This sketch was incised into a thick layer of plaster on the wall of an affluent home in Jerusalem’s “Upper City.” Dating from the time of Herod, it was apparently made by a priest who lived in the vicinity, and was familiar with the Temple vessels, including the menorah. The shape of the menorah is almost completely preserved; to the right, the showbread table can be seen below the incense altar. This moving and personal depiction is one of the few that have survived from the time the vessels still stood in the Temple.
“Three most wonderful works of art, universally renowned: a lampstand, a table, and an altar of incense” (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War, V, v, 5)
Zalmona, Yigal, ed., The Israel Museum at 40: Masterworks of Beauty and Sanctity, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005