Numbers: ch 8- ch 12 Zechariah: ch 2:14 – 4:7 Zechariah was a prophet in Jerusalem around the year 520 BCE. The Jews had been exiled to Babylon but under King Cyrus were allowed to return to Jerusalem. Zechariah and Haggai encouraged the people to stop being so despondent and start rebuilding their destroyed temple.
Zechariah by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
This haftarah is replete with angels- angels talking to Joshua and angels talking to and waking Zechariah. Zechariah tells the angel that he has had a vision of a golden menorah flanked by two olive trees. A bowl above the menorah has seven pipes funneling olive oil to the menorah. When the angel realizes that Zechariah doesn’t understand the symbolism of the vision he explains that the trees represent the leadership of Joshua and Zerubbabel in building the Second Temple. The angel says, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” meaning that the reestablishment of the Jewish people will come through faith, not war.
My illustration at the top was based on this beautiful manuscript painting from Spain, with the menorah panted in gold leaf. The menorah was a central fixture in the Temple and was lit by the Kohanim. The wicks of the menorah were arranged to shed light in one flame. That light can be seen as the light we bring to the world.
Interestingly, is is the menorah that is the symbol of Judaism and the emblem of the State of Israel.