Building the Tabernacle

Mar 8, 2015

וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כָל־חֲכַם־לֵב בְּעֹשֵׂי הַמְּלָאכָה אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן עֶשֶׂר יְרִיעֹת שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי כְּרֻבִים מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב עָשָׂה אֹתָם׃

Then all the skilled among those engaged in the work made the Mishkan of ten strips of cloth, which they made of fine twisted linen, blue, purple, and crimson yarns; into these they worked a design of cherubim.

va-ya-a-SU khol kha-kham LAYV b'-o-SAY ha-m'-la-KHAH et ha-mish-KAN E-ser y'-ree-OT SHAYSH mosh-ZAR ut-KHAY-let v'-ar-ga-MAN v'-to-LA-at sha-NEE k'-ru-VEEM ma-a-SAY kho-SHAYV a-SAH o-TAM

Exodus 36:8

וּמִן־הַתְּכֵלֶת וְהָאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת הַשָּׁנִי עָשׂוּ בִגְדֵי־שְׂרָד לְשָׁרֵת בַּקֹּדֶשׁ וַיַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת־בִּגְדֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר לְאַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה אֶת־מֹשֶׁה׃

Of the blue, purple, and crimson yarns they also made the service vestments for officiating in the sanctuary; they made Aharon's sacral vestments—as Hashem had commanded Moshe.

Exodus 39:1

This very lengthy passage reiterates much of what was written in the previous three Torah portions. The order, however, is different. Whereas Moses was first instructed regarding the inner vessels of the Tabernacle, then its outer structure, then the outer vessels, here we see that Bezalel and his team first constructed the parts for the Tabernacle’s structure — its various curtains, planks and sockets — then the Ark, Table and Menorah with their attending utensils, and finally the vessels of the courtyard — the Incense Altar, the larger Altar of Elevation Offerings and the Laver — along with the enclosure of the courtyard itself.


The Tabernacle and its vessels are rife with symbolism and lessons. As the Israel Bible explains, the woven fabrics of the Tabernacle were so unique, that when similar fabrics are described in the Book of Esther as adorning King Ahasuerus’s palace, the Sages learned that the Temple treasures which were looted during the fall of the Judean Kingdom made their way to the Persian treasury. Those Jews who elected not to attend Ahasuerus’s grand party in the beginning of the story were demonstrating their loyalty to God and mourning the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem.


The Menorah, which was made of pure gold and burned pure olive oil, represents the duty of the Jewish people to serve as a Light unto the Nations. As the Israel Bible indicates, the purity of the materials reflects the pure intentions needed to spread the light of Torah and God’s will.


The section ends with a complete accounting of all the materials used to prepare the Tabernacle.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the Torah goes into such detail once again in describing the construction of the Tabernacle? Would it not have been enough to say “Bezalel built the Tabernacle as God instructed Moses”?

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