Roman soldiers carrying the menorah from the Temple of Jerusalem, AD 70; detail of a relief on elipsis
Multibranched candelabra used by Jews during the festival of Hanukkah
. It holds nine candles (or has nine receptacles for oil). Eight of the candles stand for the eight days of Hanukkah—one is lit the first day, two the second, and so on. The ninth candle, or shammash
(“servant”) light—usually set in the centre and raised above the others—is used to light the others. The menorah is an imitation of the seven-branched golden candelabra of the Tabernacle
, which signified the seven days of creation. The menorah is also an ancient symbol of Jewish identity and the official symbol of the modern state of Israel.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.