Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #19: T’rumah (Contribution) Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:1-27:19
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 5:26-6:13
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23; 10:1
The Priestly story of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25–27 echoes the Priestly story of creation in Genesis 1:1–2:3. As the creation story unfolds in seven days, the instructions about the Tabernacle unfold in seven speeches. In both creation and Tabernacle accounts, the text notes the completion of the task. In both creation and Tabernacle, the work done is seen to be good. In both creation and Tabernacle, when the work is finished, G-d takes an action in acknowledgement. In both creation and Tabernacle, when the work is finished, a blessing is invoked. And in both creation and Tabernacle, G-d declares something “holy.” The Tabernacle exhibited similarities with Mount Sinai. Both Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle had three separate areas with increasing levels of exclusivity — one for the people generally, one for the anointed class, and one for only the single representative of the people; the tablets of the law a cloud; and G-d’s presence. And G-d spoke to Moses at both Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle.
In contrast to Mount Sinai, with the Tabernacle, G-d’s presence was constant; G-d’s presence was in their midst, no longer distant; and G-d’s presence was no longer rooted to a fixed place. Interesting that last week’ weeks parashah included a narrative about the 74 elders who saw G-d’s “feet” on the sapphire blue surface on the mountain; a “fixed” place.
This week we read the detailed instructions given by G-d to Moshe for the Ark of the Covenant, the tabernacle, and all its furnishings. Whoever said G-d is not a G-d of detail has never read G-d’s Torah, including this parashah. I want to get a little technical this week and explore the physics of gold used to build the Ark of the Covenant, Acacia wood, and the contents. There is great need for education on this subject as evidenced by the wide variety of explanations of the Ark’s electrical properties; one of which includes the idea that there was a large battery carried inside the Ark to keep it charged! This idea is totally contradictory to scripture and illustrates the profound ignorance of man without serious Biblical inquiry. Accordingly, let us begin with a discussion about gold as it relates to the Torah.
Gold is the most malleable of all metals; a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of 1 square meter, or an ounce into 300 square feet. This has significance in the creation of the Menorah and the k’ruvim out of single pieces of gold (Ex. 25:18, 36). Gold leaf can be beaten thin enough to become transparent. The transmitted light appears greenish blue, because gold strongly reflects yellow and red. Such semi-transparent sheets also strongly reflect infrared light, making them useful as infrared (radiant heat) shields in visors of heat-resistant suits, and in sun-visors for spacesuits.
Gold readily creates alloys with many other metals. These alloys can be produced to modify the hardness and other metallurgical properties, to control melting point or to create exotic colors. Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity and reflects infrared radiation strongly. This may be one reason G-d used it in the Ark. Think about it; a conductor carrying the Tablets for man to follow throughout the ages, and a physical electric conductor that would kill anyone who touched it similar to anyone who dared to look upon G-d’s face!
Chemically, gold it is unaffected by air, moisture and most corrosive reagents, and is therefore well suited for use in coins and jewelry and as a protective coating on other, more reactive, metals. Gold is also used in medicine, particularly chemo because it inhibits the growth of bacteria.
The metal gold never corrodes or even tarnishes, is completely non-toxic, and exhibits no interactions with other drugs. Gold is the only heavy metal that has a right-hand atomic spin and is therefore easily tolerated by the body. The mystical metal has been used for both spiritual and medical (physical) purposes as far back as ancient Egypt. Over 5,000 years ago, the Egyptians used gold in dentistry and ingested it for mental, bodily, and spiritual purification. The ancients believed that gold in the body worked by stimulating the chi (life force) and raising the level of vibration on all levels. This is called resonance and it has significant import in the harmony of the body and soul with G-d. In Alexandria, alchemists developed a powerful colloidal elixir known as “liquid gold,” which reportedly had the ability to restore youth.
In ancient Rome, gold salve was used for the treatment of disfiguring skin lesions and ulcers, and today, gold leaf plays an important role in the treatment of chronic skin ulcers. The great alchemist and founder of modern medicine, Paracelsus, developed many highly successful treatments from metallic minerals including gold. In medieval Europe, gold-coated pills and colloids (“gold waters”) were extremely popular. Alchemists mixed powdered gold into drinks to “comfort sore limbs,” and today, it is widely used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In the 1900s, surgeons actually implanted a $5 gold piece under the skin near an inflamed joint, such as a knee or elbow. In China, peasants still cook their rice with a gold coin in order to help replenish gold in their bodies, and fancy Chinese restaurants put 24-karat gold-leaf in their food preparations. Today, gold netting is used in surgery to patch damaged blood vessels, nerves, bones, and membranes. Modern physicians inject microscopic gold to help retard prostate cancer in men and women with ovarian cancer are treated with gold solutions. Gold vapor lasers seek out and destroy cancerous cells without harming surrounding tissue or give new life to patients with once inoperable heart conditions and tumors. One experimental new gold compound blocks virus replication in infected cells and is being tested for the treatment of AIDS. By attaching a molecular marker to a microscopic piece of gold, scientists can follow its movement through the body. Some researchers are placing gold on DNA to study the hybrid genetic material in cells, while others are using it to determine how cells respond to toxins, heat and physical stress. Gold is truly the perfection of the metals. It is thought provoking to consider how much the Magi who brought the gift of gold to the Messiah actually knew about this element. These men were well versed in astrology and the medicinal and spiritual use of each gift. The three gifts had a spiritual meaning in addition to other significance: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense, an incense as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.
The point of discussing some of the details about gold is to provide a glimpse of perhaps come of the reasons G-d made use of it in His Tabernacle, and provided it for our use today. G-d did not choose to use it simply because it is shiny and pretty. We do not always understand many of the concepts that belie what is taught in Torah and we need to carefully consider that we have much to learn about the Jewish mindset and how much depth there is to G-d’s Word.
We may also identify a connection to the gifts of Frankincense, gold, and myrrh to the young Messiah. If we look at the types of gifts that were acceptable to G-d in the building of the sanctuary, we find gold among them. The lamentation over Babylon in Revelation 18:13 speaks of Frankincense and gold, among the luxurious and splendid things that would no longer be available. Myrrh is a gum resin used in perfumes and incense so it was most likely among these precious commodities. Myrrh also has many health benefits.
The attitude with which these gifts were given as the sanctuary was being built before Messiah was born, and in our current day remains the same. The offerings must be given in such a way as to glorify G-d and for no other reason! Finally, the Ark’s cover was made from a single ingot of gold including the k’ruvim perched above with childlike expressions gazing down toward what would be held inside; their wings protecting the L-rd’s face from sight.
One explanation for the lining of the Ark inside and out over the acacia wood with gold is found in the rabbinic literature of the Chumash. The dual covering symbolizes the Talmudic dictum that a Torah scholar (anyone for that matter) must be consistent; his or her inner character must match his or her public demeanor. A shepherd of sheep or people should be concerned about the spiritual and physical welfare of their flocks. This coincides with the spirit (spiritual/more abstract) of the law and the letter (physical/concrete/literal) of the law. An individual’s actions should conform to professed beliefs. Bais Halevi (House of Levi) derives from this inner-outer coating of gold that the community should feel a responsibility to provide an adequate livelihood for its Torah teachers; that they should be prosperous inside their own homes as well as in their outer service of the public.
Finally, if we use the concept of deity to which the gold is ascribed, we may deduce that G-d knows our inside (heart and motivation) above and beyond the outside behavioral manifestations. Nothing is hidden from the L-rd. (Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; Hebrews 4:13). Our soul that resides in our deepest being originates from and will return to G-d when our physical being (acacia) returns to the earth. Then there will be nothing to separate the inside (soul) and outside (the gold= totality; unity) from its Creator.
Acacia seyal, the Red acacia, known also as the shittah tree (the source of shittim wood), is a tall, thorny tree with a pale greenish or reddish bark. Acacia wood is beautiful, light, and practical indestructible. It was used extensively in the structural framework of the Tent of Meeting and in Tabernacle furniture. Poles made of Acacia seyal wood were used to transport Tabernacle furniture, e.g., Ark of the Covenant, Table of Showbread, and Altar of Incense. God would not allow these sacred objects to be transported in wagons or carts. Rather, God instructed that they be carried on the shoulders of the Kohathites (second son of Levi) by means of the wooden acacia poles that were part of their construction (Numbers 4: 1 – 15). The violation of this command is the reason Uzzah dies when he reached to stabilize the Ark when it was about to fall off the cart (1 Chronicles 13:10). Recall the conductivity of the Ark with the gold previously discussed.
Acacia trees and acacia wood has taken on meaning beyond a common wood used in construction. The acacia wood used as the foundation of the Tabernacle symbolizes the humanity of G-d in the role of Yahshua while the gold overlay of the boards and poles symbolizes His deity. Isaiah (53:2) describes Yahshua as “a root out of dry growth” similar to the acacia tree growing out of arid desert soil. Volume and shape of acacia timber is very durable, hard, and tough; has good strength and flexible qualities, it has low shabbiness (it is resistant to scrape). It is impermeable and it is water resistant. From the European woods acacia is the most durable. Unprotected and untreated will last 40 years. It is immune to dry rots and pest infestation.
Could the acacia wood represent the humanity of Yahshua enveloped with the glory of YHVH? In other words, could the acacia wood represent the humanity symbolized by wood that was created and grows from the ground “up” to the deity of the G-dhead symbolized by gold that has been discovered to have come from meteors “down” to the earth as G-d came down to Sinai? This hypothesis provides one explanation of the acacia wood and the overlaying gold — the incorruptible humanity and the absolute deity of the Son of God and G-d as YHVH. May it be a theme of precious meditation and worship here, as it will be throughout eternity, where the glories of Yahshua are displayed in all that is perfectly human and all that is absolutely divine, in one Person, the “Echad.” As the acacia wood and gold overlay are inextricable, so is the “Echad” of G-d. YHVH/Yahshua is the Way to YHVH’s salvation by His very Name! Yet, He is G-d as evidenced by the Alef-Tav in Genesis 1:1 and in many other places in the Old and” New” (Renewed, refreshed Covenant) Testaments.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 5:26-6:13
This week’s haftorah describes the construction of the Holy Temple under the direction of King Solomon, echoing this week’s Torah portion which discusses the construction of the desert Tabernacle.
The haftorah discusses the manpower — both Jewish and non-Jewish — that Solomon recruited for the building of the Holy Temple. Also discussed are the hewing and transportation of the stone, the laying of the foundation, as well as the dimensions of the Holy Temple, its components and materials.
The haftorah ends with G‑d’s word to King Solomon: “This house which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, and execute My ordinances, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I establish My word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people, Israel.” We cannot deny the existence and truth of G-d’s requirement to follow His ordinances and commands; this mandate is written throughout the entire Bible.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23; 10:1
All the passages listed for this week refer to the earthly copies of the things already in heaven. That is, every detail of the Tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly Temple and associated concepts. This may explain the fastidious detail G-d demands of humans as the pattern of the heavenly Temple is copied on earth. The purification process required of Yahshua as He ascended into heaven after his death was far and above the purification process mandated and performed with earthly sacrifices. Heb. 10:1 pulls these passages together: “For the Torah has in It a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestations of the originals.” We cannot get to heaven by “toning down”, abrogating G-d’s commands and ordinances by our own authority, or re-translating G-d’s Torah into politically correct verbiage for the time. In today’s terminology Yahshua might tell those such as Nadav and Avihu who tried to worship G-d their way: “Sorry guys; the Torah is what it is; if you look at my face, you will die; I Am that I Am.” He makes this very clear in Ex. 3:14; Is. 44:6-8; and the following verses in John that I encourage you to review at your leisure. Every place where you read “I am” comes from [ego eimi]; I am that I Am:
John 4:26, John 6:20, John 8:18-19, John 8:24, John 8:28, John 8:58, John 9:9,
John 13:19, John 18:5, John 18:6, John 18:8.
I think the above references suffice to demonstrate that only One is qualified to instruct humans on construction of a heavenly likeness of that in heaven and that every detail has significance. Let us not forget this truth as we continue our spiritual walk. There are no shortcuts. Matthew 7:13-14 validates this statement: “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Let us not skip the details; the Blueprint is perfect as originally written.
Rabbi Tamah Davis