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Friday, May 18, 2012

Gabriel, An Angel to All Three Religions and More

Nadene Goldfoot 
 The Archangel Gabriel appears to all three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  He first appeared in the Jewish Book of Daniel around 300 BCE by explaining Daniel's visions.  Here he is a messenger of G-d (YHWH) a way of spelling the unspoken special name for our higher power by using the Hebrew alphabet letters of Yud, Hay, Yud and Hay again.  There is no W in Hebrew. Daniel was a Jewish captive who was taken to Babylon along with most of the best of the men in Jerusalem and had been praying and fasting.  Gabriel is also then mentioned in the Talmud.  His description given is "the man in linen."  He's again in the Book of Ezekiel and this time his role was to destroy Jerusalem for its wickedness and idolatry in the time of the kingdom of Judah.  He would separate the few righteous Jews that would not be killed and would exile them from all the wicked ones who failed to return.  In the Kabbalah, he appears as one of G-d's archangels.  He works with Michael, another angel.  People didn't pray to him directly but  to G-d who answers prayers and might send an angel down as an agent.  Gabriel was the leader of 4 angels and was sometimes referred to as the "angel of the presence."

Christians know of Gabriel through Zacharias, a priest and father of John the Baptist(1st century. CE) .  People were praying and Gabriel appeared, frightening Zacharias who told him not to be afraid and that his wife Elizabeth would have a son and he was to name him "John."  He will be a son that:  will not drink  wine or any other strong drink and shall be filled with the "holy ghost" and that many will listen to him in order to get ready for "the Lord".  His proof was that he told Zacharias he was sent to speak to him and that from that moment on Zacharias would not speak until the baby was born because he didn't believe him.  Gabriel also tells of the birth of Jesus.  Catholics refer to him as Gabriel the Archangel.

The Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons)  believe that Gabriel lived a mortal life as the prophet Noah.  They regard them as the same individual with Noah as the mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.

For Islam, Gabriel had an even bigger job.  He is the angel that revealed the Quran (Koran) to the prophet Muhammad (570-632 CE ) and also told other prophets what their obligations were.  His name appears many times there.  "Who is an enemy to Gabriel!  For he it is who hath revealed (this scripture) to thy heart by G-d's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers.  He's also mentioned in the Hadith of Gabriel where he quizzes Muhammad on the core tenants of Islam.

 Gabriel is also in the Koran with Mary where it says that "And mention, (O Muhammad), in the book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east.  And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen.  Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.  So here we have the Mary and Joseph story written in the Koran.

Jewish tribes lived in Mecca and Medina after 70 CE when Jerusalem fell.  They had been taken away as slaves before that at the fall of the first and 2nd Temples and may have entered the land then as well.  Both people to become Christians and Muslims were exposed to a Jewish culture and learning this way.

Additional:4/16/14  In LDS (Latter Day Saints or Mormons) theology, Noah was also known as the angel, Gabriel.  They also believe that the angel Michael was Adam, the first man.  The Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, taught that Noah stands next to Adam in authority and in holding the "keys of salvation."  They believe that Noah was a 2nd Adam given the job of repopulating the planet.  The flood was to them a baptism of the earth.  They teach that North and South American continents became a choice land after the flood waters receded (Ether 13:2).  They teach that Noah was ordained as a priest by his grandfather, Methuselah when he was 10 years old (Doctrine and Covenants 107::52).  They believe that Noah was already a Christian and was teaching faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and baptism to his peers.
New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia by Mark Paredes

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