Sunday, June 04, 2006


Recently I tried to define what The Star of David is not. Today I'll try to define what it is:

The Star of David has a shape, a meaning and a name:

1. Meaning: The Star of David is a symbol, an emblem, a logo of Judaism and Zionism.

2. Shape: The Star of David is a shape, a hexagram, a six-pointed star formed by two equilateral triangles which have the same center and are placed in opposite directions. It can be: (a) two dimensional or (b) three dimensional like perforation, or engraving or (c) three dimensional created by two interlocking tetrahedrons.

3. Name: The Star of David is the Shield of David, which refers to the Lord, who is also the Shield of Abram. The same name serves both the Jewish and the Christian Stars of David and there's a need for disambiguation.

4. Product: The Star of David is a product in the shape of a six-pointed star, such as necklace, earring, lampshade etc.

Trying to define the Star of David by its shape alone is not enough - even though the Star of David is a hexagram not every hexagram is a Star of David. This is a source of confusion for many people who see it on Indian temples, or as sheriffs' badges, or as Chinese checkers etc.

Trying to define it by the name alone is not enough since it has other meanings that are not necessarily connected to the shape.

Trying to define it as a product alone is not enough since there are non- Jewish products in the same shape.

So my definition is: The Star of David is the name of a two or three dimensional six-pointed star which is the emblem of Judaism and Zionism.


zeevveez said...

M. Costa observed that there is no "right way" to draw a Star of David: The upper triangle can become the lower one and vise versa; the triangles may be intertwined in more than one way; there can be only the outer contour. Costa brings S. Levy's opinion from "The Jewish annual volume 11, 1948, that the intertwined version is more Jewish than the "one on top of the other" version because it strengthens the idea of the unity of the opposites. ["Hatakh ha-zahav, hotam Shelomoh u-magen-David", Poalim, 1990 Hebrew, pp. 153]

To sum up the problem of the definition of the Star of David we may say that although there are many shapes meanings and names for this symbol as long as the name relates to one of these shapes and as long the meaning is Jewish and as long the name the meaning and the shape appear together - we are talking about the Jewish Star of David.

zeevveez said...

M. Costa also wrote in his book [pp. 157] that "In the period 1300-1700 the hexagram and the pentagram were referred to as Solomon's Seal in the writings of different Kabalists from Jewish and from none Jewish sources".
M. Costa adds [on pp. 174] that the book "the Aleph Beth of Matatron" mentions another King David's shield which was not yet connected with the six-pointed star; the name of the Lord of 72 letters was engraved on it along with the verse from Exodus 15:11 "Who [is] like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who [is] like thee, glorious in holiness" (acronyms: four Hebrew letters of Maccabi). It served as an amulet against demons. Tradition has it that this shield passed from King David to Yehuda the Hammer. By the twelfth century, the name Magen David was attributed to different amulets of Matatron and not to the six pointed star.