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Historic menorah artifact replaced in Hebron

The roots of Three Menorah Lintel dates back to Roman times.

18.10.20, 14:37
The historic Three Menorah Lintel, known in Hebrew as the Mashkof HaMenorot, was replaced in Hebron last week. The unique decorative stone carving dated back generations featured three seven-branched candelabra symbols, one upside down and two right-side up.

In 2014, the doorway and wall where the artifact existed for generations was found removed and likley destroyed and replaced with plain bricks. Last year, the Jewish community of Hebron arranged to have a replica affixed to a wall near where the original once was located. This too was removed and likley destroyed.

The carved stone with the familiar Jewish symbol was estimated to be from the time of the Second Temple Era, originating in a synagogue in Gaza later moved to Hebron.

Historian and long-time Hebron resident Noam Arnon noted it was the third time the artifact has been moved and he hopes it will be the last. Arnon, the author of several books on Hebron history and the Jewish community's Hebrew-language spokesman, arranged years ago to have the original copied. The replica placed in 2019 was removed by Palestinian Authority residents, according to Maan News.

The new replica was installed on October 13, 2020, with the coordination of the Civil Administration and the Jewish Community of Hebron.

Last year Head of Coordination in Hebron for the Civil Administration Lieutenant Colonel Moshe Tetro, stated, "replacing the Mashkof HaMenorot is an historical justice. Jewish narrative and history cannot be erased in Hebron. We will continue to work to preserve the city's archaeological traditions and sites." A plaque explaining its historical significance was placed nearby.

LEGEND OF THE THREE MENORAHS

Sefer Hevron a compendium of Hebron history edited by Oded Avisar relates an old tradition about the archway:

"Back in one of the dark alleys of ancient Hebron, a gate still has a lintel with three ashlars, each of which has a menorah engraved on it. However, the two outer ones stand upright with the middle upside down. When the elders of Hebron, at the beginning of this century, were asked about the nature of this lintel, they would tell a wonderful legend:

Rabbi Jacob ben Yosephia came to Rome and stood by the Arch of Titus. He stood and wept until he made a vow, for if the Holy One, blessed be He, brought us up to the Holy Land, his house would be built in the City of the Patriarchs.
 
When Rabbi Jacob ben Yosephia arrived in Hebron, he set up a lintel with three carved ashlar stones on the gate of his house. But they would ask: Why are two standing upright while the third, the middle one, is the opposite? And there were three answers: a symbol of the three towers that were built at the time on the graves of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
 
But when the Crusaders came and approached the Cave of Machpela, the wrath of Isaac our father struck and smote those who came with blindness. The Crusaders left and their eyes opened again. When they returned for a second time, he struck them with blindness again, but when they dared to enter the cave, Yitzhak's tower fell on his face, leaving only the other two towers of Abraham and Jacob, who were merciful and forgiving, standing on the ground to this day.
 
And so are the three menorahs: the first and last stand upright while the middle - upside down with its head down."

 
THE JEWISH GHETTO OF HEBRON

The quaint narrow stone alleys where the Menorah Lintel is located was the old Jewish neighborhood before the massacre and expulsion of the Jewish community in 1929. Then it was home to Kabbalists Corner, Beit Hausman, and known in historic writing as the Jewish ghetto of Hebron. 

Today the area is known as the casbah and is home to a bustling Arab marketplace where formerly Jewish owner property is now inaccessible. It is called the Qazzazin market by local Arab residents. For more on the Casbah's history  click here.

REACTION OF ARABIC MEDIA

Arabic-language media in the Palestinian Authority bashed the replacement of the relic as "Judaization" of what they see as a strictly historically Arab section of the city.

Hebron Governor Jibrin al-Bakri complained on Voice of Palestine radio that the "Talmudic menorah" artifact was placed by settlers with the intention to Judaize the city, Al Quds News reported.
 
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