As many of you are very likely already aware, the forefather of the Seraphims, is the Prophet Isaiah himself. It was during Isaiah's epic vision, that the world is first introduced to the Seraphim angels. Isaiah goes on to describe them in detail as they appeared in his vision, stating that the great Seraphim hovered around God's throne, while locked in an eternal song of praise for the Lord of Heaven. In this vision, the world gets it's first glimpse of what the Seraphim look like, with Isaiah describing them as having six wings, using one pair to hover, one pair to cover their face, and one pair to cover their feet. Isaiah also states that the foundation of the temple was shaken by the extreme vocal power of the Seraphim, as they relentlessly sang the Trisagion song. In this Old Testament passage, Isaiah is clearly referring to the great Temple of Jerusalem, which is also called the First Temple, or Solomon's Temple, which was built around the time of roughly 960 BCE.
It is within Isaiah Chapter 6, verses 1 through 3, that the prophet outlines his vision of the Seraphim angels. He states "When I looked, I saw God resting upon his mighty throne, high and exalted. His long white flowing robes filled the entire sanctuary. And hovering above the Lord, were the Seraphim angels. Each of these beings had six wings, and with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew." Isaiah then goes on to describe the Seraphims Trisagion song, in which he states "The Seraphim, hovering above God, were locked in perpetual song. They sung to each other, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of heavenly hosts, the whole earth is filled with his glory". Towards the end of this Biblical passage, the prophet then states in regard to the Seraphims song, "that the foundations of the thresholds shook", which as stated above refers to the First Temple, where apparently Isaiah was at the time.
The scripture as outlined above, is the sole mention of the Seraphim angels within all of the canonic Hebrew Bible. The word Seraphim does appear later on in the Book of Enoch, however it is believed that the reference is used to described fiery serpents, as opposed to the holy angels that Isaiah saw in his vision. Some scholars however have gotten hung up on this different use of the word Seraphim, and believe that the Seraphim were not beings burning with light, which is what the word in Hebrew means, but fiery dragons or serpents, which were also called Seraphim, in reference to their burning venom. As mentioned elsewhere in our website, we discuss this theological debate regarding the word Seraphim itself, and how essentially there are two divided scholarly camps who have reached to separate conclusions as to what Isaiah meant when he said "Seraphim". Please refer to the article entitled Seraphim In Judaism for more info about the debate.
There have been many artistic interpretations of Isaiah's vision of the Seraphim. One of the most popular ones is an oil painting by Giotto di Bondone, entitled St. Francis' Vision of a Seraph. Somewhat paralleling Isaiah's account, the painting shows St. Francis kneeling down on the ground, while look up into the heavens. Hovering above a church, is a Seraph with six wings, two covering it's feet, two folded back behind it's head, and two helping the angel to fly. Another very popular Seraphim illustration that was inspired by Isaiah, is the 14th century illuminated manuscript from the Petites Heures de Jean de Berry. In this particular illustration, you have God sitting on his thrown, and two Seraphim angels flying in front of him. You have likely seen both of these renown Seraphim images at some point in time, as they are extremely popular, and heavily reproduced. Thanks for taking the time to read through this article, we hope that learned something new.