Learn about Kerubim in semitic religion and art:
What were the Kerubim f This is a problem that until recently has been obscure owing to the want of the proper historical and scientific point of view. Hitherto the discussion of the problem has been largely influenced by theological bias,a side of the question which was reserved to itself by the Church, but the deciphering of the cuneiform texts and our resultant increased knowledge from them has changed the entire situation. Furthermore, the results of the science of Comparative Religion, largely deduced in this instance from the cuneifoiim texts, have altered our views. It is proposed in this treatise to trace by means of the historical documents the development of the Kerubim ideas and to endeavor to discover exactly what concrete form the name Kerub awakened in the Hebrew mind.
A study of the O. T. sources plainly indicates that the earliest accounts were written at a date long subsequent to the times represented in the sources. The oldest narrative in which is found a reference to the Kerubim is Gen. iii :24. After having driven the first human pair from the earthly Paradise, as a punishment for their sin, it is written that “Yahveh Elohim placed to the East of the Garden of Eden the Kerubim and the flaming blade of the sword which turns, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Gen. iii:24. Probably we have here, as scholars generally believe, two independent symbols the fiery sword and Kerubim for the sword is one and the Kerubim are many ; and the symbol of the sword is represented elsewhere,1 as an independent power, the ultimate source of which is evidently the fiery sword of Gen. iii:24. Budde2 finds in the verses iii :22, 24, the story of the ‘tree of life/ a secondary version of man’s expulsion, which in origin may be earlier than the longer story of the Garden of Eden ; its presence, however, in Chapter iii seems to be due to the work of a later prophet. According to this fragment, God sent forth man from the garden, i. e., commanded him to go forth (drove him forth) as he still lingered or still stood without before the gate. That every possibility of his wilfully returning to the Garden and to the ‘tree of life’ may be cut off, he stations eastward of the Garden of Eden the’ Kerubim, where as in an earthly sanctuary the entrance was. The Kerubim were not stationed to dwell in the Garden, instead of man, but to guard the approach.