Our par’sha this week is entitled Terumah תְּרוּמָ֑ה which refers to the voluntary contributions Mosheh was commanded to take up from the people. These contributions were used to build the Mishqan, commonly know as the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was the temporary dwelling place for Y’H’V’H that served Yisra’el for almost four-hundred and eighty years.1 Unlike the Temple, there is no record of the Tabernacle ever being defiled or destroyed.
The par’sha opens with the phrase, And Y’H’V’H spoke to Mosheh, saying… This phrase is found numerous times in the last four books of the Torah. That being said, it is noteworthy that we don’t find this particular phrase used again until the opening of Par’sha Ki Tisa, five chapters later. This teaches that the commandments regarding the furnishings for the Tabernacle were all given at one time and in one command, with the exception of the Altar of Incense. Without explanation, the instructions regarding the Altar of Incense are not given until beginning of chapter thirty in Par’sha Tetsaveh.
Mosheh is commanded to take up a contribution from the people. This contribution was not a tithe nor was it a gift. How can we give a gift to our Elohim who already owns everything? This may explain why the Torah doesn’t state let them give v’yit’nu וְיִתְּנוּ a contribution, but וְיִקְחוּ v’yiq’ku, let them take up a contribution. We simply can’t give something to Y’H’V’H He already owns, but He can take back a portion of what He has given us when we offer it to Him voluntarily.
And so Y’H’V’H commanded Mosheh to take up whatever contribution our forefathers voluntarily gave. Contribution is from terumah תְּרוּמָ֑ה and its shoresh means to elevate for an exalted goal. So in the first two verses of this week’s par’sha we learn that when we go beyond our tithes and give a voluntary offering to Y’H’V’H we elevate ourselves - we draw closer to Him. Ya’akov, the Y’shua’s half-brother, wrote that if draw near to Elohim…He shall draw near to us.4.8 Giving back to Y’H’V’H from that which He gives us is one way to draw closer to Him.
In past years I’ve spent most of the midrash discussing the instructions Yisrael was to follow in building the Tabernacle and its furnishings, but this Sabbath I’m going to change our focus a bit. For now we will note the furnishings given in this par’sha.
The Ark (25.10-16), into which Mosheh was to put the Witness Y’H’V’H had given to us. This Witness was the two tablets of stone that contained the Ten Declarations.
Y’H’V’H calls these two tablets the Witness, הָעֵדֻ֔ת ha’e’dut. The shoresh of edut is עוד and means to endure or to continue. This word is also used in B’reshith 21.30 where Avraham tells Avimelech, Take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, to be my witness that I have dug this well. In this passage witness, עֵדָ֔ה, means to establish facts.
From the Hebrew text we understand that the two tablets of stone engraved with the Words of Y’H’V’H are given to us to establish the facts (the truth) and that this truth will endure forever. And this truth is held securely in the Ark of the Witness.
The Lid of Atonement with the two keruvim is described in Sh’mot 25.17-22. It is placed on top of the Ark.
Y’H’V’H promised Mosheh, I shall meet you there, and from above the lid of atonement, from between the two keruvim which are on the Ark of the Witness, I shall speak to you all that which I command you concerning the children of Yisra’el.25.22 In this afternoon’s study we want to examine this promise to Mosheh in a little more details, given the fact that Y’H’V’H spoke all the commandments to Mosheh from atop Mount Sinai.
Next, in verses 23-30, the instructions for the Shulchan, the Table of Acacia wood that held the showbread are given. This command also included all the utensils that were used with the Shulchan.
Then, in verses 31-39, Mosheh was given the commandments regarding the Menorah, the golden lampstand, and all of its intricate designs.
Chapter twenty-five closes with Y’H’V’H’s instruction to Mosheh to do according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain.vs.40 The same word used for pattern, תַ֨בְנִיתָ֔ם, in verse forty is also used in Dibre ha’Yamim Alef 28.19, where David tells Sh’lomo that Y’H’V’H had made him understand how to build the Temple and its furnishings from the pattern He had shown him.
The Tabernacle and its utensils, as well as the Temple and its furnishings, were built according to the patterns already existing in the heavens. This is really nothing or a surprise, since we were told in B’reshith 1.26-27, that mankind was created in His image and in His likeness.
Chapter 26 contains the details regarding the construction of the Tabernacle itself. This Dwelling Place for Y’H’V’H was not a large structure, measuring only 30 cubits by 10 cubits, or about 15’ by 45’.
The first part of Chapter 27 describes the construction of the Altar of Sacrifice that was placed outside, in front of the entrance of the Tabernacle. It was constructed of acacia wood and bronze and was also made according to what was shown to Mosheh on the mountain.27.8
The next part of chapter 27 describes the construction of the curtained wall that surrounded the Tabernacle. This wall had only one entrance. We are not told, but one has to wonder what would have happened if a person tried to enter the courtyard by some other way.
This one entrance into the Courtyard led to the Tabernacle and the Dwelling Place of Y’H’V’H, which also had only one entrance. This reminded me of when the Messiah declared He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Him.Yn. 14.6 He is the only way and anyone who tries to enter some other way is a thief and a robber.Yn. 10.1 What is the difference between a thief and a robber?
Thief is from ganav גנב, which is the word for kidnap. It means to steal, to cunningly break the law. It portrays the idea of plotting and carefully planning ways to break the law so one doesn’t get caught.
Robber is from qeteph ,קֶתֶף which means to snatch or grab quickly. This portrays a person is always looking for a way to steal, or break the law, but doesn’t spend a great deal of time planning on how to do it.
Neither the thief or the robber does so unintentionally.
The people responded to Mosheh’s call to bring their contributions with such eagerness and generosity that the craftsmen soon had to ask Mosheh to tell the people to stop bringing their contributions.Sh’mot 36.3-7 Imagine what living in that time must have been like.
People were so eager to build Y’H’V’H a dwelling place among them that they gave and gave and gave. The craftsmen were so eager to do the work they had to be reminded they were not allowed to work on the Tabernacle on the Sabbath.Sh’mot 31.12-17 This seems to be a far different situation from the time Melek Sh’lomo built the first Temple.
In the Haftarah portion this week we learn that Melek Sh’lomo had to purchase cedars from Lebanon to build the Temple. He even agreed to page the wages of Chiram of Tsor’s servants for cutting and shipping the logs to Yisrael. Where were the voluntary offerings of the people?
Also, Melek Sh’lomo used compulsory labor to build the Temple: 30,000 to go in shifts to Lebanon to cut the cedar, 70,000 to bear burdens, 80,000 hewing the stones, and 3300 chiefs to oversee the work. Where were the voluntarily laborers eager to build a Dwelling Place for Elohim in Yerushalayim? Where was the enthusiasm to do the work?
This may be why Melek Sh’lomo said he intended to build a house for the Name of Y’H’V’H his Elohim5.5 rather than he and the people of Yisra’el would build? What changed? Had the people grown complacent with the blessed life they were living? In their apostasy, had they accepted the false teachings of the kohanim who were no longer teaching the Truth of His Word?
Sh’lomo’s Temple was destroyed, rebuilt and then destroyed again. Today there are many who teach that we are not the temples Y’H’V’H desires to dwell in, but they teach this as if it was some new concept.
When Y’H’V’H told Mosheh to take up the contributions the people offered, it was so that they could make Him a place where He could dwell in their midst.Sh’mot 25.8 It has never been Elohim’s intention to dwell in a stone or even a gold building, separated from His people. In fact, we know that the goal of the Olam Ha’ba is to prepare us to once again walk in our Father’s presence.
Sha’ul of Tarsus once wrote, Do you not know that you are a Dwelling Place of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you? If anyone destroys the Dwelling Place of Elohim, Elohim shall destroy him. For the Dwelling Place is set-apart, which you are.1Cor. 3.16-17 So that is the question, or questions, that arebbefore us today.
How eager are you to build a Dwelling Place for Y’H’V’H in your life?
What contributions are you freely and eagerly willing to give to be that Dwelling Place for Him?
How diligent are you willing to be to guard that Dwelling Place so that it doesn’t become defiled and then destroyed?
In fact, how seriously do you take the concept that you are to be - or even can be - a Dwelling Place for Y’H’V’H?
Y’H’V’H our Elohim, our Father in the Heaven, will not dwell among sin or a lukewarm people. He is a jealous El. Generation after generation has proven this to be true.
This is our generation. Now is our time to answer His call. Over the last four thousand years He has proven that if we build Him a Dwelling Place, maintain it and guard it, He will dwell in it.
He as also proven that He will abandon the Dwelling Place we build for Him if we turn from His way and continue in sin.
What state is the Dwelling Place you have built for Him?
4 Adar I 5776
13 Feb. 2016
1 see M’lakim Alef 6.1