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The Menorah

The original menorah, also called the lampstand, or candlestick, depending on which translation of The Bible that you are using, was made according to God's precise instructions (Exodus 25:31-40) for lighting the inside of The Tabernacle In The Wilderness. Approximately 5 feet / 1½ meters high and 3½ feet / 1 meter across the top, made of fine gold, it was placed on the south wall of The Holy Place, to the right of The Altar, and on the opposite side of The Table. Its seven olive-oil lamps were lit each day at twilight and filled each morning (Exodus 30:7-8). Today, the menorah has become an actual symbol of the modern state of Israel.

The menorah in the Knesset courtyardThe menorah is a symbol of Israel

Left: A large bronze menorah sculpture in the Knesset courtyard in Jerusalem. It was a gift to Israel from Britain. Right: The menorah is a symbol of the modern state of Israel.

The fate of the original lampstand from the Tabernacle is not known (What Happened To The Tabernacle?). Later, The Temple (see Temples) in Jerusalem during the time of Solomon had ten lampstands of pure gold, five on each side in front of the inner sanctuary (1 Kings 7:49, 2 Chronicles 4:7). These were plundered by the Babylonians when God permitted Jerusalem's fall in 586 B.C. (Jeremiah 52:19) (see Ancient Empires - Babylon, Why Babylon? and Temple Mount Treasures).

When the Jews were allowed to return from the Babylonian Exile, another lampstand was made. This one was carried away by the Romans under Titus when they conquered Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (see Ancient Empires - Rome and Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.), and placed in their "Temple of Peace" in Rome. When Rome was plundered by Genseric in 455, he is said to have moved it to Carthage. When Carthage was retaken by Belisarius in 533 A.D., it was reportedly taken to Constantinople, and then later back to Jerusalem, where it finally disappeared.

Apart from its practical use inside the windowless Tabernacle, the menorah symbolized knowledge of God as a true light for a dark world.

Fact Finder: What did Jesus Christ say about Christians and light?
Matthew 5:14-16


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