Parashah #23: P’kudai (Accounts) Sh’mot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue

Parashah #23: P’kudai (Accounts) Sh’mot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 7:40-50
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 15:5-8

Now it’s time to account for materials used in the construction of the tabernacle. The accountant was Itamar, son of Aharon who was the chief auditor. To create a system of checks and balances, B’tsal’el and Oholi’av provided the figures. Moshe was wise to order this accounting to show the people that the offerings were properly accounted for and used as G-d instructed. He must have known that human nature is filled with doubts in many situations, not the least of which is concern for how donations are used. There is no indication in the narrative that the people expressed any doubt about how their donations were used, but Moshe “preempted” any doubts that may have not been verbalized.
The actual weight of the metals varies according to how the weight of a talent is calculated. Using the sanctuary shekel, the amount of gold was 1,930 pounds; the silver was 16,650 pounds using the same standard, and the “brass” more accurately translated as copper 4,680 pounds (Ex.38:24,25,29). This may seem like a lot until we consider that Alexander the Great found 400 times the amount of gold at Susa and 1200 times that amount at Persepolis (Metmuseum.org).

The metals used in the construction of the tabernacle were recognized for their ability to be shaped. This was essential since most of the metals were used to overlay wood. Gold was the most precious metal used and was included in the freewill offerings of the people. However, Silver was not included in these offerings. Rather, it was produced through a special registration tax on one-half shekel levied on men who met the age requirements for military service and were therefore counted (Ex. 30:11:11-16).
As previously mentioned, the term “brass” used in the King James Version of the Bible is more accurately translated “copper.” We know this because brass was not developed until much later. The reference was most likely to copper or bronze, which was in use at the time. However, Deuteronomy 8:9 states that the material was dug from the ground, which indicates copper, which is a ra material, rather than bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin.
The laver and its foot were made from copper (brass) but did not come from the general freewill offering of the entire congregation. This offering was made by the women who donated their mirrors who assembled at the door of the court. According to some scholars, these women were not part of a divinely established order. But let’s examine this issue more closely.
Exodus 38:8 states “He [B’tzal’el] made the basin of bronze with its base of bronze from the mirrors of the women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.
The word “serving” must mean more than a gaggle of women standing around greeting people at the door like a Walmart greeter.
Interestingly, the word “serve” in this narrative is a military term meaning “assemble, fight, muster, or war.” These women were assembled at the door of the court for a specific reason. The specific type of service is not explicated in the text, but we can make some safe deductions based on their donation of mirrors and the location where they assembled.
Assembling at the doorway meant they were as physically close to G-d as was allowed at the time, and it put them in a place where they would encounter the needy who may be seeking a word of encouragement, comfort, or guidance. They were in a perfect position to offer a drink to the thirsty or offer shelter to weary travelers or the elderly. Even beyond this, the fact that it was mirrors that were used for the laver may symbolize that we are to look at ourselves and the need for us to be washed in the water, both physical and the “Living water” before we can progress to a holier “place” within G-d’s guidelines/instructions.
Although we are not specifically told how these women served, we are given a glimpse into their character. B’tzal’el needed to construct the laver where the priests could wash before entering the holy place. Washing was mandatory before entering the Holy Place just as examining our lives today and partaking of the Living water (Yahshua) is required as part of reconciling ourselves to G-d. The laver stood between the altar and the Holy Place to remind them (and us), the necessity to remove the world’s filth, physically (if possible) and spiritually(mandatory) before entering G-d’s presence. This is not to say that we cannot enter His presence if we don’t have a shower or other body of water available. This is to say that we must have the right heart, a humble heart, before entering G-d’s presence.
The specific directive for the washing in the laver is of such importance that Adonai mentioned it twice in Ex. 30:17: “Adonai said to Moshe, ‘You are to make a basin of copper (more accurate translation that “bronze”), with a base of copper for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. Aharon and his sons will wash their hands and feet there when they enter the tent of meeting-they are to wash with water, so that they won’t die. Also when they approach the altar to minister by burning the offering for Adonai, they are to wash their hands and feet, so that they won’t die. This is to be a perpetual law for them through all their generations.’”
The women who donated their mirrors set another important example for true believers today. The women donated their mirrors which represents human vanity. The concern for the priests and following G-d’s directive for the priests took precedence over their external appearance. A smudge on our face might attract social attention, but for the priests at that time, it could mean death.
At the time of the construction of the tabernacle, these women could not run down to the local department store and buy another mirror. Donating their mirrors was a true sacrifice they gladly made, answering a higher calling. But Moshe did not elaborate any further than the short verses described in our parashah. However, careful reading and consideration of the short narratives will reveal to the reader that these women needed no elaborate praises or recognition. G-d knows the heart and we can rest assured these women were blessed for their humble contribution to the tabernacle, overriding any human vanity.
Mirrors allow us to focus on our physicality. James, the half-brother of Yahshua, warned us that we find it easy to look in the mirror, recognize our physical blemishes, and walk away without making any changes, (James 1:23-4) (that is rapidly changing due to resurgence of human vanity and social pressure to look “perfect”). James compared G-d’s Torah as the mirror that reflects our spiritual condition. G-d’s Torah clearly defines sin as transgression of His Torah. But more than this, His Word shows us how to “wash” our souls and establish a saving relationship to G-d. However, like the priests of old, true believers as the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9) must take a trip to the Laver (now to Yahshua through His sacrifice) and clean up our lives. The process of spiritual cleansing once we are reconciled to G-d requires frequent trips to the “laver” for vigilant self-examination and corrections as needed. Again, like the priests of old, daily cleansing is highly recommended. 😊
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(renewed, refreshed) 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.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart