Who is a Cherub?
The word ‘Cherub’ comes from the Akkadian Karibu or kurubi, derived from the verb karabu, which means “to pay” or “to bless”.
In Abrahamic religions comprising Islam, Christianity and Judaism, Cherubs are characterised as winged beings. Cherubs usually hold up the throne of the deity being worshiped. They are an amalgamation of bird, human and animal traits. One can find the root of the history of Cherubs in middle eastern mythology and iconography. There are liturgical and intercessory mechanisms linked to the hierarchy of the angels when cherubs are in question.
Cherubs are illustrated with wings on babies. Mostly, they are seen as positive cultural influences. They support the godly creatures or their equivalents. Innocence, wonder and affection spool around the concept of cherubim.
In the Hebrew Bible, Cherubs are portrayed as supernaturally mobile and cultic. Their intercessory role is diminished. In Christianity, the cherubim are classified in the higher rankings of angels and continually praise him as divine helpers of God. Understood as karubiyun in Islam, the cherubim continually honour God by reciting the tasbiḥ, which means ‘Glory to Allah’, resides in peace in an area of the paradises unavailable to invasions from the Devil, Iblis.
Cherubs in Islam
Cherubim, who are recognised with the Muqarraboon in the Quran, are a category of angels. However, this idea has been disputed within the culture. They are tasked with glorifying God and negotiating for humans. They are commonly remembered as a type of angels residing in the sixth heaven or the angels near the Throne of God. The latter possesses the ecclesiastical four Islamic archangels, Jibrail (Gabriel), Mikail (Michael), Izrail (Azrael) and Israfil (Raphael), and counted four more anointed Bearers of the Throne, an aggregate of eight cherubim. Ibn Kathir discerns between the angels of the throne and the cherubim. In a 13th-14th Century piece named “Book of the Wonders of Creation and the peculiarities of Existing Things,” the cherubim is linked to the hierarchy below the Bearers of the Throne, who are recognised with seraphim rather.
The Quran cited the Muqarraboon in An-Nisa verse 172 as angels who glorify God and are not scornful. Additionally, cherubim were seen in Miraj books and Qisas Al-Anbiya. The cherubim near the throne continually honor God with the tasbih: “Glory to Allah!” They are defined as optimistic as no one of the more inferior angels can predict them. As angels of compassion, Cherubim, constructed by the tears of Michael, are not recalled with the bearers of the throne. They, too, ask God to forgive humans. In distinction to the messenger angels, the cherubim invariably stay in the presence of God. If they halt heralding God, they tumble.
Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi describes a collapsed cherub overlooked by Muhammad in the shape of a snake. The legend goes that the snake informed him that he did not commit dhikr, which is ‘remembrance of God’ for a moment, so God was furious with him and tossed him down to earth in the shape of a snake. Then Muhammad went to Hasan and Husayn. They negotiated for the angel, and God reformed him to his divine condition. A similar instance emerges in Tabari’s Bishara. Futrus, defined as an “angel-cherub”, was sent by God, but God broke one of his wings since the angel forgot to conclude his duty in time. Muhammad mediated for the cherub, and God dismissed the fallen angel, at which juncture he evolved as the guardian for Hussain’s grave.
Cherubs in Christianity
Medieval theology follows the writing patterns of Pseudo-Dionysius. Following the seraphim, the cherubim are at the second-highest level in the celestial ranking. Cherubim are considered in orthodox Christian angelology as angels of the second-highest charge of the ninefold divine scale. De Coelesti Hierarchia documents them with Seraphim and Thrones.
Thomas Aquinas mentions that the cherubim are distinguished by proficiency, in disparity with seraphim, portrayed by their “burning love to God”. In Western art, cherubim became linked with the putto and the Greco-Roman God Cupid/Eros, defining tiny, chubby, winged boys.
Early Christian and Byzantine art contained creative sketches of cherubim occasionally branched from scriptural depictions. A prematurely comprehended description of the tetramorph cherubim is the 5th–6th-century apse mosaic uncovered in the Thessalonian Church of Hosios David. This mosaic brings together Ezekiel’s dreams in Ezekiel 1:4–28, Ezekiel 10:12, Isaiah’s seraphim in Isaiah 6:13 and the six-winged creatures of Revelation from Revelation 4:2–10.
Cherubs in Judaism
Rabbinic literature consistently mentions cherubs. Two cherubim are painted as almost human creatures but with wings. One of them is a boy and the other a girl. They both stand on the polar ends of the Mercy seat within the inner sanctum of God’s house. Additionally, the temple of Solomon was also adorned with cherubs. There is mention of similar ornamentation in the second temple as well.
There are mentions of angels and cherubim in the Jewish angelic hierarchy by specific forms of Judaism. Such existences are believed by strict followers of Judaism, generally. But, there is a lot of dialogue and debate about the definition of cherubim and how their presence should be interpreted.
In Kabbalah, there has long been a powerful belief in cherubim; the cherubim and angels are viewed as having transcendental functions. The Zohar, a positively influential group of texts in Jewish mysticism, notes that Kerubiel conducted the cherubim.