Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Raphael the Archangel (a.s.) & His "Lie"
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Only three angels are mentioned by name in the Canonical Scriptures. They are Michael (a.s.), Gabriel (a.s.) and Raphael (a.s.). Raphael (a.s.) is mentioned explicitly only in the Book of Tobit. In contrast, Michael (a.s.) is referenced in the Book of Daniel, the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelations while Gabriel (a.s.) is in the Book of Daniel and the Gospel according to Luke. He is often venerated and patronised as St. Raphael the Archangel.
“Raphael,” in Hebrew means, “God Heals.” He is recognised as archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, he performs all manner of healing. St. Raphael is presented in the Scriptures as a healing angel. Among Catholics, he is considered the patron saint of medical workers, matchmakers, and travelers. Raphael (a.s.) is sometimes shown as standing atop a large fish or holding a caught fish at the end of a line. This is a reference to Book of Tobit, where he told Tobias to catch a fish, and then uses the gallbladder to heal Tobit’s (a.s.) eyes, and to drive away Asmodeus by burning the heart and liver.
In Islam, Raphael (a.s.) is also known as “Israfil.” According to the ahadith, he is the angel responsible for signaling the coming of Judgment Day by blowing the trumpet. According to tradition, the trumpet will be blown three times. The first blow of the trumpet will signal the beginning of the Last Day. The second blow will signal the death of every living thing including angels, jinn and humans. The third and final blow will signal the time when all the souls from all ages will be gathered for Judgement.
The angels mentioned in the Torah are without names. Raphael (a.s.) is named in several Jewish apocryphal books. In the Book of Enoch, Raphael (a.s.) bound Azazel under a desert in a place called Dudael. “Azazel” or “Azazil” is the name of Iblis before he was cast from Heaven. “Dudael” is Hebrew for “God’s Cauldron.”
4 And again the Lord Said to Raphael, “Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. 5 And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light. 6 And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire.
In the Christian tradition, Raphael appears only in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit. The Book of Tobit is accepted as canonical by Catholics, Orthodox and some Anglicans. Raphael first appears disguised in human form as the travelling companion of Tobit's (a.s.) son, Tobiah, calling himself, “Azarias, the son of the great Ananias.” During the adventurous course of the journey the archangel’s protection is advertised in several instances. They include the binding of the demon in the desert of Upper Egypt and healing the blindness of Tobit (a.s.).
15 “Who am I? I am the angel Raphael, and my place is among those seven who stand in the Presence of the Lord.”
This is compared to the unnamed angels in John of Patmos’ Revelation.
2 And now I saw seven trumpets given to the seven angels who stand in God’s Presence.
We know of the healing powers attributed to Raphael (a.s.) because of his declaration to Tobit (a.s.) that he was Sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sarah, his future daughter-in-law, from the demon Asmodeus, who had abducted and killed every man she married on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated.
14 And now, for thy healing, for the deliverance of thy son’s wife, Sarah, from the fiend’s attack, He has Chosen me for His messenger.
In the New Testament, only the archangels Gabriel (a.s.) and Michael (a.s.) are mentioned by name. Later manuscripts of the Gospel according to John refer to the pool at Bethesda:
1 After this came a Jewish feast, for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 There is a pool in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate, called in Hebrew, “Bethsaida,” with five porches, 3 under which a multitude of diseased folk used to lie, the blind, the lame, the disabled, waiting for a disturbance of the water. 4 From time to time, an angel of the Lord came down upon the pool, and the water was stirred up; and the first man who stepped into the pool after the stirring of the water, recovered from whatever infirmity it was that oppressed him.
This verse is omitted by some manuscripts. Because of the healing role assigned to Raphael (a.s.), this particular angel is generally associated with the archangel. In the Book of Tobit, Raphael (a.s.) identified himself to the prophet by a different name.
Tobit 5:17, 18
17 It was indeed no other than the angel Raphael that spoke to him; “What,” he answered, “is it my lineage, not myself, thou wouldst have for thy son’s escort? 18 But set thy mind at rest; my name is Azarias, and a man of renown, Ananias, was my father.”
Did St. Raphael (a.s.) lie? The name “Azarias” means “God has Brought Aid”, and the name “Ananias” means “God has been Merciful.” The angel had chosen a name to signify the nature of his office. Athanasius explained that he was actually wearing the appearance of the living Azarias and was appointed by Divine Providence to represent him; he was, so to speak, Azarias’ second self. The purpose of concealing his angelic nature was evidently so as to make proof of the elder Tobias’ faith.