The Golden Candlestick

See also Candlestick

kan’-d’-l-stik, gold’-’-n (menorah, literally "lamp-stand"): An important part of the furniture of the tabernacle and temples.

See Tabernacle; Temple; Lamp.

1. The Tabernacle:

The candlestick is first met with in the descriptions of the tabernacle (Ex 25:31-39; 37:17-24). It was, with the utensils connected with it (snuffers, snuff dishes), to be made of pure beaten gold, of one piece, a talent in weight (Ex 25:39). It consisted of a pedestal or base, of a central stem (the name "candlestick" is specially given to this), of six curving branches--three on each side--and of seven lamps resting on the tops of the branches and stem. Stem and branches were ornamented with cups like almond-blossoms, knops and flowers--four of this series on the stem, and three on each of the branches. Some, however, understand the "cup" to embrace the "knop" and "flower" (calyx and corolla). The shape of the pedestal is uncertain. Jewish tradition suggests three small feet; the representation of the candlestick on the Arch of Titus has a solid, hexagonal base. The position of the candlestick was on the South side of the holy place (Ex 40:24).

2. Temple of Solomon:

In Solomon’s temple the single golden candlestick was multiplied to ten, and the position was altered. The candlesticks were now placed in front of the Holy of Holies, five on one side, five on the other (1Ki 7:49; 2Ch 4:7). Further details are not given in the texts, from which it may be presumed that the model of the tabernacle candlestick was followed.

3. Temple of Zerubbabel:

The second temple reverted to the single golden candlestick. When the temple was plundered by Antiochus Epiphanes, the candlestick was taken away (1 Macc 1:21); after the cleansing, a new one was made by Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 4:49,50).

4. Temple of Herod:

The same arrangement of a single golden candlestick, placed on the South side of the holy place, was continued in Herod's Temple|Herod’s Temple (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 5). It was this which, carried away by Titus, was represented on his Arch at Rome.

5. Use and Symbolism:

The oldest known representation of the seven-branched candlestick is on a coin of Antigonus, circa 40 BC (see Madden’s Coins of the Jews, 102). For literature see Tabernacle; Temple.

Additional Material

CANDLESTICK (THE GOLDEN) (מְנוֹרָה, H4963; LXX λυχνία, G3393, KJV CANDLESTICK; RSV [more accurately] LAMPSTAND). A means of furnishing light for the Tabernacle and the Temple.

“Lampstand” is the better tr., because in days of old the Hebrews did not know the use of candles as we do. The candlestick was in reality a lampstand.

Directions for the making of this lampstand are given in Exodus 25:31-39: a central stem rising up from the base; three arms curving upward coming out at the side of the stem, ending at the top in a straight row of holders in which the lamps were put in one row; the material, gold; the arms and the stem highly ornate with almond blossom design. It is almost impossible to determine the exact nature of the flowery ornamentation. The necessary “snuffers and trays” for the lampstand were also to be of gold. A pattern of the whole had been shown to Moses in the mountain.

The account of the directions given is followed in Exodus 37:17-24 by a second account of how the prescriptions were carried out to the letter.

When finished the lampstand was placed in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle opposite the table of showbread. When the Temple of Solomon was built, in harmony with the much greater size of that structure, ten golden lampstands were provided. For reasons not known, only one lampstand was set up in the second Temple, which continued in use until it was removed from its place by Antiochus Epiphanes. However, in the restoration brought about by Judas Maccabeus, a new lampstand was made and put into use. The same pattern seems to have prevailed in the Temple of Herod until the destruction of the Temple and the city by Titus (a.d. 70).

Rather important is the symbolism of the lampstand. The one safe lead, though occurring in a NT statement, is Revelation 1:12-20, which indicates: “the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” The same symbolism may have been intended for the OT original. Still the number seven leaves a problem, which may be solved by regarding seven, as many do, as the number of the covenant. The Church is composed of God’s covenant people. The material, gold, is chosen, for it well represents how precious the Church is in the sight of the Lord. The oil, as is often the case in the OT and in the NT, would then represent the Holy Spirit.