on Hebrews 9 :5
And over it the cherubims of glory - Cherubim is the plural of cherub, and it is absurd to add our plural termination (s) to the plural termination of the Hebrew. The glory here signifies the shechinah or symbol of the Divine presence.
Shadowing the mercy-seat - One at each end of the ark, with their faces turned toward each other, but looking down on the cover or propitiatory, ἱλαστηριον, here called the mercy-seat.
Of which we cannot now speak particularly - The apostle did not judge any farther account of these to be necessary; and I may be excused from considering them particularly here, having said so much on each in the places where they occur in the Pentateuch. What these point out or signify is thus explained by St. Cyril: Christus licet unus sit, multifariam tamen a nobis intelligitur: Ipse est Tabernaculum propter carnis tegumenturn: Ipse est Mensa, quia noster cibus est et vita: Ipse est Arca habens legem Dei reconditam, quia est Verbum Patris: Ipse est Candelabrum, quia est lux spiritualis: Ipse est Altare incensi, quia est odor suavitatis in sanctificationem: Ipse est Altare holocausti, quia est hostia pro totius mundi vita in cruce oblata. "Although Christ be but one, yet he is understood by us under a variety of forms. He is the Tabernacle, on account of the human body in which he dwelt. He is the Table, because he is our Bread of life. He is the Ark which has the law of God enclosed within, because he is the Word of the Father. He is the Candlestick, because he is our spiritual light. He is the Altar of incense, because he is the sweet-smelling odour of sanctification. He is the Altar of burnt-offering, because he is the victim, by death on the cross, for the sins of the whole world." This father has said, in a few words, what others have employed whole volumes on, by refining, spiritualizing, and allegorizing.
on Hebrews 9 :5
And over it - That is, over the ark.
The cherubim of glory - A Hebrew mode of expression, meaning "the glorious cherubim." The word "cherubim" is the Hebrew form of the plural, of which cherub is the singular. The word "glory" used here in connection with "cherubim," refers to the splendor, or magnificence of the image, as being carved with great skill, and covered with gold. There were two cherubim on the ark, placed on the lid in such a manner that their faces looked inward toward each other, and downward toward the mercy-seat. They stretched out their wings "on high," and covered the mercy-seat, or the lid of the ark; Exodus 25:18-20; compare 1 Kings 8:6-7; 1 Chronicles 28:18. In the temple, the cherubim were made of the olive tree, and were ten cubits high. They were overlaid with gold, and were so placed that the wing of one touched the wall on one side of the Holy of Holies, and that of the other the other side, and their wings met together over the ark; 1 Kings 6:23-28.
It is not probable, however, that this was the form used in the tabernacle, as wings thus expanded would have rendered it inconvenient to carry them from place to place. Of the form and design of the cherubim much has been written, and much that is the mere creation of fancy, and the fruit of wild conjecture. Their design is not explained in the Bible, and silence in regard to it would have been wisdom. If they were intended to be symbolical, as is certainly possible, (compare Ezekiel 10:20-22), it is impossible now to determine the object of the symbol. Who is authorized to explain it? Who can give to his speculations anything more than the authority of "pious conjecture?" And of what advantage, therefore, can speculation be, where the volume of inspiration says nothing? They who wish to examine this subject more fully, with the various opinions that have been formed on it, may consult the following works, namely, Calmet's Dictionary, Fragment No. 152, with the numerous illustrations; Bush's notes on Exodus 25:18; and the Quarterly Christian Spectator, vol. viii. pp. 368-388. Drawings resembling the cherubim were not uncommon on ancient sculptures.
Shadowing - Stretching out its wings so as to cover the mercy-seat.
The mercy-seat - The cover of the ark on which rested the cloud or visible symbol of the divine presence. It was called "mercy-seat," or "propitiatory" - ἱλαστήριον hilastērion - because it was this which was sprinkled over with the blood of atonement or propitiation, and because it was from this place, on which the symbol of the deity rested, that God manifested himself as propitious to sinners. The blood of the atonement was that through or by means of which he declared his mercy to the guilty. Here God was supposed to be seated, and from this place he was supposed to dispense mercy to man when the blood of the atonement was sprinkled there. This was undoubtedly designed to be a symbol of his dispensing mercy to people in virtue of the blood which the Saviour shed as the great sacrifice for guilt; see Hebrews 9:13-14.
Of which we cannot now speak particularly - That is, it is not my present design to speak particularly of these things. These matters were well understood by those to whom he wrote, and his object did not require him to go into a fuller explanation.
on Hebrews 9 :5
9:5 And over it were the cherubim of glory - Over which the glory of God used to appear. Some suppose each of these had four faces, and so represented the Three - One God, with the manhood assumed by the Second Person. With out - spread wings shadowing the mercy - seat - Which was a lid or plate of gold, covering the ark.