3. SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Friday, March 03, 2006 | 
Terumah (Raise a contribution): Exodus 25:1 - 27:19; 2 Kings 5:26 –6:13

In our weekly portion (parasha), we see the exact blueprint and instructions for the construction of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, a dwelling place where the presence of God moves with us in our wilderness. But before it was built, the people were asked “to raise a contribution” or “an offering” (terumah) “from every man whose heart moves him” to do so. It should be an act of the heart when we give to the Lord!

God wants us to build Him a sanctuary where He can “dwell among us.” Seven main elements or instruments are to a part of that tabernacle as we see in our portion:

  1. Ark of the Covenant (aron ha-brit; 25:10-22) Acacia wood (shittim) overlaid with pure gold and a crown of gold upon it. Acacia wood was almost the only wood found in that desert and is even today, but it is a strong wood and gives much shade. The Cherubim facing each other spreading their wings in covering and facing the mercy seat (hebr. kapporet).

  2. Table of the Showbread (shulhan lehem-panim; 25:23-29) The 12 sheaves of bread representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

  3. Menorah candlestick (menorah; 25:31-40) A seven-branches lamp stand of pure gold. The seven lamps should burn continually, from the “evening until the morning” and be filled with pure oil (everything must be pure, the gold and the oil) “of beaten olives for the light” (27:20). Six branches, three on each side, symbolize the six working days and the seventh branch in the middle of the menorah stands for the Sabbath that carries all other branches. It also shows us as the branches and the Messiah as the true vine (John 15). An authentic picture of what the temple menorah looked like, can be seen at the Arch of Titus in Rome, where the Romans took the looted menorah. A replica of a golden menorah was created and can be seen in the Temple Institute in Jerusalem Old City.

  4. Tabernacle (mishkan or ohel moed; 26:1-30) First is clear instruction about the curtains of linen, again from the “finest twisted linen” and than the boards and sockets, again from acacia wood. All was planned to be transportable since they wandered in the desert for 40 years! One of the Biblical terms for the Tabernacle is “Ohel Moed,” meaning a Tent of Appointment and meeting, where man and God met. A model of the Tabernacle according to the Bible was build by German Christians in the Sinai Desert near Eilat. You can get a take a historical guided tour or a Messianic one.

  5. Veil (parokhet; 26:31-37) The veil “shall divide unto you between the holy (kodesh) and the holy of holies (kodesh kodashim)” (26:33). “You shall put the mercy seat (kapporet) on the ark of the testimony in the holy of holies.” The Hebrew word kapporet, translated in English as mercy seat, comes from the term ‘kapparah,’ meaning atonement. Yes, through God’s mercy and grace, our sins are covered. The words kapporet and paroket (veil) have the same letters just in a different order! Behind the veil of holiness we have the Ark of the Covenant between the cherubim the presence of God, the Shekina. This was accessible only once a year and by one man: on the Day of the Atonement (Yom Kippur) by the High Priest. This is the same veil, or paroket, that was rent in two when Yeshua took his last breath on the cross.

  6. Altar (mizbeah, 27:1-8) Outside the tabernacle in the court stood the altar of the burning sacrifices. It was outside because it was a bloody business. Here we see again, even the altar was planned to be transportable.

  7. Court (hatzer, 27:9-19) This was the inner court of the tabernacle where the Levites and priests worked together.

    In the next weekly portion, we will read the instructions for the priestly clothing, as we go from talking about the place to talking about the man.
    - Michael Schneider -

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