Y O U N G P E O P L E ' S D I C T I O N A R Y O F S C R I P T U R A L • & • R E L I G I O U S T E R M S
Cherubim is not found in the KJV Bible, however if the letter ‘s’ is added to make the word
plural—cherubims—then it is found 57 times. We would note here that in Mr. Darby’s JND Trans-
lation of the Bible, cherubim is also found 57 times, but always in the singular (no letter ‘s’).
The reason for this is simply that in the original Biblical Old Testament language, adding the
letters ‘im’ causes the word to be read as plural. Thus, in the KJV, cherubim is plural while
cherub would be a single being.
These beings are no doubt angelic beings, but with a specific function. Cherubims represent
and carry out God’s judicial government and also maint
ain His righteousness in this creation.
For example, after Adam and Eve had sinned, God placed cherubim with a flaming sword at the
entrance to the Garden of Eden. This was God’s government in righteousness on Adam and
Eve for disobeying and sinning against God. Though the tree of life existed evidently for some
time in the garden, as long as it was there, the cherubim guarded it so no one with a sinful
nature could partake of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever in their sin (see Gen. 3).
When God commanded Moses to build the tabernacle so that He might dwell in the midst of
His beloved but disobedient children (Israel) as they crossed the wilderness from Egypt to
Canaan, perhaps the most important piece of furniture in the tabernacle was the mercy seat. it
was there that the blood of the sacrifice was placed. At either end of the mercy seat were two
golden cherubim. Their wings (the cherubim are spoken of as having two wings) covered the
mercy seat and touched each other at the top. Their heads are spoken of as looking down, as
though looking at the top surface of the mercy seat. (see Gen. 25-40).
In this sense, it might be said, that God’s righteousness demands that blood be shed to bring
remission of sins. Animal sacrifices never could satisfy our Holy God about the awful question
of sin. But in Old Testament times, before the Lord Jesus came and shed His blood on the
cross, animals were sacrificed as a picture of the coming perfect sacrifice of Christ. The Cheru-
bim, which are a symbol of God’s holy and righteousness judgement of sin, looked down at the
mercy seat and there saw the sprinkled blood. As long as there was blood on the mercy seat,
until the Lord Jesus went to Calvary and shed His blood there, once forever, God accepted the
sacrifices of the nation of Israel.
The golden cherubim on the mercy seat were, of course, not real cherubim. But those that were
at the entrance of the Garden of Eden as well as other times they are mentioned in Scripture,
are very real.