URIEL


URIEL, one of the four angels of the Presence first mentioned in I Enoch 9:1. Together with Michael, *Gabriel, and *Raphael he addressed a prayer to God requesting Him to bring to an end the rule of violence and bloodshed which the *Nephilim had brought to the earth. In His reply God charged Uriel with announcing to Noah the "end of all flesh" which would be brought about by the flood. Along with the other angels of the Presence, Uriel served as a guide to Enoch in the upper heavens (I En. ch. 19ff.), but his particular function was to govern the army of angels and the *Netherworld, Sheol (20:1). It would appear that this same function is mentioned in I Enoch 75:3ff.: "[Uriel], whom the Lord of glory hath set for ever over all the luminaries of the heaven, in the heaven and in the world, that they should rule on the face of the heaven and be seen in the earth, and be leaders for the day and the night." A special function is assigned to Uriel in IV Ezra (II Esdras), where he replies to Ezra's questions on the state of the world and the divine plan for the world and the people of Israel. By means of visions, he reveals to Ezra the course and duration of the present age and the conditions of life and the place of the people of Israel in the new world to come (II Esd. 4ff.).

According to Midrash Rabbah (Num. 2:10), Uriel is one of the four angels whom God placed around His throne. In the Kabbalah (including the Zohar), these angels of the Presence are identified with the four holy beasts which *Ezekiel saw in the *Merkabah and the figure of Uriel with that of the eagle, and sometimes with that of the lion. These four angels shed their light on the four winds of heaven, and the light which is shed over the west, the most perfect light, is that of Uriel. The Zohar (I, 6b; III, 32b, 211a) ascribes to Uriel a special function in connection with the sacrifices at the time of the First Temple. The altar, which is called *Ariel (Isa. 29:1–2), is thus named because of Uriel, who descended in the likeness of a lion to crouch on the altar and devour the sacrifices. At his descent, the hearts of the priests and the children of Israel were gladdened for they recognized thereby that the sacrifices had been accepted with favor. The appearance of Uriel in the altar fire caused all those who could see the flames to suffer a change of heart and repent. Yet for Israel's sins Uriel's primary strength was taken from him, and instead of the fire containing divine inspiration a strange fire descended on the altar, which took the form of a [demonic] dog. In several passages of the Zohar, Uriel and Nuriel are the same angel, seen under different aspects. He is called Uriel under the aspect of mercy, but Nuriel under the aspect of rigor and severity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

S.A. Horodetzky, in: Sefer Klausner (1937), 277–82; R. Margaliot, Malakhei Elyon (19642), 5–10; Zunz, Poesie, 470; P. Bloch, in: MGWJ, 37 (1893), 18ff.

[Joshua Gutmann]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.