BAR 37:06, Nov/Dec 2011
Is This What the Temple Menorah Looked Like?
The menorah, a seven-branched candelabra that stood in the Temple, is the most enduring and iconic Jewish symbol. But what did it look like? In early August, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) issued a press release announcing the discovery of “an engraving of the Temple’s menorah on a stone object” in a 2,000-year-old drainage channel near the City of David, which is being excavated by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron.a (An unusually well preserved iron sword in its leather scabbard, which presumably belonged to a Roman soldier, was also found there.) The IAA release went on to say that “a passerby who saw the [Temple] menorah with his own eyes…incised his impressions on a stone.” The excavators were quoted as saying that this graffito “clarifies [that] the base of the original menorah…was apparently tripod shaped.”