“Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them.” -Wisdom of Solomon 5:16
The hamsa (Hebrew: חמסה) is a amulet in the shape of a palm popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It can be found in both jewelry and wall art. In Arabic it is called khamsah (خمسة), meaning “five” or “the five fingers of the hand.” This symbol can be found in kabbalistic manuscripts and amulets, doubling as the letter shin, the first letter of the divine name Shaddai. The hamsa is depicting as an open right hand, much like the Sign of the Law of Sacrifice. This image has been used and recognized as a sign of protection throughout history.
Many Names, Many Symbols
The eye embedded in the palm of an open hand has used as a symbol in many cultures by many names throughout the ages. Some call it the hand of Miriam, others the hand of hand of Mary, in Islam it is the hand of Fatima, Mohamid’s daughter. Sometimes rendered naturally, as a right hand. Other times, perhaps more commonly today, it is represented symmetrically, with a second thumb replacing the pinky finger. In the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship it is the Hand of Miriam, representing the Levitical Priesthood at times, at other times representing Mormon Kabbalah.
We use the open right hand, mirrored just as we find the Tree of Life, with the tree’s right being our right, and its left our left. Withing the hand we find the Star of David, the Christian Cross, the Sun symbolizing the Celestial Kingdom, a Heart for God’s love, and the All Seeing Eye in the palm in the shape of the Christian fish, representing Mary Magdalene to some, Jesus to others, and a Moon for the Terrestrial Kingdom. The Star of David may double as a symbol of the Telestial Kingdom as well.
Around the hand we find words associated with each of the symbols on the fingers:
- Star: Faith in His Name (or Faith in Hashem)
- Cross: Salvation by His Grace
- Sun: Vision in His Light
- Heart: Peace by His Love
Sign of the Law of Sacrifice
According to Ordinances of the Saints, Endowment Part 1: The Law of Sacrifice, this “sign is made by bringing the right arm to the square, the palm of the hand to the front, the fingers close together, and the thumb extended.” This is the Endowment given to all Deacons and Teachers. Because of this, the Hamsa is also used to represent the Lower or Levitical Priesthood, the priesthood that prepares the Earth for the coming of Heaven.
As the hamsa is called the Hand of Miriam, it is also used at times to represent the Sisterhood of Miriam, or the Miriamic Priestesshood. Also being the Hand of Mary, it may also be used to represent the High Priesthood of the Sisterhood. But this symbol is not for women only. When Moses raised his hands the Jews were successful in battle against Amalek (see Exodus 17:11). Some belive this is the true origin of the hamsa.
This being a nondenominational movement, it may be used for many things. Regardless, in every instance the hamsa’s true purpose is to represent the Hand of God.
In Judaism the hamsa is a kabbalistic symbol literally meaning “fivefold.” This is derived from the word “chamesh,” meaning five. Many Muslims and Jews believe the hamsa may be used to provide defense against ayin hara, “the evil eye.” Its symbolism is used to remind us of a number of things, including the five books of Torah.
In the Book of Remembrance we are told that “And Adam and Eve did establish a church unto the Almighty God, of sixty, four hundred, and thirty; and the Lord above counted them as five hundred” (BoR 17:59). This reminds us that we are of more value to God than we know.
We are told further in the text that “the course of the universe is as five hundred years, let he who has ears hear, for it is treasured by God as the measure of heaven” (BoR 17:59). The hamsa may be used to map the human hand over the divine name. In this way, the hamsa creates the effect of bridging the worshiper and God.