30.4. The Dedication of the Tabernacle (40:1-33)

 (1) And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

(2) On the first day of the first month you shall set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.

(3) Place there the Ark of the Pact, and screen off the ark with the curtain.

(4) Bring in the table and lay out its due setting; bring in the lampstand and light its lamps;

(5) and place the gold altar of incense before the Ark of the Pact. Then put up the screen for the entrance of the Tabernacle.

(6) You shall place the altar of burnt offering before the entrance of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.

(7) Place the laver between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water in it.

(8) Set up the enclosure round about, and put in place the screen for the gate of the enclosure.

(9) You shall take the anointing oil and anoint the Tabernacle and all that is in it to consecrate it and all its furnishings, so that it shall be holy.

(10) Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils to consecrate the altar, so that the altar shall be most holy.

(11) And anoint the laver and its stand to consecrate it.

(12) You shall bring Aaron and his sons forward to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and wash them with the water.

(13) Put the sacral vestments on Aaron, and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve Me as priest.

(14) Then bring his sons forward, put tunics on them,

(15) and anoint them as you have anointed their father, that they may serve Me as priests. This their anointing shall serve them for everlasting priesthood throughout the ages.

(16) This Moses did; just as the Lord had commanded him, so he did.

(17) In the first month of the second year, on the first of the month, the Tabernacle was set up.

(18) Moses set up the Tabernacle, placing its sockets, setting up its planks, inserting its bars, and erecting its posts.

(19) He spread the tent over the Tabernacle, placing the covering of the tent on top of it — just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(20) He took the Pact and placed it in the ark; he fixed the poles to the ark, placed the cover on top of the ark,

(21) and brought the ark inside the Tabernacle. Then he put up the curtain for screening, and screened off the Ark of the Pact — just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(22) He placed the table in the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain, on the north side of the Tabernacle.

(23) Upon it he laid out the setting of bread before the Lord — as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(24) He placed the lampstand in the Tent of Meeting opposite the table, on the south side of the Tabernacle.

(25) And he lit the lamps before the Lord — as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(26) He placed the altar of gold in the Tent of Meeting, before the curtain.

(27) On it he burned aromatic incense — as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(28) Then he put up the screen for the entrance of the Tabernacle.

(29) At the entrance of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting he placed the altar of burnt offering. On it he offered up the burnt offering and the meal offering — as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(30) He placed the laver between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing.

(31) From it Moses and Aaron and his sons would wash their hands and feet;

(32) they washed when they entered the Tent of Meeting and when they approached the altar — as the Lord had commanded Moses.

(33) And he set up the enclosure around the Tabernacle and the altar, and put up the screen for the gate of the enclosure. When Moses had finished the work,

(2) On the first day of the first month: That is, on the first of Nisan – just two weeks short of a year since the Exodus from Egypt. The actual construction of the Tabernacle was completed over a period of five and a half months.

You shall set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting: “You” appears here in the singular: takim, meaning, “you, Moses.” Only Moses could set up the Tabernacle and consecrate it.

(9) You shall take the anointing oil and anoint the Tabernacle and all that is in it to consecrate it and all its furnishings, so that it shall be holy: Only olive oil is used for anointing, because it is used for illumination, and therefore symbolizes enlightenment.

(13) Put the sacral vestments on Aaron, and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve Me as priest: Moses does the anointing of the Tabernacle and he also anoints Aaron and his sons. That is, Moses appears here as the “chief High Priest,” consecrating Aaron for his permanent service that is about to begin. But Aaron will only be acting as Moses’ deputy.

(27) On it he burned aromatic incense — as the Lord had commanded Moses: Moses, besides setting up the Tabernacle, also initiates its service. Aaron and his descendants only continue the work begun by Moses.

Moreover, as soon as Moses assembles any one individual component of the Tabernacle, he immediately sets it in motion, without waiting for the completion of the entire production. He places the tablets of the Pact into the Ark, lays out the setting of bread, pours the oil into the lamps of the menorah and lights them, burns the aromatic incense, and, without yet having hung the entrance canopy, he is already bringing sacrifices.

We can compare this to the process of human birth: The heart and the circulatory system already function even in a body that is not yet fully formed.

Or we can compare it to the creation of the universe: The stars and the planets do not wait for the entire cosmos to be completed; they just get right down to performing their assigned tasks.

The Tabernacle is like a living organism, whose every member begins to function, simply because it is in their nature to do so.

(31) From it Moses and Aaron and his sons would wash their hands and feet: Moses too performs the role of a priest.

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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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