At first glance, Yehia Yemini’s 1920s Hanukkah lamp, which was recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in its 119-object Charles and Lynn Schusterman Collection, looks pretty typical. The silver lamp, supported by four small orbs for legs, contains the correct number of candleholders and an offset well for the shamash. The decorations on the lamp’s back wall are of the type and style that one expects from Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy.
But the inscription beneath an illustration of several figures, including a high priest tidying the Temple and its overturned vessels, is unusual. Rather than quoting from the Hebrew bible, the inscription cites the apocryphal text 1 Maccabees 4:47-48 (or 48-49 in some editions): “And they purified the (Temple) courtyard and all that was in it, and they renewed all the holy vessels.” Not only do the verses not come from canonical Jewish texts, but they also don’t even refer specifically to the Temple menorah.
Read more in the Jewish Daily Forward.