Friday, July 2, 2010


Since Gershom Scholem’s publications between the years 1948 and 1971 it is well known that the Star of David Symbol (in Hebrew: Magen David), now the central emblem of the Israeli flag, is rarely found in antiquity and not at all in known Jewish art [1] . It is not mentioned as a feature of the interior decoration of the Solomonic Temple (10th century B.C.E.) [2], as well not on the decoration of the second Temple, 517/15 B.C.E - 70 C.E. It does not appear on the Yehud coins of the second half of the fourth century B.C.E. and the beginning of the third century, nor on Hasmonean coins, from the end of the second century B.C.E., to the second half of the first century B.C.E, nor on the coins of Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.E.) nor on the coins of his sons and grand sons, his successors: Herod Archelaos (4 B.C.E – 6 C.E), Herod Antipas (4 B.C.E – 39 C.E), Herod Philip II (4 B.C.E – 34 C.E), Agrippa I (37 C.E – 44 C.E, grand son of Herod the Great) and Agrippa II (56 C.E – 95 C.E, son of Agrippa I). It is not known from the first century B.C.E to the first century C.E Ossuary Ornamentation from Jerusalem, nor from procuratorial coins of the first century C.E. or from First Revolt coins (66-70 C.E.) nor even Bar Kokhba Revolt coins (132-135 C.E.).

Finally, the Magen David is completely absent from the more than hundred Synagogues [3] , discovered in the country, in Jordan and the Diaspora, in the three first centuries C.E., except for some three religious monuments: the Mosaic Floor of Ein Yael (near Jerusalem). (Pl 1); the Synagogue of Capernaum (Kfar Nachum) (Pl. 2) and the Synagogue of Kfar Shura (near Rosh Pina) (Pl 3.)

But this astonishing scarcity of the sign on Jewish religious monuments of the three first centuries C.E. is for us the special reason of our dealings, which are dedicated especially to them.

1. the Mosaic Floor at Ein Yael of David's shield. 2nd century C.E. .
From: G. Edelstein, 'What's a Roman vila doing outside Jerusalem? Bar, Nov-Dec. 1996, 16:6 p. 33

2. David's shield with six peltae in the star's outer angles from the Capernaum Frieze; 4 remains of the Frieze. From: Z. Goldmann, E. Goldmann and Hed Wimmer, Israel, its legends and its History ("The Land I will show Thee") 1967. C.J. Bucher, Lucerne and Frankfurt a-M, p. 162

3. The Synagogue of Kfar Shura (near Rosh Pina)
Two voussoirs from the arcade, one showing David's shield
with a rosette filler in center, the second with a six-petalled Lily in a circular frame. From: R. Milstein, Solomon's Seal, catalogue to the exhibition at the Migdal David Museum, Jerusalem, 1996, fig. 20, p. 39.