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The imagery of supernatural beings permeated early Hebrew literature during the late 7th century BCE, prior to the Jew’s captivity in Babylonia when many texts were put into writing to preserve old traditions. These spiritual entities were known as the “sons of God” or “messengers of God (beni Elohim).
These were the messengers of God’s word. The angels interceded between the Holy One and humans and often sung the praises of the Lord. In Hebrew, an angel is called malach, a word derived from Sanskrit.
Although there are hundreds of references to angels throughout the OLD TESTAMENT, on the whole, biblical writers did not speculate much about them.
The first mention of angelic being by name in the OLD TESTAMENT was in THE BOOK OF DANIEL. One of the most well-known archangels, Michael (Hebrew for “who is like God), appeared to the prophet Daniel and provided him with dire prophecies about the future of Greece and Persia.
Around the time the TALMUD was put to writing (4th-6th century CE), the works of Dionysius the Areopagite ranked the various classes of angels and explained their heavenly powers. There are three triads of celestial hierarchy between God and man, according to these writings.
The first triad, and the closest to God, were the cherubim, seraphim and Thrones; the 2nd triad, which was a reflection of the first, comprise the Dominions, Virtues ad Powers; and the 3rd triad, ministering directly to man, are the Principalities, Archangels and Angels.
The concept of angels may have originated in the Mesopotamian culture of the Babylonians, Assyrians and Sumerians. In one Babylonia myth, Annunaki (“princely offspring of the sky god Anu” ), sank below the horizon and became underworld deities and were the judges of the dead.
The Hebrew archangels Michael and Gabriel were originally Babylonian in origin. Angels are also cited in the Ethiopian ENOCH I, where the seven archangels are listed as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Zerachiel and Remiel. Enoch’s Book of Dream Visions vividly describes the hierarchy of the Archangels, the Fallen Angels, and the history of Israel up until his lifetime.