The hamsa is an ancient Middle Eastern amulet shaped hand that is thought to protect the Jewish people against negative spiritual forces caused by the jealousy of others, which is known as the evil eye. The evil eye tradition dates back 3,000 years to ancient Greece and Rome, where it is believed that it could inflict harm, suffering or bad luck upon a person. In Judaism, it is believed that excessive praise or receiving admiration beyond what one truly deserves can bring upon the scorn of the evil eye, which can cause both mental and physical illness.
In Judaism, it is believed that the hamsa can protect against these dark spiritual forces. The hamsa is also believed to bring about good luck. As a result, it is a popular motif in Jewish jewelry. Many Jewish women wear hamsa earrings and necklaces. Many Jews prominently display hamsas inside their homes, on key chains, or even place them in baby carriages in order to protect their children. These hamsas are frequently inscribed with prayers asking for peace, success, tranquility, unity and righteousness.
The word hamsa comes from the Hebrew word hamesh, which means five. In Judaism, some claim that the hamsa represents the five books of the Torah. Others claim that it symbolizes the hand of Miriam, who was the sister of Moses. In the Jewish Kaballah, the hamsa represents the hand of the creator, which is the ultimate force to be utilized against the devil.
There is also some evidence that the hamsa symbol originated with an event in the Bible, where the Jewish people success on the battlefield transpired after Moses rose up his hands. Due to this event, in many Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish communities, they believe that raising up the five fingers of the hand can be utilized in order to protect against the evil eye.