Michael Outside the Bible

Outside the biblical canon, Michael’s presence is widespread in Early Jewish texts (see the extensive listing of Jewish sources in David E. Aune, Revelation, 3 vols., Anchor Bible, 2: 694-695). Michael is particularly noteworthy for his benevolence and healing virtue toward humanity (1 Enoch 20:4; 40:9). But his role is generally less powerful in the Jewish sources than it is in Daniel. He is one of the four heavenly archangels in Ethiopic Enoch (1 En 9:1; 40:1-11; 54:6; 71:8-9, 13). He is one of the seven archangels in other parts of Enoch (20:1-7; 81:5; 90:21-22) and in Tobit (12:15). When the job descriptions of the seven angels are differentiated, Michael is the one who attends to the prayers and supplications of God’s people (see, for example, Slavonic 3 Apocalypse of Baruch 11:4 and Origin, de principiis 1.8.1).

In Ascension of Isaiah (3:16), on the other hand, Michael is more than just one of the archangels, he is “the chief of the holy angels”, the “commander-in-chief” (see also Rescension A of the Testament of Abraham [1:4; 2:2; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1; 7:11; 9:8; 10:12; 14:5, 12; 15:1; 19:4, cf. Rescension B, 4:5], 3 Apocalypse of Baruch [11:4, 7, 8], and the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra [4:24]) and the one who opens the graves in the resurrection. In Enoch, Michael is a key figure in the events that led to the fall of the rebellious angels and their punishment. He is the intermediary between God and Israel when the law is delivered to Ezra (The Greek Apocalypse of Ezra 1:3). In the Assumption of Moses (also called Testament of Moses), a lost Jewish work mentioned by Origen, Michael is the angel who buries Moses after his death. So, even in early Jewish texts, Michael is treated as more than just one of the archangels.