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Candlestick, The Golden

CANDLESTICK, THE GOLDEN

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 (Exodus 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 (Exodus 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 (Exodus 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 (1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 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 (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 immediate object of the candlestick was to give light in the holy place. The lamps were lighted in the evening and burned till the morning (Exodus 30:7,8; Leviticus 24:3; 1 Samuel 3:3; 2 Chronicles 13:11), light being admitted into the temple during the day by the upper windows. Josephus in his Cosmical speculations (BJ, V, v, 5) takes the seven lamps to signify the seven planets. In Zechariah's vision of the golden candlestick (Zechariah 4:2), the seven lamps are fed by two olive trees which are interpreted to be "the two anointed ones," Zerubbabel and Joshua--the civil and spiritual representatives of theocracy. The candlestick here, like the seven candlesticks in Revelation 1:20; 2:1, symbolizes the church of God, then in its Old Testament form, the idea conveyed being that God's church is set to be a lightgiver in the world. Compare Christ's words (Matthew 5:14,16; Luke 12:35), and Paul's (Philippians 2:15).

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\.

James Orr


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'CANDLESTICK, THE GOLDEN'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.