Earliest known Hanukkah menorah to sell at Heritage

The earliest known Hanukkah menorah is to star in an auction of biblical artefacts at Heritage Auctions.

The piece was made in Judea circa AD 70-200, shortly after construction of Jerusalem's Second Temple - which was built on the ruins of the first.

Heritage Menorah Hanukah
The menorah has a long religious significance

Hanukkah was first celebrated after a group of Jewish rebels known as the Maccabees recaptured the city of Jerusalem from the hands of Syrian invaders in the second century BC.

After cleaning the temple, they lit a lamp with enough oil for one day. But it's said to have stayed alight for eight more days (hence the nine candles of the menorah).

This example was made only a couple of hundred years later.

While lamps with multiple nozzles are common in the archaeological record of the region, lamps with nine nozzles are not because of the number's religious significance.

This indicates that the lot is tied to the Hanukkah ceremony.

Judaica expert Dr Ben Dov comments: "As a Hanukah lamp dating back to the period of the Second Jerusalem Temple it is an object of extraordinary significance.

"It is undoubtedly the earliest Hanukah lamp extant. It is also possibly the oldest Jewish ceremonial object to have been discovered to date.

"This Hanukah Menorah is thus of the greatest importance as an object relating to Jewish history and to the development of objects used in the Jewish ritual."

Other highlights include the earliest known marble tablet displaying the Ten Commandments.

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