Star of David
In the last two centuries, the Star of David, Magen David in Hebrew, has become the most recognizable sign of the Jewish identity. This symbol is comprised of two symmetrical triangles that create a six pointed star- Hexagram. Today the Star of David is found in almost every synagogue and appears on the national flag of the state of Israel.
When did the Star of David first appear? The Star of David made its first appearances in the Bronze era. At first, the Star of David was not an exclusive symbol for Judaism. Diverse communities around the world used it as a decoration. The Star of David had also played a part in religious practices of other cultures in the world. In the middle ages, the Star of David was believed to possess special supernatural qualities. The Star of David was used by several communities in religious rituals to fight demons and evil spirits. Similarly, the Kabbalists used the Star of David as a tool to ward off negative energies.
The word Magen David first appeared in the Babylonian Talmud as part of a blessing: "Blessed be you, protector of David (Magen David)".Though it is commonly known in English as the Star of David, the Hebrew name points to the likely origin of the symbol. The Hebrew word Magen, which means a protector or a shield, refers to the star-shaped shield of King David and his warriors. The shape of the Star, as the legend tells, has brought divine protection and led King David and his men to their great victories that have paved to way to the construction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by David's son, King Solomon. Solomon's Seal was shaped as a five-pointed star, baring noteworthy resemblance to the Star of David.
A source in the Bible provides another hypothesis as to the origin of the symbol. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah describes six qualities that G-d has given to King David to make him a great king: "the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD"(Isaiah, 11:2).
Up until the nineteenth century, the menorah has been the only exclusive symbol of Judaism. In the seventeenth century things have started to take a turn as several European communities, such as the Jewish community of Prague, have started to use the Star of David as a sign of their community. From that point onwards, the Star of David has started to gradually appear in many local synagogues across Europe, becoming a major symbol of national identity. By the end of the century, the Zionist movement has embraced the symbol. Since then, it has become the most common symbols for Jewish identity. In War World Two the Nazis forced the Jews to wear yellow badges with the Star of David imprinted on them to mark the Jews out of the other populations.
In the post war era, the Star of David has turned from a badge of shame to a symbol of national redemption and pride. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the famous Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig claimed that the image of Star of David embodies the essence of Judaism. In his view, the six points represent the six foundations in Jewish thought: Creation, Redemption, Revelation, Humanity, World and God.
In 1948, Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people. At that time, in a controversial move, it was decided to include the Star of David on the national flag. After the fulfillment of the Zionist dream in the form of a Jewish state, the Star of David has become even more profoundly a sign of collective pride. Today, many Jewish people across the world wear jewelry and fashion accessories featuring Magen David as a way to display their deep connection to the state of Israel. Others wear the Star of David for reasons related to the original use of the Jewish star – as a powerful amulet that is believed to provide protection and blessing.