Thursday, January 4, 2024

Four Living Creatures (4.6b–11)


And in the middle of the throne and around the throne were four animals, full of eyes in front and back. And the first animal was like a lion, and the second animal was like a bull, and the third animal had a face like a man’s, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle. And the four animals, each one of them had six wings, full of eyes all around and within. And they did not rest day or night, saying, ‘Holy holy holy, Lord God the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming.’

And whenever the animals give glory and honor and thanksgiving to the one sitting on the throne—the one who lives for ever and ever—the twenty-four elders fall in front of the one sitting on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever, and they throw their laurels in front of the throne, saying, ‘Our Lord and God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you created all things and through your will they exist and were created.’


The author combines two separate divine creatures, the seraph from Isaiah and the cherub from Ezekiel. The seraph was a six-winged serpent, similar to the Egyptian uraeus. Ancient Judean bullae, approximately dated to Isaiah’s time period, depict four-winged serpents. The cherub was Israel’s analogue to the Mesopotamian lamassu. The lamassu were chimeric guardian deities, usually a combination of a human, an eagle, and a bull or lion. The word ‘cherub’ derives from Akkadian ‘karibu’, which describes the lamassu as an ‘intercessor’. The deep parallels with Isaiah’s prophetic call scene suggest the author intends ‘Lord God the Almighty’ to be understand as equivalent to ‘Yhwh of armies’.



99.1 Yhwh is king. Let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim. Let the earth quake!


6.1–3 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw Yhwh sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Yhwh of armies; the whole earth is full of his glory.’


1.6.23–27 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house; the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one was touching one wall, and a wing of the other cherub was touching the other wall; their other wings towards the centre of the house were touching wing to wing.

2.19.15 And Hezekiah prayed before Yhwh, and said, ‘O Yhwh, the god of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are god, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.’


1.5–11, 18 In the middle of it was something like four animals. This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another; each of them moved straight ahead, without turning as they moved. As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each animal had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. […] Their rims were tall and awesome, for the rims of all four were full of eyes all round.


25.18, 22 You shall make two cherubim of gold; you shall make them of hammered work, at the two ends of the cover. […] There I will meet you, and from above the cover, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

1 Enoch

14.23 And the holy ones of the watchers who approached him did not depart by night, nor did they leave him.

LXX Daniel 3.55

Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne on the cherubim, and to be praised and highly exalted for ever.

Sibylline Oracles

1.5–8 First God bids me tell truly how the world came to be. […] It was he who created the whole world, saying, ‘let it come to be’ and it came to be.

3.1–2 Blessed, heavenly one, who thunders on high, who have the cherubim as your throne

Revelation of Abraham

18.3–8 I saw under the fire a throne of fire and the many-eyed ones round about, reciting the song, under the throne four fiery living creatures, singing. And the appearance of each of them was the same, each having four faces. And his was the aspect of their faces: of a lion, of a man, of an ox, and of an eagle. Each one had four heads on its body so that the four living creatures had sixteen faces. And each one had six wings: two on the shoulders, two halfway down, and two at the loins. With the wings which were on their shoulders they covered their face, with the wings at their loins they clothed their feet, and they would stretch the two middle wings out and fly, erect. And when they finished singing, they would look at one another and threaten one another.

2 Enoch

J 1.4 the most marvelous and glorious and shining and many-eyed station of the Lord's servants, and of the Lord's immovable throne

J 8.8 and with never-ceasing voice and pleasant singing they worship the Lord every day and hour.

2 Baruch

48.8 And with the word you bring to life that which does not exist, and with great power you hold that which has not yet come.

3 Enoch

1.12 And when I opened my mouth and sang praises before the throne of glory the holy creatures below the throne of glory and above the throne responded after me, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy,’ and ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord in his dwelling place.’

18.1 he removes the glorious crown from his head and falls prostrate.

No comments:

Post a Comment