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Ariel (angel)

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Ariel, painting from the Sopo Archangels collection.

Ariel (Hebrew: אֲרִיאֵל, romanizedʾÁrīʾēl; Ancient Greek: Ἀριήλ, romanizedAriel) is an angel found primarily in Judaism and Christianity

Bible and Mesha Stele


The word Ariel appears in the Hebrew Bible and on the Mesha Stele under various spellings but not as the name of an angel. In 2 Samuel 23:20 and its parallel passage 1 Chronicles 11:22 the meaning of the word is unclear. In Ezra 8:16 it is a personal name. In Ezekiel 43:15 it is a part of the altar. In Isaiah 29:1–2, 7 it means Jerusalem and in Isaiah 33:7 it probably has a related meaning. On the Mesha Stele, it appears to mean matzevah (sacred pillar). According to Samuel Feigin, "all the places where it appears seem to be archaic or archaistic in character. The different spellings ... indicate that the word is a loan from a foreign language." He argues that the original meaning of the word was related to death and suggests that it is related to Arali (Sumerian) and Arallu (Babylonian), names for the ancient Mesopotamian underworld. It may be the root of Erelim, the name of the angels of death in the Talmud.[1]

Pistis Sophia


In the Coptic Pistis Sophia (British Library, Add MS 5114), Jesus bids the apostles preach that they "be delivered from the rivers of smoke of Ariel."[2] Because of the association of Jerusalem with the name "Ariel", it is likely that this is an allusion to the fires of Gehenna (or Gehinnom), a valley near Jerusalem deemed cursed[3] because of its association with early pagan religions (Ba'als and Canaanite gods, including Moloch) where children were sacrificed by immolation.[4] In later Jewish, Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked and often translated in English biblical versions as "Hell".[5][6] According to tradition, fires located in this valley were kept burning perpetually to consume the filth and cadavers thrown into it.[7][8][9]

Book of Enoch and John Milton


Harris Fletcher (1930) found the name Ariel in a copy of the Syncellus fragments of the Book of Enoch. Fletcher suggested that the text was known to John Milton and may be the source for Milton's use of the name for a minor angel in Paradise Lost.[10] However, the presence of the name in the Syncellus fragments has not been verified (1938),[11] and, reviewing for example the Dead Sea Scrolls, earlier versions of the Book of Enoch are now known to not contain the name Ariel. In Paradise Lost, Ariel is a rebel angel, overcome by the seraph Abdiel in the first day of the War of Heaven.

Occult and mysticism


According to the German occultist Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535): "Ariel is the name of an angel, sometimes also of a demon, and of a city, whence called Ariopolis, where the idol is worshipped."

"Ariel" has been called an ancient name for the leontomorphic Gnostic Demiurge (Creator God). Historically, the entity Ariel was often pictured in mysticism as a lion-headed deity with power over the Earth, giving a strong foundation for Ariel's association with the Demiurge. It is possible that the name itself was even adopted from the Demiurge's Zoroastrian counterpart Ahriman (who is likely the predecessor of the Mithraic "Arimanius").[citation needed]

"Ariel" is sometimes associated with the better known Judeo-Christian Archangel Uriel, as for example some sources claim that the Elizabethan court astrologer John Dee called "Ariel" a "conglomerate of Anael and Uriel," though this is not mentioned where the name Anael appears in the only conversation of Dee with Barnabas Saul.[12]

In Thomas Heywood, Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels (1635) Ariel is called both a prince who rules the waters and "Earth's great Lord." In several occult writings,[who?] Ariel is mentioned with other elemental titles such as the "3rd archon of the winds," "spirit of air," "angel of the waters of the Earth" and "wielder of fire." In mysticism, especially modern, Ariel is usually depicted as a governing angel with dominion over the Earth, creative forces, the North, elemental spirits, and beasts. Other entries in angelologies to Ariel are found in Jacques Collin de Plancy, Dictionnaire Infernal (1863) and Moïse Schwab Vocabulaire de l'Angélologie (1897).

See also



  1. ^ Samuel Feigin, "The Meaning of Ariel," Journal of Biblical Literature 39.3/4 (1920): 131–137.
  2. ^ Robinson, Joseph Armitage (1896). Texts and Studies, Contributions to Biblical and Patristic. In the Pistis Sophia Jesus bids the apostles preach to the whole world thus: 'Say to them, Renounce plunderings, that ye may be worthy of the mysteries of the light, and be delivered from the rivers of smoke of Ariel.'
  3. ^ Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-6.
  4. ^ "Gehenna". Jewish Encyclopedia. "The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the 'valley of the son of Hinnom,' to the south of Jerusalem (Josh. xv. 8, passim; II Kings xxiii. 10; Jer. ii. 23; vii. 31-32; xix. 6, 13-14). For this reason the valley was deemed to be accursed, and 'Gehenna' therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for 'hell'."
  5. ^ "Hell". Catholic Encyclopedia. However, in the New Testament the term Gehenna is used more frequently in preference to hades, as a name for the place of punishment of the damned. ... held in abomination by the Jews, who, accordingly, used the name of this valley to designate the abode of the damned (Targ. Jon., Gen., iii, 24; Henoch, c. xxvi). And Christ adopted this usage of the term.
  6. ^ "Gehenna: Sin and Merit". Jewish Encyclopedia. It is frequently said that certain sins will lead man into Gehenna. The name 'Gehenna' itself is explained to mean that unchastity will lead to Gehenna ('Er. 19a); so also will adultery, idolatry, pride, mockery, hypocrisy, anger, etc. (Soṭah 4b, 41b; Ta'an. 5a; B. B. 10b, 78b; 'Ab. Zarah 18b; Ned. 22a).
  7. ^ Bailey, Lloyd R. (1986). "Gehenna: The Topography of Hell". Biblical Archaeologist (49): 189.
  8. ^ Strack, Hermann L.; Billerbeck, Paul (1922–56). Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud and Midrasch (in German). Vol. 4:2:1030. Munich: Beck.
  9. ^ Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin (7) Ch. 11 "Chelek"
  10. ^ Fletcher, Harris Francis (1930). Saurat, D. (ed.). Milton's rabbinical readings (1967 ed.). pp. 354–258. Perhaps Milton knew of an even fuller account of the Angel Ariel than any I have listed in some rabbinical work that has not yet been connected with him....But the connection of the Enoch literature...
  11. ^ McColley, Grant (1938). "The Book of Enoch and Paradise Lost". Harvard Theological Review. 31: 21–39. doi:10.1017/S0017816000029539. S2CID 162429583. Professor Fletcher, whose reference I have been unable to verify, finds in the Syncellus fragments the equally unusual Ariel, who, with ...
  12. ^ Deborah E. Harkness -John Dee's conversations with angels Page 50 1999 "Dee believed that the etymology of "Uriel" was the "light of God," and Uriel obligingly clarified the derivation of his name in ... The angel Anael appeared in the only conversation to survive from Dee's relationship with Barnabas Saul"

General and cited references