Among all of the Malachim, Gavriel seems disproportionately involved in human events:

  1. He was responsible for saving Chananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the fiery furnace (Berachos 4b, Pesachim 118a-b).
  2. He stuck a stick in the Mediterranean, which ultimately led to the creation of Rome (Shabbos 56b, Sanhedrin 21b).
  3. He went to visit Avraham (Yoma 37a, Bava Metzi’a 86b).
  4. He destroyed Sedom (Bava Metzi’a 86b).
  5. He destroyed the Beis HaMikdash (Yoma 77a, from Yechezkel ch. 10).
  6. He placed a tail on Vashti (Megillah 12b).
  7. He retrieved Tamar’s signs (Sotah 10b).
  8. He killed Bisya’s maidservants who tried convincing her not to save Moshe (Sotah 12b).
  9. He castrated Potiphar (Sotah 13b).
  10. He taught Yosef all seventy languages (Sotah 33a, 36b).
  11. He is the one who receives prayers recited in Aramaic (Sotah 33a).
  12. In the future, he will be the one to hunt the Leviason (Bava Basra 74b-75a).
  13. When Shimon Ben Shetach’s Sanhedrin (was supposed to have) judged King Yannai, Gavriel came to kill those who refused to judge (Sanhedrin 19b).
  14. He held the gates of Yerushalayim shut so that when Shevna went to surrender to Sancheirev, it would be him alone (Sanhedrin 26a).
  15. When Nevuchadnetzar ran to retrieve the letter that did not show proper respect to Hashem, Gavriel stopped him (Sanhedrin 96a).
  16. He showed Moshe how to make the Menorah (Menachos 29a).

Contrast with, say, Michael:

  1. He went to visit Avraham (Yoma 37a, Bava Metzi’a 86b).

That’s literally it. Refael gets the same mention in the same sources. Besides for Samael (aka Satan aka Malach Hamaves aka Yetzer Hara), Gavriel seems to be the only one who ever does anything.

My question is twofold:

  1. Why Gavriel?
  2. Out of these sources, almost none of them actually mention Gavriel in the original Pesukim (where the event actually took place in the times of Tanach). How do Chazal know that it was Gavriel in these instances? Is there a pattern by which they can deduce Gavriel’s involvement, or is it just tradition?
  • @Dr.Shmuel Her name is Bisya, not Basya. I meant what I said.
    – DonielF
    Mar 15, 2019 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


Gevurah is generally understood to mean restraint. Like the strength it takes parents to watch their toddler fall on her rump, because that's the only way she'll learn how to walk. Rushing in to help isn't always the best choice. Which is why Qabbalah portrays Gevurah as being in dialectic tension with Chessed. Hashem is "Gomeil chassadim tovim -- supports us through good instances of chessed", but "stands back" with Gevurah when the chessed wouldn't be tov. (See Zohar, Naso 267; although the toddler metaphor is mine.)

Hashem's general rule with people is to give us room to make our own history. Only stepping in rarely, and usually in ways that still leaves us some room for free will. (Maharal, Chiddushei Aggados, Sotah 33)

And so, Gavriel -- G-d's Gevurah -- typifies most of His interaction with people. Notice how many items on your Gavriel list were stepping in after He let us make a mistake.

Whereas Mikhael -- Who is Like G-d? -- is employed when nature is violated in an obvious way, such as in your Mikhael example, when a woman decades past menopause gets pregnant. (Whereas Refa'el came with, as did Mikhael to punish Sodom, Amora and the other cities of the planes.

  • While I =1ed the answer for your effort, but I didn't understand this: "Gevurah typifies most of His interaction with people." Or you mean his (Gabriel's) interactions? I'm confused.
    – Al Berko
    Mar 16, 2019 at 20:39
  • Gavriel the angel is Hashem's interactions when they appear to be gevurah driven. Mar 17, 2019 at 15:51

A good question and a surprising answer:

It's the other way around! Not Gabriel is sent to every Earthy mission, but every angel that's sent to such a mission is called Gavriel.

The source statement (could find that online): "אין המלאך נקרא אלא על שם שליחותו". But I've found something similar (כללי התחלת החכמה/פרק ג) מאת הגאון המקובל רבי אריה ליב ליפקין זצ"ל:

"וגם במלאכים אמרו חז"ל, שנקראו על שם פעולת שליחותם, ומשתנה שמם תמיד לפי פעולת שליחותם, וכמובא בפירש"י וישלח"

According to this rule, the Sages concluded that once this name is mentioned (in Daniel I think), all other cases can be attributed to the "Gabriel force".

Now you might ask then why one who's coming down to Earth is called Gabriel - that needs some research - maybe (see WIKI) it has to do with Yesod coming down on Malchus.

  • IIRC Gavriel and Michael and a few other angels are among the few exceptions to this rule, in that their name doesn’t change with their mission, but that their missions still reflect their names. This only applies to ordinary Malachim, not the higher ones; this is like saying that there’s a different מלאך המות for every death.
    – DonielF
    Mar 15, 2019 at 14:03
  • The Gemara in BM 86b that talks about the Malachim visiting Avraham asks how Refael can be given two jobs, to heal Avraham and to save Lot, and it answers that it’s all the same thing. According to your logic, why doesn’t it answer that it’s two different Refaels?
    – DonielF
    Mar 15, 2019 at 18:31

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