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Cherub

Basic knowledge-

A cherub (Heb. כרוב, pl. כרובים, eng. trans kruv, pl. kruvim, dual kruvayim lat. cherub[us], pl. cherubi[m]) is a form of

angel mentioned several times in the Bible. In modern English the word is usually used for what are strictly putti, baby or

toddler angels in art. This information is concerned with the original sense of the word.
Cherubs are described as winged beings. The biblical prophet Ezekiel describes the cherubim as a tetrad of living creatures,

each having four faces: of a lion, an ox, a griffin vulture, and a man. They are said to have the stature and hands of a man,

the feet of a calf, and four wings. Two of the wings extended upward, meeting above and sustaining the throne of God;

while the other two stretched downward and covered the creatures themselves.

Cherubs are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the Torah (five books of Moses), the Book of Ezekiel, and the Book of Isaiah.

In the Christian New Testament Cherubs are mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They are also mentioned in the books of

1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, and 2 Chronicles mainly in the construction of the House of God.
The plural can be written as cherubim or cherubs. Because most English speakers are unfamiliar with Hebrew plural

formation, the word cherubims is sometimes used as a plural.
Some believe Lucifer, the angel who would become Satan, was originally a Cherub. While Lucifer was indeed a high-ranking

angel, the only evidence that specifically says "cherub" (Ezekiel 28:14-16) may not even be referring to Lucifer.

Jewish view-

Judaism includes belief in the existence of angels, including Cherubim within the Jewish angelic hierarchy. The existences

of angels is generally not contested within rabbinic Judaism; there is, however, a wide range of views on what angels

actually are, and how literally one should interpret biblical passages associated with them.
In Kabbalah there has long been a strong belief in Cherubim, with the Cherubim, and other angels, regarded as having

mystical roles. The Zohar, a highly significant collection of books in Jewish mysticism, states that the Cherubim were led

by one of their number, named Kerubiel.
On the other end of the philosophical spectrum is the view of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides. He

had a neo-Aristotelian interpretation of the Bible. Maimonides writes that to the wise man, one sees that what the Bible

and Talmud refer to as "angels" are actually allusions for the various laws of nature; they are the principles by which the

physical universe operates. "Guide of the Perplexed" II:4 and II:6.
For all forces are angels! How blind, how perniciously blind are the naive?! If you told someone who purports to be a sage

of Israel that the Deity sends an angel who enters a woman's womb and there forms an embryo, he would think this a

miracle and accept it as a mark of the majesty and power of the Deity - despite the fact that he believes an angel to be a

body of fire one third the size of the entire world. All this, he thinks, is possible for God. But if you tell him that God

placed in the sperm the power of forming and demarcating these organs, and that this is the angel, or that all forms are

produced by the Active Intellect - that here is the angel, the "vice-regent of the world" constantly mentioned by the sages -

then he will recoil.
For he {the naive person} does not understand that the true majesty and power are in the bringing into being of forces

which are active in a thing although they cannot be perceived by the senses....Thus the Sages reveal to the aware that the

imaginative faculty is also called an angel; and the mind is called a cherub. How beautiful this will appear to the

sophisticated mind - and how disturbing to the primitive."
Maimonides says (Guide for the Perplexed III:45) that the figures of the cherubayim were placed in the sanctuary only to

preserve among the people the belief in angels, there being two in order that the people might not be led to believe that

they were the image of God.  Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism generally either drop references to angels or

interpret them metaphorically.

Rabbinic literature-

The word is also used to refer to the depictions of Cherubim in Solomon's Temple, including the two cherubayim that were

part of the Ark of the Covenant. The Book of Numbers depicts the voice of God as speaking to Moses from between the two

Cherubayim atop the Ark (Numbers 7:89).
Cherubs are discussed within the midrash literature. The two cherubayim placed by God at the entrance of paradise (Gen.

iii. 24) were angels created on the third day, and therefore they had no definite shape; appearing either as men or women,

or as spirits or angelic beings (Genesis Rabbah xxi., end). The cherubim were the first objects created in the universe

(Tanna debe Eliyahu R., i. beginning). The following sentence of the Midrash is characteristic: "When a man sleeps, the

body tells to the neshamah (soul) what it has done during the day; the neshamah then reports it to the nefesh (spirit), the

nefesh to the angel, the angel to the cherub, and the cherub to the seraph, who then brings it before God (Leviticus

Rabbah xxii.; Eccl. Rabbah x. 20).
A midrash states that when Pharaoh pursued Israel at the Red Sea, God took a cherub from the wheels of His throne and

flew to the spot, for God inspects the heavenly worlds while sitting on a cherub. The cherub, however, is "something not

material", and is carried by God, not vice versa (Midr. Teh. xviii. 15; Canticles Rabbah i. 9).
In the passages of the Talmud that describe the heavens and their inhabitants, the seraphim, ofannim, and ḥayyot are

mentioned, but not the cherubim (Ḥag. 12b); and the ancient liturgy also mentions only these three classes.
In the Talmud, Yose ha-Gelili holds, when the Birkat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) is recited by at least ten thousand

seated at one meal, a special blessing - "Blessed is Ha-Shem our God, the God of Israel, who dwells between the Cherubim"

- is added to the regular liturgy.

Christian view-

In Catholic theology, following the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, the cherubim are the second highest rank in the angelic

hierarchy, following the Seraphim. In western art, Putti are sometimes mistaken for Cherubim, although they look nothing

alike. They are also mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis (Gen. 3:24) as the angels who guarded the east side of

the Garden of Eden with "a flaming sword which turned every way".

Biblical criticism-

A Shedu, which a proportion of scholars identify as the origin of physiological attributes associated with Cherubim
Linguistic scholar Roland De Vaux wrote that the term cherubim is cognate with the Assyrian term karabu, Akkadian term

kuribu, and Babylonian term karabu; the Assyrian term means 'great, mighty', but the Akkadian and Babylonian cognates

mean 'propitious, blessed'. In some regions the Assyro-Babylonian term came to refer in particular to spirits which served

the gods, in particular to the shedu (human-headed winged bulls); According to the authors of the Jewish Encyclopedia,

Assyrians sometimes referred to these as kirubu, a term grammatically related to karabu.
According to Peak's Commentary on the Bible, a number of scholars have proposed that cherubim were originally a version

of the shedu, protective deities sometimes found as pairs of colossal statues either side of objects to be protected, such as

doorways. However, although the shedu were popular in Mesopotamia, archaeological remains from the Levant suggest

that they were quite rare in the immediate vicinity of the Israelites. The related Lammasu (human-headed winged lions —

to which the sphinx is similar in appearance),[dubious – discuss] on the other hand, were the most popular winged-creature

in Phoenician art, and so most scholars suspect that Cherubim were originally a form of Lammasu In particular, in a scene

reminiscent of Ezekiel's dream, the Megiddo Ivories — ivory carvings found at Megiddo (which became a major Israelite

city) — depict an unknown king being carried on his throne by hybrid winged-creatures. According to archaeologist Israel

Finkelstein, the Israelites arose as a subculture in Canaanite society, and hence regarded it is as only natural for the

Israelites to continue using Canaanite protective deities.

According to the editors of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, the Lammasu was originally depicted as having a king's head, a

lion's body, and an eagle's wings, but due to the artistic beauty of the wings, these rapidly became the most prominent

part in imagery ; wings later came to be bestowed on men, thus forming the stereotypical image of an angel. The griffin —

a similar creature but with an eagle's head rather than that of a king — has also been proposed as an origin, arising in

Israelite culture as a result of Hittite usage of griffins (rather than being depicted as aggressive beasts, Hittite depictions

show them seated calmly, as if guarding), and a few scholars have proposed that griffin may be cognate to cherubim, but

Lammasu were significantly more important in Levantine culture, and thus more likely to be the origin.
According to the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia, Early Israelite tradition conceived of the cherubim as guardians of the

Garden of Eden, being devoid of human feelings, and holding a duty both to represent the gods and to guard sanctuaries

from intruders, in a comparable way to an account found on Tablet 9 of the inscriptions found at Nimrud. In this view,

cherubim, like the shedu, were probably originally depictions of storm deities, especially the storm winds. This view is

offered as a hypothesis to explain the reason for cherubim being described as acting as the chariot of Yahweh in Ezekiel's

dream, the Books of Samuel, the parallel passages in the later Book of Chronicles, and passages in the early Psalms:
"and he rode upon a cherub and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind".

Depictions-

There were no cherubim in Herodian reconstruction of the Temple, but according to some authorities, its walls were

painted with figures of cherubim; paintings of cherubim continued into Christian art. In Christianity, they are often

represented in iconography as faces of a lion, ox, eagle, and man peering out from the center of an array of four wings

(Ezekiel 1:5-11, 10:12,21 Revelation 4:8); seraphim have six; the most frequently encountered descriptor applied to

cherubim in Christianity is many-eyed, and in depictions the wings are often shown covered with a multitude of eyes

(showing them to be all seeing beings). Since the Renaissance, in Western Christianity cherubim have sometimes become

confused with putti—innocent souls, looking liked winged children, that sing praises to God daily—that can be seen in

innumerable church frescoes and in the work of painters such as Raphael.
In modern literature, A Wind in the Door part of the A Wrinkle in Time series, features a cherubim named Proginoskes.

Progo (as he is nicknamed) is depicted as a mass of wings and eyes. The main characters of the story react in confusion

having the common misconception that cherubs are cupid like creatures.