What Was the Secret of the Temple Cherubim?
The prophet Ezekiel gives us a clear indication, by his descriptions, of the appearance of the mysterious Cherubim (Eze 1.10 & 10) in which these creature-forms took the likeness of a man, lion, ox and eagle. Apart from the astrological significance (Man = Aquarius, Lion = Leo, Ox = Taurus, Eagle = ancient symbol for Scorpio) there appears to be a mystical factor wherein the Cherubim represent God’s chosen and redeemed people (Revelation) facing four ways, towards all quarters of the earth, in their pursuit of evangelism. The wings display their swiftness and eagerness of obedience in preaching the truth of the Gospel. It is also notable that only the redeemed can sing the song put in their mouths (Rev 5.8-14). The Cherubim may also represent the sovereign providence of God among mankind (man = God’s wisdom and intelligence; ox = God’s strength; lion = God’s kingly authority; eagle = God’s far-sighted swiftness).
These same symbols, therefore, were in the Cherubim which were placed at the eastern entrance to the Garden of Eden to guard The Way to the tree of life, or lives (Gen 3.24). Hence we have winged lions in most ancient cultures, the winged man-headed bulls and lions of Assyria, the sphinx of Greece, Persia and Egypt. The sphinx had a bull’s body, lions paws and tail, a human head and eagle’s wings.
Importantly, it was from between the Cherubim that the Lord communed with His people (Ex 5.22). This is a vital factor to keep in mind, and you will see the point I wish to make in a moment.
God made it very clear that idolatry was not permitted in Israel. YHWH alone was to be worshiped. The commandment against images was explicit (Ex 20.4-6). Nothing could be plainer than the injunction given in the second commandment. Yet not long after this dictate was given to Israel God Himself ordered Israel to make graven images of Cherubim (these half human, half animal representations) and to place them in the holiest portion of the tabernacle (Ex 25.18-22). The two figures of Cherubim stood on both sides of the Ark cover separated by its width of 2.25 feet. They were made of beaten gold, and together with the Ark cover, formed a single piece. Their faces were toward each other, and downwards toward the Ark cover, which was shielded by their outspread wings. Recall that it was from between the Cherubim that God spoke to Moses.
Not only were the Israelites to make a graven image of the heavenly Cherubim, these same images were to be woven into the fabric of the ten curtains which formed the sides of the tabernacle (Ex 36.8) and the later veil of the Temple (Ex 26.31). Indeed, all these factors regarding the Cherubim were carried over into Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem for, apart from secular writings, we have a biblical record stating that the two Cherubic images were situated right in the Holy Place itself (1 Kgs 6.23).
These Cherubim were made of olive wood and overlaid with gold. Their height was fifteen feet, and their wing span measured the same. Their inner wings touched each other while their outer wings reached the two opposite walls of the Holy of Holies in which they stood: the total span of the two pairs of wings was a massive thirty feet stretching across the entire width of the Holy of Holies.
One of the great puzzles of Jewish history is the reluctance of Philo Judaeus and Josephus Flavius to actually describe the Cherubim. Many scholars have noted this peculiar fact. Some historians of Jewish history have even asked what it was that both Philo and Josephus wanted to hide about the appearance of these heavenly figures. They certainly had God’s appro-bation to be in the Holy of Holies. One thing for sure. Philo indicates that one of the Cherubic figures was representative of the male principle (Elohim) and the other, of the female principle (Yahweh).
Philo lists the Elohim principle as possessing the qualities of the Father, husband, begetter, creator, reason, goodness, peace-ableness, gentleness, beneficence: symbolised by Cherub “A.”
The Yahweh principle possesses the qualities of Mother, wife, bearer, nurturer, wisdom (knowledge, learning, education), sovereignty (kingly power), legislative, chastising, correcting: symbolised by Cherub “B.”
This information from Philo aligns to Jewish thoughtform for the mother is not only the bearer of children, and nurturer and educator of the child, but she is the establisher and maintainer of order in the home. She is the one who wields the legis-lative, chastising and correcting powers — in fact all the attributes of power, authority and sovereignty.
The father is, in a contrasted and complementive way, the begetter and creator, possessing the soft qualities of gentleness, goodness and compassion. As it is written: “Like as a father has compassion upon his children, so has God compassion.”
What Philo was admitting was that the two Cherubs were represented by a male and female figure.
A 3rd century Talmud record admits: “When Israel used to make the pilgrimage [the priests] would show them the Cherubim which were intertwined with one another, and say to them: ‘Behold! Your love before God is like the love of male and female.'”
Again, a 2nd century Jewish record tells us: “When strangers entered the sanctuary [Temple] they saw the Cherubim inter-twined with each another…they have seen their nakedness.”
Rashi (11th century) was in agreement, “The Cherubim were joined together, and were clinging to, and embracing each other, like a male who embraces a female [in the act of love].” In other words, the two Cherubic images were of two angelic beings in sexual union, one representing the male energy and the other the female energy: just as the ancient Egyptians pictured the earth in union with heaven! The sexual symbolism of the Temple of Solomon (which had God’s approval) came to a peak in the exhibition of the sexual Cherubim in the holiest place! And it is in that union that God speaks between the Cherubim. (It is most interesting that most people in the throes of orgasm cry out the name of God!)
The sexual significance of the two Cherubim can only be appreciated when we realise that the design of the Temple of God was in the shape, symbolically, of the female generative organs. And, once a year, the High Priest (the word “Cohen” — priest — literally meant “guardian of [God’s] semen”) would enter the Temple through the east gate, walk through the outer curtains (labia majora) of the Temple vestibule (vaginal orifice), and then past the inner curtains (labia minora) that guarded the Holy of Holies (the uterus) — the most holy place in the Temple — dressed up like a giant phallus, anointed with various oils (types of semen). He would then perform certain rituals (sexual intercourse) before the Ark of the Covenant (the cervix) and with a sacrifice (ejaculation; symbolic of impregnation) take away the sins of God’s people (conception would occur). This all pre-figured, in a symbolic way, the coming of God-in–flesh to save mankind. It is marvellous symbolism indeed!
The Cherubim, entwined in sexual intercourse, symbolised the awesome plan and purpose of Deity in reproducing himself in human beings. Recall that salvation is essentially the product or outcome of the holy Spirit of God united with our own human spirit. Proof? Conversion is referred to in the Messianic Scriptures of the Yeshua Party (the so-called “NT”) as a “begettal” and being “born” again (Jam 1.18; 1 Jn 5.1,18; 1 Pet 1.3). Christians are referred to as the sperma of God (1 Jn 3.9).
Impregnation results in conferring on us and in us the very Divine Nature of God.