The ministering of angels is one of the central themes in the restoration narrative. John the Baptist, Peter, James and John, then the Kirtland trifecta of Moses, Elias and Elijah. Each of these angels bestowed on Joseph priesthood and keys. Dispensationalists, eager to systematize doctrine and narrative have also tried to incorporate another series of angels that don’t get as much attention, but nevertheless appear to have been very important to Joseph.
In September of 1842, Joseph was on the run. The apostasy of John Bennett was catching up with Saints as well as the State of Missouri. Earlier that summer Joseph revealed the Temple ordinances to a select few, and now he writes to his co-religionists on the doctrine of baptism for the dead and reaffirms some founding miracles of the restoration. He wrote of the great ramifications of the redemption of the dead and, perhaps to remind the saints of the potency of the restoration, he recounted various interactions he had had with divine messengers, including God. Included among this litany in the Times and Seasons was the reception of “the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels.” This letter was later canonized.
In this same letter, Joseph identifies Michael as Adam, which Joseph had previously done. William Clayton recorded the May 16, 1841 discourse of the prophet which also identifies Gabriel:
The priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the first presidency and held the keys of it from generation to generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed…he had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel spoken of in the scriptures. Then to Noah who is Gabriel, he stands next in authority to Adam in the priesthood. He was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth and then in heaven.
We have to go to the early treasure-seeking days of the Smith family for connections to Raphael (as well as the invocation of these three angels together), and we have no hint at which prophet or patriarch Joseph thought he was. The invocations of the archangels is interesting, as at this same time Joseph went by the code name Baurach Ale, which appeared in the Times and Seasons and History of the Church. Apparently, this name is a Sephardic transliteration (enter Seixas) for “God bless you.” The name for archangel Barakiel has in some rare instances been given this translation.
It is not certain how wide spread ideas about archangels or Joseph’s possible numbering among them were, either in Nauvoo or Utah. One October 8, 1882, diary entry by Charles Ora Card (The Utah Years), is, perhaps, illustrative:
At the close of the fore noon meeting Apostle Erastus Snow Said when they were convened in the Kirtland Temple there was a young man wrought upon by the Spirit of prophecy & foretold that the prophet Jos Smith would be the Sixth Angel. (pg. 386)
The “sixth angel” is a likely reference to John’s eschaton, but it is still an interesting placement in the divine hierarchy.