The Star Of David - Origins And
By Sharona Benjamin
Many conflicting theories exist for what has become the
symbol of Judaism around the world.
When I started to research the origin of the Jewish Star
or 'Magen David' as it is called in Hebrew (literally
'shield of David'), I realized how many conflicting
views there were on its origin and discovered some
The 'David' referred to is believed to be King David,
originating from the tribe of Judah, who ruled ancient
Israel and was famed for his skills as a warrior and for
the biblical episode of 'David and Goliath'.
Many hold the view that the six pointed star originated
from the shield of King David, perhaps reminiscent of
the shape of the shield or as an emblem upon it.
However, historical sources dispute this claim and the
star does not appear in any early Jewish literature or
artwork. The menorah (candelabra) seems historically to
have been more prevalent as a symbol.
There is evidence that what is known today as the Star
of David was used in the Middle East and North Africa as
a good luck symbol.
If we set aside the origins of the Star of David there
is still plenty of intrigue relating to the emblem
itself. Theological students have mulled over the
symbolism of the two stars and various theories abound
as to its meaning.
According to Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), the six points
of the star symbolize G-d's rule over the universe in
all six directions: north, south, east, west, up and
down. In particular, many dwell on the upward and
downward directions of the two stars, symbolizing heaven
It has also been written that the opposition of the two
triangles is significant - perhaps representing fire and
water or good and bad.
Some consider the fact that the two stars are
intertwined may represent the ongoing bond of the Jewish
The two stars have a total of twelve sides (inside and
out) so this has been equated to the twelve tribes of
Israel, which King David unified.
There is some documented usage in Jewish artwork,
synagogues, gravestones and religious artifacts but it
is not until the 12th century that literary recordings
exist. The Star of David was officially adopted by the
Zionist movement as their emblem in 1897.
The Jewish star has both happy and sad connotations - it
was used to label Jews during the Holocaust, intending
to humiliate them. However, in recent times it has
become a source of great pride as the accepted symbol of
Judaism and as the center piece on the flag of Israel,
the Jewish state.
The author of this article researched the origins of the
Star of David during the development of a range of
Judaic themed home-ware which used the image of the Star