THE RABBIS CLAIM: GABRIEL REBUKED GOD!

According rabbinic tradition, there was a certain instance when angel Gabriel reproved and corrected God. The rabbis then discuss that Gabriel had authority to do so because of his greatness and position:

§ Abaye said to Rav Dimi, who descended to Babylonia from Eretz Yisrael: How do you explain this verse in the West, Eretz Yisrael: “Do not proceed hastily to litigation, lest you know not what to do in the end of it, when your neighbor has put you to shame. Debate your cause with your neighbor, and do not reveal the secret of another” (Proverbs 25:8–9)?

Rav Dimi explained as follows: At the time that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Ezekiel: Go say to Israel: “Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite” (Ezekiel 16:3), the spirit Paskonit, which is another name for the angel Gabriel, said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, were the patriarch Abraham and the matriarch Sarah to come now and stand before You, would you speak to them in such a manner and put them to shame? Is it not stated: “Debate your cause with your neighbor, and do not reveal the secret of another”?

The Gemara asks: But does the angel Gabriel have so much authority that HE CAN REPROVE GOD IN SUCH A MANNER? The Gemara answers: YES, as Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: He, the angel Gabriel, has three names: Piskon, Itmon, and Sigron. He is called Piskon because he splits [sheposek] words AND ARGUES WITH GOD ON HIGH. He is called Itmon because he conceals [she’otem] the sins of the Jewish people. And he is called Sigron because once he closes [shesoger] his arguments on behalf of the Jewish people, no one reopens the discussion. (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 44b https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.44b.4-6?lang=bi; capital emphasis mine)

Here’s another version:

Abaye asked R. Dimi:8 To what do ye in ‘the West’ relate the following verse: Go not forth hastily to strife, for what wilt thou do in the end thereof when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbour, but reveal not the secrets of another?9 — [He answered]: When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Ezekiel, Go and say unto Israel, An Amorite was thy father, and thy mother was a Hittite,10 the intercessory11 spirit said before the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! if Abraham and Sarah came and stood before Thee, wouldst Thou say [this] to them and put them to shame?’ Debate thy cause with thy neighbour,12 but reveal not the secret of another!13 But has he so much license?14 — YES, For R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: He has three names: Pisakon, Itamon, and Sigaron.15 Pisakon, BECAUSE HE ARGUES AGAINST THE MOST HIGH;16 Itamon, because he hides the sins of Israel, Sigaron, because when he concludes17 a matter, none can reopen it.18

  1. R. Dimi often carried Palestine exegesis to the Babylonian schools.
  2. Prov. XXV, 8-9.
  3. Ezek. XVI, 3.
  4. [H] lit., ‘an arguing spirit, — an additional name of the Angel Gabriel, who always interceded on behalf of Israel. V. however p. 99, n. 6.
  5. I.e., reproach him alone.
  6. Do not take up anothers’ shame.
  7. To reproach God so freely!
  8. [H] from [H] ‘to split;’ [H] from [H] ‘to lock’; and [H] from [H] ‘to close’. So at least according to the Talmudic interpretation which follows.
  9. Lit., ‘he splits words upwards.
  10. I.e., when his words are of no effect.
  11. No others can successfully intercede. Kohut suggests that they are of Arabic origin. Pisakon denoting shame; Itamon, sin, and Sigaron, pain, an angel being in charge of each of these three things. Hence in his opinion, [H] does not denote Gabriel but the Spirit of Shame. V. ‘Aruch Completum, vol. I, p. 63. (Sanhedrin 44; bold and capital emphasis mine)

So there you have it. Rabbis went as far as to claim that Gabriel is such a mighty and powerful angelic being that he has the authority to reprove and correct God himself!

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