Graveyard Shift

Azrael Is Known As The Angel Of Destruction, And His Powers Are Terrifying  

Nathan Gibson
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Despite being a lesser-known angel, Azrael is an important figure within several major religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is an archangel in Heaven, similar to Gabriel and Samael, but wields frightening power. The angel of destruction is commanded by God himself to eradicate and renew all life. 

Though he's said to be a being of light, Azrael has a horrifying dark side. Similar to the fallen angel Abaddon, he is tasked with carrying out the will of God - whether it be collecting the souls of the departed or meting out punishments to sinners. Regardless of the chaos that he may cause, Azrael puts his loyalty to God above all else.

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Photo: Mikhail Vrubel/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
His Physical Form Is Gigantic, With Thousands Of Eyes, Tongues, Wings, And Feet

Although none of the various religious texts that mention Azrael pinpoint his exact size, one common theme is that he has a massive form. Azrael doesn't just look like a human with wings - his body stretches across multiple levels of Heaven.

Azrael is said to have four faces and a body covered in countless eyes and tongues. These features represent the billions of people alive on Earth. Islamic teachings also describe Azrael as having 70,000 feet and 4,000 wings.

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Photo: Octavian Smigelschi/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Though He Is Often Known As Azrael, The Angel Has Many Names

Although Azrael is commonly regarded as the angel of destruction, he also carries other monikers. These include "the Angel of the Lord," "the Messenger of Death," and simply "the Destroyer." It is unclear in some of these cases whether the title is a specific name for the angel or a generic term used for several angels. 

For instance, the title "Angel of Death" is also used about Abaddon. He is referred to as such in Judaism. According to Hebrew tradition, the name Azrael translates to “whom God helps,” nodding to him being a direct servant of God who carries out his wishes.

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Photo: Gustav Jäger/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
He Is Often Depicted With A Sword

Azrael often carries a huge sword to match his giant form. It not only symbolizes his power and abilities as a warrior in defense of Heaven, but also of his responsibilities on Earth. As an angel of destruction, Azrael must carry out vicious acts at the behest of God.

The blade identifies Azrael as a loyal soldier; the angel, like a soldier, slays those that his lord commands. Later depictions of Azrael replace his sword with a knife or a cord - to tie around the necks of those he dispatches.

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Photo:  Jules-Elie Delaunay/Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0
He Is Responsible For Keeping Track Of Every Living Person

Another Hebrew tradition states that Azrael plays a significant role in keeping track of humanity. Some texts indicate he holds a record of every single living person. To do this, Azrael writes down the name of every person in a ledger, which gives them life.

When God has ordained the person's passing, Azrael erases their name and ends their life.