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History of the Holy Temple Menorah

 

History of the Holy Temple Menorah

 

Building the Menorah: A Third Method

 

Building the Menorah: A Third Method

 

A third method is proposed to understand how the menorah was built by Bnei Yisrael in the desert: A large form was created by carving out of stone half of a menorah. A twin (bookend) form was also created. Gold was then beaten very thin so that it could take on the shape of the mold. The two half menorahs were then removed from the forms and the connected together forming the completed menorah.

Pharaonic Egypt, from which Israel emerged, was awash in gold. The tombs of the pharaohs have revealed that the gold ornamentation and jewelry possessed by the pharaohs was made by beating gold to a paper thin thickness and then shaping it and affixing it to a substructure to give it strength. It is reasonable to assume that Betzalel, the Israelite artisan who oversaw the manufacture of the Temple vessels in the desert, was expert at the craft that he learned as a slave in Egypt, and would employ the same principles when constructing the menorah.

It is also possible that, as opposed to the method described above, Betzalel would have created an armature, perhaps out of wood, and then beaten gold sheets to conform to the shape of the armature.

Gold is a very heavy material, an a very soft material. A menorah made of solid pure gold would not be able to support itself. A thin gold menorah supported by an internal "skeleton" would be able to support itself.

Another physical property of gold is that two separate pieces of gold, when beaten together, molecularly become a single piece. In this manner, a menorah made from separate sheets of gold could be beaten into one indivisible piece of gold, "one hammered mass of pure gold - מקשה אחת זהב" in the language of Torah. (Exodus 25:36)

The painting depicts the method proposed above of a double mold. The photo on the top left show a detail of ancient Egyptian gold. On the right is an engraving showing a goldsmith beating gold.

Next: Building the Menorah in Our Day

 

 

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