21.1. The Structure of the Final Segment of the Book of Exodus

The third and final segment of the book of Exodus is dedicated to the topic of the Temple and hashra’at ha-Shechinah, the resting of the Divine Presence upon the people of Israel. Or, somewhat more concretely, the preservation of holiness among the Jewish nation. This final portion of Exodus consists of five weekly portions (7–11).

We have already noted earlier that in this book of Exodus, each pair of adjacent weekly portions (except for one outlier) presents us with the “Moses’ viewpoint” followed by the corresponding “Aaron’s viewpoint.” The contrast between those two is especially pronounced in relation to the Temple.

The structure of this third part of the Book of Exodus is as follows:

  • (7) Terumah (25:1-27:19) – The command to build the Tabernacle: Moses’ approach;
  • (8) Tetzaveh (27:20-30:10) – The command to build the Tabernacle: Aaron’s approach;
  • (9) Ki Tissa (30:11-34: 35) – Crisis (an unpaired portion);
  • (10) Vayakhel (35:1-38:20) – The building of the Tabernacle: Moses’ approach (with Aaron’s additions);
  • (11) Pekudei (38:21-40:38) – The building of the Tabernacle: Aaron’s approach (with Moses’ additions);

The first two portions are God’s words from above to Moses on Mount Sinai, portraying an ideal vision of the Tabernacle. The two versions present two different approaches to the Tabernacle: Moses’ and Aaron’s, respectively.

The third of the five weekly portions, Ki Tissa, the “unpaired” portion, recounts the incident of the golden calf. It is a portion of crisis.

The final two of the five portions describe the actual implementation of the Tabernacle, God’s Temple here on earth. In each of them, both Moses’ and Aaron’s views are intertwined, although each of the two portions has its respective dominant thrust.

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Bible Dynamics, VOL. 2. EXODUS Copyright © by Orot Yerushalaim / P. Polonsky / English translation of the Torah by the Jewish Publication Society, New JPS Translation, 1985. With sincere gratitude for the permission to use. All Rights Reserved.

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