Sunday, March 8, 2009

Artifacts and the Temple 3: Cherubim

Excavations in Samaria in Israel uncovered a number of ivory plaques which once decorated a palace or temple (or perhaps furniture of some sort). They date from the ninth to tenth centuries BC, in other words, from the time of the Solomon's temple. These ivories provide the closest surviving chronological, geographical, cultural and thematic examples to the decorations of Solomon's temple. The example here depicts two "cherubs" flanking a central figure in a shrine. The Cherubs' wings protectively overarch the central figure while touching one another just as the biblical cherubs were said to have done with the Ark of the Covenant. (Ex 25:20; 1 Kgs 6:27; 1 Chr 28:18)

3 comments:

Anthony E. Larson said...

These Cherubim are strongly reminiscent of Egyptian glyps, where the two females are typically said to be Isis and Hathor. The diminutive central figure would then be Horus. The fact that he is seated on a lotus blossom further supports that idea. Clearly, the Ark of the Covenant borrowed its iconography from the Egyptian tradition. We see the same thing in the celestial room of the Salt Lake Temple where Aphrodite (the goddess on a scalloped shell) is flanked by two cherubic figures, which take the place of the Egyptian godesses in later iconography. The question is this: Why did Solomon and Brigham Young choose to include similar pagan images that draw on similar ancient traditions in temples dedicated to the God of Israel? Within the answer to that question lies a marvelous discovery for Latter-day Saints about the rest of our modern temple symbolism and ritual.

Gaius_Maximus said...

Could these be a representation of the Seraphim above the throne of God?

Gaius_Maximus said...

Could these be a representation of the Seraphim above the throne of God?