On the Ancient Arch that Depicts the Exile of Israel and Plunder of the TempleThe remains of Roman Forum still stands in Rome, where the arch of victory can be seen today. Arch of Titus (Arco de Tito) was dedicated by Emperor Domitian to his brother Titus who died in 81 CE. The arch was erected to commemorate Titus' successes in the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Titus' great honor is expressed in ancient inscriptions on the arche, in embossed writing and sculptures which document the entry of the convoy of captives and conductors at the arches of Rome. The inscriptions were designed under Greek influence, as did many of the Roman buildings.
The arche has been here for nearly 2000 years, carefully rehabilitated and maintained since 1936. This occurred during the time of the Italian Fascists, under the dictator Mussolini. They tried to relive and revive the glory of the Roman Empire
It is hard to miss the inscription of time that can be seen in the crumbling limestone, the material of the arche.
Notice the crown of the arche. It contains a carving depicting the treasures from the looting of Temple, including the seven-branched candelabra that was in the Temple and which, with the establishment of the State, became the official symbol of the State of Israel.
This impressive arche is one of Rome's most famous symbols today, notable for its beauty and spectacular design. Simultaneously, it’s hard to ignore that it depicts the downfall of our own nation and the exile which we suffer for nearly 2000 years.
What is depicted on the Arch of Titus?The Arch of Titus is a gateway built by Emperor Domitian, dedicated to his brother Titus in honor of his victory over the Jews and the suppression of the Great Revolt in the Land of Israel in 70 CE. When Titus destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, he exiled tens of thousands of Jews to Rome as captives and slaves.
The Arch of Titus, built as an arch of triumph and glorifying Titus' victory, presents, among other things, engravings which convey the story of the Roman victory. Among other things, it depicts the ravaging of Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple and the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans. If anyone has any doubt, the Latin inscription reads: "Details from the Arch of Titus describing the plunder and the loot from Jerusalem."
However, a very special fact on the Arch of Titus it that it constitutes the only clue as to the fate of the menorah of the Jewish temple. The pictures on the stone are of Jewish prisoners, led to Rome, carrying the Menorah of the Temple, the Golden Altar and even musical instruments - all from the Temple in Jerusalem.
For centuries, the Jews of Rome did not pass under this gate, a remnant of the shame of exile and the Jewish destruction. Only in the first half of the 20th century, in Italy's Fascist era, did Italian dictator Mussolini order it to be done. As someone who saw Titus' victory gate as part of the greatness of the Italian people and the glory of the Roman Empire that preceded him, he wanted the gate to glorify Fascist Rome and have the glory of the past project onto it.
How the Design of the Menorah from the Titus Arch Became an Inspiration to the JewsWith the establishment of the State of Israel, the Chief Rabbi of Israel of that time decided to adopt the Menorah from the Titus Gate as the symbol for the State, a national symbol for all of Israel. Over the years there has been much criticism over this decision. Many scholars argued that although the Menorah in the painting has seven branches, and its base is reminiscent of ascending stairs, which, according to Jewish belief were used by the high priest to light the candles. However, they maintain that the menorah in the Roman Arch contains problematic details that cannot possibly be identified as the Jewish menorah, such as the octagonal base of the menorah that was probably designed by a Roman or Greek artist. In short, the design does not uphold the style of the menorah that is described in Jewish law. Another source of criticism on the authenticity of the Menorah in the Arche is the decoration of the animals which appear on it. It is impossible, researchers say, that animals such as lions, dragons, and sea animals, which are illuminated by the menorah, are of Jewish origin. According to Jewish law, such paintings are idolatrous, and the placement on the Temple lamp is unfathomable.