Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Divine creatures from the Old Testament, associated with the Cherubim, and later taken to be angels. The root of Seraphim comes either from the Hebrew verb saraph ('to burn') or the Hebrew noun saraph (a fiery, flying serpent). Because the term appears several times with reference to the serpents encountered in the wilderness (Num. 21.8, Deut. 8.15; Isa. 14.29; 30.6), it has often been understood to refer to "fiery serpents." From this it has also often been proposed that the seraphim were serpentine in form and in some sense "fiery" creatures or associated with fire.
It is said that whoever lays eyes on a Seraph, he would instantly be incinerated due to the immense brightness of the Seraph. They are described as very tall, with six wings and four heads, one for of the cardinal directions. One pair of wings are for flying, one for covering their eyes (for even they may not look directly at God), and one for covering their feet (which is almost certainly a euphemism for genitalia). They are in the direct presence of God.
In Isaiah's call-vision in the Temple, he sees Seraphim surrounding the throne of God, singing praise to God; the "Thrice Holy" hymn (ch 6). In this instance they are angelic beings but in the Book of Numbers, seraph-snakes are sent to punish the Israelites.