Menorahs in Scripture

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How familiar are you with menorahs? Growing up in the Christian faith, I don't think I ever heard them mentioned. Sure, I read the descriptions of the Tabernacle and later the Beit Hamikdash but I don't think I ever paused enough to consider what that looked like. A candelabra with three branches on either side of one central branch, a place for seven lights. I know for sure I never saw one of these, in person or even a picture, at any of the churches we attended, the Christian camps I went to, Bible colleges I visited as a prospective student, or ministries I have worked for. 

Is that a big deal? If you believe that all Scripture is useful for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), it matters that we are completely ignoring a symbol that YHWH gave us. While menorahs are mentioned more than 40 times in Scripture they actually appear far more often. Think of the unspoken details of cultural events in your world. A friend mentioning they were at a high school football game speaks volumes of details I instantly assume, without verbal communication. I know it would have been on a Friday night, it was probably very cold, the marching band played the school fight song, the stands are usually full, popcorn is for sale, what color jerseys our team wore, the layout of the place and so on. There is no need for my friend to describe these details because I know exactly how these games work. But if you aren't familiar with high school football, a lot of this is going to be lost on you. You might get the gist of the story and have a rough idea of what it was like but these details are going to go right past you.

The menorah is a detail like this. Yahusha would have seen its light each time he was at the Beit Hamikdash. It would have been nearby when he spoke the words, "My sheep know my voice." It was there when he cleansed the Temple. Many could have heard his teachings while looking at the light of the menorah. I missed that for a long time.

We should note that the appropriate number of branches for a menorah is what YHWH instructed: seven. Of the limited menorahs we see today, I would estimate that 75% are the nine-branched Hanukkiahs that were created for the man-made celebration of Hanukkah. While that is similar to YHWH's design, it is not what he commanded. Since YHWH's thinking is far above ours we can be certain there is a reason he chose his light to be represented in sevens.

The menorah is significant enough to YHWH that he had it put in the Tabernacle and weaved the significance of seven and light throughout his word. Yahusha spoke of it often as well. Let's get better acquainted with it, shall we?

15 Places we see Menorahs in Scripture:

1. Exodus 25 is where YHWH first orders a menorah to be made and described what it looked like. Can you imagine how beautiful that must have been? Made from one piece of gold with details of almond blossoms on it. This provided the light for the priests in the Holy Place.

2. The first sentence of Scripture goes like this in Hebrew, Beresheet bara Elohim et hashamayim va'et ha'aretz. The phrase is seven words and contains a beautiful picture. The first three words refer to YHWH (the one who was in the beginning, he created), and the last three refer to earth (the heavens and the earth). If you picture these words taking either side of the menorah, you are left with the word et in the middle as the main branch that brings them together. What is the word et? In Hebrew it is simply spelled aleph-tov, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Most of us are familiar with the Alpha and Omega translation of this word that is used as a title for Yahusha. When we pair each word of the first sentence of Scripture to the branches of the menorah we can see that Yahusha is what connects us to YHWH.

3. Luke 4:16-21 - When Yahusha read the prophecy of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue something very significant happened that modern readers don't see. The tradition of synagogues in that day was to have three elders on other side of the reader standing in the bema seat. So when Yahusha began to read, "The Spirit of YHWH is upon me," the picture in front of those in attendance was that of a human menorah, where once again Yahusha was in the center.

4. Revelation 1:4 - Did you know that there are seven spirits of YHWH, not just one? This verse tells us that he has seven spirits standing before his throne. It's not a far leap to see the parallel of the seven spirits in Heaven where the seven lights of the menorah were in the Beit Hamikdash.

5. John had a vision of seven menorahs in Revelation 1:12, and Yahusha decoded this for us. The seven menorahs that you saw are the seven Israelite congregations. There is crazy significance to Yahusha using the symbol of the menorah to represent his people!

6. Revelation 2:5 - I will remove the menorah from you unless you make teshuvah. If we don't repent he takes the symbol from the faith from us. Do you see a lot of menorahs in faiths that supposedly follow YHWH? In Judaism 'menorahs' are falsely represented as nine branched for the most part. This passage also leads me to believe that if we have repented of our sins and turned to YHWH that the menorah would be with us, in the spiritual sense of Yahusha's light, but also physically.

7. Yahusha makes mention that he walks in the midst of menorahs in Revelation 2:1. We can see the allegorical sense of his presence with his congregations, but we shouldn't stop it there. Yahusha surrounded himself with menorahs the many times he visited the Beit Hamikdash and has menorahs before him in heaven.

8. The Seven Feasts of YHWH can also be seen as a menorah. If you take their chronological order, Shavuot falls in the center. Significant events that occurred at this feast are the giving of the Torah and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Another picture of Heaven connecting with earth like in Beresheet 1.

9. Zechariah 4:11 - YHWH showed two menorahs to Zechariah in a vision to teach him the deeper truth of the two houses of Israel.

10. John 8:12 - When Yahusha said, "I am the light." There are two significant pieces here. Firstly, the root of the word Torah is or, meaning light in Hebrew. I can't help but think he made a little play announcing that he is the living Torah. And second, the Greek word that is used here is phos, which of course means light but also speaks of the lamp that is emitting said light. Now if he said that he was the lamp that emits the light, which lamp do you think he had in mind? There was and is no light of more significance than the menorah. Could he have been saying, "I am the menorah,"?

11. Yahusha did many things in sevens. The book of Yochanan contains seven instances where Yahusha said, "I am." Scripture records him healing seven times on Shabbat.


12. When Jerusalem is sieged by King Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonians carried off many temple items including the menorahs, in Jeremiah 52:19. Made of solid gold these were incredibly valuable (millions of dollars each in today's money), but the spiritual loss was more devastating for the people of Judah who had disobeyed YHWH.

13. Revelation 11:4 - The two witnesses in the last days (houses of Judah and Ephraim) are likened to menorahs before YHWH. 

14. Isaiah 11:2 - Attributes seven ruachs to the Messiah. Of YHWH, of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, and of the fear of YHWH.

15. 
Matthew 5:15 - A parable hidden in good advice. You wouldn't put a menorah under a basket. Yahusha using this terminology shows us that he expected his followers then and now to be familiar with what a menorah is.

There is a lot to be learned from each of these Scriptures but what really gets me is that last one. Yahusha intentionally spoke in ways that could be understood by those in his day as well as for the next thousands of years. His agricultural allegories show us this. We can understand the Parable of the Sower because gardening and food production is more or less still works the same. Him using the menorah in a parable clearly shows us that he didn't want us to get rid of them. And like he communicated to John in Revelation he sees his people as menorahs.

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