Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Today is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels: Michael ("Who is like God?"); Gabriel ("God is my champion"); Raphael ("God heals"); Uriel ("God is my light").

"El," pretty obviously, is a Hebrew suffix (or prefix) that means "God." So: Michael, Gabriel, Ariel, etc. More about this:

The word El appears in other northwest Semitic languages such as Phoenician and Aramaic and in Akkadian ilu as an ordinary word for god. It is aso found also in the South-Arabian dialects and in Ethiopic, and as in Hebrew it is often used as an element in proper names. In northwest Semitic texts it appears to be often but not always used of one single god, of "the God", the head of the pantheon, sometimes specifically said to be the creator.

El is used in both the singular and plural, both for other gods and for the God of Israel. As a name of God, however, it is used chiefly in poetry and prophetic discourse, rarely in prose, and then usually with some epithet attached, as "a jealous God." Other examples of its use with some attribute or epithet are: El ‘Elyon ("most high God"), El Shaddai ("God Almighty"), El ‘Olam ("everlasting God"), El Hai ("living God"), El Ro’i ("God of seeing"), El Elohe Israel ("God, the God of Israel"), El Gibbor ("Hero God"). In addition, names such as Gabriel ("Hero of God"), Michael ("Who is Like God"), and Daniel ("God is My Judge") use God's name in a similar fashion.

This must be where they got the names, too, for people on the planet Krypton, in the Superman stories: Jor-el, Kal-el. It all comes together at last.

Some more angels:

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
bright seraphs, cherubim, and thrones,
raise the glad strain,

Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
virtues, archangels, angels' choirs,
Alleluia! alleluia! alleluia!
Alleluia! alleluia!

The reading at the mass was from Revelation 12:

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

War in heaven! Between the dragons and the angels!

I've got to read this book someday.

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