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Raphael (archangel)

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Raphael (Heb. רפאל) is a Hebrew word that means "God is healing," thus Raphael is originally an archangel made known in ancient Judaism, who performs all manner of healing. The Hebrew word for a doctor of medicine is Rophe connected to the same root word as Raphael. Since Christianity drew many of its teachings from Judaism, it adopted some teachings about the angels such as Raphael as well.

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Raphael in Judaism

The angels mentioned in the older books of the Hebrew Bible are without names. Indeed, Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230-270 CE), asserted that all the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon, and modern commentators would tend to agree.

Of seven archangels in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, are mentioned by name in the scriptures that gradually became accepted as canonical. The four others, however, are named in the 2nd century BCE Book of Enoch (chapter xxi): Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jarahmeel.

Raphael in Christianity

The name of the archangel Raphael appears only in the Book of Tobit (Tobias). There he first appears disguised in human form as the travelling companion of the younger Tobias, calling himself "Azarias the son of the great Ananias". During the adventurous course of the journey the archangel's protective influence is shown in many ways including the binding of the demon in the desert of upper Egypt. After the return and the healing of the blindness of the elder Tobias, Azarias makes himself known as "the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord" (Tobit, xii, 15). Compare the unnamed angels in John's Apocalypse viii, 2.

Regarding the healing powers attributed to Raphael, we have little more than his declaration to Tobias (Tobit, 12) that he was sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his daughter-in-law, from the devil that was the serial killer of her husbands.

He is the main character in the Book of Tobit, which is included in the Septuagint but assigned an apocryphal status by Protestant churches.

Raphael is not often the patron of Christian churches. One notable exception is St. Raphael's Cathedral in Dubuque, Iowa, seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dubuque. He has made only a light impression on Catholic geography: Saint Raphaël, France and Saint Raphaël, Quebec, Canada; San Rafaels in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and in Venezuela as San Rafael de Mohán and San Rafael de Orituco. In the United States, San Rafaels inherited from Mexico survive in California (where besides the city there are San Rafael Mountains), in New Mexico, and in Utah, where the San Rafael River flows seasonally in the San Rafael Desert.

In the New Testament, only the archangels Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name (Luke, i, 19, 26; Epistle of Jude, 9). The "angel of the Lord" that is mentioned in John 5 is generally associated with Raphael, however, because of the "healing" in the archangel's name accords with the healing role assigned to Raphael in the Book of Tobias. John 5:1-4, refers to the pool at Bethesda, where the multitude of the infirm lay awaiting the moving of the water, for "an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved. And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under".

Raphael in the Occult

Modern occultists sometimes associate Raphael with the color Yellow, the direction East, the element Air, and the Suit of Swords of the Tarot in traditions loosely derived from reports of Kabbalism.

In Stregheria, Raphael's Grigori counterpart is Aldebaran.

See also

fr:Raphal (archange) ja:ラファエル

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