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How then, following in the steps of Holy CHAP. Scripture, may we characterise the Hebrew cherubim? Each cherub was a group of figures, or was ture of the rather one compounded figure, consisting of four cherubim. parts. The leading or most prominent shape resembled a human being, while the rest were like some portions of the ox, the lion and the eagle. The whole emblem, it is true, might have been somewhat different at the different points of Hebrew history1; but two or more of these distinctive elements had always been the recognised members of cherubic combinations. Now we gather from Ezekiel that the fundamental thought embodied in such emblems was the property of life: they were emphatically the 'living ones; they represented, therefore, several of the noblest forms of creaturely existence, each excelling in its province, each contributing to the production of a group, which the human form predominated, and the four together constituting an ideal image of all animated nature.
So interpreted we readily understand not only How contheir position in the sacred garden, but their office man's rein the sanctuary of God on earth and also their demption. proximity to God Himself in visions of the blessed. The planting of the cherub on the ground, which
CHAP. man had once inherited but failed ere long to cherish for his best possession, was suggestive of the truth that he and all whose fortunes had been linked with his had still, in virtue of some gracious mystery, a part and interest in Eden. The appearance of the cherub in the holiest of all was further proof of such an interest; it prolonged the hopeful pledge afforded to the Hebrew by traditions of his forefathers; it told him that the representatives of man and of creation generally had still their place allotted to them on the mercy-seat of the Most High; and in the glowing scenes of the Apocalypse when Adam's family have re-assembled round the throne of God to sing the praises of the great Redeemer, the same mystic creatures shew the ardour which that anthem has excited in their bosoms, by a rapturous 'Amen' (Rev. v. 14).
Whatever, therefore, may be urged in proof of the sphinx. some external correspondency in the Mosaic age between the cherub as already known to members of the sacred family and the sphinx as sculptured in approaches to Egyptian temples, there can be no doubt that the two emblems were associated in those two systems with very different thoughts. The one might serve to symbolise the best conceptions which a pagan mind could form of properties possessed by favourite kings or by some nobler inmates of his crowded pantheon; while the other was designed to be a complex image of created nature in its highest, most ideal form, yet always bowing in distinct subordination to the great Creator, and as such ascribing 'glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever' (Rev. iv. 9).
HOLY AND MOST HOLY PLACES.
(3) It has again been frequently remarked that Real imthe division of the Hebrew sanctuary into a holy port of the and most holy place was made to follow the E- sanctuary. gyptian model; the idea in both those cases being that the special residence of the Divinity should form a kind of inner shrine, or adytum, secreted from the popular gaze by some mysterious curtain. Now the fact that the Egyptian temples did contain what was entitled a 'most holy region',' as well as various courts conducting to it, is no longer open to dispute; yet with this solitary mark of outward correspondency, possessed in common by most other nations of the ancient world, the parallelism in question seems to be exhausted3. As the Hebrew sanctuary was one, in order to symbolise the absolute unity of God, so all arrangements there established had an eye to the surpassing purity and spirituality of His nature. There, as everywhere, the genius of the Hebrew system vindicated its true honour, as entirely and profoundly ethical. The migratory tent as well as the elaborate temple on Mount Moriah was a pledge to Israelites that God Himself, no mere abstraction, but a present, living, reigning God, had entered into fellowship with His elect, and though
1 Uhlemann, Thoth, p. 7; and above, p. 74.
2 Bähr, I. 219.
3 I have already called attention to the seeming parallelism between the ark of the covenant' and the sacred chests, or boats, of heathen nations, while discussing a ritual peculiarity of the Mexicans (Part III. pp. 147, 148); and the same
remarks may be applied at once to
CHAP. the heaven and the heaven of heavens were His (Deut. x. 14), had condescended to develope their religious sentiment by tabernacling in the midst of them. 'I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God' (Exod. xxix. 45, 46). The sanctuary had thus for them the kind of meaning which the Incarnation now possesses for the storm-tost spirit of the Christian; it presented to them one fixed point amid the fluctuations of the universe: it was the index of God's kingdom upon earth; it brought the infinite within the limits of the finite, it was raised into the meeting-place of human and Divine, and so became the feeble prelude to the mightiest of all facts. And as the holy-place was that to which the Israelite had access by his sacerdotal representatives, and where through them he could perform his ministry in the sight of God, so in the holy of holies, whence they all were equally excluded, there was imaged out the truth that even for the best of Israelites the way into the inmost presence of Jehovah 'was not yet made manifest.' Veils and barriers intercepted their approach to Him, whose glory, shining forth between the cherubim, was high above the mystic covering of the Ark; yet the admission of one single priest with the appointed offerings on the Day of Atonement was sufficient indication to the Hebrew who was truly bent on finding out 'the wonders of the Law,' that the condemnatory witness there deposited in the Ark might still be silenced and averted altogether by some absolute
propitiation, symbolised in the arrangements of CHAP. that annual solemnity.
It were superfluous to point out in detail how Egyptian completely such ideas were absent from the goodliest temple of Mizraim, where the grovelling inmate of the holiest place was one or other of the sacred animals; and where the worship rendered by fanatic swarms of votaries was often no less gross and bestial than the object!
URIM AND THUMMIM.
(4) Greater confidence has sometimes been ex- Nature of the alleged pressed by theorisers on this subject as to the Egyp- parallelism. tian origin of the mysterious symbol which the Hebrew commonly entitled the Urim and Thummim. We collect from Diodorus and other writers' that in Egypt the chief judge engaged in listening to the cases brought before him wore about his neck a chain of gold and precious stones to which had been attached a small image of Thmei, the goddess of truth or justice, and that when the depositions of the litigants were heard, his practice was to touch the successful person with the image in token of the truth or justness of his cause. The drift of this Egyptian symbol is immediately apparent. It impressed on the administrator of public justice that impartiality ought always to preside
1 See Wilkinson, 2nd ser. II. 28, and a fuller discussion of this point in Mr Tomkins's Hulsean Essay, (1850) pp. 80 sq. Hengstenberg argues for the identity of the two customs, while Mr Kenrick (II. 53, n. 1) seems to take the opposite view.
2 Diodorus (1. 48) mentions as a common interpretation that the ȧpx
δικαστής, who appeared on the tomb