Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond

By Michael Berkowitz | Go to book overview

THE MYSTERY OF THE MENORAH AND THE STAR

Richard A. Freund
University of Hartford

I. The Modern Jewish Use of the Menorah and Star

The five and six pointed star and the menorah are important symbols for modern Jews despite the fact that so little is known about their origins in ancient Judaism. In fact, the sparse information about the earliest history of the menorah and five and six pointed star makes the modern use of these symbols diffcult to account for.1 Whether by accident or by plan, these ancient and medieval Jewish symbols emerged as specific and modern emblems for Judaism and the State of Israel. In the modern period they function as symbols of hope and restoration, of particularity and uniqueness—despite the

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1
For general bibliography and illustrations see Rachel Hachlili, The Menorah, the Ancient Seven-Armed Candelabrum: Origin, Form, and Significance (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2001), Dan Barag, “The Menorah in the Roman and Byzantine Periods, ” Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society (1985/86), pp. 44–47; Steven Fine and Bruce Zuckerman, “The Menorah as Symbol of Jewish Minority Status”, Fusion in the Hellenistic East (ed. S. Fine), Los Angeles, 1985), pp. 24–31; E.R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, Vol. IV (New York, 1954), pp. 71–98; Victor A. Klagsbald, “The Menorah as Symbol: Its Meaning and Origin in Early Jewish Art, ” Jewish Art, 12–13, 1986/87, pp. 126ff.; L. Yarden, The Tree of Life (London, 1971), figures 1–3, 26, 61–106, 119–212; four pre-70 C.E.: Grafitto on the wall of Jason's Tomb in Jerusalem, L.J. Rahmani, “Qever Yason, ” Atiqot, 4 (1964), p. 11, fig. 7, pl. XII, 1,2; Yarden, The Tree of Life (London, 1971), 107–108; The Grafitto on the plastered wall in a house excavated by Nahman Avigad, “Excavations in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, 1969–1970, ” Israel Exploration Journal 20, 1–2, (1970), 1–8, Yarden, fig. 19; A stone relief on the reverse of a sundial excavated by Benjamin Mazar near the Herodian Western Wall. B. Mazar, G. Kornfeld, D.N. Freedman, The Mountain of the Lord (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), p. 147; The Matthias Antigonus, coin (40–37 B.C.E.), Yarden, The Tree of Life (London, 1971), figs. 20–21. See also Avraham Negev, “The History of the Seven Branched Candelabrum, Eretz Yisrael 8 (1967), pp. 193–210 (Hebrew); H. Strauss, Eretz Yisrael 6 (1960), pp. 122–129; M. Kon, “The Menorah of the Arch of Titus” Palestine Exploration Quarterly, (1950) pp. 25ff.; J.H. Herzog, “The Menorah on the Arch of Titus, ” Essays in Memory of S.M. Mayer, (Jerusalem, 1956), pp. 95–98; Daniel Sperber, “The Menorah, ” Vol. 16.3–4, (1965) The Journal of Jewish Studies, pp. 135ff.

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