Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Main Message of the Torah

In this post I will be talking about the main purpose and the main message of the Pentateuch (Torah). I think many people do not understand what it is, so I figured I will point it out. 

Let's take a look at Deuteronomy 30:19
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 
19 ‏הַעִידֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֮ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ֒ הַחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּֽחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃
As you can see from the above verse, the main purpose and the message of the Pentateuch is a PRESERVATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS LIFE AT ALL COSTS.

Yes, even though some Laws described in the Pentateuch can be seen outdated and barbaric from the "modern" point of view, if you will look very close at these Laws and examine them in an open-minded and diligent fashion, you will find them truthful and just.

I need to clarify the word "RIGHTEOUS" in my definition. As you should understand, not all life should be preserved. In nature its predatory hierarchical "circle of life". But in the human world its the social "circle of life". 

For example, we as society execute blatant murderers. I'm sure all of the readers of my blog would agree that the death penalty, in some cases, is the only justifiable and appropriate punishment for the people who do "cross the line". Unfortunately, nowadays, this "line" got really shifted towards more seemingly "compassionate" and liberal side, which in turns produces such horrible tragedies as mass shootings, epidemics of the untreatable illnesses, immoral social and sexual behavior, e.t.c.

This is why it is important to understand that only by following seemingly harsh (yet - just) Laws of the Pentateuch, we can assure that the righteous life can be preserved. This, in turn, assures and guarantees a healthy society that is free from aforementioned afflictions. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Artefacts of The Tabernacle (New Video)

Here is a HD full-color rendering of all six artifacts of the Tabernacle according to Masoretic Text.  Please note that in Samaritan Pentateuch the order of the artifacts is different.

Here is the up-close version:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Adam, Aaron, and the Garden Sanctuary

I am published once again. My artwork is featured in a very interesting article called "Adam, Aaron, and the Garden Sanctuary" by Rev. Robert Hinckley, published in LOGIA: A Journal of Lutheran Theology, Reformation 2013, Volume XXII, Number 4.

Comments and suggestions are much appreciated.

Here is an abstract:
"A number of significant parallels exist between the garden of Eden and the tabernacle. The contour, substance, and meaning of the garden inform the tabernacle and its service. The reverse also is true; understanding the tabernacle helps one conceptualize the garden. The biblical texts provide a discourse between the two “sanctuaries.” Former studies of the garden as a prototype sanctuary have been topical in approach and more focused on the Temple in Jerusalem. This article will follow the narrative of Genesis 2-3, purposely examining how the garden and Adam’s vocation point to the tabernacle and its service, especially noting the work of Aaron in the holy places.

Download a full article here.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Altar of Incense with Aaron and his Sons

Here is a detailed rendering of the Altar of Incense surrounded by Aaron and his sons. Enjoy!

Download the full-size image here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Table of Shewbread with Aaron and his Sons

Here is an extremely detailed rendering of the Table of Shewbread with Aaron and his Sons. Enjoy!

Download full-size image here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ark of The Covenant with Aaron and his Sons

And here is an extremely detailed rendering of the Ark of The Covenant surrounded by Aaron and his sons. The rendering incorporates all the latest changes that I have discussed in my previous posts. Enjoy!

Download full-size image here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Altar of Burnt Offering with Aaron and his Sons

Here is an extremely detailed rendering of the Altar of Burnt offering, that is surrounded by Aaron and his sons. Enjoy!

Download full-size image here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I need your help!

I'm trying to finish my Tabernacle Explorer 3D software. Unfortunately, I can't afford free development anymore. Thus, I've created this KickStarter project that should help me get funds I need. I dont know if I can collect enough funds, but it never hurts to try.

Here is the link to the project if you would like to participate. As far as I understand, you pay no money unless the entire sum is collected, so feel free to pledge as much as you can.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Did Jacob Do?

I love convoluted passages in the Torah (Pentateuch), because in my humble opinion they are the most interesting ones. Today, I would like to direct your attention to verses of Genesis 30. 

Most of you know these verses very well, so there is no need for me to re-post them or recount them. However, let's take a look at the verses of Genesis 30:37-39 in more details:

37 ‏וַיִּֽקַּֽח־ל֣וֹ יַעֲקֹ֗ב מַקַּ֥ל לִבְנֶ֛ה לַ֖ח וְל֣וּז וְעֶרְמ֑וֹן וַיְפַצֵּ֤ל בָּהֵן֙ פְּצָל֣וֹת לְבָנ֔וֹת מַחְשֹׂף֙ הַלָּבָ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־הַמַּקְלֽוֹת׃
‎38 ‏וַיַּצֵּ֗ג אֶת־הַמַּקְלוֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר פִּצֵּ֔ל בָּרֳהָטִ֖ים בְּשִֽׁקֲת֣וֹת הַמָּ֑יִם אֲשֶׁר֩ תָּבֹ֨אןָ הַצֹּ֤אן לִשְׁתּוֹת֙ לְנֹ֣כַח הַצֹּ֔אן וַיֵּחַ֖מְנָה בְּבֹאָ֥ן לִשְׁתּֽוֹת׃
‎39 ‏וַיֶּחֱמ֥וּ הַצֹּ֖אן אֶל־הַמַּקְל֑וֹת וַתֵּלַ֣דְןָ הַצֹּ֔אן עֲקֻדִּ֥ים נְקֻדִּ֖ים וּטְלֻאִֽים 
37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

At this time, I'm not going to concentrate on the details of how it was done, but rather on - is it possible at all?

Here is a rather old article (1965) called "JACOB'S CATTLE AND MODERN GENETICS: A Scientific Midrash" by William Etkin. Full article located here.

In this interesting, yet highly biased and now also outdated article, author describes opinions on the matter, while giving a scientific perspective as well. Here is a little excerpt:
"The inheritance of maternal impressions as recounted in this story may be considered part of the general theory of the inheritance of acquired characters. This theory, often designated as Lamarkianism after the eighteenth century French zoologist who was its most prominent exponent, holds that changes induced in the parents' body by their experiences can be transmitted to some degree to their offspring. Thus, increased muscle power resulting from exercise improves the strength of offspring; ingrained habits become instincts after some generations.
Modern biology directly contradicts this theory. According to our present concepts of inheritance, the hereditary determinants or genes transmitted from parent to offspring are conveyed from generation to generation within the nuclei of the sperm or egg cells. External factors that modify the body cells cannot produce parallel and specific changes in the germ cells, as would be the case if acquired characteristics were transmitted. This modern viewpoint is supported not only by our knowledge of the method of genetic transmission but also by direct experimental tests of the Lamarkian hypothesis. All such tests have proved negative when analyzed critically. This is the prevailing opinion among Western scientists; some Communist geneticists differ. "
Now, the wikipedia article on inheritance of acquired characteristics gives the following information:
"Recently, researchers have reexamined this concept in light of discoveries in epigenetics and transgenerational epigenetics. The study of Heijmans et al (2008) studied people born during the Dutch Hunger Winter in 1944–1945. Adults who were conceived during the famine had distinct epigenetic marks that their siblings born before or after the famine did not. These marks reduced the production of insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2), affected the children's growth While transgenerational epigenetic inheritance could have occurred, the findings could also be explained by in utero modifications due to famine, rather than germline inheritance. Further, environmental stress in experimental mice that caused aggressive behavior in males caused the same behavior in their offspring, who had DNA methylation patterns changes for particular genes. 
The mechanism of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance appears to be involve long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), which are transcripts generally expressed from regions that are thought not to code for proteins. Some lncRNAs bind to transcripts from protein coding genes. Associated chromatin-remodeling proteins than modify local chromatin and DNA through mechanisms such as DNA methylation, suppressing gene expression.Kevin Morris's 2012 article in the Scientist discusses heritability of epigenetic changes in depth."

And one of the most modern cited articles (2012) from the wikipedia (located here) says this:
"Although biologists have generally considered Lamarck’s ideas to contain as much truth as Kipling’s fables, the burgeoning field of epigenetics has made some of us reconsider our ridicule. While no biologist believes that organisms can willfully change their physiology in response to their environment and pass those changes on to their offspring, some evidence suggests that the environment can make lasting changes to the genome via epigenetic mechanisms—changes that may be passed on to future generations."
So, as you can see, the Biblical story not only in line with modern science but also is yet to be understood by it. Therefore, at this time I would stick with the traditional interpretation which implies that it is possible sometimes to influence genetic changes through external means.

P.S. This all being said, please keep in mind that I have only general knowledge of modern genetics and animal husbandry, so my opinion is based solely on what I read.


Etkin, William. "JACOB'S CATTLE AND MODERN GENETICS: A Scientific Midrash." Tradition 7.3 (1965): 5-14.

Morris, Kevin V. "Lamarck and the Missing Lnc."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ye shall kindle no fire...


One of the most interesting and greatly misunderstood verses is the verse of Exodus 35:3. Let's take a look:

‎3 ‏לֹא־תְבַעֲר֣וּ אֵ֔שׁ בְּכֹ֖ל מֹשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם בְּי֖וֹם הַשַּׁבָּֽת׃ פ
3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.

As you can see, most translation translate the expression "תבערו" (tevaaru) as "you shall kindle". However, this is a grossly incorrect translation due to the traditionalistic approaches when translating the text. In reality, what the text really says is this:

3 Do not eradicate fire in any of your dwellings on the day of rest.

As you can see, this particular verse uses double negative to relay the meaning of the text. Most likely, such translation has come to us from the Jewish tradition where it is forbidden to the Jews (orthodox Jews) to light the fire on the Shabbat. Talmudic roots, basically. However, comparative analysis of the text, particularly the verses Exodus 3:2-3, would instantly reveal what I have already stated above. Thus, the common translations of this verse are GROSSLY incorrect.

Correct translation of the word "תבערו" (tevaaru) can be found in Deuteronomy 13:5, 17:7, 17:12, 19:13, 19:19, 21:9, 21:21, 22:21, 22:22, 22:24.

The proposed translation can be justified by other verses of the Pentateuch, particularly Leviticus 24:2 and Leviticus 6:13. From these verses you can most certainly say that  both the Menorah and the Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle were to be lit constantly. This by itself already supports my translation and invalidates the traditional ones.

Also, the Day of Rest (Shabbat) is both the Holy Day and the holiday (Genesis 2:3). Even if you celebrate it on Sunday or Friday - does not matter. What matters is that the Day of Rest is the Day of the Lord. This day is the Day of Light, Day of Warmth, Day of Plenty (Exodus 25:30). God most certainly would not intend for us to go through any inconveniences being without a fire or light or food. Thus, the traditional translation is incorrect for this reason also.

So as you can see, it can be extremely difficult to translate the text as such occurrences are not uncommon in the Pentateuch and each such verse requires a very diligent investigation and careful review.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Applied Pentateuch (TriboElectric Series)

I would like to give you an example on how you can actually verify some of the Laws outlined in the Pentateuch. In fact, the topic I'm going to talk today is most likely familiar to everyone who reads my blog. I'm talking about TriboElectric effect, or namely when two materials with different electrostatic potential are rubbed (or put together) against one another, which of'course produces static electricity.

Verses of Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11 describe this effect. Let's take a look:
‎11 ‏לֹ֤א תִלְבַּשׁ֙ שַֽׁעַטְנֵ֔ז צֶ֥מֶר וּפִשְׁתִּ֖ים יַחְדָּֽו׃ ס
11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.
The word שעטנז "shatnets" here means a combination of the materials with the different electrostatic potential, which of'course results in a very unpleasant spark and jolt. I'm more that sure that all who read this have been shocked before. So if you ever wondered why - this is your answer. And so you can see that these Laws are still in effect very much ;)

Of'course, text does not speak about wool and linen. The words "צמר" (tsemer) and "פשתים" (fishtim) refer most likely to "positive" and "negative" charge potential. So, in my opinion, it is improper to translate it as "wool" and "linen". Text is most certainly not that primitive. In fact, I can't even find the right words here. I think English may not have an equivalent of these words. But I would need to look into this further.

Check out this table. You will find it informative. It will also show you that many modern (synthetic) materials also belong in either of these categories, so the more science advances, the harder it will be to figure out which one is which, and what can be mixed together and what can't be.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The "Urim" And The "Thummim"

Last, but very important detail of the High Priest Garments that I have not covered so far is the so-called the "Urim" and the "Thummim". This is one of the most complex and enigmatic verses of the description, and it is directly related to the terminology used to describe the Corner Boards of the Tent of the Tabernacle.

Let's take a look (Exodus 28:30):

‎30 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֞ אֶל־חֹ֣שֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּ֗ט אֶת־הָאוּרִים֙ וְאֶת־הַתֻּמִּ֔ים וְהָיוּ֙ עַל־לֵ֣ב אַהֲרֹ֔ן בְּבֹא֖וֹ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה וְנָשָׂ֣א אַ֠הֲרֹן אֶת־מִשְׁפַּ֨ט בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֧ל עַל־לִבּ֛וֹ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה תָּמִֽיד׃ ס 
30 And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.
You can always start with the Wikipedia article here. And see my NIP here. Then, you might want to check out the rest of the verses that speak about Urim and Thummim, namely Leviticus 8:8, Numbers 27:21, Deuteronomy 33:8.

Now, the first clue we can get from the verse of Exodus 26:24 (description of the corner boards). There is "תמים"(Thumim) instead of "התמים" (the Thumim). The word "Thumim" thus can be translated as perfect, flawless, twinned, coupled, perfect, complete, e.t.c. Still unclear, but at least we defined one word out of two.

The "Urim" however, is a more difficult matter, because it can mean both "the lights" and also figuratively "exaltion". I think the clue may lie in the verse of Ezra 2:63 or Nehemiah 7:65, where it implies that "Urim" and "Thummim" were, perhaps, a figurative attributes of the High Priest, namely "exaltation" and "perfection".

So, at this time, I would like to propose the following translation of the above verse of Exodus 28:30
"And you give to the breastplate of judgment the Exaltion and the Perfection; and they are upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually."
What do you think? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Fathomless Ark

Here is an interesting question: How did Noah ("rest") managed to save living creatures of the earth in a seemingly tiny Ark?

The answer to this question lies, in my opinion, in the verses of the text.

Let's take a look at Genesis 6:19-20:

‎19 ‏וּמִכָּל־הָ֠חַי מִֽכָּל־בָּשָׂ֞ר שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל תָּבִ֥יא אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֣ת אִתָּ֑ךְ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה יִֽהְיֽוּ׃

‎20 ‏מֵהָע֣וֹף לְמִינֵ֗הוּ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ מִכֹּ֛ל רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל יָבֹ֥אוּ אֵלֶ֖יךָ לְהַֽחֲיֽוֹת׃
 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
 20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
As you can see, even from this verse we can extract useful information. Take a look at the words "בשר" (basar) and "רמש" (remes). This means that only "flesh" was preserved, all "non-flesh" creatures (i.e. spiders, cockroaches, e.t.c) were not considered "flesh" and "moving animal" and thus were not included in the Ark. Only birds and animals (both clean and unclean) were included in the Ark. Sea animals were not included for obvious reasons. So how many were there?

The list of unclean birds and animals can be found in Leviticus 11. A rough count gives the following numbers:

1) Clean Animals - Goats, Cows, Sheep (7 each) = 7x3=21
2) Unclean Animals - Camel, Coney, Hare and Swine (2 each) = 4x2=8
3) Clean Birds - Chicken, Quails (7 each) = 2x7=14
4) Unclean Birds - Eagle, Ossifrage, Ospray, Vulture, Kite, Raven, Owl,  Night-hawk, Cuckoo, and the Hawk,  Little Owl, Cormorant, Great Owl, Swan, Pelican, Gier Eagle, Stork, Heron, Lapwing, and the Bat. (2 each) = 20x2=40
5) Clean Swarmers (?) - Locust, Bald Locust, Beetle and the Grasshopper (7 each) = 4x7=28
6) Unclean Swarmers - Weasel, Mouse,Tortoise, Ferret, Chameleon, Lizard, Snail and Mole (2 each) = 8x2=16

So Total of 127 living creatures were in the Ark, this is not conting Noah and his family. And since the Ark was 300x50x30 cubits (Genesis 6:15), in my opinion it was plenty to house all of these creatures and food supplies without any discomfort.

In other words, it is my opinion that the text only specifies Order or Class of the living creatures, not Family or Genus. This is why it was possible to repopulate the earth with the same diversity of the animals as there were before. I guess these particular animals carry enough genetic information to allow mutation into other animals over time. Same goes for birds - you get the idea!

What do you think?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Moses's Divorce?

This issue is something that I came across when I was translating my Samaritan Pentateuch. Let's take a look see complete variants here):

Exodus 18:2
‎2 ‏וַיִּקַּ֗ח יִתְרוֹ֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־צִפֹּרָ֖ה אֵ֣שֶׁת מֹשֶׁ֑ה אַחַ֖ר שִׁלּוּחֶֽיהָ׃ 
2 Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back,

Here, a rare word (שלוחיה / shilucheyha) is used, which may mean "send her back", yet at the same time it can also mean "her divorces". Either way, this word is only used in a sense of divorce between husband and wife. Good examples can be found in Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8.

We know from Exodus 2:21 that Moses had a wife in Midian that bore him two sons. We also know that she went to Egypt with him (Exodus 4:20). We also know that she and her sons did not leave Egypt with the rest of the Hebrew during the Exodus (Exodus 18:5).

This means, that Moses had to divorce his wife either to protect her and her sons and also because she was Midian (Numbers 25:17-18).

Thus, we now know that Moses was not officially married roughly from the time of Exodus from Egypt until the events of Numbers 12:1, from which we learn that he finally remarried some time during the desert journey. And thus, Moses only had 1 wife (at a time), total of two.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Did Moses Do?

This is just an example of many questions that can be answered by comparative analysis of the text of the Pentateuch.

Let's take a look at verses of Exodus 2:11-14 (also see my NIP here for SP and DSS variants, very interesting ones too):

11 ‏וַיְהִ֣י׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י מַכֶּ֥ה אִישׁ־עִבְרִ֖י מֵאֶחָֽיו׃ 
‎12 ‏וַיִּ֤פֶן כֹּה֙ וָכֹ֔ה וַיַּ֖רְא כִּ֣י אֵ֣ין אִ֑ישׁ וַיַּךְ֙ אֶת־הַמִּצְרִ֔י וַֽיִּטְמְנֵ֖הוּ בַּחֽוֹל׃ 
‎13 ‏וַיֵּצֵא֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשֵּׁנִ֔י וְהִנֵּ֛ה שְׁנֵֽי־אֲנָשִׁ֥ים עִבְרִ֖ים נִצִּ֑ים וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לָֽרָשָׁ֔ע לָ֥מָּה תַכֶּ֖ה רֵעֶֽךָ׃ 
‎14 ‏וַ֠יֹּאמֶר מִ֣י שָֽׂמְךָ֞ לְאִ֨ישׁ שַׂ֤ר וְשֹׁפֵט֙ עָלֵ֔ינוּ הַלְהָרְגֵ֙נִי֙ אַתָּ֣ה אֹמֵ֔ר כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר הָרַ֖גְתָּ אֶת־הַמִּצְרִ֑י וַיִּירָ֤א מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר אָכֵ֖ן נוֹדַ֥ע הַדָּבָֽר׃ 
11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.
12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.
13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?
14 And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.

So was Moses a murderer? As far as I can tell - only by proxy at best. As you can see KJV translation above in verse 12 says "slew" but in reality the Hebrew text says "smite". Thus, it seems that Moses most likely "knocked out" the Egyptian and "hid or "burried him in the sand" (for God to decide his fate). As we well know from the following verses, Egyptian died, but not because of Moses but because of the sand. He was still alive before he was "hid" or "buried".

What do you think?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Samaritan Tabernacle Drawings Article

Here is a very similar article that I've published in this post. It is called "Samaritan Tabernacle Drawings" by Reinhard Pummer. It has finally become available online here or you can read a backup copy here.

Here is an abstract: 

"Drawings of the Israelite tent sanctuary, the Tabernacle, and its implements are the main expression of representional art among the Samaritans. They are based on the descriptions in Exodus and are expressions of central tenets of the Samaritan faith—belief in the special status of Moses, in the Tabernacle as the only legitimate sanctuary in the history of Israel, and in the end times for which the restoration of the Tabernacle is expected. The paper is an attempt to probe the question of the age of the Samaritan tradition of depicting the Tabernacle in different media.

Archaeological excavations have revealed synagogue mosaics and clay lamps from the Byzantine period that represent various elements of this artistic tradition. However, the main specimens date from the early sixteenth to the early twentieth century. It is these representations, executed on metal, cloth, parchment and paper, which are the focus of this article. The discussion is based on an examination of all extant and publicly accessible samples (see the Inventory at the end of this article).
A great chronological and artistic gap separates the representations on the mosaics and oil lamps of the Byzantine period from the drawings of modern times. No continuous line exists between the two groups. The parchment in Moscow that allegedly dates from 32 A.H., i.e., 652/653 C.E., must be assigned to a much later period.
There are obvious similarities of the Samaritan drawings with Jewish representations of the Tabernacle/Temple, yet it is impossible to identify a time or place where cross-fertilization may have taken place.
At the present state of our knowledge, therefore, neither the mosaics from the Byzantine period nor the similarities with Jewish representations enable us to determine the time at which the Samaritan tradition of making Tabernacle drawings may have originated. It is probable, though, that the tradition had its beginnings well before the oldest extant samples from the early sixteenth century."

Have a happy Passover! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You shall not cook a kid in the milk of its mother

I originally wanted to create a separate blog where I would express my thoughts about subjects that are not directly related to the Tabernacle. However, after a lot of thinking I have realized that it would be beneficial to post it here, as the Tabernacle covers almost all subjects in the Pentateuch, and is, in a way, a microcosm of the creation. Therefore, I have created a separate label called "My Torah Thoughts" where you can read my thoughts on these subjects. Posts will not follow any particular order, as this way I can write with an inspiration instead of  mundanely going from verse to verse.

In my first post I would like to discuss the issue of "milk and meat" as it is presented in verses of Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, Deuteronomy 14:21. I'm sure you have heard about this issue. If not you can read this wikipedia article here

First and foremost, I would like to say that it most certainly NOT forbidden to eat meat and milk together, as in Genesis 18:7-8. Abraham was a prophet so he most certainly was aware of the laws of clean foods (kashrut) and three mortals whom he had feed also were messengers of God so they were also aware of what can be eaten and what could not be eaten, and thus if they ate milk and meat together we can come to the conclusion that eating meat and milk is not forbidden. 

However, verses dealing with the issue of meat and milk are still obscure, so I would like to direct your attention to the article called “A Young Goat in Its Mother’s Milk”? Understanding an Ancient Prohibition by  Stefan Schorch, published in Vetus Testamentum Journal, Volume 60, Issue 1, pages 116 – 130. You can read the original here (or here) (or backup copy - here). Here is what he writes:

"The passage אמו בחלב גדי תבשל לא should be understood as “you shall not cook (for eating purposes) a sucking kid”. This is not only the meaning of the passage in the Covenant Code (Exod 23:19) and in the so-called “Privilegrecht” (Exod 34:26), but it was the way as well in which this passage was understood by the authors of Deuteronomy (Deut 14:21). Amos 6:4 seems to contain an early reference to the prohibition of the sucking kid."
I do not agree completely with this statement or this article, because it is not very coherent and the logic is not very sound. However, this article is the best that I've seen so far that discusses the issue more or less without a bias, as well as the comprehensiveness of this article.

After taking this article in the consideration, and after checking my Normalized Interlinear Pentateuch, I can safely say that Exodus 23:19 (also see it my NIP), Exodus 34:26 (also see it my NIP), Deuteronomy 14:21  (also see it my NIP) are pretty much identical between MT and SP and there are no surviving DSS fragments for any of these verses. Except of'course Exodus 23:19, where in SP it adds "כי עשה זאת כזבח שכח ועברה היא לאלהי יעקב" which roughly translates "that one doing this as sacrifice forgets and enrages God of Jacob".

So, my opinion on the matter is that the prohibition must refer to what is described in Exodus 22:29-30. In other words, it is not acceptable to bring the kid boiled in its mother's milk as a firstborn sacrifice (or any sacrifice for that matter), until the kid reaches at least 8 days of age.

I think this is as close as I can come to understand these passages at the moment.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Inside The Holy Place of The Tent of The Tabernacle

It's been a while since I have created any 3D videos of the Tabernacle. So here is the new one for your enjoyment.

This video shows the Holy Place of the Tent of The Tabernacle (the place where Altar of Incense, Table of Shewbread and the Golden lamp-stand stood.). This is a full color rendering of the 360 degrees panoramic view of the room, with all shadows, reflections and colors. This is also an up-to-scale rendering, which is why there are Aaron and his two sons are shown so that you can compare the dimensions of the room to an average human height.

Please note how gold plated walls reflections and how they have expanded the room. This video also includes all of the latest corrections that I have discussed in my previous posts. The camera is positionaed right in the middle of the Holy Place (10 cubits from eastern and 20 cubits from western walls of the tent).

Also, please note how the Ark of The Covenant can be seen when two side partition curtain of the Inner Curtain (Vail) were moved aside for the priests to enter the Holy of Holies (the room with the Ark).

The video below is best viewed in full HD, or you can even try 3D mode for different experience.

I hope you like it. Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Did The Levites Wear Shoes Inside The Tabernacle?

This question was raised in this post, and since it is such a good question I wanted to dedicate a separate post to it, as well as to elaborate a little bit more about what I think.

As you can see from this image, Aaron and his sons (Eleazar and Ithamar) shown as wearing shoes.

But as you might have noticed from the text of the Pentateuch, in the description of the Priestly Garments in Exodus 28 and Exodus 39, there are absolutely no details about any kind of special footwear for the priests. This, in my opinion, provides us with two possibilities:

  1. The text of the Pentateuch as we have it to day is missing this part of the description; similar to description of the transportation of the Tabernacle Laver, which is not present in traditional Masoretic Text but only in the Samaritan Pentateuch. 
  2. There are invisible clues, somewhere in the text that need to be found in order to definitively say if the priests wore any footwear or not.
If it is the matter of the first case, then we have no other choice but to wait until some other complete version of the Pentateuch surfaces which will provide us with the exact details of the footwear for the priests. In this case there is not much that can be done to resolve this question.

However, there are some clues in the text that I would like to present to you below, which in my opinion can be used as a good starting point for the research of the answer to this question.

There are two clues that I'm aware so far that may help to answer this question:
  1. In Exodus 3:5 Moses is asked to remove his shoes because he appeared to have been standing in the presence of God and on the Holy Ground. As you remember, the Tabernacle also "housed" the presence of God and in a way it was also a Holy Ground. So as you can see, this clue is in favor of the priests walking barefoot either within the confinements of the entire Tabernacle, or at least within the confinements of the Tent of the Tabernacle.
  2. On the other hand, Exodus 30:18-21 tells us explicitly, that the priest were to wash their hands and feet so that they would not die when they are either going into the Tent of the Tabernacle or when they are serving by the Altar of Burnt Offering. So, as you can see, this clue provides us with completely opposite picture, which does not put any emphasis on the footwear, but only requires libation of the hands and feet.
  3. The text of Deuteronomy 8:15 tells us that the desert where the Hebrews traveled and abode for 40 years was very harsh and dangerous, which implies that it was not nice, beach like, sandy desert, but rather very rocky terrain with dust and rough ground. This suggest that walking barefoot in such conditions would be rather very painful and uncomfortable for the priests, even if the Tabernacle area was cleaned up beforehand. And even in the sandy desert, it is still not very comfortable to walk barefoot as the sand would constrain the walking. Not to mention that any desert gets very cold at night, especially during the winter season and if the priests were to walk barefoot they would most certainly would get ill and cold.
Thus, my current opinion on this matter is that the priests most certainly wore some kind of footwear (shoes, or whatever was most convenient for them. Just like I show on this and my other images of the priests:

However, it is possible that either they had a separate pairs of shoes when which they would put on when they were dressing for the service (Exodus 28:42-43 or Leviticus 16:3-4), or they wore the same footwear that they would wear outside the Tabernacle. However, as its been pointed out in Exodus 30:18-21, they still would have to wash their feet and hands before entering the Tent or coming close to the Altar of Burnt Offering. 

And once again, just like I pointed out above, it is also quite possible that all of the versions of the Pentateuch that we have today were simply edited and the part about special footwear for the priests has been lost. This is why it is always important to examine all available manuscripts and not just the traditional ones.

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