Winged bull (cherubim) from the palace of Sargon II from http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/
Biblical cherubim (the word is the plural of "cherub") were not the chubby children later Western tradition has made them. They were fearsome half-animal half-human creatures, often with lion's bodies and spread wings. They served as guards (Gen 3:24) and those on the lid of the ark were thought of as Adonai's throne. Ezekiel describes them in his visions, but the descriptions vary considerably (Ez 10:21 - 4 faces and 4 wings; Ez 41:18f. - a lion's and a human face).
Such creatures were widespread in Ancient Near Eastern sculptures and wall panels. At Gebal (= Byblos) a throne for king Hiram was supported by cherubs.
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.