In trying to come up with an answer to this question, I became aware that the angel Gavriel plays a common role in several aggados and midrashim. Not only in the midrash with Moshe and the burning coal (in the linked question), but also in an earlier midrash regarding Gavriel hitting Moshe so that he would cry to elicit sympathy from Pharaoh's daughter, and an aggada regarding Esther pointing originally to Achashverosh until Gavriel pushes her hand to point to Haman instead when she says "איש צר ואויב". I'm sure he plays a similar role in other aggados that I do not know or cannot recall.

This prompts the question: Why is Gavriel the one featured in these aggados manipulating the acts of humans? Again, following the assumption that these aggados are metaphorical, what is it that Gavriel represents?

  • +1. Great question!! And in other instances of an angel's doing similar acts, it just says "angel" (e.g., striking Achashverosh's mouth to make him change what he was going to say, M'gila 16:2).
    – msh210
    Jan 24, 2012 at 18:39

3 Answers 3


Traditionally, the name Gavriel is translated as "Gd is my strength", or more literally, "My strength, Gd".

Gavriel is first mentioned in the book of Daniel, where he speaks to Daniel to let him understand why the Jewish people were not being redeemed at that time. He appeases Daniel by letting him know that even though the people are not being saved now, they will be saved in the future.

From a Zoharic perspective, Gavriel would then be Representative of anything dealing with the sephira of "Gevurah". Meaning, a form of strength which comes from withholding something. As the mishna says, "who is mighty? He who withholds his yetzer hara". This could be understood as being more concerned with delayed gratification rather than instant gratification.

By holding back at the right moment, a longer lasting achievement is made, which would have been destroyed by satisfying the urge at the current moment.

Thus, when the angel Gavriel is evoked in a Midrash, it is usually there to show us a "moral dillema" between what would have been correct and right for that very moment, but which would have resulted in a worse consequence in the long run.

As an example for the midrashim you brought up.

  • With the coals, even though Moshe was then worthy to be king, at the time he had to be humble and wait to show his malchut status later.
  • In the basket, even though it would have been better for Moshe not to be raised by a non-Jewess, for the sake of the Jewish people, he had to be raised in the palace to be protected from being killed.
  • With esther, even though Acheshvrosh was the source of the problems for the Jewish people, by feasting with the vessels of the Beit Hamikdash and thus removing the divine preseence to allow Haman to hurt the Jews, pointing that out at that time, would have lead to the Jewish people being massacred.
  • Sounds plausible. Do you have a source for it, or is it your own conjecture?
    – msh210
    Jan 24, 2012 at 19:13
  • 1
    @msh210 for these interpretations of the midrashim or for gavriel as gevurah and withholding?
    – HodofHod
    Jan 24, 2012 at 19:41
  • +1 excellent answer! I really like how you show the gevurah in the midrashim.
    – HodofHod
    Jan 24, 2012 at 19:44
  • @HodofHod, for this interpretation of the midrashim.
    – msh210
    Jan 24, 2012 at 20:07
  • @msh210 It's just a logical extension of the concepts.
    – avi
    Jan 24, 2012 at 20:50

The name Gavriel comes from Gever Keil. Gever means a person, and Gavriel is involved with human beings.

Sotah 33a Malach Gavriel is the only Malach that knows all 70 languages.

  • Sounds plausible. Do you have a source for it, or is it your own conjecture?
    – msh210
    Jan 24, 2012 at 18:30
  • Heard it once in a speech, however do not remember source. I will try to contact the speaker and find out. Jan 24, 2012 at 18:31
  • Are you saying that Gavriel represents God's involvement with human beings?
    – jake
    Jan 24, 2012 at 18:33
  • The angel Gavriel's job is his involvement with human beings, which is alluded to in his name Jan 24, 2012 at 18:35
  • @Jake aish.com/48939287
    – Gabriel
    Feb 8, 2023 at 3:09

The sefer אוצר השמות חלק ב here says that according to the actions of this angel which are described in the gemara, his functiion is to do things which require strength to carry them out. For example:

  • He struck to the ground the maidens of the daughter of Pharaoh because they wanted to stop her from saving Moshe. (Sotah 12b)
  • He castrated Potiphar because he wanted to commit an immoral act with Yosef. (Sotah 13b)
  • He taught Yosef the seventy languages so that he would be fitting to serve as the second in command to the king of Egypt. (Sotah 15b)
  • He will organize in the future a hunt of the Leviathan (by dragging it with a hook). (Bava Basra 75a)
  • He struck down the Sanhedrin who were afraid to judge King Yanai. (Sanhedrin 19b)

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