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.
2324 25 (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
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.
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.
45 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 (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).
1011 12 13 14 (Gen. 2:10-14)
34 (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.
1516 17 (Ezek. 10:15-17)
Ezekiel identifies the living creatures by the river Chebar as Cherubim.
2021 22 22 23 (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.
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.
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.