Uriel One of the most important angels, described as an archangel, seraph, and cherub. Uriel probably means “ﬁre of God” or “God is my light.” Uriel is often identiﬁed as one of the four primary angels, along with Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, possibly aspects of the ANGEL OF THE LORD. He is not part of the ofﬁcial Catholic canon, but he is prominent in Jewish texts and apocryphal writings.
Uriel is among the angels identiﬁed as the ANGEL OF DEATH; ANGEL OF GREAT COUNSEL; ANGEL OF PEACE; ANGEL OF TRUTH; and as one of the ANGELS OF THE EARTH; ANGELS OF THE PRESENCE; ANGELS OVER THE CONSUMMATION and one of the ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION sent to destroy SODOM AND GOMORRAH. He is an angel of September, summer, and Libra and Aquarius.
In 1 Enoch Uriel (Suriel) is identiﬁed as a guide to ENOCH on his trip through the layers of heavens; he is the angel who “watches over thunder and terror.” As a cherub, Uriel is said to guard the Gate of Eden with a
ﬁery sword in hand. He also appears as a “benign angel” who attacks MOSES for not observing the circumcision rite of his son, a role also credited to Gabriel. In the Testament of SOLOMON, Uriel thwarts Error, who leads men astray. He is one of the seven PLANETARY RULERS. (See Thwarting Angels)
Uriel is portrayed as a stern and punishing angel. Enoch said he is head of the seven archangels, and he presides over Tartarus or HELL, where he pursues punishment of sinners. According to the Apocalypse of St. Peter, this punishment consists of burning sinners in everlasting ﬁre and hanging blasphemers by their tongues over unquenchable ﬁres. On the day of judgment, he will break the brazen gates of Hades and assemble all the souls before the judgment seat.
Uriel is among the angels identiﬁed as the dark angel who wrestles with JACOB. In the Prayer of Joseph, Uriel states, “I have come down to earth to make my dwelling among men, and I am called Jacob by name.” The exact meaning of this statement is not clear, but it suggests that Uriel might have become Jacob, thus making him the ﬁrst angel of record to become a mortal.
Various Jewish sources relate the story that when Cain kills Abel and tries to bury the corpse, earth spews it up again and cries, “I will receive no other body until the clay that was fashioned into Adam has been restored to me!” At this Cain ﬂees, and Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael place the corpse upon a rock, where it remains many years without corrupting. When Adam dies, these same archangels bury both bodies at Hebron side by side, in the very ﬁeld from which God had taken Adam’s dust.
According to midrashim and 1 Enoch, the Fallen Angels Azael and Semyaza (see Watchers) cause such wickedness on earth that the archangels tell God. He sends Raphael to bind Azael hand and foot, heaping jagged rocks over him in the dark Cave of Dudael, where he now abides until the last days. Gabriel destroys the Fallen Ones by inciting them to civil war. Michael chains Semyaza and his fellows in other dark caves for 70 generations. Uriel becomes the messenger of salvation who visits NOAH. Dispatched by Metatron, he warns Noah about the coming Flood.
Like Metatron, Uriel also is credited with giving the gift of the KABBALAH to humanity. He is said to have led Abraham out of Ur and to have interpreted prophecies for the beneﬁt of humanity. In 4 Ezra, Uriel reveals heavenly mysteries to EZRA and answers weighty questions about evil and justice. He serves as a guide of the luminaries. Uriel appears in QUMRAN TEXTS, such as the Gospel of Barnabas. Uriel was condemned as one of the REPROBATED ANGELS in 745 C.E. by a church council, but he was later reinstated. He is often portrayed as holding a ﬂame in his open hand.
- Gaster, Theodor H. The Dead Sea Scriptures. 3d ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor/Doubleday, 1976.
- Godwin, Malcolm. Angels: An Endangered Species. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.
- Margolies, Morris B. A Gathering of Angels. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994.