Cherubs by juicyverve via Flickr

In Catholicism cherubim are angels of the second highest order in a hierarchy of nine. The word cherubim is most likely derived from several variants of an Akkadian word, karibu, meaning “great, powerful, mighty,” “one who prays, intercessor”  and “gatekeepers.”¹ St. Gregory says the name indicates “the fullness of knowledge.”

Cherubim appear quite often the Bible. Some notable instances are:

  • Cherubim guard the gate at the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24)
  • Cherubim are gold figures forming the throne of God on the Ark of the covenant (Exodus 25: 18-20)
  • Cherubim decorate Solomon’s temple (I Kings 6: 29)
  • Cherubim guard the King of Tyre in Ezekiel (Ez. 28)
  • Cherubim are a mount for God in Samuel (Sam 22:11).

Artistic representations and mythological ideas pointing to the idea of cherubim in the ancient world are also numerous. Archeological discoveries related to cherubim have been uncovered at Nimrud, Byblos, Nineveh and Samaria, among other places. It was not until renaissance times that cherubim came to be depicted as chubby, winged children.²

¹ Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, ed. Allen C. Myers, 1987, p. 204.

² Ibid.


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