Star of David Meaning

June 05, 2013 Back

The Star of David, or Magen David is the most well-known symbol of Judaism. It has numerous meanings, most of which are Kabbalistic in nature. In terms of its appearance, the star is made up of two triangles and may sometimes appear inside a circle. The Star of David has been used as symbol of Judaism in Italy and in northern Israel since the third century CE. The symbol later spread across the globe throughout Europe and the Middle East.

The first meaning of the Star of David is that of a protective nature from physical and spiritual harm. This association appeared in southern Italy, in a region that was known for Kabbalist scholars. While the first appearance of the star was mostly of a decorative nature, it was used in Italy as a protective symbol from physical and spiritual harm and was used in conjunction with written Kabbalistic text.

In the 16th century, the great Kabbalists of Safed, especially Rabbi Isaac Luria who was known as the “Ari”, infused the Star of David with additional meaning. According to the Kabbalists, the six points were associated with mystical concepts and the center being associated with a different set of concepts. These second Kabbalistic associations are quite controversial and many eschew the meanings as being too close to magic.

The Star of David became a symbol of the Jewish community in the 17th century when the entrance to the Jewish quarter of Vienna was marked with a star on one side and a cross on other. From there, the symbol spread across Europe as an identifying symbol. The Star of David then began to appear on tombstones in Europe the 18th century. However, it was used in the Middle East, North Africa and Spain since the 14th and 15th centuries. This Star of David meaning is the most common and popular of all of the associated meanings.

However, there is also a more simple meaning to the Star of David. This meaning comes from the simple meaning of the Hebrew words “Magen David” that is “Shield of David”. The phrase is a poetic phrase referring to G-d as the protector of the Davidic Dynasty and by extension, the Jews as a collective unit.

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