Mysticism and mystical experiences have been a part
of Judaism since the earliest days. The Torah contains
many stories of mystical experiences, from visitations
by angels to prophetic dreams and visions. The Talmud
considers the existence of the soul and when it
becomes attached to the body. Jewish tradition tells
that the souls of all Jews were in existence at
the time of the Giving of the Torah and were present
at the time and agreed to the Covenant. There are
many stories of places similar to Christian heaven
and purgatory, of wandering souls and reincarnation.
The Talmud contains vague hints of a mystical school
of thought that was taught only to the most advanced
students and was not committed to writing.
Archan Publishings "Grimoire of the Angels
of Jewish Mysticism".
The documentation of angels has never been
a unique or independent area for study in Judaism. The Western
tradition of describing the angels appearance, powers and
individual attributes did play a role in esoteric Jewish
thought. However, under the influence of mystics and the
Holy Cabala angels took on new and complex mythologies involving
good versus evil. Unlike the Islamic Tradition in modern
times, angels have largely lost their celestial status.
The angel however, is still considered as a celestial entity
who serves God. Angels have played an important role in
the Jewish tradition for many centuries.
The Biblical name for angel is simply "messenger,”
or messenger angel (the Malach). Angels are also identified
by the addition of God’s name; as “Angel of
the Lord”, or "Angel of God” other references
to angels have been "the Holy Ones" and the "Fiery
Throughout the Bible, except in certain prophetic books,
such as Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel, angels are symbolic
extensions of God's power; they possess no independent life,
personality or identity of their own, no personal name and
no hierarchical rank. It is not until the Book of Daniel,
that the first angels names appear. These being the Archangels
Michael and Gabriel.
Both these archangels are considered to be the most prominent
in Judaism. For it was both these archangels that visited
Abraham after his circumcision, and accompanied God when
he came down from Mount Sinai.
It is also stated that Michael is made up entirely of snow
and Gabriel of fire,and many consider Michael to be superior
to Gabriel in rank.
Later the angels Uriel, Raphael, Peniel, Metatron, and
many, many others were identified (I Enoch, Tobit, IV Ezra).
Satan was also identified as an angel.
Angels are therefore not the only celestial spirits as
identified in the Hebrew Bible, other celestial spirits
include: the Irinim (Watchers or High Angels), Cherubim
(Mighty Ones), Sarim (Princes), Seraphim (Fiery Ones), and
Ofanim (Wheels). See Angel hierarchy page – Click
Angels appear to man in human forma and are of great beauty,
but may initially not be identified as a celestial spirit.
In contract the Islamic belief that they are composed of
light, the Hebrew Tradition suggests that the are surrounded
by light but composed of fire.
The author of the Book of Daniel was the first to describe
the angels characteristics and endow the spirits with their
Early Medieval magical works such as Sefer ha-Razim lists
hundreds of angels, along with how to influence them to
gain their favors and how to use their names in constructing
talismans and other magical implements. The text also lists
the angels for the months of the year. Click
Zohar, further expanded upon the Hierocracy of the angels
allocating them to seven palaces and ranking them according
to the four worlds of emanation (1:11-40).
The Book of Raziel, another important magical text, which
is purported to have been reveled by the angel Raziel to
Adam, and which was passed from Adam to Abraham, Moses,
and the Prophets in direct succession from father to son,
and therefore thought to be a constantly expanding manuscript
depending upon who received it.
In essence the Book of Raziel is a magical manuscript giving
directions for invoking the angels, that change according
to the month, day, and hour, and for using them for a peculiar
purpose, such as prophecy.
In a similar vain to the magic of the Egyptians angels
could not resist an invocation in his name, providing the
invocation was performed correctly, such as at the right
time, day and hour.
Consider that originally that since angelic names constituted
the most sacred element in mysticism, they were often not
written, much less printed; and, in consequence, a number
of them remain unknown, other than those researched from
the magical tex ted indicated above.
Generally, the occult of the Kabala, and the later Hebrew
texts have given us much insight into angels, their roles