“Two Angels of Hades” – this excerpt from Jewish Literature comes from “Apocalypse of Zephaniah” (Late First Century BCE). If this passage sounds a lot like the Book of Revelation there are several good reasons. Both authors are Jewish, both are writing in Greek, both are employing a literary style of “apocalypse” and both describe heavenly visions of angelic beings.

1 Again I turned back and walked, and I saw a great sea. 2 But I thought that it was a sea of water. I discovered that it was entirely a sea of flames like a slime which casts forth much flame and whose waves burn sulfur and bitumen. 3 They began to approach me. 4 Then I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me. 5 Then when I saw, I fell upon my face before him in order that I might worship him. 6 I was very much afraid, and I entreated him that he might save me from this distress. 7 I cried out, saying, “Eloe, Lord, Adonai, Sabaoth, I beseech you to save me from this distress because it has befallen me.”

8 That same instant I stood up, and I saw a great angel before me. His hair was spread out like the lionesses’. His teeth were outside his mouth like a bear. His hair was spread out like women’s. His body was like the serpent’s when he wished to swallow me. 9 And when I saw him, I was afraid of him so that all of my parts of my body were loosened and I fell upon my face. 10 I was unable to stand, and I prayed before the Lord Almighty, “You will save me from this distress. You are the one who saved Israel from the hand of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. You saved Susanna from the hand of the elders of injustice. You saved the three holy men, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, from the furnace of burning fire. I beg you to save me from this distress.”

11 Then I arose and stood, and I saw a great angel standing before me with his face shining like the rays of the sun in its glory since his face is like that which is perfected in its glory. 12 And he was girded as if a golden girdle were upon his breast. His feet were like bronze which is melted in a fire. 13 And when I saw him, I rejoiced, for I thought that the Lord Almighty had come to visit me. 14 I fell upon my face, and I worshiped him. 15 He said to me, “Take heed. Don’t worship me. I am not the Lord Almighty, but I am the great angel, Eremiel, who is over the abyss and Hades, the one in which all of the souls are imprisoned from the end of the Flood, which came upon the earth, until this day.” 16 Then I inquired of the angel, “What is the place to which I have come?” He said to me, “It is Hades.” 17 Then I asked him, “Who is the great angel who stands thus, whom I saw?” He said, “This is the one who accuses men in the presence of the Lord.”(Apocalypse of Zephaniah 6)

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Shalom. Interesting and confusing. Isn’t the one who accuses men in the presence of the Lord Satan or Ha Shatan?

      • right he can appear as angel of light, and accuser of the brethren, so that him, his true form is ugly but he can make you see an angel just like he made us see the tree adam and eve ate from look pleasing to the eye, but dead tree

  2. We must distinguish between books which are inspired and books which ar not. The Apocalypse of Zephaniah is not inspired nor is it by Zephaniah. It is not even sure it was written by a Jew or by Zephaniah. How it came about or it’s Provence is not proven. Even the Jews do not accept it as canonical Accepting these “BookSs” as Jewish do not make them or their teachings or thoughts God-breathed. Use the TANAK and NEW TEsTAMENT for teachings.

  3. This is not the book of Zephaniah in my NLT Bible so where does it come from and why isn’t it in the Bible?
    I’m very curious probably interested to know more, I
    I live in outback Australia.
    Much Obliged
    Maree Wright

  4. Like, Zephaniah, I too have seen Hades…..
    I stood at the entrance to the place over the sea of souls. As a ripples/ waves in the sea as it passed through their midst I heard them cry out in anguish and torment. I shouted out unto them “What have you to say?” With one voice from those who could speak, they said, “Don’t come here! Warn others! Compel them to listen!”
    After that time, I returned to the land of the living.
    The message cannot be more clear… the word compel is very strong and all speech was said strongly.

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      • Prof, please don’t do this to us, we have the thirst to know more. I gather there was Eremeil spoke to Zephaniah and said he was the great angel that is over the abyss and hades, the one Zephaniah saw first is the accuser of men before the Almighty,so they

      • Both bad or only the one with the teeth outside the mouth? Thanking you in advance for the answer or clarity.

        • Unfortunately my knowledge in this area is very limited because we have limited data from this text and most often I have to speculate to entertain questions like these. That is why I give such answers. The more specific the question, the more precise can the answer be. But many things we simply do not know and cannot be sure of when int comes to the descriptions of this realm.

  5. I thought the 1st angel was not of God, because of his description and he never identified himself nor did say that he was the Lord Almighty. Neither tell the man not to fear.

  6. Very interesting. But could you explain the link/connection between this and revelation a little for me? I am more confused than before lol.

    • James, read Revelation and the language it uses to describe the visions. You should see similarities in how the seers describe what they see, which words they use, how they interpret the meaning of what they saw. I cannot go into comparative details here. The goal is to make the post readers do this as they study themselves. 🙂

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  7. “His hair was spread out like the lionesses’. His teeth were outside his mouth like a bear. His hair was spread out like women’s. His body was like the serpent’s” looks like spiritual force representing multicultural.

  8. Thank you for the article Prof. I find some of the “extra Biblical” texts very interesting. And I think the “fallen angel”, Lucifer, i.e.-satan, dragon, old serpent, etc. or a representation thereof, would be the first angel/being in the vision. It’s worth noting that he didn’t tell Zephaniah not to worship him, like the real Angel of God did. Thanks again for the articles…

    • Glad you are thinking through this… Authors outside of “biblical literature” also engages with the idea of Satan and fallen angels. What is valuable to us is the temporal and cultural proximity of this author to the biblical ones.

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  9. Hi Pinchas, does the name Eremiel mean anything? It sounds a bit like ‘Jeremiah’. Do you think this is the angel who finally gets to throw Satan into the Lake of Fire? Shalom, Tom

    • I can’t speculate about what is not in the text, especially if it is tied to a different author altogether. But the angel’s name has a definite meaning in Hebrew it has to do with exalting God.

  10. Dear brother Pinchas Can you pls explain the difference between Hades and Gehenna I always had problems with the fire of purification eg the Catholic Church teaches but sr Faustian had an equal encounter as Zephaniah and Jeshuah told a big intercessor group last simcha Thora to pray redemption

    • Hades is a Greek word for the Underworld, the realm of the dead. Gehenna is a Semitic term (Hebrew and Aramaic) which refers to a particular valley in Jerusalem area used for idolatry (earlier) and by Jesus’ day as a burning refuse dump. Gehenna is used idiomatically as a place of suffering in the afterlife, hence the connection.

  11. It’s quite interesting to know that these books are in existence. Having opportunity of reading them will definitely solve some Biblical misunderstanding we’ve been having

    • I am not sure it will “solve” our misunderstandings, but we would walk away with a better sense of how ancient writers saw these things and what they knew and read too. Immersing ourselves into their world will open doors of understanding their ancient words.

  12. This book is a forgery. Eremiel’s self description is designed to undermine the Diety of the Lord Jesus Christ, the First and the Last.

    • The definition of forgery is when something as presented in place of the real thing. This is the only book we have by this name. Forgery implies an authentic object and this is the only Apocalypse of Zephaniah we have.

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  13. Not quite as compelling or intricately wrought as ‘Lord of the Rings’. I suppose a platypus is just not inspiring

  14. Prof, you only quoayed a small part of the whole book I guess. It may be difficult for us to know fully well all what the story is about. To relate to the story you may have to relate with the whole. But thanks for letting us in to it

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  15. Hades is the grave not hell, nor lake if fire. Common guys study the Bible. Its another Jewish fable that the Bible warns us about.

    • Actually Hades is a Greek word that ancient authors used to translate Hebrew “Sheol” which does mean “grave” or “unknown place”. But “hell” is an English word that translators used to translated Hades and sometimes Sheol and at other times Gehinnom and etc. Translations are just that, translations!

  16. Thank you again Prof. Shir, you have once again given us food for thought.
    It appears that the The Apocalypse of Zechariah is an excellent example of the Apocalyptic literary genre of its time. Studying this early text may give credence to the use of the Apocalyptic literary genre in The Book of Revelation. It seems significant that ancient Jewish writers, though they wrote in Greek as is The Book of Revelation, hold in common the use of Apocalyptic literature. It seems these writers make use of the a long tradition of using the Apocalyptic literary genre. It is found in Biblical literature, like that of Isaiah, Zechariah, and Daniel, as well as writing found in the Dead Sea Scrolls library.
    Thanks again,
    Richard

  17. I don’t know what angels do or don’t do. But people accuse each other before God daily. I don’t care so much about the angels, but the seed of Abraham. We are supposed to execute judgment and righteousness. We are supposed to elevate the world through our imitation of God’s holiness. But we are better at calling other people common and unclean. Imagine what the writer of the passages above was living through. Wow.

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