🔼The name Menorah: Summary
- Lamp Stand
- From the noun נור (ner), lamp.
🔼The name Menorah in the Bible
The word Menorah describes the six-branched lampstand (Exodus 25:32) with seven detachable lamps (Exodus 25:37, Numbers 8:2) that was one of the most prominent items of the inner tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-39 and 37:17-24), which in turn was the part of the tabernacle complex that nobody but the priests got to see. Over time, the Menorah became a symbol of Israel, but very few Israelites other than the priests actually knew what it looked like. In fact, its familiar depiction that goes back to the Arc of Titus and beyond, is first of all a guess and secondly most probably an attempted visualization of the ten Solomonic Menoroth, rather than the Mosaic one (1 Kings 7:49).
The original Menorah was made by Bezalel and Oholiab, according to patterns that YHWH showed Moses on the mountain (Exodus 25:40, 31:8), and unless we assume that the Lord was so greatly concerned with interior decoration (invisible to boot) that the Bible spends more time on the design of the tabernacle complex than on the creation and flood of Noah combined, there's obviously something more to the tabernacle than a nifty or impressive design — the tabernacle was not very impressive at all, actually; it was a boring and low, unimposing box.
The wording used in Exodus 25:31-39 and 37:17-24 is vibrant with meaning, far beyond what can be caught in a translation. In fact, it's far from a vain boast to submit that the usual depiction of a physical piece of furniture is just one of a great many consistent systems to be extracted from it, and may even be a decoy; a mere vessel in the image of something handy which contained something deeply holy. After all, we still have Exodus 25:31-39 and 37:17-24 because most of us believed that it was about a lampstand.
The Menorah had six branches and seven lamps (the word for six, שש, shesh, also means to rejoice and to be venerably old, and the word for seven, שבע, sheba', also means to swear an oath and maybe also to be saturated). The Menorah operated on freshly beaten olives (זית, zayit; Leviticus 24:2) and was placed in the Holy Place, together with the table of showbread and the incense altar. The latter was closest to the veil, which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. When the tabernacle was transported, all items were covered (Numbers 4:9).
🔼Etymology of the name Menorah
The name Menorah is the word נור (ner), meaning lamp, made feminine (by means of the post-fixed ה) and prefixed with the particle מ, which denotes an "agent or place of...". It literally means lamps-stand:
The verb נהר (nahar) means to flow or stream and is used for both water and light (which in turn demonstrates that the ancients had Relativity Theory; see our expanded article for more). Noun נהר (nahar) means river or stream. Noun נהרה (nahara) means light or daylight and מנהרה (minhara) "place of nahara". Nouns נר (ner) and ניר (nir) mean lamp, and nouns מנורה (menorah) and מנרה (menorah) mean lampstand.
🔼The meaning of the Menorah
One thing is sure and that is that very few people, or none at all, know what the Menorah is. And this in turn invites the most inane suggestions.
The Menorah is said to represent the creation week, which would only work for people who never seriously contemplated the creation week, which apparently is a large majority of commentators on it. Or it represents the seven continents, which only works for people who believe that God created political borders. Or it represents the seven pillars of wisdom (Proverbs 9:1), or the seven words of Psalm 83:3, or any other seven that might possibly occur anywhere in nature or in the Bible. It may even be a stylized representation of cannabis, the Nile delta or lightning!
Some may note an enticing congruence between the Lord's command to make the Menorah according to patterns Moses saw on the mountain (Exodus 25:40) and the Hermeticistic dictum of "as above, so below," which would suggest that our Menorah might be an earthly representation of the seven visible planets, or slightly more daring, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters (as perhaps mentioned in Job 9:9, 38:31 and Amos 5:8, and of course much more spectacularly in Exodus 2:16). But any Scripture theorist who wants to go down that particular road should first contemplate the Hebrew word for Orion, namely כסיל (kesil), which also means fool.
Minimalists, or otherwise imaginatively challenged thinkers, may note that any dark room where folks come and go simply needs a sturdy lamp, seven lamps symmetrically arranged make a stable construction, and seven wicks ensures permanent illumination. This theory has an admitted clean and neurotypical feel to it, but is also void of any sense of adventure and does not explain the huge amount of text devoted to the lampstand.
🔼Engineers and prophets
Here at Abarim Publications we once were engineers (but never neurotypical or lacking sense of adventure) and to us the descriptions of the tabernacle feel much more like a technical manual than a religious manifesto. Had the tabernacle been a temple-like building in the classically religious sense, we would expect much more elaborate metaphors and bombastic phraseology (statements like "and the holy lampstand that shines like an angel its immaculate light and casts no shadows but reaches the heavens in its glorious splendor ... ".). Instead we see what we saw in countless technical manuals: purpose driven and precise descriptions, clarifying and confirmative repetitions, and no feelings of any kind.
Readers may be moved to object to this hypothesis on the ground that it is sacrilegious — machines, after all, are dirty, noisy and polluting and certainly not holy, and engineers are rude roughnecks who fart, curse and spit; also not holy. But this is really just a matter of how our society has chosen to deal with technology, namely the same as with the food industry: without any respect to the Creator who made the whole thing up, or the fellow creatures we breed, torture to death and stuff in our mouths.
A machine that is dirty, noisy, polluting or otherwise objectionable is an incomplete device, put together by a disrespectful, ignorant or short-sighted individual, an ungineer, not worthy to be called engineer.
"Engineer" is a highly honorable title, derived from the Latin ingeniosus, meaning "full of intellect", "superior in mind", and in turn from in, meaning "in" and genero, meaning "to beget". The word engineer means "someone with inborn intelligence" or in more modern parlance: "one with the Knack," and should denote someone who designs a process wholly in synch with the rest of creation. A true engineer is like a true prophet, and will never create something that does not perfectly fit in (Deuteronomy 13:5).
Natural laws are holy things and technologies derived from these laws are applications of these laws and no less sacred. In the ancient world, science and technology were governed by wizards (which literally means "very-wise" and expresses the same thing as the word "engineer"): druids, shamans or holy-men who were priest-engineers because every well designed machine is a marvel and a homage both to the Creator and mankind's resonance with his Laws.
All life on earth is based on DNA, which is by every definition a bit of hardware and software combined. This means that life-forms are in fact molecular machines, based on technology. This technology is so advanced that until recently, we moderns could only call it a miracle! Today life is still what it was a century ago, but we understand it a bit better. We also understand that our home-grown level of machinery (cars, rockets, binary computers and their silly keyboards) is hopelessly primitive, clunky and blasphemous, but what is little understood is how vastly ill-advised it is to start horsing around with genetic engineering before we fully understand with how this technology works.
Artificially altering genetic codes while disregarding the effects on the biosphere at large is like essentially changing one machine in an engine room while expecting that whatever the entire installation was doing, it will keep doing it and maybe even better. It's what senior engineers see junior engineers attempt to do all the time, just before we prevent them from blowing everything up and send them off to bed without their dinner. Sadly, humanity today has very few senior engineers and the juniors have taken over in a drunken brawl. What the juniors don't realize is that the biosphere has a fail-safe default setting, which triggers without warning at a certain level of disturbance, and preserves life at large but wipes out all deadly contaminants along with all contaminated species (Matthew 13:25). Let's hope it won't come to that.
🔼The Menorah as machine
The tabernacle, very clearly, was a device designed to contain a highly energetic process; something that brought about the כבד יהוה (kabed yhwh); the glory, or rather: heaviness of YHWH, which appeared in the form of a cloud over a fire (Exodus 40:34-38), also known as the Shekinah. This device could be turned on at will (on the proviso that the operators stayed clear of the core and wore special protective clothing; Exodus 28) and off again and even dismantled and transported with its elements safely inert instead of spreading plagues and curses.
This device appears to have mined certain regions to exhaustion (Exodus 40:36), after which the whole enterprise was moved, but it's not clear whether it mined earthly regions or perhaps cosmic ones, and to what purpose.
Here at Abarim Publications we're guessing that the tabernacle was an advanced fertility machine. It made the "desert bloom," but not simply through irrigation — it was a life-maker and appears to have somehow worked directly on DNA; not creating it but stimulating the existing codes. We happily admit that we're clueless about how this thing may have worked, or even on which principles, although we generously suppose that it worked on principles not yet re-discovered by moderns. Gold, we further daringly propose, was a by-product or side-effect of this technology and was accidentally produced in the abundance we find in Egypt, Central America and south-east Asia. When the true purpose of this technology began to lose its appeal and greed for gold began to drive societies, the technology stopped working and its majestic effects settled in the frozen nostalgia of myths such as the Philosopher's Stone and King Arthur's Excalibur.
Was the Menorah an antenna of sorts, rigged to receive a kind of particle or acoustic radiation (olive oil) and transform it into electromagnetism (seven shades of light)? Was it tied to the Ark via WiFi that zapped through the Cherubim's wings? Was this technology vastly old, maybe even the first kind of technology used by mankind, also used by the ancient Egyptians and others (perhaps to do with the Holocene Climatic Optimum, and ultimately working as a living server that turned whole areas into an Internet-of-[living-]things)? Are the rudiments of this technology described in the Jacob versus Laban cycle (Genesis 30:37-43)? Is the Torah itself perhaps a kind of machine — also an expression of that same technology — that has been interacting with mankind for thousands of years like a kind of beacon; the living and sanctified equivalent of the dead and cursed and doomed for destruction Tower of Babel?
The true functions and designs of the Menorah and the other elements of the tabernacle are probably going to remain obscure until mankind is able to reduplicate whatever process was going on inside the tabernacle. But this won't happen until engineers bring our techno-sphere back in synchronization with the biosphere.
Note that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (means House of Bread, perhaps corresponding to the table of showbread), that he was the final Temple (John 2:19), that he fulfilled the Law with love (and the Law was stored in the Ark of the Covenant) and that the lampstand worked on freshly beaten olive oil whereas Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, which means Oil Press (also see Zechariah 4:1-14 and of course Revelation 1:10-20).
All this suggests that there is a technological component even to the Body of Christ, and that the Body of Christ is something wholly different than the church in all its forms. Or as any engineer will tell you: worshipping the hammer, singing songs about the hammer, telling others about the hammer, building huge monuments to the hammer and even dying for the hammer, won't drive your nail into the wall. And ultimately, had you truly known the hammer, you'd known that driving nails was what the hammer was for (Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Kings 18:24).