In this week’s Torah portion we read the following in Shemot / Exodus 29:45, וְשָׁ֣כַנְתִּ֔י בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָהֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִֽים׃ 29:45 I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God. וְיָדְע֗וּ כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיהֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֧אתִי אֹתָ֛ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לְשָׁכְנִ֣י בְתוֹכָ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶֽם׃ 29:46 And they shall know that I the LORD am their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I the LORD their God. In these two verses we read how the Lord repeated three times how He will be Israel’s God. In Shemot / Exodus 29:46 the Lord God says, אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶֽם “I am the Lord their God,” the Torah repeats this statement twice in verse 46 and repeats from the previous verse. The idea is the Lord repeats Himself to reassure us that He is always present whether we see His hand in our lives or not. The commentary Or HaChaim on Shemot / Exodus 29:46 Part 1 says it in the following way, “to remind us that even at a time when G’d’s שכינה is not manifest amongst us, He still remains our G’d. Alternatively, G’d’s being truly our G’d depends on our being aware of and recognizing this fact. We are only worthy of bearing His name while we recognize Him as our G’d as mentioned at the beginning of this verse. Failing this, the result will be that the people will shake off the burden of the Torah, in which event they would “belong” to other gods.” The idea here is if a person shakes off the responsibility of obeying God’s Word (the Torah) as a child of God, then he will belong to other gods. What does it mean that when one claims the Torah is passed away, there is no longer any responsibility to God’s commands, that one then belongs to other gods? This is a significant conclusion! This may be referring to anything that we devote our lives to other than the Lord God Himself and His Word in application to our lives. The idea here is recognizing who we are as the people of God, what is unique concerning our relationship with God is that He is always with us, whether we perceive that He is or not. This is why obeying God’s commands are of utmost importance. We are sanctified by the presence of God in our lives, and by His word as it is applied to our lives. This kind of understanding is drawn out in this week’s Torah portion in the sanctification of the Altar. In this section of the Torah, the Lord describes how the Altar is to be sanctified, each day and how this is accomplished with the Olat Tamid sacrifice. The Olat Tamid described in the Mishnah and the Babylonian Talmud are devoted chiefly to the regulations regarding the morning and evening burnt offerings (Shemot / Exodus 29:38-42, Bamidbar / Numbers 28:3-8). Through this sanctification process of the Altar, we are told the Altar then sanctifies those who touch the altar as well. The Talmud comments upon these things in the following way:
Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 34b Part 1
“Whatsoever touches the altar shall be sanctified” (Exodus 29:37), I would derive that this applies to every item, whether it is suited to be an offering, or unsuited to be an offering. The following verse states: “Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar: Two lambs of the first year day by day continually” (Exodus 29:38); from this I derive: Just as lambs are suited to be offerings, so too, everything that is suited to be an offering is included in this halakha. The baraita continues: Rabbi Akiva says: The offerings discussed in this passage are each referred to as a burnt-offering (see Exodus 29:42). Therefore, I derive: Just as a burnt-offering is suited for the altar, so too, everything that is suited for the altar is included in this halakha.
What we find here in the Talmud is the understanding that the Altar, at the entrance to the Tabernacle, sanctifies whosoever and whatsoever comes in contact with the Altar. In addition to this, the Scriptures tell us the Lord is going to meet us at the entrance to the Tabernacle. Shemot / Exodus 29:39 ‘The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; 29:40 and there shall be one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb. 29:41 ‘The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord. 29:42 ‘It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 29:43 ‘I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. (NASB) Again here we are told how this place in which the Lord is meeting with the people, will be sanctified. The point is the Altar of God is near the entrance of the Tabernacle and the Lord God speaking to His people is connected to the Altar, atonement, and sanctification.
Rashi speaks of these things in the following way:
Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 29:42 Part 2
אשר אועד לכם WHERE I SHALL BE MET BY YOU — when I shall appoint a place of meeting to speak unto you I shall appoint it there (at the entrance of the tent of meeting) as the spot to which to come. Some of our Rabbis learn from this that it was from above the copper altar that the Holy One, blessed be He, spoke with Moses after the Tabernacle was erected, for this was at the entrance; but some say that He spoke from above the cover of the Ark (the כפרת), as it is said, (Exodus 25:22) “And I will speak to thee from above the cover”, and that the words “where I shall be met by you” which are said here are not used in reference to the altar which was at the entrance of the tent of meeting, but in reference to the tent of meeting itself which is mentioned in this verse (so that the meaning is: “at the entrance of the tent of meeting where, viz., in the tent of meeting, I shall be met by you”; cf. ברייתא דמלאכת המשכן at the end).
Rashi is trying to rationalize how the Lord says two different places he will meet and speak in the Tabernacle. Rashi points out how previously in the Torah the Lord God said that He would speak from the Keporet (the Mercy seat). Here (shemot / Exodus 29:42) we find the Lord saying He will speak at the entrance to the Tent of meeting, and the rabbis discuss whether this was taking place at the entrance of the Tabernacle above the Altar, from above the mercy seat, or was this a reference to the Tabernacle as a whole, or was this about our meeting the Lord at the Tabernacle as opposed to Him meeting with us? What could be said about these things? Thinking about these Scriptures for a little, the intercessor (the one who intercedes on our behalf), the High Priest goes before the Lord in the holy of holies and speaks to God from upon the mercy seat. The people go before the Lord at the entrance to the Tabernacle and so the Lord speaks to both the Cohen and the people before the Altar. It appears based upon the text the Lord is speaking to two groups of people two different locations, (i) the priests in the holy of holies, and (ii) the people at the entrance of the Mishkhan and the Altar. Do you remember what takes place at the entrance to the Tabernacle? Confessing of sins, repentance, and bringing the offering before God (one that is acceptable, having the right intentions, not mutilated, deformed, sick, etc). It is interesting how these things are connected to the people meeting God at the Altar and the Lamb of God who begins the day, every day, morning and evening, a perpetual offering (olat tamid), to sanctify the Altar, the place, and the people for service to God, all of which is connected to the glory of God. Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 29:42 Part 1 states, “תמיד A CONTINUAL [BURNT-OFFERING] i.e. from day to day: there shall not be an interval of a day between them (between two successive morning or afternoon offerings; cf. Rashi on Shemot / Exodus 27:20).” This draws in a significant context to the Lamb of God and the NT usage of the lamb of God to Yeshua the Messiah, hearing from God, and sanctifying the people who come to him.
The Scriptures we are looking at for this week are from Shemot / Exodus 29:31-46.
Shemot / Exodus 29:31-46
29:31 ‘You shall take the ram of ordination and boil its flesh in a holy place. 29:32 ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket, at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 29:33 ‘Thus they shall eat those things by which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration; but a layman shall not eat them, because they are holy. 29:34 ‘If any of the flesh of ordination or any of the bread remains until morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire; it shall not be eaten, because it is holy. 29:35 ‘Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you; you shall ordain them through seven days. 29:36 ‘Each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement, and you shall purify the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to consecrate it. 29:37 ‘For seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it; then the altar shall be most holy, and whatever touches the altar shall be holy. 29:38 ‘Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously. 29:39 ‘The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; 29:40 and there shall be one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb. 29:41 ‘The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord. 29:42 ‘It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 29:43 ‘I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. 29:44 ‘I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me. 29:45 ‘I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. 29:46 ‘They shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God. (NASB)
לא וְאֵת אֵיל הַמִּלֻּאִים תִּקָּח וּבִשַּׁלְתָּ אֶת-בְּשָֹרוֹ בְּמָקֹם קָדֹשׁ: לב וְאָכַל אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו אֶת-בְּשַֹר הָאַיִל וְאֶת-הַלֶּחֶם אֲשֶׁר בַּסָּל פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד: לג וְאָכְלוּ אֹתָם אֲשֶׁר כֻּפַּר בָּהֶם לְמַלֵּא אֶת-יָדָם לְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתָם וְזָר לֹא-יֹאכַל כִּי-קֹדֶשׁ הֵם: לד וְאִם-יִוָּתֵר מִבְּשַֹר הַמִּלֻּאִים וּמִן-הַלֶּחֶם עַד-הַבֹּקֶר וְשָֹרַפְתָּ אֶת-הַנּוֹתָר בָּאֵשׁ לֹא יֵאָכֵל כִּי-קֹדֶשׁ הוּא: לה וְעָשִֹיתָ לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו כָּכָה כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר-צִוִּיתִי אֹתָכָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תְּמַלֵּא יָדָם: לו וּפַר חַטָּאת תַּעֲשֶֹה לַיּוֹם עַל-הַכִּפֻּרִים וְחִטֵּאתָ עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ בְּכַפֶּרְךָ עָלָיו וּמָשַׁחְתָּ אֹתוֹ לְקַדְּשׁוֹ: לז שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תְּכַפֵּר עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ אֹתוֹ וְהָיָה הַמִּזְבֵּחַ קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים כָּל-הַנֹּגֵעַ בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ יִקְדָּשׁ: ס [ששי] לח וְזֶה אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶֹה עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כְּבָשִֹים בְּנֵי-שָׁנָה שְׁנַיִם לַיּוֹם תָּמִיד: לט אֶת-הַכֶּבֶשֹ הָאֶחָד תַּעֲשֶֹה בַבֹּקֶר וְאֵת הַכֶּבֶשֹ הַשֵּׁנִי תַּעֲשֶֹה בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם: מ וְעִשָּׂרֹן סֹלֶת בָּלוּל בְּשֶׁמֶן כָּתִית רֶבַע הַהִין וְנֵסֶךְ רְבִיעִת הַהִין יָיִן לַכֶּבֶשֹ הָאֶחָד: מא וְאֵת הַכֶּבֶשֹ הַשֵּׁנִי תַּעֲשֶֹה בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם כְּמִנְחַת הַבֹּקֶר וּכְנִסְכָּהּ תַּעֲשֶֹה-לָּהּ לְרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָֹה: מב עֹלַת תָּמִיד לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם פֶּתַח אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה אֲשֶׁר אִוָּעֵד לָכֶם שָׁמָּה לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיךָ שָׁם: מג וְנֹעַדְתִּי שָׁמָּה לִבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְנִקְדַּשׁ בִּכְבֹדִי: מד וְקִדַּשְׁתִּי אֶת-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְאֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְאֶת-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת-בָּנָיו אֲקַדֵּשׁ לְכַהֵן לִי: מה וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים: מו וְיָדְעוּ כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְשָׁכְנִי בְתוֹכָם אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם:
We learned in Shemot / Exodus 29:45, the Lord God was reassuring us of His presence and of His being our God. The Olat Tamid (the Lamb of God), the Altar, the Entrance to the Tabernacle, the Presence of God, the confession of sins, repentance, and bringing the offering before God all of these things are connected to the people meeting God במקום (at the Place) the Lord has established His Name. These things remind us of what we find written in the Apostolic Writings according to the following references:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (NASB)
10:10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NASB)
2 Thessalonians 2:13
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
1 Peter 1:2
2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Notice how in these references, we are told that we are sanctified by the Word of God, we are sanctified by the Spirit of God, we are sanctified by the Messiah of God, we are also sanctified by God Himself. Is it possible to see the correlation here to the entrance of the Tabernacle, the Altar, and the Olat Tamid? In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul wrote about the kingdom of God listing the deeds of the unrighteous and why one will not inherit the kingdom of God who practices sin. Paul says we have done these things in the past, however, we have turned from these things and have been sanctified in the name of Yeshua the Messiah and in the Spirit of God (His presence). In Hebrews, the author states the same thing. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians saying we are saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through a belief in the truth (belief in God’s word). What is the work of the Spirit? Is it not to lead us to produce the fruit of the Spirit, to do maasim tovim (good works), to live our lives for the Lord, to be faithful, and to have faith in all the Lord God Almighty and His Messiah has told us? The Apostle Peter states this very thing saying in 1 Peter 1:2 “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood…” Now Paul here is making a direct connection to the sanctification process of the Priesthood and the people from the Torah (i.e. the sprinkling of the blood). To the Romans Paul wrote of having been given a priestly duty to proclaim the gospel such that the gentiles would also be sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God.
In the discussion of the Lord God speaking from the entrance or Altar of God, it is interesting how Ibn Ezra interprets these Scriptures in his commentary on Shemot / Exodus 29:42 concerning the Altar and the Sacrifices.
Ibn Ezra on Shemot / Exodus 29:42 Part 1
This shall be a continual burnt-offering. It is unlikely that they offered these sacrifices while they were in the desert because that would have meant procuring half a hin of oil and a similar quantity of wine everyday. Alternatively they would have had to carry with them about 14,000 hin of each to last them the forty years. Moreover, they would have required two lambs daily and additional animals on the holidays. This is the background to God’s rhetorical question in Amos (5:25), “Did you bring Me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness?”
The question is in relation to the sacrifices in the wilderness, following God’s instructions included grain and oil along with the animals needed to perform the sacrifices. Granted, the animals have the capability to reproduce and increase in numbers. The main difficulty is in procuring the oil, a quarter a hin (where one hin = 5.7 liters) twice a day (making a half) was needed for the Olat Tamid. This is why God asked the question in Amos 5:25 saying, “Did you bring Me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness?” What we are reading here is almost a cessation of the function of the Tabernacle during the 40 years in the wilderness. This would be analogous to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and what the Author of the book of Hebrews writes in relation to Yeshua, the priesthood, and the sacrifices. Ibn Ezra asks where did Israel get this quantity of oil each day while in the desert for 40 years? One answer could be there was a miracle which allowed these things to occur? Another answer could be that is why the people were visiting the nations around them, as in the case of Parashat Pinchas (they were being deceived by the daughters of Moab and then practicing their religion). Could it be the people did not make the offerings according to what was required those 40 years? Remember in Shemot / Exodus 10:9 the people complained when their livestock was thirsty in the wilderness. Note also in Bamidbar / Numbers 21:21-23, the Torah states that Israel wanted to pass through the land of Sichon and Og peacefully and without conflict. However, Sichon gathered an army and attacked first. Israel went to war, defeated Sichon and Og, utterly destroying them, and also collected a vast amount of cattle. Note also how this had prompted the tribes of Gad and Reuben to request to settle in that region permanently (the region of Sihon and Og). The point is how are we to understand the meaning of the text, עֹלַת תָּמִיד לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם פֶּתַח אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה, “the perpetual (continual) burnt offering offered for all your generations at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting before HaShem?” This directs us back to the Tabernacle, the Altar, and the Lamb of God.
The concepts we are being taught here are in relation to the Lord God being our God, to His sanctifying our lives, in the anointed one (priesthood / Messiah), in the blood of the sacrifice, in the confession of sin, in Teshuvah (repentance), in seeking the Lord’s presence in our lives, and in His Holy Spirit coming into our lives making His presence a permanent part of our lives. As God’s people, His presence is always with us, whether we perceive it or not. This is why God’s Mitzvot (His commands) are so important and go hand in hand with the Gospel Message. In the Olat Tamid sacrifice, we are given the reason for the twice daily lamb of God offering, its purpose is to sanctify the Altar. We are also told, all of those who approach and touch the Altar are set apart, sanctified, before God. The place where the people come before God (at the entrance of the Tabernacle) is sanctified and God will meet with them. This is connected to the Altar, atonement, forgiveness, and salvation, all of which is tied to the Lamb of God! These things connect us to meeting God at the Altar and the Lamb of God who begins the day, every day, morning and evening, a perpetual sacrifice, to sanctify the Altar, the place, and the people for service to God, for the glory of God. The significance to this context on the Lamb of God and the people hearing from God reveals to us the NT usage of the lamb of God to Yeshua the Messiah, hearing from God, and sanctifying all of those who come to him. Remember how we briefly looked at some NT Scripture (Romans 15:16, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 10:10, 1 Peter 1:2) and we learn how the disciples interpreted these things saying that we are sanctified by the Word of God, we are sanctified by the Spirit of God, we are sanctified by the Messiah of God, we are also sanctified by God Himself. These things function as a type and shadow of what God was trying to speak to His people regarding His Messiah, repentance, the forgiveness of sin, and having a relationship with Him, all of which is contained within the Lamb of God, Yeshua the Messiah! These are the reasons why the Torah is a fundamental and foundational part of the Gospel Message!