Torah Study Notes 3-1-14

March 1, 2014
p. 628
The conclusion of the book of Exodus.
38:21 Building of the Tabernacle continued. The work is to be done by the Levites but two individuals are named who are not of that tribe. Ithamar – son of Aaron and Oholiab of the tribe of Dan. It has been suggested by some scholars that the people of Dan were a later addition to the Israelites. Dan is on the northern border of Judah. Stratigraphy suggests that Israelites began to coalesce as a people about 1000 BC. See the Mesha Stele that was found in Trans-Jordan.
The stele contains the first reference to the name Israel. It is usually assigned to about 840 BCE. See also book: Ancient Near Eastern Texts.
Israel may initially have been a designated geographic area – but not a people. It was occupied by a variety of tribes – petty kingdoms and some nomads. They were united by David and began to develop common cultural affinities and language.
38: 24 The weight of gold and silver suggests a very affluent society. SF: This reinforces the notion that everyone would participate in building the Tabernacle by the contribution of a shekel – a weight or unit of measure. It is not a coin. PG: Note that the text should not be read chronologically. Again “There is no before or after in the Torah.” See the footnotes on the number of shekels in a talent and the calculation of the number of people involved as contributors – 601,730 men. Note the anachronistic reference to “sanctuary weight” prior to the building of the sanctuary per the text but actually a known quantity when this was written. An elevation offering is a sacrifice to God so these metals have somehow sanctified by the action of the priest. . SF: What is the purpose of all of this?
38:29 The new information here is about the specific amounts. This is the first time we are given a number of the Israelites – male over the age of twenty not including the Levites. DC: So this is all to convey a sense of a glorious past. PG: But the past is also prologue – a marker signifying our aspirations. SF: And this supplies the code for achieving prosperity and a just society via reverence to God. PG: Remember that tribes imply divisions – how are these divisions to be resolved? One mode is via a strong leader. The other mode of resolution is via negotiation and concession. LL: There is a third system – having pre-existing, agreed upon laws that set the framework for dispute resolution. HF: But some laws themselves are unjust. SF: We were fortunate in the founding of this country to have had a common set of values based on classical learning and the bible. Those foundations established the ground for the laws and systems that could be agreed upon. LL: As distilled through the Enlightenment.

Leave a comment


  1. ibritter

     /  March 2, 2014

    Rabbi, do you have a closing comment? A lesson, moral, or some take away perhaps?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: