Sunday, February 19, 2012

How to properly understand Exodus 25:8

This time of year, according to the Jewish tradition, is the time to read about the Tabernacle (parashat Terumah). This is why I would like to dedicate this post to the review of the key verse of the Chapter 25 of the Book of Exodus and the subject of the importance of the Tabernacle. And even though I have outlined the most important concepts on this blog page, I believe a repetition is in order:

So, let's take a look at Exodus 25:8:

Masoretic Text
ועשו
לי
מקדש
ושכנתי
בתוכם
Transliteration
wĕʻá֥ş̂ẇ
li֖y
miqĕḋá֑ş̌
wĕş̌ákanĕţ̇i֖y
ḃĕţwòkáֽm
Strong's Concordance
6213
--
4720
7931
8432
Literal Translation
and_they-make
for_me
sanctuary
and_i-tabernacle
in_midst-of_them

As you can see from this nice table above, God commands the Children of Israel to make Him a Sanctuary so that He could tabernacle in their midst. 

At this point, many people make an incorrect assumption that God wants to dwell in the midst of the Children of Israel and thus commanding them to make Him a Sanctuary. This is incorrect! 

What this verse really states is that God gives Children of Israel a choice to make Him a Sanctuary so He could dwell in their midst. And precisely because of this the Tabernacle is so important!

Only by willingly and wholeheartedly (without any reservation or back-thought) creating a proper Sanctuary to God, the Children of Israel would be worthy of having His Presence to dwell in their midst. 

In other words this verse describes a possibility that needs to be earned, instead of an unearned privilege.  

And this is why it is very important to understand the text properly so as not to draw any mistaken conclusions. This is why the description of The Tabernacle takes so much space in the original text and this is why it is so important to study and try to understand it.

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