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Metatron is the highest angel in all of Judaism, yet he’s also one we know very little of. What’s more, the few sources we have that mention Metatron, tend to contradict each other to a large extent.
This is perfectly normal for such an ancient religion, of course, and it makes deciphering the true character and story of Metatron all the more interesting. So, who was Metatron, the scribe of God, and an angel of the Veil?
For information on Metatron’s cube, a sacred geometry symbol, check out our article here. To learn about the angel behind the name, keep reading.
Metatron’s Many Names
Examining the different names of mythological figures and their etymology doesn’t sound like the most exciting way of looking at history. With ancient characters like Metatron, however, that’s a major aspect of what we know about them as well as the main source of contradictions, wild theories of the figure’s true nature, and more.
In Metatron’s case, he’s also known as:
- Mattatron in Judaism
- Mīṭaṭrūn in Islam
- Enoch when he was still a human being and before he was transformed into an angel
- Metron or “A measure”
- “Lesser Yahweh” – a very unique and controversial title that, according to the Ma’aseh Merkabah is both because Metatron is God’s most trusted angel and because the numerological value (gematria) of the name Metatron is equal to that of the God Shaddai or Yahweh.
- Yahoel, who is another angel from the Old Church Slavonic manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Abraham often associated with Metatron.
Some of the other origins of the name include the words Memater (to guard or protect), Mattara (keeper of the watch), or Mithra (Old Persian Zoroastrian divinity). Metatron is also associated with Archangel Michael in the Apocalypse of Abraham.
Another curious hypothesis that’s easily understandable in modern English is a combination of the Greek words μετὰ and θρóνος, or simply meta and throne. In other words, Metatron is “the one who sits on the throne next to God’s throne”.
In some ancient Hebrew texts, Enoch was also assigned the title “The Youth, the Prince of the Presence, and the Prince of the World”. Melchizedek, the King of Salem in Genesis 14:18-20 is widely seen as another influence for Metatron.
Who Really Is Metatron?
You’d think a character with so many names would have a well-established story in the ancient Hebrew texts but Metatron is only really mentioned three times in the Talmud and a few more times in other ancient Rabbinic works such as the Aggadah and the Kabbalistic texts.
In Hagigah 15a of the Talmud, a rabbi named Elisha ben Abuyah meets Metatron in Paradise. The angel is sitting down for their meeting, which is unique because sitting down is forbidden in the presence of Yahweh, even for His angels. This sets Metatron apart from all the other angels and living beings as the only one allowed to sit down next to God.
This also plays into the Meta-throne interpretation of the angel’s name. Upon seeing the sitting angel, the rabbi Elisha is prompted to exclaim “There are indeed two powers in Heaven!“
This heretic statement has caused much controversy in Judaism regarding the potential dualism of the religion and Metatron’s true status in it. Still, the wide consensus today is that Judaism is not a dualistic religion with two deities and Metatron is simply God’s most trusted and favored angel.
The ways rabbis today explain why Metatron is permitted to sit next to God is that the angel is Heaven’s Scribe, and he has to sit to do his job. It’s also pointed out that Metatron can’t be seen as a second deity because, at another point in the Talmud, Metatron suffers 60 strokes with fiery rods, a punishing ceremony reserved for angels who have sinned. So, even though Metatron’s sin in question isn’t clear, we know that he is still “just” an angel.
At another point in the Talmud, in Senhedrin 38b, a heretic (minim) tells Rabbi Idith that people should worship Metatron because “he has a name like his master”. This refers to Metatron and Yahweh (God Shaddai) both sharing the same numerical value for their names – 314.
This passage both insists that Metatron should be worshipped and gives a reason why he shouldn’t be worshipped as a God as the passage acknowledges that God is Metatron’s master.
Probably the most curious mention of Metatron in the Talmud comes in Avodah Zarah 3b, where it’s pointed out that Metatron often takes on some of God’s daily activities. For example, God is said to spend the fourth quarter of the day teaching children, while Metatron takes on that task for the other three quarters. This implies that Metatron is the only angel able and allowed to do God’s work when necessary.
Metatron in Islam
While he isn’t present in Christianity, Metatron – or Mīṭaṭrūn – can be seen in Islam. There, in Surah 9:30-31 of the Quran the prophet Uzair is said to be venerated as a Son of God by Jews. Uzair is another name for Ezra whom Islam identifies as Metatron in the Merkabah Mysticism.
In other words, Islam points out that the Hebrew heretically people worship Metatron as a “lesser god” for 10 days during Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). And the Hebrew people do venerate Metatron during Rosh Hashanah as he is said to have helped God with the creation of the world.
Despite pointing out this heretical – according to Islam – Jewish reverence for Metatron, the angel is still viewed very highly in Islam. The famous Egyptian historian of the Middle Ages Al-Suyuti calls Metatron “an angel of the veil” as Metatron is the only one other than God to know what lies beyond life.
Another famous Muslim writer from the Middle Ages, the Sufi Ahmad al-Buni used to describe Metatron as an angel wearing a crown and carrying a lance which is interpreted to be the Staff of Moses. Metatron is also said to help people by warding off devils, sorcerers, and evil jinn in Islam.
Metatron In Modern Culture
Even though he isn’t mentioned or worshipped in Christianity, Metatron’s popularity in the other two major Abrahamic religions has earned him portrayals and interpretations in modern culture. Some of the most prominent ones include:
- As an angel and God’s spokesperson in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel Good Omens and its 2019 Amazon TV series adaptation played by Derek Jacobi.
- Metatron as the Voice of God in Kevin Smith’s 1999 comedy Dogma, played by the late Alan Rickman.
- As the antagonist of Phillip Pullman’s fantasy novel trilogy His Dark Materials.
- As the Scribe of God in several seasons of the TV show Supernatural, played by Curtis Armstrong.
- Metatron also appears as an angel and an arbiter of judgment in the Persona game series.
There are too many other prominent characterizations of Metatron to list them all here, but suffice it to say that the Scribe of God and Angel of the Veil has definitely made his way into modern pop culture alongside many of the other famous characters of the three Abrahamic religions.
What little we know of Metatron is quite interesting and it’s unfortunate that we don’t have more to work with. Had Metatron been featured in the Christian Bible too, we might have had more detailed myths and a more consistent description of the angel.
Some people continue to associate Metatron with Archangel Michael because of the Apocalypse of Abraham, however, while Archangel Michael is God’s first angel, he is described more as a warrior angel and not as the Scribe of God. Regardless, Metatron continues to be a fascinating, albeit mysterious figure.