We looked previously at the Menorah and how it was a much-loved Jewish symbol which frequently appears in Hebrew and Jewish Jewelry. We saw that the Menorah often appears on bracelets, necklaces, pendants, medallions and other symbols of Hebrew Jewelry.
The Menorah is the seven-branched candlestick. It is often confused with the Hanukkiah, which is the Jewish nine-branched candlestick, pictured below.
So what is the difference between the Menorah and the Hanukkiah, and why is the Hanukkiah used in Hebrew Jewelry?
The Hanukkiah arises from the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. After the Greek Seleucid invasion of Israel and the desecration of the Temple, the Hasmoneans (under Judah Maccabbee and his sons) fought against all odds, eventually overcame the entire might of the Greek army, and regained control of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. They found just enough clean oil to last a single day. But a miracle occurred, and instead of the oil lasting only a single day, it lasted eight whole days – long enough to make new pure oil. These events are commemorated in the Hebrew letters on the Dreidel. They are famous events in Jewish history and often shown in Hebrew Jewelry designs.
The events of Hanukkah, and the Maccabbean victory, are described in Daniel chapter 11 in the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible.
To commemorate these events, the traditional seven-branched candlestick was adapted, and a new branch was added on either side. This makes eight side branches with a separate middle branch called the shamash (servant). During Hanukkah, the shamash is used to light the other branches, one per day, until all eight branches burn brightly on the last day of Hanukkah.
For these reasons, the Hanukkiah has become a classic design and is often seen in Hebrew Jewelry. It is a wonderful symbol of Jewish belief, and of victory against all odds. Wearing Hebrew Jewelry featuring the Menorah and Hanukkiah remind us of these things and how the God of Israel is always vindicated. Jewish beliefs triumph over foreign invaders.
In future blogs, we hope to discuss and showcase Hebrew Jewelry containing the Jewish Hanukkiah.