Origin of the Star of David

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman*

This famous Jewish symbol called the "Star" of David colloquially, but it's really the "Shield" of David, the Magan David, or the Seal of his son Solomon.

The symbol is ancient and somewhat shrouded in mystery. According to our mystical traditions, such as the Zohar (3:73a): "Three knots connect the three fundamental principles, one to another: the Holy One, blessed be He; the Torah; and Israel [both the Land and people]." The Jewish neshama or soul connects to the Creator through the study and observance of the Torah. The triangle in the symbol thus represents the connection between these three principles.

These three principles are each comprised of a pnimiyut (inner dimension) and a chitzoniyut (external dimension). We connect to God through both the exoteric teachings (i.e., the Hebrew Bible, Talmud, and Jewish Tradition) and the esoteric teachings (i.e., the Kabbalah and other Jewish mystical traditions and wisdom). The Holy One is "revealed" into the material existence through luminous fibers permeating with divine energy. These provide existence to all worlds and are perceivable, and yet His essence is completely hidden, transcending all creation and conception. Likewise, the higher and lower neshama or soul is a reflection of G-d's Ohr Kadosh or Holy Light and has a revealed aspect that expresses itself within and vivifies the spiritual and terrestrial body, as well as an essence transcending the body. The double triangle of the Magen David thus symbolizes the connection of both dimensions of divine connection with God: the Torah and Israel: the external level of the lower neshama, connecting to the external expression of G-d via the study of the exoteric parts of the Torah whereby the essence of the soul can connect with G-d’s essence through the study and application of the external and internal realizations or, in simplar terms, by knowing (Da'at) God through intimate oneness with Him (called devekut).

Not that the symbol has only been called the Star of David since the Middle Ages. Before that, the symbol was usually called the Seal of Solomon. There are Jewish mystical schools that focus on it as the Seal of Solomon (as there are several other plagiarizing schools that use this symbol for their own teachings, such as the Masons, etc.).

Some also note that when a tallit gadol (prayer shawl) is folded according to certain ancient customs, the result resembles a star, and since David wrote most of the Psalms, his "shield" or protection of Israel is our prayers and psalms. We often wear the tallit gadol for these. And again, others not that Genesis says the stars in the firmament can be used to calculate our times or destiny, and our ultimate destiny is in the hands of HaShem and His servant Mashiach ben David (the Messiah). Thus, this certainty of ultimate redemption through David (through Mashiach ben David) is an ancient surety and possible origin of the symbol.

Of course, stars are seen in all ancient religions and cultures. We certainly didn't invent them as symbols. Most symbols arise and become standards gradually over long periods of time and hence have many possible origins for them all. What matters is not the symbols but what they represent and remind us of. For Jews, it is that HaShem is our Shield and that through Him we know who we are as a people and what He demands of us for our well-being. These things are revealed through David.

Click Here For Our Content Page

Got Questions or Comments?

Let us know

Visit Our Shul: Beit Emunah

AllFaith.com in Exile

Be the Blessing you were created to be
Don't let the perfect defeat the good

index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind