Religious Symbols: The Star of David
The Star of David is a widely recognized symbol of the Jewish religion. The legend surrounding the origins of this symbol in Judaism relies on the belief that this emblem was used by the biblical King David of Jerusalem as a shield, hence the Hebrew name "Magen David" meaning star or shield of David. It is sometimes referred to as the Seal of Solomon, a ring used by King Solomon for protection against demonic forces
The historical and archeological origins of the Star of David have been linked to the origins of the Pentagram, which with the cross and the swastika, represents one of the oldest form of religious symbolism used among societies.
Historical use of both the Star of David is not limited to the Jewish faith, and has been linked to Christianity, Rastafarianism, Ritual Magick, and Hinduism.
The Star of David: The Hexagram
The Star of David is a hexagram, a six-pointed star comprised of two overlapping triangles. In the Kabbalistic tradition, practiced by an elite group of rabbis on the basis of the Jewish Tanakh, the hexagram symbolized the six directions of space, the union between male and female divine energy, and the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water. In alchemy, the triangles represent the fire and water elements, and the combination represents perfect harmony.
The hexagram symbol was frequently used alongside the pentagram in antiquity and are thus interlinked.
The Star of David in Judaism
The earliest use of the hexagram as a symbol of Jewish faith dates back to a seal in ancient Israel in the sixth century BCE. The hexagram has also been found on the wall of a synagogue dating to the second century CE. However, its use may have only had significance as a decorative ornament, and not as a religious symbol.
An increased use of the Star of David among Jewish communities is attributed to the middle ages, or the sixth century CE, with the popularization of practical Kabbalah. During this time, the Star of David was also used as a Jewish printer�s mark, and appears on synagogues, tombstones, and even medieval cathedrals.
In 1354, Emperor Charles of Prague allowed the Jewish community to raise their own flag on certain occasions. The chosen flag featured the Star of David, which later appeared in seventeenth century Vienna on a stone that separated Jewish and Christian quarters. The emancipation of Jewish communities following the French revolution of 1789 led to the establishment of the hexagram as a Jewish symbol to represent the community once again.
The nineteenth century is believed to be the period during which the Star of David gained widespread acceptance amongst Jewish communities, and the symbol was eventually chosen to represent the Israeli flag,
Early Christianity and the Star of David
Amongst Christians, the pentagram has been used as a protective amulet, and has been used to represent the star of Bethlehem which appeared at the time of the birth of Jesus. It was also used by the Emperor Constantine, who is associated with the popularization of the cross as a seal.
Artifacts containing the symbol of the Jerusalem Messianic Seal have been uncovered in Mount Zion and are said to date to the first or second century CE. This symbol combines three depictions: the menorah, a Jewish symbol; the Star of David; and the fish, a Christian symbol commonly used prior to the cross. It is believed that the Jerusalem Messianic Seal is the symbol of early Jewish-Christian churches, suggesting that the Star of David in its hexagram form could have been adopted by these early followers.
The pentagram is a five-pointed star that has appeared in the ancient cultures of Latin America, India, China, Greece, and Egypt. It has been found in Neolithic caves and Babylonian drawings as a secret symbol of the Goddess Ishtar. The Greeks used the pentagram to symbolize the division of the human soul, and the Pythagorean elements that make up the body: water, earth, spirit, fire, and air.
The pentagram appears in Hebrew scriptures, and was worn by early Christians as jewelry and amulets in order to represent the five wounds of Jesus. It was also used by Christian Gnostics to represent the female principle. The pentagram also appears in kabbalistic teachings and is also used by the Freemasons, fpr whom the pentagram symbolizes the descent of the divinity of Christ. The meaning of the pentagram began to change after the Christian Inquisition, when it became associated with the goat�s head or the devil.