The Archangel of Healing

The Third Hierarchy – those closest to humanity

Principalities - the seventh choir
The Archangels - the 8th choir
Angels - the ninth choir

Raphael was originally known as Labbiel according to Ginzberg in The Legends of the Jews. He was a member of a group of angels, of which there were two, the angels of truth and the angels of peace that God burned because they did not comply with the divine command to honor the creation of man. Labbiel did comply and his name was changed to Raphael.

He is not found in the Hebrew Bible but appears as an archangel in the apocryphal Book of Tobit which is part of the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

He is often referred to in the Book of Enoch. Although he is the archangel of healing, when necessary God uses him as a destroyer and warrior.

In 1 Enoch 53.6 he is one of four angels together with Michael, Uriel and Gabriel who will cast Satan (Azazyeel) and his minions “into a furnace of blazing fire, so that the Lord of spirits may be avenged of them for their crimes, because they became ministers of Satan, and seduced those who dwell on earth”.

The first Book of Enoch (second century BCE) talks about the Nephilm, “sons of God”, which are the children of the fallen angels, “the Watchers”. God is really disgusted with them and sends Michael, Raphael and Gabriel to bind the Watchers under the earth until Judgment Day.

Of course, we all know the story of Noah but did you know it was Uriel that warned Noah of the flood and the greatest tidbit of all – it was Raphael that told Noah how to build the Ark.

It is claimed in another legend in the Sefer Noah that after the flood Raphael handed Noah a “medical book” which may have been the famous Sefer Raziel (the Book of the Angel Raziel).

His name means “God has healed” or “the shining one who heals”. It comes from the Hebrew term rapha meaning healer, doctor or surgeon.

He is one of the three angels that visited Abraham in Genesis 18; the other two angels are usually identified as Gabriel and Michael. I believe it was the Lord and two angels that visited Abraham. Being the angel of healing God sent him to heal Abraham of the pain of circumcision. Abraham had neglected to observe this rite earlier in life and as an older man it was much harder on him.

In Gen: 32:24-25 God sent him to cure Jacob of an injury to his thigh that he received when he wrestled with his dark adversary at Peniel. “And Jacob was left alone; and a man (angel) wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. And when he (the angel) saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.. That angel was definitely a sore loser!!

He is not only known as the “angel who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, he is, according to Rabbi Abba in The Zohar I, charged to heal the earth, and through him…the earth furnishes an abode for man, whom he heals of all ailments.

Another legend in the Sefer Noah claims it was Raphael who handed Noah a medical book after the flood which may have been the famous Sefer Raziel (The Book of the Angel Raziel).

Without a doubt, the most famous story of Raphael is in the Book of Tobit, which is part of the Orthodox and Catholic Bible. He acts as a companion and guide to Tobit’s son Tobias who journeys to Media from Nineveh.

Tobit, Tobias’s Dad, had fallen on hard times losing his wealth and his eyesight. Obviously, he was a little depressed and prayed to God for some help. He decided to send his son to collect some money he had given to a relative many years before for safekeeping.

Tobias did not want to go alone so he went looking for a guide. The archangel Raphael, in answer to Tobit’s prayer, manifested himself as a man to become a traveling companion for Tobias. Before leaving on their journey he reassured the old man that a cure for his blindness would be found.

On the journey, he told Tobias that he would marry Sarah, the daughter of his father’s cousin. Tobias did not think this was cool since Sarah had a reputation as a black widow (she did not mate and then kill her hubby) but they all seem to die on the wedding night. Supposedly Asmodeus, a demon, wanted her for himself and killed them before they consummated their vows. If you were him wouldn’t you be just a little leery of this woman?

This story just gets better!! As they were sitting by a river Tobias was attacked by a large fish. Raphael told Tobias how to free himself and he quickly caught the fish. He told Tobias to remove the fish’s liver, heart and gall bladder and to keep them.

When they reached Sarah’s house he told Tobias to burn the fish’s liver and heart with incense in the bridal chamber, as this would keep away the demon. When Tobias saw Sarah, she was beautiful, and he gladly agreed to marry her. The father was so relieved that he threw them a 14 day wedding and gave them half his wealth. I think we can see why.

Anyway, he, Sarah and Tobias returned to his father. He told Tobias to put the gall bladder of the fish on his father’s eyes and his father’s cataracts fell away and his sight was restored.

In appreciation of this miracle, Tobit offered Raphael half of the dowry. It was at this time that Raphael revealed that he was one of the seven great angels that attends the throne of God.

He also tells him that one of his jobs is to hear and relay the prayers of the righteous to God.

Before he returns to heaven he tells Tobit to write down the whole story which of course he did and now we all read it.

One other great story about this beautiful archangel is from The Testament of Solomon. Solomon prayed to God for help in building his Temple. God answered with the gift of a magic ring brought to the Hebrew king by Raphael. The ring was engraved with the pentalpha (5-pointed star) and had the power to subdue all demons. It was with the slave labor of demons that Solomon was able to complete the building of the Temple.