The archangel Gabriel is a great polyglot
For the Jewish tradition, the archangel Gabriel is a great polyglot since it was he who, in a single night, taught Joseph the seventy languages that were supposedly spoken in the Tower of Babel, thus achieving that Joseph, from being a simple slave, became enormously important in the eyes of Pharaoh.
In addition to being a polyglot, Gabriel is also presented as a kind of clairvoyant, since it is he who explains to the prophet Daniel his visions.
It is believed that Gabriel was one of the beings who showed Joseph the way and that it was he who warned Queen Vashti not to appear naked in front of King Ahasverus and his guests. It is said that, together with other angels, Gabriel helped in the burial of Moses.
Some sources of the Jewish tradition state that it will be Gabriel who will blow the horn to awaken the dead during the Day of Judgment.
In the Talmud
It is said that it was Gabriel who destroyed the hosts of Sennacherib, armed “with a sharp sickle, which has been ready since creation.”
Within that linkage between Gabriel and death, there is also the fact that Gabriel is for Judaism the angel of death over kings and the angel who brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah.
But Gabriel, rather than being linked to death itself, is linked to the life-death-rebirth cycle, this being the other reason (the first being that he supposedly moved the stone of Christ’s tomb) why he is the Angel of Resurrection.
Thus, Zohar II says that, when someone dies, Gabriel receives his soul and takes it to where, by its merits and demerits, it will deserve to dwell. But do not think that this is the end of it; for, although almost nobody knows it, in reality, Jewish mysticism does affirm the existence of reincarnation; for example, in Zohar 186b it says:
“Whenever a person fails in his purpose in this world, God, Blessed Be He, uproots him and replants him again and again, repeatedly.”
It is in this eschatological context that Gabriel appears as the angel who, once the soul has passed the time established in the place to which it was led by its merits and demerits, instructs it spiritually to prepare it for its next incarnation.
He thus gives her instructions during the last five months of the nine months she is in the womb, all on a purely spiritual level (for there is not yet a brain for the soul to manifest itself through the mind) and making her see that, when she is born, she must not forget that her essence is that of being a soul and that the destiny she will have will depend fundamentally on the thoughts she conceives.
During the previous four months, Gabriel has also been instructing the soul, which he then accompanies when it descends to Earth and incarnates in the fetus, where it will continue to be instructed.
But not all that is told about him are merits; for, in Yoma 79a of the Talmud, it is revealed that Gabriel was once punished “for not obeying an order exactly as it was given to him”. Because of that, for 21 days Gabriel was replaced by Dobiel, the guardian angel of the Persian Empire.
Gabriel as the angel of dawn
Finally, the Kabbalah places Gabriel as the angel of dawn, as the angel who, during the end of the dawn, receives a spark of divine fire, a spark that Gabriel spreads when the rooster’s crow, the devotees rise to study the Torah and the power of the demons collapses, according to the Kabbalah, these only have power until the rooster crows, which is because God, the just and the beings of light, from midnight until the crowing of the rooster, withdraw into Paradise to celebrate, leaving the world free to the forces of Darkness.
The Archangel Gabriel in the Bible
In the Old Testament, Gabriel appears in the Book of Daniel. There, between chapters 7 and 10, it speaks of the visions that the prophet Daniel had and how the archangel Gabriel was sent to explain to him the meaning of these visions.
Daniel 8:15-17 reads thus:
“While I, Daniel, was contemplating this vision and trying to understand its meaning, there suddenly appeared before me a figure like a man; and I heard a human voice coming from the river Ulai and saying, ‘Gabriel, explain the vision to this man.’ Then he came to me. I was frightened and I bowed down until my forehead touched the ground, but he said to me, “Son of man, be aware that this vision refers to the end of time.”
Already in the New Testament and within the Gospel of Luke
The archangel Gabriel visits the priest Zacharias to announce to him that God has granted his prayers and that, despite his wife’s age (age at which she could no longer bear children), he would be granted the gift of a son who would be a “great man before the Lord” and whom he should name “John” (he would become John the Baptist).
In the words of Luke 1:8-13:
“Now it came to pass, as Zacharias exercised the priesthood before God according to the order of his class, according to the custom of the priesthood, that it fell to his lot to offer incense, going into the sanctuary of the Lord. And all the multitude of people stood outside praying at the time of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled at the sight of him and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, “Zechariah, do not be afraid; for your prayer has been heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall call his name ‘John.'”
But Zechariah, despite receiving the privilege of being visited by an archangel, did not show himself worthy of so great a grace and doubted whether the angel would fulfill what was offered, saying that by what sign (he meant supernatural sign) he could know that such a thing would be fulfilled for him.
At this, Gabriel was displeased (though remaining calm) and said to him:
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God; and I have been sent to speak to you and to give you these glad tidings. And now thou shalt be dumb and not be able to speak, until the day that these things shall be done, because thou didst not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”
In the Gospel of Matthew
We are told how Gabriel appeared to Joseph the carpenter in a dream, first to tell him not to be afraid to receive Mary as his wife, then to warn him that he should flee to Egypt because of the slaughter of babies that Herod would initiate.
The name “Gabriel” is never explicitly mentioned; but, as it has been done, it is logical to suppose that it could be Gabriel and that it can be assumed that it was Gabriel that angel, this because it was Gabriel who was appointed to announce to Mary the birth of Christ, so it would not be strange at all that, being the Messenger Angel, he was commissioned in its entirety for the matter of the coming of Christ.
Furthermore and as is known to all, Gabriel was sent to Mary to announce to her that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Savior.
We see then in Luke 1:26-38:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; the virgin’s name was Mary. And he went in and said to her, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” She was troubled at these words and wondered what the greeting meant. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God; you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom, there will be no end.” Mary answered the angel, “How shall this be since I know not a man?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore he who is to be born will be holy and will be called the Son of God. See, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age and this is already the sixth month of her who was called barren, for nothing is impossible with God” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”. And the angel left her and went away”.
Apart from the above, within the framework of occult and mystical speculations, it has been suggested that Gabriel was the angel who stopped Abraham’s hand from killing his son, as well as that it was Gabriel who removed the huge stone used to seal the tomb of Jesus Christ.
The Archangel Gabriel and Christianity
Gabriel, together with Michael and Raphael, is one of the three archangels that the Catholic Church officially admits because he is found in the Bible: in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew, as well as in the Book of Daniel.
He is seen as The Archangel Messenger and as an archangel linked to the mystery of the Annunciation, Purity and Resurrection. Officially, he has been proclaimed “patron of communicators” because of his role as a celestial messenger.
Similar are the cases of the Orthodox Church and most Protestant churches, with Gabriel being recognized by both parties.
The Archangel Gabriel In Islam
In Islam, it is believed that Gabriel (“Jibril”) revealed the Koran to the prophet Mohammed and that he was appointed to carry to the prophets the messages of their duties. His importance is so high that, in addition to being “The Spirit of Truth” he is the chief of Allah’s four favorite angels.
So great is the respect paid to him that when a person mentions his name, he must say “peace be upon him”, just as is done when the name of Muhammad or another great prophet is mentioned.
Like Christians, Muslims also believe that Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (whom they see as holy prophets). In addition, they say that Gabriel was one of the three angels who announced the birth of Isaac to Abraham.
Islamic tradition has several interesting stories about Gabriel
– One of them says that Gabriel was the one who brought coffee (now that’s a blessing…) to Earth, all on an occasion when Mohammed was extremely tired and about to fall asleep, when suddenly the angel of God appeared with a cup of coffee and gave him back all his strength.
– Another tells that Gabriel and 99 other angels illuminated, purified and filled Moses with angelic attributes so that he could see “only pure light” and thus be in the ideal state to write the Torah on golden tablets.
– Finally, something relevant to Angeology is in Muhammad’s vision of the “true” aspect of Gabriel and in the vision that the Sufi Ruzbehan Bagli had of a Gabriel with a feminine aspect. But before presenting them, it is necessary to clarify the following:
Islam itself makes it clear that Gabriel, like all angels, had no definite form since he had appeared to Muhammad in the form of different persons.
The true form of Gabriel is not a material form; in other words, it is not that God created Gabriel with the aspect with which he appeared in that vision to Muhammad, it is simply that this “true form” was chosen by the archangel as the aspect that best symbolizes the spiritual essence with which God brought him into existence.
There is no need to worry about Gabriel appearing as a woman to Sufi Ruzbehan Bagli since Angeology states that angels are androgynous spirits without sex, spirits that compendial attributes of both the feminine and masculine souls, although this is certainly questionable since other theories say that gender does exist in angels and spirits, not as biological sex but as a predominance of masculine or feminine psychological-spiritual attributes, as the case may be.
Specifically, in Muhammad’s vision, the archangel appeared as a being of light endowed with 600 wings that filled the firmament and beat in it.
And in the case of Sufi Ruzbehan Babli, he relates the following: “In the first row, I saw Gabriel, like a maiden, like a moon amid the stars. Her hair was like a woman’s, for it fell in long braids. He wore a red suit interspersed with green… He is the most beautiful of the angels… his face is like a red rose.”
Archangel Gabriel Day
St. Gabriel’s Day was originally celebrated on March 24. In 1969, it was transferred to September 29 to be celebrated together with the other angels and archangels.
Churches that celebrate the Byzantine rite celebrate the archangel Gabriel on November 8. The Eastern Orthodox commemorates him on two additional days: March 26 is the “Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel”, which is celebrated for his role in the Annunciation.
July 13 is known by the same name and celebrates all the appearances and miracles of the Archangel Gabriel throughout history.
This holiday originated on Mount Athos in the 9th century. It is said that the archangel appeared in a cell near Karyes, where he wrote with his finger on a stone the Hymn to the Theotokos.
The Church of Ethiopia celebrates its feast day on December 28. Many faithful make a pilgrimage to a church dedicated to St. Gabriel in Kulubi.