Seraphim

Angels of the First Sphere work as heavenly guardians of God's throne.

Seraphim (singular "Seraph"), mentioned in Isaiah 6:1-7 [6], serve as the caretakers of God's throne and continuously shout praises: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is filled with His Glory." The name Seraphim means "the burning ones."
The Seraphim have six wings; two covering their faces, two covering their bodies ("feet"), and two with which they fly.
Two of which are named Seraphiel and Metatron, according to some books. Seraphiel is said to have the head of an eagle. It is said that such a bright light emanates from them that nothing, not even other angelic beings, can look upon them. It is also said that there are four of them surrounding God's throne, where they burn eternally from love and zeal for God.

Seraphim, literally "burning ones", is the plural of "seraph", more properly sarap. The word sarap/seraphim appears three times in the Torah (Numbers 21:6-8, Deuteronomy 8:15) and four times in the Book of Isaiah (6:2-6, 14:29, 30:6). In Numbers and Deuteronomy the "seraphim" are snakes/serpents - the association of snakes as "burning ones" is possibly due to the burning sensation of the poison.[1] Isaiah also uses the word in close association with words to describes snakes (nahash, the generic word for snakes, in 14:29, andefeh, viper, in 30:6).
Isaiah's vision of seraphim in the Temple in Jerusalem is the sole instance in the Hebrew Bible of the word being used to describe celestial beings: there the winged "seraphim" attend God and have human attributes:[2] "... I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and His train filled the Hekhal (sanctuary). Above him stood the Seraphim; each had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew." (Isaiah 6:1–3) In Isaiah's vision the seraphim cry continually to each other, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory" (verses 2-3) before carrying out an act of purification for the prophet (verses 6-7). It is possible that these are winged snake-beings, but given that the word "seraphim" is not attached as an adjective or modifier to other snake-words ("nahash," etc.), as is the case in every other occurrence of the word, it is more probable that they are variants of the "fiery" lesser deities making up God's divine court.[3]
"Seraphim" appear in the 2nd century BCE Book of Enoch[4] where they are designated as drakones (δράκονες "serpents"), and are mentioned, in conjunction with the cherubim as the heavenly creatures standing nearest to the throne of God. In the late 1st century CE Book of Revelation (iv. 4-8) they are described as being forever in God's presence and praising Him constantly: "Day and night with out ceasing they sing: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.'" They appear also in the Christian Gnostic text On the Origin of the World, described as "dragon-shaped angels".[5]

 

Christian angelic hierarchy

According to medieval Christian theologians, the Angels are organized into several orders, or Angelic Choirs.[1][2]
The most influential of these classifications was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century, in his book "The Celestial Hierarchy". However, during the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications (some authors limited the number of Choirs to seven). Several other hierarchies were proposed, some in nearly inverted order. Scholars of the Middle Ages believed that angels and archangels were lowest in the order and were the only angels directly involved in the affairs of the world of men.
The authors of The Celestial Hierarchy and the Summa Theologica drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, in an attempt to reveal a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs.
From the comparative study of the Old Testament and New Testament passages, including their etymology and semantics, the above mentioned theological works (which contain variations), and esoteric Christian teachings, the descending order of rank can be inferred as following:

First Sphere (Old Testament sources)
Seraphim
Cherubim
Thrones/Ophanim (Gr. thronoi) (also New Testament sources)
Second Sphere (New Testament sources)
Dominions (Gr. Kyriotetai)
Virtues (Gr. Dynamai)
Powers (Gr. Exusiai)[3]
Third Sphere
Principalities (Gr. Archai)[4]
Archangels - Archangeloi
Angels - Angeloi
St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio refers to these three, respectively, as the Epiphania, the Hyperphania, and the Hypophania.[5] The Choirs in the second and third spheres, of the present hierarchical list, appear to be also united in pairs. The existence of these pairs of Orders is inferred through their etymological proximity and the apparent affinity in the description of their work-activity (1 Peter 3:22): (clarification as to how this verse applies to pairs is required.)
Thrones and Dominions (Might, Dynamais);
Principalities and Powers (Powers, Exusiai; Ephesians 6:12);
Archangels and Angels (Angels, Angeloi).
Note, however, that several variations of the hierarchical order may be found published through the last two millennia.

 

 

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