One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the
menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple.
The kohanim lit the menorah in the Sanctuary every evening
and cleaned it out every morning, replacing the wicks
and putting fresh olive oil into the cups. The pendants
below are based on instructions
for construction of the menorah found in Ex. 25:31-40.
It has been said that the menorah is
a symbol of the nation of Israel and our mission to
be "a light unto the nations." (Isaiah 42:6).
The sages emphasize that light is not a violent force;
Israel is to accomplish its mission by setting an example,
not by using force. This idea is highlighted in the
vision in Zechariah 4:1-6. Zechariah sees a menorah,
and G-d explains: "Not by might, nor by power,
but by My spirit."
The lamp stand in today's synagogues,
called the ner tamid (lit. the continual light, usually
translated as the eternal flame), symbolizes the menorah.
The nine-branched menorah used on Chanukkah
is commonly patterned after this menorah, because Chanukkah
commemorates the miracle that a day's worth of oil for
this menorah lasted eight days.