on Jude 1 :9
Yet Michael the archangel - Of this personage many things are spoken in the Jewish writings "Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh says: Wherever Michael is said to appear, the glory of the Divine Majesty is always to be understood." Shemoth Rabba, sec. ii., fol. 104, 3. So that it seems as if they considered Michael in some sort as we do the Messiah manifested in the flesh.
Let it be observed that the word archangel is never found in the plural number in the sacred writings. There can be properly only one archangel, one chief or head of all the angelic host. Nor is the word devil, as applied to the great enemy of mankind, ever found in the plural; there can be but one monarch of all fallen spirits. Michael is this archangel, and head of all the angelic orders; the devil, great dragon, or Satan, is head of all the diabolic orders. When these two hosts are opposed to each other they are said to act under these two chiefs, as leaders; hence in Revelation 12:7, it is said: Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon and his angels. The word Michael מיכאל, seems to be compounded of מי mi, who, כ ke, like, and אל El, God; he who is like God; hence by this personage, in the Apocalypse, many understand the Lord Jesus.
Disputed about the body of Moses - What this means I cannot tell; or from what source St. Jude drew it, unless from some tradition among his countrymen. There is something very like it in Debarim Rabba, sec. ii., fol. 263, 1: "Samael, that wicked one, the prince of the satans, carefully kept the soul of Moses, saying: When the time comes in which Michael shall lament, I shall have my mouth filled with laughter. Michael said to him: Wretch, I weep, and thou laughest. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy, because I have fallen; for I shall rise again: when I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light; Micah 7:8. By the words, because I have fallen, we must understand the death of Moses; by the words, I shall rise again, the government of Joshua, etc." See the preface.
Another contention of Michael with Satan is mentioned in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 43, 3: "At the time in which Isaac was bound there was a contention between Michael and Satan. Michael brought a ram, that Isaac might be liberated; but Satan endeavored to carry off the ram, that Isaac might be slain."
The contention mentioned by Jude is not about the sacrifice of Isaac, nor the soul of Moses, but about the Body of Moses; but why or wherefore we know not. Some think the devil wished to show the Israelites where Moses was buried, knowing that they would then adore his body; and that Michael was sent to resist this discovery.
Durst not bring against him a railing accusation - It was a Jewish maxim, as may be seen in Synopsis Sohar, page 92, note 6: "It is not lawful for man to prefer ignominious reproaches, even against wicked spirits." See Schoettgen.
Dr. Macknight says: "In Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1, Michael is spoken of as one of the chief angels who took care of the Israelites as a nation; he may therefore have been the angel of the Lord before whom Joshua the high priest is said, Zechariah 3:1, to have stood, Satan being at his right hand to resist him, namely, in his design of restoring the Jewish Church and state, called by Jude the body of Moses, just as the Christian Church is called by Paul the body of Christ. Zechariah adds, And the Lord, that is, the angel of the Lord, as is plain from Zechariah 3:1, Zechariah 3:2, said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee!" This is the most likely interpretation which I have seen; and it will appear the more probable when it is considered that, among the Hebrews, גוף guph, Body, is often used for a thing itself. So, in Romans 7:24, σωμα της ἁμαρτιας, the body of sin, signifies sin itself; so the body of Moses, גוף של משה guph shel Mosheh, may signify Moses himself; or that in which he was particularly concerned, viz., his institutes, religion, etc.
It may be added, that the Jews consider Michael and Samael, one as the friend, the other as the enemy, of Israel. Samael is their accuser, Michael their advocate. "Michael and Samael stand before the Lord; Satan accuses, but Michael shows the merits of Israel. Satan endeavors to speak, but Michael silences him: Hold thy tongue, says he, and let us hear what the Judge determines; for it is written, He will speak peace to his people, and to his saints; Psalm 85:8." Shemoth Rabba, sec. xviii. fol. 117, 3.
on Jude 1 :9
Yet Michael the archangel ... - This verse has given more perplexity to expositors than any other part of the Epistle; and in fact the difficulties in regard to it have been so great that some have been led to regard the Epistle as spurious. The difficulty has arisen from these two circumstances:
(1) Ignorance of the origin of what is said here of Michael the archangel, nothing of this kind being found in the Old Testament; and,
(2) the improbability of the story itself, which looks like a mere Jewish fable.
Peter 2 Peter 2:2 made a general reference to angels as not bringing railing accusations against others before the Lord; but Jude refers to a particular case - the case of Michael when contending about the body of Moses. The methods proposed of reconciling the passage with the proper ideas of inspiration have been various, though perhaps no one of them relieves it of all difficulty. It would be inconsistent with the design of these notes to go into an extended examination of this passage. Those who wish to see a full investigation of it may consult Michaelis' Introduction to the New Testament, vol. iv. pp. 378-393; Lardner, vol. vi. p. 312ff; Hug, Introduction Section 183; Benson, in loc.; Rosenmuller's Morgenland, iii. pp. 196, 197; and Wetstein, in loc. The principal methods of relieving the difficulty have been the following:
I. Some have supposed that the reference is to the passage in Zechariah, Zechariah 3:1, following "And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan," etc. The opinion that Jude refers to this passage was held by Lardner. But the objections to this are very obvious:
(1) There is no similarity between the two, except the expression, "the Lord rebuke thee."
(2) the name Michael does not occur at all in the passage in Zechariah.
(3) there is no mention made of the "body of Moses" there, and no allusion to it whatever.
(4) there is no intimation that there was any such contention about his body. There is a mere mention that Satan resisted the angel of the Lord, as seen in the vision, but no intimation that the controversy had "any" reference to Moses in any way.
(5) the reason of the resistance which Satan offered to the angel in the vision as seen by Zechariah is stated. It was in regard to the consecration of Joshua to the office of high priest implying a return of prosperity to Jerusalem, and the restoration of the worship of God there in its purity; see Zechariah 3:2. To this Satan was of course opposed, and the vision represents him as resisting the angel in his purpose thus to set him apart to that office. These reasons seem to me to make it clear that Jude did not refer to the passage in Zechariah, nor is there any other place in the Old Testament to which it can be supposed he had reference.
II. Hug supposes that the reference here, as well as that in Jde 1:14, to the prophecy of Enoch, is derived from some apocryphal books existing in the time of Jude; and that though those books contained mere fables, the apostle appealed to them, not as conceding what was said to be true, but in order to refute and rebuke those against whom he wrote, out of books which they admitted to be of authority. Introduction Section 183. Arguments and confutations, he says, drawn from the sacred Scriptures, would have been of no avail in reasoning with them, for these they evaded 2 Peter 3:16, and there were no surer means of influencing them than those writings which they themselves valued as the sources of their special views. According to this, the apostle did not mean to vouch for the truth of the story, but merely to make use of it in argument. The objection to this is, that the apostle does in fact seem to refer to the contest between Michael and the devil as true. He speaks of it in the same way in which he would have done if he had spoken of the death of Moses, or of his smiting the rock, or of his leading the children of Israel across the Red Sea, or of any other fact in history. If he regarded it as a mere fable, though it would have been honest and consistent with all proper views of inspiration for him to have said to those against whom he argued, that on their own principles such and such things were true, yet it would not be honest to speak of it as a fact which he admitted to be true. Besides, it should be remembered that he is not arguing with them, in which case it might be admissible reason in this way, but was making statements to others about them, and showing that they manifested a spirit entirely different from that which the angels evinced even when contending in a just cause against the prince of all evil.
III. It has been supposed that the apostle quotes an apocryphal book existing in his time, containing this account, and that he means to admit that the account is true. Origen mentions such a book, called "the Assumption of Moses," (Αναληψις του Μωσεως Analēpsis tou Mōseōs,) as extant in his time, containing this very account of the contest between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses. That was a Jewish Greek book, and Origen supposed that this was the source of the account here. That book is now lost. There is still extant a book in Hebrew, called פטירת משׁה paTiyret Mosheh - "the Death of Moses," which some have supposed to be the book referred to by Origen. "That" book contains many fabulous stories about the death of Moses, and is evidently the work of some Jew drawing wholly upon his imagination. An account of it may be seen in Michaelis, Introduction iv. p. 381ff. There is no reason to suppose that this is the same book referred to by Origen under the name of "the Assumption of Moses;" and there is a moral certainty that an inspired writer could not have quoted it as of authority. Further, there can be no reasonable doubt that such a book as Origen refers to, under the title of "the Assumption of Moses," was extant in "his" time, but that does not prove by any means that it was extant in the time of Jude, or that he quoted it. There is, indeed, no positive proof that it was "not" extant in the time of Jude, but there is none that it was, and all the facts in the case will be met by the supposition that it was written afterward, and that the tradition on the subject here referred to by Jude was incorporated into it.
IV. The remaining supposition is, that Jude here refers to a prevalent "tradition" among the Jews, and that he has adopted it as containing an important truth, and one which bore on the subject under discussion. In support of this, it may be observed,
(a) that it is well known that there were many traditions of this nature among the Jews. See the notes at Matthew 15:2.
on Jude 1 :9
1:9 Yet Michael - It does not appear whether St. Jude learned this by any revelation or from ancient tradition. It suffices, that these things were not only true, but acknowledged as such by them to whom he wrote. The archangel - This word occurs but once more in the sacred writings, 1Thess 4:16. So that whether there be one archangel only, or more, it is not possible for us to determine. When he disputed with the devil - At what time we know not. Concerning the body of Moses - Possibly the devil would have discovered the place where it was buried, which God for wise reasons had concealed. Durst not bring even against him a railing accusation - Though so far beneath him in every respect. But simply said, (so great was his modesty!) The Lord rebuke thee - I leave thee to the Judge of all.