Building the Tabernacle – Part 2

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Parashat VaYakhel – Pekudei 5772

Our tradition tells us that God forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf on Yom Kippur.

Moshe gathered the people and told them about the Divine command to build the Tabernacle (Mishkan).

In this parasha the Torah lists the parts of the Mishkan when:

  • Moshe tells the people what to build
  • The people build each portion of the Mishkan
  • Moshe provides an accounting of how the precious metals were used
  • God tells Moshe where to place each piece
  • Moshe erects the Mishkan for the first time.

My Questions

This week the verses that I’ve chosen are spread throughout the parasha. As is usual, the translation is from Judaica Press.

Shemot 35:24

24 Everyone who set aside an offering of silver or copper brought the offering for the Lord, and everyone with whom acacia wood was found for any work of the service, brought it.

I understand that the people had gold, silver, and copper to donate to the building of the Mishkan. Back in Shemot 11:2, the people were told to “borrow” gold and silver vessels from the Egyptians. I discussed this in Parashat Bo.

What I don’t understand is who brought with them acacia wood?!

Acacia wood was used for the boards of the Mishkan. The boards were ten cubits tall and one and a half cubits wide. If a cubit is 20 inches, then these boards were almost 17 feet long.

Who in their right mind was carrying a bunch of 17-foot long boards through the desert?

Shemot 36:3-5

3 So they took from before Moses all the offering[s] that the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the Holy, and they brought him more gifts every morning.

4 Then all the wise men who were doing the work of the Holy came, each one from his work, which they had been doing.

5 And they spoke to Moses, saying: “The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which the Lord had commanded to do.”

What did Moshe say or do that so energized the people to give even more than what was needed?

Shemot 38:21

21 These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moses’ command; [this was] the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the Kohen.

Verses 38:21-31 recount how the gold, silver, and copper were used in building the Mishkan. We don’t see that Moshe was commanded to give such an accounting.

What motivated him to provide this accounting?

Shemot 39:43

43 Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it, as the Lord had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them.

What is the nature of the blessing that Moshe gave to the builders of the Tabernacle?

Shemot 40:36-38

36 When the cloud rose up from over the Mishkan, the children of Israel set out in all their journeys.

37 But if the cloud did not rise up, they did not set out until the day that it rose.

38 For the cloud of the Lord was upon the Mishkan by day, and there was fire within it at night, before the eyes of the entire house of Israel in all their journeys.

We know that the Mishkan was built to be portable. But the first journey is not recorded until Sefer Bamidbar 10:11.

Why does the Torah talk about their journeying here? Also, similar verses are recorded in Bamidbar 9:15-23. The whole discussion seems to make more sense in Sefer Bamidbar just before the first journey.

Your Turn

Please share your questions and suggested answers in the comments.

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