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, משה של גוף 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; Psalms 85:8." Shemoth Rabba, sec. xviii. fol. 117, 3.