Michael Sounds the Trump
John A. Tvedtnes
“But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth-yea, even all. And the righteous shall be gathered on my right hand unto eternal life; and the wicked on my left hand will I be ashamed to own before the Father.” (D&C 29:26-27)
Though it is not a biblical idea, Christians typically believe that the angel Gabriel will blow the trumpet that will announce the resurrection.[i] A single pseudepigraphic text supports this view. According to Recension B of Questions of Ezra 11-14, it is Gabriel who sounds the trumpet announcing the coming of Christ and the resurrection.[ii] But the Lord told Joseph Smith that Michael would blow the trump to awaken the dead and bring them forth from their graves.
Daniel 12:1-2 declares, “Then shall Michael stand up, the great prince . . . And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt,” but there is no mention of a trump. In Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 3:16, it is the archangel Michael who opens the graves of the dead at the time of resurrection.
The sounding of the trump at the resurrection is noted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:52, but without mention of an angel. The trump that announces the resurrection is also noted, without reference to an angel, in the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra 4:36, in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 26:25; Mormon 9:13), and in D&C 29:13; 43:18; 109:75. In D&C 45:45, an unnamed angel sounds the resurrection trump. Paul told the Thessalonians that “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). While he mentions both “the archangel” and “the trump,” he does not suggest who will blow the trump.
There are other scriptural instances of angels blowing trumpets without being associated with the resurrection (D&C 49:23). For example, in Revelation 8-11, seven angels blow trumpets announcing various events to take place prior to Christ’s second coming (see D&C 77:12). While Michael’s battle against the dragon is mentioned shortly thereafter (Revelation 12:7), the account never connects him with the angels who are to blow the trumpets.
D&C 88:98-111, notes that seven angels will sound trumpets, some of them associated with the various periods of resurrection. D&C 88:112 informs us that the seventh angel is Michael. The Mysteries of St. John the Divine, a Coptic pseudepigraphon attributed to the apostle John, also says that “Michael bloweth the seventh trumpet,” though for a different reason.[iii] Another Coptic text specifically notes that it is Michael’s trump that will announce the resurrection:[iv]
“I will command My chief Archangel, the holy Michael, and he shall blow a blast on his trumpet in the Valley of Jehosaphat, that those who are dead may rise incorruptible, and there shall not remain upon the earth one soul that shall not rise up, from Adam the first man even unto the last man that shall be born into the world. And they all shall rise up in the Valley of Jehosaphat, so that each one may receive in his body according to what he hath done, whether it be good or whether it be evil. And they shall stand [there] in fear and trembling awaiting the Spirit of My Father.” (Discourse on Abbaton, folios 26b-27a)[v]
A text from the Falasha or “black Jews” of Ethiopia,[vi] supports this view: “The holy Michael will blow the horn for thirty years, and all the bones will assemble. Then he will sound the trumpet for the second time for thirty years. The bones will be sewn up again with flesh and all the bodies will assemble. The holy Michael, the archangel, will blow the trumpet for the third time for thirty years, and all the dead will be resurrected in the twinkling of an eye. The glory of some of them will be greater than the sun, others will stand up in honor, still others in misery.” (5 Baruch)[vii]
A Falasha prayer book (No. 38) says that “God will go down with all His angels and will say to Michael: “Rise and blow the trumpet on Mount Sinai, on the mountain of Zion, the holy city.” The angels surround him with praises; He is their chief and leading angel; Michael is his name. His eye is that of a dove, his robe is of lightning, he alone is their guide. Then the dead will be resurrected in the twinkling of an eye by Michael’s word. Thus those from afar will bow down tot he holy, and the near angels will bow down to God; they shall fear Him. God [will change] Heaven and earth like a garment.”[viii]
A twelfth-century Jewish apocalyptic text, Tefillat Rabbi Shimcon ben Yohai, prophesies, “At that time Michael the Great Prince will rise and blow the shofar three times . . . That shofar is the right horn of the ram of Isaac . . . And he will blow T’qica,[ix] and Messiah ben David and Elijah will be revealed, and both will go to Israel who are in the desert. And Elijah will tell them, ‘This is the Messiah!’ And he will revive their hearts and strengthen their hands . . . And all Israel will know the sound of the shofar and will hear that He has redeemed Israel.”[x]
An early Christian pseudepigraphon, the Revelation of Saint John the Theologian has Christ telling the apostle John of future events, when “all the human race shall die,” after which “will I send forth mine angels, and they shall take the ram’s horns that lie upon the cloud; and Michael and Gabriel shall go forth out of the heaven and sound with those horns . . . and the voice of the trumpet shall be heard from the one quarter of the world to the other; and from the voice of that trumpet all the earth shall be shaken . . . And at the voice of the bird every plant shall arise; that is, at the voice of the archangel all the human race shall arise.”[xi] Another early Christian text, The Apocalypse of the Virgin 1, speaks of “Michael, commander-in-chief, who art about to sound the trumpet and awaken those who have been asleep for ages.”[xii]
It was commonly believed among Christians of Joseph Smith’s day that the angel Gabriel would blow his trump to announce the resurrection. The prophet Joseph went against the current by declaring that the archangel Michael would perform this task. A number of early Christian and African Jewish (Falasha) texts, unknown in Joseph Smith’s day, support the latter view.
[i] Steve St. Clair, noting that the name Gabriel can mean “powerful one of God,” has suggested that Mormon 9:13 may refer to Gabriel. The passage says that the dead “shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound.” Since there are other Hebrew words meaning “power,” one cannot know which is behind the Book of Mormon statement. See Steve St. Clair, “Angels Trumpets, and the End of Time,” Special Papers of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology 1 (September 1989), 5.
[ii] James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Garden City: Doubleday, 1983), 1:599. The sounding of the trumpet on the day of judgment is also noted in Islam, in Qur’an 39:68 and 78:13.
[iii] Ernest A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Tales and Romances (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1935), 208.
[iv] According to the pseudepigraphic Gospel of Bartnholomew 12, Jesus had Michael “sound his mighty trumpet in th height of heaven,” whereupon angels brought the devil from hell to show the apostles what he was like. See Wilhelm Schneemelcher (Robert McLachlan Wilson, transl.), New Testament Apocrypha (Lousville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1991), 1:546.
[v] Ernest A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Martyrdoms (London: British Museum, 1914), 492.
[vi] These are terms used by outsiders; these people call themselves “children of Israel.”
[vii] Wolf Leslau, Falasha Anthology (New Haven: Yale, 1951), 76.
[viii] Ibid., 140.
[ix] The term denotes one of the prescribed sounds made by the shofar or ram’s horn. Jewish tradition holds that the Messiah will be revealed at Teqoa, a village near Bethlehem, whose name derives from the same word.
[x] The Hebrew text was published in Adolph Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch (reprint, Jerusalem: Wahrmann, 1967 [orig. 1854]), 4:124-6. The English translation used here is from Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts: Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1988), 158-9.
[xi] Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Anti-Nicene Fathers (reprint Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 8:583.
[xii] Ibid., 9:169.