The Meaning of ישב הכרבים

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The phrase ישב הכרבים (yōšēb hakkĕrūbîm) is attested seven times in the Hebrew Bible as an epithet of Yhwh. Its precise meaning is unclear. Six existing interpretations are identified, each of which is influenced by a different biblical passage or group of passages mentioning cherubim: of these, "who is seated upon the cherubim" prevails in modern scholarship. The prevailing interpretation, along with four of the others, is rejected on grammatical grounds. The remaining interpretation, "the occupant of the cherubim", is correct in principle but not in execution. The phrase is properly rendered as "who dwells among the cherubim"; it refers primarily to the cherubim of the Edenic realm; and it serves to extol Yhwh's transcendence, much like יושב בשמים and other biblical expressions.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)358-371
JournalZeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


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