The Star of David (✡), is not mentioned in the Bible and was never uniquely a Jewish symbol like the Menorah or the lion of Judah. The Star of David known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David, is a generally recognized symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism. The star has the shape of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles.
The earliest Jewish usage of the symbol was inherited from medieval Arabic literature by Kabbalists for use in talismanic protective amulets (segulot) where it was known as a Seal of Solomon. Archaeological discoveries showed that a hexagram has been noted on a Jewish tombstone in Taranto, Apulia in Southern Italy, which may date as early as the third century CE. The Jews of Apulia were noted for their scholarship in Kabbalah, which has been connected to the use of the Star of David.
King of Bohemia Charles IV, in 1354, arranged for the Jews of Prague a red flag with both David’s shield and Solomon‘s seal, while the red flag with which the Jews met King Matthias of Hungary in the 15th century showed two pentagrams with two golden stars.
The connection of the term “Star of David” or “Shield of David” with the hexagram shape goes back to the 17th century. The term “Shield of David” is also used in the Siddur (Jewish prayer book) as a title of the God of Israel.
During the 19th century and in an attempt to imitate the influence of the Christian cross, the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe started to use this symbol more frequently and it was also adopted by the Jewish communities in the Pale of Settlement. In 1897, the star of David became representative of the worldwide Zionist community and the broader Jewish community after it was chosen as the central symbol on a flag at the First Zionist Congress.
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