Introduction

The menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum that was first made and used by Moses in the Tabernacle during the time of wilderness. It was originally designed as the means of providing light in the holy place of the Israelites’ wilderness sanctuary. The menorah had seven branches with seven lamps, nine flower blooms, eleven fruits, and twenty-two cups. It is called the “lamp of God” in the Scriptures (1 Sam. 3:3). The Hebrew Bible states that the construction of the menorah was divinely commanded and designed by the YHWH (Exodus 25:31-40). According to Exodus 27:21, the lamps of the menorah were lit daily from fresh, consecrated olive oil and burned from evening until morning.

 

 

The menorah is the “biblical symbol par excellence” (Garr 2013, 9). It served as an important symbol of Judaism since the ancient times. It has come to represent the presence of God among his people, symbolised by the central lamp (representing the light of God) among the seven lamps. That is why, when the nation of Israel was restored in 1948, the modern Israelis chose the menorah as the dominant symbol of Israel to grace the reborn state’s national seal, a testimony to its ensuring in the corporate Jewish consciousness.  The menorah is also a symbol closely related with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, and has much relevance to Judaism today.

After the destruction of the Temple the menorah was taken to Rome with the other cult objects, to be carried in the triumphal procession. The Menorah was though of great importance and after the destruction of the Temple was still to be found in synagogue art. It was engraved on capitals and column shafts and was a particularly common motif on the mosaic floors of synagogues. Jesus and the early followers of him after his death continued to see themselves as Jewish and worship in the synagogue and kept a variety of Jewish customs and laws. The Menorah would have still been a feature in their religious lives even if it did, as suggested take on a different symbolic meaning for them.