The only angels named in the Bible are Gabriel and Michael (Daniel 8:16; 9:21; 10:13; 12:1). Nowhere in the Bible is there an angel named Ariel.
The book of Tobit, one of the apocryphal books not included in the Hebrew Bible or the Protestant canon of Scripture, contains a heroic angel named Raphael. Another extrabiblical text, the book of Enoch, names seven archangels: Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, and Jerahmeel.
The notion of Ariel as the angel of nature traces back to Gnostic lore and the ancient Jewish tradition of mystical or “occult” interpretations of the Bible known as Kabbalah. In Kabbalistic, apocryphal, and occult writings, Ariel is often confused with Uriel from the book of Enoch. One apocryphal text depicts Ariel as an angel who punishes demons. The Gnostic text Pistis Sophia associates Ariel with punishment of the wicked. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Ariel is a sprite. Ariel was also the name of a minor angel in John Milton’s seventeenth-century poem, Paradise Lost.
While an angel named Ariel is absent from Scripture, the word Ariel is used in four different contexts in the Bible. One instance is found in two Old Testament passages: “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen” (2 Samuel 23:20, ESV; see also 1 Chronicles 11:22). The exact meaning of ariel here is unclear. Some Bible translations treat it as a proper name, labeling Benaiah’s victims as two “sons of Ariel.” Other translations treat ariel here as a common noun, as if to say Benaiah struck down “two champions of Moab” (NLT) or “Moab’s two mightiest warriors” (NIV).
The original meaning of the term ariel is also uncertain. It may have meant “lion (or lioness) of God,” “victorious under God,” or “altar hearth.”
When Ezra returned to Jerusalem, he summoned a group of trusted Levites to minister in the temple. Ariel is the name of one of those human leaders: “So I summoned Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, who were leaders, and Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of learning” (Ezra 8:16).
The third use of ariel in the Bible is found in the book of Ezekiel. Ariel is the Hebrew term translated “altar hearth” in Ezekiel 43:15–16: “Above that, the altar hearth is four cubits high, and four horns project upward from the hearth. The altar hearth is square, twelve cubits long and twelve cubits wide.” This altar hearth is where burnt offerings were made, a place associated with the secret of Israel’s lion-like strength.
Finally, the book of Isaiah contains a prophecy concerning both the siege and the preservation of the city of Jerusalem. Ariel is applied to Jerusalem symbolically four times: “Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on” (Isaiah 29:1; see verses 2 and 7 also). The meaning of this title is “victorious under God.” Since Israel’s main altar was in Jerusalem, this could be the reason for the designation.