from a source of darkness.” The Prince of Light rules those who are born of truth and the Angel of Darkness rules those born of injustice. The Angel of Darkness causes the sons of light to stray away from righteousness. But, God and the Angel of Truth, having favor for the sons of light, protect and help the sons of light. The “allotted spirits” of the Angel of Darkness “seek the overthrow of the sons of light.” So there is a battle of power between the Prince of Light and his sons, and the Angel of Darkness and his sons.
Angels as Teachers
Angels as Teachers in the Apocrypha
Since angels possess so much knowledge, they often assume the role of teachers to transfer this knowledge to humans. An example of this can be seen in the Book of Tobit. As stated earlier, God sends the angel Raphael to teach Tobias about different medicinal practices and things he can do to help both Tobit and Sarah. (Tobit 3:7) Raphael uses the good knowledge that he possesses to instruct Tobias on what to do. (Tobit 6:5) He acts as a teacher, guiding Tobias and showing him the way, sharing only good, holy knowledge with him.
Angels assuming the role of teachers can also be seen in Jubilees 10. In Jubilees 10 the angels teach Noah about the different herbs and medicinal processes that he can use to help his grandsons. (Jubilees 10:12) The angels again use the good knowledge that they possess to help humans. They teach Noah this information so that he can then do or perform the medicinal practices on his own. (Jubilees 10:13) They act the same way teachers in a classroom do, instructing Noah on the best way to use the medicine to help his grandsons.
Angels and Knowledge
Angels and Good Knowledge
Throughout many passages of the Bible and other religious texts examples of angels possessing good knowledge can be seen. Angels often acquire this good knowledge through God in heaven. God then sends the angels down to assist humans by sharing that knowledge, in this way connecting them to God. An example of this can be seen in the Book of Tobit. In the Book of Tobit, Tobit is blinded for illegally burying people. (Tobit 2:10) At the same time, a distant relative of Tobit, Sarah, keeps losing her husbands to a demon that is in love with her. (Tobit 3:8) God decides to send down the angel of healing, Raphael, to share his good knowledge on how to help both Tobit and Sarah, with Tobit’s son, Tobias. (Tobit 3:17) Raphael teaches Tobias that he can use the heart, liver, and gull of a fish to heal both Sarah and Tobit. (Tobit 6:5) In this story, the angel, Raphael uses the good knowledge that he possesses to heal Tobit and to free Sarah of the demons. The knowledge that he shares is good because not only does it help both Tobit and Sarah, but he had God’s permission to share this knowledge. Raphael only shares this precious and valuable information with Tobias because he was commanded by God to do so. God wants the humans in this passage to be aware of this, deeming this knowledge both good and helpful.
An example of angels possessing and sharing good knowledge can also be seen in Jubilees 10. In Jubilees 10 God tells the angels to help heal Noah’s grandsons who are being tempted by demons. (Jubilees 10:10) The angels show Noah the different herbs and medicines that he can use to help his grandsons, similarly to the medicinal knowledge that Raphael shares with Tobias in the Book of Tobit. (Jubilees 10:12) Noah can then use the knowledge that he acquires from the angels about the herbs to help his grandsons. (Jubilees 10:13) The angels here are again sharing good knowledge. Like in the Book of Tobit, the information being shared can be deemed good knowledge because it is valuable information that can help protect Noah’s grandsons from the demons. The information shared is being used for a good, honorable cause. Also, the knowledge disclosed here is good knowledge because it is revealed by good angels who are obeying God and doing as He instructs them to do. They do not act on their own accord, and they are sharing this information with only pure, holy, and good intentions, hoping to help Noah, help his grandsons.
Angels and Bad Knowledge
Even though in many passages of both the Bible and other religious texts the angels share good knowledge with humans, in some passages the angels harbor bad knowledge and transfer that information on to humans. An example of this can be seen in the passages of 1 Enoch 6-16. These passages of Enoch follow the story of the fallen angels who decide to marry and impregnate female humans. (1 Enoch 6:2) The women then give birth to evil giant babies who cause much harm to the world. (1 Enoch 7:2) The fallen angels teach humans about many different medicinal practices. (1 Enoch 7:2) Here, however, this knowledge is deemed bad knowledge because the knowledge that they share is associated with these bad angels. They are seen as evil angels, so any knowledge that they share is evil or bad as well. The fallen angels are sharing information with humans, that the humans should learn on their own. Also, the angels are sharing this information with humans, without God’s permission. God never sends them down like he does in Tobit and Jubilees 10. The angels are acting on their own accord, and God decides to punish them for this.
Angels with Demonic Qualities
During the second temple period, there began a blurring of the lines between the demonic and the divine. The nature of a demon was that of a “spirit” of malevolent nature and capabilities beyond that of a human. Angels of the period, being frequently tasked with temptation of man and punishment of sin, embody those qualities, thus forming representations of somewhat demonic angels. This strange intersection in behaviors of those expected to be good and those expected to be evil leads to a valid argument that in the second temple period, there were no demons at all, and that Angels may have filled the role entirely.
The Watchers, who appear most extensively in 1 Enoch, are angels, but they seem more demonic through their actions. Their first evil act was to transgress God by taking wives on Earth. They acknowledge that this is wrong in the text, and know full well what they are doing. The Watchers were sinful and evil because they transgressed God’s commandments. The Watchers, while on Earth with their women, are said to have taught humans many things that humans were not supposed to know. Azaz’el is mentioned as teaching the people about weapons, war, make-up, jewelry, and alchemy. His teachings, along with those of other sinning Watchers, were responsible for corrupting the whole Earth. The Watchers took wives, and had children by them. The children of the Watchers were giants who consumed all of the food, and then turned on the people and animals. An angel took them away from the humans and forced them to fight and eventually kill each other, but their spirits remained bound to the Earth. These spirits are said to have corrupted Noah’s children and grandchildren, and were referred to as demons. Nine tenths of them were bound with the Watchers, but one tenth of them were left under Mastema’s control. The Watchers are the parents of what came to be known as demons. According to 1 Enoch 15:8-12, they are the origin of sin and evil on Earth.
In texts from the Second Temple Period, there are three main adversary figures: Mastema, Belial, and Satan. These three figures are functionally the same, as they all fulfill the purpose of testing men’s faith. Satan mostly appears in the Bible, while Belial and Mastema mostly appear in the pseudepigrapha and Dead Sea Scrolls. All three figures are very powerful metaphysical beings that expose and sometimes command evil.
- The word “mastema” in Hebrew means “hostility” and comes from the same root as the word “satan.” However, there are references to a Prince of Mastema or Angel of Mastema throughout the Dead Sea Scrolls and pseudepigrapha. In these cases, “mastema” is referring to a figure under the control of God who controls the forces of evil/demons. In Jubilees, it is Mastema who has 1/10 of the spirits of the children of the Watchers put under his control. He is given them so that he can expose the evil of the son of men, which it is great. Mastema functions as an adversary of men, trying to corrupt them and point out their sins. In the Book of Jubilees, Mastema is also made to be responsible for some of the actions that are done by God in the Bible, but are not considered just or good.
- The word “belial” in Hebrew means “worthlessness” or “wickedness.” Like the word “mastema”, it is a noun that describes an abstract quality. However, the word “belial” is used many times in Qumran texts to refer to the figure Belial, without an attached prefix like with the word “mastema.” When used to refer the specific figure, Belial is used as the name for the leader of the forces of evil. Belial has a host that includes both men and other heavenly beings (angels). In the War Scroll, Belial and Angel of Darkness and Angel of Mastema are used interchangeably. Belial is said to have corrupted humans through his three nets, which are: wealth, fornication, and defiling the sanctuary. Similarly to Mastema, Belial commands forces of evil, and also tempts people to transgress God’s commandments. He is also under God’s control, like Mastema. Belial was put in control of the angels of destruction, who like Belial were created by God to do evil. Belial is readily found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the word is used both to designate the abstract noun, and the specific figure.
- “Satan” in Hebrew means “adversary.” In Kings 11, the word “satan” is used to denote a military opponent of King Solomon. In Numbers 22, “satan” is used to denote an angel who was sent by God to prevent a human from doing a bad deed. The word devolved into the name of a specific figure, but during the Second Temple Period it never came to describe the modern Satan figure that is a fallen Lucifer who commands the forces of evil from Hell. The Satan of the Second Temple Period is the adversary of man. He operates within the heavenly court, and his job is to find and expose people that are not being faithful to God and following His commandments. If he believes that someone is not faithful to God, he can bring his case before God and ask for permission to test him. In his tests, Satan inflicts death, destruction, pain, and sickness upon people. Satan, like Belial and Mastema, has the job of exposing the sins of men to God so that they can be punished. The difference between Satan, and Belial and Mastema, is that Satan does his job alone and does not command the forces of evil.
Angels, while typically thought of as benevolent entities, are also often employed by God or by an angel of higher authority to wreak destruction on mortals. The official name for such an “evil” angel in the original Hebrew is: mal'akhei habbalah, which more literally means “destroying agent.” Originally, this phrase actually referred to demons, but this changed in the Gaonic period when mal’akhei began to be interpreted normally as “angel.”
- "Angels of Destruction"
- “Angels of Destruction” is a specific phrase used in the Dead Sea Scrolls to describe the angels directly under the rule of Belial. In the War Scroll, such angels are mentioned as fighting side by side with the spirits and humans that make up the Sons of Darkness, Belial’s army.
- Angels Against Humanity
- In the book of Job, Satan recommends to God that Job’s faith be tested, suggesting that suffering will cause Job to lose faith in God. God then sends satan to afflict Job by destroying his family, possessions, and health. Satan brings about these sufferings himself, as an angel against Humanity, even though God Ultimately sent him to do so.
- In the passages of 4QpseudoJubilees, angels, specifically those under Mastema, are shown to be actively seeking the demise of the son of Abraham. These represent accusing angels, a recurring variety that begins appearing in Jubilees. Unlike Satan, this prompting by the angels for such punishment is not justified and is wholly malevolent.
- Destroying Angels
- Even the more conventional agents of God are often far from benevolent protectors. Angels can be brutal while fulfilling the will of God, often depicted as killing off thousands of people to do His bidding.
- In 2 Kings 19, an angel is tasked with the destruction of an entire Assyrian army, and kills them all in one night.
- In 1 Chronicles 21, an angel is tasked with visiting punishment upon Israel as a penalty for David’s numbering of the people.
- God sends an “evil spirit,” specifically not referred to as demons in the text so as to mean angels, against Saul for having looted the Amalekites instead of destroying them.
In Rabbinic literature
Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael
The Talmud names four angels who would later be known as archangels, surrounding God's throne: "As the Holy One blessed be He created four winds (directions) and four banners (for Israel's army), so also did He make four angels to surround His Throne—Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. Michael is on its right, corresponding to the tribe of Reuben; Uriel on its left, corresponding to the tribe of Dan, which was located in the north; Gabriel in front, corresponding to the tribe of Judah as well as Moses and Aaron who were in the east; and Raphael in the rear, corresponding to the tribe of Ephraim which was in the west." 
Jewish mysticism or Kabbalah describes the angels at length. Historically, Rabbis have forbidden the teachings of Kabbalah on the angels and the worlds until one is 40 years old, married and well-versed in fundamental concepts of Judaism and the Hebrew Bible. The Rabbinic warning is against learning it otherwise because it may lead to insanity or false beliefs about the world. Angels are described in Kabbalah literature as forces that send information, feelings, between mankind and the God of Israel. They are analogized to atoms, wavelengths or channels that help God in his creation, and it is therefore, reasoned that they should not be worshipped, prayed to, nor invoked. They are not physical in nature but spiritual beings, like spiritual atoms. Therefore, the Kabbalah reasons, when they appear in the Hebrew Bible their description is from the viewpoint of the person that received the vision or prophesy or occurrence, which will be anthropomorphic. However, they are not material beings but are likened to a single emotion, feeling, or material, controlled by God for his purpose of creation.
In Jewish liturgy
On returning home from services on Friday night, the eve of Shabbat, or at the dinner-table before dinner Friday night, it is customary in Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism to greet ones guardian angels (Angels of Service or Ministering Angels) with a traditional hymn beginning with:
- Peace be unto you, Malachai HaSharet (Angels of Service)
- Angels of the Most High
- From the King of the kings of kings
- The Holy One Blessed Be He
Before going to sleep, many Jews recite a traditional prayer naming four archangels, "To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God's Shekhinah ["the presence of God"]."
On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, it is customary to call all the boys (in some synagogues, all the children) to the Torah reading and for the whole congregation to recite a verse from Jacob's blessing to Ephraim and Manasheh (Manassas).
- May the angel who redeems me from all evil, bless the children, and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them flourish like fish for multitude in the midst of the land (Genesis 48:16)
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