Parashah 22: Vayak’hel (He assembled)

Parashah 22: Exodus 35:1-38:20

(In a regular year, read with Parashah 23;  in a leap year read separately.)

“Moshe assembled the whole community of the people of Israel and said to them, ‘These are the things which Yahweh has ordered you to do” (Exodus 35:1).  

One of my pet peeves is that the instructions given to the Israelites are called ‘The Mosaic Law.’   Though that delineation differentiates the Torah from other laws like manmade traditions or even ‘law of sin and death,’ it has been interpreted to mean that the law that came from Moshe has nothing to do with anyone who isn’t Israelite.    In truth, Moshe was only the intercessor between Elohim and the Israelites.  He never took credit for creating any of the instructions. 

Hebrew Word Pictures 

Sabbath or shabbat – שבת – shin, bet, tav

the covenant sign consumes the family

Seven or sheva – שבע – shin, bet, ayin

glory of the house revealed

The number seven is Hebrew sheva.   Both Shabat and sheva have the same root letters of shin, bet (glory of the house) meaning that Sabbath derives from the number seven and vice versa. 

Once again Yahweh reminds His people to remember the Sabbath day.  He must think this is an important commandment!  The Israelites are to work only six days because the seventh day is a holy day of complete rest, the Sabbath.  Whoever works on the Sabbath is to be put to death!  This seems like a harsh consequence, but the wages of breaking God’s commands or sin is death.  Elohim knows that if one person begins breaking the Sabbath, then others will follow and eventually His holy day will be forgotten.  It is most important that while the Israelites work and create the Tabernacle, they only work six days and rest on the seventh. 

“Then he [Yeshua] said to them, “Shabbat was made for mankind, not mankind for Shabbat; So the Son of Man is Lord even of Shabbat” (Mark 2:27-28).

Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath according to Yeshua.  In other words, Elohim created man (and woman) and then created the Sabbath day so that that Adam and Eve could fellowship with their Creator.  Elohim did not create the Sabbath and then create man.  Yeshua makes a very clear statement against any manmade rule  which keeps a person from peace, joy and fellowship with his Father on His holy day.  That Yeshua is LORD of the Sabbath means that he can determine what is lawful and what is not.  Picking grain on the Sabbath is lawful due to the hunger of his disciples.  Healing on the Sabbath is lawful because he was setting people free from their bondage to sin.


Bathsheba in Hebrew is BatSheva or ‘daughter seven.’

“You are not to kindle a fire in any of your homes on the Shabbat” (Exodus 35:3). 

Yahweh gives the first of six commands for honoring the Sabbath day.  Considering that the Israelites were living in the desert they probably didn’t need much fire during the day;  at night they had the pillar of fire to keep them warm.  However, fires were needed for cooking and so they were told not to cook on the Sabbath.  They had already been instructed about collecting extra manna on the sixth day, now they are not to cook it with fire on the seventh. 

Over the centuries manmade traditions turned this simple command into a plethora of rules regarding kindling a fire.  Sabbath candles, for example, are not to be lit after sundown as that is considered kindling a fire.  Hanukkah candles, on Sabbath, must be lit before the Sabbath ones, both before sunset.  In some parts of the colder regions of world, gentiles were hired to kindle fires on Sabbath so the Jews could stay warm.  This type of behavior goes  directly against the command for anyone within your home to obey the Sabbath.  Also, kindling a fire is different than maintaining a fire to keep from freezing to death.

Years ago I heard a Rabbi speak about living , not dying by Torah. He used the example in Matthew 12:1-6 of Yeshua going through the fields  and picking grain on the Sabbath which was considered work according to Jewish tradition.   The leaders judged him for breaking the Sabbath.  He reminds them of  David, when hungry, took the consecrated bread that was supposed to be only for the priests and fed it to his men (1 Samuel 21:1-6).   This was also unlawful,  but acceptable to the priest.  Why?  When faced with a life or death situation, the priest knew that Yahweh desires that we choose life over death (Deuteronomy 30:19).   It is a command of God to not kindle a fire on Sabbath as it is work.  However, if one is going to die from the cold, it is Elohim’s will to choose life and kindle that fire.

“Anyone whose heart makes him willing …” (Exodus 35:4).

Moshe now shares with Isra’el everything that Yahweh told him on the mountain.   In order to make the Tabernacle, a dwelling place for Yahweh’s presence, a collection was to be taken of gold, silver, bronze, blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, fine linen, goat’s hair, tanned ram skins, fine leather, Acacia wood, oil, spices, along with onxy and precious stones.

The key to the contributions concerned the the heart of the individual.  Yahweh knew the hearts of His people and He didn’t want their contributions if they didn’t have a willing heart.  Most, if not all, of these items were received by plundering Egypt and weren’t actually property of the Israelites.  They belonged to Yahweh who delivered them.   Any person who wanted to hold onto their plundered goods would not be included in worshipping Elohim through a free-will offering.

Yahweh knows our wicked hearts better than we do which should make us fearful of Him.  In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira are perfect examples of ‘half-hearted’ giving to Elohim and they received their reward.  They died.

Moshe begins listing everything they will be making for the Tabernacle.   He calls on the craftsmen to come forward and help with the Tent, all the furnishings and the garments for the priesthood.  Everyone left Moshe and those whose ‘hearts were stirred’ brought their offerings to Elohim.  Everyone whose ‘spirit made him willing’ brought offerings of gold (Exodus 35:20-22).

None of the Israelites, except a chosen few, have been given the Spirit of Elohim.  Thus far, His instructions have not been written on their hearts.  They were not being caused by His Spirit to obey and live by His rulings.  Each person acted out their faith through a willingness of heart, a stirring of their human spirit.

Born again believers have the indwelling Spirit of Elohim and should have Torah written on their hearts, yet are  much less willing to live by Yahweh’s instructions, respecting His rulings and obey them.  There seems to be no issue with blaspheming the greatest power ever given to us – the power of the Living God that transforms us into obedient subjects of His Kingdom.

“Also, everyone who says something against the Son of Man will have it forgiven him; but whoever has blasphemed the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit,  will not be forgiven” (Luke 2:10).

The Feminine Touch

“Likewise the women whose heart stirred them to use their skill …” (Exodus 25:36).

Women were included in the collection of plundered goods.  They also had skills that were needed and used in creating the Tabernacle.  Spinning was a woman’s work and they and they immediately begin spinning the blue, purple and scarlet yarn, fine linen, and goat’s hair.

With the modern women’s movement, referred to as the ‘war on women’, women in the Body of Messiah have bought into the same lies as the women of the world.  They consider that they need to be equal to men not realizing that they were created differently.  The spirit of Jezebel has bewitched women to rise up and take positions of leadership over men.  They forget that Eve stepped out from under the authority of Adam and was the catalyst for bringing sin into the world.  Most women do not realize that the perceived failure of men as spiritual leaders is because women have stepped out of their place of authority which is under men, who are under the authority of Messiah who was under  the authority of his Father (1 Corinthians 11).  Women who accept their positional authority under men will find that they become the glory of man.

In many Messianic congregations, women have removed their head coverings, their sign of authority,  and put on  tzizit and prayer shawls that once set men apart from women.   They have embraced the idea that ‘Israelites’ meant both men and women,  when only men who were over 21 were counted for the census.  Women were not considered less valuable than men, they were placed under the protection and authority of men: fathers, brothers, and husbands.  This protection saved women from being raped, sexually assaulted or abused. 

Some may argue that in Yahweh’s Kingdom, and rightly so, there is no difference between men and women (Galatians 3:27-28).  Both sin; both need redemption.  However, in the physical world, there are differences.  Women are considered weaker than men, but are to to be respected as heirs to the Kingdom by their husbands. If husbands do not respect their wives as fellow heirs,  their prayers will be blocked! (1 Peter 3:7).

The women’s movement has blurred the roles between men and women so effectively that women would force men to submissively spin goat’s hair while they fought and demanded the right to melt gold.  This confusion of roles would undermine the whole concept of ‘hearts being stirred’ to offer what each individual was gifted to offer.   The dissatisfaction with the roles of the living stones would have never allowed a spiritual Temple to rise up in the wilderness, let alone a physical one. 

At this time, only a select few which included B’tzal’el and Oholiav, were filled with the Spirit of Elohim.  They were given wisdom, knowledge and understanding concerning working with gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, and woodcarving.  They were given the skill  for every kind design work including embroidery. They were also given the ability to teach others.  It seems that the hearts of the children of Isra’el were stirred to above and beyond what was asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20-21).

“In this way the people were restrained from making additional contributions.  For what they had already was not only sufficient for doing all the work, but too much!” (Exodus 36:7)

The Tent Coverings

The tent coverings were made in layers of different fabric.  On the inside, where the priests would minister to Yahweh, ten sheets, all the same size, were made with finely woven linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn.  They were joined together so the interior part of the tent formed one single unit. The next covering layer was made of goat’s hair.  The sheets were made in the same way, ten sheets all the same size, joined together into one single unit.  The next layer of covering was made of rams skins.  The final layer covering was made of fine leather.  The tent was set up using planks and cross bars made of Acacia wood overlaid with gold and set in silver sockets.

For the entrance to the tent, a screen of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely woven linen were woven together in colors.  It had five posts and hooks.  Everything was overlaid with gold while the five sockets were bronze.

K’ruvim or Cherubim

“He made the curtain [veil] with k’ruvim worked in that had been crafted by a skilled artisan” (Exodus 36:9).

Skilled men made the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place of blue, purple and scarlet yarn along with fine linen.  A skilled artisan crafted k’ruvim into each sheet and the veil. K’ruvim is the Hebrew word for ‘Cherubim’ and means ‘nearness or intimacy.’ It  has the same root as korban which means ‘offering. ’ It was through the offerings that the Israelites first  ‘drew near’ to Elohim.  Then, each of the artisans drew near to God as they worked His instructed designs into the fabrics.  Imagine how the Spirit of Elohim was moving, teaching and showing these men things they could never have imagined without divine guidance!  It is fascinating to consider that the Tabernacle would be a very spiritual place where man and God would meet, but it was also very physical.  Through the physical actions by these men and women, they entered the spiritual realm.

There were also k’ruvim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.  They face each another, looking down toward the Ark cover with their wings outstretched guarding their faces.  The place between the k’ruvim is where Yahweh and the high priest would meet.  K’ruvim are considered an angelic type of being with innocent faces.  

The prophet Ezekiel describes a k’ruv, who had “the seal on perfection, full of wisdom and perfect .. in Eden, the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28: 11-12)  This particular k’ruv protected a large region and was placed on Elohim’s holy mountain.  “You walked back and forth among stones of fire.  You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness  was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:14-15).   

This k’rub became filled with violence and sinned.  He was thrown out from the mountain of Elohim and destroyed. “You protecting k’ruv … your heart grew proud because of your beauty, you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…. Therefore I have brought forth fire from within you, and it has devoured you; I reduced you into ashes on the ground…” (Ezekiel 28:17-18).

These verses show that k’ruvim were created beings and capable of sinning against Elohim. This particular k’rub was to protect Yahweh’s mountain.   When Adam and Eve were sent out of  Eden, k’ruvim were placed at the entrance with flaming swords, protecting the Tree of Life. 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Cherubim or k’ruvim – כרבים – kaf, resh, bet, yod, mem

to cover the highest person of the house, the massive finished work

The Holy Place

“A tent was set up, the outer one, which was called the Holy Place; in it were the menorah, the table and the Bread of the Presence” (Hebrews 9:2).

Every object in The Holy Place, within the tent itself, was made from gold.  Gold comes from the Hebrew word zahav and means ‘brilliance and splendor.’  Gold is associated with all that is holy to Yahweh. The judgments of Yahweh are true and righteous and are to be desired more than fine gold (Psalm 19:9-10).  Instruction, wisdom and understanding are compared to gold in the Proverbs (Proverbs 8:10, 16:16).  Faith is tested in the fire like god because it is very precious (1 Peter 1:7). 

The Ark of the Covenant 

“Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might” (Psalm 132:8).

B’tzal’el made the Ark of Acacia wood and overlaid it with gold inside and out.  He put molding at the top, made rings for the corners and put carrying poles in the rings.  He made the kaphar or cover for the Ark.  It had two k’ruvim made of hammered pure gold for the ends which were one piece with the cover.  The k’ruvim had their wings spread out so they covered the Ark.  They faced each other, but their eyes looked down toward the Ark covering. The k’rubim on the Ark of the Covenant match the descriptions found in Ezekiel 1:4-14 and Revelation 4:6-8.  In both Scriptures, the k’rubim are with Elohim as part of His chariot and His throne.  They are so close to Yahweh that to be close to them brings nearness to Him.

The Table of Presence

The altar was of wood, five-and-a-quarter feet high and three-and-a-half feet long; its length and walls were also of wood. He said to me, “This is the table which is in the presence of Adonai” (Ezekiel 41:22).

B’tzal’el made the Table of Presence of Acacia wood with a molding and overlaid it with pure gold. He made four gold rings and attached the rings to the corners of the table near the legs for the carrying poles.  All utensils that were used with the table, its dishes, pans, bowls and pitchers were also made of pure gold.

The Altar of Incense

“All the people were outside, praying, at the time of the incense burning,  when there appeared to him an angel of Adonai standing to the right of the incense altar” (Luke 1:10-11).

B’tzal’el made the Altar for burning incense from Acacia wood with a molding and overlaid it with pure gold, its top and all around its sides and horns.  He made two gold rings to hold the gold carrying poles and fastened them under the molding at the two corners of the Altar on both sides.  He also made the anointing oil and cure incense as instructed by Yahweh.

The Menorah

Then the angel that had been speaking with me returned and roused me, as if he were waking someone up from being asleep, and asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I’ve been looking at a menorah; it’s all of gold, with a bowl at its top, seven lamps on it, and seven tubes leading to the lamps at its top” (Zechariah 4:1-2).

B’tzal’el hammered the great Menorah from 60 pounds of pure gold.  It’s base, shaft, cups, rings, outer leaves and flowers were a single unit.  Six branches extended from its sides – three on one side and three on the other.  On each branch were three cups shaped like almond blossoms with a ring of outer leaves and petals.  On the central shaft,  there were four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its ring of outer leaves and petals.  Where each pair of branches joined the central shaft was a ring of outer leaves with a pair of branches. The rings of outer leaves and their branches were of one piece with the shaft making the whole menorah one piece of hammered work of pure gold.  Its seven lamps, its tongs and its trays were also made of pure gold.

In Hebrew,  almond is shakeed which means ‘diligence, perseverance or watchfulness.’  Some believe the ‘Tree of Life’ was an almond tree and therefore signifies life.  In Scripture, the almond is used as symbolism for old age (Ecclesiastes 12:5), as a rod of authority (Numbers 17:8) and as the eyes of the Lord in the prophet Jeremiah.

“The word of Adonai came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree.’ ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that My Word is fulfilled’” (Jeremiah 1:11-12).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Almond or shakeed – שקד – shin, kof, dalet

the glory behind the pathway

Imagine standing in the Holy Place as a Levite priest.   Every object is covered in gold including the poles and crossbars holding making up the tent frame around you.  It is like you are standing inside a golden box, the Ark of the Testimony. The thickness of the coverings keeps out the light from the outside world.  The menorah, the only object shown Moshe on the mountain, is filled with oil and glows.  Its light reflects off every golden object from the tables to the wall posts to the utensils. The glow is surreal – supernatural – the presence of the light that comes into the world protected and guarded by the k’ruvim, the angels of Yahweh.

Now imagine stepping through the thick curtain separating the tent from the Outer Courtyard into the light of day.  Imagine the difference between the Holy Place where there one is set apart and sanctified and the Outer Courtyard where sacrifice and purification begins.

Yeshua, the Menorah

“He came to be a testimony, to bear witness concerning the light; so that through him, everyone might put his trust in God and be faithful to him” (John 1:7).

Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light which gives life” (John 8:12).

“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).

The Outer Courtyard

Everything in the Outer Courtyard was made of bronze.  Bronze comes from the Hebrew word nechosheth and can mean brass, brazen, or copper.  It is an alloy that is mixed with other metals such as zinc, aluminum or nickel.  It was not considered a precious metal, but was strong and durable.  It was also resistant to corrosion and easily cast into a shape.  Bronze symbolizes sin as well as strength.  The serpent that Moshe held up in the wilderness was bronze (Numbers 21:8-9) and Goliath had a bronze coat of chain mail, a bronze helmet, leg armor, and javelin (1 Samuel 17:5-6).

B’tzal’el made the Courtyard tapestries of finely woven linen. Bronze sockets and posts with silver rings for hanging the tapestries were also cast.  All of the posts were banded in silver.   The screen for the gateway was woven in colors of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely woven linen.  The tent pegs for the Tabernacle and for the Courtyard around it were of bronze.

The Altar of Sacrifice

“Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar” (Psalm 51:19).

B’tzal’el made the square Altar for burnt offerings out of Acacia wood.  He made horns on its four corners and overlaid the whole Altar with bronze.  He made the pots, shovels, basins, meat-hooks and fire pans for us with the altar out of bronze.  He also made a grate of bronze netting for under its rim that went halfway up the Altar.  The corners had four bronze rings for the four bronze carrying poles that fit into the rings on the sides of the Altar.  The inside of the Altar was made of planks and remained hollow.

The Bronze Basin

“He made the basin of bronze with its base of bronze from the mirrors of the women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting” (Exodus 38:8).

B’tzal’el made the Basin of bronze.  Its base was made from the mirrors of the women serving at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.  Mirrors in ancient times were not glass like mirrors today; they were highly polished bronze. By making the Basin from a reflective material, the priests could see whether or not their face and bodies were cleaned from blood after an offering. 

Women also served at the Tent of Meeting.   The Hebrew word for ‘served’ is tsaba and means to ‘serve or minister.’  Tsaba also infers ‘like a soldier who goes off to war’ and is the root for the Hebrew ‘Lord of Hosts,’ tsvaotTsaba is used to describe the service of the priests, Aaron’s descendants, in the Tabernacle (Numbers 4:23,35,39, 43; 8:24).   Each group of Aaron’s descendants had different tasks from caring for the most holy things, carrying the equipment of the courtyard to transporting loads.  Though it is believed that those who performed Tabernacle duties were only men, there is the inference that Levitical women served in some kind service role.

Yeshua and Ephesus

In the message to the congregation in Ephesus, Yeshua describes himself as the ‘one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven gold menorahs.’ Yeshua, as the bronze and beaten menorah, walks among the menorah of his people because he is the one from whom the congregation receives their light. Without him, there is no true light in the darkness (John 1:9).

Ephesus was a Greek metropolis known for its Temple to Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Acts 19 recounts Paul’s visit to Ephesus and his comments regarding the goddess Artemis and the fallen stone.  Within this city, there is great darkness and the light of the menorah, Yeshua, is of utmost importance.

Yeshua knows the Messianic believers in Ephesus work hard.  They persevere, they don’t grow weary for his sake.  They hate wickedness and those who lie.  Yet, they have a grievous sin; they have lost their first love.  Their works have become either mundane or are just an outward act for personal satisfaction. Though they may take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan, they no longer do it out of love for the ‘light of the world.’

Sha’ul’s letter to the Ephesians is filled with hope and encouragement.  He writes about their inheritance and standing in the heavenly realm.  He explains  how they have become part of the commonwealth of Isra’el and are being built into a holy, spiritual temple.  In his letter, he compares the marriage relationship to Messiah and the body of believers.  And, to the Ephesians he writes that their salvation is by grace through faith, not their works. 

Now, however, Yeshua sees only their works, but not their love.  The consequence for this sin is the removal of their menorah.  If they don’t repent and return to loving Yeshua with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, they will be left in darkness.  Without his light, they will no longer shine in the dark city around them and their testimony of him will be snuffed out.

In their favor, they hate the Nicolaitans and Yeshua hates them too.  In the Greek, nico means ‘conquer,’ and laitan refers to ‘lay people.’   Together Nicolaitan means “conquer the lay people.’  This implies there is a hierarchy of those who rule and those who submit.   Yeshua hates this hierarchy because he only is to be the Shepherd over his sheep, King over his kingdom, High Priest over his priesthood and the Bridegroom of his bride.   

There is a reward for the overcomer when Yeshua returns.  They will be allowed to eat from the Tree of Life in the new heavens and new earth.  The overcomer will be allowed into the Garden of Eden and experience the total restoration of everything, including the eternal Sabbath (Revelation 22:14).  Until that time, however, the Ephesians must return to their first love of Messiah so that their menorah will not be removed from its stand and they assimilate into the darkness of the world.

“How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city!” (Revelation 22:14).

Haftarah (The Readings of the Prophets)

1 Kings 7:40-50

B’rit Hadashah (New Testament Readings)

2 Corinthians 9:1-5

Hebrews 9:1-14

Midrash Vayak’hel: Menorah and Olive Branches

The emblem for the modern State of Israel is a menorah and olive branches.  Why do you think these two Biblical symbols were chosen?

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries

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