In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel(Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Modern Gavri’elTiberian Gaḇrîʼēl, God is my strength; Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl) is an angel who typically serves as a messenger sent from God to certain people.
In the Bible, Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, he appeared to the prophet Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel’s visions (Daniel 8:15–26, 9:21–27). In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel appeared to Zecharias, and to the virgin Mary foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1:11–38). In the Book of Daniel, he is referred to as “the man Gabriel”, while in the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel is referred to as “an angel of the Lord” (Luke 1:11). Gabriel is not called an archangel in the Bible, but is so called in Intertestamental period sources like the Book of Enoch. In the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel are also referred to as saints.
In Islam, Gabriel (Jibra’il) is considered one of the four archangels whom God sent with his divine message to various prophets, including Muhammad. The 96th chapter of the Quran, sura Al-Alaq, is believed by Muslims to be the first surah revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad.
Gabriel is interpreted by the Rabbanim to be the “man in linen” in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Ezekiel. In the Book of Daniel, he is responsible for interpreting Daniel’s visions. Gabriel’s main function in Daniel is that of revealer, a role he continues in later literature. In the Book of Ezekiel, Gabriel is understood to be the angel that was sent to destroy Jerusalem. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Gabriel takes the form of a man, and stands at the left hand of God. Simeon ben Lakish (Palestine, 3rd century) concluded that the angelic names of Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel came out of the Babylonian exile (Gen. Rab. 48:9).
In Kabbalah, Gabriel is identified with the sephirot of Yesod. Gabriel also has a prominent role as one of God’s archangels in the Kabbalah literature. There, Gabriel is portrayed as working in concert with Michael as part of God’s court. Gabriel is not to be prayed to; because only God can answer prayers, and sends Gabriel as His agent.
According to Jewish mythology, in the garden of Eden there is a tree of life or the “tree of souls” that blossoms and produces new souls, which fall into the Guf, the Treasury of Souls. Gabriel reaches into the treasury and takes out the first soul that comes into his hand. Then Lailah, the Angel of Conception, watches over the embryo until it is born.
The intertestamental period (roughly 200 BCE – 50 CE) produced a wealth of literature, much of it having an apocalyptic orientation. The names and ranks of angels and devils were greatly expanded, and each had particular duties and status before God.
In 1 Enoch 9:1–3, Gabriel, along with Michael, Uriel and Suriel, “saw much blood being shed upon the earth” (9:1) and heard the souls of men cry, “Bring our cause before the Most High.” (9:3) In 1 Enoch 10:1, the reply came from “the Most High, the Holy and Great One” who sent forth agents, including Gabriel—
And the Lord said to Gabriel: “‘Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle: for length of days shall they not have.” —1 Enoch 10:9
Gabriel is fifth of the five angels who keep watch: “Gabriel, one of the holy angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim.” (1 Enoch 20:7)
When Enoch asked who the four figures were that he had seen: “And he said to me: ‘This first is Michael, the merciful and long-suffering: and the second, who is set over all the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael: and the third, who is set over all the powers, is Gabriel: and the fourth, who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life, is named Phanuel.’ And these are the four angels of the Lord of Spirits and the four voices I heard in those days.” (Enoch 40:9)
First, concerning John the Baptist, an angel appeared to his father Zacharias, a priest of the course of Abia, (Luke 1:5-7) whose “barren” wife Elisabeth was of the daughters of Aaron, while he ministered in the temple:
Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
(Luke 1:10-20 KJV) (other versions: Luke 1:1-25)
After completing his week of ministry, Zacharias returned to his house (in Hebron) and his wife Elizabeth conceived. After she completed “five months” (Luke 1:21-25) of her pregnancy, Gabriel is mentioned again:
Luke 1:26 ¶ And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38 KJV) (other versions: Luke 1:26-38)
Gabriel only appears by name in those two passages in Luke. In the first passage the angel identified himself as Gabriel, but in the second it is Luke who identified him as Gabriel. The only other named angels in the New Testament are “Michael the archangel” (in Jude 1:9) and “Abaddon” (in Revelation 9:11) . Gabriel is not called an archangel in the Bible. Believers are expressly warned not to worship angels (in Colossians 2:18-19 and Revelation 19:10).
In English-speaking culture, a familiar trope is the image of Gabriel blowing a trumpet blast to indicate the Lord’s return to Earth. It ranges from its first appearance in English in John Milton‘s Paradise Lost (1667) to African-American spirituals: in Marc Connelly‘s play based on spirituals, The Green Pastures (1930), Gabriel has his beloved trumpet constantly with him, and the Lord has to warn him not to blow it too soon. Four years later “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” was introduced by Ethel Mermanin Cole Porter‘s Anything Goes (1934). The mathematical figure given the modern name “Gabriel’s Horn“, was invented by Evangelista Torricelli (1608–1647); it is a paradoxical solid of revolution that has infinite surface area, but finite volume.
The feast of Saint Gabriel was included for the first time in the General Roman Calendar in 1921, for celebration on March 24. In 1969 it was transferred to 29 September for celebration together with St. Michael and St. Raphael. The Church of England has also adopted the 29 September date, known as Michaelmas.
The Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite celebrate his feast day on 8 November (for those churches that follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 8 November currently falls on 21 November of the modern Gregorian Calendar, a difference of 13 days). Eastern Orthodox commemorate him, not only on his November feast, but also on two other days: 26 March is the “Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel” and celebrates his role in the Annunciation. 13 July is also known as the “Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel”, and celebrates all the appearances and miracles attributed to Gabriel throughout history. The feast was first established on Mount Athos when, in the 9th century, during the reign of Emperor Basil II and the Empress Constantina Porphyrogenitus and while Nicholas Chrysoverges was Patriarch of Constantinople, the Archangel appeared in a cell near Karyes, where he wrote with his finger on a stone tablet the hymn to the Theotokos, “It is truly meet…“.
Additionally, Gabriel is the patron saint of messengers, those who work for broadcasting and telecommunications such as radio and television, remote sensing, postal workers, clerics, diplomats, and stamp collectors.
Latter-Day Saint teachings
In Latter-day Saint theology, Gabriel is believed to have lived a mortal life as the prophet Noah. The two are regarded as the same individual; Noah being his mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.
Gabriel in Arts
Angels are described as pure spirits.  The lack of a defined form allows artists wide latitude in depicting them. Amelia R. Brown draws comparisons in Byzantine iconography between portrayals of angels and the conventions used to depict court eunuchs. Mainly from the Caucasus, they tended to have light eyes, hair, and skin; and those “castrated in childhood developed a distinctive skeletal structure, lacked full masculine musculature, body hair and beards,….” As officials, they would wear a white tunic decorated with gold. Brown suggests that “Byzantine artists drew, consciously or not, on this iconography of the court eunuch”. Some recent popular works on angels consider Gabriel to be female or androgynous.
Daniel 8:15 describes Gabriel as appearing in the “likeness of man” and in Daniel 9:21 he is referred to as “the man Gabriel.” David Everson observes that “such anthropomorphic descriptions of an angel are consistent with previous … descriptions of angels,” as in Genesis 19:5.
Gabriel is most often portrayed in the context of scenes of the Annunciation. In 2008 a 16th-century drawing by Lucas van Leyden of the Netherlands was discovered. George R. Goldner, chairman of the department of prints and drawings at New York’a Metropolitan Museum of Art, suggests that the sketch was for a stained glass window. “The fact that the archangel is an ordinary-looking person and not an idealized boy is typical of the artist”, said Goldner.
Gabriel – The Supreme Commader
Twelve legions of angels comprise a host numbering 2,985,984 pairs or 5,971,968 individuals, and twelve such hosts (35,831,808 pairs or 71,663,616 individuals) make up the largest operating organization of seraphim, an angelic army. A seraphic host is commanded by an archangel or by some other personality of co-ordinate status, while the angelic armies are directed by the Brilliant Evening Stars or by other immediate lieutenants of Gabriel. And Gabriel is the “supreme commander of the armies of heaven,” the chief executive of the Sovereign of Nebadon, “the Lord God of hosts.” ~ The Urantia Book, (38:6.2)