The Real Reason We Can't Find The Lost Second Temple Menorah

Next to the Star of David, the menorah, an array of lights with eight branches, is perhaps the symbol most closely associated with the Jewish faith, stretching back millennia. One of the most well-known menorah in all of Jewish history is the Second Temple Menorah, dating from around 600 B.C. This menorah figures prominently in several important Jewish traditions, including the Miracle of Hanukkah itself, when the menorah remained lit for eight days straight, according to Jew Oughta Know. Also contained within its history is a story of violence and repression at the hands of the Roman Empire.

Quelling a Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem, the Roman army swept through the region around the first century A.D., destroying the Second Temple, where the menorah was kept. In doing so, the Romans captured or destroyed a number of priceless artifacts, including the Second Temple Menorah. There's some evidence that the menorah survived the devastation wrought by Roman forces. Eventually, though, the Second Temple Menorah went missing from history. It is now one of the most highly sought-after lost treasures from the ancient world, thought by some to still exist, even today.

According to Biblical Archaeology, some think the Second Temple Menorah survived the sack of Jerusalem because of information on the Arch of Titus. The arch still stands in Rome.

It was recaptured

On the arch, the menorah is depicted being carried in a celebratory parade as Roman forces returned home, under General Titus, later to become emperor. The menorah is then thought to have been stored and displayed in the Roman Temple of Peace. Following that, the menorah shows up one more time in history before vanishing for good. In the second century a Jewish rabbi named Simeon ben Yohai mentions seeing it, possibly after visiting the Temple of Peace, which burned in 192 A.D. and was rebuilt. No one knows for sure.

Many theories exist about what happened to the priceless symbol from Jewish history. Being gold, it could have possibly been melted down for currency, or otherwise destroyed for some other reason. Rome itself was sacked several times in antiquity, and in those hostilities some believe the menorah was tossed in the Tiber River, never to be seen again. One of the most conspiratorial of all the theories is that it fell into the hands of the Vatican, where it still resides in secret.

There is some actual textual evidence supporting one of the most widely accepted theories about what happened to the menorah. When the Germanic people called the Vandals took Rome, the menorah was taken back to Carthage (pictured above), later ending up in the hands of the Byzantine Empire. Thought to be cursed, it was sent back to Jerusalem, and more than likely was lost or stolen when the Persians attacked Jerusalem around 700 A.D., according to Jew Oughta Know.