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22There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.


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18 And thou shalt make two cherubims. I have stated in my commentary on Genesis and elsewhere, 130130     See Commentary on Genesis 3:23. Calvin Society Translation, vol. 1, p. 186. The fanciful derivation to which C. objects, he had found in S. M., who states it as popular with the Rabbis, But as untenable. — W. that there are various opinions respecting the word cherub; but that those approach most nearly to the truth who make the כ, caph, not a servile, but a radical letter, and take it generally for any image; for those who suppose the כto be a note of similitude, render it “like a boy;” which in itself is forced, and besides it is refuted by the words of Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 1:10, and Ezekiel 10:1,) who calls the forms of a calf, a lion, and an eagle by this name, as well as the human form. It is enough for me that the images were winged, which represented angels. Therefore, when Moses speaks of the angels, who were placed as guards to keep man away from approaching paradise, he calls them cherubim; not so much in reference to that time, as to keep the people in the doctrine of the Law 131131     “Que pour donner goust au peuple de la doctrine de la Loy, et l’accoustumer aux ceremonies;” as to give the people a taste for the doctrine of the Law, and to accustom them to its ceremonies — Fr. But God appointed angels, by whom He exercises His dominion, and who are the ministers of His blessings, to be a symbol of His presence; for as often as He manifested Himself to believers by angels, He in a manner extended His hand to them. On this ground, David, and other Prophets, in order to encourage themselves to confidence in prayer, often speak of God as “dwelling between the cherubims,” (Psalm 80:1; 64:1; Isaiah 37:16;) as much as to say, that He conversed familiarly with His people, since His virtue exercises itself by His angels. That they covered the lid of the ark with their extended wings, I do not imagine to have been done to hide it, but to mark the readiness of their obedience, for the extension of their wings is equivalent to their being prepared for the performance of whatever God might command. Thus they are said to turn their faces towards the mercy-seat, because they are attentive to the will of God. Moreover, because the fullness of the Godhead resides in Christ, He justly declares that, in His descent upon earth, the heavens were opened that the angels might ascend and descend. Their looking towards each other indicates that harmony in which the angels are united for performing the commands of God. It is indeed a plausible conceit, 132132     Gregorius in Gloss. Ord. “The two cherubim are the two Testaments. One of them stands on one end of the mercy-seat, and the other on the other; because what the Old Testament begins to promise in prophecy respecting the Incarnation of Christ, the New relates to be perfectly fulfilled. They are made of very pure gold, because both Testaments are written with pure and simple truth.They stretch out their wings and cover the oracles; because we (who are God’s oracles) are protected from imminent errors by the study of sacred Scripture; and whilst we earnestly look at it, we are covered by its wings from the mistakes of ignorance. They look towards one another with their faces turned to the mercy-seat, because the Testaments differ in nothing, and look mutually to each other; for what the one promises the other exhibits. And they see the mercy-seat, i.e., the Mediator between God and men, placed between them; for they would turn away their faces from each other, if the one promised what the other denied.” — See also Bede in Gloss. Ord., and Augustin Qoest. in Ex. 105. that the two cherubim were the Old and New Testaments, which look from one to the other, and surround the mercy-seat, inasmuch as Christ is their common object; but this notion vanishes before the contradiction of many passages of Scripture.




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