Hammered out of the pure gold that covered the ark, the cherubim rose out of the two ends of the cover and their wings spread over the ark as its protectors. One view says they had the shape of birds. More common is the opinion that they had human form, either as male and female in embrace, or as a male and female child.
In the marital embrace theory the cherubim symbolise the loving union between Israel and God.
The two-children theory is explained by Abravanel as teaching that every Jew, from earliest childhood, must spend their lifetime poring over the Torah.
Both theories stress that a marriage and family dedicated to God and religion are central to Jewish identity and continuity and protect the tradition with God enthroned above them.