The Menorah Design

This post is about the textual writing style called the Menorah Design, not about the design of the actual lampstand.

Short Introduction to the Menorah

The rebuilt MenorahThe Menorah for the next temple, rebuilt by the Temple Institutea

The Menorah (מְנוֹרָה) is the golden lampstand built for the temple. It has 7 branches with 7 flames when lit. The lampstand symbolises the burning bush witnessed by Moses1 (Moshe, מֹשֶׁה).

You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. […] And there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it.[…] You shall make seven lamps for it. And the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it.
Excerpt from Exodus 25:31-40

The New Testament (New Covenant, B’rit Hadashah, הברית החדשה) references to the Menorah standing in the temple before of God by calling the 7 flames a symbol of the 7 spirits who are before the throne of the Almighty.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God.
Revelations 4:5

Textual Design

The Menorah design of texts works similarly to the looks of a Menorah, with the most important part of the passage being in the middle. Alternatively, it can be illustrated with a hamburger: Around the most important part in the middle, the meat, there is cheese on each side, then salad, followed by bread. This is how many texts were written in the Old Testament (Tanakh).
There are two possibilities to achieve such a design: Either by using word counts or alphabetical markers, or by using topics/themes. A good example of the Menorah Design is Psalm 67:

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.

2 That your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us.

7 God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

This Psalm uses both design methods. In the Hebrew original, it consists of seven verses, with 7, 6, 6, 11, 6, 6 and 7 words respectively.2 Additionally, the themes are repeated like the layers of a hamburger:

blessings for us,

blessings on the earth,

worship of the nations,

God as a righteous judge,

worship of the nations,

blessings on the earth,

blessings for us

This type of textual design is often used to emphasize the middle of the text, i.e. the meat of the hamburger or the middle branch of the Menorah. Note, however, that the Menorah Design often does not follow verse numbers. Furthermore, it can span entire biblical books. The method is also commonly used by Paul (Sha’ul, שאול) in his letters (Example: 1 Corinthians 12-14 with the spiritual gifts spanning the central message of love).


1 Robert Lewis Berman; A House of David in the Land of Jesus; page 18 (Pelican, 2007). ISBN 978-1-58980-720-4
2 Shubert Spero; The Menorah Psalm (PDF)
a The Menorah for the next temple rebuilt by the Temple Institute, Wikisource
Additional Resources
Wikipedia article about the Menorah


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