On My Right Michael, On My Left Gabriel
Angels in Ancient Jewish Culture
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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 their 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 nor 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.
University of California Press, 9780520380110, 261pp.
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
About the Author
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.