From the Biblical tale, Jacob wrestles with an Angel

Flaming Swords and Winged Beasts: What Were These Ancient Creatures? The Origins of Cherubim – Part II

(Read the article on one page)

The word angel comes from the Old English engel, or ‘messenger’. Angels have an ancient and global tradition, but with belief in these powerful but elusive supernatural beings still going strong today, it’s good to take a look at what the ancient Biblical description of these creatures were.

What are these heavenly creatures so many people believe in? What are they, where do they come from, and what do they look like?

[Read Part I Here]

Ancient biblical texts provide details concerning the nature and makeup of ‘angels’: seraphim and cherubim, including a prophetic vision in Ezekiel as to what their roles to a certain degree would be once heaven had been established on earth:

A mid-12th century Flemish piece of copperwork depicting Ezekiel's Vision, an illustrated Old Testament event.

A mid-12th century Flemish piece of copperwork depicting Ezekiel's Vision, an illustrated Old Testament event. ( Public Domain )

Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the Lord. The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.

When the Lord commanded the man in linen, "Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim," the man went in and stood beside a wheel. Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took up some of it and put it into the hands of the man in linen, who took it and went out.

Furthermore, Ezekiel goes into more detail concerning their look, stating, “Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes ...”

The Whirling Wheels

It gets more interesting and downright bizarre in Ezekiel 1:15-21 wherein he describes another type of angelic beings alongside the cherubim:

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.

This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.

When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

These angels are known as the Whirling Wheels, or Ophanim. Ezekiel mentions that the cherubim were accompanied by these fascinating things; Were they creatures? Or symbols? 

Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called "the whirling wheels."

Ezekiel's Wheel in St. John the Baptist Church in Kratovo, Macedonia. Fresco from the 19th century. These are known as "Ofanim, Wheels of Galgallin." It is said that they were the actual wheels of the ‘Lord's Heavenly Chariot’, Merkabah.

Ezekiel's Wheel in St. John the Baptist Church in Kratovo, Macedonia. Fresco from the 19th century. These are known as "Ofanim, Wheels of Galgallin." It is said that they were the actual wheels of the ‘Lord's Heavenly Chariot’, Merkabah. ( Public Domain )

The description given suggests that the wheels are spinning within each other and are in constant rotation. Moreover, the passage suggests a meteorological imagery: the word “wheel” can also mean whirlwind.

READ MORE…

This FREE PREVIEW is just a taste of the great benefits you can find at Ancient Origins Premium. 

Join us there  with easy, instant access  ) and reap the rewards:  NO MORE ADS, NO POPUPS, GET FREE eBOOKS, JOIN WEBINARS, EXPEDITIONS, WIN GIFT GIVEAWAYS & more!

Cam Rea  is an author and military historian. He has written numerous articles for Ancient Origins, Classical Wisdom Weekly, and has authored several books, including:  The Wars of Israel: A Military History of Ancient Israel from the End of Judges to Solomon

--

Top Image: From the Biblical tale, Jacob wrestles with an Angel ( Public Domain );Deriv.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Inside one of the tunnels under Rome, Italy.
Few visitors recognize that there is a forgotten world below the Roman Colosseum and Forum. The ancient maze of tunnels and quarries date back to the very beginning of this famous city. Locals, on the other hand, remember the existence of the underground pathways every time one of the ancient tunnels collapses, damaging the structures above. Hundreds of buildings and streets have fallen victim to the decaying tunnels.

Myths & Legends

The fall of Icarus, circa 1635.
Daedalus, the legendary inventor of ancient Greek myth, joined the court of Minos, the ruler of Crete, as the king's star engineer. Daedalus was credited with creating myriad marvels, from carpenter's tools to animated statues. It was Daedalus who designed and built the bewildering Cretan Labyrinth as a prison for Minos' monstrous son, the Minotaur. Every year, the Athenians were compelled to send fourteen young men and women to be sacrificed to the cannibal with the bull's head.

Ancient Places

Inside one of the tunnels under Valetta, Malta.
Hordes of tourists visit the Mediterranean island of Malta each year to enjoy the above ground attractions the country has to offer such as breath-taking sandy beaches, historical buildings, and traditional cuisine. Yet, there is also a subterranean world hidden beneath the island’s surface. These are the rumored secret tunnels of Malta.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article