The Star of David is also called the Shield of David, or Magen David in Hebrew. It is a recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism but it is also used as a Christian symbol.
This hexagram shape has been called the Star of David since the 17th century. According to some researchers, the hexagram represents the astrological chart at the time of either David’s birth or his anointment as king. This is why in astrological circles, hexagram is also called the “King’s Star”.
Throughout human history, the Star of David symbol has been used in various motifs. It was used as a decoration in medieval Christian churches centuries before its first known use in a Jewish synagogue.
Star of David Symbol — History and Meaning
If you want to learn more about the Star of David symbol, read on to find out the meaning, history, and significance of this Christian and Jewish symbol.
Star of David History
The symbol was first employed as a religious sign by Arabs during the medieval period.
However, this particular representation was known as the Seal of Solomon, which was depicted as either a pentagram or a hexagram, and which was later used by Jewish Kabbalists in protective amulets called “segulot”.
The hexagram or six-pointed symbol appears in a stone from the arch of a 3rd- or 4th- century synagogue in the Galilee in Israel. It is also used as an architectural motif on the ancient synagogue at Capernaum. Similar symbol also appears as a decoration on synagogues in Brandenburg and Stendal in Germany.
A theory proposed by the German-Israeli philosopher Gershom Scholem states that the “Star of David” is adopted from the writings of Aristotle. The latter employed triangles in different positions in indicating the different basic elements.
The combination of those elements was represented by the superposed triangles. Professor Scholem claimed that Aristotle’s writings were the origin of the symbol made of triangles that made its way into pre-Muslim Arab literature.
In 1648, when the Battle of Prague was over, the Jews of Prague were granted a flag to recognize their contribution to the city’s defense. It was a red flag with a yellow hexagram and a star in the middle of it. This came to be associated with the Jews.
However, the spread of the Star of David symbol among the Jewish communities in that European region only began in the 19th century.
The Star of David symbol came to officially represent the Zionist community all over the world after the First Zionist Congress in 1897. It became an exclusively Jewish symbol after World War I because of the usage of the symbol on the gravestones of fallen Jewish soldiers.
During the Holocaust, the Nazis used a yellow Star of David symbol to identify Jews. It was called the “yellow badge,” which was placed on the left breast and on the back of Jews after the German invasion of Poland in 1939. In 1941, it was extended to all Jews over the age of six in the German Reich and in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The use of the yellow badge was then gradually introduced in other areas occupied by the Nazis.
However, others wore the Star of David as a symbol of defiance against Nazi antisemitism. An example of these was the American soldier Hal Baumgarten, who wore a Star of David emblazoned on his back during the invasion of Normandy, France, in 1944.
The Star of David Symbol
In Christianity, this hexagram-shaped symbol is sometimes referred to as the “star of creation.”
The Star of David are sometimes found in stained-glass windows of some Christian churches. One of the oldest existing examples of this can be found in Winchester Cathedral in England. It has been featured in one of the canopies of the choir stalls since about 1308.
In other Christian sects, the Star of David symbol is representative of God reaching down to man and man reaching up to God, which is the union of Heaven and earth.
It is also used as a representation of the quorum of the twelve apostles as mentioned in the Book of Revelation, where the Church is represented by a woman wearing a crown of twelve stars.
The hexagram symbol may also symbolize the Tribes of Israel and their friendship and affinity towards the Jewish people, as well as a symbol for the Big Dipper that points to the North Star, which is a symbol of Jesus Christ.
Star of David Symbol Meaning
The hexagram or six-pointed star, known as the Jewish Star, the Star of David, and the Shield of David, is the most iconic and recognizable symbol in Judaism. It is a prominent feature of the Israeli flag and represents Jewish communities worldwide. It is also used to express Jewish affiliations in sports.
The Hebrew name for this symbol is Magen David, also spelled “Mogen”. In the Jewish prayer book called Siddur, the term “Shield of David” is also used as a title of the God of Israel.
This symbol, however, is not uniquely Jewish. The Star of David is also employed in Christianity, especially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which uses the symbol as an architectural feature.