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Michael

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The Oxford Companion to the Bible What is This? Provides authoritative interpretive entries on Biblical people, places, beliefs, events, and secular influences.

    Michael

    One of the archangels, whose name is a rhetorical question meaning “Who is like God?” (or, “Who is like El?”). In apocalyptic literature he is Israel's patron angel (Dan. 12.1), who fights for Israel against the angels of other nations (Dan. 10.13, 21). As such later tradition identifies him as the nameless divine messenger called “the prince of the army of Yahweh” in Joshua 5.13–15 (cf. Exod. 23.23; note also the spiritual “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore”). Michael also becomes the surrogate of a now transcendent storm god, leading the heavenly armies in the fight against the forces of chaos, and thus is the adversary of Satan (Rev. 12.7; Jude 9). The battle between them becomes a favorite artistic theme and may occur in variant form in the legend of George and the dragon (see Rev. 12.9).

    Michael D. Coogan

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    Oxford University Press

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