Our group were chatting about angels, their names and their functions or duties. Where can I find out the names of angels and what they do? Could you tell me some of their names? Thank you.
Dear David Levy,
The Hebrew word for angel is malach, which means messenger, angelos in Greek. According to traditional Jewish sources, angels are the powers which fulfill the will of G-d.
Our Sages say there are four angels who allegorically accompany man and protect him. Michael on his right, Gabriel on his left, Oriel in front of him, and Rafael from behind. The idea is that there are four "fields" in which one needs continuous help, and man receives this help via certain channels by which G-d conducts the occurrences in this world.
Michael, "Mi Cael - who is like the merciful G-d?" is the representative of the attribute of mercy. Gabriel - "my strength is G-d"- represents the attribute of power and judgment; they are therefore on the right and left respectively. Oriel - "my light is G-d," represents the attribute of knowledge by which man wishes to know what lies ahead and how to act accordingly; thus, Oriel "stands before" a man to show him the way. Rafael - "my healer is G-d" - is the attribute by which G-d heals any ill which befalls a man; that is why he "stands behind" man.