OF THE BABY NAME RAPHAEL
Raphael is the gentle archangel who comes to Adam and Eve in John Milton’s 1667 epic masterpiece, Paradise Lost, to warn them again against the sin of eating from the tree of knowledge. Raphael appears to Adam and Eve in all his heavenly, luminous glory, spouting six wings, yet he manifests his connection with humankind by sitting down and eating with them. He also strives to tell the story of the celestial battle between God and Satan in language that will be understandable to them, and to impart to them the reasons for the creation of mankind. He is ready to answer all of Adam’s questions, while at the same time gently pointing out the need for Adam to focus on his own life and purpose. Raphael also warns Adam not to be so smitten by Eve’s beauty that he might even put her above himself. Raphael even goes so far as to sanction Adam’s questions about the love lives of angels, although he doesn’t give out much information on that subject. Unlike his brother angels, Michael and Gabriel, Raphael has nothing of the militaristic about him; his is a disposition that reaches out in a social way, ready to connect sympathetically and to point kindly to the right path. Well, we all know how that turned out, don’t we? After all that, Adam and Eve went ahead and blew it. And when God banished them from the Garden of Eden, you may be sure it wasn’t Raphael whom He sent to do the job!
Raphael shows up most prominently in the “hidden” Book of Tobit from the Bible. In the story, Tobit goes blind after some birds poop in his eyes (no, we’re not kidding) which causes him so much despair, he prays for death. At the same time, but in a separate faraway place, another woman named Sarah also prays for death. Her despair is caused by a lust demon who keeps killing her husbands on their wedding night before she can consummate her marriage (she has seven of them, and the evil demon kills them all). Married seven times and still a virgin! God hears their separate prayers and sends Raphael, the angel of healing. Disguised as a man named Azarias, Raphael accompanies Tobias (Tobit’s son) on a journey to retrieve money for his father. Along the way, a giant fish jumps out of the water and nearly kills Tobias (no, we’re still not kidding), but with the aid of Raphael, the fish is killed and they remove the heart, liver and gall bladder for future medicinal needs. At the end of their travels, Tobias meets Sarah and they fall madly in love and marry. Not to be discouraged by the fate of her other seven husbands, Tobias (with instruction from Raphael) burns the fish heart and liver so the smoke drives the evil husband-killing demon away. Sarah and Tobias then return to Tobit and rub the fish gall bladder in his eyes which miraculously restores his eyesight. Everyone is happy and no one is praying for death anymore, all thanks to Raphael (oh, and God, of course)!