Thoughts on Ezekiel 28:14, ff.

“You were the anointed cherub who covers…” begins this famous passage, and much has been said in an attempt to understand it.

Most common, in my experience, is the belief that the prophet shifts focus from the king of Tyre to the power behind him, Satan, who is presumed to be the anointed cherub who covers. This is a similar thing to when Jesus rebuked Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan,” speaking beyond Peter to the influence of his words.

Assuming the anointed cherub to be Satan, a history of Satan is created working backward from the passage to support the idea. However, without the assumption that Satan is in view (he is never called anointed, a cherub, or a guard/coverer that I am aware of elsewhere), another intersting character shows up…

…That of an actual cherub that actually guarded along with others of his kind. “So [God] drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden…” (Gen. 3:24, NKJV).

Is it possible that one of these cherubim sinned? The Ezekiel passage mentions violence. Is not a guard in a position to use violence? Is not the guard of earth’s greatest treasure in a position of having very valuable merchandise to trade? Ezekiel mentions this as well.

It makes more sense to me than the Satan theory, though there are still questions to be raised. Ezekiel says that the king of Tyre is this anointed cherub. He doesn’t say “is like” or anything else which would hint at a comparison or metaphor.

But what if the language is figurative? What if the king is being compared to the anointed cherubim which cover the ark of the covenant? The king, after all, has a lofty position, one of nobility and honor. And in the description of his fall, he would seem to be a type of the coming Beast mentioned in Revelation.

I’m not entirely convinced of any of these, though I like the garden guard theory the best. Though I cannot make the connection between Tyre and the garden, and it is quite the stretch to think that the king of Tyre is a literal cherub that once guarded (or, covered) the garden of Eden.

I am very hesitant to spiritualize the passage, as some are apt to do. The Bible is way too awesome to sap it of literal meaning whenever the chance arrises.

How have you understood Ezekiel 28:14 and the surrounding context? Have you heard any other ideas than the ones listed above?

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Ezekiel 28:14, ff.”

  1. Hmmm. Never heard of any of those theories so I can’t contribute there. But one thing I heard once was, “If a passage can be taken literally it should be.” That’s to say that usually Scripture should be taken literally unless it is absurd to do so. An example being in Matthew when Jesus tells the disciples that, “If your hand causes you to sin cut it off, and if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out.” It would be absurd to take that literally because we’d all be without a hand an blind in one eye.

    As for the passage you mentioned, I’m not sure what I think about it just yet. You’ve caused me to think more about it though :).

    1. if having one less hand and one less eye allows you to free yourself from sin, then it sounds like a pretty good trade-off to me.

  2. I would love to take it literally. I try to be literal as much as possible unless the context indicates it is a simile, metaphor, hyperbole, parable, or other such things.

    Literally, though, the king of Tire then would be called a cherub, which elsewhere are described as creatures with four faces, wheels, etc. It would be easy enough if the word “like” or “as” were inserted in there… “You are like the anointed cherub that covers,” would make all kinds of sense.

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