Parashah 23: P’kudei (Accounts)

Parashah 23: Exodus 38:21-40:38

These are the accounts of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, recorded as Moshe ordered, by the Levites under the direction of Itamar, the son of Aaron, the priest” (Exodus 38:21).

B’tzal’ el was ‘singled out’ by Yahweh and filled with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge concerning every kind of artistry.   In Hebrew, B’tzal’el means ‘in the image of God.’  He also descends from the tribe of Judah which became the lineage of the Kings of Israel: David, Solomon, Abijah, Joash, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Zedekiah, Josiah and ultimately Yeshua, the Messiah. 

His assistant is Oholi’av whose name means ‘tent of the father.’  He was a skilled engraver, designer and a weaver of colors.  When we look at the Tabernacle, ’the tent of the Father’, we see the ‘image of God,’ Yeshua.  Oholi’av is from the tribe of Dan which means ‘judge.’  Samson, one of the Judges of Isra’el descended from the tribe of Dan. 

The Materials for the Tabernacle

Gold

“The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring forever. The rulings of Yahweh are true, they are righteous altogether, more desirable than gold, than much fine gold, also sweeter than honey or drippings from the honeycomb. Through them your servant is warned; in obeying them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:10-12).

Gold, symbolic of Yahweh and His Kingdom, was used for everything made in the sanctuary.   The total weight of gold used was 29 talents, 730 shekels, or 1,930 pounds.  Today’s (2017) market value is $1275.80 per ounce which equals $20,412.80 per pound.  At 1,930 pounds, the price of gold used at today’s market value is $393,967.04.

Gold Thread

“They hammered the gold into thin plates and cut them into threads (wires) in order to work it into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen crafted by the skilled artisan” (Exodus 39:3).

This is the first time that threads made of fine gold has been specifically mentioned.   The process of hammering gold into an extremely thin, unbroken sheet is called ‘goldbeating.’ Egyptian craftsmen recognized the extraordinary durability and malleability of gold and became the first goldbeaters.  They pounded gold using a round stone to create the thinnest gold leaf possible.

Most goldbeaters used 23 karat gold.  They would put the gold in a pot and melt it in a furnace.  When liquified, the gold is poured into a mold and cast into a bar.  The gold bar is rolled in a mill until it is 1/1000 of an inch thick. After being rolled, the thin ribbon of gold is cut into one-inch squares as preparation for beating.

The first step of beating is called the Cutch which used a fabric to interleave the gold as it was being beaten.  Originally, the Cutch was made of 150 skins of ox intestine, but parchment or mylar are used today to handle the hours of repeated hammer blows needed to beat the gold.

The gold is beaten on a large heavy block of marble or granite.  Beating of the cutch takes about one hour using a fifteen pound hammer.  The goldbeater follows a pattern and sets up a rhythm of about seventy strokes per minute.  The cutch packet is rotated and turned to ensure the gold inside expands evenly in all directions to about 4 inches square.  The gold is taken out of the cutch and each piece is cut into four pieces with a knife and put in a packet called a Shoder which has 1,500 skins.  The Shoder is beaten for about three hours until the gold expands into a five inch square.

The gold is then taken out of the Shoder and placed on a leather-covered surface.  The gold is so thin that the cutter can simply blow on it to flatten it out.  Using a wagon, made out of wood, the gold is quickly cut into four pieces and placed in a packet called a Mold for the final beating.  The Mold, coated with gypsum powder to prevent the gold from sticking to the skins, contains 1,500 pieces of gold.  The Mold is beaten with an eight-pound hammer for three to four hours until it is a circle about six inches in diameter.  The finished leaf forms an unbroken sheet of gold with a thickness of 1/250,000 of an inch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldbeating).

Hebrew Word Picture

Gold or zahav – זהב – zayin, hey, bet

sustenance revealed in the house

Silver

“The words of Yahweh are pure words, silver in a melting-pot set in the earth, refined and purified seven times over” (Psalm 12:7).

The silver, symbolic of Yeshua’s redemption, given by the community weighed 100 talents, 1,775 shekels or 6,650 pounds.  Today’s market value of silver is  $16.13 per ounce which equals $258.08 per pound.  At 6,650 pounds of silver, the price of silver used at today’s market value is  $17,162.32.  Silver was used to cast the sockets for the sanctuary and curtain.  Each socket used 66 pounds of silver which would cost $17033.28 in today’s market value.

The amount given by each individual was called a beka. The beck is a half shekel or 1/5 of an ounce of silver.  This would be about $3.22 in today’s market value of silver.   A beka was paid by everyone 20 years old or older who were counted in the census which came to 603,550 Israelite men.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Silver or kesaph –  כסף – kaf, samech, peh

cover and support the words

Bronze

“He trains my hands for war until my arms can bend a bow of bronze; “You give me your shield, which is salvation, your right hand holds me up, your humility makes me great” (Psalm 18:35-36).

The offering of bronze, symbolizing judgment and man, weighed 4,680 pounds.  Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin while brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. The price of bronze is under $1.00 in today’s market value.  Bronze was used for the sockets for the entrance to the Tabernacle, the Altar of Sacrifice, the grate in the altar, all the  utensils for the Altar, sockets for the Courtyard and gateway to the Courtyard along with all of the tent pegs used for holding the Tabernacle in place.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Bronze or nechash – נחש – noon, chet, shin

life in the inner room glory

Blue

“Meanwhile, Mordcai left the king’s presence arrayed in royal blue and white…” (Esther 8:15).

The Hebrew word for ‘blue’ is tekelet and covers the spectrum of blue from sky blue to a deep royal blue.  Though it has come to mean ‘light blue,’ tekelet was actually the name of the blue dye extracted the chillazon sea snail.  When the 70 elders went up the mountain with Moshe, the pavement under Yahweh’s feet was sapphire, clear as the sky or techelet. 

Blue is associated with the heavenly realm and was central to the colors of the Tabernacle because it was to  be a shadow of the heavenly one. Blue is also associated with the commandments of Yahweh and the high priest’s ritual vest or ephod was woven entirely of blue representing his close association with Yahweh’s instructions.  

The Israelites were commanded to wear tzizit or tassels on the corners of their garments.  The tassels included one thread of techelet.  The tzizit were to remind the Israelites to remember to obey all of Yahweh’s commandments (Numbers 15:38-40).

When the Israelite camp moved from one place to another in the wilderness, specific instructions were given for the objects in the Tabernacle.  The Ark of the Covenant was to be covered with the the veil and then a blue cloth over top.  Blue cloth was to cover the Table of Presence and all of its utensils, the Menorah,  and the Altar of Incense.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Blue or techelet – תכלת – tav, kaf, lamed, tav

sign allowing the shepherd’s covenant

Purple

“And they clothed hi [Yeshua] with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, …. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him” (Mark 15:17,20).

The Hebrew word for ‘purple‘ is argaman, and symbolizes royalty and judgement.  The curtain in the Tabernacle that separated man from the presence of Yahweh, His throne room, was made of purple, blue and scarlet yarns.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Purple or argaman – ארגמן – alef, resh, gimel, mem, noon

the first, the highest gives mighty life

Scarlet

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow ; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

The Hebrew word for ‘scarlet’ is towla and means ‘maggot or worms.’  These worms, also known as the crimson grub, were used to extract the crimson color.   Scarlet or crimson yarns were woven into the fabrics for the Tabernacle along with blue and purple yarn.

Scarlet is the color of our sins according to the prophet Isaiah.  Consider that it could have been towla or the crimson grub that appeared on the manna when it was kept overnight.  By putting this color in the Tabernacle woven fabrics, it was a reminder to Isra’el not to sin, especially when it came to the Sabbath. Even more discouraging that they had enough of these maggots to make the scarlet threads!   Scarlet was the color of the cord that Rahab put out her window as a sign for Joshua (Joshua 2:17-21).  Scarlet wool was used for purification when Moshe sprinkled the people and the book of the covenant (Hebrews 9:19-20).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Scarlet or towla – תולע – tav, vav, lamed, ayin

the sign bound to the shepherd revealed

Fine Linen

“Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his Bride has prepared herself — fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear. (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people.)” (Revelation 19:7-8).

The Hebrew word for fine linen is sheshee and means ‘white or bleached.’  Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant which was cultivated in Egypt and known for its pure white color (Exodus 9:31).   The process is labor intensive,  but when it is woven into garments, it is cool and remains fresh in hot weather.  In ancient times, linen was mainly used by the wealthy and the priesthood.   The tunic, the turban, and shorts for the high priest were made of finely woven linen. The curtains for the Tabernacle interior and Courtyard were made of fine linen along with the wicks for the Menorah.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Fine Linen or sheshee – שש – shin, shin

the all consuming glory

Linen or bad – בד – bet, dalet

house of the door (door of the house)

This Hebrew word for linen is used in reference  to the priestly garments.  It signifies ‘separation.’

Onyx Stones

“The name of the first [river] is Pishon; it winds throughout the land of Havilah, where there is gold.  The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there” (Genesis 2:11-12).

The Hebrew word for onyx or sardonyx is shoham and has its roots in the Arabic word for ‘blackness.’  Onyx is a type of chalcedony, a member of the crystals family.  It symbolizes inner strength, focused attention, willpower, discipline and reason.  Two onyx stones were put in settings of gold and placed on the high priest’s shoulders – one on the right and one on the left.  They were engraved with the names of the sons of Isra’el, six names on one side and six on the other.

They were considered to be ‘remembrance’ stones.  When Aaron entered the Holy Place dressed in his priestly garments,Yahweh would see all the names of the tribes of Isra’el written on the stones and would be moved to have mercy on His people.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Onyx or shoham  שוהם – shin, vav, hey, mem

the glory bound to reveal the mighty

They Did It!

“Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses …  the Israelites had done all the work. And Moses inspected all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it.” And Moses blessed them” (Exodus 39:33-43).

For months the Israelites worked with skill to perfectly create the Tabernacle according to Yahweh’s plan that Moshe had been given on the mountain.  Wooden boxes of Acacia wood had been covered in gold for the Altars the table. Mirrors had been transformed into a Bronze Laver.  Tapestries had been woven together in blue, scarlet and purple yarns with the image of keruvim. Fine linen had been twisted from flax, spin and sewn together as a tent. Animal skins had been tanned into leather.  Gold had been beaten into a Menorah and fine slivers of golden thread glistened between the colorful yarns.   Silver sockets had been polished.  Bronze tent pegs waited to be hammered into the ground.  Anointing oil, lamp oil and aromatic spices were prepared waiting to be used.  Priestly garments had been fashioned with blue cloth, precious stones, fine linen and golden chains. The Israelites gathered everything they had created and brought it to Moshe.

Setting up the Tabernacle

On the first day of the first month of the second year after the Israelites had left Egypt, the Tabernacle was set up. One year after they were given God’s appointed times, they were raising up Yahweh’s divine place of residence where He could live with His treasured people.  Moshe did everything exactly as Yahweh commanded him because in fourteen days, Passover would be remembered.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Tabernacle or mishkan – משכן – mem, shin, kaf, noon

the mighty consuming glory covers life

After the gold posts, silver sockets sockets and gold ceiling rafters were set, the the four coverings were hung on rings.  Bronze stakes were pounded into the ground.  The Ark of the Covenant was put in the Holy of Holies and concealed behind the colorful veil woven with keruvim.  In the Holy Place, the Table of Presence was set up and on it Moshe arranged the loaves of the Bread of Presence.   Wicks and oil were put in the cups of the golden Menorah across from the Table of Presence and the Menorah was lit.   The golden Altar of Incense was placed in front of the veil and the smell of burning incense filled the Holy Place.   The entrance screen to the Most Holy Place was hung on its five posts.   In the Courtyard, the Altar of Sacrifice was set up near the entrance to the Tabernacle.  Between the Altar and the entrance screen to the Most Holy Place, the Bronze Laver was filled with water.  Finally, the fine linen that surrounded the Courtyard were hung along with the screen to the entrance to the Tabernacle     

Everything, including the Altar of Sacrifice and the Bronze Laver, was anointed with the holy oil.  Aaron was brought to the entrance to the Tabernacle and washed with water.  He put on the holy priestly garments and the turban with the golden ornament that had been engraved with “Holy to Yahweh.” He was anointed with oil and consecrated to serve as a cohen.  His sons were also washed and put on their priestly garments.  They were and anointed like their father.  Thus, they would serve as cohanim (priests) throughout their generations (Exodus 40:35).

Yahweh Makes His Decision

This is the culmination of the book of Exodus that describes the Israelites journey from slavery to freedom.  They left Egypt and entered the wilderness.  They crossed the Red Sea, ate manna, drank water from a rock, saw Yahweh in lightning and thunder on a mountain, heard His voice, and received His instructions.

Then, they sinned against their Deliverer and Provider and had to drink contaminated water and watch many of their loved ones die at the hands of the Levites.  Though they repented through mourning, they did not know what Yahweh’s decision would be regarding their destiny.

Had Moshe’s intercession been enough?   Would Yahweh forgive them?  Or, would He continue to keep His distance?  Would He be merciful and compassionate to them?  Would they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as they had been promised in Egypt or had they lost that privilege?  Would the glory of the One who redeemed them, guided them, protected them, fought for them, and spoke with them, appear and live among them in the Tabernacle they built with their hands and willing hearts?  Did Yahweh still consider Isra’el His treasured possession?

“Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of Adonai filled the Tabernacle.  Moshe was unable to enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of Adonai filled the Tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle, the people of Isra’el continued with all their travels. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not travel onward until the day when it was taken up.  For the cloud of Adonai was above the Tabernacle during the day, and fire was [in the cloud] at night, so that all the house of Isra’el could see it throughout all their travels” (Exodus 40:34-38).

Yahweh chose to live with His people, His treasured possession, His holy nation.   More importantly, He chose to remain with them until they reached the Promised Land.   This reveals the unique character of a holy God who is willing to remain close and near to His people despite their faithlessness.   Exodus concludes with the ultimate expression of Yahweh’s grace and mercy, compassion and lovingkindness found in the Old Testament.

Yeshua, The Colors of the Tabernacle

Yeshua is the Tabernacle of Elohim’s Spirit.  He is the golden thread woven throughout the tapestries of the Tabernacle giving promise to his coming Kingdom.  Like silver that is refined in a furnace, Yeshua was tested and afflicted and overcame death on the cross, his Altar of Sacrifice.  With the engraved onyx stones, he remembers the tribes of Isra’el and returns to earth with power and strength making war with the nations who have come against the chosen people of his Father. He will remove the maggots of Isra’el’s scarlet sins and sprinkle clean water on them from the heavenly Bronze Laver.   They will be cleansed from all their idolatries and reflect the glory of Messiah.  His armies, redeemed from among the nations of the earth, will follow him wearing fine linen, white and pure.  They are not only sanctified warriors, but also the Bride of Messiah who are rewarded for their righteous works.  Then, dressed in the finest of royal purple robes, Yeshua will sit on the throne in the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem and as the Ark of the Covenant judge the nations for 1000 years.  During that that time, the glory of Yahweh will return to Isra’el and be known Jerusalem as High Priest and King of Kings.  These are the colors of Yeshua.

Haftarah (Readings of the Prophets)

1 Kings 7:40-8:21

B’rit Hadashah (New Testament Readings)

Revelation 15:5-8

Midrash P’kudei: Mirrors of Reflection

The Bronze Laver was made from mirrors allowing the reflections of not only the priests to be seen, but also the reflection of the Altar of Sacrifice in front of it and the Tent of Meeting in back of it.  Take time to reflect on what has happened from the beginning of Exodus and Moshe being placed in a basket in the Nile to the end with the construction of the Tabernacle.  Using the accounts of Israelites in Exodus, discuss the Tabernacle, its objects and its colors reflect their journey.

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries

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