Name of an archangel. Of the four chief angels, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, who preside over the four quarters of the globe (Jensen, "Kosmologie der Babylonier," p. 163), and who are frequently grouped together, Uriel is generally, but not invariably, mentioned last, although in this quartet his name is frequently replaced by that of another angel, thus showing the diversity of his nature (e.g., Fanuel, Enoch, xl. 9; Aniel, Stübe, "Jüdisch-Babylonische Zaubertexte," p. 26, Halle, 1895; Nuriel, "Seder Gan 'Eden we-Gehinnom," in Jellinek, "B. H." iii. 138). He is likewise one of the seven archangels, being the prince of the angels and of Tartarus (Enoch, xx. 2, where his name is given first in the list of the angels). According to Kautzsch ("Apokryphen," ii. 250), Lusken ("Michael," p. 36), and others, Uriel is the angel of thunder and earthquake, and is, moreover, the divine messenger who warns the son of Lamech of the end of the world, and bids him hide (Enoch, x. 1-2); he appears in a like capacity in II Esd. iv., where he propounds three difficult problems to Ezra and instructs him. Of these problems the first was, "Weigh me the weight of the fire," a demand closely connected in concept with the name "Uriel" ( = "the fire of God"), for its derivation from (= "light of God," "glory of God"; Kohut, "Angelologie," p. 33) is erroneous, as is, consequently, the attempt to identify the angel with the Zoroastrian "Hvarenah" (= "glory"). The second question addressed to Ezra was concerned with the waters in the depths of the sea and above the firmament, and thus with the two "tehomot," as well as with the underworld (Sheol, Hades), this being in entire harmony with Enoch, xx. and designating Uriel as the archangel of fire and of Gehenna, where flame is the chief element. In the passage under consideration this same spirit also speaks of the wind.
In medieval mysticism Uriel is represented as the source of the heat of the day in winter, and as the princely angel of Sunday, the first day of the week, thus agreeing fully with the explanation of his nature already given. Later authorities, however, brought his name into association with (= "light"), misled in part by the legend that Uriel instructed (enlightened) Ezra. "Why is he called Uriel? On account of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, since through him God makes atonement and brings light to Israel" (Num. R. ii. 10). Conforming to this view, subsequent writers identified him with Raphael, the revealer of secrets (Zunz, "S. P." p. 476), and his name was written on amulets intended to "illumine" the soul for sacred studies ("Sefer Raziel," p. 42b). Uriel is mentioned also in the magic papyri (Wessely, "Griechischer Zauberpapyrus," Index, Vienna, 1888; idem, "Neue Griechische Zauberpapyri," Index, ib. 1893; Lusken, l.c. p. 71), and in Babylonian incantations (Stübe, l.c. p. 23), while according to a French rabbi of the thirteenth century the repetition of Uriel's name ten times in one breath in the morning brings good fortune for the day (Schwab, "Vocabulaire de l'Angélologie," pp. 47, 304). On Uriel in the Piyyuṭ see Zunz, l.c., and on accounts of him in Christian writings comp. Lusken, l.c. p. 114. See also Raphael for data concerning the four angels as a group.
- Kohut, Ueber die Jüdische Angelologie und Dämonologie in Ihrer Abhängigkeit vom Parsismus, pp. 33 et seq., Leipsic, 1866;
- Lusken, Michael, Index, Göttingen, 1898;
- Schwab, Vocabulaire de l'Angélologie d'Aprés les Manuscrits Hébreux de la Bibliothéque Nationale, pp. 47, 304, Paris, 1897.