What Biblically Accurate Angels Look Like (And Why You Wouldn’t Want to Meet One)

Angels, as we’ve come to understand them, are  beings that reside in a higher plane of our own –   celestial beings, if you will, that go about doing  God’s bidding and also offer a certain, ambiguous   protection to the righteous man. Typically,  they are depicted as glorious, beautiful  

Winged creatures that gracefully glide across the  heavens, humanoid in appearance and the epitome   of physical perfection. Some come with halos,  some come with wings but a common misconception,   at least, according to the bible,  is that all of these angelic beings   are wonderful to behold. In actuality,  nothing could be further from the truth…

We’ve seen angels appear in the bible quite  frequently from the very beginning of Genesis   and in these pages we’ve come to see the  angels perform a variety of roles. Most often,   they are seen as messengers – those delivering  the word of God to either bring warning,  

As we see them do in Genesis 19 where they  warn Lot to leave Sodom before its destruction,   or to bring hope, as we see them do in Genesis 16  where they bless Hagar with numerous descendants.   It’s easy to imagine the angels in these  more innocent and nurturing roles as being  

Beautiful and graceful and full of such virtue  that their physical appearance would reflect that.   But in other accounts, we see  them behave more violently,   such as where David is punished for numbering  his people, which sees an angel sent to destroy   Jerusalem. Or when Jerusalem is later  attacked, which sees an angel of death  

Slaughter the one hundred and eighty five  thousand Assyrians who were responsible. With these more destructive and vengeful  characteristics, it becomes more conceivable   that the angels were not these handsome champions  of regal charm and glamour, but instead something   far more menacing and perhaps something truly  terrifying to witness. In today’s episode, we’ll  

Be exploring some of these more uncanny angels in  detail in an effort to discover what they looked   like, what their purpose was and how bizarre  and downright fearsome some of them really were. The Cherubim… Sometimes considered to be the highest form  of the angelic beings, the cherubim are  

Occasionally scattered throughout Scripture  and appear to take on a varied set of roles.  The Cherubim, or in their singular form ‘Cherub’,  were considered to be angelic servants of God,   those who performed divine duties upon  the earth and set about to ensure his will  

Was being carried out. But primarily, their  occupation far preceded the antics of man,   where they were initially thought to have been  created by God to guard the gates of Eden.  We’ve all likely seen the Cherubim from western  Christian artwork where they appear to be small,  

Plump boys with wings – sometimes even  babies – that hover around the clouds   looking pretty innocent. It’s likely that  this was inspired by the putto – a figure   in classical artwork depicted by a chubby  child and that the use of a child in this  

Instance in accordance with the Cherubim,  was to exemplify their purity and innocence.   The putto would also become closely associated  with that of the Roman and Greek god Cupid or   Eros and so, it is not uncommon for the Cherubim  to be confused with the mythological deities.  

But this stout and chunky form of the Cherub  would not be its only representation, for it   would come across as far more intimidating in  the descriptions from the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel.  In the bible, Ezekiel is seen to have noticed  the Cherubim transporting the throne of God  

Across the river Kebar in Ezekiel 1:5-11 titled  Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision, where the beings   are described as having the likeness of man, but  with the addition of four heads – that of a man,   a lion, an ox and an eagle. We are told, “I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out  

Of the north—an immense cloud with flashing  lightning and surrounded by brilliant light.   The centre of the fire looked like glowing metal,  and in the fire was what looked like four living   creatures. In appearance their form was human,  but each of them had four faces and four wings.  

Their legs were straight; their feet were like  those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.   Under their wings on their four sides they had  human hands. All four of them had faces and wings,   and the wings of one touched the wings  of another. Each one went straight ahead;  

They did not turn as they moved.” (Ezekiel 1:4-8) Here, we get a pretty good description of what   these beings looked like – that they had four  wings, that they were human in form and that  

They had four faces made up of animals. We also  see that some of their limbs appear to be like   those of animals – notably their feet which belong  to those of a calf. It is understood that the four  

Faces are representations of the four domains  of God’s rule – man which stands for humanity,   the lion for wild animals, the ox for the  domesticated animals and the eagles for the birds.   It’s also interesting to note that  they moved like flashes of light,  

Implying that they were swift and were likely  far beyond the power of a regular human man.   Interestingly, Ezekiel does not actually refer to  them as Cherubim in this part of the bible, but   confirms their identity in chapter 10, telling us “I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim  

Four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim;  the wheels sparkled like topaz. As for their   appearance, the four of them looked alike;  each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel.   As they moved, they would go in any one  of the four directions the cherubim faced;  

The wheels did not turn about as the cherubim  went. The cherubim went in whatever direction   the head faced, without turning as they went.  Their entire bodies, including their backs,   their hands and their wings, were completely  full of eyes, as were their four wheels.  

I heard the wheels being called “the whirling  wheels.” Each of the cherubim had four faces: One   face was that of a cherub, the second the face of  a human being, the third the face of a lion, and  

The fourth the face of an eagle. Then the cherubim  rose upward. These were the living creatures I   had seen by the Kebar River.” (Ezekiel 10:9-15) Now, you might’ve noticed that his description   of them slightly changes from his account in  chapter one. You’ll notice that here, the face  

Of the ox is replaced by the face of a cherub –  though the reasoning for this is ambiguous. There   is also an implication here that the Cherub face  looked strikingly different from the human face,   though Ezekiel does not go on to explain what  these differences were. Furthermore, another  

Difference that’s quite profound in this chapter,  is that the entire cherub is described as being   covered with eyes and is either centred within or  around a set of ‘whirling wheels’ – that which is   also covered with eyes. The wheels themselves  are quite an interesting feature for they are  

Otherwise referred to as the ophanim in hebrew  and are sometimes thought to be the wheels of   a chariot used by God – but more on those later. This is an east orthodox art piece from the 5th or   6th century that depicts Ezekiel’s vision and is  referred to unofficially as the tetramorph cherub.  

In this mosaic and other pieces of Christian  art, the tetramorph shows us a being with wings   and the four animals as described in Ezekiel  1:4-8. It also believed that each of these four   components represent the four Evangelists  with Matthew being the man, Mark the lion,  

Luke the ox and John the eagle. The mosaic is  also thought to be an amalgamation of the seraphim   that Isaiah sees in Isaiah’s Commission or  the six winged creatures found in Revelations   where John sees what might have been  another set of Cherubim in chapter 4.  

Often in Christian mythos, the Cherubim are  thought to be second to the Seraphim in the   angelic hierarchy and whilst details can differ  between the two classes depending on the source,   the key distinction between them appear to be  their closeness to God (with the Seraphim being  

Above the Cherubim) as well as their form, with  the Seraphim appearing with up to four wings.   Yet again, even these details can  be altered depending on the author   where one can expect to find even the mechanics  of their wings to be a point of contention.  

Whilst Ezekiel’s account of the Cherubim appears  to be one of the most vivid, we are still left   in the dark as to who the Cherubim are and what  exactly their role is, other than to serve God.   We see them carrying his  throne across the Kebar river  

And we see their presence amongst the  whirling wheels in Ezekiel’s vision,   but beyond this Ezekiel does not tell us what  purpose they serve in the grander scheme of   things. Some ideas propose that the Cherubim are  merely just another sect of angels or celestial  

Beings – similar to the seraphim, or that they  are physical representations of God’s judgement.   This likely stems from the account in Genesis 3  after God has banished Adam from the Garden, where   we are told “So the Lord God banished him from  the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which  

He had been taken. After he drove the man out,  he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden   cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and  forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”  Here, the role of the Cherubim is  primarily to guard the gates of Eden  

And to prevent man from getting back in. After  Adam had taken fruit from the tree of knowledge   of good and evil, his natural progression would  have been to take fruit from the tree of life   and to gain immortality. But after having  betrayed God by falling for the serpent’s words,  

God deemed man unworthy of immortality and so  denied him from ever supping from the tree.   Taking no chances, we even see him here give  the Cherubim (as if they weren’t strong enough   already) a flaming sword, to fend off man  should he dare find his way back to Eden.  

Yet another idea regarding the Cherubim also  relates to the fall of man, in that they are   considered by some to be a symbolic representation  of a redeemed humanity – or a humanity   who had never sinned. The Cherubim by this idea  are perfect in appearance, eternally youthful,  

Powerful and the closest to God. By this, they  serve as a reminder of what could’ve been had   Adam and Eve not given into their temptations  and remind believers that they should strive   to be better. There is also hope in this idea, in  that should one be righteous and not make the same  

Mistakes as Adam and Eve, they might yet achieve  the Cherubim status and become closer to God.  There is also an idea that the  Cherubim are a symbol of God’s mercy,   for in Exodus 25 we see God make a covenant  with the children of Israel as he sets out  

Instructions for the construction of the Ark –  that which was a golden chest which contained   the tablets of the covenant. He tells them, “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and   a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.  And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the  

Ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and  the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim   of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The  cherubim are to have their wings spread upward,   overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim  are to face each other, looking toward the cover.  

Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the  ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will   give you. There, above the cover between the two  cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant  

Law, I will meet with you and give you all my  commands for the Israelites.” (Exodus 25:17-22)  As can be seen, God’s instructions state that  two cherubs are to be fashioned out of gold   and placed on the cover of the ark. This is  otherwise referred to as ‘The Mercy Seat’ – a  

Term which has hubraic meaning to ‘cover,  appease, cleanse or make atonement for.   It was believed that once a year, a high  priest would sprinkle blood of a sacrificed   animal onto the Mercy Seat so as to atone for  his own sins and the sins of the Israelites  

In an effort to appease God’s anger. It was also  believed that here in the presence of the Ark,   was the only place where forgiveness  from God could be truly achieved.   With that, the inclusion of the Cherubim atop  the Mercy Seat certainly make them seem like  

Advocates for God’s mercy and figures that  represent God’s compassion towards mankind.  God also tells the Israelites that “There, above  the cover between the two cherubim that are over   the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you  and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”  

(Exodus 25:22) and by this, it might be said that  the Cherubim are something of a bridge towards God   or perhaps as close as one can ever get on the  mortal realm. By promising the Israelites that   he will meet them there before the Cherubim, the  Cherubim automatically become hallowed tokens or  

Characters – those which are still held today in  high regard as they signpost the way to God.   The Seraphim It is in chapter 6 of the book of Isaiah that we  

Are given a look into what exactly the prophet had  seen in one of his more compelling visions. It was   in the year that King Uzzah had died and Isaiah  tells us in what is known as ‘Isaiah’s Commission’  

That he had seen God seated upon a throne. But  it wasn’t just God that had caught his eye,   but also the six winged angelic creatures that  floated above him. These, as Isaiah tells us, were   the Seraphim (or the singular Seraph), otherwise  known as ‘The Burning Ones’ or ‘The Fiery Ones’. 

Isaiah tells us, “In the year that King  Uzzah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,   seated on a throne; and the train of his robe  filled the temple. Above him were seraphim,   each with six wings: With two wings they covered  their faces, with two they covered their feet,  

And with two they were flying. And  they were calling to one another:   “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;  the whole earth is full of his glory.”   At the sound of their voices the  doorposts and thresholds shook and  

The temple was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1-4) We understand from this passage, that the Seraphim   had six wings and that Isaiah had seen these  creatures flying around the exalted throne of God.   You’ll notice, he described them as having their  wings covering their faces and feet, though  

The reasons for this are uncertain. It has been  suggested that they cover their faces to protect   Isaiah, for they shone so brightly, that they  would blind him if they were to reveal themselves.   We know that the word Seraphim was the hurbraic  root word for ‘Seraph’ meaning, ‘to burn’,  

Hence ‘burning ones’, so by this it could be  understood that the Seraph were akin to fire   and thus, did indeed emit fierce, radiant light  that Isaiah would not have been able to bear.   You’ll notice that whilst Isaiah recognises that  they do have faces, it is unclear whether he gets  

To see their features, or is merely assuming they  have human facial features based on the rest of   their composition. Additionally, the covering of  their feet might be in respect to God, who they   constantly circle around, for they would not want  to reveal any dirt or uncleanness in his presence.  

This could also be another reason why they use two  of their wings to cover their faces, for they wish   to remain humble in the presence and God and deem  themselves to be unworthy to even look upon him.  With this constant circling, they repeatedly  proclaim the holiness of God and his glory, making  

It clear that he is the highest being and that he  is the one that they hold in the highest regard.   The declaration of him being holy outlines God  as being sacred and certainly determines him   as greatness personified – an entity that is  and should be constantly worshipped – perhaps,  

An example to believers that their celebration of  God should never be forgotten. What’s interesting   about this passage is the Seraphim’s declaration  of the word ‘Holy’ three times in a row. In   ancient Jewish culture, the number three was  considered to be a representation of fulfilment  

And so, anything that came in  threes was usually a good omen.   In this instance, holy is used three times not  just as an affirmation of the holiness of God,   but also the wholeness of God, which believers  see as evident in the past, present and future.  

The use of holy thrice, also connotes  the appearance of God in the Father,   the Son and the Holy Spirit, suggesting that the  Seraphim’s repetition of the word Holy three times   is not coincidental, but actually meaningful  and to promote the greatness of God. 

Amongst this, Isaiah also speaks of the sound of  the Seraphim voices, those which are so intense   that the doors shake and the entire temple in  which he stands is flooded with smoke. Whilst this   could be merely a sign of their power in that they  cause the foundations of the building to rumble  

With just the sounds of their voice, it might also  be said that this was symbolic of earthquakes or   tremors, those which in ancient times could have  been equated with the divine presence of God,   or associated with God because of the  tremors he was seen to evoke in the bible. 

Isaiah’s account continues with him becoming  painfully aware that he is unprepared for this   encounter and that unlike the Seraphim,  he has not hidden his face nor his feet,   and has not shown the high levels of humility  that God would have likely expected. With this,   he immediately begins to panic, telling us 

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a  man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of   unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the  Lord Almighty.”Then one of the seraphim flew to me  

With a live coal in his hand, which he  had taken with tongs from the altar.   With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this  has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away   and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:5-6) As we can see, Isaiah fears the worst. He  

Recognises that he is unclean and a sinner  and that he has come from unclean sinners,   yet he has now seen his God in the flesh –  something he deemed himself unworthy of doing.   Yet, it is perhaps because of  his immediate realisation of this  

And his subsequent repenting that the Seraphim  take pity on him and rush to absolve him of his   sin. They realise that his sorrow is genuine  and that going by his reaction, he probably   would have taken better precaution to be humble  had he been more prepared for this encounter.  

As we can see, one of the Seraphim flies over  to him and places a coal, which he had taken   from the altar, upon his lips. There he tells  Isaiah that because this had touched his lips,   his sin and guilt was now removed. Because  the coal would likely have been boiling hot,  

It links in with an idea that Isaiah was  purified by the fire – or by the Seraphim   who were in essence the ‘fiery ones’. There is  also an idea established here that the Seraphim,   along with being the eternal worshippers of  God, also have the ability to remove people’s  

Sins if they believe them to be authentic  in their repentance. With his sins cleaned,   Isaiah was then able to speak to God directly and  proceeded to nominate himself to do God’s bidding.  Whilst Isaiah’s account appears to be the  only reliable source of Seraphim in the bible,  

In that he literally does identify and describe  them as such, the Seraphim do exist in other   biblical apocrypha including the Book of Enoch,  where Seraphim are mentioned alongside Cherubim   as they coexist around the throne of God. Both  entities are described as relating to the sun,  

Or that they are elements of the sun itself, which  would fit in quite well with the Seraphim being   known as the ‘Burning Ones’. The implication  here would of course be that the Seraphim   shine so brightly that it would not  be possible to perceive them – well,  

Not without blinding yourself anyway – or that  they can produce such a high intensity of heat,   that only God can bear to stand next to them. In other ideas of Christian theology,   the Seraphim can be seen as the caretakers of  God’s throne and much like Isaiah’s account,  

They too continuously sing the words ‘Holy, Holy,  Holy’. There are also ideas that the Seraphim   assisted God in maintaining order in the world,  though the specifics of this are often vague.   Other ideas focus on the heat or the fire  that the Seraphim have been associated with,  

And that the fire is a symbolic notion of  themselves and their relationship with God. Fire’s   movement is constant and gradually rises upward  – much as the Seraphim do as they fly above God,   and the constant crackling of the fire could be  linked with the constant praising of his name.  

The other idea that paints the Seraphim as fire is  that fire consumes that which it touches and thus,   destroys – or in the case of the  Seraphim, destroys the sin of a person,   much like that which is done for Isaiah. Some  might say that the fires cleanse and in this,  

The Seraphim are indeed quite similar. There is  also the idea that we’ve already discussed that   fire emits light and the Seraphim share that same  property, though a far more divine and intense   light that can be comparable to the sun itself. In Judaism, Isaiah’s vision is recognised in  

Various Jewish services and the Seraphim are  acknowledged. In the Kabbalah for example,   the Seraphim are seen to drift from God,  only to burn up and return to his side.   Whilst in other beliefs, the Seraphim become  equivocal to that of the Cherubim as seen in  

Ezekeil’s vision. But in more conservative  Judaism, the Seraphim and angels in general   are seen as more symbolic than anything else. In Islam meanwhile, a hadith by Persian scholar   Al-Tirmidhi speaks of a conversation between the  prophet Muhammed and Allah where they speak of  

The ‘Exalted Assembly’ – those being the angels  amongst Iblis who disputed the creation of Adam,   or who had refused to bow to him. It is  believed that the Seraphim are included   within this category, or that Iblis had been of  the Seraphim himself, or perhaps the only Seraph,  

For he was created from fire – fire being  a key trope for these angelic beings.   Though this belief and idea is not  universal, nor is it specified in the Quran.   In fact, Seraphim, at least in the way described  by Isaiah do not seem to have much of a presence. 

Another interesting idea regarding the Seraphim  paint them in a more malevolent light where they   adopt the form of serpents. In Numbers 21:6 for  example, God sends venomous serpents amongst   the Israelites after their rebellion in the  wilderness, but in some translations and ideas,  

The serpents are replaced with that of the  Seraphim. This is also true for Deuteronomy 8:15,   where the wilderness is described as being  a thirsty and waterless land with venomous   snakes and scorpions. In the original hubraic, the  term ‘seraph’ can be found instead of ‘snakes’,  

Suggesting that God might have sent the Seraphim  as a means to punish those who had rebelled.  Some have interpreted the meaning of  this translation as a particular type of   snake – this ‘Seraph Snake’ and that they might be  referring not to an angel, but instead a reptile  

Of some kind. There is also the idea that the  snakes were venomous and so, their bite could   be linked with the burning sensation one might  feel should they have come across a fiery Seraph.   Another cool idea is that the snakes in the  wilderness are described as flying – something  

They certainly would have in common with the  Seraph. Other ideas propose that the Seraphim   were the angels who supported Lucifer in his  rebellion, or that Lucifer himself was a Seraph   which some believe facilitated his transformation  into a serpent in the garden of eden.   The Ophanim One of the most strangest and  

Downright weirdest creatures that are thought to  exist within scripture are the Ophanim – those   that are believed by some to be just a  mechanism of God’s chariot and by others to   be angelic beings with significant powers. The reason why they are called the Ophanim  

Is because in ancient hubraic, the word  Ophanim was thought to have meant wheels.   It was also believed that the word could  be spelled as auphanim or ofanim, as well   as a third variation as ‘galgalim’. In other  beliefs, Ophanim are also described as spheres or  

Whirlwinds, or again the very wheels that  were attached to the chariot of god and the   reason for all three of these ideas can likely be  pinpointed once in the visions seen by Ezekiel.  As mentioned earlier, Ezkiel’s Inaugural Vision  consists of some pretty wild and extraordinary  

Things, but as far as the Cherubim and the  Ophanim go, Ezekiel tells us, “As I looked   at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the  ground beside each creature with its four faces.   This was the appearance and structure of the  wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four  

Looked alike. Each appeared to be made like  a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved,   they would go in any one of the four directions  the creatures were faced; the wheels did not   change direction as the creatures went. Their  rims were high and awesome, and all four rims  

Were full of eyes all round.” (Ezekiel 1:15-18) The ‘living creatures’ that Ezekiel sees here   are indeed the cherubim as we’ve already  established, but he spends an equal amount   of time taking in the sight of these four wheels  – these Opahnim. He describes them as glistening  

Like topaz and that all four assembled to make  the shape of one wheel intersecting another.   He also adds that whilst they appeared  independently mobile, they only moved wherever the   cherubim were facing, which has since led some to  believe that the Cherubs controlled the Ophanim,  

Or was a symbol for their outranking of them.  He continues to state that they do not appear   to ever change their direction, and that all the  rims of their being were covered with eyes.   But with this passage alone, it only raises  our intrigue as to what these wheels were  

And what exactly their function was. Ezekiel  is able to paint a somewhat vivid picture   of what these wheels looked like, but perhaps  what makes them so stark and fascinating is how   elusive they are. These wheels are not something  that appear frequently throughout the bible  

And the fact that God allows Ezekiel to see  them only teases the idea that they do have   some significance that we are not grasping. One interesting idea that further supports the   notion that these wheels were the wheels of  God’s chariot comes from a song of praise  

By David in Psalm 18, where we are told  “He (God) mounted the Cherubim and flew.   He soared on the wings of the wind.” (Psalm  18:10) In this rather unique imagery,   it could be said that Cherubim had more of  a practical function as they served as God’s  

Vehicle, or a means for which to transport  him across the sky, or from heaven to earth.   The Cherubim in this instance become the  chariot and by this, the wheels that they   are seen to manipulate become the wheels of  that very chariot. Those being, the Ophanim.  

But Ezekiel does not make this connection, but  is instead taken aback by what he continues to   witness. He tells us, “When the living creatures  moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when   the living creatures rose from the ground, the  wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go,  

They would go, and the wheels  would rise along with them,   because the spirit of the living creatures  was in the wheels. When the creatures moved,   they also moved; when the creatures stood still,  they also stood still; and when the creatures  

Rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with  them, because the spirit of the living creatures   was in the wheels.” (Ezekiel 1:19-21) Here, he essentially confirms the idea that the   wheels were controlled by the Cherubim, and that  they did indeed have power over these elements,  

And that wherever the cherubim went, the  Ophanim would go too. He also adds that   the very spirit of the Cherubim exists within  the Ophanim, suggesting that on some level,   perhaps these strange creatures are extensions of  the angels, as opposed to being angels themselves.  

Touching once again upon the chariot idea  as hinted by the song of David in Psalm 18,   one might also say that the Cherubim were the  drivers of the chariot and the wheels were   merely just that – wheels. With this idea, they  are not angelic and they do not have sentience,  

But instead are more along  the lines of machinery.   Yet, the idea that the Ophanim were indeed angels  – perhaps, the weirdest of angels given their   appearance, remains to be consistent within some  communities and traditions. We can agree from  

Ezekiel’s account that despite their association  to the Cherubim, there is nothing particularly   angelic about the Ophanim. They do not appear to  have human characteristics like all other angels,   they do not speak and bring prophecies and they  do not appear to even have wings. Reference of  

Them is made in the second book of Enoch, where  we see Enoch ascend before the throne of God.   He tells us, “ I saw there a very great light,  and fiery troops of great archangels, incorporeal   forces, and dominions, orders and governments,  Cherubim and seraphim, thrones and many-eyed ones,  

Nine regiments, the Ioanit stations of light, and  I became afraid, and began to tremble with great   terror, and those men took me, and led me after  them, and said to me:Have courage, Enoch, do not   fear, and showed me the Lord from afar, sitting  on His very high throne.” (2 Enoch 20:1-2)  

Whilst again not specifically  mentioned as ‘Ophanim’,   Enoch does refer to them as the ‘many-eyed ones’,  which correlates with Ezekiel’s description.   What’s interesting here is that he later  identifies all the present entities   including the Cherubim, Seraphim and these ‘Many  Eyed Ones’ as being men and that these men took  

Him and led him to the throne of God, where they  reassured him he was safe. Whilst hard to say   given that Enoch does not explicitly determine  these Many Eyed Ones to be the Ophanim,   it could be said that in this story, that the Many  Eyed Ones did maintain some characteristics of men  

And that instead of wheels, they possessed a more  expected and relatable form. They also share the   same compassion as the Cherubim and the Seraphim  and seek to comfort Enoch when he would otherwise   panic, thus suggesting another layer of benignity  to these otherwise misunderstood creatures.  

The second book of Enoch continues to  tell us of the Many Eyed Ones that,   “And the Cherubim and Seraphim  standing about the throne,   the six-winged and many-eyed ones do not depart,  standing before the Lord’s face doing his will,  

And cover his whole throne, singing with gentle  voice before the Lord’s face: Holy, holy, holy,   Lord Ruler of Sabaoth, heavens and earth  are full of your glory.” (2 Enoch 21:1)   Here, we get a sense that the Many Eyed Ones  guard the throne of heaven and along with the  

Cherubim and the Seraphim, they will remain  here for eternity at the beck and call of God.   It is also established that they sing with gentle  voices, which yet again humanizes the Many Eyed   Ones and portrays them as more relatable,  perhaps even as a charming set of characters.  

With the Many Eyed Ones singing, it could also be  associated with several Jewish prayers known as   the Kedusha, where the Ophanim are told to offer  praise upon God and glorify him as the creator.  

Whilst the second book of Enoch refers to them  as the Many Eyed Ones, the first book of Enoch   refers to them directly as Ophanim and they are  said here to also guard the throne of heaven   and that together with the Seraphim and the  Cherubim, they do not sleep. Enoch tells us here,  

“And round about were Seraphim, Cherubim and  Ophanim: And these are they who sleep not. And   guard the throne of His glory.” (1 Enoch 71:1) There appears to be some variation in these very   angels when it comes to both their  ranking and their closeness to God.  

Most commonly in Jewish expositions of angelic  hierarchy, the significance and purpose of the   Cherubim, Seraphim and the Ophanim seldom seem  to coincide across all traditions. To some,   the Cherubim are the closest to God and  as mentioned before, they are his chariot.   More significantly, they are  much more prominent in the bible  

And actually appear to Ezekiel, thus giving  them the edge at least in terms of recognition.   The Seraphim by comparison are also seen in a  variety of ways including as a caretaker to God’s   throne, and as the bible shows in Isaiah’s vision,  the Seraphim can be viewed as absolvers of guilt.  

To more conservative Judaisim though, the  Seraphim are more symbolic in nature.   These inconsistencies, if you will, are  the same for the Ophanim in Jewish beliefs,   with some believing them to be the closest  of all the angels to God (as told to us by  

Medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides) or as  ‘the thrones’, another classification of angels.   Many other Jewish philosophies confirm this idea  that the thrones and the Ophanim are one in the   same and one of the ways that this is done  is by one interpretation of Daniel’s Vision,  

Where Daniel tells us he sees God in  his chariot. He states, “As I looked,   thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days  took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow;   the hair of his head was white like  wool. His throne was flaming with fire,  

And its wheels were all ablaze.” (Daniel 7:9)  With this idea, the thrones become established   as the wheels of God’s vehicle and are set  in place before he takes his seat upon it.   A quote from American spirituality writer Rosemary  Ellen Guiley sums up the notion of the thrones  

And the Ophanim being the same quite concisely,  where we are told “The ‘thrones’; also known as   ‘ophanim’ (offanim) and ‘galgallin’, are creatures  that function as the actual chariots of God   driven by the cherubs. They are characterized by  peace and submission; God rests upon them. Thrones  

Are depicted as great wheels containing many  eyes, and reside in the area of the cosmos where   material form begins to take shape. They chant  glorias to God and remain forever in his presence.   They mete out divine justice and maintain  the cosmic harmony of all universal laws.”  

As we can see, going by this interpretation,  the thrones – or the Ophanim – lose their more   typical angel appearance and again resume the more  biblically accurate depiction as a mechanism.   In any case, one might say that the function  of the Ophanim, whilst intriguing and novel,  

Is not essential to believers, which is why  concrete information about them is so scarce.   Whether it be from the characters of the  bible themselves or scholars who studied them,   the wheels are only vital in their accordance  to God. They serve to remind believers that  

Their mystique and uncanny form is just one of  many of the creations that God has made that man   cannot understand and in some cases, it might  serve to humble believers into realising that   they do not have all the answers. It also brings  God’s enginerial ingenuity into the limelight,  

For whilst many may take for granted  the way in which the world was created,   elements like the Ophanim remind them of how much  of mechanical mastermind a supreme being like God   must be – especially given we to this day would  not be able to create something so unusual.  

Others might see the Ophanim as a representation  of God himself, in that because they are covered   with eyes, the eyes become symbolic of God being  all-seeing. If the Ophanim have a multitude of   eyes and spin omnidirectionally, then it would  be believed that they can see everything from  

Every angle. This would imply then that God  could very well do the same – as we know he can   from very specific mentions in the bible that God  is everywhere and God knows everything. Thrones

As previously mentioned, the Thrones are  a class of angels that are similar to the   Ophanim – and sometimes, are outrightly assumed  as being the same as the Ophanim. Very little   is actually known about this type of angel  and its appearance in the bible is scarce.  

One of its more notable appearances is in  Collisians where we are told “The Son is   the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over  all creation. For in him all things were created:   things in heaven and on earth, visible and  invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers  

Or authorities; all things have been created  through him and for him.” (Collisians 1:15-16) What the Thrones actually looked like is up for  some speculation, with some believing them to look   similar or identical to the Ophanim or for them  to appear as a combined image of the Throne of God  

-hence their name. In some interpretations,  it is believed that the Thrones are also   wheels within wheels and that these wheels  are also spinning and covered with eyes.   In another interpretation that coincides  with the idea that the Ophanim are the  

Wheels of God’s chariot, some believe that the  Thrones take on the form of the chariot itself. Another interesting idea proposes that the Thrones  show up much later in Revelations 11 as ‘Elders’.   John of Revelation tells us that these Elders  appear to be gathered around the throne of God  

And are all praising him. Whilst the Elders  are not described, it is their proximity to   God that is most interesting to us. It could  be the case that these are not just older men,   but instead the very Thrones that are described in  Collisians. Of course, this can also be dismissed  

Given that the only reason this is speculated  is because the Elder men appear to have actual   thrones of their own, those that are gathered  around the one throne of God. Others believe that   if these are the Thrones, they have likely taken  the form of old men so as to make it easier for  

John to digest what he is seeing, for John had by  this point seen so many ghastly and bizzare things   that it may have pushed him over the edge to  see the Thrones in their truest appearance. In his work De Coelesti Hierarchia,  Greek author and Christian theologian  

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite tells us  that the Thrones were the third highest of   the 9 classes of angels, ranking just  below the Seraphim and the Cherubim.   In many classifications, these are considered  to be the ‘First Sphere’ of angels,  

And these are the angels that serve God directly  and thus, are closer to him than any others. It should be noted that many angels in the  Old Testament do not even get a description   and instead are believed to have appeared simply  as men. They had no halos, no wings and no  

Tangible physical aspect that separated them from  the common man if not for a certain demeanour.   For example, the men who appear to Abram to bear  prophecy and also have their feet washed by him   are not visibly angels, but Abram can tell  that there is something special about them.  

The same could be said for the angel who wrestles  all night with Jacob, and whilst this character   was later depicted as an angel in classical  art, the bible simply describes him as a man.   These angels, you might say, were what 12 century  Jewish scholar Maimonides described as the  

Mal’ak – the ancient Hebrew word for ‘Messenger’  and whilst they had a certain distinction about   them, they were not as outlandish in appearance as  the Cherubim, Seraphim or Ophanim. You might say   that they adopted a guise that was more suited to  their task, choosing to appear in a more humanoid  

Form to deliver their message, instead of scaring  the living daylights out of the recipients.   The Mal’ak, or the Malakim (plural), were  just one type of angel that appeared in   Maimonides’ classification of angels – a  sort of angelic hierarchy, if you will,  

But the question still remains that if these  Mal’ak, these messengers, took the form of men   instead of appearing in their natural state…  what horrors were they sparing us from seeing? On the subject of angels appearing before man,  there is a concept from several classifications  

That incorporate the ‘Second Sphere’ of angels,  these being the angels that govern over earth   and thus, are not as close to  God as the aforementioned angels.   Of this second sphere, the angels  adopt a more familiar look… Dominions The classifications of these ‘Second Sphere  angels’ do not appear in the bible as such.  

However, several of the angels who do appear  in the bible have been classified into these   various groups. The Dominions for example can be  angels who help keep the world in order. They act   on behalf of God, often carrying out his tasks  and or directly implementing his divine plan.  

According to many classifications, these angels  also bring about God’s judgement against sinful   situations within the world, and whilst humanity  might not understand or agree with the work that   takes place, the Dominions are believed  to enforce the biblical God’s perspective.

Of course, because the Dominions operate on Earth,  they are believed to take the form of humans,   much like the Malakim, perhaps in an effort to  avoid scaring the humans they interacted with. An   example of Dominions at work could be when angels  are sent down to Sodom and Gomorrah to inspect the  

Land of what the biblical God perceived as ‘sin’.  These Dominions took the form of men so as to   not arouse suspicion, although ironically,  this is exactly what they ended up doing.  The Dominions are also believed to  deliver the wisdom of God to humans,  

Most notably to those in leading positions  such as world leaders. In essence,   it is believed those that pray or seek the  aid of God will be answered by the Dominions   who may appear in physical form to guide  one into taking the best course of action.  

To some, these angels are led by the Archangel  Zadkiel, an angel whom some believe prevented   Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac. Dominions  in this essence are believed to take on the same   role, intervening (often at the last minute) to  spare someone from making a terrible decision.  

Naturally, to those of us with a more  sceptic nature, it would be natural to   argue that angelic beings do not descend from the  heavens to stop us from making mistakes. However,   some rationalise that these Dominions act from the  shadows and or are imperceptible to the human eye.  

In this, they can alter our fate  without us really knowing it,   or may put obstacles in our path so as  to prevent us from making a wrong choice. Virtues One of the more baffling entity of angels  that appear in the ‘Second Sphere of Angels’  

Are the Virtues. Unlike the Dominions, the  Virtues aren’t necessarily believed to possess   a form at all, but instead appear as a flash  of light, which would explain their secondary   moniker as ‘The Shining Ones’. Their role  within the universe is much less understood,  

Though it is believed that they have  some influence over the elements   and over nature. To others, the Virtues can  be interpreted as a sort of ‘divine energy’,   one that can both encourage and strengthen  one’s belief in God. In some classifications,  

The Virtues are believed to perform miracles  to the deserving, where they reward the noble,   the righteous and those who are doing their  best to get back into the algorithm. Hi. Powers or Authorities The Powers or Authorities are angels that as you  might imagine, ensure order within the earthly  

And the celestial realms. You wouldn’t be wrong  for considering these angels as ‘warrior angels’,   those who do battle against evil spirits and  demons. Whilst not specified in Revelation   where the ultimate battle between good and evil  took place, it is not a stretch to assume that  

The angels who battled against Lucifer in his  rebellion were likely the Powers and Authorities,   those who would’ve been donned in full  shining armour and wielding fantastic weapons.   However, in other beliefs, it is these  very angels who were swayed by Lucifer  

Given that he was believed to be the Chief of  Powers. This may have led to the strength of   Lucifer’s army and why the rebellion was not  so easily thwarted by God in the first place. Despite maintaining a human appearance, the  sight of such an angel is believed to be quite an  

Intimidating one. These were mean faced soldiers  that probably stood a whole head height taller   than the tallest man, with wings that were sharp  to the touch and with weapons too heavy for any   mortal to wield. To some, these angels could be  viewed as God’s taskforce against evil entities,  

Those that don’t necessarily have to be of the  demonic persuasion. The angel of death that is   sent to destroy Jerusalem may very well have  likely been of the Powers or the Authorities,   which goes to show their immense and dastardly  strength given that God only sends one of them.  

Yet again though, the original authors do  not give a vivid description of these angels,   making their actual image all the more elusive. Principalities Beyond the ‘Second Sphere’ of angels, we  have the ‘Third Sphere’, these being angels  

That are believed to exist on the earth, and thus  are the most likely set of angels that a human   might run into. Luckily for us, these angels,  much like the Dominions and the Malakim, adopt   the form of humans and so out of all the angels,  it’s probably these ones that you’d have the  

Most in common with. Unlike the other angels the  Principalities also live on the earth, and by this   you might say that these angels are more in touch  with what is happening in the world and thus,   more relatable. To some, these Principalities,  or ‘Princes’, directly inspire world leaders,  

Nations and in some cases churches, in an effort  to keep things running smoothly. Given their   status as ruling various areas of the earth,  or at least, imparting power to various people,   these angels are believed to wear crowns and carry  with them a staff or a sceptre. To some believers,  

It is the Principalities who bless mankind with  art, science, maths or some wholesome intention   that will benefit the world in some way. In other  cases, the Principalities are believed to give   strength to those who will go on to do  something miraculous. Ideally, as mentioned,  

If you were going to run into an angel, the  Principalities might be your safest bet. Or maybe not, if you ask St Paul. St Paul believed that it was actually  the Principalities who joined Lucifer  

In his rebellion (as well as the Powers), where  he tells us in his letter to the church of Ephesus   “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,   but against the principalities, against the  authorities, against the powers of this dark world  

And against the spiritual forces of evil  in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Here, St Paul speaks of man’s struggle not being  with each other, but instead with a more spiritual   threat – the principalities and the powers. This  leans into the idea that the principalities,  

Along with the powers now worked against  mankind in an effort to corrupt them.   With the idea that these angels joined  Lucifer, you may very well label them as fallen   angels – those who now do the opposite of what  the Principalities were originally created for.  

Indeed, where they were once dolled out wisdom,  inspiration and even strength, St Paul gives us   the idea that they would now sooner give out lies,  demotivate man and even sap away his strength. Nephilim The Nephilim predominantly appear in the  Book of Enoch, where they are described as  

Performing exceptionally evil deeds. Whilst  not actually angelic beings themselves,   the Nephilim were produced by  the angels and the mortal women   in the times before the flood. Now, if you  thought some of the angels were scary to behold,   you’ll likely find that their offspring  are simply the stuff of nightmares.

The Nephilim – these sons of the fallen  angels could technically be considered as   part fallen angel, part human and  part giant. Indeed, they were large,   hulking beasts that were more animal than man,  and when they weren’t tearing apart the landscape  

And devouring the fields for food, they were  spilling blood like it was going out of style.   We see that when man can no longer  sustain the Nephilim’s diet,   they begin to hunt man, devouring them without  hesitation, and when they run out of men to hunt,  

They turn cannibal, consuming their own  kind to satiate their ungodly appetite. There’s an idea that these Nephilim obtained their  tremendous size and strength through the merging   of angelic DNA and human biology, something that  even the biblical God shudders at the sight of. In  

Fact, he is so disgusted by the offspring of the  angels that he is seen to send down his archangels   to destroy them. In other ideas, some believe that  this purge of the Nephilim wasn’t enough for God  

And that he deemed the Nephilim to be so hideous,  that their existence is what warranted the flood.   What you might take away from this is that these  sons of the angels must’ve been truly ghastly   monsters, for if even Enoch’s God is disgusted by  them, then surely man would be outright repulsed. Fallen Angels

The Fallen Angels certainly have a  lot to answer for given that in the   case of the Powers and Principalities,  they still conspire against mankind.   Meanwhile, in the Book of Enoch –  where they are known as ‘The Watchers’,  

It is they who fornicate with the mortal women and  bring to life the dreaded abominations that are   the Nephilim. But would you believe it, there’s  another trick the Fallen Angels are believed to do   in some Christian Mythos, and that is  to transform themselves into demons.

Whilst this belief was not shared by the original  authors and translators of the Hebrew bible,   it has since become a popular trope – especially  when used in conjunction with the fall of Lucifer,   where the angels who side with him appear to  go through something of a demonic transition.  

As you might’ve guessed, these are probably the   worst kind of angels you could come  into contact with, for like Lucifer,   they hate mankind and will do whatever needs  to be done to lure them away from their god. 

As far as what these now evil angels look like,  the bible doesn’t really give us much to go on.   Instead, we have to look to more mythological  sources or even rely on literature. John Milton’s   Paradise Lost shows us several fallen  angels that are unique from one another,  

Including Beelzebub, Moloch, Chemos, Baal, Dagon,  Belial and even the Egyptian Gods themselves. In various classifications, the likes of  Beelzebub, Moloch and Baal have each earned   colourful depictions, showing us that if we  were to come into contact with these entities,   we’d probably faint from shock. The fallen  angel Beelzebub, after his demonic transition,  

Can be seen in some stories as being  made up of flies – likely owing to his   moniker as the ‘Lord of the Flies’. In other  depictions, he appears as a grim, bloated fly. Moloch on the other hand is often portrayed with  a bull’s head and with his arms outstretched  

Over a fire. His role is to sacrifice  children and so, you can imagine that   running into this fallen angel would be pretty  detrimental, depending on how old you are. Baal, often determined to be the nemesis of  Yahweh, also appears similarly to Moloch,  

Opting to wear a bull’s head. Despite being listed  in Milton’s Paradise Lost as a fallen angel,   Baal was also considered to be a Cannanite deity,   showing us that perhaps Lucifer isn’t the only  angel wishing to step out of his God’s shadow.

There is an idea that the reason the bible is  not keen to describe the angels that appear   before men, is because to do so would either  be impossible, in that there were no words   to illustrate such a creature, or that they  were so horrendously abnormal that to do so  

Would scare anyone out of ever being open  to seeing one. You might’ve noticed that on   more than one occasion, the first words out of an  angel’s mouth is ‘Do not be afraid!’. We see this   shortly after the birth of Jesus when an angel  appears to the shepherds in the nearby field,  

And we see it when Paul sails for Rome and an  angel appears to him to declare the very same   thing. Now, this may simply be the angels being  courteous for having dropped in unannounced and   attempting to placate the sudden alarm one might  experience after being snuck up on. But some argue  

That this is because the angels in question  are so inexplicably strange or even monstrous,   that they have to first convince the recipient  of their message that they are not a threat. In   this sense ‘Do not be afraid’ is not a directive,  it is an earnest request from the angels, seeking  

To soothe man’s fears and anxieties in the wake of  beholding something that they cannot comprehend. The exact nature of an angel’s appearance is  still relatively unknown to us, though it would   not be out of the realm of possibility to assume  that angels can pretty much take whatever form  

They want – or that perhaps more likely, God has  specifically designed each one with an intended   purpose. It should also come as no surprise that  in heaven, or a cosmic environment that is beyond   us in some spiritual plane, there will likely be  elements and characteristics that simply cannot be  

Explained, much less imagined. The Cherubim,  Seraphim and Ophanim for example may be the   least weird angels that exist in such a celestial  region. Indeed, it is not farfetched to suggest   that there are probably far more diabolical  things lurking in our own universe, let alone  

A spiritual plane that we know even less about. Let me know in the comments below which angel   stuck out for you the most and which  angel you think you’d be most scared of. As always guys, if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode   then don’t forget to give it  a thumbs up and don’t forget  

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