Star of David: Meaning, history and tradition

The most popular Jewish symbol, Star of David, has no references in the bible, yet it is the symbol of Judaism and Israel. How did it happen that a hexagram star became such a hit and does it have special powers? We are about to discover it together!

Star of David, also known as Magen David, or David’s shield, is believed to be associated with the emblem on King David’s shield. But the way from being a beautiful ornament to a symbol of Jewish pride and Judaism isn’t that straightforward.

First evidence to a Star of David dates back to the 3rd century when it appeared on stone in a synagogue in Galilee, later on a Magen David was related to God of Israel in the 11th century as God was our shield. Later on in the 17th century, a Jewish quarter in Vienna was marked with this symbol to distinguish it from the rest of the city. It was officially adopted by the Zionist movement in 1897 at its congress, in the 20th century by the Nazis as marking Jews for persecution and eventually to feature Israel’s national flag for an opposite purpose of independence and foundation of a Jewish state, Israel.

The Star of David has become a popular ornamentation for Judaica and jewelry. It is often adorned with ‘Chai’ or ‘Shema’, incrusted in diamonds, polished in refined yellow gold necklace, or a embellishing mezuzahs, tallitot, torah pointers and kippahs, basically everything associated with Judaism. Even though there isn’t a Mitzvah for wearing Magan David and incorporating it in Jewish life and traditions, Star of David is a synonym for Judaism and Israel. 

So, is there a special meaning to Star of David? Does it carry a hidden message?

Well, constructed of two identical stars atop each other, it does have an additional meaning according to kabalistic book, the Zohar. The triangle represents the connection between three entities: God, Torah and Israel. The Jewish soul connects to God through Torah reading and learning.

In addition, the six sided figure symbolizes God’s ruling over the universe from all 6 directions with the hexagram as the spiritual dimension. He will protect us and help achieve our goals and for this reason, during the third blessing on Shabbat we recite ‘Blessed are you God, Shield of David.”

So, let your Jewish pride shine through to the world, a little star is waiting for everyone. Already got a Magen David necklace and you adore it? Think of how much it will be cherished by a Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl, and a young couple receiving your wedding gift?

Check our post on Hebrew name jewelry for a bit of Jewish pride inspiration or visit our OyVey Jewish blog to learn more about Jewish traditions, holidays and Jewish symbols; shofars, tallitot and mezuzahs.