Menorah – Ancient Model of the World

The Menorah is a symbol of light, faith, and hope. Its mission is to preserve faith in justice. In Judaism, the Menorah symbolizes: divine light, wisdom, protection, rebirth, life, continuity, and miracle.

The ideas of the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as well as the eight-pointed star, are consonant and invariant to the idea of the Jewish menorah.

The Menorah (Heb. Menorah, lit. “lamp”) is a golden seven-branch lamp (seven-candlestick). The Menorah had seven branches, ending with seven lamps, ornamented in the form of golden flowers.

The seven-point candlestick, according to the authors, implements and develops the idea of the ancient Armenian eight-point cross figure. At present, the MENORAH (along with the Magen David) is the most common national and religious Jewish emblem.

It serves as the main element of the emblem of the State of Israel. However, in Israel, they could not find the prototype of the Menorah, which according to the biblical text was made according to the model shown on the mountain (that is, according to the cave drawing). “…So see, and make them according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain”. (Ex. 25:31-40).

Its image was adopted by the Jews, who made the lamp out of gold. Therefore, before the appearance of the technology of gold smelting by the ancient Jews, the archaic prototype of the image was not used by them, it did not enter the religious tradition.

According to archaeologists’ assumption, the beginning of systematic mining was laid in the Middle East, from where gold ornaments were supplied, in particular, to Egypt. In Egypt, in the tomb of Queen Zer and one of the queens Pu-abi Ur in the Sumerian civilization, the first gold ornaments were found, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.

Traces of the development of metallurgy can be traced in many past cultures and civilizations of the Middle and Near East, ancient Egypt, the Armenian highlands and Ararat – Armenia, and so on.

Latin “aurum” means “yellow” and is related to “Aurora” – the dawn (sunrise or Vahagn and the appearance of the morning star Venus or Asthik according to the Armenian tradition). “Gold” Sanskrit hiranyam, Avestan zaranya, Ossetic zærījnæ, also Sanskrit hari “yellow, golden, greenish”, in Armenian “zard” decoration, “zardonk” awakening, “zardavest” ornamental art.

According to the apocalyptic vision of St. John the Theologian: “…and turning around, I saw seven golden lampstands and, among the seven lampstands, one like the Son of Man… He held seven stars in His right hand…

The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands is this: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” – Rev. 1:12-20. “…and seven lampstands of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God…” – Rev. 4:5.

This story reminds us of the birth of the fiery-eyed Vahagn – the Son of Man, who as a symbol of the cross is implemented in the image of the lamp (eight-pointed star). The cross is the key that reveals the mystery of the seven stars.

The ancient model of the world included seven heavens, consisting of seven planets and seven spheres. The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria adhered to a similar model and asserted that the seven planets are the highest celestial objects perceptible to our senses, that the gold of the Menorah and the light of the Menorah symbolize Divine Light or Logos (Word), cf. with Armenian words ban, van, vank, avan, ivand. The Armenian Vahagn is the Divine Light or Logos (Word).

“The lampstand, consisting of seventy constituent parts, recalls the signs through which the planets pass, and the seven lights on it indicate the course of the planets, of which there are also seven.” The branches of the Menorah resemble a tree and thus symbolize the Tree of Life.

Fig. 25. Cave drawing of the tree of life motif, the prototype of the Menorah (a), Armenia. The figure of the deity – the tree of life (b), 2nd millennium BC, GMI, discovered during excavations at Karmir Blur, Sardarapat Museum. Example of a stone idol, Erebuni Museum (b), Armenia. Symbol of the Trinity (trident – headless body of the Son of Man with raised hands) – a sign of royal power in the form of the tree of life (c). Inscriptions in Aramaic. Border stone from Armenia (d). The motif of the tree of life with the image of the sun and plant elements – the analogue of the eight-pointed cross (e), Urartu, 11-7 centuries BC. Coin (Matityahu) of Antigonus II, the last king of Judea (f) from the Hasmonean dynasty (37 BC).

Fig. 26. Fragment of a cave painting (a), Armenia. Vahagn and Astghik sit on thrones by the tree of life, the prototype of the Menorah (b), Museum of Civilizations of the Armenian Highlands (Anatolian Civilizations Museum). The Tree of Life, Menorah, Cross, St. Echmiadzin, Armenia. Menorah (c, d), Israel.

Starting from the 2nd century, the menorah becomes a recognizable symbol of Judaism. In Judaism, as in Christianity, a special significance is given to candles, as it is said: “The human soul is the lamp of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27).

The Menorah was the only item of temple utensils that was made from a single piece of gold. For a long time, scholars doubted that the description of the Menorah belongs to no earlier than the 5th or 4th centuries BC. The ancient origin of the menorah is not disputed.

Assyrian seals depicting a lamp with seven branches were found in Cappadocia. Seven-branched lamps were found in excavations of ancient sanctuaries in Syria and Canaan, (mainly in layers dating back to the 18th-15th centuries BC), and also in Armenia, in Metsamor, 5-4 thousand BC. However, these were clay lamps with seven recesses for wicks, or with seven cups.

Candles are used in religious ceremonies of various beliefs. Their use dates back to an ancient form of pagan worldview, expressed in respectful relation to fire, the sun. “Church candles – an attribute of worship, dating back to ancient ideas about the purifying power of fire” (Christianity: Dictionary / Ed. L. N. Mitrokhin. M., 1994. p. 411).

Candles are used to express worship to God, as a symbol of divine light. “Traditionally, borrowed from the pagans, icons were adorned with flowers and lamps were lit before them, in Greek – lampads” (Kuzishchin V. I. History of Ancient Rome. M.: Higher School, 1993. p. 273). Initially, two candles were lit in the altars of ancient Christian churches as a symbol of the two natures in Christ. Gradually, when forming the altar in the likeness of the Tabernacle, a seven-branched lampstand, similar to the Menorah, began to be placed on the altar.

© Vaganyan G.A., Vaganyan V.G., 2013 Source:

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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