Between the menorot: New light on a fourth-century jewish representative composition

Galit Noga-Banai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


One of the most frequently encountered representations in late antique Jewish art, both minor and monumental in Palestine and the Diaspora, is the group composed of a menorah on either side of a Torah ark or the Temple façade. It has been the subject of much scholarly debate during the second half of the twentieth century, increasing in interest since the excavation of the synagogue floor mosaic in Sepphoris. The earliest two monumental representations were only recently securely dated to the second half of the fourth century. The contemporary appearance of the composition in Rome and Hammat Tiberias is the subject of this article, following three lines of argument. First, the meaning of the group of Jewish motifs is discussed through comparisons with similar Christian compositions. Second, the relevance of its meaning to Jewish communities is seen against the non-realization of Emperor Julian's plan to rebuild the Temple. Third, the Roman variant of the composition, the open Torah ark filled with scrolls, is suggested as a response to the local representations of the Traditio legis scene.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)21-48
Number of pages28
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Candlesticks
  • Catacombs under villa torlonia
  • Emperor julian
  • Eschatological expectations
  • Hammat tiberias synagogue
  • Jewish temple
  • Menorah
  • The prophet Daniel
  • Torah ark
  • Traditio legis


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