In Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah 2:7 Rambam says:

שִׁנּוּי שְׁמוֹת הַמַּלְאָכִים עַל שֵׁם מַעֲלָתָם הוּא. וּלְפִיכָךְ נִקְרָאִים חַיּוֹת הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְהֵם לְמַעְלָה מִן הַכּל וְאוֹפַנִּים וְאֶרְאֶלִּים וְחַשְׁמַלִּים וּשְׂרָפִים וּמַלְאָכִים וֵאלֹהִים וּבְנֵי אֱלֹהִים וּכְרוּבִים וְאִישִׁים. כָּל אֵלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה הַשֵּׁמוֹת שֶׁנִּקְרְאוּ בָּהֶן הַמַּלְאָכִים עַל שֵׁם עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶן הֵן, וּמַעֲלָה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנָּה אֶלָּא מַעֲלַת הָאֵל בָּרוּךְ הוּא הִיא מַעֲלַת הַצּוּרָה שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת חַיּוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ נֶאֱמַר בַּנְּבוּאָה שֶׁהֵן תַּחַת כִּסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד. וּמַעֲלָה עֲשִׂירִית הִיא מַעֲלַת הַצּוּרָה שֶׁנִּקְרֵאת אִישִׁים וְהֵם הַמַּלְאָכִים הַמְדַבְּרִים עִם הַנְּבִיאִים וְנִרְאִים לָהֶם בְּמַרְאֵה הַנְּבוּאָה. לְפִיכָךְ נִקְרְאוּ אִישִׁים שֶׁמַּעֲלָתָם קְרוֹבָה לְמַעֲלַת דַּעַת בְּנֵי אָדָם:

The variation in the names of the angels is based upon their degrees; they are therefore called: Holy Living Creatures, which are above all others, Wheels, Valiant Ones, Electrum, Flying Serpent, Angels, Gods, Sons of Gods, Chariot Bearers, and Men. All these ten names by which the angels are called designate their respective ten degrees; the degree which has nothing higher than itself, save only the degree of God, blessed is He! is the degree of the form which is called Living Creatures; thus it is spoken of in prophecy as being beneath the Throne of Glory. And the tenth degree is the degree of the form known as Men, which are the angels who speak with the prophets and appear to them in the vision of prophecy. Therefore they are called Men, as their degree approaches the degree of the intellect of the sons of man.

After Rambam, many other sources echo this notion of ten categories of angels.

Are there any pre-Rambam sources to make this claim that their are ten types of angels?

(Please don't count Zohar as a pre Rambam source)

  • 1
    All of the terms are used individually throughout the Torah, Shas etc. - The Rambam conceivably took these multiple sources and references to differing angels and put them all together. If it would suffice as an answer I can show you their individual references?
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 9:52
  • @Dov I have looked into this, and Rambam's list as far as I can tell does not follow from tanach or shas. For example, he lists both Keruvim and Chayos as different categories, even though Yechezkel perek 10 passuk 15 explicitly says they are synonyms. And as far as shas is concerned, many of the nosei keilim try to figure out his source and if anything he seems to be against the gemara, not copying it. Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 15:54
  • Sure you can find these terms in tanach/gemara, but some of them are synonyms and I think you will find more terms also, so the fact that the Rambam gives this list and limits it to 10 can not be easily seen by just listing gemaras. Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 15:55
  • Well four are listed in the Mechilta 20:4 - sefaria.org/… - "מלאכים כרובים ואופנים וחשמלים" and they don't appear to be used as synonyms but rather different entities in unto themselves?
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 16:00
  • @Dov the two that are synonyms are chayos and keruvim. I only see keruvim on that list. What do you mean? Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 16:41

2 Answers 2



Each of the individual names he mentions has a unique source and/or is built around the same ideas that are mentioned in other sources, I'm reading from the chazak rambam edition which has sources for every statement:

First class:

"Chayoys hawkoydish", in the first brocho of morning shemah, yoytzayr Oyr, "the oyphawneem, and chayoos hawkoydish", and it gives the shaweeloys vitshoovoys of the meiri, "niseeveem" volume 1 section 6, which is originally sourced in yechezkiel 1:14

Next the rambam says this category is "beyond all others", the source it says is in chagiga 13a, as well as sifrei, bahalosechah 12:8

Second class:

"Oyphawneem", the source provided is yechezkiel 1:16

Third class:

"Ereleem", source is yeshayuh 33:7

Fourth class:

"Chawshmawleem", source is yechezkiel 1:27

Fifth class:

"Sirawpheem", source, Yeshayuh 6:2

Sixth class:

"Mawlucheem", from the five books, vayeira 19:1, vayeitzei 28:12

Seventh class:

"Elokeem", again from the big five: vayishach 32:31, shoftim 13:22

Eighth class:

"Binay elokeem", tehillim 29:1, iyov 38:7, 1:6

Ninth class:

"Krooveem" Bereishis 3:24, yechezkiel 10:3

Tenth class:

"Eesheem", yechezkiel 10:6, Daniel 9:21, 10,5. {I know you said no zohar, but that's what it says here:} Zohar volume 1 81a

Then the Rambam says that altogether, they are ten names, source as provided in chazak (even though you said no zohar, but that's what they say the source is (notes 37 and 38)): Zohar volume 2 43a, oytzayr midrashim page 86, zohar chadash 4:1 "ten names they're called, in their secret" {don't know what last part means, just copying what the sources I'm the chazak edition say}, 6:1

Then the Rambam says "because of their ten levels" {meaning not just ten names, but ten levels} and in the chazak rambam it gives the source for that as:

Tikunei Zohar in the introduction, 3a, as well as end of page 3b

Then the Rambam says that the highest level are the chayoos (as he mentioned above) and that they are "beneath the throne", and the chazak rambam gives as the source:

Yechezkiel 1:22-28, then says to see Zohar volume 2 page 43a "He established for the throne, groups to serve Him"

Then the Rambam says that the tenth (and lowest) level are the "eesheem" {literally "men"}, who communicate with people, and the source the chazak edition gives for that is:

Zohar volume 1 81a, Zohar chadash, Rus 81:1-2

Blessings and success

  • 1
    if you link your sources to something like Sefaria you will probably score higher as it means people can look up the supplied sources in the correct context. Hatzlocho!
    – Dov
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 9:01
  • @dov ok while bag look up any of these sources from any source they want, they're all primary sources Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 15:32

The Rambam's classification of angels is his own work. He does not draw on previous sources. I don't know how to prove a negative, except to say I have studied the matter in the past.

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    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 3:50

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