Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Part 43

Earlier we had mentioned the element of time and its association with kedusha. Some “moedim” (appointed times) have a kedusha. You don’t do the same things for every festival. Yom Ha Bikkurim (First Fruits) is not a shabbaton (Yom Tov), neither is Pesach (Passover). There is no kedusha associated with it. So, as a result, people could work, buy and sell, and do ordinary things on Passover and First Fruits..

Man was created with a kedusha because he was made in the image of God. The Lord is a God with a kedusha (a holy God). When man sinned, he lost his kedusha and was no longer in God’s image because God does not sin. In the process, man lost the concept of kedusha. So, moving ahead to the time of Moses, the children of Israel are brought out of Egypt by God, led by Moses, to Mount Sinai. They will worship the Lord there. Josephus records that Israel came to the mountain for two reasons. First, to receive the Torah. The second reason was to receive the Mishkan.

The Mishkan was a traveling place of kedusha, where God would dwell among the people of Israel. The kedusha that was on Mount Sinai in Exo 3.5 was now “transferred” to the Mishkan. You could not just go into the Mishkan, there was a way to do it. There were parts you could enter, and there were parts you could not enter. That was the situation with Nadab and Abihu in Lev 10.1-2. They “crossed the line” and they died by the hand of the Lord.

We have, according to Josephus, where Israel came to have the Mishkan. When they left Sinai, the Lord would “travel” with them and be in their midst. He could meet with them, teach them, instruct them about the concept of kedusha and how to approach him. Otherwise, if they didn’t have the Mishkan, they would need to travel to Mount Sinai in order to meet with the Lord.

So, with that in mind, we know that the first “holy” is in regards to the Sabbath in Gen 2.4. The second “holy” is in regards to Mount Sinai in Exo 3.5. But, this kedusha would ultimately be moved to the Mishkan, and later the Temple. These became the two principles of kedusha. The Sabbath, the “king” of all holy days, and the Mishkan, the place of kedusha.

Berman, in his book, talks about the covenant of time (Sabbath) and space (Mishkan). He says, “The status of the Sabbath as the first entity endowed with kedusha lies hidden until the time when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, from that moment on it emerges in the Bible as the preeminent symbol of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. The most evident, where he brings it to its fullness, is Exo 31.13-17. That is where we are here. The Sabbath was to be set apart (Gen 2.3) and it is mentioned in the Ten Commandments (Exo 20.8). Here in Exo 31 it is being developed, where it says, “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, ‘Verily my sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that sanctifies you. You shall keep the sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you; every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord; whosoever does any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore, the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

Lev 19.30 says, “You shall keep my sabbaths and revere my sanctuary; I am the Lord.” Lev 26.2 says, “You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary; I am the Lord.” These are the exact same concepts. These are the only passages like this in the Tanak. We have the Sabbath as the foundation of kedusha. It is “equaled” by the Mishkan/Temple. They are the pillars in any understanding of kedusha. We have the “mother of all chapters” dealing with the festivals in Lev 23. In that chapter, what is the holiest festival? Most people will say “Yom Kippur” but it isn’t. It is the Sabbath. It is at a higher level of kedusha than any other festival, even Yom Kippur. So, let’s look at that concept.

We have an aspect here of what do we know about the Sabbath? Most people who begin in Torah studies will begin with the Sabbath as the very first thing they will pick up and start to observe. But, what about the Mishkan/Temple? We know it had the same status in kedusha (Lev 20.30, 26.2)? But do we know equally about the Sabbath and the Mishkan/Temple? Is our understanding “one sided” or even “no sided?” Some people know nothing about the Sabbath or the Mishkan/Temple. We believe it is at least one sided. Most believers know almost nothing about the Mishkan/Temple, the priesthood, the korbanot (offerings), the furniture, the vessels and the services. And on top of that, most of the general understandings that most people have is inaccurate.

The Sabbath was the culmination of the week of creation. We are told that the Lord “rested” and so man was told to “rest.” So, the question is, what does “rest” mean? Was God tired? No, he wasn’t tired because it says that God “spoke” and it was “done.” It was not a process of millions of years, as some believe. It is impossible for God to become tired. There is a relationship between the Lord creating the universe and the building of the Mishkan.

Gen 1.31 says that the Lord saw everything that he had made and it was “good” (which is the absence of evil). We have a parallel to that in Exo 39-40. Gen 1 tells us about the creation of the universe. Gen 2 tells us about the institution of the week of creation and Sabbath. Exo 39-40 has the institution of the Mishkan and how it was being put into service. Exo 39.43 says, “And Moses examined all the work (melakah = effort with your hands for your own benefit) and behold, they had it; just as the Lord commanded, this they had done. So, Moses blessed them.”

Gen 2.1 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts.” Exo 39.32 says, “Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was completed and the sons of Israel did according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so they did.” We have almost the same wording between the creation of the universe and the creation of the Mishkan. In Gen 2.2 it says, “And by the seventh day God completed his work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.” We are going to have a parallel of that in Exo 40.33 where it says, “And he erected the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the veil for the gateway of the court. Thus Moses finished the work (melakah).”

Gen 2.3 says, “The God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (gave it a kedusha), because in it he rested from all his works which he had created and made.” Exo 39.43 says, “And Moses examined all the work (melakah = effort with your own hands for your own benefit) and behold, they had done just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them.” Tradition says that Psa 90 was written and composed as a result. Again, we have the same language between the creation of the universe and the creation of the Mishkan.

Gen 2.3 says that God gave the seventh day (sabbath) a kedusha, and Exo 40.9 says, “Then you shall take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and shall consecrate it and all its furnishings; it shall be holy (have a kedusha).” So, hopefully, we can begin to see the parallels.

Berman says, “The initial relationship between the sabbath and sanctuary implied by the closing chapters if Exodus sheds light on the Temple narrative of 1 Kings as well. Just as language of the Sabbath narrative of Genesis 2 is present in the Tabernacle sections of Exo 39-40, Sabbath imagery is likewise present in the narrative of the completion of the First Temple. The Biblical nation that the number seven represents “wholeness and completion begins with the sanctification of the seventh day as the Sabbath following the completion of the universe in Gen 2. The number seven figures prominently throughout the Temple narrative of 1 Kings. The Temple took seven years to complete (1 Kings 6.35), it was dedicated on the festival of Sukkot, a holiday that occurs for seven days during the seventh month of the year (1 Kings 8.2). Finally, Solomon’s dedication address is composed of seven petitions (1 Kings 8.12-53).”

So we see there was a plan, and this had to do with “remez”, where one passage alludes to another. Berman continues, “The notion that the erection of the sanctuary completes the process of creation is explicitly in the midrash concerning the completion of the First Temple. The midrash says, “All the work that King Solomon had done in the house of the Lord was completed (1 Kings 7.51). Scripture does not say ‘the work’ but ‘all the work’ which refers to all the work of the six days of creation, as it says, ‘And God completed all the work that he planned to do.’ When Solomon completed the Temple God proclaimed that ‘Now the work of the heavens and earth are complete.”

In Part 44 we will pick up here and continue to develop the concept of “rest” on the Sabbath and what it means.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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