HAIFA, Israel — Archaeologists in Israel have discovered an ancient bracelet fragment that is embossed with an image that was used in the holy temple described in the Bible’s Old Testament.
Last week, while excavating in Mount Carmel National Park in Haifa, the Israel Antiques Authority found what is believed to be a 1,600-year-old artifact in the midst of other glass pieces that had been thrown into a trash pile.
“While examining the contents of one of the boxes which contained hundreds of glass fragments that had been discarded in the refuse pit, we found to our surprise a small fragment of a bracelet,” representatives Limor Talmi and Dan Kirzner told reporters. “Naturally it was extremely dirty, but still, you could see it was decorated.”
“After cleaning, we were excited to discover that the bracelet, which is made of turquoise colored glass, is decorated with symbols of the seven-branched menorah—the same menorah which according to tradition was kept alight in the Temple for eight days by means of a single cruse of oil,” they continued.
The menorah, or candlestick, is described in Exodus 25, as God provided instructions to His people regarding the Ark of the Covenant.
“And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same,” it reads. “And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side. … And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.”
The image is also referenced in Numbers 8 in discussing the works of Aaron, the high priest.
“And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the Lord commanded Moses,” it reads. “And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the Lord had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.”
The archaeologists state the piece was a rare find.
“Jewelry such as this was found in excavations, usually in the context of funerary offerings,” Yael Rosen-Gorin, who leads the Ancient Glass Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, told the Jewish Press. “It is unusual to find such objects in settlement strata, and even rarer to discover them in an ancient refuse pit.”
But he also noted that that the bracelet fragment is not the first of its type to be unearthed.
“Bracelets and pendants made of glass that are decorated with symbols of a menorah or lion or different images of gods and animals, are known during these periods in Israel, Lebanon and Syria,” Rosen-Gorin stated. “So far, three fragments of bracelets with menorah decorations have been discovered in archaeological excavations in the country: in an excavation at Bab el-Hawa in the northern Golan Heights, at Banias, and another bracelet that was discovered years ago in the excavations at Shiqmona, Haifa.”
Photo: Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority