The Temple Institute: A Day in the Life of the Holy Temple: About the Menorah: Details of Construction

About the Menorah: Details of Construction

Biblical Verses - Ex. Chapter 25

With these words, the Holy One instructed Moses with the construction of the Temple Menorah, the golden seven-branched lamp. This is a highly detailed, involved and intricate undertaking; yet these passages provide only a general description of the plan for executing the project. The Talmud goes into considerable explanation of its details, and every aspect of the lamp's creation and appearance is discussed. Some of these details include, for example: the menorah's height, measured at 18 handbreadths, and considered to be the height of an average man. Some questions exist with regard to the base, which was either triangular or hemispherical, and may have featured three small legs (Menachot 3, 7; Maimonides Laws of the Temple 3:2).

The Talmud (BT Menachot 28:B) compares the cups which were fashioned on the branches to "Alexandrian goblets," which are wide with a narrow bottom, like wine glasses. As to the menorah's branches, some opinions hold that they were hollow (Ibn Ezra), but the majority maintain that they were solid. The greatest controversy regarding the menorah concerns its basic structure, i.e., the shape and direction of its branches. Some ancient diagrams, as well as historical evidence, depict the menorah as having rounded branches; other opinions maintain that the branches rise diagonally, straight out from the middle.

Because the Bible requires that the menorah be constructed from one segment of metal, it was made from one "talent," or kikar of gold - one piece of pure beaten gold, as opposed to several pieces being joined together. Within the Holy Temple, the menorah stood inside the Sanctuary on the southern side, and its seven lamps were to be lit in such a manner, that they would all shine towards the center. Each day a priest would tend to its the lamps' flames, fixing and preparing the wicks and kindling them anew.

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