Old Testament Hebrew Lexical Dictionary
Strong's #03742 - כְּרוּב
1) cherub, cherubim (plural)
1a) an angelic being
1a1) as guardians of Eden
1a2) as flanking God’s throne
1a3) as an image form hovering over the Ark of the Covenant
1a4) as the chariot of Jehovah (figuratively)
כְּרוּב pl. כְּרוּבִים m.
(1) Cherub, in the theology of the Hebrews [i.e. in the revelation of God], a being of a sublime and celestial nature, in figure compounded of that of a man, an ox, a lion, and an eagle (three animals which, together with man, symbolise power and wisdom, Eze 1:1-28 and 10 ). They are first spoken of as guarding paradise, Genesis 3:24, afterwards as bearing the throne of God upon their wings through the clouds, whence, 2 Samuel 22:11, וַיִּרְכַּב עַל כְּרוּב וַיָּעֹף “and he rode upon a cherub, and did fly;” Psalms 18:11, יוֹשֵׁב הַכְּרֻבִים “who sits upon the cherubs;” lastly of the wooden statues of cherubs overlaid with gold, which were in the inmost part of the holy tabernacle (Exodus 25:18, seq.) and of the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:23), on the walls of which there were also figures of cherubs carved. A too farfetched idea is that of J. D. Michaëlis, who (Comment. Soc. Gotting. 1752, and in Supplem. p. 1343) compares the cherubs with the equi tonantes of the Greeks.
The etymology of the word is doubtful. As to the word with which I formerly compared it, “Syr. ܟܪܘܽܒܳܐ powerful, strong,” Cast., it was necessary to reject it so soon as I found from the words themselves of Bar Bahlul, that that signification rested on a mistake on the part of Castell (Anecdd. Orient. fasc. i. p. 66). If this word be of Phœnicio-Shemitic origin, either כרב, by a transposition of letters, stands for רכב and כְּרוּב as if רְכוּב divine steed (Psalms 18:11), compare Arab. كَرِيبُ ship of conveyance, or (which is the not improbable opinion of Hyde, De Rel. Vett. Persarum, p. 263) כְּרוּב is i.q. קָרוֹב (comp. كرب = قرب) one who is near to God, ministers to him, one admitted to his presence. Others, as Eichhorn (Introd. in O. T., vol. iii. p. 80, ed. 4), maintain that כְּרוּבִים are the same as the γρύφες (Greifen) griffins of the Persians, guardians of the gold-producing mountains (compare Gen. loc. cit.); [such conjectures are awfully profane;] in this case the root must be sought in the Pers. ثريفتن (greifen) to take hold, to take, to hold. Compare also Rödiger’s Dissertation on the Cherubs, in Ersch and Gruber’s Encyclop. vol. 16, v. Cherub. [Other conjectures are given in Thes.]
(2) [Cherub], pr.n. m. Ezra 2:59; Nehemiah 7:61.