Menora. Titus arch relief (replica).
Base of Menora. Titus arch relief (replica).
The base is embroidered with zoomorphic figures. This is unusual for the picture language of the old testament. Some scholars believe that this indicates that the Menora was created at a very early stage when memories of 'pagan', that is pre-old testament times where still alive in the thoughts of the people.
The Menora is a seven armed candlestick. According to biblical tradition (Exodus, chapter 25) it was build during the exodus from 50 kg gold. It used oil rather than candles.
When the Romans conquered Jerusalem in AD 70 they found the Menora along with the bread table and the Jewish law stone tablets. These trophies are shown on the Titus arch in Rome and mentioned by Flavius Josephus (The Jewish War, Book VII, Chapter 5).
The relief on the Titus arch is so well preserved that it was possible to create detailed replicas of the Menora. Interestingly, the depicted Menora shows animals. According to Hebrew tradition this is not done on sacred items. It seems the Menora conquered AD 70 originated from the hellenistic world and was not original item build at the exodus which took place some 1100 years earlier. According to tradition, the Menora Titus got was given to the temple by king Judas Makadeus in 160 BC. It seems there existed different versions of the Hebrew relics throughout the ages. Things were stolen or destroyed and replaced. Even if we find something today how can we tell the version?
Unlike the bread table the Menora plays no role in Spanish myths and not a single oriental source refers to it. It appears the Visigoths did not find it when they sacked Rome in AD 410 but the Vandals found it when they plundered the city in AD 455. They did that very thoroughly so even today we know the term “vandalism”.
The Vandals brought the Menora to Karthago near modern Tunis in north Afrika. AD 531 the Byzantine general Belizar conquered Karthago and brought the Menora as a gift for Kaiser Justinian to Byzantium. Kaiser Justinian declined and sent it instead to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. We do not know whether it arrived there. The trace is lost between Byzantium and Jerusalem.
The fact base is too weak for a targeted search.
(C) 2006-2011 Thorsten Straub, www.biblical-finds.com