1 Kings 6-7 The wings of the cherubim were spread out

From 1 Kings 6-7

11 crown cross


1 Ki 6.1-38; Solomon; Solomon Builds the Temple

1 Ki 7.1-12; Solomon; Solomon Builds His Palace

1 Ki 7.13-51; Solomon; The Temple Furnishings

Passage and Comments

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Click to enlarge

My mum has on occasion called me cherub. Do you know what it means? A cherub is a kind of angel. In today’s passage we read about the final decoration of the temple of the LORD. Within the temple, images of cherubim were throughout.

11 building Gods house

14 So Solomon built the house and finished it. 15 He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar. From the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood, and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. 16 He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the walls, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as the Most Holy Place. 17 The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. 18 The cedar within the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers. All was cedar; no stone was seen. (1 Ki 6.14-18)

The house was made of wood. Expensive wood from Lebanon. The house was inlaid with gold and it seems according to these texts. The wood was commonly shaped in the form of gourds (a castor-oil plant) and open flowers. Perhaps it was like walking into a garden.

Here comes the gold.

19 The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid an altar of cedar.  21 And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, and he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. 22 And he overlaid the whole house with gold, until all the house was finished. Also the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold. (1 Ki 6.19-22)

Within the sanctuary was the ark of the covenant. Which contained the law of Moses. The sanctuary itself was overlaid with gold. So was its altar, the inside of the inner house and the front of the house. All covered in the shiny yellow metal – gold. Ive never seem so much gold. It must have been spectacular.

Here come the cherubim.

23 In the inner sanctuary she made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. 24 Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. 27 He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house. And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold. 29 Around all the walls of the house he carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. (1 Ki 6.23-29)

We will have a more detailed look at Cherubim below. For now, These cherubim are longer than a metre in length, some two metres in length (a cubit is roughly 25cm). Their wings touched the walls and formed a protective canopy over the room.

The golden garden was protected by angels.

(1000 Bible Images. 2009 Stuttgart, Germany German Bible Society)
(1000 Bible Images. 2009 Stuttgart, Germany German Bible Society)

30 The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms. 31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided.8 32 He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid them with gold and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. 33 So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, 34 and two doors of cypress wood. The two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied on the carved work. 36 He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone and one course of cedar beams. (1 Ki 6.30-36)

The interior design of the house and inner sanctuary is given more detail. As you can see gold, flower designs and Cheribum were used throughout.

37 In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, in the month of Ziv. 38 And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it. (1 Ki 6.37-38)

The summary sets the start of when the building began and its finishing point. From year four to year eleven. Seven years. A complete number for the house of the LORD.

Story of Israel

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Click to enlarge.

“Cherubim are winged creatures mentioned occasionally in Scripture (“cherubim” is the plural form of the Hebrew “cherub”). They belong to a supernatural created order along with the seraphim and angels. Some scholars have argued that the term “cherub” had its origin in the karibu (“intercessor”) of Akkadian mythological texts, commonly represented in Mesopotamian art as a griffin (a creature half lion and half eagle) or as a winged human. The sphinx also appears to go back to this concept. The biblical evidence, however, does not seem to support that identification.

The prophet Ezekiel described four “living creatures,” each with four faces and four wings (Ez 1:5–24); those creatures corresponded to cherubim (Ez 10:2–22). The splendor of Ezekiel’s vision was recaptured more modestly in his description of the king of Tyre, who in the midst of his own prosperity seemed to be playing the part of a towering or guardian cherub before being dispossessed (Ez 28:13–16).

The cherubim of Genesis 3:24 acted as guardians or custodians. Supernatural guardians seem to have been common in Near Eastern thought. In Ezekiel 10 the cherubim were also executors of divine judgment, spreading burning coals over a city (Ez 10:2, 7).

In early Israelite thought the cherubim stretched out their wings and provided God with a throne (1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; etc.). God spoke to Moses from such a throne on the cover of the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:22). In Ezekiel’s vision (Ez 1:26; 10:1) God was seated in a four-wheeled chariot moved by the cherubim and borne aloft by their wings. In Hebrew poetry God was portrayed as employing clouds for his chariot (Ps 104:3; cf. Is 19:1) or riding on a cherub in flight (2 Sm 22:11; Ps 18:10). The idea of cherubim furnishing a seat or platform for the invisible deity found expression in Near Eastern art, where the pagan gods stood on the backs of animals.” (Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.)

Story of Jesus

Jesus said he would use angels (including Cherubim I guess) to establish justice in his kingdom at the end of the age.

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Mt 13:36–43)

Following Jesus’ death and resurrection. His followers needed encouragement because they were being persecuted. The book of revelation was written in part to comfort God’s people in times of persecution. John also describes angels dispensing Jesus’ justice and surround him in his throne room.

15 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!

4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. (Rev 15:1–8)

The house Solomon build is like God’s throne in heaven. In the sanctuary is the King. His glory and power fill the room. He is so great no one can enter.

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