With Michael, Gabriel is mentioned by name in the Book of Daniel, where he explains to Daniel his visions (Dan. viii. 16-26, ix. 21-27). He appears to Zacharias, and announces to Mary that she is about to have a son whose name shall be “Jesus” (Luke i. 19-31). Gabriel is one of the four angels that stand at the four sides of God’s throne and serve as guardian angels of the four parts of the globe (Enoch, ix. 1; comp. Kautzsch, “Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments,” ii. 240, note). The four angels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, who are still invoked in the evening prayer, are often mentioned together (Enoch, xl. 6, liv. 6; Sibyllines, ii. 214 et seq.; “Legend of Zechariah,” vi. 2-6, in Lüken, “Michael: Eine Darstellung und Vergleichung der Jüdischen und Morgenländisch-Christlichen Tradition vom Erzengel Michael,” p. 122, Göttingen, 1898). The four names also occur on a golden tablet found in the tomb of the wife of Emperor Honorius (Kopp, “Palæographia Critica,” iii., § 158; “Apocryphische Fragen des Bartholomeus,” in Lüken, l.c. p. 114; “Zauberpapyri,” in Lüken, l.c. p. 71). In other passages seven archangels are mentioned, among them Gabriel (Tobit xii. 15, and elsewhere). But he is most often mentioned together with Michael, whom he follows in rank. A Gnostic gem bears the inscription in Greek: “Michael thehighest, Gabriel the mightiest” (Kopp, l.c. iv., §, 766). The three angels that appeared to Abraham (Gen. xviii.) were Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael; Michael, as the greatest, walked in the middle, with Gabriel to his right and Raphael to his left (Yoma 37a). Michael stands at the right hand of God, Gabriel at His left (Jellinek, “B. H.” v. 166). Throughout Jewish literature Michael appears as an angel of a higher degree, as may be seen in the passages quoted below. Gabriel has the form of a man (Dan. viii. 15, ix. 21), and is, according to the Talmud, the “man clothed with linen” mentioned in Ezek. ix. 3 and x. 2 (Yoma 77a).
Michael is snow, Gabriel is fire (Lüken, l.c. p. 55; comp. Yoma 21b, bottom). Nevertheless, it is the prince of fire and not the prince of ice that is commissioned to rescue Abraham as well as Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the fiery furnace (Pes. 118a; Ex. R. xviii. and parallel passage). In a single passage only (Targ. Job xxv. 2), Michael is called the prince of fire, and Gabriel the prince of water. As prince of fire Gabriel is also prince of the ripening of fruits (Sanh. 95b). As an angel representing an element of nature he is also connected with the metals: Gabriel is gold (the color of fire), Michael is silver (snow), Uriel is copper (Yalḳ., Ḥadash, s.v. “Gabriel,” No.75). Gabriel, girded like a metal-worker, shows Moses how to make the candlestick (Men. 29a). He has wings, like all the angels, but while Michael reaches the earth in one flight, Gabriel requires two (Ber. 4b, bottom).
Activities and Qualities.
Michael and Gabriel often work together (see Pes. 55a; Lüken, l.c. p. 86, note 1; ib. p. 109, bottom; Origen, “Contra Celsum,” viii. 13; and elsewhere), but while Michael, as the guardian angel of Israel and high priest of heaven, is more occupied in heaven, Gabriel is the messenger of God, who executes God’s will on earth. In heaven Gabriel is set over the serpents, and over paradise and the cherubim (Enoch, xx.). Each of the four divisions of the twelve tribes of Israel had its guardian angel, namely, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael respectively (Num. R. ii. 10). Michael and Gabriel defend Israel against its accusers (Yalḳ., Ḥadash, 67b), and pray in general for the human race and for Israel’s deliverance from captivity (“Apoc. Pauli,” in Lüken, l.c. p. 86, note 4; Jellinek, l.c. v. 127). They defend Israel when God orders the Temple to be burned (Yalḳ. ii., No. 1009). Gabriel destroys the bastards (Enoch, x. 9); with the other three arch-angels he seizes Semyaza and his companions and casts them into the fire (Enoch, liv. 6). He will make war upon the leviathan (B. B. 74b). He leads the soul into the body of the pious (Yalḳ., Ḥadash, 68b, No. 65).
Gabriel in Legend.