The seven-branched menorah menorah that stood in the inner sanctum of the Jewish Temple, now the centerpiece of the holiday of Hanukkah that begins on Tuesday evening, has left its mark throughout all of Jewish history and is making a comeback in the most unlikely ways.
1. Archaeologists Discover Muslim Artifacts Inscribed With Menorah, Proving Jerusalem’s Jewish Identity
On the same day that US President Donald Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the eternal Jewish capital, two Israeli archaeologists from Bar Ilan University announced the discovery of 1,300-year-old coins from the Islamic Umayyad Dynasty imprinted with an image of the menorah. Though bearing inscriptions praising Allah, the coins were another piece of proof that early Islam recognized Jerusalem as the site of the Jewish Temple.
2. Ancient Menorah Engraving Reused by Muslims and Crusaders Discovered in Tiberias
Just in time for Hanukkah, a 700-year-old inscription depicting a seven-branched menorah was recently discovered in Tiberias. Originally part of an ornate basalt doorway from a Jewish cemetery built in the era when the Sanhedrin sat in Tiberias, the stone slab was used as part of a mosque’s foundation, and repurposed yet again as a step in a Crusader sugar factory.
“The incarnations of the stone adorned with the menorah reflect 1,000 years in the ancient history of Tiberias between the 2nd and 12th centuries CE, and covers Jewish, Muslim and Christian periods,” Dr. Katia Cytryn-Silverman of the Hebrew University told the Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.
“The mosque’s builders made use of accessible building materials that were in the vicinity, and also recycled stones that had symbolic significance – a message of the victory of Islam over the cultures and religions that preceded it,” Cytryn-Silverman said.
“So, the menorah had a sweet ending,” the archaeologist concluded.
Undoubtedly the most unexpected place to discover inscriptions depicting the seven-branched menorah were in a 3,000-year old pagan temple in Spain. While filming the documentary Atlantis Rising, Emmy-winning journalist Simcha Jacobovici recognized these symbols as the Jewish menorah. His astounding theory explaining the symbols connected the lost city of Atlantis with the Jewish Temple and even with the Exodus from Egypt.
An exhibit jointly hosted by the Papal seat and Rome’s ancient Jewish community was intended to showcase the growing Jewish-Vatican relationship, but the menorah-themed exhibit resurrected suspicions that the original menorah, five-feet tall and made of over 130-pounds of solid gold, is hidden somewhere in the Vatican. The whereabouts of the original menorah from the Second Temple are shrouded in mystery but a carving in the Arch of Titus in Rome depicting the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 CE and a first-hand account by Josephus Flavius, a first-century Roman-Jewish scholar, hint that it was at one time in Roman hands.
After intensive research into the Biblical requirements, the Temple institute completed a model of the menorah one year ago that is intended for use in the Third Temple. Though not made of solid beaten gold, it was determined that a full-size gold-plated version was acceptable for use. The menorah stands on the stairs down to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, awaiting the day when it will once again be used in the service of God.
On the first day of Hanukkah last year, a special 4-foot tall menorah constructed of gold-plated wood was lit in a spot overlooking the Temple Mount. Kohanim, Jewish men of priestly descent, wearing the Biblically-mandated priestly garments, used specially prepared gold and silver utensils to reenact the menorah lighting ceremony as it was performed in the Temple. The olive oil used was specially prepared and should the need arise, stands ready for Temple use.