The Menorah - YHWH Himself designed it!
The "daily" menorah....
The menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is the emblem on the coat of arms of the modern state of Israel. It is described in the Bible as the seven-branched ancient "lampstand" made and used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses in the wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil of the purest quality was burned daily to light its lamps.
There are two different types of menorah: The seven-branched menorah for daily use is a replica of the one that was in the Temple. The 9 branched menorah (see bottom of this article) used during Hanukkah is called a Hanukkiah. Hanukkah is not one of YHWH's commanded feasts but, rather, a tradition celebrating the remembrance of the victory of a small band of Jews over the occupying army of Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes.
The menorah, the only symbol our Creator designed Himself (all other "religious" symbols are man-made), is said to symbolize the burning bush as seen by Moses on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3). YHWH (Yahweh) commanded Moses to make a menorah that had one main "stem" and six branches (Exodus 25:31-40); and commanded it to be placed in the "holy place" of the Tabernacle and the Temple.
Exodus 25:31 . . . "You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece" . . .
Exodus 25:32 . . . "And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side."
The Menorah with its seven branches is a perfect picture of the Seven Spirits of YHWH, as shown in the following scripture:
Isaiah 11:2-3: "The Spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Chochmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Understanding), the Spirit of Atzah (Counsel) and Gevurah (Might), the Spirit of Da'at (Knowledge) and of the Yirah (Fear) of YHWH."
The 7-branch menorah is made according to the commandment in Exodus 25:31-40. It appears in the coat of arms of the State of Israel and, among other things, it symbolizes the creation in seven days, with the center light representing the Sabbath. It is also said to symbolize the burning bush as seen by Moses on Mount Horeb (Exodus 3).
Priests of old would light it every evening and clean it every morning. Jewish sages teach that this menorah was the vessel that YHWH used to blend the spiritual life that is to come with the physical life of this world. Ultimately, the purpose of the menorah was not to illuminate the temple but to spread its light throughout the world. It has always been a symbol of the nation of Israel and it is a physical reminder of the commandment in Isaiah 42:6 to be a light to the nations.
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the seven lamps of the golden menorah represented the seven classical planets in this order: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Josephus Antiquities Ch. 6 para. 7:
"It was made with its knops, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls (which ornaments amounted to seventy in all – interestingly, the number seventy is symbolic of the number prior to increase or representative of a multitude); by which means the shaft elevated itself on high from a single base, and spread itself into as many branches as there are planets...It terminated in seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps, one by one, in imitation of the numbers of the planets. The lamps looked to the east and to the south...."
We can see a picture of the Menorah with its seven branches in Isaiah 11:2-3. The center of the menorah represents the Spirit of YHWH while the six other attributes are joined into the center pillar. These seven Spirits also signify perfection or completeness. The Fear of YHWH Elohim is a "Spirit" of YHWH; it is a vital spiritual quality for Life in Mashiyach. The Fear of YHWH is a personal guide; Hebrew yirah means fear, as in fear/awesome/terrifying contrary to Christian teaching that the Fear of YHWH is not really "fear" but love and respect.
Isaiah 11:2-3: And the Spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the Yirah (Fear) of YHWH; And shall make him of quick understanding in the Yirah (Fear) of YHWH....
Many synagogues display either a Menorah or an artistic representation of a menorah, usually in a continually lit lamp or light in front of the Ark, where the Torah scroll is kept (called the ner tamid - eternal light). This lamp represents the continually lit ner Elohim of the menorah used in Temple times.
The Hannukah menorah is different from the "daily" menorah....
As briefly mentioned above, during Hanukkah we use a 9-branch menorah called a "Hanukkiya". The tradition is that we are to set our hanukkiah in a window where everyone can see it; and for consecutive eight days at sunset, we light the chamash (servant candle which is in the center of the hanukkiah) and use it to light the other candles.
In other words, on the first day we light the chamash with a match/lighter and then use it to light the first candle (beginning at the far right and working to the left as the days go by). On the first day we have the chamash and one candle lit. On the second day, we take a new chamash and use it to light TWO candles (again beginning at the far right, meaning a total of three candles lit - the chamash and two candles)...repeating this for all 8 days when all the candles are lit. Each time we allow the candles to burn all the way down and replace them; each night we use a new chamash candle.
A suggested prayer as you light the candles:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe
asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us
l'had'lik neir shel Chanukah. (Amein)
to light the lights of Chanukkah. (Amein)
Hanukkah is a great witnessing tool, one of those wonderful holidays where we can show the world we are "different." When family members or neighbors see the Hannukiah in our windows, they automatically think, "Hmm, Jewish." In some cases, it can lead them to question exactly what it means, and some will be curious enough to either ask us about it, or research it on their own - which might just lead them to wonder what else this "Jewish religion" contains....