Angel Raziel

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Archangel Raziel, attributed to the Circle of Francisco de Zurbarán, circa 1650

Raziel, whose name means "Secrets of God" or "God is my mystery" in Hebrew, is an angel of revelation. Known as the "Angel of Secrets" and the "Angel of Mysteries," he is also called the "Keeper of All Magic," for his mission is to act as the transmitter of occult and hidden secrets to mankind. According to Targum Kohelet 10:20, Raziel brings the words of humans to heaven and, hearing what is said and discussed in the celestial realm, brings decrees back to humankind. Raziel shields the guardian angels from the fiery breath of the Chayyot as they stand around the Throne of Glory.

There are many kinds of angels in Judaism, and accounting for their ranks and duties occupies a significant portion of the Jewish grimoire tradition and the Kabbalah, Within these texts, considerable ambiguity surrounds Raziel. Some say that he is a Cherubim, others that he is an Ophanim. The great Jewish scholar Maimonides counted ten different types of angels, rather than the more traditional seven, and, following his lead, some say that Raziel is the chief of a class of angel known as Erelim. In Sefer Malachei Elyon 180, Raziel is identified with the angel Galitzur. In Zohar Hadash 99:3 Raziel seems to embody the sefirot of Tiferet; however, some have chosen to associate him with he sephirot of Chokhmah.

Raziel is best known as the author a magical book. According to an account in the Zohar I:55a, Raziel inscribed a manual, the "Sefer Raziel" or "Book of Raziel", on sapphire. Initially it was given to Seraph, then the Archangel Metatron, and then to Adam and Eve. The Cherubim were upset that this knowledge was put into the hands of humanity and so these angels descended to Earth to steal the book. To ensure that the book would never be found, the angels threw it into the ocean. However, God ordered the Archangel Raphael (or, alternatively, the sea-monster Rahab, mentioned in Psalms 89) to bring it up from the waters and give it to Noah in order to protect him during the great flood. After having passed through the hands of Enoch, it was given to King Solomon by a Babylonian prince. Like most things concerning Raziel, accounts of this book are quite confusing, because in actuality, there are two similar, but different books attributed to Raziel: "Sefer Raziel (The Book of Raziel)" and "Sefer Raziel ha-Malach (The Book of Raziel the Angel)" -- and these two texts have been conflated with one another since the 1300s. The latter covers important magical topics such as angelology, astrological magic, gematria, the names of God, protection spells, and creating magical healing amulets.


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