What are they? Ezekiel describes Cherubim as a composite of man, ox, lion and eagle. Opinions vary as to what they represent, or even if they are Cherubim. The According to one theory,  the man is Aquarius, the ox is Taurus, the lion is Leo and the eagle is Ophiuchus in Scorpio-claiming that the eagle is an ancient form of Ophiuchus. On the surface, it seems to make sense. Each of the constellations is three months apart as if they represent the four cardinal directions. It's bothersome that the writer doesn't explain his source of the claim that Ophiuchus is the eagle. Then there is the theory that based on the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, Scorpio is the man. This boundary stone below left shows a scorpion with a man's body. Below right, Wikipedia suggests Cherubim where originally statues found in pairs protecting doorways. That would apply as a statue representation.

10He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind. (Psalm 18:10)

23The nave and the holy place had each a double door.
24The doors had two leaves apiece, two swinging leaves for each door.
25And on the doors of the nave were carved cherubim and palm trees, such as were carved on the walls; and there was a canopy of wood in front of the vestibule outside. (Ezek. 23-25)

I suggest that all of the above theories are false. The evidence on this page argues for Cherubim composed of Taurus the bull, Leo the lion, Orion the man and Aquila the eagle. Genesis tells us that Cherubim were stationed "to guard the way to the Tree of Life." The evidence will demonstrate that the way is the Milky Way. Each is stationed at a strategic point on the Milky Way: beginning, end and two flanks. There is a fifth constellation, Perseus with his sword, who guards the middle.


Drawing © Stephane Beaulieu
Used by permission

Cherubim described

Genesis tells us Cherubim were placed in the Garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life (not the Tree of Life itself). God placed a flaming sword turning every way to guard the way to the tree of life. In other words, there is a path of some sort to the Tree of Life. We will return to the sword later.

24He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24)

In chapter one, Ezekiel describes "living creatures" as having the face of a man in the front, the face of a lion on the right, the face of an ox on the left, and the face of an eagle at the back. He doesn't explicitly call them Cherubim. We need more information.

The cloud describes the Milky Way. "A stormy wind out of the north" means a spirit from the north side of the Zodiac. Of course, terms like "burning coals of fire" and "flash of lightning" refer to the stars.

4As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness round about it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming bronze.
5And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the form of men,
6but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.
7Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf's foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze.
8Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus:
9their wings touched one another; they went every one straight forward, without turning as they went.
10As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man in front; the four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle at the back.
11Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies.
12And each went straight forward; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.
13In the midst of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
14And the living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning. (Ezek. 1:4-14)

The River of Heaven described

In the passage below, the river that interests us is the River Pishon. We recognize the Tigris and Euphrates. As for the River Gihon, the Zodiac has a second river in the southern hemisphere called the River Eridanus (not shown here).

10A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.
11The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.
13The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush.
14And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Gen. 2:10-14)

3Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house, when the man went in; and a cloud filled the inner court.
4And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the glory of the LORD. (Ezek. 10:3-4)

Ezekiel sees Cherubim by the river Chebar. Each has four faces and four wings. The firmament (celestial sphere) was over their heads. The best that I can make of the number four is that it represents four cardinal directions as the constellations rotate. The wheels symbolise the stars turning around the pole star.

15And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the river Chebar.
16And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them.
17When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in them. (Ezek. 10:15-17)

Ezekiel identifies the living creatures by the river Chebar as Cherubim.

20These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubim.
21Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the semblance of human hands.
22And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the very faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar. They went every one straight forward.
22Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of a firmament, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads.
23And under the firmament their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another; and each creature had two wings covering its body. (Ezek. 10:20-23)

Putting it alltogether

We have a map of the north celestial sphere below and a lot of descriptions from Genesis and Ezekiel. For the thesis to work, the descriptions should fit the map. I started with the assumption that the Milky Way is the river of heaven by coloring it blue. If it is a wrong assumption, the other pieces won't fit. The picture is inverted from the way we would see it from earth. The arc at the bottom represents the sun's ecliptic rising above us. Assume a viewing position in the middle on earth looking up towards the arc in the south.

Three descriptions fit the Milky Way. Genesis says the River Pishon flows out of Eden - so does the Milky Way in the sense that it extends beyond the Zodiac. Ezekiel tells us to look for Cherubim by the River Chebar. Genesis says the Cherubim and the flaming sword are in Eden to guard the way to the Tree of Life - the Milky Way. The flaming sword is on the east side where Genesis placed it.

From our viewer position, as Ezekiel described, we see the face of Orion in front of us, the eagle in the back, the lion to the right, and the ox to the left. Cherubim are guarding the river of heaven, or as Genesis put it, the way to the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life will be identified below.


Revelation calls the Milky Way the "water of life" that flows "from the throne of God." To see where the throne is, follow Orion from the picture above to the picture below. At the high end of the Milky Way, the sun rises over Orion's body, to where his head would be. The outline of Lepus below looks like a throne, and the outline of Gemini looks like a pharaoh's hat.

1Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:1-2)

So then, the Milky Way is the river to the Tree of Life. In other parlance, it is the cloud of heaven from where Jesus will come to whisk believers off to heaven. It is the path that takes the souls of the dead to meet God. Perseus with his sword guards the river in the middle. The Cherubim guard the river at each end and at the sides. The lion is on the right and the ox is on the left, both watching the river. Orion, the man, guards the river by the front and Aquila the eagle guards the back. When the sun is at the summer solstice over Orion's body, God is said to be on his throne.

16"O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. (Isa. 37:16)

Genesis places the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden. That would imply in the center at the pole. We can imagine the imaginary pole line as the trunk of the tree. The celestial sphere or firmament represents the branches. And, according to Revelation, the twelve constellations of the Zodiac are the fruit.

9And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:9)


The brightest stars in these constellations are
fairly bright. With #1 ranking as the brightest:

Aldebaran, 0.85 pale red, #14
Altair, 0.77, white, #12,
Betelgeuse 0.5 red, #10
Mirfak, 1.8, brilliant yellow, #33
Regulus 1.4 blue-white, #21

Perhaps they serve to light the way up
the River of Life.