Star Of David
The Star of David is a six-pointed star made up of two equilateral triangles superimposed over each other. It also is known as a hexagram. In Hebrew, it is called the magen David (מָגֵן דָּוִד), which means the “shield of David.” The Star of David doesn’t have any religious significance in Judaism, but it is one of the symbols most commonly associated with the Jewish people.
The Star of David is not, contrary to what some allege, a pagan symbol. Some claim it to represent the shape of King David’s shield (or perhaps the emblem on it). However, there is really little or no historic evidence to support this idea. The Star of David has all its triangles intertwined. This shows that our soul is linked to the Lord Almighty in each and every aspect.
ORIGINS OF THE STAR OF DAVID
The origins of the Star of David are unclear. We do know that the symbol hasn’t always been associated exclusively with Judaism, but was used by Christians and Muslims at various points in history as well. Sometimes it was even associated with King Solomon instead of King David.
The Star of David is not mentioned in rabbinic literature until the Middle Ages. It was during the latter part of this era that Kabbalists, the Jewish mystics, began to associate the symbol with a deeper spiritual meaning. One siddur (a Jewish prayer book) dated from 1512 in Prague displays a large Star of David on the cover with the phrase: “He will merit to bestow a bountiful gift on anyone who grasps the Shield of David.”
The symbol itself was relatively common throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa. It is also evident in early Jewish artwork, but not as an exclusively Jewish symbol. Although it was eventually used during the Middle Ages as a magical symbol, its roots are largely associated with a purely decorative design exclusive to no particular ethnicity. One thing is for sure, the star represents the hundreds and thousands of years of struggle, that the Israeli wanderers had been through.
The Star of David was eventually cemented as a Jewish symbol when it became a favorite architectural decoration on Jewish buildings throughout the Middle Ages. According to German-born Israeli philosopher and historian Gershom Scholem, many Jews adopted this symbol in Eastern Europe in an effort to match the prevalence of the Christian cross.
By the 17th century, it was displayed on the outside of synagogues to identify them as Jewish places of worship. By the latter part of the 19th Century, the symbol was adopted by the Zionist movement, and of course used commonly during the 20th Century to identify Jews—by some in a degrading fashion, but by themselves as well to show their unity and strength. The overlapping triangles forming a star are the two dimensions that represent the relationship between God and Humanity.
Then, during World War II, when Hitler forced Jews to wear a yellow Star of David as a “badge of shame,” the symbol become prominently cemented as a Jewish symbol. Jews were also forced to wear identifying badges during the Middle Ages, although not always a Star of David. Jews reclaimed the symbol, beginning with Zionists at the First Zionist Congress in 1897, where the Star of David was chosen as the central symbol for the flag of the future State of Israel.
WHAT IS THE DAVID CONNECTION?
The symbol’s association with King David comes mostly from Jewish legend. For instance, there is a midrash that says that when David was a teen he fought an enemy, King Nimrod. David’s shield was composed of two interlocking triangles attached to the back of a round shield, and, at one point, the battle became so intense that the two triangles were fused together. David won the battle and the two triangles were henceforth known as magen David, the Shield of David.
This story, of course, is just one of many. Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) is the capital city of Israel. The blue Star of David is prominently seen in the center of the Israeli flag with a white background and placed in between two horizontal blue stripes.
It was officially established in the year 1948, after the independence. The Jews struggled and wandered a lot, and finally have a homeland to call their own. The white background stands for peace, light, struggle and honesty whereas the blue background stands for faith, trust, unity and heaven.
The Israeli emblem was adopted in the year 1949, which is a seven-flame candle stand, called the Menorah, surrounded by an olive branch on each side. There are different color variations to the Menorah, but the blue Menorah is the commonly used emblem by government officials.
There are several ideas about the symbolic meaning of the Star of David. Some Kabbalists thought that the six points represented God’s absolute rule over the universe in all six directions: north, south, east, west, up, and down.
Kabbalist also believed that the two triangles represented humanity’s dual nature – good and evil — and that the star could be used as protection against evil spirits.
The structure of the star, with two overlapping triangles, has also been thought to represent the relationship between God and the Jewish people. The triangle pointing upwards symbolizes the good deeds that reach heaven and represents God’s laws and scriptures.
While the triangle pointing downwards symbolizes the abundant blessings poured on the earth and the Jews studying and applying their teachings.
Some Kabbalists say that the six points represent the absolute rule of God over the universe in all directions. The north, south, east, west, zenith and nadir are all under one God’s rule. It may also symbolize the dual nature of good and evil, and is used to protect one against the evil spirit. Yet others have noticed that there are 12 sides on the triangle, perhaps representing the Twelve Tribes.
The flag of Israel features a blue Star of David prominently in the middle of a white banner with two horizontal blue lines on the top and bottom of the flag. Likewise, many Jews wear jewelry that prominently features the Star of David today. Nowadays, it has now become closely associated with the modern nation of Israel and Judaism.
Today, the blue Star of David is looked upon as a symbol of unity, honor, and respect. The six sides and the center describe the six working days. Also on the sixth day, God created man and woman, and the hexagon in the center represents the Sabbath.
Since it is a national insignia identifying the user or wearer as an Israeli or Jew, or both, one should generally not display it but, it is good to recognize that they are God’s chosen people from the Old Testament and that they hold a special place in God’s heart. God said He would bless those who blessed them and He would curse whoever curses you (Genesis 12:3). We just have to remember that God gave his only Son for all of our sins and that He is the only way to our Father.