Sunday, July 08, 2007
The Star of David serves nowadays as an emblem of Judaism Zionism and Israel. Its form as a six pointed star is familiar also in the name of hexagram. The hexagram served and still serves as emblem of many additional groups, such as Buddhists, Moslems, the Ethiopian royal family, the rastafarians in Jamaica, Theosofists, Alchemists…
Every Star of David is a hexagram, but not all hexagrams are stars of David. The hexagram exists in all cultures from the dawn of history. In other words, the shape of the Magen David preceded not only King David but even the formation of the Jewish nation, and it is explicitly not Jewish. In order to call a certain hexagram in the name Star of David it has to be Jewish.
The Star of David consists from (Jewish) significance, (Jewish) name, and international shape, and only when these three components appear together it is possible to call them in the name Star of David.
The name Star of David can appear apart from the shape, like for example just as a name of a prayer, or of a certain community, or of a certain synagogue, or even as a name of a person e.g. Israeli MP David Magen.
The shape can appear apart from the name. For example:
In Chinese Checkers
As a Seriff’s badge in USA
In Indian hexagram, yantra
As an Emblem of beer guild in the Middle Ages
One of the main significances of the Magen David is godly defense. But this significance can appear without connection to the form of the Magen David like in the mezuzah or in the chamsa.
There is even a theory that mentions David’s Shield without the hexagram shape:
According to other traditions, mentioned in Isaac Arama's Akedat Yizhak, the emblem of David's shield was not the image known by this name today, but Psalm 67 in the shape of the menorah. This became a widespread custom and the "menorah Psalm" was considered a talisman of great power. A booklet from the 16th century says: "King David used to bear this psalm inscribed, pictured, and engraved on his shield, in the shape of the menorah, when he went forth to battle, and he would meditate on its mystery and conquer.
The unification of the name Star of David with its shape of a hexagram happened only in the 12 century C.E., in a book titled Eshkol Hakofer by the KaraiteYehuda Hadassi who lived in Turkey or in the 14th century in a book titles Sefer Hagvul written by Maimonides’s grandson. In this stage the Star of David was a Jewish emblem but it was not an emblem of the Jewish nation. Transformation of the Magen David to symbolize the Jewish nation developed gradually during hundreds of years after this date.
A. The shape of the Star of David, the hexagram, was familiar to mankind from the beginning of history (without connection to its name).
B. The expression Star of David can be understood from Psalms, but it doesn't have there any connection to the hexagram.
C. The expression Star of David without connection to its shape appears for the first time in the Talmud in the third century C.E.
D. The expression Star of David joins its shape only in the 12th-14th century C.E.
E. The Magen David becomes the symbol of the Jewish nation gradually from the middle Ages until the first Zionistic congress.
F. The Magen David becomes the symbol of Israel after the establishment of the state in 1948.
B. The name Magen David
The common concept is that the Magen David was inscribed on the battle Shield of king David. This concept contradicts the one that is emphasized in the biblical source of the story about David and Goliath in I Shmuel chapter 17 where we learn that the Magen David was not physical but spiritual :
38. And Saul clad David with his apparel, and he put a helmet of brass upon his head, and he clad him with a coat of mail.
39. And David girded his sword upon his apparel, and he essayed to go [but could not]; for he had not tried it. And David said unto Saul: 'I cannot go with these; for I have not tried them.' And David put them off him.
Moreover, David claims his victory was because GOD was his shield:
47. And that all this assembly may know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD'S, and He will give you into our hand.
[Translation from Mechon Mamre website]
Jewish tradition maintains that Psalms are the work of King David. In Psalms, whenever King David prays to the Lord, using the word "shield", the coin "Shield of David” is created.
According to the Jewish tradition David became King by the year of 1005 B.C.E so we can say that the concept of the Star of David was created around the tenth century B.C.E. Compared with this in the (Hebrew) book titled Archeology, bible and historical memory claim writers Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silverman that some psalms were created at the end of the period of the kingship, or a short time after the desolation of Jerusalem by the year of 586, but the majority are written a long time after that, between the fifth century and the second century B.C.E - in the Persian and the Hellenistic period
The coin David’s Shield appears for the first time in Talmud Psachim 117:2 referring to the Haftara blessings read publicly in the synagogue after the reading of the Torah on each Sabbath, as well as on Jewish festivals and fast days. In this blessing God is David’s Shield. In the Talmudic discussion appear Rabbah Bar Shillah, a 3rd century CE amora and Rav Yoseph who lived in the beginning of the 4th century C.E.
C. The Origin of the hexagram
As mentioned above the origin to the shape of the hexagram is unknown.
The origin of symbols in generally unknown, so as regards the Christian cross, the Moslem crescent, the Buddhist Yin-Yang and many other symbols.
Nevertheless there are many assumptions on its origin. Here are some theories that I collected during the first year of my web site:
In the beginning of history when the compasses were invented
Dr. Dan Gazit, archeologist of the Israeli antiquities authority wrote in his article on the problem of the identification of artistic motives from flora of ancient Ovdat, that the Magen David, like the rosette is a result of playing with a pair of compasses.
According to the Greek mythology the compasses were invented by Perdix, the nephew of the famous Greek sculpture Didalus. Didalus killed Perdix because he envied him for this invention. In any event the invention of the compasses is in the beginning of history, or in other words: time and place of the beginning of using the hexagram is unknown.
One of the greatest researchers of the Jewish symbols, E. R. Goodenough, wrote that his assessment about the origin of the Magen David is that it came from the rosette, but he doesn't have proofs for this.
From :E. R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols during the Greco-Roman Period, 1953 7th volume page 198.
In the beginning of history - copying natural shapes
A. Snowflake in the form of hexagram
Dr. Asher Eder:
Hydrogen and water are basic agents forming matter in general and life in particular. Interestingly enough, the six-lobed pattern may show up in both of them although, to be sure, other patterns can show up, too (e.g. rings, disks, etc)... crystals, apparently following the rudimentary regularity of the hydrogen atom's probability cloud, usually adopt the six-lobed pattern... in the form of the hexagram.
B. Flowers like lilies and especially Lilium Candidum
Botanist Ayelet Hashachar HaReuveni wrote in her article about the Magen David:
one of the most prominent genders among the different lilies of which remnants were discovered in the wild in the Carmel mountain, the Gilad mountain and near the Peki’in is the lily …it appeared in "the song of songs" and it appeared in the captions of the columns of the temple, and on the seal of King David. Another lily whose remnants also were found in the nature in slight numbers is the daffodil of the vally, or as was discovered to be " the rose of the vallies" mentioned in "the song of songs ", that its diameter reaches eight centimeters. This lily was discovered to be the model and the architectural origin of the ancient "Star of David"; it also excels in its wonderful perfume .
The (Hebrew) article was published in the newspaper "Hayom " in 1/7/1966 under the headline:
From the plants of the bible and the Talmud, the lily and Star of David Lilium Candidum.
Researcher Uri Ofir arrived separately to the same conclusion a few years later:
Now it is required to examine what is the lily. To this end I read in the Song of Songs:
As the lily among thorns, so [is] my love among the daughters
The translation says that the rose here is the Jewish people, this verse talks about the resistant belief of Israel opposite the belief of the nations of the world.
Iben Ezra's commentary about this verse is that the rose is a white flower that has a good aroma and six leaves (The Hebrew name of the lily, "shoshana" , comes from the Hebrew word for six – "shesh").
Professor Yehuda Felix in his book Nature in the Biblical land (In Hebrew, page 266) says that the rose is the white lily (from the Lilium family).
I found that this family counts 100 different species and the white lily is the single lily that grows naturally in Israel (Hebrew Encyclopedia, value: rose).
C. Pomegranate flower
Dr. Asher Eder:
The number of the sepals which form the pomegranate`s flower cup can range from four to nine. Most common, however, are those with five, six, or seven sepals. Consequently, the calyx of the fruit can be also five-, six-, or seven-pointed...
The six-pointed calyx, however, can easily be seen as forming a symmetric hexagram, a geometric design which we know as Magen David, the Shield of David, or Star of David.
Usually starfish has five points but it seems that there are mutants with six points.
E. Stars in the Sky
Real stars do not have corners similar to the corners of the Magen David even though in the real world stars sometimes are drawn that way.
Tens of thousands of years ago in the lost continent Mu that preceded Atlantis
According to James Churchward, Mu was a lost continent in the Pacific Ocean, which was destroyed in a global cataclysm tens of thousands of years ago; Mu was the original home of mankind, and all subsequent civilizations descended from it. The Pacific islands and their inhabitants are supposed to be the last survivors of this primordial motherland. Churchward's Mu was a huge continent, which stretched from Micronesia in the West to Easter Island and Hawaii in the East
Churchward served with the British Army for thirty years. He claimed that, while posted in India, he befriended a priest ('Rishi'), who revealed to him ancient tablets written in an otherwise unknown language. The Rishi taught Churchward how to read this language, Naacal. The tablets described the land of Mu, the Lemuria of the Theosophists.
James Churchward: The crossed triangle is an exceedingly old symbol. The oldest record of it that I have is in the Cosmogonic Diagram of the motherland which is the mother of all cosmogonic diagrams…the figure shows a central circle enclosed within a pair of triangles crossed and interwoven. Again the two triangles are enclosed within an outer circle, which leaves 12 divisions between the two circles. The central symbol, the circle, is the monotheistic symbol of the deity; the triangle of heaven, and the outer circle the Universe. The 12 divisions between the two circles are gates, “the 12 gates to heaven”. Each gate was a virtue, and these 12 gates must be opened by the 12 virtues before heaven could be entered. Among the 12 virtues were first of all: Love, then followed Faith, Hope Charity etc.
From The Sacred Symbols of Mu By James Churchward, 1933
In Genesis - 3760 B.C.E
Stan Tenen claims that the Magen David is found already in the book of Genesis. For example, he explains the Hebrew word Breshit (in the beginning) as Bara Shayit (created six or thorn). In his words six is the base to the platonic bodies, first of which is the tetrahedron, our 3-dimensional Magen David.
An Indian hexagram called yantra was carved into a rock near Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka. Adam was thought to have visited there, and Noah was believed to have brought the remains of Adam and Eve on the Ark for reburial. That’s why they call the place Adam's Peak.
Acadian cylinder seal dated 2500 B.C.
Zecharia Sitchin found a cylinder seal VA/243 in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin. This seal is dated to c.2500 B.C.
This seal is decorated with celestial symbols showing the Sun surrounded by the planets… Michael S. Heiser brings ANOTHER photo of a six-pointed star from the same period. (Ursula Seidl, Die Babylonischen Kudurru Reliefs, p. 23 = The Babylonian Kudurru Reliefs, p. 23).
According to Zecharia Sitchin, "Jerusalem - Ur-Shulim, the City of Shulim, meant 'The Supreme Place of the Four Regions', and the Sumerian emblem of the Four Regions applied to it, [and was], possibly the forerunner of the Jewish emblem called the 'Star of David'. Emblem of the four regions.
Magan was an ancient region referred to in ancient Sumerian cuneiform texts, of around 2300 B.C.E, as a source of copper for Mesopotamia. The location of the original Magan is not known.
In the days of Abraham – 19th century B.C.E
Hillel Roiter published in French in Kountrass, April 2000 a long article titled” the Star of David- is it Jewish, where he reckons (p. 46) That it might have been given to the sons of the concubines of Abraham, Ketura and Hagar.
Tzur Sheizaf (in Hebrew, Ynet, 20.12.01) holds the opposite opinion: Star of David, like swastika, is an ancient Hindi symbol; and both decorate Indian astronomical boards. The Magen David wandered from India to Israel on the ancient trade ways.
In the days Israelites had been in exile in Egypt – 1800-1400 B.C.E
David Bloch, scientist at the Dead Sea Industry, wrote about the usage of straws in the shape of the Star of David to produce salt. For example: in the days Israelites had been in exile in Egypt, before the exodus.
"The production of these "Levanim" [white salt briquettes] was probably the responsibility of the Jewish "slaves", who lived in bondage in the Nile Delta… Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves [The King James Bible - Exodus 5:7]… The most popular form of straw construction with the greatest surface area and strength was the "Star of David". Since salt making of this kind occurred well before most of today's religions developed, it is quite reasonable to assume that the Jews and their particular interest in salt and "kashrut" hygiene, later used the star form also as a symbol".
Another example (and picture) is from Andrews, A P 1983 Maya Salt Production and Trade Univ of Arizona Press, Tucson
In the period of the Minoan culture, 1700 B.C.E
The first time in which appear two interlaced triangles exactly like we recognize in the Magen David is in several stone seals found by the Italian archaeologist from Jewish origin Doro Levy in the Feistos palace in Crete and they are at the latest from 1700 B.C.E, in which the palace had been destroyed; It happened about seven hundred years before king David was even born.
In the Tabernacle that was built about a year after the exodus - 14 century B.C.E
A. Uri Ofir, author and director of Mikraor Museum in Yavne, Israel, wrote in his article titled The Jewish Origin of the Star of David that
This emblem's origin is in the Tabernacle that was built about a year after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt… The making of the Menorah is described in details (Exodus 25:31). The Menorah had a base. From the base exited a central branch, from the branch exited three branches for each side.
The branches were decorated with bowls knobs and flowers. Each branch ended with three bowls; above each bowl there was a knob; above it there was a flower; above it there was a candle. as the verse says:
"Three bowls made like unto almonds, [with] a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, [with] a knop and a flower" (Exodus 25:33).
Onklus translates the word "flower" to "lily". The first question I asked myself was whether the Aramaic translation of the word "flower" to "lily" was in all the instances or only here (in the making of the Menorah)? …[In another case] Onklus translates the word "flower" to "Blossom" - which shows that when he said "lily" in the making of the Tabernacle he indeed meant the lily. In other words each candle in the Menorah was in the center of a Magen David... The Rambam (in the religious laws of the Temple chapter 3 Law 3) writes explicitly about the absolute identity between the flowers that were on the Menorah and the flowers that were on the pillars Yachin and Boaz. In his language:
The flowers (in the Menorah) like the flowers of the pillars
The gate of the Temple was a very important place because there all the Israelis encountered… King Solomon chose the gate as the place of two pillars …Yachin and Boaz… Yachin and Boaz had impressive dimensions: each was in the height of about 9 meter; in the head of each pillar there was a capital of about 2 meters in diameter and of 2.5 meters in height; as described:
And he made two capitals of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits.
(1 Kings 7:16)
These capitals were in the form of a lily:
And upon the top of the pillars was lily-work;
(1 Kings 7:22)… the Menorah was the single vessel that was made by the Lord in person.
Bezalel Ben Uri Ben Chur of the tribe of Judea didn't succeed in the making of the Menorah; at first the Lord showed him a pattern of fire of the Menorah but even then Bezalel couldn't make it; he threw the gold into the fire and the Menorah was done by itself; as the verse says exactly:
Shall the candlestick be made.
If so this same lily (Magen David, Star of David) is the deed of the Lord in person and it is appropriate that this creation of the Lord will receive the most important place, the center of our flag.
Uri Ofir’s theory answers the question about The Jewish Origin of the Star of David but it doesn’t answer the question about The Origin of the Star of David. Uri Ofir doesn’t ignore this problem and he explains:
Plants and flowers were always used as an aesthetic source for different emblems. For example:
1.The cedar is the emblem of Lebanon; iris is the emblem of scouting worldwide. Because the lily is aesthetic and symmetrical and because it enables the creation of forms by composing basic engineering elements (two equilateral triangles) it is reasonable to suppose that it will also serve as an emblem for other nations.
2. One of the Ketoret spices, spikenard, is growing in the Himalayas. Commerce in spices between countries was prevalent since ancient times as we learned also from the company of Ishmaelite that Joseph had been sold to.
3. It is reasonable to assume that commercial relationships were accompanied by an exchange of other things and that's how the Magen David arrived to India.
4. The ten tribes which were exiled by the Assyrian king arrived also to India in 700 B.C.E; these tribes brought their emblem with them and that's how it became prevalent.
B. Dr. Gabriel H. Cohen from the Bible Department of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, wrote an article about Parashat Bemidbar which "is devoted to the array of the Israelites' encampment" [in the shape of the Star of David].
C. Shulamit Gad recounts in her book (published in 2006) King David and the Power of Psalms in page 709 that Dr. Bodenheimer offered Hertzl in 1898 to put on the national flag twelve stars as symbol of the twelve tribes and Hertzl responded that the twelve tribes were already hinted in twelve points of the Magen David.
D. Jewish-Catholic blogger Athol Bloomer claims in his elaborate article about the Mystical-Rose that
…Prince Dudumose Moses also bore on his battle shield the red Magen David (double dalet) design with the two base lines in a vertical formation. The Star of Miriam on her drum was the white Magen David (double mem) with the base lines horizontal. The Star of Miriam is the modern Magen David on the Israeli flag and were the rose Magen Davids of the Tabernacle and Temple.
E. Shulamit Gad quotes in her book King David and the Power of Psalms in page 706 from Rabbi Yosef Bagad’s book titled Yosef Nachalah page 773 that the tabernacle was covered with cut leathers in the shape of isosceles but not equilateral triangles. These triangles were placed one on top of the other in the shape of a prolonged Star of David.
F. Balaam's Prophecy
Some researchers trying to solve the mystery of the origin of Star of David relate to the enigmatic verse in Numbers 24:17 "There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel. For example, Uri Ofir says:
The first time in the Bible that reveals any connection between the word "star", the word "David" and the words "nation of Israel" is in Balaam’s speech. When Balaam sees the nation of Israel…
see him but not now ((Num. 24:17), this refers to David; I behold him but not nigh (ibid.) this refers to King Messiah; A star shall step forth out of Jacob (ibid.) this refers to King David; and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (ibid.) this refers to King Messiah…
In the time of the Judges – 1200 B.C.E
(before king David was born)
Professor James R. Harris claims that he found a geoglyph Shield of David on top of one of the Har Karkom platforms". Near by he claims he found a Menorah and a drawing of a burning bush which convinced him that this Shield of David was Jewish.
In the time of Zoroaster 1000 B.C.E
Professor Michael Costa suggests that the origin of the Magen David was in the Persian religion of Zoroaster in which the triangle with the edge turning upwards symbolizes the good God Ahur Mazda whereas the triangle with the edge turning downwards symbolizes the evil God Ahriman. In the Zoroastrian hexagram the first is on top of the second in order to symbolize the victory of the good over the evil.
From : Professor Michael Costa ,the gold section,Solomon’s seal and star of david, Poalim,1990 page 154. [in Hebrew].
It is interesting to notice that Zoroaster and King David lived according to researchers approximately in the same period and possibly one of them influenced the other.
In the time of King David- 1000 B.C.E
1. Uri Ofir: There is a theory, which is found in the literature, that King David adopted this form as his emblem because of its special form, which fitted his name. In ancient Hebrew (Daatz writing) the letter "d" (dalet) was written in the form of a triangle and in the name David there are two triangles (two characters of d). The lily was created by combining two equilateral triangles (six lines) and thus the lily fits to its name (Shoshan comes from Shesh, six in Hebrew).
2. As I already mentioned in the introduction in the Jewish tradition King David is considered as the author of the book of Psalms and when he prays to GOD and addresses him as his Shield the reader may understand that GOD is the Shield of David.
3.The earliest Jewish literary source which mentions the Magen David is the book Eshkol ha-Kofer by the Karaite Jehudah Hadassi (middle of the 12th century CE), But Professor Gershom Scholem says that
The oldest known witness to the usage of the term is the kabbalistic Sefer ha-Gevul, written by a grandson of Nahmanides in the early 14th century…
4. Botanist Ayelet Hashachar HaReuveni wrote in her article about the Magen David that the shield was in the shape of a star and the soldier who used it had to step upon the part of the shield that was between two triangles and thus the shield had been stuck into the ground by the two pointed edges that stood on the ground. After stepping upon the shield the soldier immediately lay behind it, and it served him as a mini-post that protected him from the enemy arrows, while, at the same time, he could look through the shield and aim his bow.
5. My theory is that the Magen David from Crete of the 17th century B.C.E found its way to Israel by means of the Philistines who entered Israel in the 12th century B.C.E and fought the Judges and later king David.
In the days of King Solomon- 10th Century B.C.E
Joseph Jacobs and M. Seligsohn wrote in the Jewish Encyclopedia:
The legend that Solomon possessed a seal ring on which the name of God was engraved and by means of which he controlled the demons is related at length in Gittin 68a, b. This legend is especially developed by Arabic writers, who declare that the ring, on which was engraved "the Most Great Name of God," and which was given to Solomon from heaven, was partly brass and partly iron. With the brass part of the ring Solomon signed his written commands to the good genii, and with the iron part he signed his commands to the evil genii, or devils...The legend of a magic ring by means of which the possessor could exorcise demons was current in the first century, as is shown by Josephus' statement ("Ant." viii. 2) that one Eleazar exorcised demons in the presence of Vespasian by means of a ring, using incantations composed by Solomon.
The Arabs afterward gave the name of "Solomon's seal" to the six-pointed star-like figure (see Magen, Dawid) engraved on the bottom of their drinking-cups. From: http://star-of-david.blogspot.com/search?q=Gittin+68a
Haile Selassie, the late King of Ethiopia, claimed to be a descendant from King Solomon and King David and used the Star of David to show the world his royal dynasty. The Rastafarians consider him as their leader and that’s why there are so many Stars of David in their culture.
In the days of the First Temple 6th century B.C.E
1. Archeologist Ephrayim Stern found stars of David engraved on jar handles at Gibeon, Israel, and dated them to the Late period of the Israeli Kingdom of the First Temple. He reckoned that they were copies of Greek emblems from Thasos and Carthago that served for the marking of wines.
From: Kadmoniot, 1973, Israel at the end of the period of the kingship, archeological survey, pages 2-17.
I find it very interesting that the same symbol served the beer guilds in the Middle Ages and that it was the symbol for alcohol in alchemy, since it combined the symbols for fire and water; hence, it meant distillation. Until recently, therefore, it appeared on shops selling brandy. In the last years there is an American wine tiled Mogen David, without the emblem, only the name.
2. In Megiddo antiquities, on a wall of a room, there was found a Magen David, same as we recognize it today, and it is drawn in lines.
From: "Golden Section" (Hebrew book), professor Michael Costa.
This Magen David is from the period of King Ahab son of King Solomon (853 - 874 B.C).
3. Professor Gershom Scholem: The oldest undisputed example is on a seal from the seventh century B.C.E. found in Sidon and belonging to one Joshua b. Asayahu.
David Diringer, Le Iscrizioni Antico-ebraiche Palestinesi, Pub; Icazioni Dell'Universita Di Firenze, Facolta' Di Lettere E Filosofia; 3, Firenze Le Monnier, 1934, P 187
In the time of the prophets – 8th-6th century B.C.E
Rabbi Yitzhak Ginzburg wrote that the shape of the Star of David hints to the seraphim in Isaiah’s vision:
Over him were the winged ones: every one had six wings; two for covering his face, two for covering his feet, and two for flight.
It is interesting to note that prophet Ezekiel describes in his Vision of The Merkaba (chapter 1 and ten) seraphim with four wings but the name Merkaba serves nowadays as the name of the three dimensional Star of David.
After the First Temple’s Desolation
1. Dr. Yoav Ben Dov tells a story from the Middle Ages about Pythagoras being the disciple of prophet Ezekiel. Pythagoras and his cult believed that 6 is a perfect number because it is the sum of its components 1+2+3 [and six is also the number of the points of the hexagram].
2. Tetraktys is a mystical counting system graphically represented by a pyramid composed of dots arranged in rows. The Tetraktys of the number ten is made of ten dots arranged in four rows representing the numbers 1-4 (1+2+3+4=10). The famous Greek mystic philosopher Pythagoras developed the Tetraktys in the 6th century B.C.E as a symbol of the Cosmos; it was so sacred for his pupils that they used to swear on it. Photo: http://star-of-david.blogspot.com/2006/06/tetraktys.html
3. Jay Kappraff wrote on his book (Connections, 2001, ISBN: 9810245858 p.4) that while one tetraktys represents the cosmos - two interlocking tetraktyses form the Star of David representing the signs of the zodiac surrounding the 13th point, which is the source of life.
4. A Star of David can be built inside the tetraktys by connecting the 6 points that surround the central point and by leaving the 3 outer points untouched; but there is no proof that Pythagoras knew this shape, maybe because his cult was so secretive. There are proofs that Pythagorians knew the pentagram, which resembles the hexagram, so it is logical to assume that they also knew the hexagram.
5. Few researchers claim that ancient Israelites arrived to Japan and left there some Jewish artifacts. The founder of the Japanese cult, Makuya, Ikuro Teshima, believed these Israelites were called the Hata tribe and that They left Kagome crest at some of Shinto's oldest and most important shrines; the crest is a six-pointed star identical to the Star of David.
In the time of the Roman Empire- 1st century CE
Throughout the Roman Empire there were discovered tens of archaeological findings with the shape of the hexagram. For example more than ten such mosaics were discovered in Pompeii, Italy, and since it had been ruined by Mount Vesuvius Volcano eruption in 79 CE it is certain to date them to the first century CE at the latest. Similar mosaics were discovered in Gaul (Latin: Gallia), Hungary, Israel, Greece, Syria, Turkey, Tunis. Other such archeological findings from this period were discovered in Roman temples in Jordan and in Lebanon.
In the time of the Hashmoneans – 167 B.C.E
Dr. Moshe Gaster, (1856- 1939), preeminent scholar, Rabbi of the Spanish community in London, Zionist, and friend of Theodore Hertzl wrote in an article published in Rimon-Milgroim, Jewish periodical, in 1926: Connecting this emblem to the name of David originates doubtless from the source of the messianic idea… As known the verse “there shall step forth a star out of Jacob”, in Numbers 24:17, was interpreted already on days of Hashmonean about the anticipated Messiah…
From the days of the Bar Kochba rebellion 132 B.C.E
1. Rabbi Shraga Simmons from Aish Hatorah Yeshiva claims that
during the Bar Kochba rebellion (first century), a new technology was developed for shields using the inherent stability of the triangle. Behind the shield were two interlocking triangles, forming a hexagonal pattern of support points. (Buckminster Fuller showed how strong triangle-based designs are with his geodesics.)
2. Rabbi Menahem Brodi quotes in his article about Rabbi Akiva as the helper of Bar Kochba [in Hebrew] that in Midrash Rabba, Deuteronomy 1:20 Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochay said Rabbi Akiva interpreted Balaam’s prophecy about the Star of Jacob as a prophecy about Bar Kochba (the son of the star) whose real name was Shimon Bar Cosiba.
3. James Trimm: In 132 a second Jewish revolt against Rome began. The Emporer Hadrian banned circumcision. In reaction the Jews, Nazarenes and Pharisees alike, took up arms. During the revolt Akiva, a leading Pharisee Rabbi at the time, declared the leading Jewish general known as Bar Kosiba to be the Messiah. Bar Kosiba was renamed Bar Kochba (son of the star) and was declared the Messiah based on Num. 24:17. The Nazarenes could not accept Bar Kokhba as the Messiah and so they left the army. From this time forward Nazarenes were labled "meshumed" (traitor).
In the Talmud Period –3rd- 6th century CE
Israeli Lost Ten Tribes researcher Yair Davidiy heard from Rabbi Moshe Rabovitz of Shaarei Hesed, Jerusalem, that kosher butchers in Europe for the last few hundred years always used the Magen David sign outside their establishments to announce that triangular (kosher) meat was inside. He believes the reason is to be found in the Talmud Baitsa 28:a where it says that it was the practice for kosher butchers to cut kosher meat into triangular form so that it could be distinguishable if non-kosher meat accidentally got mixed up with it. The Magen David sign is simply two [meat] triangles superimposed on each other.
In the time of David Al Roy – 12th century CE
Hebrew Wikipedia Magen David entry says that there was a Star of David on the flag of Southern Iraqi Jew David Al Roy (aka Menachem Ben Shlomo), who started in the twelfth century a Jewish crusade aimed at conquering Israel by force of arms,
In the Middle Ages
In the Jewish newspaper Hamelitz, 1898, Vo.11 DCM wrote that In the Middle Ages Jews suffered so much that many were converted in order to save their lives. In reaction the Rabbis invented the Star of David in order to strengthen the members of their communities.
In the time of Isaac Luria 16th century
G.S. Oegema's wrote in his book (Realms of Judaism, The history of the Shield of David, the birth of a symbol, Peter Lang, Germany, 1996, ISBN 3-631-30192-8) "Isaac Luria provided the Shield of David with a further mystical meaning. In his book "Etz Hachayim" he teaches that the elements of the plate for the Seder evening have to be placed in the order of the hexagram: above the three sefirot "Crown "Wisdom" and "Insight", below the other seven".
Gershom Sholem disagrees and claims that the triangles in Rabbi Isaac Luria’s teachings do not make a Shield of David.
From: Professor Michael Costa ,the gold section,Solomon’s seal and star of david, Poalim,1990 [in Hebrew].
In the days of Shabbatai Zvi – 17th century
I heard from famous Judaica collector Shlomo Musaeif that on the flag of false Messiah Shabbatai Zvi (1626-1676) was a menorah. Since the Jews feared his influence they fixed the Magen David as a counter-emblem that would differentiate them from his followers. Others think that Shabbatai Zvi adopted the Magen David and that was the cause for its proliferation.
In Europe in the 19th century
Gershom Scholem: The prime motive behind the wide diffusion of the sign in the 19th century was the desire to imitate Christianity. The Jews looked for a striking and simple sign which would "symbolize" Judaism in the same way as the cross symbolizes Christianity. This led to the ascendancy of the Magen David in official use, on ritual objects and in many other ways.
In Europe in the 20th century
1.After First World War not all the Jews saw the Magen David as their central emblem. For example French Jews objected to carve Magen David on tombstones of Jewish soldiers that fell in the battle and they requested to engrave an emblem of torah plates instead.
From: Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut , "The Magen David: How the Six-Poined Star Became an Emblem for the Jewish". pp .35
2. The Nazis enforced on the Jews that lived in the areas under their sovereignty to identify themselves by means of the Magen David, as yellow patch, or as yellow button that was sewn on their garments, or on white arm ribbons with a blue star of David. The reason to the choice of the Nazis in the Magen David was apparently that it was known in the world as the Jewish central emblem. In the aftermath of this the Magen David changed to symbolize the humiliation of the Jews. When the Magen David was selected as a component in the Israeli flag one of the central considerations was its usage by the Nazis: In the sense of Psalm 118:22:
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner
1. The origin of the hexagram is unknown but it is reasonable to assume that people began using it in the dawn of history if by means of imitation of natural shapes like stars, plants or snowflakes, or as an outcome of playing with a pair of compasses.
2. The hexagram was apparently familiar in the Sumerian culture, and possibly described a star in a sky.
3. The hexagram appears in the Indian culture but it is unclear from when and if it influenced other cultures or was influenced by them.
4. The "strongest” archeological finding is from the Minoan culture, but it is unclear how it wandered from Crete to other cultures.
5. In the Jewish ancient culture there are few archeological findings of hexagrams but most certainly they were not called in the name star of David in the period in which they were created, and it is not clear if they had any Jewish significance.
6. There is a "fashion" of connecting archeological findings in various countries to the Ten Lost Tribes that had been expelled from Israel after the desolation of the first Temple. This "fashion" is likely to help find proof or refutation of the existence of the Magen David in the period of the Israeli kingship, but up till now there hasn’t been made a comprehensive study on this specific subject.
7. In the last hundreds of years there is in the Jewish culture an attempt to explain and interpret the Magen David as belonging to ancient times.
8. Interestingly the Magen David appears in the Persian ancient religion approximately in the period of king David and it raises the possibility of mutual influence.
9. Interestingly the Magen David appears as an emblem in the ancient wine industry in Israel and later as an emblem in the international alcohol industry in continuum until our days.
10. There are tens of findings of hexagrams from the period of the Roman Empire but it is unclear what was their name and what significance was attributed to them.
11. There are thousands of finding of Muslim hexagrams that are attributed to king Solomon which testify on their Jewish source from the period of the kingship.
12. There are many Christian hexagram findings from the start of Christianity but is is unclear how they were called in the time they were created, and it is unclear what significance had been attributed to them.
13. There is a chain of messianic leaders to whom the origin of the Magen David is attributed in relation to Balaam’s Prophecy about the star of Jacob.
14. The Magen David appeared as Jewish symbol in the middle ages but as symbol of the Jewish nation only in the last generations.
15. Multiple explanations about the origin of the Magen David testify on the great interest there is in the Jewish public especially and in the world in general in solving this mystery.
"Ahassan05" wrote on Wikipedia discussion page:
Hexagrams [in the Arab world the name of the hexagrams is Solomon's Seal] continue to be used in newly constructed mosques around the world because it’s a part of the repertoire of arabesque designs that have been standard now for over millennia. Just look at the mosque in DC or any number of mosques built in Jersey. Or the reconstructed mosques in Bosnia, or the repair work done by the Saudis in Mecca and Medina, or the new mosques that are going up in Islamabad; Also the mosque in Paris. There is no basis to say that the hexagram is avoided. As a political symbol the hexagram is detested, but as an abstract geometrical design no one really cares.
Photo of Old City of Jerusalem with walls in the shape of a star of David in a book that belongs to Martin Buber is courtesy of Lew Jaffe who posted it on his blog. The bookplate was drawn by E.M. Lilien, the first Zionist artist. Buber met Lilien during their mutual work on the establishment of the Zionist movement.