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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Michael

MICHAEL (Hebrew '>g;p'r;>, “ Who is like God? ”), an Old Testament name, synonymous with Micaiah or Micah (Num. xiii. 13; 1 Chron. v. 13 et passirn). In the book of Daniel the name is given to one of the chief “ princes ” of the heavenly host, the guardian angel or “ prince ” of Israel (Dan. X. 13, 21; xii. 1; cf. Enoch xx. 5 and possibly Mal. iii. 1), and as such he naturally appears in Jewish theosophy as the greatest of all angels, the first of the four (or seven) who surround the throne of God, and the antagonist of Sammael, the enemy of God. He holds the secret of the mighty “word” by which God created heaven and earth (Enoch lxix. 14), and was “ the angel who spoke to Moses in the Mount ” (Acts vii. 38). It was through Babylonian and Persian influence that names were given to the angels, and according to Kohut (]12d. Angel. p. 24) Michael is parallel to Vohumano, “ Ahura's first masterpiece, ” one of the Zoroastrian Amesha-spentas or archangels, It is as guardian angel of Israel, or of the Church, the true Israel, that Michael appears in lude 9 and Rev. xii. 7. This latter passage is of distinctly pre-Christian origin; it is not the Child that overthrows Satan, the figure of the Messiah is ousted by that of Michael. There is also here a relic of the primeval Babylonian myth of the struggle between the light god Marduk and the forces of chaotic darkness. In the Western Church the festival of St Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas) is celebrated on the 29th of September; it appears to have grown out of a local celebration of the dedication of a church of St Michael either at Mount Garganus in Apulia or at Rome, and was a great day by the beginning of the 9th century. The Greek Church dedicates the Sth of November to St Michael, St Gabriel and All Angels.