Sandalphon (Hebrew: סָנְדַלְפוֹן; Greek: Σανδαλφών) is an archangel in Jewish and Christian writings. Sandalphon figures prominently in the mystical literary traditions of Rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity, notably in the Midrash, Talmud, and Kabbalah.
Though not explicitly referenced in scripture, some of the earliest sources on Sandalphon refer to him as the prophet Elijah transfigured and elevated to angelic status. Other sources (mainly from the midrashic period) describe him as the "twin brother" of Metatron, whose human origin as Enoch was similar to the human origin of Sandalphon.
Meaning of name
The name Sandalphon, the protector of unborn children, is possibly derived from the Greek prefix sym-/syn-, meaning "together", and adelphos, meaning "brother"; thus approximately meaning "co-brother", since the modern Greek word for "co-worker", synadelfos (συνάδελφος), has these roots as seen in the Book of Revelation, chapter 19, verse 10. This probably refers to Sandalphon's relationship to Metatron, though this derivation shows uncertain Semitic influences.
Descriptions and functions
Physical descriptions of Sandalphon vary depending on the source. He is uniformly depicted as extremely tall—he exceeds Hadraniel (another angel) in height by a 500-year foot journey. During Moses' visit to the Third Heaven, he is said to have glimpsed Sandalphon and called him the "tall angel" (though this legend dates to much later than the time of the Torah). The Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 13b says Sandalphon's head reaches Heaven, which is also said of Israfil and of the Greek monster Typhon, with whom Sandalphon seems to have similar mythological roots. He is also described as being a member of the Sarim (angelic princes), and a Hazzan (master of heavenly song).
In the Greater Key of Solomon, Sandalphon is designated "the left-hand feminine cherub of the Ark". In the liturgy for the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, he is credited with gathering the prayers of the faithful, making a garland of such prayers, and then "adjuring them to ascend as an orb to the supreme King of Kings". In Enoch chapter 3, he is the ruler of the Sixth Heaven (makom) but in the Zohar he is "chief of the Seventh Heaven". According to Islamic lore, he dwells in the Fourth Heaven. As Michael does, he carries on a ceaseless battle with Samael (perhaps Satan), angel of evil.
The ancient sages also referred to him by the name Ophan (Hebrew for "wheel"), a reference to the "wheel within the wheel" from Ezekiel's vision of the merkabah (heavenly chariot) in Ezekiel chapter 1. Sandalphon is also said to be instrumental in bringing about the differentiation of sex in the embryo.
In Kabbalah, Sandalphon is the angel who represents the sephirah of Malkhut and overlaps (or is confused with) the angel Metatron. He is said to appear before the feminine presence of the Shekhinah and to receive human prayers and send them to God.
- Davidson, Gustav (1967), A Dictionary of Angels, Including The Fallen Angels, Free Press, p. 257, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 66-19757, ISBN 9780029070505
- Angel Princes
- Sandalfon at JewishEncyclopedia.com
- Pesikta Rabbati 20:3
- "Who is Metatron" at Hebrew Witness
- Lewis, James R., Oliver, Evelyn Dorothy, Sisung Kelle S. (Editor) (1996), Angels A to Z, Entry: Sandalphon, p. 352, 353, Visible Ink Press, ISBN 0-7876-0652-9
- Pick, Bernard (1913), The Cabala, Chapter 2: "The Development of the Cabala in The Pre-Zohar Period," at sacred-texts.com
- "The World of Beriah (Creation)," A Study of The Book of Revelation at Yashanet