Temple Rites and the Blasphemer

Apr 26, 2015

This brief section tells of two additional rituals which took place in both the Tabernacle and the Temple. The first is the lighting of the Menorah, and the second is the arrangement of the showbread.

The Menorah must be lit continually, burning pure olive oil. It is Aaron’s responsibility to arrange the lights each day. Likewise, each week the showbread must be baked and arranged on the Table. At the end of the week, when the breads are replaced, the previous week’s showbread is given to Aaron and his sons to eat.

The Israel Bible explains the symbolism of both the light and the showbread. The intangible light represents the spiritual life of the people, while the bread stands for their physical needs. When the Children of Israel rest on the Sabbath day, the day when the showbread is changed, they focus on their spiritual lives. In turn, God ensures that their physical needs are cared for, as well.

The Torah then goes on to tell the story of the blasphemer. An individual, whose mother, Shlomit the daughter of Divri, was Israelite and whose father was Egyptian, got into an altercation with another man, and during the fight, blasphemed the name of God. Those around him at the time did not know what course of action to take, so they brought the blasphemer before Moses.

God instructs Moses to take the guilty party outside of the camp. All those who witnessed his transgression are to place their hands upon his head, and then he is to be stoned. God tells Moses that this is to be the law in all similar cases in the future. He then reiterates that in other cases, mortal injury is met with execution, and all other injuries, physical or monetary, require the guilty party to pay restitution. The portion ends with Moses and the Israelites carrying out God’s sentence.

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the personal details of the blasphemer were significant enough to be mentioned in the Torah? What can we learn from them?

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