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Magen David PNG Transparent Images

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Submitted by on Aug 27, 2021

The titles “Star of David” and “Shield of David” were first associated with the hexagram form in the 17th century. The name “Shield of David” is also employed as a moniker for the God of Israel in the Siddur, a Jewish prayerbook. The star is most famous for serving as the central emblem on Israel’s national flag.

Unlike the menorah, the Lion of Judah, the shofar, and the lulav, the Star of David was never a distinctly Jewish emblem. Because it is an essential basic geometric design, the hexagram has been employed in a variety of motifs throughout human history, not only religious ones. Many years before its first documented usage in a Jewish synagogue, the sign was also employed as a decorative motif in Christian churches.

When Kabbalists adopted the sign for use in talismanic protective amulets, it was borrowed from medieval Arabic literature, where it was known as the Seal of Solomon among Muslims (segulot). It’s possible that the term “Shield of David” (and subsequently “Star of David”) came from Islamic or Jewish mystical writings. Official usage in Jewish communities was known only in the territory of today’s Czech Republic, Austria, and maybe portions of Southern Germany before the 19th century, having originated in medieval Prague as one of several heraldic insignia.

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During the 19th century, the sign began to spread across Eastern European Jewish communities, eventually being adopted by Jewish communities in the Pale of Settlement. According to historian Gershom Scholem, a major driving element was the desire to symbolize Jewish religion or identity in the same way that the Christian cross defined Christians.

Due to its use in various Jewish communities and absence of especially religious overtones, the emblem became indicative of the whole Zionist community after it was chosen as the prominent symbol on a flag at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. It wasn’t until the gravestones of dead Jewish soldiers in World War I that it was regarded as a uniquely Jewish emblem.

Since antiquity, the hexagram has appeared in Jewish contexts on occasion, presumably as a decorative element. A stone bearing a hexagram from the arch of the 3rd–4th-century Khirbet Shura synagogue in Galilee, for example, can be found in Israel.

A stone bearing a hexagram from the arch of the 3rd–4th-century Khirbet Shura synagogue in Galilee, for example, can be found in Israel. Originally, the hexagram may have been used as an architectural ornament on synagogues, as it is on the Brandenburg and Stendal cathedrals, as well as the Hanover Marktkirche. The ancient synagogue in Capernaum has a hexagram in this form. Perhaps it was associated with the mezuzah in synagogues.

The use of the hexagram as a possibly meaningful symbol in a Jewish context dates back to the 11th century when it was used to decorate the carpet page of the famous Tanakh manuscript, the Leningrad Codex, dated 1008. Similarly, the symbol adorns a medieval Tanakh manuscript by Rabbi Yosef bar Yehuda ben Marvas from Toledo, Spain, dated 1307.

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