Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #21: Ki Tissa (When you take) Sh’mot (Exodus) 30:11-34:35
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 18:20-39
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Cor: 10: 1-13
Let’s start this week’s lesson with four focus points gleaned from the text:
1. We are to examine ourselves inside and out before approaching YHVH/Yahshua. We do not have to be perfect, but we are to approach Him with a clean attitude (Ex. 30:20).
2. We are commanded once again to observe Shabbat no matter what else is going on in our lives. (Ex. 31:13). We are not to promise people we will do something else or simply disregard Shabbat because we don’t “feel like “observing it on a certain day. G-d is a jealous G-d and He makes this point Ex. 34;14; we can observe Shabbat in some way, even if only in our mind if we are in a place where there are no physical services. We have to make a choice either for or against Adonai (Ex. 32:26). If we choose not to be reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice and follow His commands, statutes, and laws, we make a choice against Him. To choose Him means a walk down the narrow and hard road according to Yahshua’s words.
3. G-d shows favor to whomever He will and displays mercy to whomever He will. We have no say in this matter (Ex. 3:19). His will is perfect and we have to trust this is so. Besides, we have enough to worry about keeping ourselves in line!
4. We are not to appear before Him empty handed (Ex. 34:20). Our tithes and offerings support His work and should be given with joy. If we deny Him in poverty, we will also deny Him in our wealth. G-d knows our hearts and our bank accounts. Note in Ex. 30:15 on the subject of individual redemption according to the census, “the rich is not to give more or the poor less than the half-shekel when giving Adonai’s offering to atone for your lives.” The money then as today is used for the service of the establishment used for teaching; back then, the Tent of Meeting where G-d met with Aharon and Moshe, and today, the synagogue or shul.
Our passage of focus today is Ex. 30:22-33.Among the carefully prescribed components of Israel’s worship of Adonai is the sacred anointing oil with which all the priests and tabernacle furnishings were to be consecrated. The ingredients are listed as follows: The LORD spoke to Moses: “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred and fifty, and two hundred and fifty of aromatic cane, and five hundred of cassia—measured by the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.” (Ex. 30.23-25 NRSV)
The four aromatic ingredients plus the olive oil are collectively described as “the finest spices” The four aromatic ingredients are collectively described as “the finest spices” (beśāmī m r ō’š; cf. raš i-beshamim Song of Sol.4:1), meaning in this context, premium spices; the best varieties available. This may explain why cinnamon appears in the compound form qinneman-beś em (fragrant cinnamon), as does the next item qenēh-bōś em(fragrant cane). The adjectival distinction either specified the premium commodity from other varieties of the generic item or simply highlighted its superlative aromatic quality. The listing of cinnamon’s perennial companion cassia (qiddah) serves to disambiguate the two products, which are otherwise confusable, and also attests to the higher quality of cinnamon, of which “half as much” was sufficient. The spelling of the name here (qinnemān) varies slightly from its subsequent occurrences (qinnāmōn) in the later texts of Prov. 7:17and Song of Sol. 4:1. Perhaps the former is a more archaic form, a clue to the antiquity of the ingredients-list.
The narrative states that the immediate source of the spices was the Israelite exodees (Ex.25.1-7; 35.4-9, 20-29). It also indicates that they, in turn, had obtained these and other valuable commodities from their sympathetic Egyptian neighbors in the emergency collection just prior to their departure (12.35-36). Egyptologist Lise Manniche has explained how ordinary could come to possess such royal temple offerings as cinnamon through priests who would either recirculate them in exchange for other commodities, or, since they formed the medical profession as well, used it in their preparation of drugs.
Although the ingredients are listed, the text does not specify any one of the many applicable techniques of producing the aromatic oil. However, the task is specifically assigned to the specialized “work of the perfumer” (Ex.30:25; 37:29). Ample evidence places Egypt at the forefront of aromatics production and consumption in the ancient Mediterranean world. The Israelite master-craftsman Bezalel who prepared the anointing (Ex.37:29) would easily have acquired the technology in Egypt. With the speech-act “This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations… it is holy, and it shall be holy to you (Ex.30:31-32) the Lord sanctified the formula and decreed it for perpetuity; thus assuming that the ingredients, including cinnamon, will continue to be available. Imposition of the penalty of excommunication for the cosmetic manufacture and use of the formula as an ordinary perfume further emphasize its sanctity (vv. 32-33).These restrictions appear to have had two main intentions. Firstly, the spiritual need to instill in the Israelite people reverence for the Lord as holy by ‘setting apart,’ among other things, a holy oil for exclusive cultic usage. Secondly, perhaps, to discourage dependence on exotic luxuries in Israelite society, as a counter-cultural value vis-à-vis Egyptian habits (cf. the warning in 1 Sam. 8:13).
Upon their return from Babylonian exile, a group of Levites were assigned to the specialized task of “mixing the spices” required for the oil and incense (1 Chr. 9:29-30). This may have been a restoration of a pre-exilic practice.
In the cultural context of ancient Israel the sense of smell was regarded as an important medium for perceiving conditions of life: from fullness of life, health and pleasantness on the one hand (e.g. Song of Sol. 4:11; Hos. 14:7; Jer. 48:11, etc.), to death, disease and decay on the other(Ex.7:18, 21; 8:10; 16:20, 24; Is. 19:6; 34:3, 12; Joel 2:20; Amos 4:10; Ps. 38:6; Eccl. 10:1, etc.).Therefore, the sweet fragrance of spices was an olfactory symbol of God’s holiness because it denoted life and health as opposed to the stench of disease and death. Moreover, the fragrance, which is spread abroad by the anointing oil, is determined by its composition. By claiming the exclusive right to the composition of the sacred anointing oil, YHVH reserves its special fragrance for himself. By anointing “his” fragrance is transmitted to his dwelling and its inventory (Ex. 30: 26-9) and to the priests, devoted to his service (Ex.30: 30). So YHVH’s fragrance becomes attached to his house and his attendants. So they are marked by his personality. Their exclusive belonging to YHVH is expressed for an organ of sense in a perceptible way. Because YHVH’s aroma envelopes them, by nose they can be known as YHVH’s representatives. The anointing of Yahshua by Mary a week before his crucifixion takes on a new significance. The smell of the expensive perfume may have still been on his person as He rode the donkey into the gates. The Jews would have recognized this scent as One who had been anointed for special service to G-d. Let’s look at Psalms 45:7-8 for further evidence: “ Your throne, G-d, will last forever and ever; you rule your kingdom with a scepter of equity. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, G-d, your G-d, has anointed you with the oil of joy in preference to your companions. Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia…” If indeed the ‘cinnamon’ of the Old Testament is the spice indigenous to South Asia, it is breathtaking to contemplate that even before our island was civilized (c. 5th cent BC), the Lord required for His worship spices from a part of His earth that the Israelites did not yet know of. It is a vivid glimpse of a Creator who delights in the natural treasures of his own good creation, distributed throughout diverse ecological niches. And even if the ancient Israelites may not have known the nations and lands of South Asia by name, perhaps vaguely as “a distant land” (cf. Jer. 6.20), they were nevertheless connected by long-distance trade to the network of nations in whose midst, and for whose sake, God was working in Israel’s own history. This fact also demonstrates the interconnectedness of the universe once again and G-d’s involvement in it.
1. Pure Myrrh Exodus 30:23… The word “pure” (1865 “drowr”) means, “to flow freely and spontaneously”… “clear”… “liberty”… The word “myrrh” in its first usage in Genesis 37:25, 43:11 means, “a sticky gum” and is taken from a word meaning, “to wrap up” or “to cover up”. In Exodus the word “myrrh” means, “a bitter flowing gum that flows in drops.” This gum comes from a dwarf tree of the terebinth family that grows in Arabia. An incision is made into the tree. It has a good fragrance to it but it is bitter in taste. This has special significance in the context of our Messiah Yahshua. YHVH/Yahshua does not force Himself upon us. We have free-will. Yahshua was the “tree” and His side was pierced on the execution stake. He offered himself as a total “olah” offering. He hath shed forth the Spirit. (Acts 2:33) Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty… a pure f low. (2 Corinthians 3:17) Isaiah, prophesying of Yahshua tells us that He was anointed to proclaim liberty. (Isaiah 61:1-2) Myrrh is used for perfume, as a preservative, as a freshener, as a purifier, as a healing ointment, as an emblem of love, as a comforter for bruises. Yahshua suffered for us and out of His suffering came power that overcomes bondage. There is no roughness in the anointing. Anointing ministers healing and comfort; it consecrates to the service of G-d.
2. Cinnamon as an ingredient in the Holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30.23) Exodus 30:23… sweet cinnamon … The word “sweet” means, “fragrance” like the smell of balsam. The word “cinnamon” means, “to burn with zeal”… “to be hot with jealousy”… (in a good sense, as a hen jealously guarding and watching over the chicks). Cinnamon comes from an inner bark of an evergreen of the laurel family. (East Asia, Ceylon) We are exhorted in the word “to be zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14) Of Yahshua it is written, “The zeal of thy house has eaten me up.” (Psalm 69:9) The Israelites are called “a peculiar people” in I Peter 2:9 … i.e. … God’s personal and private possession. The Lord is very jealous of His people. He is jealous for worship of Himself and through the role of Yahshua (Ex. 34:14).
Biblical scholars and historians alike have been intrigued by references to cinnamon in the Bible. There are four references: three in the OT (Ex. 32:28; Pr. 4:14 and Song of Sol 7:17); and one in the B’rit Chadashah (NT) (Rev. 18:2). The plant species identified as cinnamon by modern botanical classification, Cinnamomum verum(Berchthold & Presl) or Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Blume), is indigenous to southwestern India and Sri Lanka If indeed this is the same species as mentioned in the Bible, scholars ask, how did it reach the Mediterranean world at such an early date? Beginning with Herodotus (5th cent. BC), ancient and modern historians have speculated about where cinnamon was produced and named regions as wide apart as Ethiopia and China. What is in anointing A ZEAL; A BURNING FIRE FOR G-D’S TORAH.
3. Aromatic cane
Calamus- the Latin for cane, Hebrew “Kaneh”, mentioned (Ex. 30:23) as one of the ingredients in the holy anointing oil, one of the sweet scents (Cant. 4:14), and among the articles sold in the markets of Tyre (Ezek. 27:19). The word designates an Oriental plant called the “sweet flag,” the Acorus calamus of Linnaeus. It is elsewhere called “sweet cane” (Isa. 43:24; Jer. 6:20). Exodus 30:23… sweet calamus… The word “calamus” means, “to create a power to recover”. . . “to stand upright” . . . This plant grows in Lebanon. It is a “reed” like plant that grows in the mire and is easily bruised. When the spice is ground into powder a sweet smelling oil is produced that Incites healing and kills the root of the disease. Calamus also is emblematic of internal feelings such as caring, calming, compassion, mercy. All of these are emotions of healing. In the anointing is the “power of recovery.” Yahshua exhibited these attributes. He was moved with compassion. Divine love rose up in Him when He saw a need. That compassion was in the anointing. Calamus (cane) has an aromatic smell, and when its knotted stalk is cut and dried and reduced to powder, it forms an ingredient in the most precious perfumes. It was not a native of Israel, but was imported from Arabia Felix or from India. It was probably that which is now known in India by the name of “lemon grass” or “ginger grass,” the Andropogon schoenanthus. Once again in the context of Yahshua we can see a similarity. He was beaten and bruised for our iniquity and reduced to sin for us as a humble servant to the Father. Yet, He remained G-d just as changing the form of water does not change its fundamental existence. Yahshua as an “olah” offering to G-d was a sweet fragrance or sweet aroma to YHVH. Yahshua was the perfect and required sacrifice for our PAST sins. What is in the anointing… ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY TO MINISTRER LOVE, COMPASSION, AND MERCY WITHOUT PARTIALITY.
4. Cassia Cassia in Ex. 30:24 is considered an inferior plant to the other species in the laurel family. The Hebrew word for “cassia” is Qiddah, which is similar to the word meaning “to bow down” or “to pay homage,” “to bend the body.” “Homage” in Scripture means to honor another by bending low in deep respect. Cassia is also taken from the inner bark of a tree called, Cassia Lignea … of the cinnamon family. (East Asia) Here we see submission to the L-rd. What is in the anointing… SUBMISSION AND HUMILITY. True submission says, “Not my will but thine be done.” This was Yahshua’s attitude as seen in John 5:30. “I can of myself do nothing”… “I seek not my own will, but the will of my Father which has sent me.” In John 15:5 Yahshua says, “Without me you can do nothing.” Isaiah 53 also speaks of His suffering servanthood. There was 500 shekels of cassia used … about 15 pounds. The number 15 in Bible numeric (Gematria )is the number of “rest.” It is also a multiple of 5 that signifies grace. Therefore, we may conclude that through His grace we may one day find our ultimate rest. There is a rest in submission. Submission is gentle and of excellent conduct. Submission means that we are under the authority of the L-rd. There is no rebellion in true submission. On the other end of the spectrum, true believers defined in the Seven-Fold Witness on the book of Revelation will one day find their true rest and will live with YHVH/Yahshua in everlasting life.
5. Olive oil (the carrier)
Exodus 30:24 … oil olive … This oil was the base for the liquid that came from the spices. Oil was the vehicle that carried the four Ingredients. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). The ingredients of the anointing are founded in the Holy Spirit and are borne along in the flow of the Spirit. The word “oil” as used here means, “the name for knowing”… it is taken from a word meaning… “authority from one in authority” (Ruach Ha Kodesh) … also… “One who knows by seeing and observing”… In In Proverbs 8:22-31 the Ruach speaks of, “I was there”… “I was by Him”… “I was brought forth”… The word “olive” comes from a toot word meaning, “an olive for the oil of illumination”… “brightness”… The oil came from the bruising … Yahshua was bruised … He was and is the Light of the world. Before the anointing of the Ruach (Spirit) came the bruising of the execution stake. Yahshua’s return to heaven to sit beside the Father enabled the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit to come to us as the Comforter and Guide. Olive oil has both secular and sacred purposes. The olive tree is very important in secular life for oil lamps, cooking, etc., and in religious life. It is mentioned in the Bible at least 50 times. The olive tree has been a symbol of peace and prosperity since the time the dove returned to Noah’s Ark with an olive branch. The olive tree “epitomizes the Spirit of the Lord” and for that reason it was forbidden to cut it down in ancient times. In the context of the anointing oil, we begin to see the four spice oils wrapped in oil “of the Ruach (Spirit)” used to anoint one consecrated to G-d for His service. These meanings describing these very special oils describe the high standard to which YHVH/Yahshua holds His consecrated people. The articles described in Ex. 30:26-29 indicate that they would be especially holy, and those who touched them will become holy. Only then does G-d command Moshe to anoint his brother Aharon and his sons to serve in the office of cohen (priests). They also had to be especially set apart and anointed. In other words, we must examine ourselves and repent of our sins on a daily basis as we live for YHVH/Yahshua. A similar concept is found in (Matt: &:3-5; Luke 6:42).Furthermore, the holy anointing oil is not to be copied or used for anointing one’s body lest that individual be cut off from his people. We recently celebrated Purim and learned that the costumes we wore represented the fact that G-d’s Name was not mentioned in the entire book of Esther. However, He was present in every aspect of the narrative. Similarly, we do not see the Name of G-d in the passage Ex. 30:23-30. However, we learn through examining the spices used for the anointing oil that G-d as Adonai AND G-d in the role of Yahshua are present in every way in separating His Tabernacle and His chosen people for His service.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 18:20-39
In this week’s haftorah, Elijah the Prophet demonstrates the worthlessness of the Baal, just as Moses chastised the Israelites for serving the Golden Calf, also covered in this week’s parashah. The lesson is that any form of idolatry is a sin and G-d will hold us accountable. Anything that takes precedence over obeying G-d’s Torah is idol worship and we need to examine ourselves closely on a daily basis. Torah study is not a chore for those who sincerely want to learn more about the One to whom they profess loyalty and love. As it states in Ecclesiastes in the very last sentence; “Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything; fear G-d, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about. For G-d will bring to judgment everything we do, including every secret, whether good or bad.” (Ecc. 12:13-14).
In this narrative King Ahab and Queen Jezebel ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel and encouraged the worship of the Baal deity as well as other forms of idolatry. To prove that G-d alone is in control and provides sustenance, Elijah decreed a drought on the kingdom–no rain fell for three years. When Ahab then accused Elijah of causing hardship for the Israelites, Elijah challenged him to a showdown. Elijah would represent the cause of monotheism, and 850 idolatrous “prophets” would represent their cause. Ahab accepted.
The haftorah begins with Elijah, the Baal prophets, and many spectators gathering atop Mount Carmel. Elijah rebuked the people of Israel, uttering the famous words: “How long will you hop between two ideas? If the L-rd is G-d, go after Him, and if the Baal, go after him. “Elijah then stated his challenge: “Give us two bulls and let them [the Baal prophets] choose one bull for themselves and cut it up and place it on the wood, but fire they shall not put; and I will prepare one bull, and I will put it on the wood, and fire will I not place. And you will call in the name of your deity, and I will call in the name of the L-rd, and it will be the G-d that will answer with fire, he is G-d.”
The people agreed to the challenge, and the prophets of the Baal were first. The prophets’ entreaties to their god went unanswered. Elijah taunted them: “Call with a loud voice, for you presume that he is a god. [Perhaps] he is talking or he is pursuing [enemies], or maybe he is on a journey; perhaps he is sleeping and will awaken…”
As evening approached, it was Elijah’s turn. He built an altar, laid his offering upon it and surrounded it with water. Note that Elijah took action in faith. He did not just sit there and attempt to call G-d down on the worshippers of Baal. Then he beseeched G-d; “Lord, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Israel,” he declared. “Today let it be known that You are G-d in Israel and that I am Your servant, and at Your word have I done all these things. Answer me, O L-rd, answer me, and this people shall know that You are the L-rd G-d…” He did not seek glory for himself.
A fire immediately descended from heaven and consumed the offering, as well as the altar and the surrounding water. “And all the people saw and fell on their faces, and they said, “The Lord is G d, the L-rd is G d.”
B’rit Chadashah: 2 Corinthians 3:1-18.
This passage is so often misrepresented by Christian clergy to mean the “law is dead and we have a new covenant replacing the old). Unfortunately, they interpret Paul to their own destruction just as the Bible says many will do! (2 Pet. 3:16). The confidence which Paul speaks of at the beginning of this passage addresses the confidence we can have that Yahshua as the Messiah will enable us to do that which we are called to do by G-d. We can do anything through G-d/Yahshua (Phil 4:13) who strengthens us. This does not mean we can do anything we want. It means that whatever G-d calls us to do, we will be able to accomplish just as Elijah. The “New Covenant” spoken of in 2 Cor. 3:6 is the fact that G- revealed a part of Himself through the person of Yahshua so that we can learn how to live G-d’s Torah that is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The New Covenant identifies us as the new priesthood in place of the Levitical priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). The sacrificial system is on hold for now until Yahshua returns. Yahshua as the sacrificial Lamb negated the necessity to offer animal sacrifices at this time. Furthermore, Yahshua made salvation possible for all men as The Way to reconciliation with G-d. Remember, Yahshua in this role does not do the “saving.” He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life to G-d. His very name Yah-shua means G-d saves. The people of the Old Testament did not have the benefit of knowing Yahshua as the Messiah, although as we learned through description of the spices that Yahshua was present throughout their sojourn in other forms such as the column of cloud by day (Ex. 13:21). A propitiation for original sin was manifest through the loving kindness and grace of G-d through the role of Yahshua that the people of the Old Testament had yet to meet. The “veil” spoken of and the “stonelike minds” in 2 Cor. 3:12-18 is the veil that remains over those in Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism who have yet to recognize Yahshua as the Messiah. Of course there are those from these sects of Judaism who are called out by the Ruach (Spirit) unto this knowledge. Similarly, there are Christians being called out to observance of G-d’s Torah out of an apostate church. However, the clock is ticking. Those who do not make the connection between G-d’s grace AND law will go through the Tribulation if they live to this point in time. Those from the tribe of Judah (including Benjamin and Levi), and those from other religions repenting and turning to Yahshua and His Torah will be martyred for their faith (Rev. 6:9).This is the urgency of the message. Study, pray, show yourself approved: 2 Tim 2:15 reads “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth (Holman Standard Bible). Contrary to the teaching of many clergy, we CAN fall from G-d’s grace “ Therefore, let us be terrified of the possibility that, even though the promise of entering his rest remains, any one of you might be judged to have fallen short of it: for Good News has also been proclaimed to us, just as it was to them. But the message they heard didn’t do them any good, because they who hear it did not combine it with trust. For it is we who have trusted who enter the rest… Therefore, since it still remains for some to enter it, and those who received the Good News earlier did not enter, he again fixes as certain day. ‘Today’ saying through David, so long afterwards, in the text already given, Today, if you hear G-d’s voice, don’t harden your hearts.”(Hebrews 4:1-3; 6-7.
Rabbi Tamah Davis