Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Mystery of the Menorah
The Menorah -- the seven-lamped lampstand that lit up the Temple of the Most High God -- has been the most common symbol of the Jews for centuries. Long after the destruction of the Temple, it remains an amazing symbol that lives on. What is its true meaning? What relevance does it have for us today?
by HOIM Staff
Archaeologists have discovered the menorah shape embedded in ancient mosaic tiled floors in ancient Israel. It has been found in the decoration of ancient pottery, jewelry, and artifacts, and engravings of menorahs have been found in Jewish catacombs and tombstones in the Middle East and Europe.
In terms of its popularity, it overshadows the Altar, Table of the Showbread, Laver, and to some degree perhaps even the Ark of the covenant, as a symbol of Jewish religious motif and as a symbol of Judaism.
Just what was the Menorah, and what did it symbolize? What was its unique structure, and what spiritual lessons can and ought we learn from it?
Mystery of mysteries! There is much more astonishing and profound significance to the Menorah than most people have ever thought! It has a very rich and deep meaning for every true servant of the living GOD!
The Sign of the Menorah
The original Menorah in the Sanctuary of YEHOVAH God, and then placed in the Temple of YEHOVAH God at Jerusalem, was not just an ordinary lampstand with seven lamps. It was not just an ornate lampstand. It was not just a utilitarian source of light inside the dark interior of the Temple.
We read in the Torah, the original instructions YEHOVAH God gave concerning the design of the Menorah for His Sanctuary. YEHOVAH declared to Moses:
"You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work...Its shafts, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side. Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower -- and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand.
"On the lampstand itself four bowls shall be made like almond blossoms, each with its ornamental knob and flower. And there shall be a knob under the first two branches of the same, a knob under the second two branches of the same, and a knob under the third two branches of the same, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.
"Their knobs and their branches shall be of one piece; all of it shall be of one hammered piece of pure gold.
"You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.
"And its wick-trimmers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain" (Exodus 25:31-40, NKJV)
Notice that the whole lampstand was made of a "single hammered piece of pure gold" (verse 36, Tanakh). Notice also that all of the Menorah lamps were to be arranged so as to "give light in front of it." What does this mean? This meant that all the six lamps should face inward, toward the center lamp. But this arrangement is contrary to the normal method of diffusing the light in as wide an area as possible. What this arrangement does is to concentrate the light, toward the center, thus making the whole shine more as one single large unified light.
What does this arrangement tell us? First of all, it shows us that the Menorah was not designed merely to broadcast the light over as large a space as practical. Its unique structure caused it to concentrate its light, as from a single source, with all the candles or lamps shining forth together as one. This tells us that the Menorah's unique structure was more designed for a spiritual purpose than for a physical or practical purpose.
A New Look at the Menorah
The Menorah is referred to as a "lampstand" (NKJV) and is literally a "lamp bearer." It had seven branches, shaped like reeds or canes, three on each side with one in the middle. The branches terminated in knobs (protuberances), flowers (Septuagint, "lilies"), and bowls. It was of beaten work, heavy, solid, and hammered out of one piece. Yet it was also turned work, hollow within, rounded, from another sense of the verb.
Josephus says of the Menorah:
"Over against this table [for the Showbread], near the southern wall, was set a candlestick [correctly, lampstand] of cast gold, hollow within, being of the weight of one hundred pounds, which the Hebrews call Chinchares; if it be turned into the Greek language, it denotes a talent. It was made with its knops, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls (which ornaments amounted to seventy in all) by which means the shaft elevated itself on high from a single base, and spread itself into as many branches as there are planets, including the sun among them. It terminated in seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps..." (Josephus, Ant., III,6,7).
The light of the Menorah was derived from pure almond oil .
Another Menorah Described
Another description of a Menorah is found in the book of Zechariah. The prophet Zechariah tells us of the Menorah:
"The angel who talked with me came back and woke me as a man is wakened from sleep. He said to me, 'What do you see?' And I answered, 'I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl above it. The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes; and by it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl, and one on its left.' I, in turn, asked the angel who talked with me, 'What do those things mean, my lord?' 'Do you not know what those things mean?' asked the angel who talked with me; and I said, 'No, my lord.' Then he explained to me as follows:
"'This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit -- said the LORD of Hosts. Whoever you are, O great mountain in the path of Zerubbabel, turn into level ground! For he shall produce that excellent stone; it shall be greeted with shouts of "Beautiful, Beautiful!"'
"And the word of the LORD came to me: Zerubbabel's hands have founded this House, and Zerubbabel's hands shall complete it. Then you shall know that it was the LORD of Hosts who sent me to you. Does anyone scorn a day of small beginnings? When they see the stone of distinction in the hand of Zerubbabel, they shall rejoice.
"Those seven are the eyes of the LORD, ranging over the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:1-10, Tanakh).
This golden Menorah had a "bowl upon the top of it." The Hebrew implies that this bowl was the fountain of supply of oil to the Menorah's lamps. It was "upon the top," in a position of control, command, authority. It supplies the oil -- a type of YEHOVAH's holy spirit -- to all the branches and lamps. This no doubt represents Yeshua -- the Messiah -- the "Anointed One" of YEHOVAH God.
In this Menorah, there are "seven pipes to the seven lamps?" (verse 2, KJV). Says the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Critical-Experimental Commentary, this refers to seven pipes supplying oil to each of the seven lamps -- or 49 pipes in all! Seven times seven -- perfection squared -- equals ultimate perfection. These lamps are given the ultimate perfection or completion of oil -- YEHOVAH's spirit -- from the source, the Messiah!
Says the commentary:
"and seven pipes to the seven lamps -- feeding tubes, seven a-piece from the 'bowl' to each lamp...lit., seven and seven: forty nine in all. The greater the number of oil-feeding pipes the brighter the light of the lamps. The explanation in verse 6 is, that man's power by itself can neither retard nor advance God's work, that the real motive power is God's Spirit. The seven times seven imply the manifold modes by which the Spirit's grace is imparted to the Church in her manifold work of enlightening the world. The seven pipes here answer to 'the seven eyes of Jehovah' in the vision (ch. 3:9). The seven-fold supply of oil implies the full and perfect supply of the Holy Spirit granted to Zerubbabel (the representative of the Jewish Church) enabling him to overcome all obstacles: so that as his 'hands laid the foundation of the house,' so 'his hands should also finish' (ch. 4:9). Messiah alone, the antitype to Zerubbabel, has the Spirit in infinite fullness; 'for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him' (John 3:34)" (volume 2, page 671).
The 49 pipes to each lamp, or 7 pipes to each individual lamp, shows that each lamp receives a complete or "perfect" supply of YEHOVAH's holy oil -- a type of His holy spirit, the Ruach ha Kodesh. These remind us of the 7 weeks during which we are commanded to "count the omer" -- from Passover to the end of "seven Sabbaths complete"  (Leviticus 23:15-16; Deuteronomy 16:9-10). As each of these seven weeks represents stages in our purification and putting off the sins of Egypt, and overcoming sin and corruption, and each day represents our step-by-step purification and cleansing process, till we reach consummate and total "perfection" prior to meeting YEHOVAH God at the end of an additional 50 days, so these seven times seven (49) funnels for the holy spirit energizing us and activating us, burns out the dross and impurities, and allows us to shine forth brightly and powerfully with a pure and unadulterated "light" from our lamp! We are to be like the prophet John the Baptist, of whom Yeshua declared, "He was a burning and a shining light" (John 5:35).
What is the lesson of this Menorah in Zechariah? As Yeshua said: "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27). And as he also said: "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23, NKJV). The Messiah also declared: "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:22-24).
How much of YEHOVAH's holy spirit do you have coursing through you? Yeshua said it is up to us! He declared: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13).
Thus YEHOVAH God does not limit us, in our efforts and ability to serve Him; He supplies all we could ever need. We limit ourselves in our service to Him! If we fail, the fault is not in YEHOVAH God, but in ourselves, and we have no one to blame but ourselves! As the apostle Paul wrote so eloquently and plainly: "But my God shall supply ALL YOUR NEED according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
What do the seven lamps represent, that shine forth their light as if they were one? The prophet Zechariah identifies them as "the eyes of the LORD, ranging over the whole earth" (Zechariah 4:10). Who are these "eyes" that range throughout the earth -- that is, that "see" for Him, His representatives, His agents, that scour the earth and report back to Him? But what -- or who -- are they?
Notice a similar passage in Revelation. We read, "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" (Revelation 5:6).
These "seven eyes" belong to the Lamb of YEHOVAH God -- Yeshua the Messiah (compare John 1:29, 36; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). They are given to the servants of the Messiah -- the ones who possess his Father's holy spirit -- the seven manifestations or aspects of YEHOVAH's holy spirit, given to His true followers (see also Romans 8:9-10). Just who are these servants of the Lamb?
Identity of the Seven Lampstands
The answer is found in the New Testament, the "Brit Hadassah," in the final book of the Bible -- the book of Revelation. Notice! The apostle John wrote:
"Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands, One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band...And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore...The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels [Greek, "messengers"] of the seven churches, AND THE SEVEN LAMPSTANDS ARE THE SEVEN CHURCHES" (Revelation 1:12-20, NKJV).
John goes on to describe the "seven churches" of the book of Revelation, to which Yeshua the Messiah -- wrote a letter -- seven letters, one to each ecclesia (chapters 2-3). Each one of these "lampstands" or churches represents A BRANCH of the true church or ecclesia -- "called out ones" -- of YEHOVAH God. As a whole, they represent the totality of the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, from the days of the apostles down to our age, today. They represent "seven branches," indicating "completion" of the entire Ecclesia which the Messiah said he would build (Matthew 16:18), and which would never perish! These "seven" then constitute the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).
These churches are YEHOVAH's "messengers" to the nations of Israel, bearing witness to the truth of YEHOVAH God. They are truly converted, dedicated, and spirit-filled Christian-Israelites, obedient believers in the Messiah (Ephesians 1:22-23; Romans 8:9-10; Galatians 4:19).
The "menorah" of YEHOVAH God then, represents YEHOVAH's spirit-filled Israelite children on this earth -- those who burn with His divine fire! Those who represent His truth, His Word, on the earth! They range "to and fro" as His eyes in the earth!
Notice! Yeshua the Messiah declared to his true disciples, words that indicate our true calling as the "Menorah" of YEHOVAH God, shining forth to the world. He declared to them:
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
Yeshua himself acknowledged, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).
In another place, he said, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light" (John 12:35-36).
As the "light of the world [of Israel]," Yeshua brought the TRUTH of YEHOVAH God to YEHOVAH's people Israel -- he spoke as the direct messenger of the Father. His words were the Father's words. He himself said, "My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me" (John 7:16). He also declared, "For I have come down from heaven , not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38). Further, He declared: "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28).
Yeshua asserted, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). But now that he has arisen to heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, it is the ECCLESIA -- those who truly belong to his "called out ones" -- his "little flock" (Luke 12:32) -- who are now carrying on as his "light of the world," allowing him to shine forth in themselves, doing the same righteous works and deeds that he did, obeying YEHOVAH's laws and commandments, and doing those things pleasing in His sight (1 John 5:3, 3:22; 1 John 2:6; Galatians 2:20).
The Ecclesia, as a whole, now IS -- by definition -- the "body of Christ" on this earth. The apostle Paul wrote: "For we, though many, are ONE BREAD AND ONE BODY; for we all partake of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17). Paul also wrote: "I, therefore, the prisoner of the lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE BODY and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:1-6).
The Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, then, is YEHOVAH's "Menorah" -- His seven-branched lampstand -- in the earth. As such, He commands us, as Paul wrote:
"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining [margin, grumbling] and disputing [margin, arguing], that you may become blameless and harmless [margin, innocent], children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights [God's menorah] in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain" (Philippians 2:12-16).
What kind of light are you? How much are you shining forth quietly in good works?
The Meaning of the Menorah
The Menorah then is a symbol expressing the unique relationship between YEHOVAH God and His people, spiritual Israel. The flame of the Menorah expresses our flaming desire to rise up and to become one with YEHOVAH God and Yeshua, His Messiah. It expresses our calling to become a BEACON -- a shining light -- to the world around us. Thus we are like the powerful light of a "Light House," on a rocky cliff or island, shining in every direction, to help guide ships at sea, and to warn them of danger.
The Menorah is expressive of YEHOVAH's divine light. It is symbolic of the Law, or Torah, of YEHOVAH God, in its complete -- seven -- branched fulfillment!
The menorah expresses the fullness of the light that is in the Messiah. Since we of Israel are also members of his spiritual body (see 2 Corinthians 12:12-27), we also express his light shining through and from us. The Messiah himself is the full and perfect expression of the Word of YEHOVAH God -- the Torah, Teaching, and Law of YEHOVAH God -- all in One. We, also, therefore, are to become the same -- the divine expression of YEHOVAH's Torah, Teaching, Law, and His love, which is the fulfillment of His Law (1 John 5:3).
David wrote in the Psalms, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). The Septuagint has this verse: "Thy LAW is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths." YEHOVAH's Word, and His Torah -- His LAW -- are the divine light that shines round us, protecting and guarding our way, showing us in bold relief how we ought to walk -- how we ought to LIVE -- the way of LIFE!
The Messiah is the embodiment of YEHOVAH's Torah, His divine Law, His Word -- and we are to become the very same! We also are to shine forth as he does -- with the divine light of life!
We are YEHOVAH God's Menorah in the earth!
Graphically, the Menorah expresses our commitment to uphold the Divine Light, and the Wisdom of Torah, to the nations of Israel. Its form is that of a tree growing upward, with a trunk, and three branches shooting upwards out of the central trunk. The seven branches reflect the diversity of YEHOVAH's people Israel, as a seven-branch complete continuum. They branch out in different directions, even as we all have different talents and abilities, and different duties to fulfill.
Using the analogy of the apostle Paul, inspired of YEHOVAH God, the menorah represents the "body of Christ." That body is the Ecclesia -- spiritual ISRAEL which can only come from physical ISRAEL. And, as Paul wrote:
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit...But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into ONE BODY -- whether Jews [Judahites] or Greeks [Israelites living in Greece], whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many" (1 Corinthians 12:4-14, NKJV).
Deep down, spiritually, all Israelites come from the same trunk -- the same tree -- the "Tree of Life." As we grow spiritually, and overcome sin and wickedness, and every evil impulse, we are growing into and becoming the TREE OF LIFE! We are becoming the embodiment of YEHOVAH's Torah, His Wisdom, His spiritual LAW -- His very divine character essence!
Deep down, therefore, we are becoming one and the same -- part of each other, and all of us, part of -- an extension of -- the One True GOD!
The SEVEN Sefirot of YEHOVAH God
Because there are seven branches to the Menorah, through which YEHOVAH's spirit flows from Him to us, we are immediately reminded of the "seven Spirits of God" -- that is, the seven manifestations of the spirit of YEHOVAH God to His people Israel -- the "seven sefirot of God."
The seven sefirot -- also denoted by the seven weeks of counting the Omer from Passover to the end of "seven Sabbaths complete", and the seven items in the lulav waved during the Feast of Tabernacles -- represent the seven manifestations of YEHOVAH's spirit. They are: chesed -- loving kindness; gevurah -- contained strength; tefirat -- beauty, mercy; compassion; netzach -- victory, triumph, eternity; hod -- glory, splendor; yesod -- foundational strength; malkut -- manifestation, kingdom. Each of the burning lamps on the Menorah represents one of these divine attributes, which we are to strive to build into our own character!
What is the Shape of the True Menorah?
Because of the depiction of the menorah carved in the Arch of Titus in Rome, it has been commonly believed that the shape of the menorah of the Temple was a figure with six curving arms or branches, curving out from the center stalk in an upwards fashion -- semicircular in shape.
A recent discovery seems to point toward a different shape. The Jewish commentator Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, 1135-1204), originally wrote his magnus opus -- his Mishnah commentary -- in Arabic, which was translated into standard Hebrew, and which has been studied for the past 800 years. Recently, an improved edition of Maimonides' Mishnah Torah has been published, based on newly discovered documents, including an original manuscript in Maimonides own handwriting of the "Mishna Menachot 3:7," including a diagram drawn by Maimonides of the seven-branched Menorah. The illustration shows the seven branches of the Menorah in STRAIGHT LINES -- not curved!
The ancient commentary of Rashi (1040-1105) also states: "The menorah branches descend diagonally to the center." Declared the Lubavitcher Rabbi Schneerson:
"The mistaken curved branched Menorah image may be traced to a scene on the Arch of Titus in Rome. Titus was the Roman general who had conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the second Temple, killing and exiling millions of Jews. The impressive arch was constructed to honor Titus on his conquest during his triumphal return to Rome...Depicting the scenes of the Roman victory over Judea, the engraving shows captives carrying the spoils of war, including a curved branched menorah.
"The Roman artist's fanciful rendering and stylistic changes are no proof of accuracy. His model could have been one of the other additional candelabras stationed outside in the Temple courtyard, rather than the one and only Menorah inside that was originally fashioned by Moses with Divine direction and assistance. It is certainly proper that we follow the depiction of the Menorah according to our Torah sages, rather than the non-Jewish Arch of Titus designer" (quoted from "The Menorah from a New Angle," Chabad Holiday Times, Nov.'99/Kislev 5760).
However, that theory is now facing a challenge in the form of a new book published by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem's Old City. The book, titled A Menorah of Pure Gold, pulls the scholarly rug out from under Maimonides' differently shaped lampstand. Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the head of the Temple Institute and the author of the book, supports the curved-branch depiction of the Menorah. He states that Maimonides' manuscript shows only a rough sketch and that Maimonides himself explains this in the text near the drawing.
The new book presents dozens of early drawings of the Temple Menorah discovered in archaeological excavations around the world from the Second Temple period and thereafter -- in all of which the Menorah has CURVED BRANCHES rather than straight ones. According to the research, menorahs with curved branches were used even in Maimonides' own synagogue in Cairo. A contemporary photograph of this synagogue (the Ben Ezra) shows two menorahs standing before either side of the Ark of the Torah, both having curved branches.
During the restoration of the synagogue in the 1890s a geniza (a repository of Hebrew books and documents) was discovered in the attic, which contained a grade school Hebrew primer first made some 100 years before Maimonides' time but still in use during Maimonides' years in Cairo. The opening page of the primer shows, on the left, the Hebrew aleph-beit, and on the right, a very clear depiction of a curved-branched menorah.
Among the ancient drawings of menorahs with curved branches that appear in Ariel's book is one from the Herodian Mansions beneath the Wohl Torah Center in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, a drawing of a menorah in a catacomb of Beit She'arim, the burial place of Mishna compiler Rabbi Judah Hanasi, and others.
Archaeology has presented us with an indisputable history of curved-branched menorahs. A bronze Lepton coin from the reign of Hasmonean king Mattathias Antigonus of Judea (40-37 B.C.) bears a curved-branch menorah.
The Temple Menorah appears in a fragment of a first-century graffito etched in plaster and found in excavations in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter. It is one of the earliest depictions of the Menorah that illuminated the Temple and it shows curved branches. An engraved stone with an early depiction of a curved-branch menorah was discovered in the central hall of the Magdala synagogue -- which dates to the first-century A.D. or earlier. This stone probably served as a table on which Torah scrolls were rolled out on.
As they huddled in the cistern of their Nahal Mikhmas cave, in a last ditch effort to hide from Roman soldiers, Judahite refugees from the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132-135 A.D.) drew messages in charcoal on the plastered walls, including a seven-branched menorah with curved branches that may resemble the Menorah that stood in the Temple. Judahites that fled Jerusalem after the Revolt settled in the south and created oil lamps showing the menorah, as an expression of their yearning to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. The menorahs on these lamps all have curved branches.
An early-fourth-century A.D. Roman gold glass (formed by laminating both sides of the base of a glass bowl with sheets of gold) has been recovered that bears images of seven-branched menorahs, a lulav (palm branch), an etrog (citron) and a shofar (ram's horn) -- all ritual objects used in Temple services. The menorahs all have curved branches. On a scene uncovered on the floor of a fourth-century A.D. synagogue at Hammath Tiberias on the western shore of the sea of Galilee, can be seen two menorahs flanking a gabled ark. A lulav and etrog are shown to the left of each menorah, while a shofar (sounded on Rosh Hashanah) lies below an incense shovel to the right of each menorah which, of course, both have curved branches!
On and on it goes -- archaeology has not recovered one single depiction of a straight-branched menorah! What is clear is that, whatever Maimonides' intentions were concerning his schematic sketch of the Menorah, in Cairo during his day and consistent with every other depiction of the Menorah found wherever Jews lived in the world (and throughout the centuries that preceded Maimonides) menorahs were clearly depicted with curved branches.
Ascent and Descent
The Menorah depicts both YEHOVAH's descent to His people Israel, as well as Israel's upward ascent to YEHOVAH God. The arms of the Menorah in a very real sense depict a man holding up his arms toward heaven in prayer to YEHOVAH God. This depiction can also be found in the crucifixion scene where the Messiah was nailed to a living tree , along with the two criminals who were put to death with him. Writes Peter A. Michas,
"Another pattern of the menorah emerges from the crucifixion tree: the body of Yeshua forming its central shaft, surrounded by six outstretched arms of the three as they hung on the tree. Even as Yeshua claimed to be the light of the world, the menorah represents this truth (John 8)....A parallel can be seen between the two goats [of the Day of Atonement ritual] and the two criminals who were crucified on the same tree with Yeshua. Yeshua is the eternal High Priest whose hands stretched out over the heads of the two criminals crucified as his sides, just as the High Priest held his hands over the two goats. One man turned to God in repentance; the other man refused to turn to God for forgiveness (Luke 23)..." (The Rod of An Almond Tree in God's Master Plan. WinePress Publishing, Mukilteo, WA 1997, pps. 234 and 238).
The Menorah's flames all point toward the center, giving the impression of one light -- not many individual lights.
The Menorah's dual symbolism reminds us that all good communication "goes both ways." That is, life itself -- and communication -- is a "two way street." Or, in a figure of speech, "what goes up must also come down." In other words, the Menorah expresses our desire to reach upward, to YEHOVAH God, in prayer and worship. But it also depicts YEHOVAH's desire to channel His blessings from heaven down to us, and to pour out His spirit upon us!
Some menorah diagrams show the top cups, containing the wicks, as pointing upward; but the three cups on each branch, beneath the knob, are shown pointing downward. Why is this?
Could it be that for all our effort to obey YEHOVAH God, shine forth, and strive upward to Him, He spends three times the effort -- the "three" being the number of the signature of YEHOVAH God, and "finality," "decision" -- reaching down to us, empowering us, and pouring out His spirit upon us!
We receive far more from YEHOVAH than He receives from us! We give Him a spoonful of good deeds, and He gives us a truckload of blessings in return! As the old saying goes, "You cannot out-give God!" The Menorah itself illustrates the profundity of this truth.
The Menorah's branches therefore represent a CONDUIT through which spiritual energies flow -- from us to YEHOVAH God, and more importantly, from YEHOVAH God to us -- a two-way flow -- perhaps likened to alternating current in an electrical wire, which flows back and forth -- and which gives electrical "light" to a "wired" world!
The Menorah, with its branches, directs the spiritual flow of energy -- YEHOVAH's holy spirit, which is the spirit of energy and POWER (Luke 1:35).
Examining the Menorah Closely
The Rabbis teach that the Menorah is a symbol of the Torah -- the Tree of Life. This symbolism is shown in the following method: If we count the number of Hebrew words, in the first verse of the 5 books of Moses (the "Torah"), we discover that they seem to all relate to some aspect of the Menorah.
For example: Genesis 1:1 has seven words (the "complete number," or "perfection") -- the Menorah likewise has seven branches. Exodus 1:1 has eleven words in Hebrew. Likewise, the Menorah has eleven knobs -- 7 (one on each branch, below the oil lamps), 3 (one where each of two branches attaches to the center trunk), and 1 (midway down the trunk, below the branches). Leviticus 1:1 has nine words in Hebrew -- these remind us of the nine flowers of the Menorah. Numbers 1:1 has eighteen words in Hebrew. These resonate with the fact that the Menorah was to be eighteen handbreadths in height (this dimension is found in the Talmud). Finally, Deuteronomy 1:1 has twenty-two words. Even so, the Menorah has twenty-two cups (3 on each branch, totaling 21, plus one on the middle trunk, below the branches, bring us to 22).
Do these numbers have any special significance? Everything in YEHOVAH's Word is significant! There is therefore hidden meanings in these numbers and parts of the menorah.
Notice! Seven lamps -- seven is the "perfect number." It demonstrates completion, perfection -- as the seven days in YEHOVAH's week.
Eleven knobs -- eleven is 10 + 1. Ten is the number of ordinal (numerical) perfection. It is the foundation of the decimal system. "1" is the number of YEHOVAH God, who is "One." "The LORD our God is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4). Ordinal perfection plus 1 = YEHOVAH's ordinal perfection. Since 11 is 1 more than 10, the perfect (complete) ordinal number, therefore it also represents a "new beginning" -- starting all over again, afresh! This concept ties in with "new heavens and a new earth" -- the New Creation, or the world to come, following this present (evil) world -- the coming world of YEHOVAH's Perfection (see 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-3; Isaiah 65:17-19).
Nine flowers -- the number "nine" is 3 x 3, or 3 squares. "3" is the number of decision, finality, and "God's signature." Paul besought the Messiah three times to remove the thorn in his flesh; Peter denied the Messiah three times, before the cock crowed (actually, 6 times before the rooster crowed twice!). There are three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; there are three divisions in Israel -- High Priest, Levites, and the people. Therefore, "9" -- or 3 x 3 -- denotes finality squared, or absolute finality, decision, or judgment.
Eighteen handbreadths height (three short cubits) -- the number "18" is 6 x 3. Six is the number of "Adamic man," showing the Menorah is linked to Adamic mankind. "3" is the number of judgment, finality, decisions -- the hand or signature of YEHOVAH God. The number "18" therefore shows YEHOVAH's involvement with Adamic man -- the link between YEHOVAH God and Adamic man. "Three cubits" again symbolizes decision or judgment.
The number "22" -- the 22 cups. The cups are holders of the divine oil, which transfer the "oil" of YEHOVAH's spirit upon His people Israel. Three (3) of these are on each of the seven lamp branches -- showing the total, three-fold, passing of YEHOVAH's spirit to each of the seven branches of YEHOVAH's Ecclesia. Each Ecclesia receives YEHOVAH's spirit without any limitation. It is up to each one of us as to how brightly we burn!
The 22nd cup is located down on the main stem or trunk, below the branches -- together with the 11th knob, and the final flower. Again, "22" is "21" plus "1." The number "21" is 7 x 3, which is the number of perfection, completion (7) times the number of finality, judgment (3). Thus this number is very significant. It represents total, final spiritual perfection -- complete perfection. Therefore, an additional number ("1"), represents again -- a NEW SPIRITUAL BEGINNING. This cup is located with the 11th knob, which represents a "new ORDINAL beginning." It is also located with the final flower -- the ninth flower (3 x 3), indicative of final complete judgment.
Interestingly, 22 also denotes the total letters of the Hebrew alphabet -- this represents the totality of the building blocks of "letters," or the vehicles of communication -- those elements which form the basis of "words," or "the Word."
Interestingly, also, is the fact that there are "5" knobs on the center shaft of the Menorah. The number "5" denotes the number of YEHOVAH's grace. "5" is literally "4" plus "1," and four denotes the works of YEHOVAH God, the earth, the four compass directions (North, East, South, West), whereas "1" denotes YEHOVAH God Himself. YEHOVAH, plus His works, denotes "grace" -- that is, the graciousness, goodness, kindness, and mercy of YEHOVAH God, which is evident in all His works, and manifest in all His actions. The number "5" also denotes the final "final-form" letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This then encompasses the finality -- the final form and fullness of YEHOVAH's grace.
The symbolism of the Menorah is amazing -- incredible -- indeed!
All of One Hammered Piece
Remember, the Menorah which YEHOVAH God commanded Moses to make was all of one piece of pure gold. The branches were all pulled out from the central trunk. Since the branches represent the church -- the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, then the trunk represents the source of all our light, Yeshua himself, who is the source of all our strength, spiritual power, and light. The oil of YEHOVAH's spirit must flow from him, and thence into all the seven branches, into their bowls, and give forth light -- which comes from his oil given to us -- that is, the holy spirit!
But why did YEHOVAH God command that this whole piece should be of ONE hammered out whole? Why must it be "hammered"? The King James says it must be "beaten." The Hebrew word here is #4749, miqshah, and means, "rounded work, i.e., moulded by hammering, beaten out of one piece."
The branches had to be drawn out of the center shaft by hammering. In the role of Yeshua, our Messiah, he had to undergo the "hammering" and "beating" of cruel men, including the scourging and flogging of the Roman soldiers, and the agony of being nailed to the tree on the Mount of Olives, followed by a stoning  that seriously disfigured him. He had to suffer for YEHOVAH's people Israel, and die for YEHOVAH's people Israel, to become their Savior and Redeemer.
As for the rest of Israel, the "branches," we, too, must undergo trials, tests, and suffering in this life, to qualify for our place in YEHOVAH's Kingdom -- to be part of His divine "Menorah"! As Paul said, "We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). As David wrote, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivereth him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19). David also declared: "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your Word" (Psalm 119:67).
Yeshua himself declared: "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately" (Luke 12:35-36).
He further enjoined us: "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me" -- that is, follow the Messiah -- "cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple" (verse 33).
Peter put it this way: "For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, LEAVING US AN EXAMPLE, that you should follow his steps..." (1 Peter 2:20-21, NKJV).
The Menorah was hammered out of solid gold. Yeshua the Messiah showed forth the character of solid gold. We also are to build the character of SOLID GOLD!
The Menorah, then, represents -- the Messiah -- the Living Torah -- and also the saints of Israel, from the original patriarchs, prophets, and holy men of old and all the New Testament saints and truly converted members of the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, the BODY of the Messiah, down through the ages.
Yeshua is the center shaft of the Menorah. All our light and oil comes from him, the true "Light of the world." He is the supporting shaft or trunk for all the branches. He gives us stability and upholds us. After all the lamps on the Menorah are lit, they all point inward and upward, thus fusing their light toward the center lamp, the center shaft, as all the wicks are bent toward the center. This is the meaning of the expression, "the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand" (Numbers 8:2, Tanakh).
The Hebrew word 'al, is a preposition meaning "at, about, concerning, for, from, against," (#5922), and the word paynim, meaning "the face," (plural but always used as the singular), as the part that turns, and is used in many applications, as "before," "fore," "against," "countenance, edge, for, forefront, front," etc. (#6440). Thus the seven lamps give forth light as if from the face or front of the menorah, as one blazing light, as seen at a distance.
The purpose of this was to create a combined blaze of light. This should remind us of the fact that it requires a united effort on the part of YEHOVAH's people, to shine together, in order to create the "light" that YEHOVAH God desires from us. It requires this kind of united effort to shine forth to penetrate the darkness of this evil world which lies in spiritual "darkness" (Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 2:11).
YEHOVAH God is not looking for single, solitary "lamps" who stand apart, unwilling to join with others to create a blazing light together, as the body of the Messiah. He is searching for people who are willing to abase themselves, and submit to the light of the Messiah, and his discipline, and who are willing to stick together, and stay together, and produce a combined light which will shine into the remote corners of darkness of this evil, impenetrable world -- and to expose its deeds and its wickedness by the power of the light that shines within us.
Are you a part of the Menorah of YEHOVAH's spiritual Temple? How well is your light shining? Are you receiving plenty of "oil"? Have you trimmed your wick?
 Almond oil, not olive oil was used to fuel the Menorah. See our article, Rethinking the Olive Tree.
 The Ferrar Fenton version of the Bible is one of only a few that correctly render Leviticus 23:15-16, showing that the 50 days should be added to the end of the "seven Sabbaths complete" bringing Shavuot or Pentecost to the middle of Summer. Our article, When Pentecost is Really "Fully Come" explains why Fenton is correct in his translation.
 Yeshua did not physically come down from heaven. To "come down from heaven" is Hebrew idiom for being YEHOVAH'S gift to us. James says that "every good gift comes down from heaven" and noted that true wisdom "comes down from heaven" (1:17; 3:15).
 The New Testament indicates that the Messiah was nailed to a living tree -- not the pagan cross of the Romans. For more information see our articles, The "CROSS" of the Messiah and The Messiah's Crucifixion Tree.
 To fulfill the suffering of the Messiah as outlined in the Old Testament (Tanakh), he had to also be stoned while hanging from the tree. Our article, Did STONING Cause the Messiah's Early Death? goes into detail regarding the tremendous suffering the Messiah exposed himself to on our behalf.
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