20 The cherubim are to be spreading their wings upward, overshadowing[a] the atonement lid with their wings, and the cherubim are to face each other,[b] looking[c] toward the atonement lid.
Exodus 25:20tn The verb means “overshadowing, screening” in the sense of guarding (see 1 Kgs 8:7; 1 Chr 28:18; see also the account in Gen 3:24). The cherubim then signify two things here: by their outstretched wings they form the throne of God who sits above the ark (with the Law under his feet), and by their overshadowing and guarding they signify this as the place of atonement where people must find propitiation to commune with God. Until then they are barred from his presence. See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 330-35.
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