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The cherubim of Ezekiel, and composite Babylonian and Assyrian temple/palace statues

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  • Stewart Felker
    So, it s uncontroversial that the cherubim of Ezekiel (chs. 1 and 10) are modeled on these statues. However, there seem to be several innovations in Ezekiel
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 13, 2013
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      So, it's uncontroversial that the cherubim of Ezekiel (chs. 1 and 10) are
      modeled on these statues. However, there seem to be several innovations in
      Ezekiel not attested elsewhere. First - to the best of my knowledge, there
      are no Babylonian/Assyrian statues that contains all four of the creatures
      that appear in Ezekiel: winged + leonine + bovine + human (although some
      have 2 or 3 of these). The second innovation is that, in Ezekiel, the
      cherubim have four FACES as well - not just bodies.

      In light of this, are we to say that these innovations were simply so that
      everything occurred in series of FOURS?

      And even if we answer this in the affirmative...why four? Is this also
      Babylonian? (The fourfold grouping of the zodiac? Four regions of the
      world?)



      Stewart Felker
      University of Memphis


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • gdt.osiris
      ... [snip] Hi Stewart, Controversy aside .... The oldest occurrence of the Tetramoulon may date to a bronze cult stand dating circa 1200 BCE (and hence
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 14, 2013
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        On 13 Jul 2013 at 19:48, Stewart Felker wrote:

        > So, it's uncontroversial that the cherubim of Ezekiel (chs. 1 and
        > 10) are
        > modeled on these statues. However, there seem to be several
        > innovations in
        > Ezekiel not attested elsewhere. First - to the best of my knowledge,
        > there
        > are no Babylonian/Assyrian statues that contains all four of the
        > creatures
        > that appear in Ezekiel: winged + leonine + bovine + human (although
        > some
        > have 2 or 3 of these). The second innovation is that, in Ezekiel,
        > the
        > cherubim have four FACES as well - not just bodies.
        >
        > In light of this, are we to say that these innovations were simply
        > so that
        > everything occurred in series of FOURS?
        >
        > And even if we answer this in the affirmative...why four? Is this
        > also
        > Babylonian? (The fourfold grouping of the zodiac? Four regions of
        > the
        > world?)
        [snip]

        Hi Stewart,

        Controversy aside ....

        The oldest occurrence of the Tetramoulon may date to a bronze cult stand dating circa 1200
        BCE (and hence pre-zodiacal) from Cyprus which portrays a cherub with the head of a man,
        the wings of an eagle, the forelegs of a lion and the hindquarters of a bull (see: Elie
        Borowski, "Cherubim: God's Throne?" in Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 1995).

        In his commentary on Ezekiel, Verses 1-20, (Anchor Bible, Volume 22, Pages 58) Moshe
        Greenberg states: "Virtually every component of Ezekiel's vision can ... be derived from
        Israelite tradition supplemented by neighboring iconography ...." As example: The four faces
        of the creatures may be traced back to the description of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies
        in Solomon's temple (See: 1 Kings 6:27, 28). Cherubim were frequently depicted as having
        the heads of men, the bodies of either lions or bulls - sometimes a lion's fore parts and a
        bull's hindquarters - and the wings of eagles sprouting from their lion or bull shoulders.

        In one commonly accepted interpretation the four creatures are supposed to correspond to
        four signs of the zodiac. The faces of the creatures (cherubim) seemingly correspond to 4
        zodiacal constellations (if the Eagle substitutes for the Scorpion). In this scenario .... The
        lion corresponds to the constellation of the lion. The ox corresponds to the constellation of
        the ox (i.e., the bull). The man probably corresponds to the scorpion-man (an old
        Babylonian name). The eagle was not taken from Aquarius (the water-bearer) but possibly
        from the constellation of the eagle in the neighbourhood.

        Ezekiel's visions are dated circa 600 BCE which is shortly after the Babylonians had
        established a 12-constellation zodiac. (Note: Not 12 sign zodiac.) Leslie Allen, Word Biblical
        Commentary: Ezekiel, Volumes 28 & 29, 1986) wrote that the 4 faces suggest the 4 cardinal
        directions (north = Eagle, east = Bull, south = Human, west = Lion).

        Gary Thompson
        Melbourne
        No academic affiliation


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Mata Kimasitayo
        A four fold, four faced composite in the sons of Horus draws attention to the four quality. Similarly there is one human face and three animal faces (jackal,
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 14, 2013
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          A four fold, four faced composite in the sons of Horus
          draws attention to the four quality. Similarly there is
          one human face and three animal faces (jackal, hawk, &
          baboon), drawing attention to this 3 + 1 sub-feature,
          in the four sons of Horus iconography.

          mata kimasitayo
          bloomington indiana

          From: Stewart Felker
          Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2013 8:48 PM
          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [ANE-2] The cherubim of Ezekiel, and composite Babylonian and Assyrian temple/palace statues

          So, it's uncontroversial that the cherubim of Ezekiel (chs. 1 and 10) are
          modeled on these statues. However, there seem to be several innovations in
          Ezekiel not attested elsewhere. First - to the best of my knowledge, there
          are no Babylonian/Assyrian statues that contains all four of the creatures
          that appear in Ezekiel: winged + leonine + bovine + human (although some
          have 2 or 3 of these). The second innovation is that, in Ezekiel, the
          cherubim have four FACES as well - not just bodies.

          In light of this, are we to say that these innovations were simply so that
          everything occurred in series of FOURS?

          And even if we answer this in the affirmative...why four? Is this also
          Babylonian? (The fourfold grouping of the zodiac? Four regions of the
          world?)

          Stewart Felker
          University of Memphis


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Trudy Kawami
          Actually the Neo-Assyrian practice of monumental composite guardian statues for royal palaces is more relevant that any theoretical zodiacal configuration. The
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 14, 2013
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            Actually the Neo-Assyrian practice of monumental composite guardian statues for royal palaces is more relevant that any theoretical zodiacal configuration. The Neo-Assyrian sculptures featured winged bovids or felids with human head. Additionally there ate small clay guardian figures & some larger stone reliefs with additional composite creatures who always function as supportive, protective figures. Before the Neo-Assyrian examples are a raft of second mill BCE versions of Neo-Hittite & Hittite production. So there is a long visual ancestry to Ezekiel's cherubim. Do note that none of this ancestry involved Babylonia where such mischewessen were not popular in the first mill BCE as far as we can tell. But if you are looking only the four-faces aspect, then there are two lovely bronze Babylonian (as in ca. 18th cent BCE) statuettes in the Oriental Institute in Chicago of a male and a female deity with four faces each. No animals involved here however.
            Might one say that the motifs were "in the air" and Ezekiel merely snagged them together?
            Trudy Kawami
            ________________________________
            From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] on behalf of gtosiris@... [gtosiris@...]
            Sent: Sunday, July 14, 2013 4:02 PM
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [ANE-2] The cherubim of Ezekiel, and composite Babylonian and Assyrian temple/palace statues



            On 13 Jul 2013 at 19:48, Stewart Felker wrote:

            > So, it's uncontroversial that the cherubim of Ezekiel (chs. 1 and
            > 10) are
            > modeled on these statues. However, there seem to be several
            > innovations in
            > Ezekiel not attested elsewhere. First - to the best of my knowledge,
            > there
            > are no Babylonian/Assyrian statues that contains all four of the
            > creatures
            > that appear in Ezekiel: winged + leonine + bovine + human (although
            > some
            > have 2 or 3 of these). The second innovation is that, in Ezekiel,
            > the
            > cherubim have four FACES as well - not just bodies.
            >
            > In light of this, are we to say that these innovations were simply
            > so that
            > everything occurred in series of FOURS?
            >
            > And even if we answer this in the affirmative...why four? Is this
            > also
            > Babylonian? (The fourfold grouping of the zodiac? Four regions of
            > the
            > world?)
            [snip]

            Hi Stewart,

            Controversy aside ....

            The oldest occurrence of the Tetramoulon may date to a bronze cult stand dating circa 1200
            BCE (and hence pre-zodiacal) from Cyprus which portrays a cherub with the head of a man,
            the wings of an eagle, the forelegs of a lion and the hindquarters of a bull (see: Elie
            Borowski, "Cherubim: God's Throne?" in Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 1995).

            In his commentary on Ezekiel, Verses 1-20, (Anchor Bible, Volume 22, Pages 58) Moshe
            Greenberg states: "Virtually every component of Ezekiel's vision can ... be derived from
            Israelite tradition supplemented by neighboring iconography ...." As example: The four faces
            of the creatures may be traced back to the description of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies
            in Solomon's temple (See: 1 Kings 6:27, 28). Cherubim were frequently depicted as having
            the heads of men, the bodies of either lions or bulls - sometimes a lion's fore parts and a
            bull's hindquarters - and the wings of eagles sprouting from their lion or bull shoulders.

            In one commonly accepted interpretation the four creatures are supposed to correspond to
            four signs of the zodiac. The faces of the creatures (cherubim) seemingly correspond to 4
            zodiacal constellations (if the Eagle substitutes for the Scorpion). In this scenario .... The
            lion corresponds to the constellation of the lion. The ox corresponds to the constellation of
            the ox (i.e., the bull). The man probably corresponds to the scorpion-man (an old
            Babylonian name). The eagle was not taken from Aquarius (the water-bearer) but possibly
            from the constellation of the eagle in the neighbourhood.

            Ezekiel's visions are dated circa 600 BCE which is shortly after the Babylonians had
            established a 12-constellation zodiac. (Note: Not 12 sign zodiac.) Leslie Allen, Word Biblical
            Commentary: Ezekiel, Volumes 28 & 29, 1986) wrote that the 4 faces suggest the 4 cardinal
            directions (north = Eagle, east = Bull, south = Human, west = Lion).

            Gary Thompson
            Melbourne
            No academic affiliation

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • gdt.osiris
            Hi Trudy, The zodiacal creature composite remains a common explanation and/or point of discussion in the literature so worth mentioning. I have not endorsed
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 14, 2013
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              Hi Trudy,

              The zodiacal creature composite remains a common explanation and/or point of discussion
              in the literature so worth mentioning. I have not endorsed this explanation. Multiple
              examples of composite creatures and four-winged creatures (including the god Ninurtu)
              abound in Mesopotamian, Syrian, and Phoenician art. I appreciate you mentioning the 18th-
              century BCE Babylonian examples of statuettes with 4 faces each. However, no exact or
              close examples to the description in Ezekiel seem to exist unless aspects of the description
              are isolated. To cite The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament by John
              Walton, Victor Matthews, and Mark Chavalas (2000, Page 690): "1:6, 10. four-faced
              creatures. There does not seem to be any exact Near Eastern parallels to these multifaced
              creatures. ... there are few examples of multiple faces on the same creature."

              Regards,

              Gary Thompson
              Melbourne
              No academic affiliation

              On 15 Jul 2013 at 0:04, Trudy Kawami wrote:

              > Actually the Neo-Assyrian practice of monumental composite guardian
              > statues for royal palaces is more relevant that any theoretical
              > zodiacal configuration. The Neo-Assyrian sculptures featured winged
              > bovids or felids with human head. Additionally there ate small clay
              > guardian figures & some larger stone reliefs with additional
              > composite creatures who always function as supportive, protective
              > figures. Before the Neo-Assyrian examples are a raft of second mill
              > BCE versions of Neo-Hittite & Hittite production. So there is a long
              > visual ancestry to Ezekiel's cherubim. Do note that none of this
              > ancestry involved Babylonia where such mischewessen were not popular
              > in the first mill BCE as far as we can tell. But if you are looking
              > only the four-faces aspect, then there are two lovely bronze
              > Babylonian (as in ca. 18th cent BCE) statuettes in the Oriental
              > Institute in Chicago of a male and a female deity with four faces
              > each. No animals involved here however.
              > Might one say that the motifs were "in the air" and Ezekiel merely
              > snagged them together?
              > Trudy Kawami
              > ________________________________
              > From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] on behalf of
              > gtosiris@... [gtosiris@...]
              > Sent: Sunday, July 14, 2013 4:02 PM
              > To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: Re: [ANE-2] The cherubim of Ezekiel, and composite
              > Babylonian and Assyrian temple/palace statues
              >
              >
              >
              > On 13 Jul 2013 at 19:48, Stewart Felker wrote:
              >
              > > So, it's uncontroversial that the cherubim of Ezekiel (chs. 1
              > and
              > > 10) are
              > > modeled on these statues. However, there seem to be several
              > > innovations in
              > > Ezekiel not attested elsewhere. First - to the best of my
              > knowledge,
              > > there
              > > are no Babylonian/Assyrian statues that contains all four of the
              > > creatures
              > > that appear in Ezekiel: winged + leonine + bovine + human
              > (although
              > > some
              > > have 2 or 3 of these). The second innovation is that, in
              > Ezekiel,
              > > the
              > > cherubim have four FACES as well - not just bodies.
              > >
              > > In light of this, are we to say that these innovations were
              > simply
              > > so that
              > > everything occurred in series of FOURS?
              > >
              > > And even if we answer this in the affirmative...why four? Is
              > this
              > > also
              > > Babylonian? (The fourfold grouping of the zodiac? Four regions
              > of
              > > the
              > > world?)
              > [snip]
              >
              > Hi Stewart,
              >
              > Controversy aside ....
              >
              > The oldest occurrence of the Tetramoulon may date to a bronze cult
              > stand dating circa 1200
              > BCE (and hence pre-zodiacal) from Cyprus which portrays a cherub
              > with the head of a man,
              > the wings of an eagle, the forelegs of a lion and the hindquarters
              > of a bull (see: Elie
              > Borowski, "Cherubim: God's Throne?" in Biblical Archaeology Review,
              > July/August, 1995).
              >
              > In his commentary on Ezekiel, Verses 1-20, (Anchor Bible, Volume 22,
              > Pages 58) Moshe
              > Greenberg states: "Virtually every component of Ezekiel's vision can
              > ... be derived from
              > Israelite tradition supplemented by neighboring iconography ...." As
              > example: The four faces
              > of the creatures may be traced back to the description of the
              > cherubim in the Holy of Holies
              > in Solomon's temple (See: 1 Kings 6:27, 28). Cherubim were
              > frequently depicted as having
              > the heads of men, the bodies of either lions or bulls - sometimes a
              > lion's fore parts and a
              > bull's hindquarters - and the wings of eagles sprouting from their
              > lion or bull shoulders.
              >
              > In one commonly accepted interpretation the four creatures are
              > supposed to correspond to
              > four signs of the zodiac. The faces of the creatures (cherubim)
              > seemingly correspond to 4
              > zodiacal constellations (if the Eagle substitutes for the Scorpion).
              > In this scenario .... The
              > lion corresponds to the constellation of the lion. The ox
              > corresponds to the constellation of
              > the ox (i.e., the bull). The man probably corresponds to the
              > scorpion-man (an old
              > Babylonian name). The eagle was not taken from Aquarius (the
              > water-bearer) but possibly
              > from the constellation of the eagle in the neighbourhood.
              >
              > Ezekiel's visions are dated circa 600 BCE which is shortly after the
              > Babylonians had
              > established a 12-constellation zodiac. (Note: Not 12 sign zodiac.)
              > Leslie Allen, Word Biblical
              > Commentary: Ezekiel, Volumes 28 & 29, 1986) wrote that the 4 faces
              > suggest the 4 cardinal
              > directions (north = Eagle, east = Bull, south = Human, west =
              > Lion).
              >
              > Gary Thompson
              > Melbourne
              > No academic affiliation
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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