The menorah’s original design intended to illuminate holy places when Israelites sought refuge in the wilderness. But the design was inspired by God who wanted Israelites to feel His presence. We see how God gave Moses menorah’s specifications atop Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:31-40). Moses saw the vision of the Great Architect as he listened to God and held the Light.
What Menorah Symbolizes
Menorah is more than an apparatus, it holds great significance in a Jewish community. It’s a symbol of enlightenment – a deeper understanding of the Word of God, as the Holy Spirit lights up a human spirit, freeing it from the enslavement of eternal darkness. Our spirits are lamps, and the Holy Spirit fuel, which keeps the fire burning within us.
Or ganuz, which is part of the original creation light, is a source of menorah’s light, as far as mystics go. This divine light inspired the writing of the Torah. The text was manufactured by filtering and condensing or ganuz, so as to embody the Light as an encoding.
And so, the Torah illuminates us, helping us work our way to perfection or holiness from generation to generation in accordance with Kabbalah principles.
The Torah embodies the symbolic menorah – the tree of life. It’s little wonder the holy apparatus has a shape of a tree! Each branch of the menorah represents the tree branch. The burning candlelight of all seven branches collectively have an energy: sephirah.
And it’s not just that, the menorah reminds the modern Israelites and the world how far they’ve come to restore their nationhood amidst loss during the nineteenth century. The seven-pronged candleholder will forever remain important part of Jewish consciousness, as it serves as a testimony to the rebirth of a nation.
Just as the menorah lit the ancient temples and tabernacles, so will it continue to light up our collective consciousness. And just as the menorah lit up the Maccabees for eight days, so will it continue to illuminate our spirits.
Despite its apparent insignificance in the New Testament, enlightened Christians are increasingly using it in churches. Christians have come to the realization that menorah’s beauty of display in homes and sanctuaries isn’t just awe-inspiring but the design symbolizes enlightenment, which they’ve been missing for more around two millennia.
The Hanukkah menorah has nine branches instead of seven to avoid plagiarizing the original. The eight branches represent the eight days of lighting and the extra branch represents the shamash, which keeps the others burning.
Every year, Jews celebrate a feast to commemorate when the Second Temple was consecrated once more by the Maccabees, following the desecration and destruction by Antiochus.
Judas Maccabees led a successful rebellion against Antiochus who desecrated the altar of the Temple (1 Maccabees 4:59; 1:54). Antiochus’s deeds had been predicted in the Bible as “desolating abomination” (Daniel 9:27).
Consecration was marked by purification of the temple and reconstruction of the altar (1 Maccabees 4:36-58). In addition, the Jews rekindled the 7 branch lampstand in a feast of lights (Antiquities 12:7:7).
During Hanukkah, you must light one candle of the 9 branch menorah every night. The Talmud tells us of a story of how the Maccabees celebrated their victory by lighting up a menorah, which didn’t extinguish, until after the 8th day. The supply of oil that they had was sufficient to light up the menorah for one day. But the outcome was miraculous, because they got seven more days, which gave Maccabees enough time to find more oil.
And so, lighting up the menorah signifies to the Jewish and Christian denominations of the undying fuel: the Holy Spirit, which keeps illuminating us even in periods of great darkness, uncertainty or trial. No religion other than Christianity knows how to live in eternal darkness for periods that have spanned centuries. We bear the consequences to this very day.
Christianity’s Deviation From Jewish Heritage
Christianity’s ignorance of the tradition of menorah isn’t surprising given that the rabbinic council of the time forbade the practice of constructing copies after a temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. The restriction from accessing the design was for a good reason: to prevent the menorah’s design from corruption.
Access to the specifications in the Hebrew Scriptures and verbal transmissions from the wise men was denied. And so, people could fabricate five- or nine-branched menorahs, whatever they were called, but not so for the 7 branch menorah. Access to the sacred apparatus in the Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes wasn’t allowed. Menorah’s description in the Bible remained just that – an imagination, not a reality.
As such, Christianity departed away from its Jewish heritage; hence, was lacking the vibrancy and richness of the mother faith. For about two millennia, Christianity continued to deteriorate under anti-Semitic, anti-Judaic and Judaeophobic doctrines.
Hence, holy days whose origins were questionable replaced biblical festivals. To make matters worse, secular empires fashioned systems to unify church and state, causing fellowship and community norms to lose significance. Church tradition replaced Jewish tradition.
We’re witnessing an increased interest in the Jewish roots of the church. Christian denominations across the globe are rediscovering their Jewish legacy. Biblical – Jewish – symbols are increasingly used. With more enlightenment, an understanding of Jesus’s personality and ministry is increasingly apparent (Luke 24:27). The Holy Spirit is guiding Christians to uncover Hebraic truths.
Hanukkah menorah serves to commemorate when Jews reclaimed the sanctity of the Second Temple. It has nine branches instead of seven to avoid copying the original. The eight branches signify the eight days when the candlelight burned with fuel that’s sufficient to last one day. This miraculous occurrence inspired the Hanukkah. But the original 7 branch menorah was inspired by God.