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The Star of David Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

“You, O L-rd, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.” (Paslm 3:3)1

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The six-pointed star formed by two over-lapping triangles hasn’t always been associated exclusively with Judaism, but was also used by Christians and Muslims at various points in history and by the occult in the same way that the Nazi swastika was used throughout history. Some even believe it was associated with King Solomon instead of King David, and was used as one of his official seals after Solomon abandoned the L-rd and worshiped the gods of his many pagan wives. It is also used frequently in mystical Judaism (Kabbalah). 

The earliest known Jewish use of the star was as an ornamental design on a seal in ancient Israel (6th century B.C.E.) and also eight centuries later on a synagogue frieze in Capernaum. And although there is no mention of this symbol or its meaning in any authoritative Jewish book, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in Igros Moshe2 tells us that the most convincing source for this sign is David himself. Clearly, David did not find security in battle with any armor or shield, but only in G-d. He was invulnerable from every side – above, below, east, west, north, and south – six directions in all. The six-pointed star stands for David’s true shield, the One who has ultimate rule over the universe and is meant to symbolize the eternal Jewish faith in G-d no matter what the adversity.

“O L-rd, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in G-d.’ But You, O L-rd, are a shield about me, my glory and the One who lifts my head. … I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O L-rd; save me, O my G-d! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; you have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the L-rd; Your blessing be upon Your people!” (Psalm 3)

Even before David called G-d his Shield, the L-rd proclaimed it to Abraham.

"Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." (Genesis 15:1)

The structure of the star, with two overlapping triangles, has also been thought to represent the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. The triangle that points up symbolizes G-d, and the triangle that points down represents Jews on Earth. Thus, the triangle pointing up represents the triune nature of G-d [Father, Son, Holy Spirit] and the triangle facing down represents the triune nature of man [Body, Soul, Spirit].

The symbol became representative of the worldwide Zionist community, and later the broader Jewish community, after it was chosen to represent the First Zionist Congress in 1897. David Wolffsohn3, a businessman prominent in the early Zionist movement, was aware that the new Zionist movement had no official flag. He wondered what flag would be hung in the Zionist Congress Hall. He sought to remedy that problem by designing a flag that contained something of the essence of the Jewish people. An idea struck him that Jews have a flag—the tallit (prayer shawl) with which they wrap themselves to pray, that is the symbol of Judaism. 

“Let us take this Tallit from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being.”(David Wolffsohn)

The flag of Israel with a blue stripe above and below the Shield of David is a subtle reminder of G-d's covenant with Israel for all the land between the River of Egypt and the Euphrates River, the blue stripes representing the two rivers and the Shield representing the Nation of Israel.

"On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, 'To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates." (Genesis 15:18)

Theodor Herzl4, head of the World Zionist Congress, accepted the flag because it was not overtly religious in nature and the religious people in the Zionist movement accepted it because it represented one of the names of G-d in Judaism, “The Shield of David”. Today, its acceptance among Jewish people worldwide as the symbol of the State of Israel has made the question of its origins irrelevant. 

Am Yisrael Chai (The people of Israel live)

1.This is verse 4 in the Jewish Bible

2. Rav Moses Feinstein, a Lithuanian Orthodox rabbi's voluminous collection of his halachic decisions, published in 1959 - Orach Chaim Volume 3, Res. 15

3. Wolffsohn grew up in a religious home and was educated in Hebrew schools.

4. Herzl was a professed atheist.

 

 
 
 
 
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