The Archangel Gabriel
In the Hebrew Bible, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions (Daniel 8:15–26, 9:21–27). The archangel also appears in the Book of Enoch and other ancient Jewish writings. Alongside the archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending its people against the angels of the other nations. Gabriel is also translated as “strength of God” in some languages.
The Gospel of Luke relates the stories of the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and the Virgin Mary, foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1:11–38). Many Christian traditions—including Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholicism—revere Gabriel as a saint.
Islam regards Gabriel as an archangel sent by God to various prophets, including Muhammad. The first five verses of the Al-Alaq, the 96th chapter of the Quran, is believed by Muslims to have been the first verses revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad. The Latter-day Saints hold that the angel Gabriel is the same individual as the prophet Noah in his mortal ministry.
According to one ancient Gnostic manuscript, the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, Gabriel is a divine being and inhabitant of the Pleroma who existed prior to the Demiurge. Yazidis consider Gabriel one of the Seven Mysteries, the heptad to which God entrusted the world, and sometimes identified with the archangel Melek Taus.
Archangel Gabriel in Judaism
Talmudic rabbis interpreted the “man in linen” as Gabriel in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Ezekiel. In the Book of Daniel, Gabriel is responsible for interpreting Daniel’s visions. Gabriel’s main function in Daniel is that of revealer, a role he continues in later literature. In the Book of Ezekiel, Gabriel is understood to be the angel that was sent to destroy Jerusalem. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Gabriel takes the form of a man, and stands at the left hand of God. Shimon ben Lakish (Syria Palaestina, 3rd century) concluded that the angelic names of Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel came out of the Babylonian exile (Gen. Rab. 48:9). Alongside archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending this people against the angels of the other nations.
In Kabbalah, Gabriel is identified with the sephirah of Yesod. Gabriel also has a prominent role as one of God’s archangels in the Kabbalah literature. There, Gabriel is portrayed as working in concert with Michael as part of God’s court. Gabriel is not to be prayed to because only God can answer prayers and sends Gabriel as his agent.
According to Jewish mythology, in the Garden of Eden there is a tree of life or the “tree of souls” that blossoms and produces new souls, which fall into the Guf, the Treasury of Souls. Gabriel reaches into the treasury and takes out the first soul that comes into his hand. Then Lailah, the Angel of Conception, watches over the embryo until it is born.