The doors (Ezek 41:23-41:26)

“The nave

With the holy place

Had each

A double door.

The doors had

Two leaves apiece.

There were

Two swinging leaves

For each door.

On the doors

Of the nave

Were carved

Cherubim

With palm trees,

Just like those carved

On the walls.

There was a canopy

Of wood

In front

Of the vestibule,

Outside.

There were recessed windows

With palm trees

On either side,

On the sidewalls

Of the vestibule.”

Ezekiel continued with his descriptions of the double doors leading to the Hekal, the nave, and the Debir, the holy place. These 2 doors had 2 swinging leaves for each door. On the double door to the nave were the carvings of the cherubim and the palm trees just like as in wall of the holy of holies. There was a canopy of wood outside in front of the vestibule, the Ulam. There were recessed windows with palm trees on either side of the sidewalls of this vestibule or Ulam.

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Carvings of the two-headed cherubim with palm trees (Ezek 41:17-41:20)

“On all the walls

All around

In the inner room,

As well as the nave,

There was a pattern.

It was formed

Of cherubim

With palm trees.

There was a palm tree

Between each cherub.

Every cherub had

Two faces.

A human face

Was turned

Toward the palm tree

On the one side.

The face of a young lion

Was turned

Toward the palm tree

On the other side.

They were carved

On the whole temple

All around.

From the floor

To the area

Above the door,

Cherubim

With palm trees

Were carved

On the wall.”

Ezekiel explained what he saw in the holy of holies room. There were patterned carvings of cherubim with palm trees on all the walls around the inner room and the nave. Between each cherub there was a palm tree. Every one of these cherubim had two faces, a human face and the face of a young lion. The two faces of each cherub were turned toward the two palm trees on either side of them. These wooden carvings were all around the Temple walls, from the floor to the area above the door.

The cherubim and the living creatures of the River Chebar (Ezek 10:14-10:15)

“Each one had four faces.

The first face was

That of the cherub.

The second face was

That a human being.

The third face was

That of a lion.

The fourth face was

That of an eagle.           

The cherubim rose up.

These were

The living creatures

That I saw

By the river Chebar.”

Each one of the cherubim had 4 faces like the living creatures at the River Chebar as in chapter 1.   There was no mention of sides or fronts here. Three of the faces were exactly the same, a human face, a face of a lion, and the face of an eagle. However, the fourth face was that of a cherub here, while in chapter 1, it was an ox. Here the comparison to the cherubim in Assyrian and Babylonian times is more explicit. Thus the connection between this section and chapter 1 is very specific, since Ezekiel mentions the River Chebar.

The faces of the four living creatures (Ezek 1:10-1:11)

“As for the appearance

Of their faces,

Each had

The face

Of a human being

In front.

Each had

The face

Of a lion

On the right side.

Each had

The face

Of an ox

On the left side.

Each had

The face

Of an eagle

At the back.

Such were their faces.

Their wings

Were spread out above.

Each creature

Had two wings.

Each wing

Touched the wing

Of another.

The two wings

Covered their bodies.”

Each creature had the face of a human being in front. Then there was a face of a lion on the right side with a face of an ox on the left side. In the back was the face of an eagle. Interesting enough this is similar to the idea of cherubim in Assyrian and Babylonian times. They had a statue of a god who had the head of a human, the body of a lion, the paws of an ox, with wings. This same symbolism was later taken up as the symbols of the four Christian evangelists, as well as the 4 creatures of the apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. There is also the interpretation that these animal heads symbolize mobility, intelligence, and strength. Their wings were spread out above each of these creatures, so that they touched each other. Thus these wings covered the bodies of these creatures.

The vision of Isaiah about the Seraphs (Isa 6:1-6:2)

“The hem of Yahweh’s robe

Filled the temple.

Seraphs were

In attendance

Above him.

Each had six wings.

Two covered their faces.

Two covered their feet.

With two they flew.”

In Isaiah’s vision, Yahweh had a long flowing robe that filled the whole Temple. The seraphs or cherubim were sculptures in the Temple. These heavenly seraphs or cherubim were associated with the brilliance and glory of God. Here they are above Yahweh, each with 6 wings. 2 wings covered their faces, while the other 2 covered their feet. Finally they used their 2 other wings to fly.

Ezekiel (Sir 49:8-49:8)

“It was Ezekiel

Who saw

The vision of glory

That God showed him

Above the chariot

Of the cherubim.”

Sirach once again could refer to the biblical Book of Ezekiel (622-570 BCE), a contemporary of Jeremiah, the 3rd of the 3 major prophets. However, he merely gets one simple sentence. Ezekiel saw a vision of glory with chariots and cherubim.

Prayer for deliverance (Ps 80:1-80:2)

To the choirmaster, according to Lilies, a testimony of Asaph, a psalm

“Give ear!

O shepherd of Israel!

You lead Joseph like a flock!

You are enthroned upon the cherubim!

Shine forth

Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh!

Stir up your might!

Come to save us!”

Psalm 80 is another choral psalm of Asaph, a transcriber or author of psalms at the time of David and Solomon, a Temple singer at the time of Solomon during the transport of the Ark of the Covenant.  This psalm is set to the tune of the lilies, much like Psalm 45 and Psalm 69. This is an attempt of the northern tribes of Israel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh to have God come to their aid. Notice the importance of Joseph here. Remember that those northern Israel tribes were sent to captivity before the people in Jerusalem and Judah. This psalmist wanted the shepherd of Israel to listen and shine before the northern tribes. The God of Israel sat on the cherubim in the holy of holies. He wanted God to stir up his might and thus save them from their captivity.