Unexpected Knowledge: The Joy of Serendipity

This isn’t my usual post, but this is too interesting to let pass.

Google “salvia palaestina” This is the Levantine wild sage that grows in an arc from Turkey to Egypt.

You will see things like this.

Salvia Patestinia

Menorah-Sauge-Salvia11

And this.

The Temple Menorah

Interestingly, the temple menorah was based on the wild sage bush. It was kept in the Sanctum Sanctorum. As candles did not yet exist in the area, it was an oil lamp always burning. The indwelling presence of God was considered to always be there. It would seem that the menorah was as close to a simulacrum of Moses’ burning bush as could be managed. I conclude that the menorah was THE symbol of the numinous presence.

Oddly, this was never pointed out to me. In the church I grew up in we had a couple of seven branch candelabra for weddings, but they didn’t much resemble a menorah. I conclude that we were unaware of the complete symbolism.

This also shines new light on the subject of asherah poles. [ In the King James Version they were referred to as ‘Sacred Groves.’]

It also suggests why the Roman’s went to the trouble of carving an image of the looting of the Menorah on Titus’ Arch.

Arch_of_Titus_Menorah

The Romans did not much care for oil lamps, but they knew a thing or two about stealing and preserving palladia. Their own nation was thought to be preserved by the stolen Trojan statue of Athena Palladia which the Vestals kept safe.

So, Doctor Jones, do you have any plans?

This also raises a question I have long had: What is so important about the Temple Mount? Long before the Temple was built there were multiple tabernacles. The tabernacles were in places which seem much more important such as Shiloh and Peniel. The Menorah itself would now seem to be a mystic reference to something of great importance in history and nature rather than a magical item which may be – in fact has been – lost or destroyed. Under this current light, the reverence for a particular Menorah made centuries after Moses and being the locus of some mystical power rather than a suggestion of the larger creation smacks of idolatry. If the Jews want their temple back, why don’t they make one? There are better places and there is no magic inherent in the particular furnishings. Indeed, the long lamented furnishings weren’t the original ones. And before the Temple of Herod there was the lost Temple of Solomon. The instructions are in the Torah, after all.

But then I am an ignorant out-lander.

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