Origin of the Star of David
The six pointed Star of David, Judaism's most well known religious and national symbol, is not biblically traced to either King David or to his son, Solomon. Though much folklore mention the Shield of David, known in Hebrew as Magen David, the first known usage of the six pointed hexagram occurred in the 10thCentury with the Leningrad Codex, written in the year 1008 CE. This work, based on an even earlier work, called the Alepo Codex, was a Hebrew biblical text in which the hexagram was illustrated on the cover.
Biblical scholars have written numerous interpretations as to why this symbol became important in Judaism. One of these deals with the Creation, in which God created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh, the seventh day being sumbolized by the center of the star. Other scholars interpret the 'star' as being the joining of two triangles, with the upper pointing to the Kingdom of Heaven, and the lower to Mankind's dominion on earth.
The two separate triangles, also resembling the Greek letter 'Delta' also are said to denote two of the Hebrew letters of King David's biblical name. Along with this, the symbolic meaning of the conjoining of the two triangles are said to point to the astrological positions of the stars at the time that David was made king of Israel.
The symbol became more prominent during the Middle Ages and afterwards became popular in synagogues other places of Jewish worship and study. The more modern acceptance of the hexagram as Judaism's national symbol occurred at end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century when Theodore Herzl wrote his ideas of a Jewish State which was climaxed with the historic Basel Conference in 1903.
The star also has connections with mystical Jewish texts including the Kabbalah and the Zohar, both of which appeared in the late Middle Ages. Other connections are found in Spain as well as in Central Europe, including Hungary, where it was used in creating religious illustrations and objects such as the Mezuzah, the small case containing religious writings and placed on the door posts of Jewish homes.
The star was used negatively by both church groups and by the German Nazis to single out Jews for persecution which culminated with the Holocaust.
Like the mythological Phoenix, the Magen David became the national symbol of the State of Israel in 1948, and is the center part of Israel's national flag. Today it is revived in Jewish jewelry, Jewish gifts and Judaica.
As the hexagram is often noted in writings and symbols dealing with the occult, some ultra-religious Jews do not accept it as a Jewish religious and national symbol. These groups include the Neturei Karta, the ultra-orthodox religious group who consider it to be associated with Zionism, a term to which they are violently opposed.