A Menorah in the Pocket
A rare stone graffito was discovered in Israel. Archaeologists found an engraving of the Temple Menorah on a small stone which a Jewish pilgrim carried in his pocket. The stone graffito was found in a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem drainage channel. This amazing discovery revealed something about the avodah or service at the Second Temple. Priests habitually bent the ritual purity laws related to the service. They did so to encourage participation in the pilgrim festivals.
The Menorah and other holy Temple furnishings were off-limits. They were hidden from view inside the sanctuary, and inaccessible to all but the appointed priests. At the Second Temple, however, priests carried the Temple furnishings outdoors. They transported the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, and the Table of Showbread outside the sanctuary to the most consecrated courtyard – the Courtyard of the Priests. Next, they invited to their courtyard the ordinary citizens who were usually constrained to the outer courts. Over 250,000 people attended the pilgrimage feasts. Many filed past the Temple furnishings.
The evidence that a pilgrim personally saw the Menorah during one festival is inscribed on the stone graffito. The practice of bending rules to promote the festivals is confirmed in historical records. It is noted in the Temple Scroll which was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. The Mishnah also recorded this Second Temple custom.
Carting the Temple furnishings outdoors can be applied to Yeshua’s words. He urged His followers to shine their light before men. At the same time, He warned against giving holy things to dogs. Hebrew sages similarly taught against delivering wisdom to those who never recognize wisdom’s excellency (Talmud). Believers must find the balance between publicly shining a spiritual light, and preserving a holy revelation which the Spirit gave to them.
Published June 26, 2018