A bief history of Angel.
About 3,000 B.C. the Sumerians lived in Babylonia on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. It is here that belief and worship of Angels appeared in their culture. According to their philology, everything contained motion and an energy or life force called “ZI”. This life force is similar to the Prana in Yoga, and the Chi in Chinese belief systems. According to the Sumerians this “ZI” continued beyond death. They believed in many elaborate spirits and gods, usually represented by the Nature Forces, for example, the moon, sun, sky, storms, and sun. Each of their homes had a god to be the communicator between the family and the Higher Forces. This being was believed to take on a human form.
The early Hebrews had a similar concept of a spiritual essence adapting a human form. In the Bible, both new and old versions, “An Angel of the Lord” took human form (ex. Hebrews 13:2…”Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for thereby some have entertained Angels unaware.” )Three Angels ate with Abraham at Mamre while in human form in Genesis 18.
The Sumerians included “messengers of the Gods” who ran errands between gods and humans. This is the earliest recorded evidence of a type of Angel. These beings influenced Sumerian poetry, the arts, and religions. Each Sumerian home had an altar honoring their Guardian Angel. Excavations near the Sumerian capital of UR revealed religious artifacts. One of the earliest discovered Angel engraving in stone was a winged figure from heaven pouring the water of life into the king’s cup. Temple walls and the entrances to palaces had painted protectors of winged beings who were also worshiped and were similar to the cherubim and seraphim of today.
When the Semites conquered the Sumerians, they adopted some of their theories on Angels, however, they had the Angels serve their particular Gods. Historian Atkins states that there were specific characteristics and offices held by these messenger spirits (Angels) who served the Semite Gods. This idea of an Order of Angels is similar to other beliefs later adapted which divided the “ranks” of the Angels. An early Semite concept of “Angel” warriors fighting evil and serving good, was also found in the religions of Zoroastrianism, Christian, Muslim and Hebrew faiths. A belief in Angels are universal all over the world …found in all religions with similarities.
Eventually the religious influence of the Semites reached Egypt. Since prehistoric days, the Egyptians had hundred of divine beings. . Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge felt that in early times, the Egyptians belied the air, sky, earth, and underworld had many visible and invisible beings who could be friendly or unfriendly to humans depending on the nature in which they were directed. The famous Egyptian Book of the Dead lists 500 gods and goddesses, and later Egyptian philosophers identified 1200 more deities including spirits and local gods. One group were the Humanist who were believed to be helpers to humans by “watching over the safety of the sun.” These Egyptian guardians seem similar to our concept of Guardian Angels. The Humanist were like rays of the sun…like the Angel choirs, and the cherubim. Egyptians performed magic and rituals to fight evil had the help of the friendlier spirits (Angels). Many of the painted walls show winged beings, and one Egyptian tomb painting showed Isis enfolding her devotees in her wings. Isis was known as the goddess of healing.
Another example of an earth based religion which studied the influence of the sun and stars was about 2500 bc when the Aryans migration from Europe and entered ancient Persia.
About 660 BC, Zoroaster, a Persian known as Ahura Mazda) received communication with the Angels who revealed information about the one God. He became empowered and influenced the Persians’ religion. Many of his teachings influenced the Christian, Muslim and Hebrew religions. Zoroaster wrote a 21 volume book on ethics, meditation, science, religion and philosophy known as the Avesta. When he was 21, he left home and went on a spiritual pilgrimage to assist the oppressed and seek religious freedom. For 7 years he lived in silence while in the wilderness. When he was 30, he had a life changing vision of the Archangel VoHuManah, (Good Thought). This Angel was nine times the size of a human. This Angelic being had such a purifying and inspiring effect on Zoroaster that he stopped out of his physical body and entered the presence of God, who he called the “Lord of Light.” The “Lord of Light” presided over a court of attending Angels who reflected his radiance. Then God taught Zoroaster the doctrines and duties of this religion and he became a prophet for his people. During the next 8 yeas, Zoroaster met the six principle Archangels (the Immortal Holy Ones”) who assisted him in his divine mission and taught him new concepts. These beings took both male and female forms and are known as the following: Archangels of Good Thought (Guardian of Cattle); Right (Guardian of Fire; Dominion (Guardian of Metals) ; Piety (The Feminine Guardian of Soil); Prosperity (Female Guardian of Waters); and Immorality (Feminine Guardian of Vegetation). These Archangels are Divine aspects of God and gifts to humans on earth.
Next to the Archangels are the “Adorable ones” Zoroastrian Angels. Zoroaster names 40 of these Angels, although there were said to be more. These take both male and female form and are in charge of the spiritual and material planes. Those that watch the Spiritual dimension are known as the Celestial Adorable Ones and their aspects are Divine wisdom, victory, charity , peace, health , riches, cattle, felicity, rectitude, and spells. The Material Adorables watch over the material dimension and their nature aspects are light, wind, fire, water, earth, etc. The Lord of Light (God) was active in all the life of the Zoroastrians and the Angels possessed a certain virtue or phenomenon.
The third rank of Zoroastrian’s Angels were the Guardian Angels who accompany each person for their entire life. Their roles are as guide, conscience, protector and helpmate. Zoroaster stated that these Guardian Angels were “a strong and watchful warrior who wears armor and carries weapons.” Their strength, swiftness and healing energies were without equal.
Zoroaster introduced a nature god into an Angel revealing the infinite manifestations of the Lord of Light. He did this to help people understand the concept of one God, instead of many, and the Angels. Spreading this faith was not easy at the beginning. The story is when he cured the King of Persia’s horse of an illness, he proved the power and truth of his teachings. He impressed the King who converted and became his patron. Zoroastrianism became the region of Persia.
Zoroaster stated that the Lord of Light and his Archangels had a nemosis – the Lord of Darkness with supportive demons and evil spirits. There was a concept of a major battle between these forces of dark and light, however, Zoroaster had faith that the Lord of Light and his Angels would be victorious. Angels played a major role in the beliefs of the the Zoroastrians, and many similar philosophies regarding Angels are seen in other religions.
The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia in 597 B.C., but in 538 B.C. Cyrus of Persia conquered the Babylonians. He later released the Jewish people gave them permission to return to Jerusalem.
The ancient Jews thought God’s spirit adapted to natural phenomena in the aspects such as rain, snow, thunder, dark, light, stars, sun, moon, etc. “Who makest the winds thy messengers, fire and flame thy ministers (Esp 104:4). Traditionally the Angels were represented by the elements of fire and wind, and the image of Angels as religious figures evolved as their religion changed. The initial appearance of Angels in the Jewish history was in Genesis. The cherubim, some say are wind spirits of nature, protecting the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
Seraphim are another type of Angels. They are winged beings who protect sacred spaces and are fire beings. This concept is similar to the Ancient Egyptian belief of the winged Sun God Horus, who was associated with fire and protection. Early Assyrians depicted sculptures of Angel beings fertilizing sacred palm trees.
The Bible tells of the Divine essence of God taking the form of “a man of GOd” or the “Countenance of the Angel of God.” SOme may consider the Angel of the Lord as either an Angel of God in another Form. When the Angel of the God came to Moses as a flame from a burning bush in Exodus, and he heard GOd’s voice, here was a reference of Angels as energy forces.
BOth before and after the Jewish exile, their view of Angels were influenced by the Zoroastrians. The amount of their ANgels increased and they became messengers of the Divine. Their Jewish scriptures tell of the Angelic war between good and devil witch result in the world’s end. This sounds like the Zoroastrians fight of the Lord of Darkness and Light. However, some Jewish leaders rejected these writings. Many of the Angels adopted by the Jewish writings (influenced by Zoroaster) became similar to the Christian concept of Angels. Each country having an Archangel protecting it is mentioned in the Book of Daniel.
Both Jewish and Christian theologians considered Angels a very popular subject to discuss. Some famous theologians were Gregory the Great, Phil, and St. Thomas of Aquinas. St. Thomas of Aquinas was known as the Angel Doctor. In 1259 A.D., he gave lectures and talks on Angels at the University of Paris. The information from these lectures have formed some of the basis for the knowledge of Angles for hundreds of years later. His angelology consisted of the existence of Angles, their nature as purely spiritual beings (incorporeal substances) having minds but no bodies. A frequently asked question was can a mind exist without a body? St. Aquinas debates and discussions were so popular they drew forth drowds of people. It was a form of entertainment such as going to a football game in modern times.
Copyright Angelight 1999