The Origins of the Jewish Star of David

The Jewish Star of David acts as a universal symbol for Judaism. It appears in religious buildings, texts, jewelry, and even the flag of Israel.

The Jewish Star of David is a meaningful symbol in Judaism. It primarily serves to represent the Jewish faith. Whereas the cross represents Christianity, and the star and crescent represent Islam, the Star of David serves as the emblem of Judaism. Its geometric shape consists of two opposite pointing triangles that fuse to form a hexagram. Although the Star of David symbolizes one of the world’s oldest religions, it did not become a widely recognized symbol of Judaism until the 17th century. Keep reading to learn more about how the Star of David developed to become a universal symbol of one of the oldest monotheistic religions.

In this article, you can specifically learn more about:

  • * The original symbol of Judaism
  • * How the Star of David became the symbol of Judaism
  • * What the Star of David signifies
  • * Deeper meanings behind the Star of David

The Original Symbol of Judaism

Long before the popularization of the Jewish Star of David, there was another universal symbol for Judaism: the menorah. Today, many associate this seven-headed candle lamp with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. While it serves a significant level of importance on this holiday, it also represents the entire religion of Judaism. Today, the menorah remains an official symbol of Judaism.

In Jerusalem, the Holy Temple that stood until 70 C.E. was a very prominent building in the Jewish faith. Many knew it as one of the only sites to worship, so many people visited the Temple weekly. Within the Temple stood the menorah, which, even then, memorialized the events that Hanukkah celebrates. Due to the Temple being one of the most visited sites in Jerusalem during antiquity, many people crossed paths with the Temple’s menorah, making it representative of Judaism.

How the Star of David Became the Symbol of Judaism

The purpose of the Star of David developed over centuries. Initially, when the menorah dominated as the symbol of Judaism, the Star of David was commonly found in decoration. People of all backgrounds, including non-Jews, used the emblem as a unique design. During the middle ages, Jewish mystics started to associate the star with magical powers of protection.

Later, historians saw that Jews used the Star of David as a symbol to mark their work. Jews often used it to represent their ancestry and to express their individuality.

By the 17th century, Jews used the Star of David to distinguish themselves from other religions. The Jewish community in Prague marked their neighborhood with the emblem. After this, it spread throughout Jewish communities all over the world. Many historians credit this event as the start of the official association of the Star of David with Judaism.

Other people think the reasoning behind making the Star of David a symbol of Judaism is because there was a desire to have an emblem like Christianity. In churches and religious texts, the cross made its way as the universal symbol of Christianity. Some say that Jews wanted to have a representative symbol like Christianity, so they adopted the Star of David.

The Zionist movement in the late 19th century helped to internationally spread the symbolic union of the Star of David and Judaism. Zionism is the belief of establishing and protecting the land in Israel as a Jewish state. In 1897, the Zionist movement adopted the Star of David as their emblem. As a result, more and more people associated the Star of David with Judaism. You can even see that the symbol lies in the center of the Israeli flag today.

Another event that solidified the Star of David within Judaism is the Holocaust. Nazis forced Jews to identify themselves by wearing a Star of David on their sleeve. In doing this, Nazi forces attempted to degrade the Jewish community as well as the Star of David. Since then, the star proves to be a symbol of heroism and faith.

What the Star of David Signifies

There is no exact significance of the Star of David. Since it started as a icon, there really is no direct correlation of its geometric symbolism to the Jewish faith. So, there are various reasonings as to why Jewish communities chose the symbol to represent their religion.

One theory, according to an ancient book on Jewish mysticism, says that the six points of the star allude to the six different attributes of God. These six points then conjoin with the center, which symbolizes femininity. Another theory suggests that the three points of one triangle refer to three different aspects of life: creation, revelation, and redemption. The points on the other triangle symbolize man, God, and the world.

Deeper Meanings Behind the Star of David

While there are many distinct theories behind the star’s symbolism, there is one idea that typically appears in all the theories: the association with the number seven. By looking at the star, you can see that there are only six points. This means that the center, along with the six points, plays a significant role in the star’s symbolism.

The number seven is an important theme in Judaism. First, it references the seven archangels. Additionally, it corresponds to the seven days of creation. In the story of creation, Jews learn that the seventh day is, essentially, an outlier. Each day has a partner. For example, days one and four are dedicated to light. Days two and five have associations with water, and three and six have to do with earth. This means that the seventh day- the day of rest- does not have a partner. Like the center of the Star of the David, the seventh day does not necessarily correspond with the others, but it upholds an integral part of the dedicated whole.

All in all, there is much to learn about the Star of David. Its symbolism relies on theories and opinions due to its origins. Today, the Star of David is a universal symbol for Judaism. Along with its deep religious meaning, the star also rests on the Israeli flag.

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