What is a Cherub? The Cherubim in the Bible

A Cherub, or known in the plural form as Cherubim, is an angelic figure repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. Cherubim are described as serving the will of God, performing divine duties in the earthly realm.

Statue of cherubim and cross

"Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 10:14 NIV)

What is a Cherub?

A Cherub, or known in the plural form as Cherubim, is an angelic figure repeatedly mentioned in the Bible. Cherubim are described as serving the will of God, performing divine duties in the earthly realm. Their initial responsibility was protecting the Garden of Eden as referenced in the book of Genesis.

The Cherubim are angelic beings associated with the worship and praise of God. The cherubim are first introduced in the Bible in Genesis 3:24, “After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” Before his rebellion and fall from heaven, Satan was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

Discover further scripture references to the Cherub and their relation to other angelic beings including Lucifer before his fall.

Cherubim in the Bible

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the Cherub, or Cherubim, are first mentioned in connection with the removal of our first parents from Eden (Genesis 3:24). There is no implication given of their shape or form. They are next discussed when Moses was commanded to provide furniture for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:17-20). God promised to commune with Moses "from between the cherubim" (Exodus 25:22). This expression was afterward used to denote the Divine abode and presence (Numbers 7:89; 1 Samuel 4:4; Isaiah 37:16; Psalm 80:1). 

In Ezekiel's vision (Ezekiel 10:1-20) they appear as living creatures supporting the throne of God. From Ezekiel's description of them (Ezekiel 1), they appear to have been compound figures, unlike any real object in nature; artificial images possessing the features and properties of several animals. Two cherubim were placed on the mercy-seat of the ark; two of colossal size overshadowed it in Solomon's temple.

Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4-14) speaks of four; and this number of "living creatures" is mentioned in Revelation 4:6. Those on the ark are called the "cherubim of glory" (Hebrews 9:5), i.e., of the Shechinah, or cloud of glory, for on them the visible glory of God rested. They were placed one at each end of the mercy-seat, with wings stretched upward, and their faces "toward each other and toward the mercy-seat." They were anointed with holy oil, like the ark itself and the other sacred furniture.

The cherubim were symbolic. They were intended to represent spiritual existence in immediate contact with Jehovah. Some have regarded them as symbolical of the chief ruling power by which God carries on his operations in providence (Psalm 18:10). Others interpret them as having reference to the redemption of men, and as symbolizing the great rulers or ministers of the church. Many other opinions have been held regarding them which need not be referred to here. On the whole, it seems to be most satisfactory to regard the interpretation of the symbol to be variable, as is the symbol itself.

Cherub and Seraphim

The key distinction between the heavenly beings known as cherubim and seraphim is their form: cherubim have four faces and four wings, while seraphim have six wings. In the Bible, both the cherubim's and seraphim's central purpose is to sit at the throne and serve God.

Cherubim appear in several books of the Bible, including Genesis, Ezekiel, Kings, and Revelation. Their four faces are ox, lion, man, and eagle, although Ezekiel replaces the ox for the face of a cherub. They move quickly, using a wheel within a wheel, and their wings cover their body.

Seraphim only appear in the book of Isaiah. Their name means "burning ones, flying serpents." Seraphim use two of their wings for flight. Like the cherubim, they are among the highest order of angelic beings.

Find more information about the Seraphim Angels

Cherubim in Revelation

The description of Revelation 4:6-9 also seems to be representing cherubim. The cherubim follow the purpose of magnifying the righteousness and sovereignty of God. This is one of their main responsibilities throughout the Bible. In addition to glorifying God, they also serve as a visible reminder of the power and glory of God and His lasting presence with His people.

Cherubim Names from Scripture

Here are angelic figures from the Bible that are mentioned as being Cherubim: