After the description of the Nation’s willing participation in the preparations of the Mishkan, in last week's Parasha, the current one, Parashat Pkudey, the last in the book of Sh’mot, continues to describe the edifice and the priests’ official garments. “Pkudey” means “that which was taken into account/visited”, or “these are the accounts”. The meaning of the root p.k.d. aside from counting, visiting, and commanding, originates with “invest with purpose or responsibility”.1 Thus, in Parashat Va’yak’hel emphasis was placed on the congregation as a “kahal”, a crowd, a mass, host, with the term “pkudey” stressing the fact that the congregation has no existence apart from the individuals who make it up. Hence, each and everyone has been “visited” and “taken into account” in order to make the half-shekel payment (ref. 38:25,26, as we noted last week).2 On the contrary, in the present Parasha the itemized items seem to be of no significance in and of themselves, but only as part of the "Mishkan of the testimony". Let us try to read the opening verse (21) as closely as we can to the Hebrew original: "These are the itemized/counted [articles] – p'kudey - of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the testimony/witness which was itemized/counted/supervised – pukad - by the mouth of Moshe…" The repetition of "Mishkan" and Moshe's involvement in overseeing it as a whole, stresses the fact that the inventory of its items alone was not sufficient. The oneness of the Mishkan has already been noted in previous parashot (Ex. 26:6,11; 36:13).
In 39:32, we read
the following: "And all the work of the tabernacle of the congregation was
finished (“vate’chal”), and the sons of
The term “tabernacle of the testimony” meets us in 38:21 and is echoed in 40:3 by the “ark of the testimony”, whereas in Parashat Ki Tissa we encountered the “tablets of the testimony” (Ex. 34:29). “Testimony” is “edut” - “a witness” or “evidence”. The reason, therefore, for the existence of the Mishkan, the ark and that which it contained (that is the “tablets”) appears to be in order to validate YHVH’s covenant with His people. “Ed”, witness, and “edut”, testimony, witness or evidence, originate with the root ayin, vav, dalet (a.o/u.d), whose primal meaning is to “endure, continue, repeat”, and by implication “to establish facts.”3 “Od” is therefore “more and continually” and “ad” is “perpetuity”, while “edot” are YHVH’s “decrees”. The witnesses (whether human, inanimate objects, decrees, or even Time itself) are incorporated into the perpetual and firm arrangement to which they are testifying, in this case being YHVH’s everlasting Covenant.
Parashat Trumah, we examined the association of the shape of the Menorah (Ex.
25:31-39) to the flora of the
The fifty-day period between
Pesach and Shavu'ot is when the flowers of the olive open and the kernels of
wheat and barley fill with starch. Thus, the productive fate of these crops is
determined during that season which [in the
Obviously, it is only YHVH
Who is able to hold all the elements of His Creation in the perfect balance
required. Thus, He is seen using (more than once) the
Whereas Parashat Va’ya’kehl informed us about the making of the vessels of the Mishkan, Parashat Pkudey “pours” content and meaning into them: The tablets are placed in the Ark of the Covenant, the bread is laid on the Table of Showbread, the wicks are lit in the Menorah, and the incense is burned. We are also informed, of course, in detail about the making of the vestments of those who were to officiate in YHVH’s abode, i.e. the priests. Interestingly, the materials used for these garments - “gold, blue, purple, and scarlet and the fine woven linen” - were also used in the making of the Mishkan itself.
Among the various parts of the high priest’s regalia was “the plate of the holy crown of pure gold” and on it “an inscription like the engraving of a signet: HOLINESS TO YHVH” (39:30). In 39:6 we read, similarly, about the two onyx stones that were placed on the high priest’s shoulders, with the names of the tribes etched on them. In this way, the high priest would approach YHVH on behalf of His people. “An engraving (or “etching”) of a signet” is rendered “pituchey chotam”- literally “the engravings of a seal”. Digging a little deeper, we discover that whereas “chotam” is a seal, “pituchey” (engravings of…) originates from the root p.t.ch (peh, tav, chet) meaning “to open” or “opening”. So, how is it that a “seal” and an “opening” signify the onyx stones as well as the engraving upon the high priest’s crown? Do these two seemingly opposing terms allude to something beyond that which meets the eye? In Revelation Chapter 5 Yeshua is seen worthy of opening a special “book” and breaking its seals. What was it that enabled Yeshua to carry out this most important task, which no one else could execute? Having given up His life, He redeemed for His Father those who are to be kings and priests who will reign on earth. Our High Priest stood before the Father with the proverbial onyx stones on His shoulders and the golden band with “Holiness unto YHVH” on His forehead (in the 'form' of the crown of thorns). Qualified to open the sealed book of redemption, He was displaying His ultimate task of presenting to His Father those whom He had purchased by His blood, opening the way by enabling them to be “the sealed servants of Elohim” (Revelation7:3 italics added).
* Parashot – plural for “Parasha” – “Parashat…” Parasha of…
** The letter “pey” may also be pronounced “fey” depending on
its placement in a given word.
1 Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebew, based on the commentaties of Samsom Raphael Hirsch, Matityahu Clark, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, - New York, 1999.
3 Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew
4 Nature in Our
Biblical Heritage, Nogah Hareuveni, trans. Helen Frenkley, Neot Kdumim Ltd.
I love the ending in reference to the seals of Revelation 5. How nice to see that correlation.ReplyDelete
Thank you for unpacking these precious jewels for us.
This was beautiful ! Thank you for sharing such wonderful treasures. Looking forward to the next reading. We love ya'll...ReplyDelete