Azrael

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Angel of Death by Evelyn De Morgan, 1881

Azrael (Biblical Hebrew: עזראל‎) is an angel in the Abrahamic religions. He is often identified with the Angel of Death of the Hebrew Bible.[1]:64–65

The Hebrew name translates to "Help of God", "Help from God", or "One Whom God Helps".[1]:64–65 Azrael is the spelling of the Chambers Dictionary. The Qur'an refers to a "مَلَكُ المَوْتِ" (Malak Al-Mawt or "Angel of Death") which corresponds with Hebrew term Malach ha-Mawet in Rabbinic Literature. Islamic-Arabic tradition adopts the name, in the Arabic alphabet as ʿAzrāʾīl (Arabic: عزرائيل‎).

Background[edit]

Depending on the outlook and precepts of various religions in which he is a figure, Azrael may be portrayed as residing in the Third Heaven.[1]:288 In one description, he has four faces and four thousand wings, and his whole body consists of eyes and tongues whose number corresponds to the number of people inhabiting the Earth. He will be the last to die, recording and erasing constantly in a large book the names of men at birth and death, respectively.[2]

In Judaism[edit]

In Jewish mysticism, he is commonly referred to as "Azriel" (Biblical Hebrew: עזריאל‎), not "Azrael". The Zohar, a holy book of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, presents a positive depiction of Azriel. He is associated with the South and is considered to be a high-ranking commander of God's angels.

In Christianity[edit]

There is no reference to Azrael in the Bible, and he is not regarded as either a canonical or a non-canonical figure in Christianity. However, a story in 2 Esdras (a book not deemed canonical by the Catholic, Protestant and most Orthodox Churches) which is part of the Apocrypha, has the story of a scribe and judge named Ezra (not to be confused with the Biblical figure Ezra), also sometimes written "Azra" in different languages. Azra was visited by the Archangel Uriel and given a list of laws and punishments he was to adhere to and enforce as judge over his people. Azra was later recorded in the Apocrypha as having entered Heaven "without tasting death's taint". Depending on various Christian religious views, it could be taken as Ezra ascending to angelic status. This would add the suffix "el" to his name, which denotes a heavenly being (e.g. Michael, Raphael, Uriel). Hence, it would be Ezrael/Azrael. Later books also state a scribe named Salathiel, who was quoted as saying, "I, Salathiel, who is also Ezra". Again, depending on certain views of Christian spirituality, this could be seen as angelic influence from Ezrael/Azrael on Salathiel.

In Islam[edit]

Along with Jibrail, Mīkhā'īl and Isrāfīl, the Angel of Death, called Azrail (عزرائيل) is believed by Muslims to be one of the archangels.[3] He and his subordinate angels[4] are responsible for taking the souls of the deceased away from the body.[5] Azrail does not act independently from God and just takes those, who were commanded to be taken. Rather than merely representing an independent personified death, Azrail is described in Islamic sources as subordinate to the will of God "with the most profound reverence".[6]

Several Muslim traditions recount meetings between the Angel of Death and the prophets, the most famous being a conversation between the Angel of Death and Moses.[7] In an islamic narration, Idris befriended the angel of death. Idris offered him food, thereupon he revealed him his non-human essence, because as an angel, he does not eat. Later the angel of death showed him the heavens.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Davidson, Gustav (1967), A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels, ISBN 9780029070505 
  2. ^ Hastings, James; Selbie, John A. (2003), Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics Part 3, Kessinger Publishing, p. 617, ISBN 0-7661-3671-X 
  3. ^ name="ReferenceA">Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Brannon M. Wheeler (2002), Azrael, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 9780810843059
  4. ^ https://www.al-islam.org/barzakh-purgatory-ayatullah-sayyid-abdul-husayn-dastghaib-shirazi/death#who-causes-death-god-israel-or-angels
  5. ^ Qur'an 32:11
  6. ^ Hanauer, J.E. (1907), Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Muslim, Christian and Jewish, Chapter V: The Angel of Death, at sacred-texts.com
  7. ^ Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism Scarecrow 2002 ISBN 978-0-810-84305-9
  8. ^ Muham Sakura Dragon The Great Tale of Prophet Enoch (Idris) In Islam Sakura Dragon SPC ISBN 978-1-519-95237-0