Angels in Hebrew writings after the Old Testament

The Angels In Jewish literature following the Old Testament, they acquired full independence. Manifesting themselves as autonomous beings with their own name and personal characteristics. However, it was only in the Hellenistic period that the Jewish religion felt the need to propose its own doctrine on angels, probably to counter precisely those superstitious pre-Biblical beliefs.

In fact, in the period of the Second Temple, the belief was affirmed that only the great prophets of ancient times had directly confronted God. While for contemporary human beings that contact could only be reached through angels. On the basis of this new conception of the role of angels, their nature and individual characteristics began to be studied.

It ended with the affirmation that the truth about creation and its end was beyond human means and could only be known through the angels. In addition, the deportation of the Jewish people to Babylon also involved profound contamination of the two cultures. The Jews came into contact with the Babylonian myths of the creation, the flood, and the creation of man, as well as with the numerous legends about the contacts between Gods and Men.

In order to reconcile those polytheistic myths with the monotheism that developed during the centuries in which the Jews had remained far from their Semitic homelands, they attributed much of those stories to the angelic world. In particular, with reference to this evolution, we can analyze the figure of Enoch, a character who was created under clear Babylonian influence.

He is considered the protector and creator of human culture, thanks to the transmission of divine wisdom to men. And that he carries out that intermediary activity between God and Man typical of the Jewish religion.

Other sources also treat Noah and Abraham alike, ascribing their special abilities of knowledge and wisdom to the angelic world. It can therefore be said that the external cultural influences linked to the world of pagan demonology have been assimilated by the Jews introducing them into the angelic world.

The Jewish sects and the angels

The doctrine of angels was not spread uniformly in the Jewish people, so much so that the apocalyptic preachers of the first millennium BC. attributed their knowledge of what would happen in the last days to contact with the angels.

Therefore, restricted groups of acolytes developed and special initiatory practices that could be followed to be admitted into such groups, so as to be able to access a higher level of knowledge related to angels. For this reason, the greatest diffusion of beliefs about angels took place in the secret society of the Essenes.

They jealously kept the list of names of angels and the Qumran manuscripts themselves (also called the Dead Sea manuscripts). they show us a complex structure linked to angels. In which the Prince of Light would fight together with the Sons of Light against the Prince of Darkness, on the last day of Creation. Thus was born the dualism of the struggle between the forces of Good and Evil for the final destiny of Man (Qumran War Scroll, 1QM 13:11).

However, other sects were not interested at all in these topics and in angels in general. Among them, the Pharisees showed little interest in these supernatural creatures, while the Sadducees even denied their existence (Acts of the Apostles 23: 8), as well as the possibility of resurrection or coming into contact with spirits, due to their firm opposition to any kind of mysticism.

The contrast between various ideological positions within sects also led to general confusion about the concept of the angel in popular culture. Especially among Jewish wizards and sorcerers, as angels were often associated with pagan deities for the treatment of various kinds of diseases. As possessors of secret healing formulas or other means that could protect or heal Man.

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