A cherub (/ˈɛrəb/;[1] plural cherubim; Hebrew: כְּרוּב kərūḇ, pl. כְּרוּבִים kərūḇīm, likely borrowed from a derived form of Akkadian: 𒅗𒊒𒁍 karābu "to bless" such as 𒅗𒊑𒁍 kāribu "one who blesses",[2] a name for the lamassu) is one of the unearthly beings who directly attend to God, according to Abrahamic religions. The numerous depictions of cherubim assign to them many different roles, such as protecting the entrance of the Garden of Eden.[3]

A tetramorph cherub, in Eastern Orthodox iconography

In Jewish angelic hierarchy, cherubim have the ninth (second-lowest) rank in Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century), and the third rank in Kabbalistic works such as Berit Menuchah (14th century). De Coelesti Hierarchia places them in the highest rank alongside Seraphim and Thrones.[4]

In the Book of Ezekiel and (at least some) Christian icons, the cherub is depicted as having two pairs of wings, and four faces: that of a lion (representative of all wild animals), an ox (domestic animals), a human (humanity), and an eagle (birds).[5][6] Their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass. Later tradition ascribes to them a variety of physical appearances.[5] Some early midrashic literature conceives of them as non-corporeal. In Western Christian tradition, cherubim have become associated with the putto (derived from classical Cupid/Eros), resulting in depictions of cherubim as small, plump, winged boys.[7]

In Islam, the cherubim are the angels closest to God and sometimes include the Bearers of the Throne and the archangels.[8] Below the angels of the throne, the angels subordinative to Michael are also identified as cherubim. In Ismailism, there are seven cherubim, comparable to the Seven Archangels.[9]