angel Sandalphon appears prominently in the ancient divine-chariot
mysticism known as Ma'aseh Merkavah. In the following midrash,
Sandalphon is in intimate attendance upon God Himself.
There is a certain angel,
tells us R. Eleazar, who stands on the earth with his head reaching up close
to the celestial creatures. His name is Sandalphon.
This angel is identified by the mystics as the "ofan," the wheel
of the divine chariot which appears in Ezekiel's famous vision and call to
prophesy: "Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon
the earth by the living creatures."
According to the Talmud,
Sandalphon is so much taller than his fellow angels, that it would take five
hundred years to journey across his height. It is said that he stands behind
the divine chariot, weaving crowns for his Maker; he adjures each crown [he
wreathes] so that rises of its own accord and reposes upon the head of the
Lord. When a crown goes forth from Sandalphon, all the hosts on high grow
fevered with excitement and shaken with emotion. The celestial creatures,
silent until now, roar like lions, crying out at this instant, "Holy,
holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory."
When a crown reaches
God's throne, the wheel of the throne revolves and the supports of the
footstool tremble. All the firmaments are seized with a shudder of terror.
As the crown rises up above His throne, all the hosts above and His
crown, too, open their mouths, saying, "Praised be the glory of
the Lord wherever His place be."
Sandalphon, other angels appear prominently in Ma'aseh Merkavah mysticism.
In a variation on the above legend, R. Ishmael visits Heaven to learn of the
destiny of his people; he comes across not one angel, but companies and companies
of ministering angels making "crowns of life." The following is
a midrash foretelling deliverance and redemption for the righteous.
[The angel Hadarmiel] brought me in and showed me companies and companies
of ministering angels sitting and weaving garments of deliverance, making
crowns of life set with precious gems and pearls, pounding all kinds of spices
and aromatics of the world, and sweetening wines for the righteous in the
time-to-come. I asked, "Splendor of my radiance, for whom are these intended?"
He replied, "For Israel."
Then I saw one crown different from all the other crowns: the sun, the moon,
and the twelve constellations were set in it. I asked, "For whom is this
exquisite crown intended?" He replied, "For David, king of Israel."
I said, "Splendor of my radiance, show me the glory of David." He
replied, wait three hours. David will come, and you will see him in his greatness.
He took hold of
me, seated me in his lap, and asked me, "What do you see?" I replied,
"I see seven lightnings flashing together as one." He said, "Shut
your eyes, my son, lest you be frightened. These lightnings are going forth
to meet David, king of Israel." At that, all the ofanim [wheel-angels],
seraphim, sacred creatures, wheels of the chariot,
clouds of glory, storehouses of snow, storehouses of hail, stars and constellations,
ministering angels and other fiery beings of the fourth heaven were stirred
to say, "For the Leader. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory
Then I heard the sound of a great commotion coming from Eden, reverberating
the words "The Lord will reign forever and ever"
And behold, David, king of Israel coming out first, and all the kings of the
house of David following him, each one with his crown on his head. But David's
crown was brighter and more beautiful than all the others, so that its radiance
reached to the end of the world. Then David went up to the heavenly Temple,
where a fiery throne was prepared for him. He sat on it with all the kings
of the house of David seated facing him and all the kings of Israel standing
behind him, and all the kings of Israel standing behind him. Then David rose
up and uttered songs and prise no ear had ever heard. After David had begun
with the songs and praises, Metatron [an angel] and the entire heavenly household
began to proclaim, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts."
And the sacred creatures
uttered praise, saying "Blessed is the glory of the Lord wherever His
And the earth followed with, "The Lord reigns, the Lord did reign, the
Lord will reign forever and ever." And all the kings of the house of
David responded, "The Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that
day shall the Lord be One, and His Name One"
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