The Holy Menorah!
Shalom Precious Partner and Friend of Israel,
What is the best way to describe the Holy Menorah? It is the Biblical symbol of excellence as the graceful uniformity of its flowing lines displays a profound beauty that is soothing, reassuring, and uplifting to the human spirit. Artistically appealing, it is an attractive decoration for any home or sanctuary or Church. At the same time, however, the Menorah evokes powerful images of the "Divine," assuring its observer that it is far more than an object of display. This is a heavenly symbol that transcends the imagination of its earthly artisans. The very first act in the Creation of the present universe came with God’s spoken Word; "Let light be..." (Genesis 1:3). Suddenly in the universal darkness, light sprang forth, overwhelming the void of the formless universe with the immaculate brightness of eternal glory. It is profoundly significant that the very first thing that God created was light. In a measure, the light that radiated forth was the result of God’s separating from Himself a part of His very essence, the Person of His Word. The manifestation of God’s Word always produces light (Psalm 119:130) …a light, that penetrates to all degrees, from the lowest degree of natural to the highest degree of "spiritual light," and all that is light is united in Him, Who is light! Light is equated with both knowledge and wisdom in Scripture. For this very reason, the Menorah speaks of learning, understanding and enlightenment. And, reasons that the "light of knowledge" makes life meaningful and fulfilling. Light also speaks of wisdom in all of its forms. The fact that the Temple Menorah is made from one solid piece of gold and not of pieces soldered together reveals the truth that all wisdom is from one Source!
The Menorah demonstrates that knowledge is NOT limited to an elite, exclusive society, but is available to all men! The Menorah’s light is manifest in the diversity of 7 lamps, indicating that while the light is NOT limited to a single source …it is also NOT restricted to a single recipient! All men have the capacity to receive light and to reflect light and all that is needed is the connection to the source of the light, the Living Menorah Himself – Yeshua (Jesus). Light leads to awareness and action as the Spirit gives insight and wisdom and at the same time spurs man to moral choice and accomplishment.
The Menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum, has traversed millennia as a living symbol of Israel and the Jewish people. Naturally, it did not pass through the ages unaltered. The Menorah is the cultural and intellectual history of the Western world’s oldest continuously used religious symbol from Biblical Times to Modern Israel. Though the golden 7 branched Menorahs of Moses and of the Jerusalem Temple are artefacts lost to history, the best-known Menorah image survives on the "Arch of Titus in Rome," commemorating the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the arch relief’s depict the spoils of the Second Temple and the Menorah is chief among them, as they appeared in Titus’s great triumphal parade in 71 AD.
Originally designed as the means of providing light in the “holy place” of the Israelites’ wilderness sanctuary, the Menorah has become more symbol than apparatus to the Jewish people. When, after a 19th Century had passed and the Nation of Israel was restored in 1948, the modern Israelis chose the Menorah as the dominant symbol to grace the re-born state’s “national seal,” a testimony to its enduring importance. The Ancient Menorah still speaks to Israel of the undying and irresistible “force of light.” Because of the extreme attention to detail given to the design of the Menorah it is clear of its importance!
The Menorah is a concrete symbol of God Himself, the source of light. Its central lamp (the Shamash – “the servant candle”) is called by the Jews “ner Elohim” (the lamp of God). King David exclaimed; “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” - 2 Samuel 22:29, thereby identifying God with the Menorah as He Who illuminate the darkness. The Psalmist observed that God; “wraps Himself in light as with a garment” - Psalm 104:2. Rather than adorn Himself in the brilliant colours associated with the pagan deities of the Ancient World …God clothed Himself in pure white light as a mantle. God’s majesty illuminated the Temple as the fiery light of a golden lamp. The original Menorah was made for the Tabernacle, and the Bible records it as being present until the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. When the Tabernacle tent was pitched in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), it is assumed that the Menorah was also present. However, NO mention is made of it during the years that the “Ark of the Covenant” was moved in the times of Samuel and Saul. There is NO further mention of the Menorah in Solomon's Temple, except in (1 Kings 7:49) and (2 Chronicles 4:7) as he creates 10 lamp stands. These are recorded as being taken away to Babylon by the invading armies under the general Nebuzar-Adan (Jeremiah 52:19) some centuries later. During the restoration of the Second Temple worship after the captivity in Babylon, no mention is made of the return of the Menorah but only of “vessels” (Ezra 1:9-10). Since the Temple was an enclosed place with NO natural light, some means of illumination must have existed.
The Jewish people see in the seven flames of the Menorah the collective souls of Israel as God’s light to the nations! (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6) From the time God made them as His chosen nation, He commissioned Israel to be the light of the world. (Deuteronomy 4:6). Israel was to model before the nations a lifestyle governed by God’s instructions. The successful and blessed lives that they would live in obedience to the Word of God would enlighten the Gentiles and turn them to God. As they elevated the light of the Menorah, Israel would also be exalted. Jewish tradition says; “God is the Light of the universe - yet He commands that a lamp be lighted to give light back to God! So, God has led Israel by His light, and in gratitude Israel is to give light in return …The light of the Menorah does NOT perish as must even the Temple, but in its continued burning symbolizes the fact that God’s blessings endure forever for His children” (Numbers 15:4).
Isaiah confirmed the nature of Israel’s witness… “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me.” - Isaiah 43:10. WHY? So, that the nations of the world would believe that the Eternal alone is God! Israel was chosen to bear witness to this truth by manifesting obedience to God’s Commandments that would make them a productive, successful people and their faithfulness to God and their resultant blessing would be a radiant example to the world that would point beyond both the lampstand – Menorah …and the light to the Source of the light, to God Himself. Israel understood that God needed their light only as a means of continuing the “Divine” light that He had given to them to be an example to the nations. Even the words of the commandment for lighting the Menorah speak of Israel being elevated so as to enlighten the Gentile world. The command is; “When you raise the light…” - Numbers 8:1. Israel was designed to lift up God’s “fire” upon a lamp stand so it would give light to the household of humanity. They were not to hide, or lower, the light. They were to raise it, exalt it, and make it glorious. Israel itself was elevated above the other nations of the world for the express purpose of raising the light; “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth” - Deuteronomy 14:2. Israel was NOT exalted to the status of an elite super race - they were chosen in order to raise God’s light and selected to be a demonstration of God’s holiness!
The Menorah from the Second Temple was carried to Rome after the Roman conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD during the First Jewish-Roman War. The fate of the Menorah used in the Second Temple is recorded by historian Josephus who states that it was brought to Rome and carried along during the triumph of Vespian and Titus. The “bas relief” on the Arch of Titus in Rome depicts a scene of Roman soldiers carrying away the spoils of the Second Temple, in particular, the even-branched Menorah, or Candelabrum. For centuries, the Menorah was displayed as a war trophy at the “Temple of Peace” in Rome, a Roman temple paid for with spoils taken from the conquered city of Jerusalem. It was still there when the city was conquered by “Vandals” in 455 AD and its fate is unknown? While it may have been melted down or broken into chunks of gold by the conquerors, it has been variously claimed that it was destroyed in a fire, that it was taken to Carthage, and then to the Eastern Capitol of Rome at Constantinople …or that it sank in a shipwreck.
Another persistent rumour is that the Vatican has kept it hidden for centuries. Some claim that it has been kept in Vatican City, others that it is in the cellars of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran. Most likely, the Menorah was looted by the Vandals in the sacking of Rome in 455 AD, and taken to their capital, Carthage. The Byzantine army under General Belisarius might have removed it in 533 AD and brought it to Constantinople (now Istanbul – Turkey). According to Procopius, it was carried through the streets of Constantinople during “Belisarius”' triumphal procession! Procopius adds that the object was later sent back to Jerusalem where there is NO record of it. It could have been destroyed when Jerusalem was pillaged by the Persians in 614 AD.
Ancient buildings and Archaeological findings in Israel have the symbol of the Menorah appearing time-after-time again… For millennia, it was the symbol of the people of Israel, long before the Star of David. But, historians don’t really know why this symbol of the Menorah - rather than any other? Perhaps the New Covenant has some answers? The Menorah has always been God’s idea! It first appears in Exodus as God instructs them how to make it: “You are to make a menorah of pure gold. It is to be made of hammered work; its base, shaft, cups, ring of outer leaves and petals are to be of one piece with it. It is to have six branches extending from its sides, three branches of the menorah on one side of it and three on the other. On one branch are to be three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a ring of outer leaves and petals; likewise on the opposite branch three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a ring of outer leaves and petals; and similarly for all six branches extending from the menorah… Make seven lamps for the menorah, and mount them so as to give light to the space in front of it.” - Exodus 25:31-37. When we see the clear instructions that God gives to Moses on how precisely to build the Menorah, we are struck by the incredible amount of detail involved! Every tiny detail has been considered to perfection! It might seem strange to our ears sometimes, but if we are willing to “seek diligently” as the two central words of the Torah (The first 5 Books of the Bible) say, then we can find some wonderful truths hidden in God’s law.
The book of Hebrews gives us some help on our quest, reminding us that all the items God told Moses to make was to serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” “…For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, the Messiah has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” - Hebrews 8:5-6. By studying the tabernacle (tent) with all its details, we can learn about heavenly things. They are a “shadow and a pattern” of what was to come in the Messiah - Yeshua (Jesus). But, let’s look at the original lampstand commissioned by God. Solid gold, with 7 stands but made of 1 piece, and adorned with “almond blossoms!”
The Menorah and the 7 Spirits of God… are mentioned in Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; and 5:6 and are not specifically identified. We read in Revelation 1:4 that the 7 spirits are before God's throne! Revelation 3:1; “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, these things say He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Yeshua - Jesus Christ “holds” the seven spirits of God. Revelation 4:5: “And from the throne proceeded lightning’s, thundering’s, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Here we see the Scripture to the 7 spirits of God with 7 burning lamps (Menorah’s) that are before God’s throne. Revelation 5:6: “And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” identifies the 7 spirits with the “7 eyes” of the Lamb …and states that they are “sent out into all the earth.” From these scriptures we see that Yeshua (Jesus) had or held these 7 spirits, which are “the eyes of the Lord,” and are represented by the 7 lamps (lamp-stands) of fire. This concept is also spoken of by the Prophet Zechariah in; Zechariah 4:2-10. We also read in Isaiah 11:2-3 that Including the Spirit of the Lord, and the Spirits of; wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and of fear of the LORD here are represented the 7 Spirits, which are before the Throne of God!
So why should Christians embrace the Menorah? The Menorah was God’s road map to Yeshua (Jesus); It laid out His birth, death, burial, resurrection, and soon return and the promise that God will Tabernacle with us on the coming Great Feast Day of celebration. We are not alone - God is with us! “Speak to the Israelites and say to them; ‘These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.’” - Leviticus 23:4.
What is the difference between the 7 Candle Menorah and the 9 Candle Menorah? The 7 branch candelabra is a Menorah which was used in the Holy Temple of God and is still represented throughout the year. The 9 branch candelabra is symbolic of the Menorah ...but adds a pair of branches for the 8 nights of Hanukkah (Chanukah) plus the tall candle called “the Shamash” in the middle. The 9 branch Menorah is called a “Chanukiah” because it is used to celebrate “the miracle of Hanukkah.” In 167 BC the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offence punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods! Then in 168 BC the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the pagan god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of retaliation. However, Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, and then eat the flesh of a pig, both practices that are forbidden to Jews. Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them and eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees and they were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s Menorah for 8 days …but, to their dismay, they discovered that there was only 1 days’ worth of oil left in the Temple! They lit the Menorah anyway …and, to their surprise, the small amount of oil lasted miraculously for the full 8 days!
The True Light of the World… First of all, the light given by the massive Menorah in the dark tent (Tabernacle) would have been a powerful symbol of God’s light and holiness in our dark and sinful world. Jewish tradition holds that it reminds the people of Israel that they are also called to be His - “Light to the nations,” …as God prescribed in Isaiah 42:6. Gently spreading light without force - “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD” - Zechariah 4:6 …when the prophet asks about the Menorah. It’s a symbol of bringing God’s glory, truth, and light into the world. And His people are called to be His representatives in bringing that light too. Yeshua (Jesus) teaches us in Matthew 5 …that we too are called to be that light to the world; “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The light is a witness to and of God. In John 8, we see Yeshua speaking in the Temple, declaring; “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The Pharisees challenged Him and in Verse 20 tells us that; “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put.” Yeshua was standing close to the huge Temple Menorah, declaring Himself to be “that ultimate light and witness,” as indeed He is. The Menorah was a shadow of the Coming Messiah and His chosen witnesses to the world - the body of believers.
What are the seven branches? As we know, the number 7 is God’s number of completion - but despite the plurality of lamps, it is made of 1 ‘piece’ … 7 in 1 just like a rainbow, or a week. We know that it is to represent the presence of God among in the midst of them, and in Revelation we also see the “lampstands” representing the Spirit’s presence in the Churches to whom John writes the messages from Yeshua (Jesus). There are 7 Churches listed, but only 1 bride of Yeshua. The other aspect of the 7 branches design is that it resembles a tree! In Jewish tradition, the Menorah is reminiscent of the “Tree of Life” from the Creation story. The similarity in appearance between the Menorah and “a tree” is neither coincidental, nor is it the product of artistic license. The shape of the Menorah with branches extending from its central stem is clearly patterned after “a tree.” The Jewish people have long believed that the Menorah originally represented “the tree of life!” The lampstand is clearly a symbol of God’s Word, which was David’s… “Lamp unto my feet” - Psalm 119:105. The “tree of life” is also identified with the Torah, the wisdom of God’s Word. Solomon declared that wisdom is a - “tree of life” - Proverbs 3:18. In the Apocalypse, God says that they who do His Commandments (Torah)…”have a right “to the tree of life” - Revelation 22:14. Even without its flames of fire, then, the Menorah contains supreme meaning, a message of God’s life-giving force and of the divine foundation of all existence!
The blending of “tree” and “fire” design is clearly seen during the burning bush that initiated the process which established God’s Chosen People. Moses was called and commissioned by God Himself in divine words spoken from a bush that was burning, but not consumed (Exodus 3:2) and this was a earliest manifestation of the Menorah’s rich symbolism to the prophet who would later liberate Israel. God who “dwelt in the bush” (Deuteronomy 33:16) was first manifest to Moses through this flaming bush. From the fire of the Shekinah came the Word of God. The Menorah likewise appears as a “golden tree” from which the fire is manifest …that brings both light and life through God’s Word.
The Menorah also speaks of Eternal Life through the Resurrection… In compliance with God’s “Divine Law,” the pure oil used for the Menorah light was exclusively from the “olive tree” and was considered “the olive tree” to be Eternal …a tree that never died! Therefore, they regarded the “olive tree” as a symbol of enduring life. Olive trees presently exist that are more than 2,000 years old in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Even when the trunk of an olive tree is cut down, new life springs forth from its roots in the form of a “netzer” - a shoot. This is, no doubt, what Job observed… “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail …At the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant” - Job 14:7. In what is likely the oldest of Biblical Scriptures, Job used the imagery of the “olive tree” to express his personal hope of the resurrection (Job 14:14-15, 19:25). We can see from the New Testament in the book of Revelation that the tree is equated with Eternal Life. Adam and Eve were banished from it and Revelation 22 tells us that those with clean robes have the right to eat from it. Thus, the Menorah speaks of Eternal Life with God for His bride, made available to us all, only through the blood of the Messiah. Yeshua said; “I am the true vine, you are the branches….” John 15. Yeshua is the tree, and only in Him can we live spiritually and produce fruit.
Why the Almond blossom? And, why almond blossoms on the Menorah? Every detail is significant with God, and no word is wasted. Almond trees are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible in significant ways! The first time was when Aaron’s priestly authority was questioned, and His staff budded, bloomed and produced fruit overnight as validation from God! The second is when God shows Jeremiah an almond branch in a vision. God uses a Hebrew word-play, as the word for “almond” (“shaked”) is also root of the word “to be diligent” and “hard-working,” because the almond tree blooms and produces fruit before any other tree in the middle of winter! It is also a metaphor for “haste” and determined work. God assures Jeremiah that He is diligently watching over His Word to fulfil it! (Jeremiah 1:12) The almond blossoms are a symbol of God’s determination to carry out His plans.
In Zechariah 4, we see the prophet bewildered by a vision of a Menorah with two olive trees either side, providing oil for the lamps. Again, if we turn to the New Testament to look for two olive trees, we hear Paul describing Jews and Gentiles in Romans 11 as two olive trees; the wild Gentile tree being grafted into the cultivated Jewish tree, through Yeshua (Jesus) - The two become one in Him (Ephesians 2:13-22). The items in the desert Tabernacle spoke of what was to come in the New Covenant …one bride of Messiah: Jew and Gentile called together, brought purified and clean before God to dwell with Him. What a powerful symbol, and what riches are spoken by the God-designed Menorah. How wonderful it is to have been brought into the New Covenant, and that we can see the fulfilment in Yeshua, the One to whom the Menorah points.
We most sincerely believe that God WILL bless you for your faithfulness and love for His Land and chosen people. God’s Word is true! He is watching to see how the nations are treating His people. God will have mercy on Israel through Gentile believers acting as mediators towards them. This is one of the most amazing revelations ever given to the church – an opportunity to do something that carries the highest priority in the heart of God. Yet, sadly, so few have seen the potential and the rewards of serving God in this manner - as agents of mercy to Israel and the Jewish people! Israel was and still is despised today and a despised nation continually turning away from God BUT nothing ever altered the purpose of God for that nation. The despised element is always a noticeable element in the purpose of God. When the Saviour of the world came, He came of that despised nation; like Israel… He Himself was “despised and rejected by men,” …and there is that despised element; “…things that are despised God has chosen,” 1 Corinthians 1:28. Now, more than at any time is the time to support Israel and the Jewish people - the Lord’s Brethren! We are witnessing the nations and people turning their backs on Israel. Thank you once again for your prayers and generous support!
We hope that you enjoy and become more informed by our work. We serve an awesome God and we are humbled by this opportunity to bring you this information. With Shalom to you and your family always,
Alf & Julie Saunders
01st February, 2019
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