Seraph is the singular of Seraphim, a Hebrew word that means the burning ones. In the New Testament of the Holy Bible, Seraphim are the highest order of angels, directly attending/guarding the throne of God. It is no coincidence that Seraph protects the Oracle, and that he is the most powerful fighting program in the Matrix, able to even stand his ground against Neo, the One himself.
In the Bible, Seraphim have six wings: two to cover their face, two to cover their feet, and two to fly. Seraphim can also have many appearances. In M3, Smith tells Seraph, "I remember chasing you was like chasing a ghost." This suggests that Seraph could disappear by disguising himself as other people.
Stated in his own words, Seraph's purpose is to "protect that which matters most". The Oracle would "matter most" not only because of her power to see the future and the hope she brings for evolution of machines, but especially because she is the Prime Program of the Matrix (as I support in Matrix System: Prime Program). Before the Oracle was part of the Matrix, the Merovingian would have "mattered most" since he was the Prime Program, and he protected Mobil Avenue, the entrance for the Source (see Merovingian).
Seraph protects other things within the system at different times. What "matters most" within the Matrix at any given time will depend on what is happening and what the biggest threats are. We see this in play in M3, when the Oracle thanks Seraph for coming so quickly. Apparently, he wasn't protecting her before, or he wouldn't have had to "come" in the first place.
In the Bible, Seraphim are awesome, frightening creatures that do not even resemble humans. This gives us more insight into the Trainman's reaction to Seraph, a reaction of sheer fright:
Trainman: Get away! Get away from me!
Seraph: We don't want trouble.
Trainman: Get the hell away from me!
How many times do we see conversations like the above when angels talk to people in the Bible? People are always so terrified to see angels that the angels must always specifically tell them not to be frightened. We also get a similar reaction from the coat check girl when the elevator door opens and she sees Seraph: "Can I take your... oh my God."
Remember in M1, when Morpheus goes to see the Oracle, Morpheus did not have to fight Seraph. In fact, we don't even see Seraph protecting the Oracle. Or do we? Morpheus and a blind man exchange nods as Morpheus walks by him in the hallway. I think that man was Seraph, giving permission to Morpheus to pass by and enter the door to the Oracle (in this case, an elevator). Morpheus had seen the Oracle before, so fighting Seraph was not necessary this time. The blind man also wears very similar sunglasses to what Seraph wears.
Guardian angels are often invisible, but they are always there protecting whoever needs protection. That's what Seraph was doing in M1, and it's why Seraph arrived so fast in Enter the Matrix. (The Oracle says, "Thank you for coming so quickly.")
Seraph says (after fighting Neo), "You do not truly know someone until you fight them." This goes along with his statement in Enter the Matrix, "Appearances can be deceiving... and it falls upon me to measure a heart's resolve." To Seraph, a program who himself changes appearances, the way someone fights is like a fingerprint that reveals beyond appearances.
In M2, Neo sees the gold code of Seraph:
I think that Machines appear gold, while programs appear green. Seraph is essentially the firewall for machine civilization. Every computer technician knows that hardware firewalls are infinitely more difficult to penetrate than software firewalls. Therefore Seraph would serve his purpose best when he can act independently of the Matrix. It would make perfect sense for the protector of what matters most to be a real machine in Machine City jacking into the Matrix as a hardware device protecting the system, rather than a piece of software like Windows Defender, getting slapped around within the Matrix by hacks that can easily find a way around it.
If Seraph were to fail to protect the Prime Program from some kind of malicious attack, the attacker could bring down the entire Matrix and cause all humans (and therefore most machines) to die. That is why Seraph might even be a better fighter than Neo. Seraph only seems to be "testing" Neo to see if he's really the One, and Neo is only able to hit Seraph solidly one time in the whole fight. We don't know if Seraph is trying as hard as he can to hit Neo, or if he's only throwing kicks and punches that he knows only the One would be able to block. I believe he's not trying as hard as he can, based on the horror that other programs express when they see Seraph (see above).
As further evidence, consider the fact that both Neo and Seraph are components of the Matrix system. Neo is the component that takes care of system errors and who enables the "rebooting" of both Zion and the Matrix. Seraph is the component that "protects that which matters most" (i.e. whatever is most important to protect at any given moment for the smooth functioning of the system, Seraph is there). Would it really make sense for Neo's fighting abilities to exceed Seraph's? The system would risk more, not less, by allowing the skills of the One to exceed the skills of the system protector.
Regarding the picture above, one forum user named wAkE_uP_nEo pointed out an interesting symbolic parallel:
We all know the Wachowskis' fascination with Buddhism... When the Buddha achieves enlightenment, his soul was supposed to glow gold from within. Notice in the scene where Seraph's gold code is revealed, he is sitting in the typical Buddha pose. If you saw that shot completely out of context of the movies, you would be forgiven for thinking it was supposed to be Buddha. So, perhaps it is something to do with enlightenment.
|Seraph: Changed Loyalties|
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