Seraphs: meaning in the Christian and Jewish traditions
The book of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6: 2-4) describes the fiery speaking beings with six wings that glorified God. These were the Seraphim, the supreme angels close to the throne.
They are endowed with incredible power, almost equal to God himself. What does the Judaic and Christian religions say about the Seraphims?
Consider the issue in detail.
Who are the Seraphims?
In the sixth chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, the description of these fiery celestial beings is found once. Isaiah describes them as having 6 wings each.
With two wings they cover their faces, with two with their legs, and with the help of two other wings they fly. Seraphs fly around the throne of God with glorifications of his greatness.
Why do Seraphim have so many wings? They cover their faces and legs so that the glory of God does not burn them. After all, the Seraphim are constantly at the throne, praising the Creator.
In addition to the many wings, they still have many eyes.
Isaiah Seraphim saw before the beginning of his prophetic ministry. They cleansed it of divine fire with divine fire: one of the Seraphim touched the mouth of Isaiah with red-hot fire.
The name «seraphim» comes from the Hebrew word «seraph», which means fire or dragon. In another translation, this word is listed as a flying serpent, lightning, or griffin.
It is believed that all the prophets performed miracles only with the help of the Seraphim. Scientists trace the connection of the seraphim to the Babylonian «syrrush» — a fire-like serpent or a fire-breathing dragon.
Seraphim in the form of a snake can be seen on the banner of Moses. The Old Testament mentions the punishment of pagans who carried out fiery Seraphims.
In the Kabbalah, the Seraphim are associated with the sephira Geburah — severity. Their leader is considered the Archangel Gabriel, since his name is consonant with the name of Sebira geburah — strength, severity. This sephira inspires fear and horror, as it destroys and punishes.
Some Kabbalists associate it with the biblical Serpent, the source of evil.
In the New Testament the Seraphim is mentioned by the prophet John in his Apocalypse. The Jewish tradition does not recognize Christianity, therefore the Revelations of John the Divine have meaning only for those who believe in Christ.
Dionysius the Areopagite, based on the words of the prophet Isaiah, defines the Seraphim as angelic beings, glowing with love for God, light and purity. In his description, Dionysius says that the Seraphim are constantly in motion around the throne of God. Seraphim can also inflame the hearts of people with the love of God and purify their thoughts.
Their power is like a devouring fire devouring uncleanness. This fire has a divine nature and is eternal.
So we can see that the Seraphim angel in the Jewish tradition is a fiery being with six wings, whose mission includes the tireless glorification of God and the punishment of his opponents. In the Christian tradition they are depicted in iconography as creatures of red.
The names of the Seraphim
In the biblical sources there is no mention of the names of the Seraphim, as is typical of the Archangels. We know the archangels by name and are also familiar with their mission on earth and in heaven. However, in the early Christian and Jewish sources you can find information about Ihoel, who is the leader of all fire seraphim.
It is also mentioned there that Yehoel knows the true name of God. Ihoel tirelessly confronts demon Leviathan, restraining him from harming humanity.
In some Christian sources, the cherubim of Israel is also attributed to the rank of Seraphim, since it is close to the throne of God and is the sixth in the suite glorifying the greatness of the Creator angels.
The Archangel Uriel, which is most often found in apocrypha and non-canonical Christian literature, is also considered to be a Seraphim. However, this is a misinterpretation of the image of Uriel, as he is a two-winged archangel.
Fallen angels were also seraphims:
According to sources, the fallen angels listed led the charge of hell. It is Satan and his three close associates who create iniquities on earth and seduce even angels. Satan, a former Seraphim, has tremendous power and skill.
This is an equivalent opponent of the divine Seraphim, and there is still a battle between them.
Is it possible to offer prayers to the Seraphim? In the Orthodox tradition, appeals to nameless Seraphim are not practiced; they prefer to refer to saints and angels by their names.
Instead of Seraphim in the prayers may be mentioned the powers of heaven, the heavenly host. It should be borne in mind that the Seraphim are the instrument of God’s punishment, and not the executors of human requests.
They are akin to the death of the Archangel, which leaves a certain imprint on the specifics of their activities.
When can you ask for prayer from the heavenly host? Usually the Orthodox offer prayers to the forces of heaven at the time of extreme need or danger.
You can also read a prayer before the start of a responsible and important business in order to get timely help. However, if you decide to turn to the heavenly host to solve an important matter, you should fast for a week and then go to confession.
Prayer appeal to the heavenly host:
This prayer can be read at any time when the support of heavenly forces is required — angels, archangels, cherubs and seraphs:
There is very little information about the Seraphims, although they are closest to God. Fiery angels with a punishing sword still cause horror and trembling, as they destroyed entire countries and peoples who disobeyed the will of God.
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