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Icon of Archangel Gabriel, "Of the Golden Locks" ("Златые власы") from Novgorod, 12th-century (State Russian Museum, St Petersburg).

In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Standard Gavriʼel Tiberian Gaḇrîʼēl; Latin: Gabrielus; Greek: Γαβριήλ, Gabriēl; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrail; Aramaic: Gabri-el, "strong man of God"[1]) is an angel who serves as a messenger from God. He first appears in the Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible. In some traditions he is regarded as one of the archangels, or as the angel of death. He is also known as Saint Gabriel to some Christian denominations.

Christians and Muslims believe him to have foretold the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Islam further believes he was the medium through whom God revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, and that he sent a message to most prophets, if not all, revealing their obligations. He is called the chief of the four favoured angels and the spirit of truth, and in some views Gabriel is the same as the Holy Spirit.[citation needed] Gabriel also finds mention in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith, most notably in Bahá'u'lláh's mystical work Seven Valleys.


[edit] Christian references

Gabriel making the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. Painting by El Greco, 1575 (Museo del Prado, Madrid).

[edit] New Testament

According to the New Testament, Gabriel announces the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-20) and the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38).

[edit] Pope St. Gregory's Homily on the Angel Gabriel

And so not any Angel, but the Archangel Gabriel, was sent to Mary; for this ministry, it was fitting to have the highest Angel, since he was to announce the greatest news of all. Gabriel was sent to Mary; he who is called "Strength of God" came to announce Him who deigned to appear in humility to conquer the powers of the air.

[edit] Pseudepigraphy

According to the non canonical Enoch 9:1-2 Gabriel, along with Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Suriel hear the cries of humanity under the strain of the Nephilim. It was their beseeching of 'the Ancient of Days' [Yahweh], that prompted God to call Enoch to prophethood.

After Enoch informed the Watchers of their fall from Grace, Yahweh sent the archangels to earth to complete various tasks. Gabriel was to 'Go to the biters, to the reprobates, to the children of fornication, the offspring of the Watchers, from among men; bring them forth and excite them against one another. Let them perish under mutual slaughter; for length of days shall not be theirs.' Enoch 10:13. And so, Gabriel instigated wars among the Giants (the children of the Watchers).

Enoch 20:7 says that Gabriel presides over 'Ikisat'. While Enoch 40:9 states that Gabriel presides over 'all that is powerful'.

[edit] Feast Days

Icon of Gabriel, Byzantium, ca. 1387–1395 (Tretyakov Gallery).

The feast of Saint Gabriel was included for the first time in the General Roman Calendar in 1921, for celebration on March 24. In 1969 it was transferred to 29 September for celebration together with St. Michael and St. Raphael.[2] The Church of England has also adopted the 29 September date.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite celebrate his feast day on 8 November (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 8 November currently falls on 21 November of the modern Gregorian Calendar, a difference of 13 days). Eastern Orthodox commemorate him, not only on his November feast, but also on two other days: 26 March is the "Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel" and celebrates his role in the Annunciation. 13 July is also known as the "Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel", and celebrates all the appearances and miracles attributed to Gabriel throughout history. The feast was first established on Mount Athos when, in the ninth century, during the reign of Emperor Basil II and the Empress Constantina Porphyrogenitus, while Nicholas II Chrysoberges|Nicholas Chrysoverges was Patriarch of Constantinople, the Archangel appeared in a cell near Karyes, where he wrote with his finger on a stone tablet the hymn to the Theotokos, "It is truly meet..." (see Axion Estin).[3]

The Ethiopian Church celebrates his feast on 28 December, with a sizeable number of its believers making a pilgrimage to a church dedicated to "Saint Gabriel" in Kulubi on that day.[4]

Additionally Gabriel is a the Patron saint of messengers, those who work for broadcasting and telecommunications such as radio and television, remote sensing, and postal workers.

[edit] Latter-Day Saint view

In Latter-day Saint theology, Gabriel lived in this mortal life as the patriarch Noah. Gabriel and Noah are regarded as the same individual; Noah being his mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.[5] See also: Noah, Michael (archangel) ~ Adam

[edit] Islamic references

The Arabic name for Gabriel is Jibril, Jibrīl, Jibreel, Jabrilæ or Djibril (جبريل , جبرائيل, IPA[dʒibræːʔiːl], [dʒibrɛ̈ʔiːl], or [dʒibriːl]) Muslims believe Gabriel to have been the angel who revealed the Qur'an to the prophet Muhammad.

Gabriel's physical appearance is described in the Hadith (4:54:4:55):

Na By Abu Ishaq-Ash-Shaibani: I asked Zir bin Hubaish regarding the Statement of God: "And was at a distance Of but two bow-lengths Or (even) nearer; So did (God) convey The Inspiration to His servant (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) Conveyed (that to Muhammad). ([Qur'an 53:9]) On that, Zir said, "Ibn Mas'ud informed us that the Prophet had seen Gabriel having 600 wings."

Gabriel is regarded with the exact same respect by Muslims as all of the Prophets, and upon saying his name or referring to him a Muslim repeats: "peace be upon him". Gabriel's primary tasks are to bring messages from God to His messengers. As in Christianity, Gabriel is said to be the angel that informed Mary (Arabic Maryam) of how she would conceive Jesus (Isa):

She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our Ruh [angel Jibrael (Gabriel)], and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear God." (The angel) said: "I am only a Messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son." She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for Me (God): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by God).' "
(Quran, [Qur'an 19:17])

Muslims believe Gabriel to have accompanied Muhammad in his ascension to the heavens, where Muhammad also is said to have met previous messengers of God, and was informed about the Islamic prayer (Bukhari 1:8:345). Muslims also believe that Gabriel descends to Earth on the night of Laylat al-Qadr ("The Night of Great Value"), a night in the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar which is believed to be the night in which the Quran was first revealed.

[edit] Judaic references

[edit] History and the Hebrew Bible

The name Gabriel first appears in the Book of Daniel. The setting of the story is the Babylonian captivity: the Jewish leader Daniel ponders the meanings of several visions he has experienced in exile, when Gabriel appears to him with a message about the "End of Days":

  • "...And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, who called, and said:' Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.' So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was terrified, and fell upon my face; but he said to me: 'Understand, son of man; for the vision belongs to the time of the end..." (Daniel 8:15-17)

[edit] Art

In chronological order (to see each item, follow the link in the footnote):[6]

[edit] Popular culture

  • The eccentric English hagiographer and antiquarian, Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), wrote the English lyrics to Gabriel's Message, which he translated from the Basque Christmas carol Birjina gaztetto bat zegoen, which was probably related to the 13th or 14th century Latin chant Angelus Ad Virginem which itself is based on the Biblical account of the Annunciation in the New Testament Gospel of Luke.
  • In his epic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton made Gabriel chief of the angelic guards placed over Paradise.
  • In an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series), entitled A Passage for Trumpet, Trumpet player Joey Crown (played by Jack Klugman) makes a decision to live or die with the help of a trumpet player who later turns out to be the angel Gabriel.
  • In Star Trek, Dr. McCoy quipped that just once he would like to transport down to a primitive planet and say, "Behold, I am the Archangel Gabriel!"
  • In Constantine, Tilda Swinton portrays Gabriel as an androgyne. Gabriel betrays God and joins forces with the Devil's son.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei series of video games, Gabriel is portrayed as the only female Seraph and, in the second installment, stands apart from the other Seraphim when their goals diverge from God's.
  • In The Prophecy trilogy, the angel Gabriel, played by Christopher Walken, is jealous of humans for being God's favorites and wishes to all. In the second one he is banished to be a human and it causes him to change his opinion of them. After helping Danyael out through the third movie he is granted a second chance as an angel and ascends to Heaven once again.
  • In 2007, the Australian film Gabriel tells the story of an 'Arc' Angel who fights to bring light back to purgatory—a place where darkness rules—and save the souls of the city's inhabitants. Actor Andy Whitfield portrays the title role.
  • The film Van Helsing refers to the lead character, Van Helsing, as 'the left hand of God'. The antagonist, Count Vladislaus Draguelia, q.e. Count Dracula, refers to Van Helsing as 'Gabriel', to which Van Helsing responds 'how do you know me?'.
  • The Hebrew poem "Elifelet" (אליפלט) by Nathan Alterman, put to music and often heard on the Israeli Radio, tells of a heroic, self-sacrificing Israeli soldier being killed in battle. Upon the protagonist's death, the angel Gabriel descends to Earth, in order to comfort the spirit of the fallen hero and take him up to Heaven ([1] [2].)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Butler, Trent C. Editor, Holman Bible Dictionary, Broadman & Holman, 1991, entry Gabriel
  2. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 119)
  3. ^ Velimirovic, Bishop Nikolai (1985), "July 13: The Holy Archangel Gabriel", Prologue from Ochrid, Birmingham, UK: Lazarica Press, ISBN 978-0948298059,, retrieved on 2007-07-31 
  4. ^ Nega Mezlekia, Notes from the Hyena's Belly: An Ethiopian Childhood (New York: Picador, 2000), p. 266. ISBN 0312289146
  5. ^ History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1902. v. 3 p. 386.
  6. ^ "Links to images of Gabriel". The Text This Week. Retrieved on 2007-02-12. 

[edit] Bibliography

  • Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (March 15, 2006). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0
  • Briggs, Constance Victoria, 1997. The Encyclopedia of Angels: An A-to-Z Guide with Nearly 4,000 Entries. Plume. ISBN 0-452-27921-6.
  • Bunson, Matthew, (1996). Angels A to Z: A Who's Who of the Heavenly Host. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-88537-9.
  • Cruz, Joan C. 1999. Angels and Devils. Tan Books & Publishers. ISBN 0-89555-638-3.
  • Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X
  • Graham, Billy, 1994. Angels: God's Secret Agents. W Pub Group; Minibook edition. ISBN 0-8499-5074-0
  • Guiley, Rosemary, 1996. Encyclopedia of Angels. ISBN 0-8160-2988-1
  • Kreeft, Peter J. 1995. Angels and Demons: What Do We Really Know About Them? Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-550-9
  • Lewis, James R. (1995). Angels A to Z. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 0-7876-0652-9
  • Melville, Francis, 2001. The Book of Angels: Turn to Your Angels for Guidance, Comfort, and Inspiration. Barron's Educational Series; 1st edition. ISBN 0-7641-5403-6
  • Ronner, John, 1993. Know Your Angels: The Angel Almanac With Biographies of 100 Prominent Angels in Legend & Folklore-And Much More! Mamre Press. ISBN 0-932945-40-6.

[edit] Galleries of Gabriel in art

[edit] Roman Catholic Marian art paintings

[edit] Statues of Gabriel

[edit] External links

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