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How Does Archangel Uriel Warn Noah to Build an Ark for the Great Flood?

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Noah's ark Steve Allen / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images
Question: How Does Archangel Uriel Warn Noah to Build an Ark for the Great Flood?

The Book of Enoch, which is part of the Jewish and Christian apocrypha, describes how several holy archangels are disturbed by witnessing the toll that sin has taken on Earth, and how God assigns each of those archangels to help the fallen world.

Archangel Uriel, who is famous for his work delivering God's wisdom to people, is the archangel God chooses to warn the prophet Noah about his plan to flood the planet and repopulate it from the people and animals that Noah saves on a large ship called an ark. Here's what happens:

Answer:

Painful to Watch

Enoch 9:1-4 describes Uriel and several other famous archangels watching the pain and destruction of sin playing out on Earth: "And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitants cries the voice of their crying up to the gates of heaven. And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, 'Bring our cause before the Most High.'"

Beginning in verse 5, the archangels lament various sinful situations that both human beings and fallen angels have caused on Earth, and then ask God in verse 11 what he wants them to do about it: "And You know all things before they come to pass, and You see these things and You suffer them, and You haven't said to us what we are to do to them in regard to these."

Uriel's Mission

God answers the archangels by assigning each of them to a different mission on Earth. Uriel's job is to warn the prophet Noah (who lived a life of outstanding faithfulness) about the upcoming worldwide flood and help him prepare for it.

Enoch 10:1-4 records: "Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spoke, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: 'Go to Noah and tell him in my name 'Hide yourself!' and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.'"

Warning a Faithful Man

In his book The Legends of the Jews, Volume 1, Louis Ginzberg writes about Noah’s great faith, which inspired God to trust Noah to carry out the plans that God sent Uriel to deliver about the flood: "Grown to manhood, Noah followed in the ways of his grandfather Methuselah, while all other men of the time rose up against this pious king. So far from observing his precepts, they pursued the evil inclination of their hearts, and perpetrated all sorts of abominable deeds. ... Uriel was sent to Noah to announce to him that the earth would be destroyed by a flood, and to teach him how to save his own life."

Holy Illumination

Some scholars wonder if archangel Uriel stayed with Noah to continue to guide him, after warning him about the flood and instructing him in how to build the ark. In his book Invoking Angels: For Blessings, Protection, and Healing David A. Cooper writes about a mystical sapphire on Noah's ark that may have symbolized Uriel's presence with Noah throughout the flood: "Regarding the archangel Uriel, the light of God, we find in Kabbalistic [Jewish mystical] literature that when Noah was instructed by an angel on the building of the ark, he engraved the teaching on a mythical precious stone, a sapphire, which he then built into the ark as a kind of skylight. This stone was a mystical source of light and became the main source of illumination for the ark. The oral tradition teaches that during the entire twelve months of the flood, Noah did not need normal daylight or moonlight, for the engraved sapphire of illumination shone all the time. The Hebrew word for sapphire is sappir, which has the same root connected with the word sefirah, which represents the emanation, or radiance, of God. While the sages argued over the true meaning of this divine illumination, it is clear from a Kabbalistic perspective that this illumination symbolizes the continuous presence of the angel Uriel."

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