Sunday, January 24, 2010

Exodus 25:31 - The Golden Menorah (Lampstand) - An Overview

And now we move on to the most complex artefact of the Mishkan - The Golden Lampstand (Menorah).
Any hardcore physicists and matematicians here ?!?!!!  ;)

Exodus 25:31
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
31 ‏וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מְנֹרַ֖ת זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר מִקְשָׁ֞ה תֵּעָשֶׂ֤ה הַמְּנוֹרָה֙ יְרֵכָ֣הּ וְקָנָ֔הּ גְּבִיעֶ֛יהָ כַּפְתֹּרֶ֥יהָ וּפְרָחֶ֖יהָ מִמֶּ֥נָּה יִהְיֽוּ׃

And here is a relatively "ugly" rendering of the Lampstand' cross-section:

The Goldent Lampstand summary from this verse:
  1. All details of the Lampstand were Forged.
  2. Lampstand was hollow inside.

Whereas general details of the Lampstand are pretty much straightforward and understandable, reconstructing exact shape, dimensions and meaning of each part is an extremely difficult undertaking.

I don't usually like to do this, but in case with Menorah it is very appropriate to quote Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah (15:4):

Moses had great difficulty with the construction of the candlestick, for although God had given him instructions about it, he completely forgot these when he descended from heaven.
He hereupon betook himself to God once more to be shown, but in vain, for hardly had he reached earth, when he again forgot.
When he betook himself to God the third time, God took a candlestick of fire and plainly showed him every single detail of it, that he might now be able to reconstruct the candlestick for the Tabernacle. When he found it still hard to form a clear conception of the nature of the candlestick, God quieted him with these words" "Go to Bezalel, he will do it aright."
And indeed, Bezalel had no difficulty in doing so, and instantly executed Moses' commission. Moses cried in amazement: "God showed me repeatedly how to make the candlestick, yet I could not properly seize the idea; but thou, without having had it shown thee by God, couldst fashion it out of thy own fund of knowledge. Truly dost thou deserve thy name Bezalel, 'in the shadow of God,' for thou dost act as if thou hadst been 'in the shadow of God' while He was showing me the candlestick.
English translation is from here.

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