Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah # 23: P’kudei (Accounts) Sh’mot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 7:40-50
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation: 15:5-8
This is the last parashah in the book of Sh’mot. So quickly it seems we are traveling through the Torah and preparing for Purim and Pesach. We begin by examining some of the specifics of the articles used to make the tabernacle. Let’s turn our focus to the gold.
We find the answer to a very common question asking about the actual weight and monetary value of the gold and silver used for the tabernacle. Ex. 38: informs us the weight was nearly a ton (1,930 pounds). Commentators on this subject vary anywhere between hundreds of pounds to over two tons. By today’s gold standards, this amount of gold would be worth about 40 million dollars. The cost to build the entire tabernacle would be about 57 million dollars. To put the monetary value in perspective, let’s take a closer look at some of the details.
29 Talents 730 Shekels of Gold
100 Talents 1,775 Shekels of Silver
70 Talents 2,400 Shekels of Brass (which most scholars believe to be copper)
1 Talent = 75.40 pounds
1 Shekel = 0.025 pounds Making the appropriate conversions:
2204.85 Pounds of Gold
7584.38 Pounds of Silver
5338.00 Pounds of Copper
This adds up to a lot of precious metals aside from the gold used (wasted) on the Golden Calf We discussed last week that because the gold was given as offerings, we understand there was more available. This would explain in part why the Egyptians would pursue the Israelites into the desert. Not only were they losing their labor force, but imagine the gold! This helps us understand why the Egyptian army would pursue the Israelites after they were led out into the desert.
Although the price of precious metals if fluctuating daily, I am using a general value to calculate and idea of the prices of material used in the tabernacle if it were to be built today.
Gold $ 1315.25/oz
Converting pounds to ounces we arrive at the following:
$1,930 lb. of Gold with 16 ounces in a pound at $1315.35/oz = $40,618,008.00
106,400 oz of Silver x $15.66 = $1,666,224.00
Total = 42,284,232
This was the cost of just gold and silver. Consider how rich the Israelites were spiritually and materially. G-d provided for his people then as He does now. Next we must consider the amount and cost of textiles used in the cover. The biblical account calls for four cover layers:
One layer of linen stitched with scarlet
One layer of goats-hair cloth
One layer of ram skin
One layer of sea cows skin (Dugong) which is shaped a little different from our West Indian Manatees. From where did the Dugongs come? The dugong, very plentiful in the shallow waters on the shores of the Red Sea, is a marine animal from 12 to 30 feet long, something between a whale and a seal, never leaving the water, but very easily caught. The Israelites could conceivably have sent hunting parties out to get the porpoise/dugong/sea cow skins, although nothing is mentioned about it. Ex. 35:21-23 tell us that these items for the tabernacle were donated by those with a willing heart. The fourth covering was made of badgers’ skins and again no measurements were given.
The Hebrew word for badger skins ‘tachash’ may refer to a badger or a Dugong or Sea Cow. Once again in the tabernacle covering there was a progression from the more beautiful to the less attractive. From the first covering of the finest white linen woven with blue, purple and scarlet and decorated with cherubim to the unattractive badger skin covering on the outside.
But the final cover of badger skins was far from beautiful. You can’t help but imagine what a foreigner passing by must have thought to see this unattractive tent as the focal point for the worship of Yahweh. But as with everything in the kingdom of G-d, the harder we search and the deeper we look for the things of god, the more beauty and splendor we find.
Each of the tabernacle coverings pointed to Yahshua. The innermost curtain with its four colors and the cherubim woven into the fine white linen, the second covering of goats hair spoke of Yahshua and His sacrifice, remember the scapegoat that carried away the sins of the nation in the wilderness, and the third covering of rams skins dyed red also pointed to Yahshua as our substitute just as the ram was the substitute for Isaac when his father Abraham was lifting the knife. But the last covering was of the badger skins. It also pointed to Yahshua. As the badger skins had that unattractive outward appearance so Jesus was a normal Israelite man with nothing especially attractive about Him that would make us think he was the King of kings. He was humble in character. No one has any idea what Jesus looked like whatsoever except that He had a beard because Isaiah spoke of His beard being plucked. He was a Jew and He had a beard and that is all that can be derived from the Bible and history. But His appearance was just as any common Israelite.
In the tabernacle was a clear resemblance to Yahshua. The person who looks at Him on just the outside at his physical appearance would never grasp the beauty and the wonder that resides in Yahshua; HaTorah.
As Isaiah prophesied:
Isa 53:2 “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
There was enough to cover the structure of the Tabernacle itself which was about 45 feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet tall which makes the structure about 675 square feet. You would need at least double that amount in fabric to cover the building which would be 1350 Square feet. The price of linen varies a lot depending on the quality. I am certain the quality of the materials used in the tabernacle construction were of superb quality
Top of the line Italian linen sells for $55 per yard that is 60 inches wide. That works out to be approximately $3.67 square ft. So approximately $4954.50 in Linen. I have nothing to compare the cost of goat hair/cloth but let’s estimate about $13.75/yard costing about $1242.
Next we need to calculate the number of rams and badgers needed to obtain 1350 square feet of usable skin material to make this cover. Considering humans have about 20 square feet of skin, we may deduce that badgers and goats may have about one-third that of humans. That would bring that number to 6.6 square feet per animal. Estimating that perhaps 5 square feet are useable, one would need 270 goats and 270 badgers for the job of constructing the two layers. Let’s assume that a pure bread goat cost $300 each and a badger costs $500 each. That would make the total cost of those two layers about $216,000 with a grand total of $222,196.50 for materials alone.
Estimating the cost of Acacia wood at the cost of the best Oak, one would pay $5.24 per board foot. Accounting for the walls of the tabernacle and not the wood used in all the furniture and such – we would probably spend about $5000. Although this is already processed lumber – theirs would not have been.
Lastly there is the labor. From the designing, collections of materials, to dying, weaving, sewing, stitching, gold and silver smelting and craftsmanship, construction, and project organization you are talking about a massive workload. We don’t know how many people were involved in the work but conservative labor costs would be about 3 million, depending on whether the workers would be paid minimum wage which is about to go up to $10.10!
By these estimates, constructing the tabernacle in today’s economy would easily cost about $57 Million Dollars. There are a lot of costs the Israelites would not have had to consider such as building permits since they had their blueprints from the highest Authority. Flood assessments would not have been necessary since the covenant made with Noach. Drainage retention areas, electrical installations, and water accessibility would not have been an issue since G-d provided everything the Israelites needed.
The parashah switches to the priestly garments and how they were made according to G-d’s instructions. The tabernacle and all its furnishings were arranged according to Adonai’s instructions at the designated time (Ex. 40:1). Consecration of the tabernacle, the articles, Aharon, and his sons were all done in the order commanded by Adonai. Finally, on the first month of the second year, the tabernacle was set up. Once it was completely in place including the surrounding courtyard, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle. Moshe was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained in it, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle.”
The last paragraph of our parashah describes the presence of YHVH/Yahshua with us always as was promised by G-d and Yahshua in the Old and “New” Testaments.
“Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel continued with all their travels. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not travel onward until the day when it was taken up. For the cloud of Adonai was above the tabernacle during the day, and fire was in [the cloud] at night, so that all the house of Israel could see it throughout all their travels” (Ex. 40:36-38).
We are to follow this example throughout our lives as professing believers. We must be willing to move or stay as the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) guides us. His timing is perfect in all things. He will NEVER abandon those who love him:
Deut. 31:8: But Adonai- it is he who will go ahead of you. He will be with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you, so don’t be acarida or downhearted.”
Joshua 1: 5-9: “Be strong, be bold; for you will cause this people to inherit the land I swore to their fathers I would give them. Only be strong and very bold in taking care to follow all the Torah which Moshe my servant ordered you to follow; do not turn from it neither to the right or to the left; then you will succeed wherever you go. Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and would till succeed. Haven’t I ordered you, ‘Be strong, be bold?’ So don’t be afraid or downhearted, because Adonai your G-d is with you wherever you go.”
Hebrews 13:5 : Keep your lived free from love of money; and be satisfied with what you have; for G-d himself has said,’ I will never fail you or abandon you.’ Therefore, we say with confidence’ Adonai is my helper, I will not be afraid- what can a human being do to me?”
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef 7:40-50
The completion of the tabernacle in the wilderness is compared to the completion of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The narrative is filled with references to the past because this is how G-d teaches us to live in the present and prepare for the future. This is one reason passing on the information of Pesach is so important. We must tell our children and others how G-d lead our people out of Egypt with a strong hand and providing for us then as He does now and will in the future. Solomon begins by bringing into the Temple the treasury and wealth that David had accumulated for its construction and upkeep. Interestingly, there were two huge, extravagantly decorated pillars at the entrance to the Temple, named Yachin and Boaz. The one at the right, Yachin, was on the side of the menorah; thus its name, which denotes a firm foundation, proclaims that the basis or purpose of Jewish life is found in drawing our light from The Light, the Shamash candle (Yahshua), the glow of the Torah, which is symbolized by the Menorah. The one on the left, Boaz, was on the side of the Table of Shewbread. Its name means “In Him is strength,” and proclaims that the strength of prosperity, which is symbolized by the Table, emanates from Him, G-d alone holds sustenance in His hand. The Middle Pillar is not described here. The Zohar tells us that the “Son of Yah” is a figure called “Metatron” and the “Middle Pillar of the G-dhead.” Christianity assigns the middle pillar to Yahshua within their doctrine of the Trinity although this doctrine is not in the Bible. We refer to the G-dhead as the, “Complex Unity” (Echad); inseparable; manifesting His roles according to His purpose.
The Middle Pillar [of the G-dhead] is Metatron, Who has accomplished peace above, According to the glorious state there. (Zohar, vol. 3. Ra’aya Mehaimna, p. 227, Amsterdam Edition).
Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off. This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the G-dhead, which is the Son of Yah. (Zohar, vol. ii, Ra’aya Mehaimna; p. 115, Amsterdam Edition).
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 15:5-8
This passage reflects the antitype of the Tent of Meeting in our parashah with the Tent of Witness that is opened to reveal the seven angles with the seven plagues. The fury of G-d is handed to the angles in seven gold bowls. Then the sanctuary becomes filled with smoke from G-d’s glory, from his power; and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angles had accomplished their purpose. Similarly, in our parashah, Moshe was not allowed to enter the sanctuary when the glory of G-d filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34). YHVH/Yahshua validates his Word and consistency throughout His Torah using many different writing techniques. In this case, it is accomplished by describing and emphasizing His laws, commands, and statutes in both the Old Testament and the “New” B’rit Chadashah Testament. Anyone who reads the entire Torah of G-d and begins to understand connections between YHVH/Yahshua, Old and New Testaments, and that G-d is consistent in ALL things, will realize the inextricable nature of the complex unity of YHVH/Yahshua, His Grace AND Law. May we learn these truths, internalize, and act upon them more consistently as we continue our walk with the Master.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart