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The angel Gabriel
Anton Raphael Mengs - Annunciation.jpg
Annunciation by Anton Raphael Mengs—Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary.
Archangel, Angel of Revelation, Spirit of Truth
Venerated in Islam, Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism

In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Modern Gavri'el Tiberian Gaḇrîʼēl - the strength of God; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl) is an angel who serves as a messenger from God.

He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretold the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus. Christians of the Catholic traditions refer to him as Gabriel the Archangel.

In Islam, Gabriel 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. He is called the created Holy Spirit (Islam) that spoke to Muhammad,[1][2] which is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of God in Christianity who is revered as God Himself. Gabriel is also mentioned in Bahá'í Faith texts, specifically in Bahá'u'lláh's mystical work Seven Valleys.

He is the patron saint of telecommunications, postal workers and diplomats.[3]

Gabriel is referred to as "he" in the Bible, and in Daniel 9:21 he is explicitly called "the man Gabriel". Some moderns, especially New Age exponents, portray Gabriel as female or androgynous.[4][5][6]

Jewish and Christian references

Hebrew Bible and Judaism

In the book of Daniel, chapters 8:15-26 and 9:20-27, a being resembling a man and identified as "the man Gabriel" appears to the prophet Daniel to give him "skill and understanding" regarding his visions.

In Daniel 10:5-12:13, an unidentified being "clothed in linen" with the appearance of a man speaks with Daniel regarding future events. He tells Daniel that he had been sent to him but had been withstood by the "prince of the kingdom of Persia" for 21 days and that Michael (who is called "one of the chief princes") had to intervene in order for him to reach Daniel. The unnamed appearance is not expressly identified as Gabriel. (Compare Daniel 10:5-6 with Revelation 1:13-16)

In Rabbinic traditions Gabriel is one of the four sarei ha-panim, high angels that stand at the Throne of Glory, with Gabriel standing at the left hand of God. He is the angel of revelation, a role he fills in Christian and Islamic traditions also, as well as the Prince of Fire (I Enoch; Dev. R. 5). He and Michael functioned as the witnesses at the wedding of Adam and Eve, and he is one of the three angels who appear to Abraham bearing news of the birth of Isaac (Gen. 18; Mek. 86b). Of those three, it was Gabriel who destroyed Sodom in a rain of fire (Gen. R. 50:2; B.M. 86b). He also had a role in the Tamar-Judah affair in Gen. 38 (Sot. 10b).

In one tradition, he is the angel who establishes Rome as a punishment for Israel, while in other versions it is Michael (Shab. 56b; Sanh. 21b). He participates with Michael in Daniel’s revelations (Daniel chapters 8-9). He can also function as a guardian angel; he nursed the infant Abraham through his finger, protected Israel in Egypt, and aided the infant Moses (Yalkut Exodus; Sot. 12b). He has other roles in human affairs also (Sanh. 45b; Shab.55a).

He is one of the four guardian angels invoked for protection in the bedtime protection ritual of the Kriat Sh’ma al ha-Mitah. The color red is linked to Gabriel, signifying he is a manifestation of God’s judgment (Sitre Torah, Zohar 1:99a). This is in keeping with the tradition that he is also listed among the six angels of death; his role is to function as the messenger of death for kings.

New Testament

File:Арханђел Гаврило.jpg

First, concerning John the Baptist, an angel appeared to his father Zacharias, a priest of the course of Abia,[Luke 1:5] whose "barren" wife Elisabeth was of the daughters of Aaron, while he ministered in the temple:

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Luke 1:10-20 KJV (other versions: Luke 1:1-25)

After completing his week[7] of ministry, Zacharias returned to his house (in Hebron)[8] and his wife Elizabeth conceived. After she completed "five months" (Luke 1:21-25) of her pregnancy, Gabriel is mentioned again:

Luke 1:26 ¶ And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:26-38 KJV (other versions: Luke 1:26-38)

Gabriel only appears by name in those two passages in Luke. In the first passage the angel identified himself as Gabriel, but in the second it is Luke who identified him as Gabriel. The only other named angel in the New Testament is "Michael the archangel" in Jude 1:9. Gabriel is not called an archangel in the Bible. Believers are expressly warned not to venerate or worship angels in Colossians 2:18-19 and Revelation 19:10.[9]


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. In Enoch 10:13, 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." And so, Gabriel instigated wars among the Giants (the children of the Watchers).

Enoch 20:7 says that Gabriel presides over "Ikisat" (the fiery serpents) or Seraphim, Cherubim, and paradise, while Enoch 40:9 states that Gabriel presides over "all that is powerful." Gabriel sits on the left hand of God with Metatron.

Gabriel's Horn

File:Sain Gabriel & Saint Helena.jpg

In English-speaking culture, the image of Gabriel as the angel that shall blow the trumpet blast that initiates the end of time and the general resurrection at the Last Judgment, which has no source in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament,[10] is a familiar trope. (It may be taken from Norse Heimdall who according to legends, will sound the Gjallarhorn, alerting the Æsir to the onset of Ragnarök where the world ends and is reborn.) It may also be taken from Mother Shipton's Prophecies "For storms will rage and oceans roar, when Gabriel stands on sea and shore, and as he blows his wondrous horn, old worlds die and new be born." It ranges from its first appearance in English in John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667)[11] to African-American spirituals: in Marc Connelly's play based on spirituals, The Green Pastures (1930), Gabriel has his beloved trumpet constantly with him, and the Lord has to warn him not to blow it too soon.[12] Four years later "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" was introduced by Ethel Merman in Cole Porter's Anything Goes (1934). The mathematical figure given the modern name "Gabriel's Horn", was invented by Evangelista Torricelli (1608–1647); it is a paradoxical solid of revolution that has infinite surface area, but finite volume.

In Islamic tradition, though not specified in the Qur'an, the trumpeter sounding the trump of doom[13] is not Gabriel, but Israfel.

The earliest identification of Gabriel as the trumpeter that S. Vernon McCasland was able to trace was in an Armenian illuminated manuscript dated 1455, at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.[14]

Feast days

Gabriel from Vysotsky chin (14c, Tretyakov gallery)

Icon of Gabriel, Byzantine, 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.[15] The Church of England has also adopted the 29 September date, known as Michaelmas.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite celebrate his feast day on 8 November (for those churches that 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).[16]

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.[17]

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

Gabriel in Islam

Gabriel (Jibra'il) is believed by Muslims to have been the angel who revealed the Qur'an to the prophet Muhammad. Gabriel is named thrice in the Qur'an (II: 97, 98; LXVI: 4); and, in II: 97, the Qur'an expressly narrates:

"Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this scripture) to thy heart by God's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers."

Gabriel makes a famous appearance in the Hadith of Gabriel, where he quizzes the Prophet Muhammad on the core tenets of Islam.

In Muslim tradition, Gabriel occupies the role of one of the primary archangels and all historical commentaries build upon Gabriel's role as the transmitter of the Qur'an.[18] Exegesis narrates that Muhammad saw Gabriel in his full angelic splendor only twice, the first being when he received his first revelation.[19] Muslims also revere Gabriel for a number of historical events predating the first revelation. Muslims believe that Gabriel was the angel who informed Zachariah of John's birth as well as Mary of the future birth of Jesus[20] and that Gabriel was one of three angels who had earlier informed Abraham of the birth of Isaac.[21]

Arts and media

Visual art


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

In chronological order (to see each item, follow the link in the footnote):[22]


  • 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.

Gabriel's horn is briefly mentioned in the Parliament song Mothership Connection (Starchild) as a cue to exit earth at the end of the world.

The alma mater for the University of Texas at Austin, The Eyes of Texas is a reference to Gabriel's horn.


  • In his epic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton made Gabriel chief of the angelic guards placed over Paradise.
  • 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.[23][24]
  • Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses has his main character be the modern incarnation of Gabriel.
  • The Blue Bloods Series by Melissa de la Cruz — story of fallen angels; includes many archangels of Heaven including Michael and Gabriel.

Radio, film and television

  • In an episode of the original 1959 The Twilight Zone, 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 The Prophecy trilogy of the 1990s, Gabriel (played by Christopher Walken) is portrayed as a villain and is jealous of humans for being God's favorites and wishes to destroy them 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.
  • The 2007 Australian film Gabriel tells the story of this Archangel who fights to bring light back to purgatory—a place where darkness rules—and save the souls of the city's inhabitants. Andy Whitfield portrays the title role.
  • The 2007 American film Salvation tells the story of the murder of the Knights Templar in 1307 by the Catholic Church for heresy. The souls of two of the Knights burned at the stake, Malchezidek and Gabriel (played by J.A. Steel) are condemned to continue the heavenly battle between good and evil, fighting for the souls of men.[25]
  • In the television series Supernatural season 5 episode, "Changing Channels" (2009), it is revealed that the recurring character the Trickster/Loki is actually the archangel Gabriel, played by the actor Richard Speight, Jr.. He was killed by Lucifer in the episode "Hammer of the Gods" (2010).
  • In the 2010 movie, Legion, Gabriel is played by Kevin Durand. He leads the armies of angels to enact God's will and exterminate humanity. He is defeated by Michael, but spared death. He then returns to Heaven, ashamed of his failure.
  • In the 2004 movie, Van Helsing, Van Helsing is revealed by Dracula to be Gabriel, the left hand of God whom killed him in a battle long ago. Van Helsing is oblivious of his past and does not know this. Van Helsing kills Dracula in the end of the movie.
  • In the movie, Constantine, Gabriel, a half-breed angel, is the driving force behind the scenes in the war between heaven, and hell.

Other media

  • 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 book Halo, written by Alexandra Adornetto, Gabriel is sent down from Heaven in an attempt to stop evil forces along with two other angels.

Galleries of Gabriel in art

Roman Catholic Marian art paintings

Statues or Icons of Gabriel

See also


  1. Nader, M. The Holy Spirit in the Quran. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  2. Lil Abdo. "Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá'í and Christian writings and their implications for gender roles" Bahá'í Studies Review Volume 4.1, 1994. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  3. Hilarie Cornwell, James Cornwell, Saints, Signs, and Symbols: The Symbolic Language of Christian Art (Church Publishing 2009 ISBN 9780819223456), p. 43
  4. "Archangel Gabriel: Representation of a female or androgynous Gabriel". 2007-09-19. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  5. +44 1777 710999. "Archangel Gabriel". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  6. "Archangel Gabriel - Folklore and Mythology". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  7. THE Dedication (Jesus' birth) "The priests serve 4 weeks per year: 1 week twice a year in courses, and the two week-long feasts, unleavened bread and tabernacles. Pentecost is a one-day observance, which would have come before Zacharias' (the 8th) course began, or at the latest, the 1st day of his course, which was from 12 thru 18 Sivan, or noon on the 19th, if Josephus is correct that courses changed at noon on the sabbaths." Josephus Antiquities b.7 ch.14 s.7 "eight days, from sabbath to sabbath." Josephus against Apion b.2 sect.8 "mid-day"
  8. Joshua 21:9-11 with Luke 1:39-40
  9. See also Easton's Bible Dictionary entry on angels
  10. The angel is unnamed in Paul's description of the rising of the dead in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, which mentions the shout of an angel and the trumpet of God; nor is the angel named in other passages of the raising of the dead, such as Matthew 24:31 (angels' trumpet blast), John 5:25–29 (the voice of the Son of God); 1 Corinthians (a trumpet will sound); Revelation 8–11 (trumpets of seven angels).
  11. Milton, Paradise Lost, XI.72ff was identified by S. Vernon McCasland, ("Gabriel's Trumpet" Journal of Bible and Religion 9.3 [August 1941:159–161] p. 161) as the first identification in English of Gabriel as the trumpeter: "Betwixt these rockie pillars Gabriel sat, Chief of the Angelic guards" (IV.545f)... he Blew his trumpet, heard in Oreb since perhaps When God descended, and perhaps once more To sound at general doom." (IX.73ff).
  12. Both spirituals and Green Pastures were noted by McCasland 1941.
  13. Trump of doom: "The wakeful trump of doom" is John Milton's phrase in his "Hymn on the morning of Christ's Nativity", drawing upon the King James Version's "We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." (1 Corinthians 15:51f).
  14. Walters MS 543, fol. 14.
  15. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 119
  16. Velimirovic, Bishop Nikolai (1985). "July 13: The Holy Archangel Gabriel". Prologue from Ochrid. Birmingham, UK: Lazarica Press. ISBN 978-0-948298-05-9. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  17. Nega Mezlekia, Notes from the Hyena's Belly: An Ethiopian Childhood (New York: Picador, 2000), p. 266. ISBN 0-312-28914-6.
  18. All ancient sources, including Tabari, Zamakhshari and Baydawi elaborate on Gabriel's role as the transmitter
  19. Encyclopedia of Islam, Djabrail
  20. Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Story of Zachariah; Story of Jesus
  21. Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Story of Ishmael
  22. "Links to images of Gabriel". The Text This Week. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  23. "התרנגולים - אליפלט - שירונט". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  24. "אין לו אופי אפילו במיל". Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  25. "The Salt Lake Tribune" (USA) 8 January 2008, pg. E1-E2, by Brandon Griggs, "Woman of Steel"


  • Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (15 March 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
  • Dennis, Geoffrey. 2007. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism. Llewellyn LTD.
  • 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.

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