The Star of David.. the symbol of Israel today, of a new nation that rose from the ashes of the holocaust.
The Star of David has only in recent centuries become a symbol of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Older symbols such as the menorah, the ten commandments, palm trees were formerly used as they had historical and geographical connections to the land. Despite the Star of David having no recognisable link to history or Judaism it has displaced those previous symbols and is widely recognised as the symbol of Judaism as well as Zionism.
Originally it was known as “Magen David” or the Shield of David. The Shield of David is God himself. King David called Adonai his shield. In 2 Samuel 22:2,3, he said, “Adonai is my Rock, my fortress and deliverer, the God who is my Rock, in whom I find shelter, my shield, the power that saves me, my stronghold and my refuge.”
Again in 2 Samuel 22:31, he said, As for God, his way is perfect, the word of Adonai has been tested by fire; He shields all who take refuge in Him”. and reiterates in verse 36: “You give me your shield, which is salvation”.
The Star of David has been found in archaeological excavations and appears to have been originally used as decoration. It was a metaphorical symbol of Adonai until, it is thought, around the seventh century, when it began to be used to end inscriptions and placed on tombstones, coins and used in manuscripts as ‘colophons’ to identify the printer. It also began to appear on buildings where it attracted negative attention and protests from the Jewish communities due to its ‘heathenism’.
In the seventeenth century, the Jewish Quarter in Vienna was marked with a Magen David to distinguish it from other areas of the city. When they were expelled from Vienna in the same century, the Jews carried the Magen David with them.
During the First Zionist Congress in 1897, the design that we know, two equilateral triangles, was chosen to be the central symbol on their flag.
There had previously been varied suggestions for flags as it was a general consensus that the Congress needed to have a symbol that epitomised Judaism, Israel and Zionism. This particular design was promoted by David Wolffsohn (1856–1914), a businessman prominent in the early Zionist movement.
He wrote: “At the behest of our leader Herzl, I came to Basle to make preparations for the Zionist Congress. Among many other problems that occupied me then was one that contained something of the essence of the Jewish problem. What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag—and it is blue and white. The talith (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Talith from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being.”
Once established as the flag of Congress, it came to represent the worldwide Zionist movement, spreading later to the broader Jewish community.
What catapulted the Star of David to worldwide prominence, however, was its usage during the persecution of the Jews during the holocaust. Jews were made to wear the Star of David so they were easily identified and could not hide. Six million people wore it to their death.
In 1948 it was enshrined as the flag of the new nation of Israel.
The Star of David is a symbol today worn proudly by Jews and Zionists. It is prominent in Israel. Homes, businesses, vehicles, streets display the flag of Israel in all its splendour. It is worn by gentiles all over the world to show their love and support of Israel.
It is a sign of the tenacity of the Jews, a people who God has favoured and has bound with covenants and promises. They have never assimilated, they continue to follow the law as set out by Adonai. They have returned to their ancestral homeland after centuries in the diaspora.
It is a sign of their willingness to die for their beliefs and their land.
It is a symbol of Adonai’s faithfulness, His protection, His love. It is the promises and requirements of Adonai, it is that which wraps around them, comforts them and strengthens them.
It reminds all who see it that Adonai is The Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega and nothing is impossible for Him.
This post was created with reference to The Complete Jewish Study Bible – David Stern, The Flag and the Emblem – Alec Mishory.