Friday, January 12, 2024

War of the Angels (12.7–9)


And war happened in heaven. Michael and his angels waged war against the dragon, and the dragon waged war, along with his angels, but he had no strength, and a place was not found in heaven for them anymore. And the dragon was thrown down—the ancient snake who is called the slanderer and the satan, who deceives the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.


In Daniel 10–12, the political warfare of angelic ‘princes’ represented the rise and fall of the earthly nations which those angels presided over. The rise of the angel of Greece over the angel of Persia corresponded to the Greek conquest of Persia by Alexander III in the late fourth century BCE. The subsequent rise of the angel of Israel—identified as the angel named Michael—near the end of the eschatological crisis posed by Greek hegemony corresponded to the Israelite rebellion against Greek (Seleucid) authority in the early second century BCE. When the prophecies from Daniel failed to be fulfilled at the conclusion of that rebellion, the book’s enduring popularity led to the need to reinterpret its prophecies for a new era, especially after the rise of the Roman Empire. In this book’s midrash on Daniel, the rise of Michael in the angelic sphere took the shape of a war in heaven between Michael and the satan. This does not depict a conflict which resulted in the exile of the satan from heaven, after which he tempted Adam and Eve to sin against God in the garden of Eden. The satan is only exiled from heaven after the birth of Israel’s Anointed One, who is implied (by the use of Psalm 2) to be a descendent of David. In the author’s thinking, the heavenly war happened sometime in the previous thousand years, rather than at the beginning of creation.



5.13–14 Once when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?’ He replied, ‘Neither; but as commander of the army of Yhwh I have now come.’


5.20 The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera.


2.6.17 Then Elisha prayed: ‘O Yhwh, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So Yhwh opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.


3.1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that Yhwh God had made.


3.1 Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of Yhwh, and the satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.


1.6 One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before Yhwh, and the satan also came among them.

25.2–3 ‘Dominion and fear are with God; he makes peace in his high heaven. Is there any number to his armies? Upon whom does his light not arise?’


1.21.1 The satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel.

Dead Sea Scrolls

1QM 7 This is the day appointed by him for the defeat and overthrow of the prince of the kingdom of wickedness, and he will send eternal succor to the company of his redeemed by the might of the princely angel of the kingdom of Michael. […] He will raise up the kingdom of Michael in the midst of the gods, and the realm of Israel in the midst of all flesh.

Sibylline Oracles

1.312–314 But they [the Titans] will have a proud heart and finally rushing toward destruction will plot to fight in opposition against the starry heaven.

3.805–807 You will see a battle of infantry and cavalry in the clouds, like a hunt of wild beasts, like a mist. This is the end of the war which God, who inhabits heaven, is accomplishing.


10.13, 21 ‘But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me […] There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince.’

12.1 ‘At that time, Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise.’

2 Maccabees

3.25–26 For there appeared to them a magnificently caparisoned horse, with a rider of frightening mien; it rushed furiously at Heliodorus and struck at him with its front hoofs. Its rider was seen to have armor and weapons of gold. Two young men also appeared to him, remarkably strong, gloriously beautiful and splendidly dressed, who stood on either side of him and flogged him continuously, inflicting many blows on him.

5.2–3 And it happened that, for almost forty days, there appeared over all the city golden-clad cavalry charging through the air, in companies fully armed with lances and drawn swords—troops of cavalry drawn up, attacks and counter-attacks made on this side and on that, brandishing of shields, massing of spears, hurling of missiles, the flash of golden trappings, and armor of all kinds.


2.24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

3 Baruch

11.6 And Michael came, and the angel with me went to meet him and made obeisance to him and said, 'Hail, commander-in-chief of all our regiment.'

Testament of Abraham

A1.4 Therefore the Master God called his archangel Michael and said to him, ‘Commander-in-chief Michael’


25.41 ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’

26.53 ‘Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?’


9 the archangel Michael contended with the slanderer

1 John

3.8 Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

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