Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #20: Tetzaveh (You are to order) Sh’mot 9Exodus) 27:20-30:10
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 43:10-27
B’rit Chadashah: Philippians 4:10-20
This parashah addresses the establishment of the priesthood, the garments to be made for the priests while ministering in the tabernacle, the consecration process for the priests, and the specifications for oil to be used in the menorah.
It is interesting to note that the term Levitical priesthood is not found in the Tanakh, but it is found in the B’rit Chadashah, although only once in Hebrews 7:11. This term refers only to the high priest, Aharon, and his sons. But it also applies to the entire tribe of Levi because they were appointed to minister to the priests and their work. Understanding the office of high priest is essential to having the ability to make the connection between Aharon and Yahshua’s roles as high priests.
As the Levitical priesthood was established, this process set apart and made changes to the selection and work of priests. Until that time, there had been others who served in the role of priest such as the heads of the tribes of nations. The Levitical priesthood differed from the previous selection of priests in that it was hereditary. Only Aharon and his sons could represent G-d in this role, doing away with the heads of families being able to serve in that role. The Levitical priests centralized the priesthood as they fulfilled the role in the tabernacle. This was a way to ensure that the proper procedures were followed when the people served G-d through their sacrifices. The priests would also be clothed in a very special way to honor G-d and His dwelling place. The garments had significant meaning in and of themselves. So how did it happen that Aharon and his sons were called to fulfill this special role?
In the Torah, neither Aharon nor the tribe of Levi were the first called to be priests. At first, the entire nation was called: “ Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Ex 19:5-6).
The establishment of the nation as a kingdom of priests was to be accomplished by the sanctification of all the firstborn males (Ex. 13:11-13;22:29; 34:19; Num. 18:15). The sanctification of the firstborn male served two purposes. First it was to be a reminder of the nation’s deliverance from Egypt. The second purpose of separating the firstborn male was to establish a way of selecting the priests. This would make the nation of Israel a kingdom of priests. However, the firstborn paradigm was replaced by Aharon and his sons according to G-d’s instructions.
So, why did G-d replace the old system of redeeming and sanctifying the firstborn for the role of priest with the Levitical priesthood? In Exodus 19:5 we learn that the privlege of being a kingdom of priests depended on their obedience to the covenant. Exodus 32 describes the breaking of this covenant when the nation worshipped the golden calf, abolishing the old system of designating priests. It was at this time the Levites were chosen over the firstborn. Because it was the Levites who stood with Moshe for G-d over worshipping the golden calf and keeping the covenant that G-d chose Aharon and his sons as a perpetual priesthood. Fortunately, we are told in the B’rit Chadashah that those who follow G-d’s Torah/Instructions are a new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5,9; rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). True believers do not offer animal sacrifices at this time, but we will in the Millennial Kingdom according to Ezekiel 43-46. This is not because true believers are “re-crucifying” Yahshua, but because there will be those alive during that time who will not have accepted Yahshua as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the world. If this were not so, why would He be ruling with an iron hand? True believers are obedient out of love for G-d/Yahshua. Think about it.
Now let’s look at how Aharon and his sons were chosen to fulfill the role of priest.
In Exodus 28:1 we learn that the choice to make Aharon and his sons priests was made while Moshe was on Mt. Sinai just before the incident of the golden calf. So, we may deduce that perhaps the firstborn of Israel would have continued in the role if they had kept the covenant. It seems that Aharon was chosen because G-d knew his heart. When the nation grumbled against Moshe and Aharon for a second time accusing them of killing G-d’s people ( Num. 16:41), G-d unleashed his wrath killing 14,700 by a plague before Aharon interceded in the tabernacle. Recall Korach had recently been swallowed by the earth for his rebellious and arrogant attitude against Moshe and Aharon. The 250 censers of the princes who were destroyed by fire were used to make a covering for the brazen altar as a reminder that only the seed of Aharon could offer incense before the L-rd (Num. 16:36-40).It should have been enough for the people to see what G-d had done to establish Aharon and his sons as priests for the tabernacle, but G-d provided further proof by having 12 rods with the names of each tribe inscribed in the holy of holies. The rod that represented the tribe of levi had Aharon’s name on it. G-d said, “ And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod whom I shall choose, shall blossom and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel whereby they murmur against you (Num. 17:5).” The rod of Aharon was the one that had exhibited the full lifecycle of the almond, indicating the priesthood would go on in perpetuality.
Aharon and his sons were consecrated or set apart for their service at a different time and manner than the rest of the tribe of Levi. This special consecration further set Aharon and his sons as the priests who ministered to G-d versus the remainder of the tribe who ministered to the priest. The actual consecration of Aharon and his sons took place eight and one-half months after being chosen by G-d. This was mainly due to the need for time to construct the tabernacle and the interruption caused by the idolatry of the nation. The consecration process included the presentation to the nation, washing as these men were human and were not without sin. They needed to be symbolically and physically cleansed which represents the purity of Yahshua. This washing ritual was done daily before ministering at the brazen altar or going inside the tabernacle.
Aharon was dressed in specially made garments that symbolized the importance of his position and responsibility to G-d. Speaking of garments, there is often a question about the pomegranate-bell-pomegranate decorations that are on the hem of Aharon’s robe. The importance of wearing the robe of the ephod is stated in Exodus 28:35: “ And it shall be upon Aharon to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth is unto the holy place before the L-rd, and when he cometh out, that he die not.” So, the question of the validity of the purpose of the pomegranates and bells is verified through scripture. The bells served as a reminder to Aharon and the people that that he was approaching G-d to minister on behalf of the nation. Tradition states that a rope was tied to the ankle of the high priest so that if G-d did not forgive the sins of the people and Aharon died, he could be pulled out of the holy of holies since no one else was allowed to enter that space. This tradition has not been verified. Furthermore, doing such a thing would indicate a lack of trust on the part of the nation that G-d would honor Aharon’s humility and reverence before G-d as he ministered for the people.
Finally, they were anointed, and offerings were made to further set them apart for G-d’s service. The process of making the various offerings was specified in detail by G-d. Each had a specific purpose; a sin offering, a burnt offering, and a peace offering, the full scope of which must be reserved for another teaching due to time required to properly address each one. A teaching on the offerings and sacrificial system can be found on our website at rabdavis.org under the “teachings” link.
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 43:10-27
Many Christian denominations have difficulty with this haftarah as it describes the future reinstitution of the sacrificial system described in our parashah. It is not uncommon for a Christian to say, “ to reestablish the sacrificial system means you will be crucifying Jesus all over again.” This is a statement of biblical ignorance and should be corrected in love. In the Book of Revelation 2:27 “I will give authority over the nations; he will rule them with a staff of iron and dash them to pieces like pottery.” This is part of the narrative in which the Messianic Community in Thyatira is rebuked for allowing a false prophetess that is teaching against G-d’s Torah to continue among the congregation. In fact, this rebuke is for any organization that has such people within it and continues to allow them to mix with true believers and to teach contrary to G-d’s Word. The point is that G-d is not “all love” as promoted by many Christian clergy. This narrative is just one of many examples describing G-d’s truth, justice, and righteousness. Yahshua will execute the same justice, righteousness, and truth during the millennial kingdom with the sacrificial system reinstated for that time because he never changes. The truth of G-d’s/Yahshua’s consistency is described in this haftarah as well.
B’rit Chadashah: Philippians 4:10-20
This passage is a reminder that this world is not our home. The tabernacle described in our parashah was an antitype, an example of one that already exists in heaven. Staying true to our Elohim means following his Torah as closely as possible, learning, and growing daily in knowledge and wisdom to be used for His glory, just as Aharon and his sons were consecrated to the service of G-d throughout their lives as priests. We are to be content with our status knowing in our hearts and minds that G-d is in control just as He demonstrated with the Levite’s rod with Aharon’s name on it, making the rod blossom and bloom , symbolizing the perpetuality of the priesthood to be held by Aharon and the high priest, and his sons as priests, and the consecrated status of the Levites as managers of the tabernacle.
May we always strive to keep our priorities straight, buffeting our human drive for things above and beyond our needs, praying about everything. G-d knows what we need before we even ask but it is good for us to address our supplications to Him and give Him praise for all that . With thanksgiving in our hearts and minds, we will experience G-d’s shalom, which exceeds all understanding. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we continue through these end times.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart