The Menorah as dd-pillar

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
Joseph D. L.
Posts: 1414
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:10 am

The Menorah as dd-pillar

Post by Joseph D. L. »

Going through Boswell's website, I notice that he had the option to add comments which I had never noticed. I randomly clicked on one to see what he would write to some in response to his posts, when I came across this:
Interesting material, I arrived here looking for information about one of the images you posted here: the Samaria plaque that portrays Isis and Nephthys with their wings spread upward.

I found that image while scrolling google results for “cherubims” or “cherubim wings” or something like that. The first image I saw was bad quality, and the only info accompanying it said something about Samaria about 8 or 9 centuries before Christ. Samaria at that time was not supposed to be the northern kingdom of Israel?

But the image seemed weirdly egyptian to me. It would have been easier for me to find rather Mesopotamia style. I was aware of some suggested relation between the Menorah and the mesopotamian tree of life. I understood those suggestions had not a very strong base. But learning about the Djed, now I’m not so sure.

Let me cite 3 verses from Exodus 25:

The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites

Some verses later the Menorah is described, but if one reads carefully, the description does not say that the branches should be curved, all what can be read is that the branches should extend from the lampstand, so is there a possibility that what Exodus is trying to describe resembles more the papal cross, than the Menorah with curved branches?
I always just assumed that the branches are to be curved given that they are technically candles made to hold oil in their cups. Interesting how this is even a point of debate among rabbinical scholars. Maimonides even said that the branches are not to be curved at all, but shoot up in parallel to one another.

Image

While Rashi said they are curved.

Image

The Menorah on the Arch of Titus shows the branches curved:

Image

And the oldest known depiction also has curved branches.

Image

I read last year that the Menorah was made to replace the Asherah trees that were replete around Judea during the time of Josiah, so the curvature of the branches could be a deliberate attempt to separate any association between Jews and tree worship. The dd was of course the tree that was annually raised in honour of Osiris, and its rigid four bar design does look like a branchless Menorah.

Image

Image

Image
Post Reply