30.5. The Conclusion of the Book of Exodus (40:34-38)

(34) The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

(35) Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

(36) When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys;

(37) but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift.

(38) For over the Tabernacle a cloud of the Lord rested by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys.

(34) The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting: The following two concluding verses of the Book of Exodus lead to two books of Torah, which follow, Book of Leviticus and Book of Numbers:

  • (35) Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting: When the cloud is there, Moses cannot enter unless invited by God. This is a transition to the Book of Leviticus, which begins with God inviting Moses to enter the Tent. This line continues the theme of holiness.
  • (36) When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys: This is the transition to the Book of Numbers, which begins with the cloud lifting and the people going on their way. This line continues the theme of the history of the Jewish people.

Thus, in the logical sense, Leviticus and Numbers – the third and fourth books of the Torah – run in parallel to each other, and not in succession, as they appear to do. And after them, the fifth and final book, Deuteronomy, will again – like the Book of Exodus – combine three themes into a single complex: sanctity, Jewish history, and God’s covenant with Israel.

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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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