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Cherubim כרובים

(1,764 words)

Author(s): T. N. D. Mettinger
I. Name The term ‘cherubim’ occurs 91 times in the Hebrew Bible. It denotes the Israelite counterpart of the sphinx known from the pictorial art of the ancient Near East. In the Bible the cherubim occur essentially in two functions: as guardians of a sacred tree or as guardians and carriers of a throne. There is no consensus on the etymology of the term. While there are difficulties connected with the various suggestions that have been made (survey in Freedman & O’Connor 1983) the most probable is that the Heb. term is connected with Akk. kāribu, kurı̄bu, both used with reference to genii…

Yahweh Zebaoth יהוה צבאות

(3,470 words)

Author(s): T. N. D. Mettinger
I. Name “Yahweh Zebaoth” occurs 284 times as a divine name in the Heb. Bible; 121 of these occurrences can be characterized as free, non-formulaic usage. This expression had a prominent function as a cultic name of Yahweh in Shiloh and Jerusalem. Serving as an important divine epithet in the Zion-Zebaoth theology of the Jerusalemite temple, it is attested from the premonarchic period to postexilic times. The Zebaoth designation is an important signpost in the religious history of ancient Israel and has therefore been the subject of intensive scholarly discussion (surveys in Schmitt 197…

Seraphim שׂרפים

(862 words)

Author(s): T. N. D. Mettinger
I. Name The word ‘Seraphim’ is the name given to the beings singing the trishagion to Yahweh as king in Isa. 6.2–3 and carrying out an act of purification in vv 6–7. The Seraphim are now generally conceived as winged serpents with certain human attributes. The word śārāp has three occurrences in the Pentateuch ( Num. 21.6, Num. 8; Deut. 8.15) and four in Isa ( Deut. 6.2, Deut. 6; Deut. 14.29; Deut. 30.6). It is generally taken as a derivative of the verb śārap, to “burn”, “incinerate”, “destroy”. Since the verb is transitive, śārāp probably denotes an entity that annihilates by b…