Unknown to most of us, there are actually ten classifications of the heavenly beings that we simply label as angels. Because of the diversity of world religions, their ranking and levels of importance seems a bit hard to establish. From your perspective, which among them is the most important?
Tradition places these angels in the highest rank in the Christian angelic hierarchy, and in the fifth of ten in the Jewish category. In the book of Revelation, they are depicted as entities whose existence is solely dedicated to singing a chant that goes: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” Biblical text describes the “seraphim” as celestial beings with a fiery passion for doing God’s good work. Like most angel depictions, they are equipped with wings. Not just two wings, but six – two for covering their faces, another two for covering their feet, and two for flying.
Though the term basically implies “plain angels,” some scholars view the Malakim as Archangels – one of the highest, if not the highest ranked among all angels. They are the only angel class that are specifically named in the bible – Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (from the extended biblical books Deuterocanonicals). From a secular perspective, the Malakim are the most popular only angelic group, for the reason that they are the most often mentioned ones. Aside from Jesus, the messiah of Christianity, the Archangels are the only beings that serve as mediators between God and man.
Described in prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the heavenly chariot and in the book of Revelation by prophet Daniel, they are also known as the “four living creatures.” Their physical appearance is said to be similar to that of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. In another biblical setting, they are described as being covered with eyes all over. They are believed to be situated near the throne of God the father always, making them His throne bearers and perhaps, the highest-ranked class among all angels.
The term guardian angel can’t be found in the Bible, but by studying the Ishim, we can figure out where the idea came from. In Judaism, they are defined as a class of angels that are closest to the affairs of humans. They are composed of fire and snow, and are known to reside in the 5th Heaven. Such beings are also supported in Islamic faith as Muhammad was recorded to have seen an angel, with a body comprised of half ice and half fire. Some traditions interpret the Ishim as the creatures that can attest to the ultimate balance and justice that only God can deliver to man.
Among the types of angels, these are perhaps the most rebellious ones albeit, the most sexually lustful. This notion can be supported by the biblical text in Geneisis chapter six which goes: “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” This carnal bonding resulted into the Nephelim, a race of superhumans during the early times. They might not be the nicest angels, but the Bene Elohim did give us earthlings, the greatest breed of people in existence.
Unlike most angels which are shaped like man or animals, the Ophanim are depicted as circular, like wheels to be exact. It is said that they were the actual wheels of the Merkabah – the Lord Almighty Heavenly Chariot. They have rims and spokes, and their rims were full of eyes round about, as they are described in the Bible. This gave them another tagline — “the many-eyed ones.” Since they are a part of God’s chariot, this places in them in a distinct importance – they are crucial elements in whatever noble package God is meant to deliver into mankind.
In popular angel mythology, there is an angel named Ariel and he is believed to be the most popular entity in this category. In both Jewish and Christian religions, the Erelim are known to be valiant and courageous, making them ideal servants for whatever important task God may commission to them. They could be warriors or just plain messengers, depending on their given mission. Generally seen as the third highest rank of divine beings below God, their angelhood is also believed to be the agents of earthly justice.
If you are electrified by the idea of learning about angels, then it could be a Hashmal triggering that emotion. The term is actually derived from a Jewish word which means electricity. They are described as like clouds in a stormy wind with a great brilliance and flashing fire, suggesting they could be agents of destruction too. Angels are generally known to us as gentle, attractive beings – the kind that we can easily be likeable to us. Apparently, the Hashmallim are not these types. Still, they are important to the hierarchy of heavenly beings as they are known to be in the fourth rank according to Jewish tradition.
Pop-culture suggests that Cherubim are cute and cuddly infants that carry a bow and arrow. However, biblical text never hinted such an idea. Early, traditional Jewish notion indicates that cherubim had the appearance of youthful human beings, but never were they attributed for triggering romances and love affairs. In the tale of the Fall of Man, a Cherub was in fact a sword-welding guardian assigned to protect the Garden of Eden from anyone who gain access into it. Because of their inclusion in many of the prophetic visions in various Holy Books, the Cherubim are viewed by most people as an angelic class of the highest order.
Many biblical scholars claim that the term pertains to God himself, and must not be applied to an angelic group. On the contrary, some theologians believe that the term Elohim actually means “godly beings” in English, and must be a group of angels and not God himself. This idea stems from the concept that if God is just one, how can he be depicted in plural form? Believers of the Elohim as an angel classification regard them as a council. This means they engage in a discussion… perhaps about how the cosmos, and the universes in existence should be handled.
Which among these should be ranked as No. 1?