The observation of the Jewish festival called Hanukkah includes the lighting of candles for 8 consecutive days. It’s a time of celebrating the miracle of the Temple oil lasting 8 days during a time of crisis in the 2nd century BC. The story is preserved in the book of I Maccabees. This Jewish holiday alluded to in the Gospels (John 10, mentioned as the Festival of Dedication) just ended.
Recently, a very small pottery sherd with a menorah scratched on it was found in Jerusalem. While the potsherd found has nothing to do with Hanukkah, the sketching of this 7-branch candelabra on it communicates to us just how important the menorah was in the days of the 2nd Temple period.
This potsherd was found in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. This “sifting project” is an attempt to salvage some of the thousands of tons of ancient debris that was illegally discarded from the Temple Mount by the Wakf Islamic Trust in 1999. 300+ truckloads of this precious debris were dumped into the Kidron Valley over the course of several years. Spear-headed by Gabriel Barkay and others, these piles of debris were then taken to the Mt. of Olives where it is carefully sifted in hopes of at least finding something significant from the days of both the 1st and 2nd Temple.
In the video below Dr. Barkay, the leading scholar on Jerusalem archaeology, discusses this very interesting find. “Gaby” (as he is referred to even today) was my “Jerusalem Archeology” professor for one year (1981-82) while studying at Jerusalem University College (formerly called the Institute of Holyland Studies). From an archaeologist’s point of view, he shares much detail about the sherd. He dates it to the Roman Period, most likely to the Byzantine or Late Roman period (324-640 AD).
While the potsherd is quite small (and could have been easily missed while digging), it sheds light on this Jewish cultural centerpiece.
Here is the video:
To read an article about this find, you will find it HERE in the Jerusalem Post.