- RAPHAEL, one of the chief angels. The name occurs in the Bible (I Chron. 26:7) but not yet as an angelic name, first appearing as such in the Apocrypha (Tob. 12:15 and I En. 20:3), where he is one of the seven archangels. In angelological systems built upon four archangels, he is one of the four; the others are Michael, gabriel , and uriel or Suriel (I En. 9:1–3). He defeats the demon Asmodeus (Tob. 3:17) and binds azazel , chief of the demons, throwing him into the abyss (I En. 10:4). As his name implies ("God is healing"), he is the angel set over all kinds of healing and this is his main function. The Talmud (Yoma 37a; BM 86) knows of him as one of the three angels who came to visit Abraham after he had circumcised himself. From the second century on, Jewish traditions referring to Raphael were taken over by both Christian angelology and syncretistic magic. His name occurs frequently in magical papyri in Greek and Coptic, on amulets, and in many Jewish and Mandean incantations. As a planetary angel he governs the sun, and in the division of the four corners of the world he commands the west. He is one of the four angels of the Presence who stand on the four sides of God, a notion taken over into the prayer at bedtime: "to my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God's Shekhinah ("the presence of God")." According to esoteric Midrashim, his original name was Laviel or Buel but the name was changed to Raphael when he defended against the other angels God's decision to create man. In kabbalistic literature he keeps his high rank and is credited with many missions and functions. Among the four elements he governs earth; in the colors of the rainbow he represents green. M. Recanati even sees him as the angel who governs primordial matter before it divides up into the four elements. According to others, he commands the host of angels known as the ofannim. He is also ordained over one of the four rivers coming out of paradise. In the Zohar he is the angel who dominates the morning hours which bring relief to the sick and suffering. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Schwab, Vocabulaire de l'angélologie (1897), 10, 249; A. Kohuth, Die juedische Angelologie (1866), 35; C. Preisendanz, Papyri graecae magicae, 3 (1928), index; G. Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels (1967), 240–2; R. Margolioth, Malakhei Elyon (1945), 184–92. (Gershom Scholem)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.