Last week I spoke on the Workings of the Chariot, four universes, the ascendancy of the prophets to the Ruach haKodesh as exemplified by Ezekiel and then the three husks, the root of all evil that tries to retard or halt a person’s ascendancy. We learned what the Cherubs, and the Ophanim or wheels are. We saw how Ezekiel and Elijah shed light on each other and the process of attaining the highest level of soul: Neshamah, the Ruach HaKodesh or “Breath of
This week we are going to look a little deeper into the Cherubs. In the time of the prophets the focal point of all prayer was the Great Temple that stood in Jerusalem in the Holy of Holies. So great was the sanctity of this chamber that no one was allowed into it but the Cohen Gadol only once a year on Yom Kippur.
In the center of the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, which was constructed of wood covered with gold. On this was a cover of pure gold, and attached to this cover were two golden Cherubs. Even of more importance was what the Ark contained. In it was the two most sacred objects mentioned in the Torah. First, it contained the two Tablets, inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Besides it according to tradition was the original scroll of the Torah which Moshe himself had written as dictated by G-d.
It is recorded in many extant Jewish works that King Solomon when he built the Temple also constructed a deep labyrinth under the Temple Mount, where the holy vessels could be hidden in time of danger. Foreseeing that Jerusalem would be threatened, King Josiah ordered that the Ark be concealed in this labyrinth, sealing it off so that the enemy would not discover it. Even to this day it is said that the Ark is hidden somewhere under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Jewish tradition says that the source of all prophetic inspiration was the Temple in Jerusalem particularly the two Cherubs on the Ark of the Covenant, which stood in the Holy of Holies. In describing the Ark, G-d told Moshe, “I will commune with you, I will speak with you from above the Ark of testimony” (Exodus 25:22). Jewish exegesis sees that what was true of Moshe was true of the other prophets, and that the primary influence of prophecy came through these two Cherubs in the Holy of Holies. There is also some evidence that the prophetic experience, in some cases came about through intense meditation on these two Cherubs.
Each of the Cherubs had a form of a very young child with wings. Even though G-d had in general forbidden construction of such images it was G-d Himself who had commanded these two forms be placed over the Ark. Rather than facing the people, the cherubs faced each other, clearly indicating that they were not to be worshipped, but rather they designated a place where spiritual force was concentrated.
In general, it is thought that because the cherubs had the form of winged human beings that it indicates that man has the ability to transcend his earthly bounds. Although man is bound to the earthly plane by his mortal body he can fly on the wings of his soul into the highest spiritual universes as demonstrated by Sha’ul’s testimony in the messianic Scriptures.
We need to look at the other places in the Scriptures where Cherubs are mentioned to understand this on a deeper level. The first place mentioned is after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The Torah states: “[G-d] expelled man, and He placed the Cherubs to the east of the Garden of Eden…to guard the way of the Tree of Life” (Genesis 3:24). The “Tree of Life” here refers to the most profound spiritual experience, and therefore, before on can enter into this experience; he must first encounter the Cherubs, which is a type of angel.
The Second place where we find the cherubs is in Ezekiel’s vision, which according to the commentaries, is a paradigm of the prophetic experience in general. The prophet reaches the highest levels of the mystical experience, actually transcending the bonds that tie the mind and soul to the physical world. In accomplishing this he is actually approaching the “Tree of Life” and the first thing he encounters are its guardians, the Cherubs.
The Cherubs on the Ark was a counterpart to the Cherubs in Heaven and Jewish thought has speculated that the prophetic experience comes through the Cherub is heaven unto the Cherub on the Ark believing that the space between the cherubs on the Ark was the source of all prophetic inspiration.
When looking into Scripture we can then understand what would otherwise be a rather difficult episode in the Bible involving Samuel’s first vision. It would appear that Samuel’s first vision came to him without any preparation whatsoever, however there is one clue ignored by most of the biblical commentators. It is the verse in 1 Samuel 3:3 where Samuel lay in the Temple of G-d, where the Ark of G-d was. This verse poses some difficulties because how was Samuel sleeping in the Temple, when it was forbidden to even sit there.
This problem is resolved when we not the Hebrew word for “lie” (Shakhav), besides having the usual connotation of physical lying down or sleeping, also has the connotation of total relaxation of the mind that comes from meditation. This verse then may mean that Samuel received his first prophetic vision after intense meditation of the Ark, the place of the Cherubs.
G-d told Moshe to place the Cover with the Cherubs onto the Ark containing the Tablets making them all one thing. G-d then told Moshe that ” This will be for me as a Throne of Glory, since it is from here, and I will speak to you from above the Ark-cover, from between the two Cherubs.” The reason for this is that they were on the Ark of Testimony.
I have gone into this description in al its details because it is the very same vision seen by Ezekiel. Ezekiel said in Ezekiel 10:20, “This is the Chayah (Cherubs) that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar, and I knew that they were Cherubs.” This is identified in Jewish writing as the Merkavah of the Chariot of His Glory. The Cherubs had their wings outstretched, indicating that they are a Vehicle for the Glory. This is indicated by the verse, “Gold for the pattern of the Chariot (Merkavah), the Cherubs, which spread their wings and covered the Ark of the Covenant” (1 Chronicles 28:18)
They had their wings spread upward because they are a Throne for the transcendental (supernatural), and they also cover the Tablets. Which was written by G-d Himself. The Cherubs were seen by Ezekiel as a Vehicle for the Divine Glory and are in the same form as the physical Cherubs, which was a form of glory and beauty. In Ecclesiastes 5:7 it is written: ” For one above the other watches, and there are higher ones that they.”
We should pause here and give some thought to this. The Ark was the meeting place Between G-d and Israel and the Cherubs being a Vehicle of Divine Glory was part of a structure that contained the Tablets of the Covenant. This should give us some idea of how G-d views His Law, to be guarded and transported by the Cherubs that protect the path to the Tree of Life. This should give all of you some estimate of Torah. The Written Torah and the manifested Living Torah, which is contained within our Mind as the Tablets, were concealed within the Ark where we meet G-d.
Another metaphor could be that the Tablets (Torah), which were within the heart of the Ark and communication with G-d occurred above the Cherubs, or in our case by the Ruach (Cherubs a vehicle) within our minds.
If you think about all this, you will see how the foregoing teachings teaches us a great truth applicable today which should serve as a guide in our walk and ascendancy to Spiritual Maturity and eventual arrival at the Holy of Holies.
Study of the Prophets: Ezekiel Chapter 10