The archangel Michael is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments, rabbinic midrash, and various apocryphal writings. In Jewish tradition he is described as a prince of Israel who intervened to protect the Israelites at key moments in their history. Among Christians he is hailed as the leader of God's armies in heaven and an agent of healing. He is also an angel of death, the judge of souls and a bestower of mercy.
Protector of Israel
Michael is mentioned once in the Old Testament, in the book of Daniel. His name is invoked by the angel Gabriel as one of the "chief princes" who helped Gabriel overcome strong opposition from the prince of the kingdom of Persia. This becomes the basis of later Jewish tradition which places Michael at key points in Israelite history such as the near-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham, the education of Moses and the rescue of Jerusalem from siege by Assyrian forces.
Leader of God's Armies
In the New Testament, Michael is mentioned in the Book of Revelation as the one who led God's angels when war broke out in heaven. This led to later iconic depictions of Michael as the victor over Satan, represented as a dragon.
Agent of Healing
In Christian tradition, Michael is an agent of healing, and many shrines and sanctuaries for the sick were built in his honor. During the Middle Ages, Michael's intervention was credited with ending outbreaks of the plague.
Bestower of Mercy
Christian legends gave Michael the role of custodian of the dead and dying. In this capacity he is said to visit the dying, mercifully giving them a final chance to repent, and to bear the souls of the dead to heaven for judgment.
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