260. It must be understood, moreover, that the sense of the letter is a guard for the genuine truths concealed within it, that they may not be injured. It is a guard in this way, that it may be turned hither and thither, and explained according to each one's understanding of it, and yet without injury or violence to its internal. For no harm is done when one person understands the sense of the letter in one way, and another in another way; but the harm is done when falsities are brought in which are contrary to Divine truths, and this is done only by those who have confirmed themselves in falsities. In this way violence is done to the Word. This is what the sense of the letter guards against, and it does this for those who are in falsities from their religion, but do not confirm these falsities. The sense of the letter of the Word as such a guard is signified in the Word by "cherubs," and is there described in this way. This guard is signified by the cherubs that were placed at the entrance to the garden of Eden, after Adam and his wife had been expelled from it, about which we read as follows:
When Jehovah God had driven man out He made cherubs to dwell at the east of the garden of Eden and the flame of a sword turning every way to keep the way of the tree of life (Gen. 3:23, 24).
 No one can see what this means, unless he knows what is signified by "cherubs" and by "the garden of Eden," and by "the tree of life" there, and finally by "the flame of a sword turning every way." These particulars are explained in the exposition of this chapter in the Arcana Coelestia, published at London, namely, that "cherubs" signify a guard; "the way of the tree of life" signifies entrance to the Lord, which man obtains through the truths of the spiritual sense of the Word; "the flame of a sword turning every way" signifies Divine truth in outmost things, like the Word in the sense of the letter, which sense may be so turned. The same is meant by,
The cherubs of gold placed at the two ends of the mercy-seat, which was over the ark in the tabernacle (Exod. 25:18-21),
"the ark" signifying the Word, because the Decalogue, which it contained, was the primitive of the Word, and the "cherubs" signifying a guard. Therefore between the cherubs the Lord spoke with Moses (Exod. 25:22; 37:9; Num. 7:89); and he spoke in the natural sense, since the Lord does not speak with man except in fullness, and Divine truth is in its fullness in the sense of the letter (as may be seen above, n. 214-224). Nor is anything else signified,
By the cherubs upon the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle (Exod. 26:1, 31);
for the curtains and veils of the tabernacle signified the outmost things of heaven and the church, and thus of the Word (as may be seen above, n. 220). So again,
By the cherubs carved on the Walls and doors of the temple at Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35) (see above n. 221).
By the cherubs in the new temple (Ezek. 41:18-20).
 Because "cherubs" signify a guard, that the Lord, heaven, and Divine truth such as it is interiorly in the Word, be not approached immediately, but mediately through outmosts, it is said of the king of Tyre:
Thou sealest up thy measure, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering. Thou cherub, the spreading out of one that protects; I have destroyed thee, O protecting cherub, in the midst of the stones of fire (Ezek. 28:12-14, 16).
"Tyre" signifies the church as to knowledges of good and truth and therefore "the king of Tyre" signifies the Word, in which and from which those knowledges are; and here the Word in its outmost is evidently signified, and protection by "the cherub," for it is said, "Thou sealest up thy measure," "every precious stone was thy covering," "thou cherub, the spreading out of one that protects," also, "O protecting cherub." The "precious stones" there mentioned mean the things belonging to the sense of the letter (as may be seen above, n. 217, 218). Because "cherubs" signify the Word in outmosts, and also a guard, it is said in David:
Jehovah bowed the heavens and came down, and rode upon a cherub (Ps. 18:9, 10).
O Shepherd of Israel, thou that sittest upon the cherubs, shine forth (Ps. 80:1).
Jehovah sitteth upon the cherubs (Ps. 99:1).
"To ride upon cherubs" and "to sit upon them" means upon the outmost sense of the Word. Divine truth in the Word, and what it is, is described by the four animals that were also called cherubs (Ezek. 1, 9, 10); also by the four animals in the midst of the throne and round about the throne (Rev. 4:6 seq.). (See Apocalypse Revealed, published by me at Amsterdam, n. 239, 275, 314).