Cherubim have four faces, similar to four creatures: ox, lion, eagle, man.

In two passages in Daniel, all of these faces become faces of Babylon. When he falls from reason, Nebuchadnezzar pastures in the field like cattle, and his hair grows like eagle feathers (4:33). Three out of four: He is a man, but he eats like and ox and has hair like an eagle.

The first sea beast in Daniel 7 represents the Babylonian empire. It is a lion with wings like an eagle, but while Daniel watches it stands on his back feet like a man (v. 4). Three our of four again: Lion, eagle, man. Or maybe four of four: The reference to the humanization of the lion-eagle reminds us of Daniel 4, and Nebuchadnezzar’s re-humanization. Ox-like Nebuchadnezzar is slightly visible still in chapter 7.

What does that say about Babylon? Cherubim are guardians of the garden; they constitute the throne of Yahweh. If Babylon is cherubic (for a time, before it turns monstrous), then it is guardian of the garden-temple and of Yahweh’s ark-throne. 

If there was one imperial cherub, might there also be others?

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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