Susan C. Anthony

Flag of IsraelThe Star of David

Most of you will recognize this as the flag of the modern nation of Israel. A friend gave this to me recently and it hangs in our office at home. We were in Israel in 1998 during the 50th anniversary of their independence and these flags were everywhere, flying from every pole and street lamp, hanging from windows and walls. Almost every car had at least one flying from its antenna and many had two or three.

The symbol in the middle is a universally recognized symbol for the Jews. We call it the Star of David because it looks to us like a star, but the Jews call it Magen David, which means the Shield of David. It is an ancient symbol and its origin is a mystery. We were interested that not only did it appear carved in stone at the synagogue in Capernhaum where Jesus once taught, it was also in the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem. It has been dated to at least 960 B.C. There is no clear reference to it in the Bible, and it was not specifically associated with Jews until the A.D. 200s. Any symbol or tradition of God's chosen people, the Jews, however, has potential for hidden treasure.

Magen DavidThe symbol itself is two interlocking equilateral triangles. It is formed by intersecting the circumference of a circle with lines the length of the circle's radius. Although there is no proof that the symbol was associated with the Biblical King David, it has been suggested that the two equilateral triangles stand for the two D's in David's name. The Greek symbol for D is delta, an equilateral triangle. Perhaps it was used as a symbol on the shields of the Jews to assist them in identifying their countrymen in the heat of hand-to-hand combat.

Balaam prophesied that a "star" would arise from Jacob in Numbers 24:17, and the Jews identified the Messiah with a star. The wise men of Babylon traveled to see young Jesus because they saw his star in the east (Matthew 2:2). Jesus is called the "bright and morning star" in Revelation 22:16 and "the day star" in 2 Peter 1:19. So there may be Messianic symbolism. Some have suggested that the upward pointing triangle represents Jesus' divine nature and the downward pointing triangle his human nature, interlocked in unity, fully human and fully divine.

Although the symbol has been almost exclusively associated with the Jews in the past few centuries, it was once used by pagans. During the Babylonian captivity, the Jews were confronted with the pagan philosophy of Zoroaster, which taught that two equal powers ruled the universe. These two powers, or gods, were good and evil, symbolized by light and darkness. Good was symbolized by an upward pointing triangle and evil by a downward pointing one. Men were required to choose which they would serve. This philosophy is contradictory to the Bible and monotheism. Isaiah 45:5 says:

I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light, and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.

The two triangles may have been joined by the Jews to symbolize the unity of God.

The symbol has historically been used in occult practice, as well. If the six points are connected, they form a hexagram, a Satanic symbol. The number six is associated with Satan in the Bible. The Star of David, however, always stands on one point, whereas the hexagram stands on two. There are many cases where Satan copies or corrupts God's symbols, such as the twisted cross of Nazi Germany. Some people claim that, whatever the origins of the Star of David, it was sanctified during the Holocaust, when Hitler forced Jews to wear it as a badge, and where six million Jews were martyred at the orders of a man who believed he was the prophesied antichrist.

We heard an interesting story from a friend of ours who was in the Special Forces during the Vietnam War. He said if you flew over the demilitarized zone between area controlled by the two opposing forces, you would see outlines of these stars everywhere on the ground. The Americans experimented with various configurations that would enable them to efficiently build and hold an outpost with only a few men, and this design turned out to be superior to all others.

Imagine walls in the shape of this symbol, and defenders on the walls. An approaching enemy from any direction would be caught in a crossfire. If it appeared that one of the walls would be breached, the commander would withdraw the defending forces inside the inner hexagram and seal it off. He would wait for the triangular point of the star to fill with enemy troops and then blow it up.

So even in recent years, this Star of David, or Shield of David, protected American forces in Vietnam. Amazing.

Note:  This talk was presented by my husband Dennis at our small church.

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