29.4. The Invitation to Participate in Building the Tabernacle (35:10-19)

 (10) And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the Lord has commanded:

(11) the Tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its clasps and its planks, its bars, its posts, and its sockets;

(12) the ark and its poles, the cover, and the curtain for the screen;

(13) the table, and its poles and all its utensils; and the bread of display;

(14) the lampstand for lighting, its furnishings and its lamps, and the oil for lighting;

(15) the altar of incense and its poles; the anointing oil and the aromatic incense; and the entrance screen for the entrance of the Tabernacle;

(16) the altar of burnt offering, its copper grating, its poles, and all its furnishings; the laver and its stand;

(17) the hangings of the enclosure, its posts and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court;

(18) the pegs for the Tabernacle, the pegs for the enclosure, and their cords;

(19) the service vestments for officiating in the sanctuary, the sacral vestments of Aaron the priest and the vestments of his sons for priestly service.

(10) And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the Lord has commanded: Anyone sufficiently skilled who wants to participate actively in the creation of the Tabernacle may do so, and not only Bezalel and Oholiab. This emphasizes the status of the Temple as a communal endeavor for the entire nation.

(14) The lampstand … and the oil for lighting: In Terumah and Tetzaveh the menorah was described in Moses’ portion, and the oil in Aaron’s. That is, the creation of the Temple vessels is described separately from their use. But this separation has now been overcome, and the creation of the menorah is described together with its oil.

(11-17) The Tabernacle, its tent … the ark … the table … the lampstand … the altar of incense … the altar of burnt offering … the hangings of the enclosure: The order here is significantly different from that in portions Terumah and Tetzaveh. The description here begins with the physical building, not with the utensils. But then it moves sequentially from the inside out, and the elements of Moses’ Temple (the ark, the table, the lampstand, the outer altar, and the courtyard) appear in an order generally corresponding to the elements of Aaron’s Temple (the altar of incense) and the Temple’s additional utensils described at the beginning of portion Ki Tissa (the laver).

The reason for this change is that the sequence in the ideal world was determined by the functions of the Temple’s elements themselves, but in the real world all parts of the Temple must be assembled into a single unified whole, and that happens only as determined by the physical positioning of the parts.

In the original, ideal plan, the active elements of the Temple are primary, while the means to the ends that they represent are only secondary. The internal elements of the Tabernacle are therefore described first, and only then the external ones.

But the concrete construction of the Tabernacle begins with preparing the external conditions (the outside elements), and only after that can the goal itself be realized (the Temple’s internal vessels).

(18) And their cords: These cords, which were used to stretch the Tent coverings and the walls of the courtyard, were fastened to stakes hammered into the ground. This detail was not mentioned previously, as it is not integral to the Tabernacle, but is only an “implementation detail” – an element for promoting stability, the need for which arises only at the stage when the Tent and the courtyard are being actually constructed.

(19) The service vestments for officiating in the sanctuary: These vestments were used to cover and protect the vessels of the Tabernacle when they were being transported during the wandering through the wilderness.

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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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