Biblical Archaeology Review 45:6, November/December 2019

Strata: A Light in the Wilderness

Archaeologists discovered an early representation of a menorah at Beer Sheva in Israel’s Negev. The menorah appears on the fragment of an oil lamp, which was uncovered from a Jewish settlement dated from the first–second centuries C.E. It has nine branches.

There is no reason to assume a connection between this menorah and the celebration of Hanukkah, which uses a nine-branched candelabrum. The excavators explain that it was common for domestic lamps to have eight to eleven branches during this period. According to the Babylonian Talmud, only the Temple menorah was allowed to have seven branches.

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