This weeks reading is from Parashat Terumah (Shemot / Exodus 25:1-27:19), the Lord tells Moshe to speak to the Children of Israel to raise a voluntary contribution for the construction of the Tabernacle and the items that will be used in the daily service in the Tabernacle. (25:1, א וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת-תְּרוּמָתִי:) The Terumah is a very important commandment, Moshe says, וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ “take for me a Terumah from all men that have laid on their hearts to give.” He asks specifically for a voluntary offering saying to give gold, silver, and bronze, linen materials, goat hair, rams skins, and acacia wood all for the purpose of the construction of the Mishkan. The word terumah, (“lifting up”) comes from the verb stem, “rum” (רוּם) meaning “high” or “to lift up.” The raising up, or the lifting up of something is a significant concept within the Torah in light of what the Lord says to Moshe, ח וְעָשֹוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. (NASB) “Terumat ha-maaser” (תרומת המעשר) is a rabbinical term based on the commandment in the Hebrew Bible to give a tenth maaser (מעשר) to the Levites. The Septuagint renders this as “afairema” (ἀφαίρεμα), which is translated as “offering,” “oblation,” or “heave offering.” Terumah is used here in this context of constructing a place for the Lord and His presence to dwell. How significant is this for us in our lives today?
Terumah is used in various contexts throughout the Hebrew Bible, where in most cases it refers to designating something for a higher purpose. The idea here is that we may offer ourselves voluntarily for the service of the Lord, and to prepare a place to dwell, to prepare our hearts. The reading for this week describes an obligatory offering (Terumah) that the Lord is asking the people to contribute for the specific purpose of the construction of the Mishkan. The sanctuary is a place the Lord will dwell among His people (25:8). If we can draw a parallel to our hearts as a dwelling place, is your heart a dwelling place for the Lord? What do the rabbis say concerning this context of the Terumah and the construction of the Tabernacle, as it is related to our lives? Let’s discuss these questions.
ספר שמות פרק כה
א וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת-תְּרוּמָתִי: ג וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחֹשֶׁת: ד וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים: ה וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים: ו שֶׁמֶן לַמָּאֹר בְּשָֹמִים לְשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה וְלִקְטֹרֶת הַסַּמִּים: ז אַבְנֵי-שֹׁהַם וְאַבְנֵי מִלֻּאִים לָאֵפֹד וְלַחֹשֶׁן: ח וְעָשֹוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: ט כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל-כֵּלָיו וְכֵן תַּעֲשֹוּ:
Shemot / Exodus 25:1-8
25:1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 25:2 ‘Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. 25:3 ‘This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, 25:4 blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, 25:5 rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, 25:6 oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 25:7 onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breast-piece. 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 25:9 ‘According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. (NASB)
In the opening words for this week’s Torah portion, the Lord speaks to Moshe telling him to tell the children of Israel “every man whose heart moves him” (כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ) shall raise a Terumah (contribution). Moshe details exactly what is needed, and then we are told, ח וְעָשֹוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: ט כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל-כֵּלָיו וְכֵן תַּעֲשֹוּ: 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 25:9 ‘According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. (NASB) What is interesting in these two verses (Shemot / Exodus 25:8-9) Israel was told to make a מִקְדָּשׁ (Mikdash) and a הַמִּשְׁכָּן (Mishkhan). The etymology of the word מִקְדָּשׁ is from the root word קדש meaning “holy,” and is defined as “a sacred place, sanctuary” (a holy place, sacred). The root word for מִּשְׁכָּן is the word שכן meaning “neighbor.” So the Torah is telling us the Lord seeks for Israel to build a holy place so that he could be a neighbor to them. This is very significant for us today in light of who we are in the Messiah Yeshua. The Lord is asking for us to make for Him a sanctuary, to make a holy place in our lives for the sake of His Name. The question then is how do we make a holy place for the Lord to dwell in our lives? First it must be pointed out the reason the Lord God, our Father in heaven, sent His Son Yeshua was for the purpose of making atonement on our behalf (Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2), to be an intermediary before God (1 Timothy 2:5), and enabling our hearts to be a dwelling place for the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) This is not the end of the story however, the reason being, our relationship with the Lord is closely coupled to what we choose to do with our lives. The Scriptures say Yeshua has seated us in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), and therefore we are called in the Messiah to live holy and righteous lives, for the purpose of bringing glory to God’s Name. The Torah speaks of preparing a place, a sanctuary so the Lord may draw near as a neighbor and a friend. If one believes what Yeshua has done, but chooses to live in sin, would this be considered preparing a מִקְדָּשׁ (Mikdash) and a הַמִּשְׁכָּן (Mishkhan)? Would the Lord draw near as a neighbor and friend? Let’s look at what the Rabbis have to say concerning these verses.
Mishnah Shekalim 4:6
[If] one consecrates his property to the Temple, if there are among it objects that are fit for public sacrifices, they should be given to the temple craftsmen as their payment: these are the words of Rabbi Akiva. Ben Azzai said to him, this is not the proper way; rather they set aside from them the workers wages and then deconsecrates them onto the workers’ money. They were given to the workers as their salary, and then repurchased using the new appropriation funds.
The Mishnah speaks of consecrating one’s property unto to the Temple. The word consecrate comes from the Hebrew word קָדַשׁ meaning to “sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate (Qal) to be set apart, to be hallowed.” This is the process of hallowing something, setting something apart for the service of the Lord. This suggests we are to dedicate our lives for the Lord by staying away from sinful behaviors, and planning actions that bring glory to the Lord each day. These things can be done right at home with your spouse, children, neighbors, etc.
The Mekhilta has the following to say,
Mekhilta 13:2, Part 3
“he is Mine”: What is the intent of this? It is written (Devarim 15:19) “the male shall you sanctify to the L rd your G d.” (How am I to understand this?) As sanctify it so that you receive reward, or if you sanctify it, it is sanctified, and, if not, it is not sanctified? It is, therefore, written “he is Mine” — in any event. What is the intent, then, of “the male shall you sanctify”? Sanctify it (i.e., dedicate it to the L rd) for the sake of receiving reward. Similarly, (Leviticus 6:5) “And the Cohein shall burn wood upon it every morning, etc.” What is the intent of this? Is it not written (Isaiah 40:16) “and (the whole forest of Levanon is not sufficient to burn, etc.”? What, then, is the intent of “And the Cohein shall burn wood upon it”? For the sake of receiving reward. Similarly, (Numbers 28:4) “the one lamb shall you offer, etc.” What is the intent of this? Is it not written (Isaiah, Ibid.) “nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering”? What, then, is the intent of “The one lamb, etc.”? For the sake of receiving reward. Similarly, (Exodus 25:8) “and they shall make for Me a sanctuary, etc.” What is the intent of this? Is it not written (Jeremiah 23:24) “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” What, then, is the intent of “And they shall make for Me a sanctuary”? For the sake of receiving reward for making it. Once, the disciples spent a Sabbath in Yavneh, R. Yehoshua not among them. When they returned to him he asked them: “What novelty did you hear in Yavneh?” They answered: “After you, our master” (i.e., there is no one to do so after you). R. Yehoshua: “Who spent the Sabbath there?” They: “R. Elazar b. Azaryah.” R. Yehoshua: “Is it possible that R. Elazar b. Azaryah spent the Sabbath there without telling you something novel?” They: He expounded this principle (Devarim 31:12) “Gather the people — the men, the women, and the children.” Now do little children know the difference between good and evil? But (He did so) in order to bestow reward upon their bringers, to increase the reward of the doers of His will, as it is written (Isaiah 42:21) “The L rd desires for the sake of His righteousness to magnify Torah and to exalt it.” At this, he said to them: “What can be more novel than this? I am seventy years old, and I never merited hearing such a thing until this day! Happy are you, father Abraham, from whose loins Elazar b. Azaryah emerged! The generation is not an orphan in whose midst R. Elazar b. Azaryah resides!” They: Our master, he also expounded this principle: (Jeremiah 23:7) “Therefore, behold, days are coming, says the L rd, when it will no more be said: ‘As the L rd lives, who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, etc.’” To what may this be compared? A man desired children and had a daughter — whereupon (when he made a vow) he vowed upon her life. Thereafter, he had a son, and (in vowing) he left off (vowing by) his daughter and vowed upon the life of his son. R. Shimon b. Yochai says: To what may this be compared? A man was journeying and was accosted by a wolf, from which he was rescued — whereupon he would (always) talk about his encounter with the wolf. He was later accosted by a lion, from which he was rescued — whereupon he left off talking about his encounter with the wolf and spoke about his encounter with the lion. Similarly, (Genesis 29:19) “And he called the name of the place Beth-El.” The first name was superseded by the second. Similarly, (Ibid. 17:5) “And your name will no longer be called Avram.” The first name was superseded by the second. Similarly, (Ibid. 15) “Sarai, your wife, etc.” The first name was superseded by the second. (Ibid. 32:28) “Your name will no longer be called Yaakov but Yisrael.” The first name remained and the second was superadded. The name of Yitzchak was not changed, for he was thus (originally) called by the Holy One Blessed be He. There are three who were named by the Holy One Blessed be He — Yitzchak, Shlomoh, and Yoshiyahu. Yitzchak — (Ibid. 17:19) “But Sarah your wife will bear a son for you and you shall call his name Yitzchak.” Shlomoh (I Chronicles 22:9) “for Shlomoh will be his name.” Yoshiyahu (I Kings 13:2) “A son will be born to the house of David. Yoshiyahu will be his name.” Others say: Also Yishmael among the gentiles. We find the names of righteous ones and their deeds to be revealed to the L rd before their creation, viz. (Jeremiah 1:5) “Before I created you in the womb, I knew you.” Where do we find (the same for) the names of wicked ones? It is written (Psalms 58:4) “The wicked are estranged from the womb, etc.”
This section opens with comments on the intent of the Torah with comments on sanctifying the male unto the Lord. Examples of sanctifying (setting apart) the male for the Lord, the burning of wood, the lamb given for the sacrifice, are all intended for receiving reward. The intent of building a sanctuary is for the reward of making the Lord a sanctuary. What is the reward of making a sanctuary for the Lord in our lives? The reward is the joy of knowing that we are living according to His Word, we are bringing Glory to the Lord on high, and His presence in our lives helping us to overcome sin, knowing the difference between good and evil, etc. The commentary continues providing examples of various encounters in life which are meant to change us. So significant is the change, our names are also changed, the names given at birth which Hebraically describe the nature of the rest of our lives. The examples are given of Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob, and their name changes reveal the Lord working in their lives for righteousness and holiness. This illustrates for us that there is a spiritual aspect to to the way we live our physical lives (Romans 12:1-3).
The commentary Shney Luchot HaBrit, Shmini, Torah Ohr 17 takes this concept a little further.
Shney Luchot HaBrit, Shmini, Torah Ohr 7:
Man is composed of body and soul, a visible as well as an invisible part. This is the deeper meaning of Exodus 25,8: ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell amongst them.” The difficulty here is that the verse speaks about the Tabernacle. Our Rabbis in Shavuot 16 tell us that the expression Tabernacle and Sanctuary may be used interchangeably. This was not the only difficulty in the verse. Why, if the Sanctuary is a single unit, does the Torah report G’d saying that He will dwell amongst them (pl)? The Torah should have written בתוכו! We have here an allusion to the fact that the cause is fond of the effect, i.e. the hidden longs for the revealed. Our sages (Pessachim 112) articulated this thought when they said that more than the calf desires to suckle on the teats of its mother, the cow is anxious to nurse its calf. In פרשת ויקהל 36,1 the Torah writes: אשר נתן ה’ חכמה ותבונה בהמה, “whom G’d had given wisdom and insight.” Shemot Rabbah 48,3 states that the word ba-heymah in the above verse is to teach us that it was not only man whom G’d imbued with wisdom but also the animals. Betzalel was the only one who was privy to the wisdom possessed by the animals. Perhaps the Torah wants to hint at the proverb we quoted earlier that the mother cow is more anxious to nurse its calf than the calf is anxious to be nursed. It is all an allusion to the close connection between cause and effect. We are taught a lesson in reciprocal attachment and unity, i.e. that nothing exists outside of G’d Himself, that He is inextricably involved with all that He has created. It is this lesson the Rabbis wanted to teach us when they said that מקדש and משכן can be used interchangeably; the exterior, visible part, is called משכן, whereas the interior, invisible part, is called מקדש. We have a further clear allusion to this relationship between cause and effect, the visible and the invisible, when the Torah describes the way the קרשים, planks of the Tabernacle, were joined together. The Torah (Exodus 26,24) uses the term “תאמם, twins,” when describing the manner in which these planks were joined to each other. When ??? they are described as תמים, perfect. We have here a description of the essence of the Tabernacle, i.e. that it was a microcosm.
The way man is created, body and soul, is compared to the meaning of Shemot / Exodus 25:8, מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. (NASB) The idea is that the מקדש and משכן may be used interchangeably, where the exterior, visible part, is called משכן, whereas the interior, the invisible part, is called מקדש. Note how significant these comments are if we compare this to the opening comment, that man is composed of body and soul. The body is the visible part, the soul is the invisible part, and there is an interchangeable quality between the body/soul based upon the Torah concept of sanctification, setting apart, making a place for the Lord to dwell, the Lord preparing our hearts in Yeshua the Messiah, and by giving us His Spirit. As a result of these things, we are called to live in the manner that demonstrates the spiritual condition, our hearts have been sanctified, and set apart as a holy place for the Lord to dwell. The way we live our lives effects our soul. If one lives in sin, the soul becomes dark, whereas, if one lives in righteousness, the soul becomes bright and filled with the things of God. These are very rabbinic concepts, and these very same concepts may be found throughout the Apostolic Writings.
In addition to this, the Jewish commentary Shney Luchot HaBrit, Torah Ohr 21, 64, and 81 have the following to say.
Shney Luchot HaBrit, Re’eh, Torah Ohr 21
It is when the Israelites conduct themselves in a spirit of sanctity that the promise of Exodus 25:8 “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me and I will dwell amongst them,” will be fulfilled. The people themselves are the Sanctuary within whom G’d promises to reside provided that they lead consecrated lives.
Shney Luchot HaBrit, Shmini, Torah Ohr 63
When G’d announced the instruction to build the Tabernacle, He said that when all would be completed ושכנתי בתוכם (Exodus 25:8). The building of the house that we read about in Proverbs 9:1-3 refers to the גן עדן of the future when this “house” will have an enduring existence. It refers to the residence of humans at that time. The “seven pillars that she has hewn” refers to seven categories of righteous people (Sifri Devarim 1:10). These groups occupy different levels in גן עדן, one above the other.
Shney Luchot HaBrit, Bereshit, Torah Ohr 81
This imprint of G’d is the mystical factor that causes the Presence of the שכינה in Israel since the spirituality of the Torah is represented by the souls of Israel. These souls enable G’d to fulfil His promise ושכנתי בתוכם, “I shall dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). The Torah refers to messianic times and the revelation of G’d’s Presence at that time.
The rabbis are stating in very NT fashion (Paul), that “The people themselves are the Sanctuary within whom G’d promises to reside provided that they lead consecrated lives.” The rabbis continue saying that the instruction to build the Tabernacle (מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם) is a future expectation of a place that endures forever, that the human body is the place He is referring to. They continue saying this is the mystical understanding of the שכינה in Israel, that “the spirituality of the Torah is represented by the souls of Israel” Does this sound familiar? (Romans 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual…) The rabbis say that “These souls enable G’d to fulfill His promise ושכנתי בתוכם, “I shall dwell among them” (Shemot / Exodus 25:8). The Torah refers to messianic times and the revelation of G’d’s Presence at that time.” Note the connection to the messianic times and the revelation of God’s presence. Who is Yeshua the Messiah? He is the revelation of God’s Presence. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (NASB)
In the opening words for this week’s Torah portion, the Lord speaks to Moshe telling him to tell the children of Israel, ח וְעָשֹוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם: ט כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל-כֵּלָיו וְכֵן תַּעֲשֹוּ: 25:8 ‘Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. 25:9 ‘According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. (NASB) Israel was told to make a מִקְדָּשׁ (Mikdash) and a הַמִּשְׁכָּן (Mishkhan). The Torah is telling us the Lord seeks for His people to build a holy place so that He could be a neighbor to them. This is very significant for us today in light of who we are in the Messiah Yeshua. The Lord is asking for us to make Him a sanctuary, to make a holy place in our lives for the sake of His Name. If you believe Yeshua as the Messiah of God, then you should actively be involved in preparing a מִקְדָּשׁ (Mikdash) and a הַמִּשְׁכָּן (Mishkhan) in your life. BTT_Parashat Terumah 2016