Thursday, July 27, 2006

Captivating Light

Captivating Light Magen David
Photo courtesy of Lisa Carmichael from Pbase who wrote to me:
The star is actually a window in the sanctuary of a synagogue in Los Angeles. They are a client of mine, and one day while I was waiting for meeting to begin I wandered around with my camera, looking for things to shoot. The light coming through the colored paines of glass was captivating - really beautiful. I am Christian, and really appreciate any heartfelt expression of one's faith, which is what this Star of David represented to me.


What Star of David?

David Landau wrote in 1995 an article titled: Ancient Synagogues in the Holy Land - What Synagogues?
In this article he claimed that some of what archeologists call "Ancient Synagogues in the Holy Land" are in fact Roman temples built by Maximinus Daia (305-313 C.E.) in order to fight the rising Christian religion, and not Jewish Synagogues.
Since he wrote his article 11 years ago I sent him an E-mail asking if he still believes in his theory or did he change his mind with the time that passed since he brought it up? His answer was:
Yes, I still believe that those ancient buildings weren't synagogues
If David Landau's theory is right the meaning from my point of view is that the "first" Jewish Star of David, which was found in Capernaum was not Jewish!

The Name of the Star

Philologos discusses why the same symbol is called a Shield of David in Hebrew and a Star of David in English and arrives to the conclusion that
The earliest recorded Jewish name for it is hotam Shelomo or seal of Solomon, a term that entered Hebrew and many European languages as a translation of the Arabic khatam Suleyman… Moreover, the Arabs called another of Solomon's seals najmat Da'ud or the Star of David, and eventually, taken over by Christian Europe, these two terms became differentiated, with seal of Solomon referring to a five-pointed pentagon and star of David to a six-pointed hexagon.

Uri Ofir suggested in his research about The Jewish Origin of the Star of David that the source for this "odd" translation is in the commentaries of Rashi and Iben Ezra. Rashi and Iben Ezra wrote that Bilam's prediction ["There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel" (Numbers 24:17)] is about King David. These two commentators were so influential that every Jew knew that there is a strong connection between the concept of the Star and the concept of David. No wonder that when translators dealt with these materials they unanimously decided on the same ("odd") translation.