What are cherubim in the Bible? Are cherubs angels?
A cherub (plural cherubs or cherubim) is an angelic being. A look at the Bible's mentions of cherubs (more than 60 times) offers insight into their role and activities.
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The first mention of cherubs is found in Genesis 3:24: "He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life." These angels guarded the Garden and held a flaming sword.
Golden images of cherubs are mentioned in the design of the lid of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-19), revealing the importance of cherubim in the presence of God. Cherubs were also included in other aspects of the tabernacle's design (Exodus 26:31) and later the Jewish temple, as noted in Ezekiel 41.
Second Samuel 22:11 notes cherubs as God's attendants when He comes to the aid of people (also Psalm 18:10). Hezekiah prayed, stating, "O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth" (2 Kings 19:15).
Ezekiel 10 includes a vision that shows the work of cherubs in God's presence. Their description includes wings (10:5, 19) and hands (10:7-9). Ezekiel 28:16 also mentions cherubs as guardians. A detailed description of cherubs given both in Ezekiel 10 and in Ezekiel 1 describes them as having four faces (that of a cherub, human, lion, and eagle in 10:14; and that of a human, lion, ox, and eagle in 1:5). They are described with four wings, two used for flying and two for covering their bodies (1:6-23; 10:21). It is unclear if this is true of all cherubs or not.
In the New Testament, the only reference to cherubs is in Hebrews 9:5: "Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat." It simply notes them as part of the Ark.
Based on these observations found throughout Scripture, we can see that a cherub is an angelic being. He is frequently mentioned in Scripture, especially in connection with the worship of God and in His presence. A cherub's physical description includes hands like a human and wings, with a body somewhat similar to humans yet distinct in many ways. At least some cherubs are armed with flaming swords. While cherubs seen by Ezekiel included four faces, four wings, and many eyes, it is uncertain whether this is true of all cherubs or was limited to those in his vision. Overall, cherubs are clearly important angelic beings given the task of serving directly in God's presence, highly involved in the worship of the Lord.
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