Lee Ellenberger, BASOR (1960)

Seven-spouted oil lamps have been found in Syro-Palestine in Middle and Late Bronze Age contexts (c. 2250–1200 B.C.) and somewhat more commonly in the Iron Age (c. 1200–600 B.C.). They are relatively rare in any period, however, since they seem to have been used only for special purposes, perhaps in cultic ceremonies. This type of oil lamp may have been placed on each of the ten lampstands of the tenth century B.C. Solomonic Temple.

In a vision of the lampstands to be included in the Second Temple, the prophet Zechariah describes “a lampstand all of gold with a bowl on top and seven lamps which were on top of it and seven pipes to the seven lamps; and there are two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left.” (Zechariah 4:2–3).

Perhaps this vision recalls the actual menorah used in the earlier Solomonic Temple. Note that Zechariah’s lampstand is not branched but, nevertheless seven lights emanate from the bowl on top of the stand.

The seven-spouted oil lamp shown here was found at Tell Dothan, north of Shechem. The spouts were formed by pinching the clay together before drying. A wick could then be placed in each of the seven spouts.