Symbols of the State of Israel

Hebrew Bible (Leningrad Codex) with Jewish Star on Cover

The Magen David (Jewish Star) that is so well known as a national symbol, only became such in the last few hundred years. While the star is not found in archeology as an ancient Jewish symbol, it is found in Jewish religious and kabbalistic (mystical) writing nearly 1,000 years ago such as on the cover of this Hebrew Bible. Protective amulets  (charms)  with stars were known to be popular 900 years ago and until today.  The kabbalistic meaning is that it's the unity of 6 points.  The  points  represent Gods dominion over the heaven, the earth, and the 4 corners of the world. It bears the name of King David who  always trusted in God and, therefore, never feared mortal kings.

Herzl's Idea for the Flag

Herzl, who is often called the father of Modern Zionism, had some ideas that were prophetic. For example, in 1897 he declared, "Today I have founded the Jewish State. In 50 years everyone will see it." In fact, 50 years later, the State of Israel was established. On the other hand, some of the details of what Herzl envisioned did not come to fruition.  For example, Herzl wanted the State to enforce that workers would only work 7 hours  each day. He drew a sketch of a flag with 7 gold stars representing the 7  hours  of the work day. This idea was not considered such an important Jewish value to deem it necessary to  be on the  national flag, so it did not become  the design. 

Flag Adopted the First World Zionist Congress in 1897

Herzl's good friend, David Wolfson, suggested a design that would resonate more with Jewish tradition and culture. He retained the gold stars, added the Lion of Judah, and 2 stripes. Why the  stripes? Wolfson said that the Jewish  people already have a flag, the tallit  (prayer  shawl)  which often has on it blue stripes. Since Biblical times, blue has been an important color in Judaism.  Our sages explain, "Techelet (blue) resembles the sea which resembles the sky which resembles God's throne of glory." In the Land of Israel, a flag with the blue Jewish star was already  being used, so in the end, the blue star  with two blue stripes became the flag of the State of Israel.

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Replica of the Arch of Titus in Rome  (Diapora Museum in Tel Aviv)

The arch of Titus which still stands in Rome today depicts the Roman soldiers carrying off the Menorah and other vessels from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after burning and destroying the Temple in 70 CE. Josephus, a historian living at that time, describes that the Romans piled up the spoils collected from the Jews, "but more prominent than all the rest were those  captured in the Temple at Jerusalem...a lampstand made of gold..." 

Emblem of the State of Israel

The menorah -- representing the fire of the soul and it's desire to connect to God -- has been important to the Jewish people since Moses was commanded by God to make a Golden Menorah. After the destruction of the Temple, the menorah became a symbol of the desire to  rebuild the Temple and to rule in Jerusalem. The menorah is the most commonly  found  symbol in Jewish archeology. Thus, it was a logical choice for the emblem of the State of Israel.