On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel: Angels in Ancient Jewish Culture

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Univ of California Press, Jun 8, 2021 - History - 270 pages
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Angelic beings can be found throughout the Hebrew Bible, and by late antiquity the archangels Michael and Gabriel were as familiar as the patriarchs and matriarchs, guardian angels were as present as one’s shadow, and praise of the seraphim was as sacred as the Shema prayer. Mika Ahuvia recovers once-commonplace beliefs about the divine realm and demonstrates that angels were foundational to ancient Judaism. Ancient Jewish practice centered on humans' relationships with invisible beings who acted as intermediaries, role models, and guardians. Drawing on non-canonical sources—incantation bowls, amulets, mystical texts, and liturgical poetry—Ahuvia shows that when ancient men and women sought access to divine aid, they turned not only to their rabbis or to God alone but often also to the angels. On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel spotlights these overlooked stories, interactions, and rituals, offering a new entry point to the history of Judaism and the wider ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world in which it flourished.

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About the author (2021)

Mika Ahuvia is Assistant Professor of Classical Judaism at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle.

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