The Difference Between the Star of David and a Pentagram

by Sara Ipatenco, studioD

Visually, the Star of David has six points, while a pentagram only has five. Differences between the two symbols, however, go far beyond their images and are steeped in ancient rituals, history and religious beliefs.

History of the Star of David

The Star of David is a six-pointed star made of two interlocking triangles. It's also called the Magen David, Hebrew for "Shield of David." Points on the star represent the six directions of the universe -- up, down, north, south, east and west -- according to Aish.com. The star's 12 sides represent the 12 tribes of Israel. The star is a fairly new association with the Jewish faith, according to the Virtual Jewish Library.

Meanings in Jewish Culture

A prominent symbol for modern Jews, the Star of David appears on many Israeli objects including the Israeli flag and Israeli ambulances. Because the symbol references David's shield, Jewish people view it as a symbol for trusting in their Almighty God. Many Jewish people view the Star of David as symbolic as Christians view the image of the cross, and it's among the most widely recognized symbols of the Jewish religion. It can also be a symbolic reminder of the Holocaust, encouraging Jews that because of their faith in God, they can overcome hardships heaped on them, the Aish.com website notes.

History of the Pentagram

A pentagram is a symmetrical five-pointed star. It usually appears in an upright form so that one point is facing upward. Upright pentagrams have been used by many religions and cultures in history, including pagans, Christians and Wiccans, according to ReligiousTolerance.org. For example, a pentagram has been used to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem shining over the stable where Jesus was born, and is also the shape of the stars on the American flag. Ancient Hebrews used the pentagram to represent the five books of the Torah.

Meanings of the Pentagram

Unlike the Star of David, modern interpretation of the pentagram is more commonly associated with evil or devil worship than it is with sacred religious beliefs. However, this modern interpretation isn't completely accurate. While Satanists do use an inverted, or upside down, pentagram as one of their symbols, an upright pentagram is more commonly used by Wiccans as a protective symbol. The points of the pentagram mean earth, fire, water, air and spirit, and, when used as a protective symbol, have nothing to do with Satan.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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