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The Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis Paolo de Matteis - The Annunciation.jpg
The Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis

An archangel /ˌɑːrkˈnəl/ is an angel of the highest rank. The word archangel itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions, but beings that are very similar to archangels are found in a number of other religious traditions. Archangels also appear in the religious texts of Gnosticism. [1] [2] The four most common archangels are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel.


The English word archangel is derived from Greek ἀρχάγγελος, literally 'chief angel' or 'angel of origin'. [3] It appears only twice in the New Testament in the phrase "with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ) and in relation to "the archangel Michael" ( Jude 9 ). The corresponding but different Hebrew word in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) is found in two places as in "Michael, one of the chief princes" (Dan 10:13) and in "Michael, the great prince" (Dan 12:1).


The four archangels, mosaics at St John's Church, Warminster Four Archangels, St John's Church, Warminster, Wiltshire.jpg
The four archangels, mosaics at St John's Church, Warminster

Michael and Gabriel are recognized as archangels in Judaism, Islam, and by most Christians. Some Protestants consider Michael to be the only archangel. Raphael—mentioned in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit—is also recognized as a chief angel in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael are venerated in the Roman Catholic Church with a feast on September 29 (between 1921 and 1969, March 24 for Gabriel and October 24 for Raphael), and in the Eastern Orthodox Church on November 8 (if the Julian calendar is used, this corresponds to November 21 in the Gregorian). The named archangels in Islam are Jibrael, Mikael, Israfil, and Azrael. Jewish literature, such as the Book of Enoch, also mentions Metatron as an archangel, called the "highest of the angels", though the acceptance of this angel is not canonical in all branches of the faith.

Some branches of the faiths mentioned have identified a group of seven Archangels, but the named angels vary, depending on the source. Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael are always mentioned; the other archangels vary, but most commonly include Uriel, who is mentioned in 2 Esdras.

In Zoroastrianism, sacred texts allude to the six great Amesha Spenta (literally "Bounteous/Holy Immortals") [4] of Ahura Mazda.

In Zoroastrianism

An increasing number of experts in anthropology, theology and philosophy believe that Zoroastrianism contains the earliest distillation of prehistoric belief in angels. [5]

The Amesha Spentas (Avestan: Aməša Spəṇta, meaning "immortal holiness") of Zoroastrianism are likened to archangels. They individually inhabit immortal bodies that operate in the physical world to protect, guide, and inspire humanity and the spirit world. The Avesta explains the origin and nature of archangels or Amesha Spentas. [5]

To maintain equilibrium, Ahura Mazda engaged in the first act of creation, distinguishing his Holy Spirit Spenta Mainyu, the Archangel of righteousness. Ahura Mazda also distinguished from himself six more Amesha Spentas, who, along with Spenta Mainyu, aided in the creation of the physical universe. Then he oversaw the development of sixteen lands, each imbued with a unique cultural catalyst calculated to encourage the formation of distinct human populations. The Amesha Spentas were charged with protecting these holy lands and through their emanation, also believed to align each respective population in service to God. [6]

The Amesha Spentas as attributes of God are:

  1. Spenta Mainyu (Pahlavi: [7] Spenamino): lit. "Bountiful Spirit"
  2. Asha Vahishta (Phl. Ardwahisht): lit. "Highest Truth"
  3. Vohu Mano (Phl. Vohuman): lit. "Righteous Mind"
  4. Khshathra Vairya (Phl. Shahrewar): lit. "Desirable Dominion"
  5. Spenta Armaiti (Phl. Spandarmad): lit. "Holy Devotion"
  6. Haurvatat (Phl. Hordad): lit. "Perfection or Health"
  7. Ameretat (Phl. Amurdad): lit. "Immortality"

In Judaism

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Gustave Dore, 1885 Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.jpg
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel by Gustave Doré, 1885

The Hebrew Bible uses the term מלאכי אלהים (malakhi Elohim; Angels of God), [8] The Hebrew word for angel is "malach," which means messenger, for the angels מלאכי יי (malakhi Adonai; Angels of the Lord) are God's messengers to perform various missions - e.g. 'angel of death'; [9] בני אלהים (b'nei elohim; sons of God) and הקדושים (ha-q'doshim; the holy ones) to refer to beings traditionally interpreted as angelic messengers. Other terms are used in later texts, such as העליונים (ha-elyonim, the upper ones, or the supreme ones). References to angels are uncommon in Jewish literature except in later works such as the Book of Daniel, though they are mentioned briefly in the stories of Jacob (who according to one interpretation wrestled with an angel) and Lot (who was warned by angels of the impending destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah). Daniel is the first biblical figure to refer to individual angels by name. [10] It is therefore widely speculated that Jewish interest in angels developed during the Babylonian captivity. [11] According to Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270 A.D.), specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon.

There are no explicit references to archangels in the canonical texts of the Hebrew Bible. In post-Biblical Judaism, certain angels came to take on a particular significance and developed unique personalities and roles. Though these archangels were believed to have ranked amongst the heavenly host, no systematic hierarchy ever developed. Metatron is considered one of the highest of the angels in Merkavah and Kabbalist mysticism and often serves as a scribe. He is briefly mentioned in the Talmud, [12] and figures prominently in Merkavah mystical texts. Michael, who serves as a warrior and advocate for Israel, [13] is looked upon particularly fondly. Gabriel is mentioned in the Book of Daniel [14] and briefly in the Talmud, [15] as well as many Merkavah mystical texts. The earliest references to archangels are in the literature of the intertestamental periods (e.g., 4 Esdras 4:36).

In the Kabbalah there are twelve archangels, each assigned to a certain sephira: Metatron, Raziel, Cassiel, Zadkiel, Camael, Michael, Uriel & Haniel, Raphael & Jophiel, Gabriel, and Sandalphon. Chapter 20 of the Book of Enoch mentions seven holy angels who watch, that often are considered the seven archangels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraqael, Raguel, and Remiel. [16] The Life of Adam and Eve lists the archangels as well: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel. Medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides made a Jewish angelic hierarchy.

In Christianity

Guido Reni's Archangel Michael Trampling Lucifer, 1636 GuidoReni MichaelDefeatsSatan.jpg
Guido Reni's Archangel Michael Trampling Lucifer, 1636

The New Testament makes over a hundred references to angels, but uses the word "archangel" only twice, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ("For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first", KJV) and Jude 1:9 ("Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee", KJV).


Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, depicted in stained glass in St Ailbe's Church, a Catholic church in Ireland Archangels in Emly.jpg
Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, depicted in stained glass in St Ailbe's Church, a Catholic church in Ireland

In Catholicism, three are mentioned by name:

These three are commemorated together liturgically on September 29. Each formerly had his own feast (see individual articles).

The latter of these identifies himself in Tobit 12:15(NAB) thus: "I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord."

The Fourth Book of Esdras, which mentions the angel Uriel (and also the "archangel" Jeremiel), was popular in the West and was frequently quoted by Church Fathers, especially Ambrose, but was never considered part of the Catholic biblical canon. [17]

The Catholic Church gives no official recognition to the names given in some apocryphal sources, such as Raguel, Saraqael and Remiel (in the Book of Enoch) or Izidkiel, Hanael, and Kepharel (in other such sources). [18]

Eastern Orthodox

Angelic Council, Orthodox icon of the seven archangels, left to right: Jegudiel, Gabriel, Selaphiel, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, Barachiel. Beneath the mandorla of Christ-Immanuel (God is with us) are representations of Cherubim (blue) and Seraphim (red). Archangels.JPG
Angelic Council, Orthodox icon of the seven archangels, left to right: Jegudiel, Gabriel, Selaphiel, Michael, Uriel, Raphael, Barachiel. Beneath the mandorla of Christ-Immanuel (God is with us) are representations of Cherubim (blue) and Seraphim (red).

Eastern Orthodox Tradition mentions "thousands of archangels"; [19] however, only seven archangels are venerated by name. [20] Uriel is included, and the other three are most often named Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel (an eighth, Jeremiel, is sometimes included as archangel). [21] The Orthodox Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers on November 8 of the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar (for those churches which follow the Julian Calendar, November 8 falls on November 21 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). Other feast days of the Archangels include the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel on March 26 (April 8), and the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Colossae on September 6 (September 19). In addition, every Monday throughout the year is dedicated to the Angels, with special mention being made in the church hymns of Michael and Gabriel. In Orthodox iconography, each angel has a symbolic representation: [21]

Coptic Orthodox

Coptic icon of the Archangel Michael. Among all the archangels, the Copts pay special attention to St Michael. Coptic Icon of the Archangel Michael.jpg
Coptic icon of the Archangel Michael. Among all the archangels, the Copts pay special attention to St Michael.

In addition to Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the Coptic Orthodox Church recognises four more archangels by name: [23]

Ethiopian Orthodox

Ethiopian icon of an angel, possibly St Michael. Coleccion Miguel Galles Icono etiope soporte pergamino XX (25x20) (2).JPG
Ethiopian icon of an angel, possibly St Michael.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church venerates the four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, as well as: [24] [25]

In the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 1 Enoch describes Saraqael as one of the angels who watch over "the spirits that sin in the spirit" (Enoch 20:7–8).


The standard Protestant Bible provides names for three angels: "Michael the archangel", the angel Gabriel, who is called "the man Gabriel" in Daniel 9:21 and third "Abaddon"/"Apollyon" in Revelation 9:11. Among Protestant communities, the Anglican and many Methodist traditions recognize four angels as archangels: Michael the Archangel, Raphael the Archangel, Gabriel the Archangel, and Uriel the Archangel. [26] [27] But a depiction of seven archangels in stained-glass windows can be found in some Anglican churches. In this case, in addition to the aforementioned angels, Chamuel, Jophiel and Zadkiel are also depicted. They are commemorated on 29 September, “Michaelmas”, in the church calendar. [28] The evangelist Billy Graham wrote that in Sacred Scripture, there is only one individual explicitly described as an archangel—Michael—in Jude 1:9. [29] [30]

Seventh-day Adventists hold that the titles "Michael" and "archangel" are in reference to Jesus. However, in the Adventist view, they only signify his role as the chief of angels and make no reference to the nature of Jesus, who is fully divine. Adventists credit nonconformist minister Matthew Henry as supporting this view. [31]


Seventh-day Adventists, citing a reference to "the voice of the archangel" at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, also believe that "Michael" is another name for Jesus in heaven. They believe Jesus is an archangel in the true sense of the word—the supreme leader of angels. [32]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) interprets the term "archangel" as meaning "Chief Angel", [33] Michael is the only individual so designated in the Latter Day Saints canon. [34] It is believed that he is the head of all of the angels. [33] LDS Church doctrine also states that the archangel Michael was the first man, Adam. [35] Though no other being is identified as an "archangel", Joseph Smith taught that the angel Gabriel was known in mortality as Noah [36] and the angel Raphael is a being of significant standing, even though he has never been identified with any mortal prophet. [37]

In Islam

In Islam, the mentioned archangels [38] (Karubiyin) [39] in the Islamic exegetical traditions are:

In Gnosticism

In the Gnostic codex On the Origin of the World, the aeon named Sophia sends seven archangels from her light to save the Archon Sabaoth, the son of Yaldabaoth, after the authorities of Chaos make war in the Seven Heavens. He is then placed in a divine kingdom above the twelve gods of Chaos and becomes the consort of Zoe (the primordial Eve), who gives him knowledge of the eighth heaven, while the seven archangels stand before them. [1] In The Sophia of Jesus Christ and Eugnostos the Blessed, the primordial Adam creates myriads of gods and archangels without number. [2]

Other traditions

Occultists sometimes associate archangels in Kabbalistic fashion with various seasons or elements, or even colors. In some Kabbalah-based systems of ceremonial magic, all four of the main archangels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel) are invoked as guarding the four quarters, or directions, and their corresponding colors are associated with magical properties. [42] Lucifer or Satan in Christian traditions, or Iblis in Islam, [43] is considered an archangel by Satanists and many non-Satanists, but most non-Satanists consider him evil and fallen from God's grace.

Cultural references

Annunciatory Angel by Fra Angelico, 1437-1446 Fra Angelico-Annunciatory Angel-detail.jpg
Annunciatory Angel by Fra Angelico, 1437–1446

In art, archangels are sometimes depicted with larger wings. Some of the more commonly represented archangels are Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel. [44]

In the lesser ritual of the pentagram, the invocation includes the words "Before me Raphael; Behind me Gabriel; On my right hand Michael; On my left hand Auriel [Uriel]..." [45]

See also

Related Research Articles

Gabriel Angel in Abrahamic religions

In the Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an archangel who appears in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran.

Raphael (archangel) Archangel responsible for healing in most Abrahamic religions

Raphael is an archangel first mentioned in the Book of Tobit and in 1 Enoch, both dating from the last few centuries before Christ. In later Jewish tradition, he became identified as one of the three heavenly visitors entertained by Abraham at the Oak of Mamre. He is not named in either the New Testament or the Quran, but later Christian tradition identified him with healing and as the angel who stirred waters in the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:2-4, and in Islam, where his name is Israfil, he is understood to be the unnamed angel of Quran 6:73, standing eternally with a trumpet to his lips, ready to announce the Day of Resurrection. In Gnostic tradition, Raphael is represented on the Ophite Diagram.

Michael (archangel) Archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Michael, also called Saint Michael the Archangel or Saint Michael the Taxiarch in Orthodoxy and Archangel Michael is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The earliest surviving mentions of his name are in 3rd- and 2nd-century BCE Jewish works, often but not always apocalyptic, where he is the chief of the angels and archangels and responsible for the care of Israel. Christianity adopted nearly all the Jewish traditions concerning him, and he is mentioned explicitly in Revelation 12:7–12, where he does battle with Satan, and in the Epistle of Jude, where the author denounces heretics by contrasting them with Michael.

Christian angelology Study of angels in Christianity

In Christianity, angels are the agents of God. Various works of Christian theology have devised hierarchies of angelic beings. The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward around the turn of the 6th century AD by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in his work De Coelesti Hierarchia. He claimed to be an important figure who was converted by Paul the Apostle, who authored most of the New Testament, and his work enjoyed greater influence than it would have if he had used his actual name, until Erasmus publicised doubts about the age of the work in the early 16th century.

Uriel Archangel in Judeo-Christian tradition

Uriel or Auriel is the name of one of the archangels who is mentioned in the post-exilic rabbinic tradition and in certain Christian traditions. He is well known in the Russian Orthodox tradition and recognized in the Anglican Church as the 4th archangel. He is also well known in European esoteric medieval literature. Uriel is also known as a master of knowledge and archangel of wisdom.

Sariel is an angel, mainly from Judaic tradition. Other possible versions of his name are Suriel, Suriyel, Seriel, Sauriel, Saraqael, Sarakiel, Suruel, Surufel, and Sourial.

Jerahmeel (archangel)

The Hebrew name Jerahmeel, which appears several times in the Tanakh, also appears in various forms as the name of an archangel in books of the intertestamental and early Christian periods.

Phanuel (angel) Fourth angel who stands before God in the Book of Enoch

Phanuel is the name given to the fourth angel who stands before God in the Book of Enoch, after the angels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel. Other spellings of Phanuel include Paniel, Peniel, Penuel, Fanuel, Orfiel, and Orphiel. His name means "the face of God".

Râmîêl, not to be confused with the holy angel "Remiel", is a fallen Watcher (angel) while the other is an Archangel in the apocryphal Book of Enoch. Ramiel [Watcher] mentioned in [Chapter 7], is one of the 20 Watchers (angels) that sinned and rebelled against God by mating with the human woman and creating an offspring called Nephilim. Remiel [Archangel] is mentioned later on in [Chapter 20], as one of the seven holy angels who watch; the angel whom God set over those who rise. Remiel is also known as Jeremiel in certain translations of 2 Esdras.

Camael Angel in Judeo-Christian tradition

Camael, also spelled Khamuel, Camiel, Cameel and Camniel, is the archangel of strength, courage and war in Christian and Jewish mythology and angelology.

Seven Archangels Concept found in some works of early Jewish literature

The concept of Seven Archangels is found in some works of early Jewish literature. In those texts, they are referenced as the angels who serve God directly.

Seven Spirits of God

In the Christian Bible, the term Seven Spirits of God appears four times in the Book of Revelation. The meaning of this term has been interpreted in multiple ways.

In some Judeo-Christian traditions, the Angel of the Presence / Face or Angel of his presence / face refers to an entity variously considered angelic or else identified with God himself.

Aker is an angel mentioned in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra whose name was revealed to Esdras as one of the nine angels who will govern "at the end of the world." The nine angels mentioned are: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Gabuthelon, Aker, Arphugitonos, Beburos, and Zebuleon. Aker is not considered an archangel and is a non-canonical figure. Theologians surmise that Aker may be comparable to Kyr.

Arphugitonos is an angel mentioned in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra whose name was revealed to Esdras as one of the nine angels who will govern "at the end of the world." The nine angels mentioned are: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Gabuthelon, Aker, Arphugitonos, Beburos, and Zebuleon. Arphugitonos is not considered an archangel and is a non-canonical figure.

Beburos is an angel mentioned in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra whose name was revealed to Esdras as one of the nine angels who will govern "at the end of the world." The nine angels mentioned are Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Gabuthelon, Aker, Arphugitonos, Beburos, and Zebuleon. Beburos is not considered an archangel and is a non-canonical figure.

Zebuleon is an angel mentioned in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra whose name was revealed to Esdras as one of the nine angels who will govern "at the end of the world." The nine angels mentioned are: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Gabuthelon, Aker, Arphugitonos, Beburos, and Zebuleon. Zebuleon is not considered an archangel and is a non-canonical figure.

Saint Michael in the Catholic Church Catholic saint

Saint Michael the Archangel is referenced in the Old Testament and has been part of Christian teachings since the earliest times. In Catholic writings and traditions he acts as the defender of the Church and chief opponent of Satan, and assists people at the hour of death.

Raguel is an angel mainly of the Judaic traditions. He is considered the Angel of Justice. His name means "Friend of God".



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  2. 1 2 James M. Robinson (1984). "Eugnostos the Blessed and The Sophia of Jesus Christ". The Nag Hammadi Library in English. BRILL . Retrieved 2022-02-03.
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  6. Boyce, Mary (1989) [1975]. "Zend Avesta FARGARD XXII". A History of Zoroastrianism Volume One: The Early Period. Leiden: E. J. Brill. p. 199. ISBN   9004088474.
  7. "Glossary and Standardized spelling of Zoroastrian terms". Archived from the original on 2000-03-03. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  8. Davidson, Baruch S. "What Are Angels?". Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  9. DEATH, ANGEL OF "the "destroying angel" ("mal'ak ha-mashḥit")" Jewish Encyclopedia
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  11. "Judaism: The Postexilic Period", International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
  12. Sanhedrin 38b and Avodah Zarah 3b.
  13. Daniel 10:13
  14. Daniel 8:15–17
  15. cf. Sanhedrin 95b
  16. Metzger & Coogan (1993) Oxford Companion to the Bible, Oxford University Press, p. 54, ISBN   9780199743919
  17. "Souvay, Charles. "Esdras." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 5 Aug. 2013". 1909-05-01. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  18. "Driscoll, James F. "St. Raphael." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 5 Aug. 2013". 1911-06-01. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  19. anaphora, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
  20. The World of The Angels Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church, Baltimore MD
  21. 1 2 Velimirovic, Nicholai. "The Prologue from Ohrid: November 8". Western American Diocese. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008.
  22. Tobit 3:17, 12:15
  23. Meinardus, Otto F. A. (3 July 2015). "The Heavenly Host in the Coptic Tradition". Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  24. 1 2 "Theology: ANGELS". Retrieved 12 April 2019. The notable seven Archangels are: St. Mikael, St. Gebriel, St. Rufael, St. Uriel, St. Ramuel, St. Phanuel, St. Raguel.
  25. 1 2 "Devotions: The Invocation of Angels". Retrieved 12 April 2019. Devoutly are kept the feasts of all Angels including St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. […] Uriel, Regel, Remiel and Phanuel are other revered angels.
  26. Armentrout, Don S. (1 January 2000). An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church. Church Publishing, Inc. p. 14. ISBN   9780898697018.
  27. The Methodist New Connexion Magazine and Evangelical Repository, Volume XXXV., Third Series. London: William Cooke. 1867. p. 493.
  28. Kershaw, Simon. "Exciting Holiness: 29 September". Canterbury Press Norwich. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  29. Graham, Billy (1995). Angels . Thomas Nelson. ISBN   9780849938719. p. PT31.
  30. Graham (1995) p. PT32
  31. "Questions on Doctrine: Christ, and Michael and Archangel". SDAnet. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
  32. What Does the Bible Really Teach?. Watch Tower Society. pp. 218–219.
  33. 1 2 "Archangel". Guide to the Scriptures. LDS Church.
  34. Jude 1:9 KJV (LDS)
  35. Doctrine and Covenants 128:20–21; Petersen, Mark E. (November 1980). "Adam, the Archangel". Ensign ..
  36. Skinner, Andrew C (1992), "Noah", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism , New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 1016–1017, ISBN   0-02-879602-0, OCLC   24502140 .
  37. Doctrine and Covenants 128:21
  38. Gaudefroy-Demombynes, M. (2013). Muslim Institutions. Vereinigtes Königreich: Taylor & Francis. p. 49
  39. Quran   2:98
  40. Quran   69:13
  41. The Pagan's Path, Metaphysics 101: The Archangels
  42. "Iblīs | Islam". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
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  44. "On the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram" from The Internet Book of Shadows at


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  • Metzger, Bruce M.; Coogan, Michael D., eds. (1993). The Oxford Companion to the Bible . Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-504645-5.