Seraphim are Firey Flying Serpents

seraphim_by_lakandiwa-d30sblj

Seraphim by Lakandiwa (click for source)

What I find troublesome is when Bible translators choose to transliterate a term in some passages but not in others. It’s troublesome because it seems to be done in order to hide the true meaning from the reader. It effectively amounts to censorship of the biblical text by translation committee.

For example, in the throne room of God, the word seraphim is transliterated

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 6:2)

However, later in Isaiah the exact same Hebrew term שָׂרָף is translated into English as “flying firey serpent”

Through a land of trouble and anguish, from where come the lioness and the lion, the adder and the flying fiery serpent, …(Isaiah 30:6)

It seems the flying firey serpents are fallen, rebel seraphim. Why the censorship by transliteration? Do the translators think people cannot handle the fact that flying serpentine beings are in the throne room of God? (it happens in other places as well, but unless you study the original languages you will never know it). This is one of the reasons why KJVonlyism (or dependence on any one translation) is so horribly vacuous for doing theology.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    Hey Cris!
    Makes me think! And I sometimes like to think!!’ I’ve heard somewhere that the word dragon comes from the ancient Greek word “draconta” which means “to watch”. —– but not sure.
    Also heard that some cultures believed dragons could become as humans and would take women and have offspring. But again, not sure where the info came
    From.

  2. Joshua Ephriam says:

    Nicely done! I still don’t understand how we get Fiery serpent from seraphim. Can you elaborate on this?

    • Martin Bonner says:

      The word seraph has at its base meaning “burning one/s.” It is first used in Numbers 21 and is associated with serpents. Vs. 6 reads as literally as possible “And the LORD sent among the people, the nachashim, the seraphim, and they bit the people..” The way it is being used is that seraphim is a further description of the nachashim (serpents). Most scholars have seen the connection as the burning sensation of venom when one is bitten.

      Of course this brings up the issue of what really happened in the desert that day. Nachashim is the plural form of the same word used of the serpent in the Garden, whom we know is Satan. @Cris, do you hold to a metaphorical interpretation of Numbers 21?

      I agree that scholars sometimes make unwarranted decisions in their translations. However, we must be honest and recognize that there is a legitimate connection between seraphim and serpents. So the context has to be used to determine when a literal venomous serpent is intended and when an angel “Burning One” is intended. In the Isaiah 30 passage a term for a snake is used, viper. I think we should leave room that there may be a dual layer of meaning in the text, especially in prophetic passages like Isaiah 30:6 and Isaiah 14:29, but not necessarily in all of them.

      • melanie says:

        Stop calling theme angels they are never called angels in the bible. And maybe they are serpentine like or maybe they are more human like. For we know they could look like apes.

        • Martin Bonner says:

          Your comment makes little sense. I never referred to them as angels nor did the comment that I commented on. To insert the “ape” comment sidetracks this discussion. The original post is about how to translate the word and a charge of censorship.

          My point is that it is not a clear-cut case of censorship, even though Chris’s first point regarding the translation is correct.

  3. Beth says:

    What serpent has feet?

    • jaz says:

      Pharisees were called a brood of ‘vipers’ by John Baptist. Them pharisees got feet!

      Prophetic language often uses imagery to depict the nature of things..

      • Beth says:

        jaz,
        What you say about prophecy and metaphorical language may well be so, however in this particular Isaiah 30 passage, the prophet doesn’t seem to be using metaphorical speech.
        Immediately before mentioning the ‘firey flying serpent’ he lists three not-at-all metaphorical beasts, whom all us of would probably recognize as.. well, beasts, or animals.

    • Callen says:

      The serpent in the garden.
      Otherwise, cursed to crawl in the dust of the earth on it’s belly would have been of no consequence.

  4. JR says:

    Words have more than one meaning, and in this case 2. I don’t find anything wrong with the bible translations here, especially considering the context with lions and snakes. And none of the other bible translations provide anymore insight than the KJV. To say that the Seraphim in the Throne of God are serpentine beings is pure conjecture.

  5. Galen Currah says:

    Hebrew verb saraf often translates “to burn,” and as an adjective “fiery” or fire-red. Thus the plural noun, sarafim, suggests “fiery ones,” but as a translation might detract from their grandeur to their appearance.

  6. melanie says:

    People can’t accept the fact that seraphim are serapentine beings.

  7. Gerhardt says:

    My body is host to an angelic entity that is a brilliantly colored serpent with feathered wings, and burning with blue fire. I’ve had it my whole life and it gives me genius intellect and artistic talent. It was only today that I learned its called a seraph, and it absolutely is an angelic entity. Whether or not they serve God or Lucifer is debatable, as is whether or not God and Lucifer are the same person or even different aspects of the same entity (spiritual vs physical). The angels tell me that Lucifer (God + Ego) is the physical incarnation of Source (God – Ego) and that he is coming soon to lead the earth through this apocalypsys and into a new golden aeon.

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