Friday, April 2, 2021

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Shmini – Vayikra (Leviticus) 9 - 11

 

"It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel" (Lev. 9:1). "Shmini", translated “eighth”, denotes a new beginning. The previous Parasha ended with A'haron and his sons being charged to "not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are ended. For seven days he shall consecrate you" (8:33). And again in 8:35: “Therefore you shall stay at the door of the tabernacle of meeting day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of YHVH…" Thus, on the eighth day A'haron was to "take… a calf as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before YHVH" (9:2). It is no mistake or coincidence that on this eighth day, symbolic of departure from the 'former things', A'haron, who had played a major role in the golden calf episode, was to offer, first and foremost, a calf. This offering is rendered a cut off mark, in the course of which "all the congregation drew near and stood before YHVH" (9:5 emphasis added). In this way the atonement was fully made (see v. 7, and then all the way to v. 22) and YHVH's relationship with Yisrael could be restored.

 

Following this procedure as specifically prescribed by YHVH resulted in “… the glory [kavod] of YHVH appear[ing] to all the people" right after Moshe and A’haron blessed them (v. 23). According to Nechama Leibowitz, "The revelation of the Divine glory here denotes a reward for their efforts in erecting a Sanctuary for the Shekina".[1] “And fire came out from before YHVH and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. And all the people saw it, and they shouted and fell on their faces" (v.24). These sin offerings, therefore, became a demarcation point, separating sinfulness and profanity from YHVH's Holiness and Glory. The motif of the holy or clean versus the profane or the unclean is threaded throughout this Parasha, as we shall continue to observe.

           

 When the above-described scene reached its peak, with "fire [coming] out from before YHVH… consuming the burnt offering…", as we just observed, we are suddenly transferred without as much as a breather into the next one, with its parallel yet contradictory elements. And so we read in 10:1 about A’haron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, taking censors and putting fire and incense on them, which YHVH had "not commanded them". Theirs was a fire of their own making ("zara" - foreign, strange, of a different kind), which they brought near before YHVH, and "so fire went out from YHVH and devoured them" (v. 2). When the Children of Yisrael and their leaders did as they were commanded (ref 9:10) and drew near to YHVH, His fire consumed the offering and He showed them His Glory. But when Nadav and Avihu brought near that which YHVH did not command, the consequence was that a fire went out from Him, but consumed them (ref. 10:1-2). The similar or identical terms used to describe both episodes make for a sinister symmetry, one that demonstrates that often there may be but a fine line which separates the holy from the profane, the desirable from the detestable. An example of contrasting terms, that serve to highlight certain situations is seen in 9:24, where we read that the people "shouted" - (va)yaronou - joyfully. In contrast, after Nadav and Avihu's sad annihilation, it says that A'haron was utterly silent, or even motionless - (va)yidom – root of d.o.m (ref. 10:3). In Psalm 94:17 the expression "dwelling in silence" ("shachna duma”), denotes death. In Psalm 115:17 it is written: "The dead do not praise YHVH, nor any who go down into silence" (duma, once again).

 

    "By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified" (10:3) is the explanation as to why Nadav and Avihu, because of their lofty positions, had to be totally obedient to YHVH and could not misrepresent him as they had done. In fact, they are called here by YHVH "k'rova'i" - those who are close (or near) to Me - and as such, YHVH was to be rendered holy" ("eka'desh") by, or through, them.  In addition, their actions were supposed to glorify YHVH and this way to also influence others to do likewise, with "eka'ved" being the term used, meaning "heavy", and by implication "highly esteemed".

 

In the second part of chapter 10, Moshe instructs A'haron and his two "remaining sons" (v. 12) to not display any signs of mourning. On the other hand, the rest of Yisrael was given permission to "bewail the burning which YHVH has kindled" (v. 6, italics added). Interestingly, the “burning” here is eerily detached from the particular individuals who had just perished, neither is it in any way connected to human beings in general or even to death. The word used, which sounds so dreadfully detached, is "s'refa", meaning "burning” or “to burn". It appears that emphasis is put here on the calamity inflicted by YHVH, with the priests being expected to identify with His approach (hence His strict orders to them not to display signs of mourning over the death of their relatives), whereas the “whole house of Israelwere given permission to “bewail the burning”. In addition, the priests were to remain inside the tent (cf. 8:33,35, mentioned above) as long as YHVH's anointing oil was on them, and were also prohibited from drinking wine and intoxicating drink in the course of their service in Ohel Mo'ed ("Tent of Meeting", 10:6-9). This latter requirement led some commentators to surmise that YHVH's anger against Nadav and Avihu was kindled because they may have been inebriated while ministering. The purpose for these measures was, so “that you [i.e. the priests] may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which YHVH has spoken to them by the hand of Moses" (v. 11). But in order to be able to do so they had, according to verse 10, to "…distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean". It is this verse which encapsulates or summarizes the motif (as mentioned above) of the entire Parasha.

 

In the following section (10:12-20), Moshe reproves A'haron and his remaining (“nota'rim”) sons, El'azar and Itamar, for not having eaten the remaining (“noteret”) offering, which was rightfully theirs. Instead, they burned the goat for the sin offering ("soraf" v. 16 – identical word to the “fire” mentioned in 10:6 above, which consumed Nadav and Avihu), making a fire of their own and getting rid of that which they were supposed to consume. In trying to be over cautious, they too were not fully obedient to the instructions of YHVH. Notice the application of identical terminology to the priests and to their work of service, be it the fire or the sacrifices (as we noted also above concerning Nadav and Avihu).

 

Here we also hear A'haron expressing himself for the first time after the loss of his two older sons, a loss he refers to tersely as, “such things [that] have befallen me" (v. 19), and wondering if the eating that was required “would have … been good - (ha)yitav - in the eyes of YHVH. And Moses heard and it was good - (va)yitav - in his eyes" (vs. 19-20). The echoing of A'haron's "good" in Moshe’s response seems to indicate that the brothers were once again in one accord.

 

The “remaining offering” that the priests were to eat is called here that which is “due” to the priests, because in Hebrew it is derived from “chok”, the ‘legal’ portion. A similar reference to one’s portion is referenced by the writer of Proverbs. There it says: “Give me neither poverty nor riches -- Feed me with the food allotted to me” (30:8). The “food allotted to me” is “lechem (literally bread), which is legally apportioned or allotted to me”. The same expression is found, of course in the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:11: “Give us this day our “lechem chok” – the bread/food that is legally our portion.

 

Our Parasha clearly brings out the role of the priests in the Israelite society, and their view of their office. S.R. Hirsch elaborates on this issue: "The Hebrew priest is part of the nation, and his position is not an isolated one before God, but one that he occupies only within and through the nation….” Regarding the sacrifices and their function relative to the Almighty and to the worshipper, he says: “The closeness of and approach to God… may only be found through obedience to and acceptance of God's will…  The offering means to place the offerer at God's service, i.e., he wants to fulfill God's wishes through his offering. All offerings are therefore forms of Divine demands which the offerer, through his offering, accepts as the guidelines for his future conduct".[2]

     

In line with the theme of separating the clean from the unclean, the rest of the Parasha (chapter 11) is devoted to the type of animals, fish and fowls permitted for consumption, as well as to those that are forbidden. It is interesting that verses 4-7 constitute a list of four animals, all of which have one of the two traits required, but are devoid of the other. However, the first trait mentioned in all four cases happens to be the one that fulfills the requirement, whereas the specification of the missing one is second. The lesson to be learned here is simple:  even though things may seem 'right' or 'proper' at first sight, they should be investigated further, lest deception sets in (e.g. notice the order of adjectives in the title of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). The above tragic scene, with Nadav and Avihu, A’haron’s sons, who may have had ‘good’ intentions, illustrates this point even more poignantly. YHVH’s holiness and His charge upon His people, to be “set apart as He is”, cannot be measured by human standards of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and requires unquestionable obedience.

 

"You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them, for I am YHVH your Elohim. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy, for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth, for I am YHVH who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your Elohim. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (11:43-45). The Israelites were separated for YHVH’s sake by being brought out of Egypt, the land of bondage, where they belonged to someone else (whose servants they were). Now, however, they belonged to their Maker. They were, therefore, to reflect His nature of holiness.

 

Aligning themselves with their Elohim and His ways is what makes the Israelite Nation a "holy nation". Partaking of that which is abominable in His sight or even coming into contact with it renders those who choose to do so just as abominable - "sheh’ketz". “You shall not make yourselves (lit. “your soul”) abominable – teshak’tzu - with any creeping thing that creeps” (v. 43).  The "abomination (of desolation)" in Daniel 11:31 and 12:11 employs the same word, with a certain modification (“shikutz”).

 

Our Parasha, quite characteristically, ends with a clear reminder of its theme: “to distinguish, [or separate], the unclean from the clean…" (11:47).

 

Notes

1. New Studies in Vayikra Part 1, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner  Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

2. Ibid




Thursday, March 25, 2021

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tzav – Vayikra (Leviticus) 6:8 – 8 (Hebrew Scriptures 6-8)

 

"Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘this is the law of the burnt offering…’” (Lev. 6:9), are YHVH's words to Moshe at the beginning of our Parasha, named after the imperative form for “command - "tzav". "The law (of the burnt offering)" is rendered "torah", making the usage of this word here, “binding instructions”. This is one of several examples of the way this multi-faceted term is utilized. The usage of the term “the torah of the…” offering/sacrifice, instead of when “a person” or “a soul” offers or sacrifices, indicates that here the issue at hand is the work of the priests as it pertains to sacrifices and offerings, and not to the general public as we saw last week.

 

But before attending to the subject matters included in the Parasha, let us pause and look at an all important word that appeared three times in last week’s Parashat Vayikra (in Lev. 4:3, 5, 16, being its first appearing in Scripture), and once in ours (6:22). This word is “mashi’ach”, translated “anointed”. In Hebrew, however, there is a clear distinction between “anointed” in verb form (such as in 6:20), which is literally “to coat with oil”, as well as the adjective form such as in Sh’muel Bet (2nd Samuel) 3:39 where David declares:And I am weak today, though anointed (“mashu’ach”) king”, AND the noun: “Mashia’ch”.  In order to illustrate the difference we can take, for example, the verb “to appoint”. An “appointed person” is an adjective, whereas “appointee” is classified as a noun. Similarly, “mashi’ach” is not someone who has been merely smeared or coated with oil, whether for a singular function or several functions, or even for a permanent position or calling. “Mashi’ach’s” function and nature, his very being, are embodied in his person. And even though this term was used regarding the priests (or the people of Yisrael -  “m’shi’chim” – plural, in Ps. 105:15), these were obviously not The Messiah.  Yet this rendering was employed with the long term view to the coming of the one and only “Mashi’ach” –  the Anointee, if you will.    

 

Back to the Parasha’s topics, with the main one being the listing of the various sacrifices/offerings, with added specifications. The interaction and connection that exists between them is one more feature introduced in this Parasha. Thus, we read about the meal offering - "mincha" (6:17b): “It is most holy, like the sin offering, and like the guilt offering" (italics added). In verse 25, it says about the sin offering ("chatat"): "This is the law [torah] of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before YHVH" (italics added). Likewise, regarding the guilt offering ("a'sha'm"): “In the place where they kill the burnt offering, they shall kill the guilt offering" (7:2, italics added), and again in 7:7: "As a sin offering is, so (is) a guilt offering. One law [torah] is for them. The priest who makes atonement by it, it is his" (italics added).

 

In summation, the meal offerings' holiness is identical to that of both the sin and guilt offerings, all of which are denoted by the term "kodesh kodashim" - holy of holies – i.e. the "holiest of all".  The animals for the sin and guilt offerings are to be killed in the same place as the burnt offering.  Similarly, both the sin and guilt offerings are to have one "torah," according to which they actually belong to the priest who makes the atonement of these two offerings. Thus, status (of holiness), place, and ownership are the three common elements shared in some way by all four of these sacrifices/offerings.

     

These three attributes may be quite easily related to the person of Yeshua, to what He has accomplished, and hence to the benefits that we derive thereby:

 

1. Holiness: The Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14 in reference to Yeshua, italics added). "According as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and without blemish before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4, italics added).

 

2. Place: "I am going to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2, italics added). “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 italics added).

 

3. Ownership by the Priest: "I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are mine, and I am known by the ones that are mine" (John 10:14, italics added).  "I guarded those whom You gave to Me" (John 17:12, italics added). "Of those whom You gave to Me, I lost not one of them" (John 18:9, italics added).  “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of Elohim” (Hebrews 4:14 italics added).

   

Following the instructions for the "guilt offering" is the "torah of zeh’vach sh’lamim”, or the law of the sacrifice peace offerings (7:11-21), which appears to stand on its own. However, its conspicuous placement after the mention of the "guilt offering" may be significant. Last week, in Parashat Vayikra, we noted that the "guilt offering" was accompanied by reparations for damages incurred (5:6-8). Peace and reconciliation cannot take place before one is relieved of one's guilt (through YHVH’s provision, such as making good for damages).  We also noted that "sh'lamim" is of the root sh.l.m, meaning "complete or whole", as well as "peace, reconciliation and payment". But the actual term for "peace offering" - sh'lamim - is rendered in the plural form. This is not surprising, as this type of sacrifice includes three differing aspects or categories: thanksgiving, vow and a freewill offering (7:12-16).

 

 Thanksgiving is "toda", from the root y.d.a (yod, dalet, hey) connected to "hand" or “arm” – “yad” (and confession, as we observed last week). Interestingly, in quite a few cases carrying out a vow is conveyed as "paying the vow/oath" - "shalem neh'de'r" - making use of both these terms (“peace/whole/pay” and “oath”) together (e.g. 2 Sam. 15:7; Ecc. 5:4; Is. 19:21*; Jonah 2:9). The freewill offering is termed "n'dava", which is a word we encountered in Parashat Trumah (in Ex. 25:2). The root n.d.v. speaks of generosity and free giving. “Vow as "neh'de'r (n.d.r) is connected to another root, n.z.r, which is the root for "nazarite", being the adjective for 'he who is bound by a neh'de'r - oath' (see for example Numbers 6:2). The root n.z.r also appears in our Parasha. In 8:9, toward the end of the Parasha, we read about the consecration of A'ha'ron and his sons: "And put the miter on his head, and on the miter, on its front, he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as YHVH commanded Moses." The "holy crown" here is "nezer ha'kodesh", the “crown of holiness”.  Since the nazarite is a person who is "consecrated or dedicated", the root n.z.r appears to be a fusion of that which pertains to a priestly ministry (even as the priests were to wear this crown) and at the same time also referring to a crown, an item associated with royalty. Does the term “nezer”, therefore, allude to the office of king-priest, particularly as it was to be fulfilled in Yeshua? (Ref. Zech. 6:13. See also Hebrew Insights into Parashat Va’yechi, re Genesis 49:26).

 

"As to the flesh of the sacrifice of the thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten in the day of his offering. He shall not leave of it until morning" (7:15). This idea engendered a variety of comments on the part of the sages and rabbis. Maimonides, writing in The Guide for the Perplexed- part 3, proffers the following reason: “‘The offerings must all be perfect and in the best condition, in order that no one should slight the offering or treat it with contempt’. And according to Sefer haHinuch:  ‘There is an allusion [here] to our trust in God; a man should not begrudge himself his food and store it for the morrow, seeing that God commanded to utterly destroy sanctified meat after its time, when no creature - man or beast - is allowed to partake of it’”. This point of view is comparable to the way the Israelites were supposed to regard the manna.2 Notice that the Pesach lamb also had to be consumed without leaving its remains overnight  (Ex. 12:10). In addition, if the offerer was to partake of the peace offering, he had to be ritually clean or else be cut off from his people (ref. 7: 20, 21). Similarly, in 1st Corinthians 11:20-34, we read that those who were breaking bread together were not to do so “unworthily, [such] that one will be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and let him drink of the cup; for he who is eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (v. 27-29).

 

Some more on “zeh'vach sh'lamim" (sacrifice of peace offerings) and its above-mentioned traits… This offering may be seen as an analogy to Yeshua's perfect (shalem) and "one [time] offering… [that] has perfected the ones being sanctified for all time" (Heb. 10:14, italics added), who are thereby able "through Him… [to]  offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Elohim always, that is, the fruit of the lips…” (Heb. 13:15, italics added).

 

"Any person who eats any blood, even that person shall be cut off from his people" (7:27). In last week's Hebrew Insights we looked at Vayikra 17:11, regarding the “blood which makes atonement for the soul". It also says there that, “the life is in the blood". And while Mankind - "adam" - is of the earth ("adama"), he is also of blood, which is "dam".  Man cannot partake of the very substance which is divinely designed to both give him life AND cover his sin and iniquity.

 

In chapter 8, dealing with the consecration of the priesthood, one of the words used for "consecration" is "milu'im" (vs. 22, 28,29,31,33), of the root m.l.a (mem, lamed, alef), meaning "full, to make full or fulfill”, and by implication "consecrate", as is seen in verse 33: "…until the days of your consecrationmi’lu’ey’chem” are fulfilledm’lot. For He shall consecrate – ye’maleh - you seven days" (italics added). The connection of "maleh" (singular form) to consecration seems rather obscure. Yet when looking at the items pertaining to the act of consecration, in verses 25 and 26, all of which were to be placed on the palms of A'ha'ron's hands and his sons’, we get a glimpse of the connection between 'making holy' and 'full.'  This is how it is described in the Gill Commentary: "And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons" [&c.], which accounts for the use of the phrase, filling the hand for consecration". Gill goes on to say - "For all the above things of the ram, bread, cakes and wafers were put into their hands when consecrated, denoting their investiture with their office: all things are in the hands of Messiah, relative to the glory of God and the good of his people. Their persons are in his hands, and all grace and blessings of it for them; a commission to execute his office as a priest is given to him.  And as it was proper that he also should have somewhat to offer (Heb. 8:3), his hands are filled, and he has a sufficiency for that purpose, as Aaron and his sons had".3  And to that we  add: “And out of His fullness we all received, and grace on top of grace. For the Torah was given through Moses, and grace and truth came through Messiah Yeshua" (John 1:16,17, italics added).

 

 The Parasha ends with A’ha’ron and sons doing as they were commanded, that is sitting for a complete seven days and nights at the door of the Tent of Meeting, thus fulfilling the “charge of YHVH” (8:35) for their sanctification - “milu’im” (again, literally, “fullness” or “completion”). This charge takes us back to Sh’mot (Exodus) 40:34-38, and seems to actually be a continuation of the said passage which describes the coming down of the cloud of glory upon the completion of the Mishkan.

 

Lastly, another interesting encounter with the term “fulfill” or “fulfilling” by the “hand” is found in Divrey Hayamim Bet (2nd Chronicles). At the inauguration of the (first) Temple, Shlomo addressed YHVH, and then “turning around”, he blessed Yisrael saying: “Blessed be YHVH the Elohim of Israel, who spoke by his mouth to David my father, and with [or by] his hands fulfilled…”  (6:4, literal translation).  The question whose hands did the “fulfilling” (as in Hebrew verse 4 is ambiguous) is answered by Shlomo in verse 15 of the same chapter: “… You spoke by Your mouth, and with Your hand You fulfilled [it, on] this very day” (literal translation).  And as we saw above (in John 1:16), YHVH does not only do the fulfilling, He is also grants the FULLNESS.

 

   Notes:

.  “Then YHVH will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know YHVH in that day, and will make sacrifice [ze’vach] and offering [mincha]; yes, they will make a vow [neh’der] to YHVH and perform [shi’lemu]”. Although this text from Isaiah 19:21 is referring to Egypt, notice the surprising usage that is made here of the same terminology that appeared in last week’s Parasha and also in the present one.

 

 New Studies in Vayikra Part 1, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

. Gill Commentary, On Line Bible.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Hebrew Insights into Parashat Vayikra - Vayikra (Leviticus) 1-6:7 (Hebrew Scriptures 1-5:26)

This week's Parasha shares its title with the Book's title, which means "And He called - to Moses", continuing with, “and YHVH spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying…" (literal translation).  The Hebrew syntax of this opening verse is somewhat awkward and obscure. Let us try to find out why. The book of Sh’mot ended with (literal translation): “… so Moses finished the work.  Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of YHVH filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of YHVH filled the tabernacle…  the cloud of YHVH was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Ex. 40:33-35, 38 italics added). Given the fact that during this season Moshe found himself unable to enter the Tent of Meeting because of YHVH’s glory, hearing suddenly the sound of his name would have startled and bewildered him. If written from his vantage point, this strangely formulated text “and He called to Moses, and YHVH spoke to him…” could express his uncertainty as to the source of the sound, until he gathered his wits and realized Who was calling him.

"Any man, if he brings an offering of you…" (v.2) starts the long and detailed discourse on the sacrifices. It is quite significant that the laws of the sacrifices begin with the word 'man', “to teach that man is the subject and not the object of the sacrifice”, says Seforno. He continues elaborating thusly: "If he brings an offering of you", that is, from your very selves, with a confession and with due submission, in the spirit of the Psalmist's, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” (51:17), for the foolish who offers sacrifices without proper humility will find no acceptance".[1] "Brings an offering" is condensed into one word - yakriv -  rooted in k.r.v (kof, resh, vav), which we have already encountered in Parashat Tetzaveh (in Ex. 29:1), and means to “bring near", sharing its root with "korban" - "an offering" or a "sacrifice". Clearly, the purpose of the offerings is primarily to draw the worshipper near or close to YHVH, albeit?according-to-His-stipulations.

The first type of offering presented here is the "olah", the burnt offering, a noun that originates with the root a.l.h (ayin, lamed, hey) for the verb “aloh” - meaning to “go up or ascend"; or in a different conjugation, to “raise, elevate, or lift up". Thus, the burnt offering is that which is lifted up to YHVH. The animal is to be “tamim” - "whole, perfect, or faultless". Noach, who "walked with Elohim" was declared "tamim" in his generation (Gen. 6:9); Avraham was told by YHVH, "walk before Me and be tamim" (Gen. 17:1). In Parashat Tetzaveh we examined the Oorim and Toomim (Ex. 28:30), that were to be carried "before YHVH", noting again that the meaning of "Toomim" is "perfect." Hence, that which is to be brought before YHVH (or anyone who walks with or before Him) is to be "perfect" or "whole" (again, according to His specific requirements). Consequently that which was to be "lifted up" (the olah - the burnt offering, along with the peace offering, 3:9, sin offering 4:3, and the guilt or trespass offering, 5:15) had to be in that state or condition, being a reflection of the offerer’s heart attitude, as we shall soon see.

This "korban tamim" had to be brought to the door of the Tent of Meeting, "that he may be accepted - lir'tzono - before YHVH" (1:3 italics added). The question arises here, 'who is being accepted?' Is it the sacrifice, or is it the one making the sacrifice? The answer offered by Prof. Nehama Leibowitz is as follows: "Accepted does not refer to the offering but to the offerer. Acceptance is not an automatic result of the sacrifice; it alludes to the intention that prompts the offering and the spirit in which it is brought. God's will is not swayed by the offering, and He is not thereby "forced" to draw nearer to man. Rather, the offering expresses man's desire to purify himself and come closer to his Creator".[2] As we can see, "bringing up" (offering) the "korban" marks the process of reform or internal change, and is expressed by an outward action. "Acceptance" is also denoted by an external act of the offerer's hand, as it lays on the offering itself (1:4). In Parashat Tetzaveh we noted the purpose for the "laying of the hands" (s.m.ch. of the root to “lean" - Ex. 29:10), as "an identification with the korban which is about to give up its life, denoting ultimate submission”.

After the animal is slaughtered, its blood sprinkled, its skin removed and its body parts arranged on the wood, the priest was to wash its "entrails and legs". In Hebrew the entrail is called "kerev" (1:9). The "kerev" (or "k'rava’yim" in plural) is the "inward parts". We have just observed that the noun and verb for "offering" and "to offer", respectively, are of the root k.r.v, meaning "near or close", and so are the "inward parts", all of which appear to symbolize the "drawing near" to YHVH on the part of the offerer who himself undergoes a genuine inward change. The "legs" here are "k'ra'ayim", which is of the root k.r.a (kaf, resh, ayin), meaning to “kneel or crouch”, and is the word used for the two front bending legs of the animal, thus creating an allusion to the required attitude of submission and humility.

When all is cut up properly, washed and burnt up by the fire it produces "a sweet savor to YHVH" (1: 13). A smell of any kind is always a harbinger. This aroma, therefore, symbolizes the change that has taken place within the person who puts his confidence in YHVH (by relying and leaning on Him), and who is humbly drawing near Him. The smell’s “soothing aroma” is “rey’ach ni’cho’ach”. The latter stems from the root n.u.ch (noon, vav, chet) that we encountered in Parashat Noach (Gen. 6:9 – 11:32), where we learned that it is the root for “rest” and connected to the protagonist’s name – Noach – who himself brought an offering – an “olah” – which in B’resheet (Genesis) 8:21 is said to have sent off a “soothing aroma”. It follows, then, that the aroma is indicative of the fact that an issue has been settled and brought to rest. In Romans 12:1 we are told “to present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to Elohim”. It is only natural, then, that 2ndCorinthians 2:15 adds that, “we are to Elohim a sweet savor of Messiah”, if indeed we have genuinely offered
-ourselves up to Him.

The next offering is the meal offering, "mincha" (2:1), which is thought to be of the root m.n.h (mem, noon, chet), meaning "a gift or a tribute".[3] Ka’yin (Cain) brought a "mincha" to YHVH (Gen. 4:3, 4). This type of offering, as it is presented here, is made up of variable mixtures of grain, oil, frankincense and more, and is always baked or fried without leaven or honey (could the latter prohibition be associated with the honey being derived from an insect?), although there are somewhat different stipulations required when it is offered as a first fruit (ref. 2:14-16). "A soul, if it should offer…" (2:1) is the introductory phrase to the "mincha" regulations, as well as to the sin offering (4:2) and guilt offering (4:27). The term "soul" (“nefesh”) rather than "a man" (although not always reflected in the translations) which was used regarding the burnt offering, may point to the place from where the person's true intents issue forth. This is particularly appropriate in the case of the “mincha”, as it was the only offering that all could afford - including-the-poor.

Following the "mincha" is the "peace offering", "zeva'ch sh'lamim" (3:1). The word used here for offering is no longer "korban" but "zeva'ch", which is "slaughter for sacrifice". Quite appropriately our Patriarch Ya’acov is seen offering a “zeva’ch” when he and Lavan (Laban) were reconciled, making peace with each other (Gen. 31:54). "Shlamim" is of the root sh.l.m (shin, lamed, mem), meaning "whole, complete, or full”, being also the root meaning of "shalom" – “peace” - from which the word for "payment" is derived. Thus, when He cried out "it is finished" (John 19:30), Yeshua the Perfect ‘Ze'vach’ who paid the full and necessary price, so that we may have peace with YHVH, summarized-His-tremendous-undertaking-in-one-word.

Next is the sin offering which denotes a korban offered for sins committed inadvertently - "korban chatat" (4:2ff.). Chatat is of the root ch.t.a (chet, tet, alef), and primarily means to “miss a goal or a mark". But as is often the case in Hebrew, the same root can apply to another word - opposite in meaning - creating one of the language's characteristics of dynamic tension and paradox. Thus the root ch.t.a, used in a different conjugation, also forms a verb which means to “cleanse or purify" (e.g. Lev. 14:49, 52; Num. 19:12, 13). Hence the cure is contained within the very affliction itself. Prof. Nechama Leibowitz points out that in the case of this type of "missing the mark", as presented here, "the offerings imposed on the leaders of the people involve a greater burden than those required of the ordinary people".[4] Let us examine some of the relevant verses: "If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people" (4:3 emphasis added), as compared to 4:13: "And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err" (emphasis added), and compared again to: "When a ruler sins… and is guilty" (4:22 emphases added). The usage of the various terms here, as they relate to the-respective-parties-speak-for-themselves.

In dealing with the sin offering, a singular new term is introduced - confession. The first 13 verses of chapter 5 enumerate the various offenses which, aside from incurring the need for a sacrifice, also require a confession (ref. v. 5) - "vidu'y", of the root y.d.a (yod, dalet, hey). The root "yada" stems from "yad" – “hand” - and its basic meaning therefore is to “cast or throw". Many times it is used in connection with casting stones. However, it is also the root for "thanksgiving" and "praise" (and hence the name Yehuda). Just as the word for "teaching" (from which we get the noun “Torah”) stems from the act of "shooting" (an arrow), so do these terms of “thanking, praising and confessing”, issue forth from a root denoting activity. It is no wonder that the hand is symbolic of all of these expressions, as it is able to stretch forth and reach further than any other part of the human body - thus rendering it an instrument of communication. This root and its derivatives shed light on the society which made use of them, demonstrating its vibrant relationships and animated?communicativeness.

Lastly, the Parasha deals with "guilt offerings", which were also to be offered upon sins being committed inadvertently. But in this case, before making the sacrifice, reparations had to be paid (5:14-6:7). By the same token, Yeshua says: “If you offer your gift on the altar, and remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go. First, be reconciled to your brother [compensate him for what your behavior has caused him to suffer or lose], and then come, offer your gift" (Mat.5:23,24). “Committing a trespass” is the term used for this individual, and in Hebrew “tim’ol ma’al”. In the recent Parasha of Tetzaveh (ref. particularly Ex. 28:1ff), we noted that the clothing of the priests are connected to this verb, “ma’al”, which speaks of “unfaithfulness and treachery”, since “m’eel”, the “outer garment” was worn by priests, and other high ranking individuals [5]. (Another such term, “ba’god” is identical to “ma’al”, while “begged” is, again, an “outer garment”). Do these connections of disloyalty to articles of clothing suggest the proverbial nakedness of the unfaithful individual who at the same time tries to hide his faults under cover, this especially being the case among persons of high rank-(as-4:3ff,-22-26-point-out)? In Hebrew Insights into Parashat Tetzaveh it was suggested that, “the priests clothe themselves with the said garments, symbolically covering their spiritual and moral nakedness, so that they can minister and interpose between an equally sinful people and a kadosh Elohim”.

 

Surprisingly (as it predates Yeshua’ ultimate sacrifice), the trespasses in the last category are all marked by actions that without question are committed knowingly, either by lying, extortion, false swearing, and theft (6:1-5) and yet atonement and forgiveness are also made possible for these intentional sins.

As mentioned, in all of the last three types of offerings, we observe faultless ("tamim") animal sacrifices. There is no mention of laying hands on the animals in the course of performing the "guilt offering", but it exists in the case of both the peace (3:2,8,13) and sin offerings (4:4,15ff). In all cases (except for the meal offering), blood is involved: "for it is the blood which makes
-atonement-for-the-soul"-(Lev.-17:11).

Notice that only clean animals fit for consumption were to be offered up to YHVH. Therefore, whenever offerer and priest would share in eating the sacrifice,
both parties-would-be-partaking-of-YHVH’s-table.

Finally, in chapter 2:13, in the passage dealing with the "meal offering", we read: "And every offering of your food offering you shall season with salt, and you shall not let the salt of the covenant of your Elohim be lacking from your food offering; you shall offer salt with all your offerings". Yeshua makes reference to this perpetual salt covenant in Mark 9:49-50: “For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be salted with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt becomes saltless, by what will you season? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another". Being who we are in Yeshua, we are rendered a salted sacrifice burnt by fire unto the peace (completeness, fullness) which He made "by the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20), sealing the covenant for all eternity.

[1] New Studies in Vayikra Part 1, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

2 Ibid

3 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol. 1, ed. R. Laird Harris, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980.

4 New Studies in Vayikra Part 1, Nechama Leibowitz, trans. Aryeh Newman. Eliner Library, Department for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora. Hemed Books Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

5 The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson. Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Hebrew Insights into Parashot Va’yak'hel and Pkudey

 

The two Parashot* that are before us seal off the book of Sh'mot. Both of them recapitulate the instructions for constructing the Mishkan, its utensils, the priests' garments, and reiterate the calling of the two artisans who were to be in charge of the work. However, because the instructions in our text describe (or report) the actual implementation of the work (in ‘real-time’), they are animated with a sense of activity. The act of contribution, for example, is fraught with enthusiasm and vitality, while everyone appears to be doing his utmost within his (or her) means and capabilities. 

Just before examining these accounts, let us pause to look at yet another injunction regarding the Shabbat. In this instance it appears to be a prelude to the construction of the holy edifice, with an emphasis on keeping the Shabbat set apart by not doing any manner of work (including kindling of fire): "… everyone doing work in it shall be put to death" (ref. Ex. 35:2,3).  In all likelihood, this was to serve as a reminder to the Israelites that even the building of the Mishkan does not supersede the Shabbat rest. 

Va’yak’hel: “And he [Moses] gathered…” is rooted in k.h.l (kof, hey, lamed) - “to gather untofor the purpose of executing the plan. And as we shall see shortly, a plan is definitely being set up here. In 35:10 an invitation is issued for "every wise-hearted one among you, let them come and make all which YHVH has commanded" (emphasis added). Such an open summons had not been announced previously. The People of Yisrael respond with gusto. They are both contributing to and participating in the work itself. The camp is bustling with activity. The skilled and the unskilled, the rich and the poor, the rank and file together with the leaders – all are doing their part. 

Let us now simply follow the text, taking note of the activity, the mass inclusion of the entire community, and the spirit of eager willingness and generosity that pervaded the camp. Additionally, notice the frequent repetition of “heart”. "And all the congregation of the sons of Israel went out from Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart was lifted up, and everyone whose spirit made him willing. They brought the offering of YHVH for the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. And the men came in together with the women, everyone willing of heart. They brought in bracelets, and nose rings, and rings, and ornaments, every gold article, and everyone who waved a wave offering of gold to YHVH. And everyone with whom blue was found, and purple, and crimson, and bleached linen, and goats' hair, and rams' skins dyed red, and dugong skins, they brought. Everyone rising up with an offering of silver and bronze, they brought the offering of YHVH; and everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, they brought. And every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands; and they brought spun yarn, blue, and purple, and crimson and bleached linen. And all the women whose hearts were lifted up in wisdom spun the goats' hair. And the leaders brought the onyx stones and stones for the setting, for the ephod and for the breast pocket, and the spice, and the oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the incense of the perfumes. And every man and woman whose hearts made them willing to bring for all the work which YHVH commanded to be done by the hand of Moses; the sons of Israel brought a willing offering to YHVH…” (35:20-29, emphases added).

As mentioned, this action-packed passage is characterized by the willingness and eager participation of everyone involved. A similar atmosphere is also echoed in chapter 36, where Betzal'el and Ohali'av (Aholiab) and all the ones endowed with Elohim-given wisdom and a desire to do the work, take the contributions from the people: "And they took every offering before Moses which the sons of Israel had brought for the work of the service in the holy place, to do it. And they brought to him still more willing offerings morning by morning. And all the wise men came, those doing every kind of work for the sanctuary, each one from his work they were doing” (36:3, 4 emphases added). Here we see the cooperation between the lay people and the experts, all of whom were providing abundance of such magnitude, to the extent that Moshe was told: “The people are bringing more than enough for the service of the work that YHVH commanded to do" (v. 5). Moshe therefore "commanded, and they caused it to be voiced in the camp, saying, 'Let neither man nor woman make any more offering for the sanctuary’; and the people were held back from bringing" (v. 6).

The wisdom, skill, and expertise with which the work was carried out clearly did not originate with the expert artisans themselves. In 35:31, 32, 34 we read: “And He has filled him [i.e. Betzal’el] with the spirit of Elohim [can also be read, “the Spirit of Elohim filled him”] in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge… to devise designs. And He has put in his heart that he may teach” (emphases added). Betzal’el’s protégé, whom he was teaching, was Ohali’av from the tribe of Dan. Having been endowed from above with the skillfulness and ability to carry out the work, Betzal’el, true to his name, appears to be residing “in the shadow of the Almighty”. As we noted last week, the assistant’s name expresses a similar concept, since Ohali’av means, “my tent is the Father”. Thus, the artist engaged in crafting the Mishkan (Tabernacle), declares, by his very name, Who is the real Abode!

But let us return to the earthly Mishkan… The specifications for the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Showbread, and the Lampstand are listed in 37:1-24. In Hebrew these three articles are “a’ron, shulchan, and menorah” – rendered literally as, “cabinet/closet/chest (e.g. 2nd Kings 12:9,10), table, and lamp” (e.g. 2nd Kings 4:10); a comfortable abode, under any circumstances, especially in the desert! But what about a washbasin for a quick freshening up and maybe a mirror to make sure every hair is in place? The account in 38:8 does not fail to point out the basin, and the mirrors out of which it was constructed. In addition, although not mentioned in the Parasha’s text specifically, there is another term used elsewhere for the Ark of the Covenant. It is a “ki’seh” – a “chair”, which is also the Hebrew word for “throne”. The “Ark of the Covenant” is YHVH’s seat of glory, and was described so in Yisha’yahu (Isaiah) 6:1, in reference to Shlomo’s (Solomon’s) Temple, and also in Y’chezkel (Ezekiel) 43:7, regarding the future Temple.

The making of the bronze basin (or laver) and its base captivates our attention, as they were made from "the mirrors of the [women] who congregated at the opening of the Tent of Meeting" (38:8). Much has been said about the symbolism of the mirrors plating this basin, where the priests were to wash their feet and hands (that is, to consecrate themselves) before approaching the Altar, as an allusion to one of the steps on the progressive path of faith taken by the Believer. However, in the scene at hand we encounter women who have assembled, “tzov'ot”, by the entrance of the Mishkan. The verb and root tz.v.a (tzadi, bet, alef) is also used for “army” and “hosts”, such as in "YHVH Tzva'ot". In Shmuel Alef (1st Samuel) 2:22 we find once again this "army of women" by "the opening of the Tent of Meeing", although in a very different (and negative) connotation.  In T’hilim (Psalms) 68:11-12 we read: "YHVH gave the word; great was the company - tza'va - of those who proclaimed [female gender] it; Kings of armies ("tzva'ot") flee, they flee, and she who remains at home divides the spoil".  Last week we saw the People of Yisrael in their frenzy to make the golden calf, using gold earrings worn by their "wives, sons and daughters" (Ex. 32:2). This week, many of the same people are contributing to the Mishkan, and some of the donations are of the very same materials that were used for the abominable image. The women who had contributed the mirrors, thereby giving up their vanity, are seen here drawn to the house of YHVH forming a company, literally an "army", which “proclaims His Word” and is therefore far mightier than even that of "kings of armies" (ref. again to Ps. 68:12). Hence, according to the Psalm, their reward (or "spoil") is also far greater. Were these women motivated by a desire to repent and atone for the recent terrible sin committed so callously by the People of Yisrael?

When all was said and done, the work was considered a genuine collective endeavor of national scope. Not many years prior to this event, these same people had over them taskmasters who "worked them relentlessly" (Ex. 1:13). Now, the Nation as a whole is engaged in a totally different “work”, the “avoda” of the Mishkan, the avoda – worship and service - of YHVH. Did they ever reflect back on those dark days, considering in awe their currently changed circumstances and status?

Whether they did or not, the transformation that had taken place was quite amazing! In Egypt they were treated as a faceless mass, having suffered loss of individual identity to the point that they were referred to in single person (e.g. Ex. 1:10-13, Parashat Shmot, literal translation). By comparison, in 36:10 – 37(, the work performed in the Mishkan is also described in single person. However, against the backdrop of the preceding descriptions, the picture set before us here is entirely different. If the oft repeated “and he made” are in reference to Betzal’el, we are left in no doubt that he had the full and active support, and participation of the People as a whole. But, if the reference is to more than one person - it would signify unison. Once again, just as we observed in Parashat Trumah (in 26:6-11), the Mishkan itself was to be made of a great variety of components, yet was to be “one” (36:13, 18). This was also the case with the People of Yisrael, who was (and is) to portray the eternal principle of ‘diversity within unity’, so well illustrated by our text.

After the description of the Nation’s willing participation in the preparations of the Mishkan, Parashat Pkudey, the last in the book of Sh’mot, continues to elaborate on the inventory of materials for the sacred edifice and the priests’ official garments. “Pkudey” means “that which was taken into account/visited”, or “these are the accounts”. But it is not only the Mishkan’s inventory that is counted or listed; the term is also applied here to the congregation itself (38:25, “pkudey** ha’eda” – “those of the congregation who were taken into account/visited”). The meaning of the root p.k.d. aside from counting, visiting, and commanding, originates with “invest with purpose or responsibility”.1 Thus, while in Parashat Va’yak’hel emphasis was placed on the congregation as a “kahal”, a crowd, a mass, host, whose parts (namely the individuals who make it up) have no significance in and of themselves, the term “pkudey” stresses the fact that the congregation has no existence apart from the individuals who make it up. Hence, each and every one has been “visited” and “taken into account” in order to make the half shekel payment (ref. 38:25,26, and also as we noted last week).2

In 39:32, we read the following: "And all the work of the tabernacle of the congregation was finished (“vate’chal”), and the sons of Israel did according to all which YHVH commanded Moses; so they did” (emphasis added). In B’resheet (Genesis) 2:1-2 it says: “And the heavens and the earth were finished (va’ya’chulu), and all the host of them. And Elohim finished (va’y’chal) His work which He had made…” (emphases added). Another parallel to the Creation process is found in 39:43: “And Moses saw (“va’yar”) all the work, and behold they had done it…. and Moses blessed them”. This may be compared to the oft-repeated “and Elohim saw…“ (in B’resheet 1) and also to B’resheet 1:28, where in reference to the creation of man and woman it says, “and He blessed them” (emphasis added). In 40:33 it says, “And he raised up the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the screen of the court gate. So Moses finished (va’yechal) the work (m’lacha)” (emphasis added). Compare this to B’resheet (Genesis) 2:2: “And on the seventh day Elohim ended (va’yechal) His work (m’lacha) which He had done…”

The term “tabernacle of the testimony” meets us in 38:21 and is echoed in 40:3 by the “ark of the testimony”, whereas last week in Parashat Ki Tissa we encountered the “tablets of the testimony” (Ex. 34:29). “Testimony” is “edut” - “a witness” or “evidence”. The reason, therefore, for the existence of the Mishkan, the ark and that which it contained (that is the “tablets”) appears to be in order to validate YHVH’s covenant with His people. “Ed”, witness, and “edut”, testimony, witness or evidence, originate with the root ayin, vav, dalet (a.o/u.d), whose primal meaning is to “endure, continue, repeat”, and by implication “to establish facts.”3 “Od” is therefore “more and continually” and “ad” is “perpetuity”, while “edot” are YHVH’s “decrees”. The witnesses (whether human, inanimate objects, decrees, or even Time itself) are incorporated into the perpetual and firm arrangement to which they are testifying, in this case being YHVH’s everlasting Covenant.

Earlier, in Parashat Trumah, we examined the association of the shape of the Menorah (Ex. 25:31-39) to the flora of the Land of Yisrael. A similar relationship is thought to exist here too. ”And he gave the table into the tabernacle of the congregation, on the side of the tabernacle, northward outside the veil; And he put the lampstand in the tabernacle of the congregation, opposite the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward…” (40:22, 24, emphases added). The placing of these articles in the directions specified above was not coincidental.  

The fifty day period between Pesach and Shavu'ot is when the flowers of the olive open and the kernels of wheat and barley fill with starch. Thus, the productive fate of these crops is determined during that season which [in the land of Israel] is characterized by multiple changes and climatic contrasts. Scorching southern winds, which bring with them extreme dryness and heat, alternate with cold winds from the north and west which generate tempestuous storms containing thunder, lightning and rain. The northern wind is most beneficial to the wheat, if it blows during the wheat's early stages of ripening; yet the same wind can wreak havoc on the olive crop if the buds have already opened into flowers. Olive blossoms need successive days of dry heat. Both of these crops then require just the proper balance of the heat waves and cold northern winds, making the fifty day season (the ‘Omer counting’) a very important and yet precarious season. The Talmudic sages explained that this phenomenon is symbolized by placing "the table in the north and the Menorah in the south." The showbread, which represents the wheat and barley, faced the direction of the north wind. The Menorah, lit with olive oil, faced the direction of the southern wind. Placed together in the Holy Place, they symbolize the plea to the One Creator that each wind would come at the right time.4 

Obviously it is only YHVH Who is able to hold all the elements of His Creation in the perfect balance required. Thus, He is seen using (more than once) the Land of Yisrael and the diversity of its natural conditions as an instrument for building and maintaining the relationship with His People, as well as for instructing and chastising them. And, as we have already observed, this concept is implemented well before the Israelites even enter the Land of Promise

The two Parashot, Va’yakhel and Pkudey complement one another. Whereas, Va’ya’kehl informs us about the making of the vessels of the Mishkan, Parashat Pkudey “pours” content and meaning into them: The tablets are placed in the Ark of the Covenant, the bread is laid on the Table of Showbread, the wicks are lit in the Menorah, and the incense is burned. We are also informed, of course, in detail about the making of the vestments of those who were to officiate in YHVH’s abode, i.e. the priests. Interestingly, the materials used for these garments -“gold, blue, purple, and scarlet and the fine woven linen” - were also used in the making of the Mishkan itself. 

Among the various parts of the high priest’s regalia was “the plate of the holy crown of pure gold” and on it “an inscription like the engraving of a signet: HOLINESS TO YHVH” (39:30).  In 39:6 we read, similarly, about the two onyx stones that were placed on the high priest’s shoulders, with the names of the tribes etched on them.  In this way the high priest would approach YHVH on behalf of His people.  “An engraving (or “etching”) of a signet” is rendered “pituchey chotam”- literally “the engravings of a seal”.  Digging a little deeper, we discover that whereas “chotam” is a seal, “pituchey” (engravings of…) originates from the root p.t.ch (peh, tav, chet) meaning “to open” or “opening”.  So, how is it that a “seal” and an “opening” signify the onyx stones as well as the engraving upon the high priest’s crown?  Do these two seemingly opposing terms allude to something beyond that which meets the eye? In Revelation Chapter 5 Yeshua is seen worthy of opening a special “book” and breaking its seals.  What was it that enabled Yeshua to carry out this most important task, which no one else could execute? Having given up His life, He redeemed for His Father those who are to be kings and priests who will reign on earth. Our High Priest stood before the Father with the proverbial onyx stones on His shoulders and the golden band with “Holiness unto YHVH” on His forehead. Qualified to open the sealed book of redemption, He was displaying His ultimate task of presenting to His Father those whom He had purchased by His blood, opening the way by enabling them to be “the sealed servants of Elohim” (Revelation  7:3 italics added). 

* Parashot – plural for “Parasha” – “Parashat…” Parasha of… (e.g. Va’yak’hel) 

** The letter “pey” may also be pronounced “fey” depending on its placement in a given word. 

1 Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebew, based on the commentaties of Samsom Raphael Hirsch, Matityahu Clark, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, - New York, 1999. 

2 http://www.kipa.co.il/pash/ 

3 Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew

4 Nature in Our Biblical Heritage, Nogah Hareuveni, trans. Helen Frenkley, Neot Kdumim Ltd. Lod, Israel, 1996.