Why the Menorah Is the Most Enduring of All Jewish Symbols

words Alexa Wang

Like other cultures and faiths, Jewish people have developed a rich religious and cultural heritage before four thousand years ago.

All the cultures have their own significant symbols and Judaism has too, such as a tallit, tefillin, kippah, seder plate, kiddush cup, Shabbat candles, etc. Menorah is one of these oldest and recognized symbols of Jewish culture and rituals. 

It was a seven-branched candelabrum and constructed with pure gold. According to the bible, after the Israelite left Egypt G-d has spoken to Moses to build menorah and use it in the Tabernacle and Miskhan to worship G-d. the priest lit the menorah with pure olive oil everyday. Later, in the temple of Jerusalem, priests start lighting the menorah during worship services. 


History of menorah!

As first mentioned in the biblical book, the design of the lamp was revealed by G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai. The design of the lamp was forged out of a single piece of the gold shaft and three branches on each side, totaling six branches. The central gold shaft was flanked by three lights on each side to signify the Sabbath. Its shape was suggested to build to signify the tree of life and first it was put in the Tabernacle. 

The temple of Solomon had ten golden branched candelabras and the second temple which was built after the Jews left Egypt has introduced 7 branched menorahs. In the 70s century during the destruction of the second temple, menorah disappeared. 

The Talmud has reconstructed it in the Jerusalem temple and considers it as the most universal symbol of Judaism. During the early modern times, this most popular symbol has given way to Star of David but in the 19th century, it was considered as the symbol of Zionists. In the 20th century, it has become the official symbol of the state of Israel. 

What is the meaning of the seven branches of the menorah?

So many myths about seven branches of the menorah. According to the most popular one, the central light represents the Sabbath and its six branches symbolize the world created in seven days. 

According to Jewish community the menorah spread the light of G-d. Let’s look more into the history and myths of the menorah. 


Hanukkah menorah:

Hanukkah is one of the Jewish holidays and some of the myths also associate with Hanukkah. When the desecration happened in the Jerusalem temple, they had only few quantity of olive oil to burn the flames of the temple. By miracle, the flames burned for eight days with such a less quantity of olive oil and thus they got time to make new pure oil. 

The Talmud states to the Jewish community that it is prohibited to use seven-branched menorah and raised nine-branched Hanukkah menorah. Talmud symbolized the central shaft as the “Shamash” light and used it to kindle the other eight branches of the Hanukkah menorah. 

The modern Jewish menorah!

In the earlier period of modern times, the synagogues has continually lit seven-branched menorah and named it as “ner tamid”. Many of the synagogues have displayed artistic menorah, appearing in the coat of arms in the state of Israel. When the menorah symbolized as the symbol of the State of Israel, the Jewish community started lighting 7 branched menorahs in the temples. 


For the Jewish people, it is not only a symbol of faith in God but they consider it as the lamp of the jewsThe menorah has both religious and secular roots. Jewish people used to consider olive oil as the purest oil and that’s why all the traditional foods are fried by olive oil in the Jewish community. 


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