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Ru-486 Essay, Research Paper
The term angel derives from a Greek translation of the Hebrew word mal’akh, which first meant “Shadow side of God,” and now means messenger (Jeremiah 59). Angels as an article of faith have become an unshakeable part of our society. One in every ten popular songs involves angels in some way (Freeman 2). They appear in paintings and in museums as sculptures. Our culture is filled with angels that appear on clothing, cards, or as souvenirs, and jewelry. It would be reasonable to assume that one might find the most information about angels in the Christian bible. However , the bible only mentions three angels by name and actually contains very little information about these beings. Almost all of the information we have about angelic attributes comes from the three great Chronicles of Enoch. In these chronicles Enoch describes his journey to the ten Heavens where he saw angels in heaven’s penal and punishment area, punishing sinners. His view was that hell existed in small pockets that were distributed throughout heaven. This view was not consistent with the later Church that believed heaven and hell were two separate places. Because of this, St. Jerome declared these texts apocryphal (Godwin 9). However, a lot of material from these chronicles appears in the New Testament. Though much of what we know currently about what angels are and what they do is based on misconception and myth, the concern of this paper is with the genus Angelus Occidentalis. This is the term used to describe a number of angelic species and sub-species in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (Godwin 7). The term angel describes not only the benevolent forces of heaven but also the malevolent forces of hell. When Lucifer fell from heaven a supposed one third of the angels sided and fell with him. One third remained in heaven, and one third were neutral (Godwin 149). The focus of this paper will be on the angels of heaven who make up the heavenly hierarchy and the fallen angles of hell.
The creation of the angelic hierarchy is attributed to Pseudo-Dionysius. St Ambrose is responsible for the categories of angels which were taken from traditions whose origins are lost in time (Bloom 59). There are three hierarchies, each with three orders. The Upper Triad: Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones. The Middle Triad: Dominations, Virtues, and Powers. The Lowest Triad: Principalities, Archangels, and Angels (Guiley 17).
The Upper Triad: The first triad seems to be centered around a central core of purity and light, closest to God. It is only in the third choir, the last choir of the triad that matter begins to appear.
The First Choir – Seraphim: These angels are the highest of God’s angelic order. Their names mean “burning ones” (Lang 49). The only mention of Seraphs in the bible is Isa 6:2. They circle the throne of God chanting in Hebrew the Trisagion “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh,” which is “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His Glory” (Godwin 25). The Seraphim are identified with the serpent or dragon. They are in direct communion with God and are of such pure thought and light, they resonate with “the fire of love” (Guiley 17). They are known as the “fiery flying serpents of lightning,” who “roar like lions” (Godwin 25). When these angels appeared to the prophet Isaiah, he described them as flaming angels above the throne of God: “Each had six wings: two
covered the face, two covered the feet and two were used for flying” ( Lang 49). It is said that the archangel Michael was a Seraph. The Seraphim chief is said to be either Metatron or Lucifer; others are said to be Kemuel, Nathanael, and Gabriel (Bloom 61). Their ultimate goal is in guiding those below to God (Guiley 17).
The Second Choir – Cherubim: The Hebrew word for cherub was kerub meaning “one who intercedes” or “knowledge.” Cherubs are often depicted as pudgy, cute baby angels. But in the bible they are depicted as awesome, frightening creatures. John of Patmos says they have six wings and opened eyes all over there bodies (Bloom 60). Although originally they are described as having four wings and four heads, sometimes with eyes that cover their bodies (Lang 51). The Christian Bishop of Heraclea, Theodorus, says the Cherubim are “Beasts that might terrify Adam from the entrance of paradise (Godwin 28). Gabriel and Raphael are two of the most prominent cherubim (Bloom 60).
The Third Choir – Thrones: Thrones are mentioned only once in the bible in Colossians 1:16. Pseudo-Dionysius supplied the rest of the information. He wrote that thrones “carry God” they support the divine will (Lang 306). They appear to be God’s chariots. They are described as great “wheels” or “many-eyed ones.” The ruler of this order is thought to be Raphael. It is at this point in the hierarchy that “Heaven meets Earth and takes on substance of the flesh” and here begins the possibility of corruption (Godwin 31).
The Middle Triad: The middle triad is when matter with its corruption raises tension between polarities of good and bad, and matter and soul. The orders in this triad seem to strive for a balance and to reconcile such opposites, “and all are prone to the risk of corruption in doing so” (Jeremiah 107).
The Fourth Choir – Dominions: Are the oldest of original angels (Bloom 61). They are only mentioned once in the bible in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. However, Paul supplied no information about them. What we know comes again from author Pseudo-Dionysius. He describes dominions as angels of freedom, influencing earthly governments to uphold God. He claimed also that they regulate angelic duties (Lang 307). The rulers are said to be Zadkiel, Hashmal, Yahriel, and Muriel (Godwin 32).
The Fifth Choir – Virtues: Known as the “Brilliant or Shining Ones”, Virtues are the guardian angels Jesus talks about in Matthew 18:10. They were the two angels who appeared in the ascension of Christ as his escorts. Two virtues also acted as midwives in the birth of Cain (Godwin 32). They work miracles on earth. They provide humans with courage when it is needed most. They are often associated with heroes and those who fight for the will of God (Bloom 61). The rulers of this order are said to be Micha-el, Gabri-el, Rapha-el, Bari-el, Tarhish, and before the rebellion, Satan-el (Godwin 32).
The Sixth Choir – Powers: Duibtsuys says that “Powers” means “well ordered and precise
enactment of what has been received from God” (Guiley 18). Powers assist souls leaving the body who get lost in the astral plane. They appear to act like a guard patrol who keep a constant look out for demons who try to take over this world. Powers find their true vocation in balancing opposites. Their ruler is said to be Cama-el who himself is said to be one of the seven angels who stand in the presence of God, but he is also identified as the Duke of hell. “He is commander of 144,000 angels of Punishment, Vengeance, and Death. Whether these are in the service of God or the Devil remains uncertain” (Godwin 32-33).
The Lowest Triad: The third triad is the one most closely located to our material universe. This might explain why all three orders are the most vulnerable to corruption. Also this may explain why the angels from this triad are so well known to us, because they are the most like us (Jeremiah 110).
The Seventh Choir – Principalities: Principalities are said to be the protectors of religion (Lang 308). It is said they also watch over leaders of countries, government officials, or countries themselves (Bloom 61). It is uncertain who the ruler of this order is. Two possibilities are Ana-el and Hami-el.
The Eighth Choir – Archangel: The Magnificent Seven consists of Gabriel, Michael, Rapha-el, and Uri-el. There is a dispute about who the other three are. They are chosen from Metatron, Remi-el, Sari-el, Ana-el, Ragu-el, and Razi-el (Lang 308). ” Dionysius tells that archangels are ‘Messengers of Divine Decrees’ they are considered the most important intercessionaries between God and humans” (Godwin 36). The archangels are able to command the legions of Heaven in their constant battles with the sons of darkness (Guiley 19). Michael and Gabriel, the only female archangel, are the only two archangels mentioned in the old testament by name (Godwin 36). Most of what we know about angels comes from the history humans have about the Archangels. There is so much information about the archangels that a separate research paper about them alone would be required to explain more of what I have come to learn about each of the Archangels.
The Ninth Choir – Angels: These angels are sometimes also known as the guardian angels mentioned in Psalms 91:11 (Guiley 18). These angels are messengers who arrive bearing God’s decree (Bloom 61). These angels are the closest to us and furthest away from God. It is said that they were all created on the second day of creation and are immortal (Godwin 68).
Lucifer is said to have fallen through bubris which is a combination of lechery and pride (Lang 73). It is said that one third of the angels in heaven fell along with him (Godwin 149). A supposed nine tenths of angels from the order Watchers which the bishop of Paris in the 13thcentury believed were a distinct, separate tenth order fell due to lust. They were the angels that were said to have lusted after the daughters of Cain and produced giant offspring (Lang 73). It is said that the higher the original position in heaven the deeper the angels fell (Jeremiah 203). Here
is a summary of some of the angels from the nine orders in heaven who fell.
The Seven Princes of Hell: Baal-beryth: The ex-prince of the cherubim. Now Master of all Infernal Ceremonies. Dumah: Angel of “Silence of Death.” He is said to have been the guardian of Egypt during the Hebrew escape from Egypt. Sariel: Claimed to be an archangel of heaven but authorities agree he spends a lot of time in hell. He was expelled from heaven for teaching the Canaanite priestesses the tides and courses of the moon. Mephistopheles: “He who hates the light” or the “deceitful” destroyer. Once an archangel he has sometimes stood in for Satan in the Holy Presence. He is said to have impeccable manners, a smooth tongue, and a philosophic view of things, tinged with regret. Rofocale: Prime Minister of the Infernal Region. He has control over the wealth of the world. Meririm: Prince of the Power of Air, a title he shares with Lucifer. Rahab: “The Violent One.” Early in creation the Almighty ordered Rahab to separate the waters. Rahab refused so God destroyed him. He was somehow resurrected because he appeared again when helping the Egyptian Pharaoh stop the Hebrews from crossing the Red Sea. Once again God destroyed him. And it is said that he was again resurrected and is the Angel of Insolence and Pride.
Angels of Punishment: Dumah: (from above). Ksiel: “Rigid one of God” who punishes the nations with a whip of fire. Lahatiel: “The Flaming One” who presides over the gates of death. Shaftiel: Lord of the Shadow of Death and judge of God. Makkiel: “Plague of God.” Chitriel: “Rod of God.” Puriel: “Fiery and Pitiless Angel of God” who is said to probe and torment souls.
Arch-She-demons: Astarte: “Venus in the Morning,” “The Morning Star of Heaven,” and “Queen of the Stars.” She was transformed by Christians into the male Duke of Hell, Astaroth. Proserpine: “Queen of the she-demons.” Barhelo: Daughter of the female aeon, Pistis-Sophia. Her crime is unknown. Leviathan: The coiled chaos she-dragon. Leviathan is later masculinized by medieval writers becoming “king” over all of the children of pride. Manifests as the crocodile or crooked snake.
Satan’s brides: Agrat-Mahlaht and Eisheth Zenunim: Angels of Prostitution. Lilth: the supposed first wife of Adam. She is said to have been too much for Adam. She would not have sex with him in missionary position. She was bored of him and instead took up the company of demons. She is said to be Satan’s favorite. Naamah: “Pleasurable,” the most sexual of Satan’s four wives. She is said to be the sister of Tubal-Cain and Noah.
Arch-Demons or Archangels of Hell: Adrameleck: “King of Fire” who is bearded, eagle- winged, and lion-bodied. Carnivean: Once a Prince of Powers. Was one of demons cited as having possessed the body of Sister Seraphica of Loudon. Python: “Prince of the lying spirits.” Sut: Demon of Flies. Kesef: An angel of wrath who attacked Moses at Horeb. It was Kesef who was imprisoned by Aaron. Moloch: Once known as a Caananite God. It was to this god that tribes offered their first born sons in the fires of his shrine. Dubbiel:
Once the guardian angel of Persia. Mammon: The prince of Tempters. Appears to be the devil of Avarice and Greed. Rimmon: The “roarer.” Once an archangel of heaven who commanded lightning and storms.
Dukes of Hell: Agares: Appears as an old man on a crocodile and carrying on his arm a goshawk. Aniquiel: Named as the serpent in the Garden of Paradise. Ashmedai: An ex- Cherubim he is considered fairly harmless. He is thought to be more of a philosopher then evil. Asmodeus: “Being of Judgement.” Astaroth: Was once the female Astarte. Balam: Once belonging to the order of Dominations. He is now a demon with the head of a man, ram, bull, and the tail of a serpent. Byleth: Once a Prince of Powers. Belphegor: Once a Prince of the order of Principalities. Known as the guardian demon of Paris. Furcalor: Once of the order of Thrones, he is known as the great slayer of men. Isis: Was an Egyptian Mother Goddesses. The medieval church deemed Isis a demon. Kakabel: Once an angelic prince who was an astrologer and astronomer. Salmael: Once of the order of Angels. Haroth: Once of the order of Angels he fell in love with a mortal woman, Zorba and revealed the hidden name of God to her. Forneus: Once of the order of Thrones he causes love in his enemies. Raym: Once of the order of Thrones. Lahash: Once led 184 spirits to stop the prayers of Moses from reaching God. For this he received 70 blows of fire and was expelled from heaven as punishment. Gazarniel: An angel of fire who chose to enter hell voluntarily. It is said that he has formed an alliance with Lahash.
However beautiful and awe-inspiring angels might first appear, there definitely seems to be a complexity of organization and unknowable mysteries that may take an extensive amount of time to understand. And then there are always the concepts that reveal the limitations to which our human minds cannot reach. In researching the long established ideas about angels that have been a part of Judaism and Christianity since they began, the spiritual world no longer seems black and white. Instead there is an entire grey area open to be explored. It is said one third of the angels are neutral, and angels in the lower triad are very susceptible to corruption and many fall due to lust. Fallen angels punish sinners in hell. Are they doing God’s work or Satan’s? This grey area is another subject entirely but in researching the complexity of the spiritual world some questions have been answered, but many have been formed. In the Old Testament before the Christian belief that there is a single separate force for evil and one good God. God was responsible for creation and destruction, God encompassed both black and white. In Isaiah 45:7 God says “I form the Light and create Darkness; I make Peace and create evil.”
Bloom, Harold. Omens of Millenium. New York: Riverhead, 1996.
Freeman, Eileen Elias. Touched by Angels. New York: Warner, 1993.
Godwin, Malcolm. Angels: An Endangered Species. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1990.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. An Encyclopedia of Angels. New York:
Facts on File, 1996.
Jeremiah, David. What The Bible Says About Angels. Sisters:
Lang, J. Stephen. 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About
Angels, Demons, and the Afterlife. Nashville: Thomas Nelson,
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