Flaming sword (mythology)

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Painting by Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix of an angel (Camael) expelling Adam and Eve with a flaming sword

A flaming sword is a sword glowing with flame by some supernatural power. Flaming swords have existed in legend and myth for thousands of years.

According to the Bible, a cherub (or the archangel Uriel in some traditions) with a flaming sword was placed by God at the gates of Paradise after Adam and Eve were banished from it (Genesis 3:24).

Eastern Orthodox tradition says that after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, the flaming sword was removed from the Garden of Eden, making it possible for humanity to re-enter Paradise.[1]

A flaming sword with immense destructive power appears in Norse mythology. It is said to be wielded by Surtr, the leader of the giants of Muspelheim.[2]

First Bible Appearance[edit]

Adam and Eve Expelled from the Garden of Eden

“Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24So He drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life”.[3] In the Bible the flaming sword is first seen after the fall of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Once cast out God had sent an archangel to guard the entrance and the tree of life, which it said to be the essence of humanity without original sin. The flaming sword appears as the guarding force to the Garden of Eden, stopping all who aren't granted entry.

Meaning behind the sword[edit]

While the Flaming Sword was first seen in the book of genesis and sent to protect the entrance to the Garden of Eden, it is also seen as Gods will, voice, and sometimes presence. The sword can be seen as a symbol of ones worthiness to hear Gods will, thus why it guards the Tree of Life which is not only seen as humanity’s absolution of original sin but also Gods will. It is said in the book of Revelations that when Jesus returns he will return with the Flaming Sword bringing an end to the beast, Satan. This event can also be seen as the opening of the Garden of Eden as the sword will no longer be there to guard the Tree of Life, thus allowing humanity to rejoice in eternal life.[4] The flaming sword also alludes to the types of fire spoken of in the bible, “The Bible speaks of two kinds of fire; first there is the fire of God's judgment; then there is the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The judgment fire destroys the flesh because of sin. The cleansing fire destroys the sin nature in the flesh so that man may live unto God” .[5] The different types of fire is seen in the swords encounters with Gods disciples, in terms of finding those worth of Gods will.

Archangels and their roles with the Sword[edit]

Archangel Michael defeats Satan

Archangels are infamous in the bible for being “guardians, protectors, messengers or avengers. Some are fallen, some presage death” [6] of the bible. Not only do they appear in the Catholic and Christian forms of the bible but also the Qur’an, as it is said that the archangel Gabriel was the one who revealed the Qur’an to the prophet Mohamed. Among all the archangels in the bible, the archangel Michael is seen the most with the flaming sword. “He is 12 feet tall, has long locks of blond and silvery hair and wears armor of platinum, crystal and gold. His eyes are blue but have a burning fire in them. Often he carries a sword that is made of fire too, but this is like nothing you have seen before, as the flames are almost translucent” [6] We also see Michael with the sword in famous painting like Archangel Michael by Luca Giordano, were we see Michael standing over Lucifer holding the flaming sword. A Symbol of good triumphing over evil, and in the book of Revelations the end of Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven and his fall. “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down -- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him” [3]

Disciples and the sword[edit]

Thought the bible the sword is seen with the disciples of Jesus and other important figures in the bible, yet it presents itself in different forms.


God Tests Abraham

The flaming sword encounters Abraham in the form of God's voice when he was asked to kill his son Isaac. The sword tests Abraham's will and devotion to God by seeing how obedient he is to God's will.[5]


Moses and the Burning Bush

The flaming sword then appears to Moses in the form of the burning bush. "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt" [3] The burning bush goes on to speak to Moses and reviles to him God’s plans for him and his prophecy to free his people from the pharaoh. Once Moses passed through the burning bush, or flaming sword, he was able to hear the voice of the lord. Moses’ life was thus forever changed by the flaming sword, going from the luxuries of royalty to the hardships of fighting to set his people free .[5]


Joshua was the next to encounter the flaming sword and entered into the presence of the lord. Joshua was said to be the one who encountered God himself after passing through the sword, being worth of his presence. ". . .he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so" [3] The sword granted Joshua entrance into the promise land after him and his people, the Israelite s, had wondered the desert for forty years.


Paul then passed through the flaming sword on the road to Damascus, “A light, brighter than the sun, shown all around him and a voice spoke out of the Light and said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Acts 9:4. Paul fell on his face before the Lord. Paul's walk, his speech, and his life would never be the same. Paul entered, again, through the flaming sword into the presence of the Almighty God. Nothing could make Paul deny this experience when he passed through the flaming sword. Imprisonment could not shake him. Beatings could not shake him; stoning could not. Even the chopping block could not make him deny that experience in his life. Paul witnessed of this experience before Kings”.[5] The flaming sword then changed Paul leading him to write his testimony in the bible, thus giving him what some call “religious credentials” as he had the ability to write the testimony, but it wasn’t until after passing through the sword that he was given Gods words.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orthodox liturgy of the third Sunday of Lent
  2. ^ Faulkes (1995:9–10)
  3. ^ a b c d (Bible).(BC-AD). BibleHub-Geneses 3-24. Retrieved from http://biblehub.com/genesis/3-24.htm
  4. ^ (Flaming Sword. (n.d.). Tvtropes. Retrieved from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlamingSword.
  5. ^ a b c d [(Kirkaptrick, G. (2014). The Flaming Sword. Retrieved from http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/sword2.htm.]
  6. ^ a b (Feldman, S. (2013). Flaming Swords & Gossamer Wings. Retrieved from https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4087/flaming-swords-gossamer-wings.

(Bible).(BC-AD). BibleHub-Geneses 3-24. Retrieved from http://biblehub.com/genesis/3-24.htm (Feldman, S. (2013). Flaming Swords & Gossamer Wings. Retrieved from https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/4087/flaming-swords-gossamer-wings. (Flaming Sword. (n.d.). Tvtropes. Retrieved from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlamingSword. (Kirkaptrick, G. (2014). The Flaming Sword. Retrieved from http://www.newfoundationspubl.org/sword2.htm.