In modern pop culture angels are often depicted as beautiful looking men or women with silky white wings and beaming with light. But what do biblical angels really look like according to the scriptures. In this article we’re going to take a closer look at the descriptions of 4 biblical Angels.
Angel #4 Cherubim
Of the four angels we’re going to take a look at today, the cherubim it’s considered to be of the lowest rank. In the book of Ezekiel the cherubim is described as having 4 distinct faces: one of a lion, one of an eagle, one of an ox, and one of a human.
Beneath those faces they have four large wings, two of which cover their body, while the other two are used for flight. Under their wings they have two straight legs with bull hooves for feet that shine like polished brass.
The cherubim was tasked with guarding sacred places such as the garden of Eden against mankind. This biblical description of the cherub is similar to hybrid entities such as the Egyptian sphynx. Since the biblical description of the cherub is so vastly different from the modern-day depiction of this Angel, scholars believe that influences from the Greek and Roman empires altered or distorted the biblical image.
Angel #3 Malakim
The name malakim comes from the Hebrew word for messenger mal’akh. Of the four different angels, the malakim is supposed to rank third in terms of Importance in the hierarchy of the
heavens. The malakim is often associated with fire. In fact, the Talmud describes their very essence as fire.
In terms of appearance the malakim is considered to be both human and divine. However, the scriptures never mentioned the malakim having a set of wings. It is believed that artists have reimagined the malakim as having wings to visually illustrate the divine nature of these beings, similar to how Buddhist and Hindu culture depict their gods as having blue skin.
According to the tanakh the angels appeared to Moses, Joshua and a number of other patriarchs.
Angel #2 Seraphim
According to the prophet Isaiah, the seraphim are angels that fly and surrounded god, seated on an exalted throne. The word seraphim is derived from the Hebrew word “saraph” which means to burn. It is believed this means these angels burn with love for God. They are second in terms of importance.
There is some resemblance with humans as Isiah describes the seraphim as having faces feet hands and voices. However they are far from having a regular human form, the prophet describes them as having six wings of which four cover their heads and feet and two are for flight.
The seraphim repeatedly proclaim gods holiness by calling out to each other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ This invocation of the world “holy” three times it’s called trihagion. In ancient Judaism the number 3 signifies completeness and stability.
Angel #1 Ophanim
Of all the angels on this list the ophanim is probably the most abstract and baffling entity. Ezekiel describes the ophanim as interlocking gold wheels riddled with eyes. According to Maimonides, the ophanim are the most important angels tasked with guarding god’s throne.
These celestial beings never sleep and always stand on guard with their many eyes.
As you can see angels can vary greatly in terms of importance, function, and appearance.