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This question asking why the menorah didn't have rings and staves for carrying reminded me that, unlike with the other mishkan objects, we're not given any dimensions for the menorah. I've always imagined it as large enough to stand on the ground and provide overhead light. (That image is probably reinforced by the arch of Titus, but I'd be cautious about inferring too much from that.) But was it?

According to Rashi on Shemot 25:31, the menorah was cast from a talent of gold weighing 64 pounds (citing Tan. Beha’alothecha 3). The size question also came up in our torah study recently, where none of the chumashim on hand provided illumination. An engineer who was present told us that that amount of gold would yield something closer to a table lamp than a floor lamp. This site says that a kilo (2.2 pounds) of gold is about the size of an iPhone 6. 30 of those doesn't seem enough to make a large, solid (not hollow) menorah.

I know that the group in Jerusalem who are building utensils for the third temple interpret it as a floor lamp, like what I imagined. I don't know their sources.

How tall was the menorah? Sources, please.

  • useful: google.ca/… – רבות מחשבות Feb 14 '18 at 17:15
  • The "[equivalent to sixty-four pounds of gold]" in the Rashi translation you linked is an insertion of the translator, and I'm not sure where it comes from. From googling around, I'm getting the sense that people believe that a holy kikar ("talent") was something like 100-150 pounds. – Isaac Moses Feb 14 '18 at 17:39
  • @IsaacMoses thanks. At our torah study the number we were talking about was 75lb, from a different Rashi edition. I don't know that doubling gets us up to floor-lamp levels (square-cube law and all that), but 150 pounds seems a lot more workable. – Monica Cellio Feb 14 '18 at 18:08
  • That same section of Shemot says it's made of "hammered work". One of my hobbies is working precious metals. Gold can be beaten pretty thin, all the way down to foil for coatings. 150 pounds, or even 58 pounds, despite gold's density, can make a pretty big hollow, hammered object. – Gary Feb 14 '18 at 18:18
  • @Gary with enough structural integrity to stand? The menorah is all gold, unlike the aron and shulchan. (I've used gold leaf in art so know it can get pretty thin, but also know to hold my breath when placing it. :-) ) – Monica Cellio Feb 14 '18 at 18:22
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The Talmud says on Menachot 28b:

אמר שמואל משמיה דסבא

גובהה של מנורה שמנה עשר טפחים

הרגלים והפרח ג' טפחים וטפחיים חלק וטפח שבו גביע וכפתור ופרח וטפחיים חלק וטפח כפתור ושני קנים יוצאין ממנו אחד אילך ואחד אילך ונמשכין ועולין כנגד גובהה של מנורה וטפח חלק וטפח כפתור ושני קנים יוצאין ממנו אחד אילך ואחד אילך נמשכין ועולין כנגד גובהה של מנורה וטפח חלק וטפח כפתור ושני קנים יוצאין ממנו אחד אילך ואחד אילך ונמשכין ועולין כנגד גובהה של מנורה וטפחיים חלק נשתיירו שם ג' טפחים שבהן ג' גביעין וכפתור ופרח

Samuel said in the name of an old scholar, The height of the candlestick was eighteen handbreadths: three handbreadths for the base and the flower upon it, two handbreadths plain, one handbreadth for cup, knop and flower, again two handbreadths plain, one handbreadth for a knop out of which two branches come forth, one on each side, extending and rising to the same height as the candlestick, then one handbreadth plain, one handbreadth for a knop out of which two branches come forth, one on each side, extending and rising to the same height as the candlestick, then again one handbreadth plain, and one handbreadth for a knop out of which two branches come forth, one on each side, extending and rising to the same height as the candlestick, and then two handbreadths plain; there now remained three handbreadths, in which space were three cups, a knop and a flower.

Translation from Soncino, via halakhah.com PDF.

Assuming the value in this OU glossary of 3.2 inches per tefach, that comes to about 58 inches tall.

  • 2
    Since the OP is happy quoting Rashi, she may like to know that Rashi quotes Menachos 28b in his comments to 25 (35) on the words "...וְכַפְתֹּ֡ר תַּ֩חַת֩ שְׁ֨נֵי הַקָּנִ֜ים". – Avrohom Yitzchok Feb 14 '18 at 18:01

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