||Make two golden cherubs, hammering them out from the two ends of the cover.
Ve'asita shnayim kruvim zahav mikshah ta'aseh otam mishney ketsot hakaporet.
||One cherub shall be on the end, and one on the other. Make the cherubs from [the same piece of gold] as the cover itself, on its two ends.
Va'aseh keruv echad mikatsah mizeh uchruv-echad mikatsah mizeh min-hakaporet ta'asu et-hakruvim al-shney ketsotav.
||The cherubs shall spread their wings upward so that their wings shield the cover. The cherubs shall face one another, but their faces shall [also be inclined downward] toward the cover.
Vehayu hakruvim porsey chenafayim lemalah sochechim bechanfeyhem al-hakaporet ufneyhem ish el-achiv el-hakaporet yihyu peney hakruvim.
Paralleling God's two names, the Tetragrammaton and Elohim (Paneach Raza; Midrash Tadshe 2). See Exodus 25:20.
See note on Genesis 3:24. The cherubs were creatures like birds (Or HaAfelah; Rashbam; Chizzkuni; Philo, De Vide Mose 2:99) with wings (Exodus 25:20) and faces like human infants (Chagigah 13b; Ralbag). Some say that one was male and the other was female (Rashi on 1 Chronicles 3:10; Bachya, from Yoma 54a; cf. Zohar 3:59a). See Ezekiel 10:7-15.
Lengthwise (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra) at the very edges of the cover (Haamek Davar).
|from the same piece...|
(Saadia; Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Rashi on Exodus 25:18).
Parallel to their heads (Rashi; Rashbam), as if they were taking off (Ralbag).
|shield the cover|
Their wings were 10 handbreadths (30 inches) over the ark-cover (Sukkah 5b). This was the height of the cherubs (Rashi ad loc.).
|face one another|
Directly. Others say that they faced toward the east, toward the opening of the Holy of Holies, with their heads inclined toward each other (Bava Bathra 99a). Others say that their bodies faced toward the east, but their heads faced each other (Chokhmath HaMishkan; Maaseh Choshev 8:5). They faced each other so that they would not appear to be gods (Moreh Nevukhim 3:45).
(Baaley Tosafoth; Ibn Ezra). Or, 'The cherubs shall face one another, with their faces toward the middle of the ark-cover' (Rashbam).