THE PENTATEUCH PART II: EXODUS
Lesson 17: Exodus chapters 33:18-37:16
Yahweh Reveals His Glory to Moses
Covenant Renewal and the Building of the Sanctuary
God of mercy and forgiveness:
As we read of Israel's fall from grace in breaking Your covenant we grieved for ancient Israel's lack of faith and obedience. But in this lesson as we study Your mercy and forgiveness in restoring ancient Israel to her covenant relationship, help us to remember, Lord, that in living out the Sacraments of our faith in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus we, Your Covenant people, are recipients of Your mercy and forgiveness. We are spiritual renewed and reconnected through the living covenant in Jesus our Savior, as You continue to guide us by way of Christ's Sacraments on our journey "collectively and individually " to eternal salvation. Please send Your Spirit to guide us, Lord, in this lesson about Your mercy and Your desire to call all men and women to salvation. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Like to these is the saying of God to Moses: "Lo, I have set you in a cleft of the rock, and you shall see my back parts." That rock which is Christ is therefore not completely closed but has clefts. But the clefts of the rock is he who reveals God to men and makes him known to them; for "no one knows the Father, save the Son." So no one sees the back parts of God "that is to say, the things that are come to pass in the latter times "unless he be placed in the cleft of the rock, that is to say, when he is taught them by Christ's own revealing.
The forty-day fast of Lent draws its authority from the Old Testament, from the fasts of Moses and Elijah, and from the Gospel, because the Lord fasted that many days, showing that the Gospel is not at variance with the Law and the Prophets. The Law is personified by Moses, the Prophets by Elijah, between whom the Lord appeared transfigured on the mountain. St. Augustine, Letters 55
In the Theophany at Mt. Sinai in Exodus chapter 20 the people witnessed God's terrifying glory. When the people expressed their fear of the visible and acoustical display of God's Presence (kavod) Moses told the people: Do not be afraid; God has come to test you, so that your fear of him, being always in your mind, may keep you from sinning' (Ex 20:20). Before the dust had settled on the two tablets of the covenant document, inscribed with the finger of God (Ex 31:18), the people had failed to remember their fear and awe of Yahweh, and the sin of the Golden Calf became a covenant shattering event in the history of Israel as a covenant people. Ironically, the sin that caused the breach between Yahweh and His people had the opposite effect on Yahweh's relationship with His covenant mediator, Moses. While Israel became distanced from God, Moses entered into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Yahweh in which he spoke with God "face to face, as a man talks to his friend" (Ex 33:11). Through Moses' intercessory prayers on behalf of the Israelites and his unselfish offering of his own salvation to expiate the sins of his people (Ex 32:31-32), God revealed both His mercy and compassion in granting the majority of Moses' petitions (Ex 33:12-17), not because of Israel's merit but because of Moses' merit. But after the sin of the Golden Calf when Moses returned to Mt. Sinai the second time (Ex 34:1-2) there was no great displace of God's fiery presence as when Moses had ascended the mountain the first time (Ex 24:16-18); instead the glory of God was only to be revealed to the people in God's reflected radiant glory on face of Yahweh's faithful covenant mediator, "that man" Moses (Ex 34:29).
Please read Exodus 33:18-23: Moses' Intimate Dialogue
with God Continues with His Third Petition
33:18He then said, Please show me your glory' [kavod]. 19Yahweh said, I shall make all my goodness [tov] pass before you, and before you I shall pronounce the name Yahweh; and I am gracious to those to whom I am gracious and I take pity on those on whom I take pity [I will grant the grace (hanan) that I will grant and show the compassion (rachum/ racham) that I will show].' 20 But my face,' he said, you cannot see, for no human being can see me and survive.' 21Then Yahweh said, Here is [See there is] a place near me. You will stand on the rock, 22and when my glory passes by, I shall put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with my hand until I have gone past. 23Then I shall take my hand away and you will see my back; but my face will not be seen.
[..] = literal translation (Interlineal Hebrew-English Bible, vol. I, page 234).
Question: What was Moses' third petition?
Answer: To behold God's glory/ Divine Presence.
The Hebrew word kavod is one of the most significant terms of Biblical theology. It often signifies God's self-manifestation in a visible sign of His Divine Presence. At the rendezvous at Mt. Sinai in chapter 19, the kavod of Yahweh appeared as a consuming fire and dense cloud on the mountain summit (Ex 24:17), and at other times His glory was manifested in the form of the Pillar of Cloud and Fire or the Glory Cloud (Ex 13:21-22; 16:10; 33:9).
Question: In the examples of the revelation of God's visible glory (kavod) cited above what three features are usually present?
However, in Moses' petition in Exodus 33:18 he is asking for an exclusive, personal experience of God's Divine Presence when he says: Please show me your glory (kavod).
Exodus 33:19: Yahweh said, I shall make all my goodness pass before you, and before you I shall pronounce the name Yahweh; and I am gracious to those to whom I am gracious and I take pity on those on whom I take pity [I will grant the grace that I will grant and show the compassion/mercy that I will show].'
In response to Moses' third petition God gave Moses the promise of a unique revelation: I shall make all my goodness pass before you... God's goodness is embodied in the benevolent attributes He manifests in His dealings with mankind and all living creatures. These divine attributes will be revealed to Moses when he ascends Mt. Sinai a second time in Exodus 34:6-9. God's divine goodness is a reoccurring theme in Sacred Scripture (Ps 86:5; 100:5; 106:1, 107:1; 118:1ff; 136:1ff; 145:9; Jer 33:11; Rom 11:22; etc.)
I shall pronounce the name Yahweh: for God to tell Moses that He will pronounce His divine name and will reveal His benevolent attributes is the promise of a special revelation of Himself similar to the encounter at the "burning bush/tree" (Ex 3:13-15). As we noted in Lesson 3, for ancient peoples a name was understood to connote one's character and nature "the total essence of a person. Therefore, this is an elaboration on the previous statement and reaffirms God's intention of giving Moses a private revelation of God's defining characteristics.
I am gracious to those to whom I am gracious and I take pity on those on whom I take pity.' The literal translation is "I will grant the grace that I will grant and show the compassion/mercy that I will show."
Question: In this statement Moses receives a deeper understanding of God, who defines His goodness with two words?
Answer: He is the God of goodness who grants both His grace (divine favor) and His mercy/compassion.
Hen (from the root hanan) is the Hebrew word for "grace," which is charis in Greek. "Grace" in Scripture means "the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race; it is also the unmerited gift proceeding from this benevolent disposition. Grace, therefore, is a totally gratuitous gift on which man has absolutely no claim" (Catholic Dictionary, page 166; also see CCC 2000, 2024).
God grants Moses' petition but places conditions on the event and announces that the revelation of His divine attributes will be part of the experience.
Question: What is the most serious restriction and why?
Answer: Moses will not be permitted to see God's face because no mortal, stained with original sin, can see the face of God and live.
Exodus 33:20: But my face,' he said, you cannot see, for no human being can see me and survive supports the interpretation that the phrase in 33:11, which recorded that Moses spoke to God "face to face, as a man talks to his friend," is an anthropomorphic expression for being in the Divine Presence of God since God clearly states that no human can see God's face and remain alive.
Exodus 33:21-22: 21Then Yahweh said, Here is [See there is] a place near me. You will stand on the rock, 22and when my glory passes by, I shall put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with my hand until I have gone past.
Some early Christian writers like Origen saw the rock with the cleft as the rock of the miraculously flowing water (Ex 17:5-7) that St. Paul identified as the pre-Incarnate Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:1-4): Like to these is the saying of God to Moses: "Lo, I have set you in a cleft of the rock, and you shall see my back parts." That rock which is Christ is therefore not completely closed but has clefts. But the clefts of the rock is he who reveals God to men and makes him known to them; for "no one knows the Father, save the Son." (Commentary on the Song of Songs 3.15)
...and shield you with my hand until I have gone past is another poetic anthropomorphism describing God's protection of Moses that will be part of the revelation experience, just as the expression "mighty works of God's hand/arm" have been frequent expressions of God's intervention in the liberation and preservation of Israel in the entire Exodus adventure (i.e., "hand" = Ex 3:19-20; 7:4-5; 9:3, 15; 13:3, 9, 14, 16 15:6, 12; 16:3).
Exodus 33:23: Then I shall take my hand away and you will see my back; but my face will not be seen.
Question: What 9th century BC prophet to Israel had a similar experience of a private revelation of God on Mt. Sinai? See 1 Kng 19:1-14.
Origen interpreted the "back parts" of God that Moses saw as he stood in the "cleft of the rock" as the revelation of God's future plan for humanity's salvation. You will recall that part of Moses' petition involved the request that God would reveal to him His plan for Israel beyond Sinai (Ex. 33:12). Origen wrote: So no one sees the back parts of God "that is to say, the things that are come to pass in the latter times "unless he be placed in the cleft of the rock, that is to say, when he is taught them by Christ's own revealing (Commentary on the Song of Songs 3.15). Jesus told the Pharisees: Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father: you have placed your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be the one who accuses you. If you really believed him you would believe me too, since it was about me that he was writing; but if you will not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say? (Jn 5:45-47). Did God reveal His plan of salvation in His Divine Son to Moses as Origen suggests? There is no way of knowing, but Moses will consult with Jesus about His coming "exodus" (word in the Greek biblical text meaning "departure") from Jerusalem (referring to Jesus' Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension) at the Theophany on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Lk 9:30-31).
Chapter 34: The Renewal of the Covenant
God's people of every age and every generation are called to be holy as God is holy ( Ex 19:6; Lev 11:44-45; 19:2; 22:33; 1 Pet 1:15-16; 1 Jn 3:3-6). The rebellion of intentional sin is a breach of covenant that can only be restored through expiation of the sin, genuine contrition and repentance. Forgiveness and reconciliation lead to covenant renewal and covenant renewal leads to restored fellowship with God. This aspect of a covenant relationship with God was the case for the Old Covenant people of God as well as for the people of the New Covenant Church. A breach of covenant can be individual as well as collective (Ex 31:14; Jer 31:31-32).
Question: How are the children of God in the universal Church restored to their covenant relationship after a fall from grace through committing mortal sin? See CCC 1422-24, 1440.
Answer: Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are restored to fellowship with God and with the covenant community.
Please read Exodus 34:1-5: Moses Is Called to Ascend the
34:1Yahweh said to Moses, Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2Be ready at dawn; at dawn come up Mount Sinai and wait for me there at the top of the mountain. 3No one may come up with you, no one may be seen anywhere on the mountain; the flocks and herds may not even graze in front of this mountain.' 4So he cut two tablets of stone like the first and, with the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up Mount Sinai in the early morning as Yahweh had ordered. 5And Yahweh descended in a cloud and stood with him there and pronounced the name Yahweh.
In the Glory Cloud Yahweh descended to the summit, and standing before Moses Yahweh pronounced his Divine Name "a revelation of His Divine Essence.
Please read Exodus 34:6-9: God Reveals His Divine
34:6Then Yahweh passed before him and called out, Yahweh, Yahweh, God [El] of tenderness [rachum] and compassion [hanan], slow to anger [erech appayim], rich in faithful love [rav hesed] and constancy [truth = emet], 7maintaining his faithful love to thousands [notzer hesed laalafim], forgiving fault [noseh avon], crime [noseh peshah] and sin [noseh hattah], yet letting nothing go unchecked, and punishing the parent's fault in the children and in the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation!' 8Moses immediately bowed to the ground in worship, 9then he said, If indeed I do enjoy your favor, please, my Lord, come with us, although they are an obstinate [stiff-necked] people; and forgive [pardoning = venakeh] our faults and sins, and adopt us as your heritage.'
[..] =literal translation (Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, page 235).
Verses 6-7 constitute God's response to Moses' petition to know God's ways (33:13) and to behold God's glory (33:18). There is no awesome visual display because this is not a revelation for a multitude but is instead a divine disclosure for a single individual. God's revelation of self is confined to a quiet oral proclamation of His attributes "His divine qualities of mercy and justice that He extends in His relationship with man. God begins by calling our His divine name in a three-fold expression of His divinity:
|3. El (god singular) of compassion...|
What Yahweh reveals to Moses is the essence of His divine character and for a human to "know" them is to be welcomed into a higher level of intimacy in one's conception of God. The enumerated attributes, which we would number as ten, are both merciful (34:6-7a) and punitive (34:7b). However, in his response to the revelation Moses ignores the punitive statement, only focusing on God's mercy and forgiveness.
In Jewish tradition verses 6-7a and 9b are known as the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy: Shelosh Esreh Middot (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 216).(1) With the exception of the Sabbath liturgy, the list of thirteen divine attributes are recited aloud in the synagogue liturgy on days of fasting, on feast days, and on other holy days when the Ark of the Torah (Aron Kodesh) is opened and the Torah scroll is made ready for the appropriate Scripture reading (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 216). They are also recited in the Shelihot, the penitential prayers recited on those occasions and during the week before the High Holy Day period as well as during that period that falls between the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).(2)
These attributes must not be regarded as the human qualities inherent in God. They are instead His "ways" (Ex 33:13) of governing the destiny of man.
Question: What is Moses' response to this private revelation, which he makes in three petitions?
Answer: He is encouraged to petition God to:
Please read Exodus 34:10-11: The Statement of Covenant Renewal
10He then said, Look, I am now making a covenant: I shall work such wonders at the head of your whole people as have never been worked in any other country or nation, and all the people round you will see what Yahweh can do, for what I shall do through you will be awe-inspiring. 11Mark, then, what I command you today. I am going to drive out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites before you.
The statement of covenant renewal begins with a promise and a warning.
Question: What is the promise in verse 11?
Answer: A repeat of the promise made to the Patriarchs concerning possession of the Promised Land of Canaan.
Please read Exodus 34:13-28: Ten Additional Commands and Prohibitions to be Included in the Articles of the Law
27Yahweh then said to Moses, Put these words in writing, for they are the terms of the covenant which I have made with you and with Israel.' 28He stayed there with Yahweh for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing, and on the tablets he wrote the words of the covenant "the Ten Words.
It is interesting that the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God on the second set of tablets given to Moses are reinforced in a list of God's ten attributes of mercy and justice and ten additional laws in verses 12-26 identifying authentic and inauthentic worship. Mindful of the Israelites' sin in worshiping the Golden Calf, verses 13-17 focus on Israel's recent sin by defining apostasy and ordering safeguards that will ensure Israel's distinctive holiness as Yahweh's covenant people. Just as God foresaw the sin of the Golden Calf and repeatedly warned the people not to make or bow down to idols (Ex 20:5, 23, 23:13, 24, 32-33), so too does God see the future failure of Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. These warnings are listed as covenant failures in Judges 2:1-5, 11-15, 17; and 3:5-7.
Question: What is the warning in verse 12 that is a repeat of Exodus 23:32?
Answer: The Israelites must make no covenant treaties with the Canaanite population.
Answer: Yahweh's warning is that to make covenants with the Canaanites will have disastrous consequences: religious corruption/apostasy, intermarriage with pagans, and the undermining of the national and religious identity.
Exodus 34:13: You will tear down their altars, smash their cultic stones and cut down their sacred poles... The cultic stones referred to in this verse are mastebah (standing stones) that are associated with pagan worship. In the Pentateuch we have seen where standing stones were erected to commemorate an event associated with Yahweh, or to commemorate another significant event like a covenant treaty.(5) The "sacred pole" called an asherah was a cultic symbol associated with worship of the Canaanite goddess Asherah (in Greek, Astarte), the goddess of love and fertility.
The commands in 34:14-16 that refer to the exclusive relationship between Yahweh and Israel: ...for you will worship no other god, since Yahweh's name is the Jealous One; he is a jealous God. That the pagans prostitute themselves to their own gods and invite you and you will partake of their sacrifice refers to the Canaanite practice of cultic prostitution (men and women) as a form of worship.
Question: How are the people of God in both the old and new covenants to view their covenant union with Yahweh? See Is 62:4-5; Ez 16:6-19, 30-36; 23:1-8, 35; Hos chapters 1-3; Mal 2:10-16; Rev 17:1-7; 19:5-9; 21:1-4.
Answer: The Israelites and the New Covenant people of God are to view their relationship with Yahweh like the covenant union in a lawful marriage. To worship false gods or to be present at one of their cultic rituals is tantamount to the sins of adultery and/or prostitution.
Yahweh demands absolute faithfulness in His covenant union with His people in the same way a husband expects absolute faithfulness in his marital union with his wife. Yahweh's "jealously" is in the protective exclusivity of His relationship with his people individually and collectively that He will not share with other gods "whether supposed spiritual beings or material possessions. Nothing is to come before one's covenant relationship with God.
In Exodus 34:19-20 the command to redeem the first-born donkeys is coupled with the command concerning the first-born sons.
Answer: The first-born sons, in their failure to rally to Moses and defend the covenant, have become unfit for service to Yahweh like the donkey and other ritually unclean animals that are to be redeemed by a monetary gift but which are judged unfit for Yahweh's altar: Every first-born of all creatures brought to Yahweh, be it man or beast, will revert to you, but you will have to redeem the first-born of man; you will also redeem the first-born of an unclean animal (Num 18:15). The tribe of Levi has replaced the first-born sons as Yahweh's lesser ministerial priests, because the first-born sons became unfit to serve after their failure in the sin of the rebellion of the Golden Calf.
Exodus 34:20c: ...and no one will appear before me empty-handed. This command is repeated three times in Ex 23:15; 34:20, and Dt 16:16. The entire community must participate in the liturgy of worship "every individual must actively contribute to the worship service.
You will not boil a kid in its mother's milk. The first command given in 23:19b concerned the ethical treatment of animals, but this command is probably concerned with Canaanite pagan religious rituals mentioned in the Ras Shamar religious texts found at the site of the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit.
Exodus 34:27-28: Yahweh then said to Moses, Put these words in writing, for they are the terms of the covenant which I have made with you and with Israel.' 28He stayed there with Yahweh for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing, and on the tablets he wrote the words of the covenant "the Ten Words.
The command to put the additional words of the renewed covenant down in writing probably meant that these laws are to be included in the Book of the Covenant (see Ex 24:4). In verse 28 "He", meaning Moses, stayed on the mountain forty days and nights, but "He," Yahweh, wrote the words of the covenant on the tablets (Dt 4:13; 10:4).
Please read Exodus 34:29-35: Moses Returns to the
34:29When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, as he was coming down the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face was radiant because he had been talking to him. 30And when Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin on his face was so radiant that they were afraid to go near him. 31But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the community rejoined him, and Moses talked to them, 32after which all the Israelites came closer, and he passed on to them all the orders that Yahweh had given to him on Mount Sinai. 33Once Moses had finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34Whenever Moses went into Yahweh's presence to speak with him, he took the veil off until he came out. And when he came out, he would tell the Israelites what orders he had been given, 35and the Israelites would see [the skin of] Moses' face radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak to him next time.
[..] = literal (Interlineal Hebrew-English Bible, vol. I, page 237).
As a result of Moses' intimate encounter with the Divine Presence, his face emitted a reflected radiance of God's glory. A number of other passages in Scripture attest to the radiant light of God's glory ( Num 6:25; Is 2:5; Ez 1:27-28; Ps 4:7; 31:17; 36:10; 44:4; 67:2; 80:20; 89:16; 104:2; 118:27; 119:135; Job 29:3; Hab 3:4).
There is an unusual three-time repetition of the Hebrew verb karan, translated as "radiant" or "shinning," rather than the verb -w-r that would normally be used (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 221). The use of karan is probably intentional since its noun root is the word keren, which means "horn." This may be a subtle reminder of the "horned" Golden Calf that Aaron built to be the "image" of Yahweh. The point being that Moses, created by God in His image, is not a man-made image but a living image of the God who reflects His glory on Moses' face as the sign of His favor and authority as the covenant mediator.(3)
Question: Why did Moses wear the veil? Why did he wear it only after speaking to the people after being in God's presence and remove it when speaking with God?
Answer: Every time Moses came into Yahweh's presence his radiance was recharged and the people had a visible sign of his authority. He may have worn the veil so they would not see that the radiance was diminished over time, fearing they might interpret the lessening of his radiance as a lessening of his authority.(4)
The Building of the Sanctuary
These are only a shadow of what was coming: the reality is the body of Christ. Colossians 2:17
He has taken his seat at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister of the Sanctuary and of the true Tent (Tabernacle) which the Lord, and not any man, set up. Hebrews 8:1b-2
Please read Exodus 35: 1-3: The Restatement of the
35:1Moses assembled the whole community of Israelites and said, These are the things Yahweh has ordered to be done: 2Work must be done for six days, but the seventh must be a holy day for you, a day of complete rest, in honor of Yahweh. Anyone who does any work on that day will be put to death. 3You will not light a fire on the Sabbath day in any of your homes.'
The renewal of the covenant allows for the plans for building the Tabernacle to proceed. This section contains the restatement of the command to observe the Sabbath obligation and the prohibition against engaging in any work "including lighting the hearth fire. The fire would have to be kept burning during the Sabbath-Saturday from the extra wood collected on Friday, which from this time forward became a "day of preparation" for the Sabbath observance. The point is that this command is in effect even during the building of the Sanctuary complex. The people will labor six days on building the Sanctuary but they will rest on the seventh "Yahweh's Sabbath. The command to keep the Sabbath obligation is followed by the command for the people to begin to build the Sanctuary, its Tabernacle and all that will be contained therein. Moses is repeating God's command to establish both sacred time and sacred space (Ex 31:1-17).
Please read Exodus 35:4-19: Moses' Instructions on
Building the Sanctuary
35:4Moses spoke to the whole community of Israelites. This', he said, is what Yahweh has ordered [commanded]: 5Set aside a contribution for Yahweh out of your possessions. Everyone whose heart prompts him to do so should bring a contribution for Yahweh: gold, silver and bronze; 6materials dyed violet-purple, red-purple and crimson, finely woven linen, goats' hair, 7rams' skins dyed red, fine leather, acacia wood, 8oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9cornelian and other stones to be set in the ephod and breastplate. 10And all those of you who have the skill must come and make everything that Yahweh has ordered: 11the Dwelling, its tent and its covering, its clasps and its frames, its crossbars, its pillars and its sockets; 12the ark, its shafts and all its accessories, the mercy-seat and the screening curtain; 13the table, its shafts and all its accessories, the loaves of permanent offering; 14the lamp-stand for the light, its accessories, its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15the altar of incense and its shafts, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the screen for the entrance, for the entrance of the tent; 16the altar of burnt offerings and its bronze grating, its shafts, and all its accessories; the basin and its stand; 17the curtaining for the court, its poles, its sockets, and the screen for the entrance to the court; 18the pegs for the Dwelling and the pegs for the court, and their cords; 19the liturgical vestments for service in the sanctuary "the sacred vestments for Aaron the priest, and the vestments for his sons, for their priestly functions.'
The order in which the parts of the Sanctuary are mentioned will be the order of construction.
Question: Which members of the community will contribute to building the Sanctuary?
Answer: The building of the Sanctuary will involve the free-will offerings of the whole Israelite community: 35:4Moses spoke to the whole community of Israelites. This', he said, is what Yahweh has ordered [commanded]: Set aside a contribution for Yahweh out of your possessions. Everyone whose heart prompts him to do so should bring a contribution for Yahweh.
Two "screening curtains" are mentioned in verses 12 and 15:
Question: According to Numbers 4:5 how will the curtain that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies be used when transporting the Ark of the Covenant?
Answer: When the Israelites break camp Aaron and his sons are to take down the screening curtain and cover the Ark with it. The Ark of the Covenant will be transported with three coverings: over the curtain they are to place a covering of leather and over that a blue cloth.
Please read Exodus 35:20-29: The Israelites bring their
Donations for the Building of the Sanctuary
35:20The whole community of Israelites then withdrew from Moses' presence. 21And all those whose heart stirred them and all those whose spirit prompted them brought a contribution for Yahweh, for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for its general service and for the sacred vestments. 22Men and women, they came, all those whose heart prompted them, bringing brooches, rings, bracelets, necklaces, golden objects of every kind "all those who had vowed gold to Yahweh, 23while all those who happened to own violet-purple, red-purple or crimson materials, finely woven linen, goats' hair, rams' skins dyed red, or fine leather, brought that. 24All those offering a contribution of silver or bronze brought their contributions for Yahweh and all who happened to own acacia wood, suitable for any of the work to be done, brought that. 25All the skilled women set their hands to spinning and brought what they had spun: violet-purple, red-purple or crimson materials, and fine linen, 26while all those women whose heart stirred them by virtue of their skill, spun goat's hair. 27The leaders brought cornelians and other stones to be set in the ephod and breastplate, 28and the spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil and or the fragrant incense. 29All those Israelites, men and women, whose heart prompted them to contribute to the entire work that Yahweh had ordered through Moses to be done, brought a contribution to Yahweh.
Question: What does this passage tell us about the willingness of the covenant community to support the building of the Sanctuary?
Answer: For the first time we hear about the contribution of the women "all members of the covenant community, from all levels of Israelite society, gave generously of their time, talents, and treasures.
Exodus 35:27 records that the elders/chieftains of the twelve tribes brought the precious stones on which the names of the tribes are to be engraved according to the instructions given Moses in 28:9-12, 21, and 29.
Please read Exodus 35:30-36:1: Moses Announces Yahweh's
Selection of the Master Craftsmen to Build the Sanctuary
35:30Moses then said to the Israelites, Look, Yahweh had singled out Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31and has filled him with the spirit of God in wisdom, knowledge and skill in every kind of craft: 32in designing and carrying out work in gold and silver and bronze, 33in cutting stones to be set, in wood carving and in executing every kind of work. 34And on him and on Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, he has bestowed the gift of teaching, 35and filled them with the skill to carry out every kind of work, that of the engraver, that of the embroiderer, that of the needleworker in violet-purple, red-purple and crimson materials and fine linen, that of the weaver, and indeed that of every kind of craftsman and designer.' 36:1Bezalel, Oholiab and all the men whom Yahweh has endowed with the skill and knowledge to know how to carry out all the work to be done on the Sanctuary, will do exactly as Yahweh has ordered.'
Question: What two gifts has the Holy Spirit given Bezalel and Oholiab?
Answer: Knowledge in every kind of craft and the ability to teach others.
Verse 31 says that these men were "filled with the spirit of God in wisdom and knowledge" so they could make the sacred furniture and the Sanctuary. The Tabernacle was built through the wisdom God gave Moses, Bezalel and Oholiab. The Jerusalem Temple was later built by the wisdom of God through Solomon (1 Kng 3:12-13). The Old Covenant Church was built up through the wisdom of God (Prov 1:1-5/6; 9:1) as is the New Covenant Church built by the wisdom of God to be His Tabernacle "His dwelling place among His people ( 1 Cor 3:9-17; Eph 1:13-14, 18-23).
Question: How can the Spirit of God filling the master craftsmen who taught the men and women of Israel who built the Old Covenant Sanctuary be compared to the Spirit of God at work in the Apostles and disciples of the resurrected Jesus Christ praying with the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room on Pentecost Sunday, 30 AD? See Ex 31:2-6; 35:30-35 and Mt 28:19-20; Acts 1:12-15; 2:1-4.
Answer: The Spirit of God filled the master craftsmen and directed the physical builders of the first Sanctuary (Ex 31:2-6; 35:30-35) of the Israelite Old Covenant Church so they could accomplish their holy mission to build the Sanctuary. In the same way, in the creation of the New Covenant Church, the Holy Spirit filled the 120 spiritual "builders" praying in the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the Old Covenant feast of Pentecost, 30 AD (Acts 2:1-4), to fulfill their mission to baptize men and women into the New Covenant in Christ and to spread the Gospel of Salvation to the ends of the earth (Mt 28:19-20) "building the community of believers who became the new Tabernacle where God dwelt.
In Exodus 36:1 Moses warns the people that the Sanctuary was to be completed exactly as Yahweh has ordered. This is a command that is often repeated in the narrative concerning the construction of the Sanctuary (Ex 31:6, 11; 35:10; 36:1, 5; 38:22) and is similar to the command given to Moses that he was to reproduce exactly what he saw in the heavenly Sanctuary (Ex 25:8-9, 40; 26:30; 27:8).
Please read Exodus 36:2-7: Moses Calls a Halt to the
36:2Moses then summoned Bezalel, Oholiah and all the skilled men whose hearts Yahweh had endowed with skill, all whose heart stirred them to come forward and do the work. 3From Moses they received everything that the Israelites had brought as contributions for carrying out the work of building the Sanctuary, and, as they went on bringing their offerings every morning, 4the skilled men who were doing all the work for the Sanctuary, all left their particular work 5and said to Moses, The people are bringing more than is needed for the work Yahweh has ordered to be done.' 6Moses then gave the order and proclamation was made throughout the camp, No one, whether man or woman, must do anything more towards contributions for the Sanctuary.' 7So the people were prevented from bringing any more, for the material to hand was enough, and more than enough, to complete all the work.
Question: The covenant community was so enthusiastic about building the Sanctuary that their enthusiasm presented what problem?
Answer: Their generosity in providing materials overwhelmed the worksite and the skilled craftsmen ask Moses to put an end to the donations.
If we had such a demonstration of generosity in our Parishes, every child could go to Catholic schools for free. At one time our Parish priest worked it out that every cost associated with our Parish school including tuition would be paid for if the members of the faith community contributed only 26 dollars per week per family. It is amazing what can be accomplished when the faithful work together equally as One Body in Christ.
Please read Exodus 36:8-19: Building the Tabernacle
36:8All the most skilled of the men doing the work made the Dwelling. Moses made it with ten sheets of finely woven linen, dyed violet-purple, red-purple and crimson and embroidered with great winged creatures. 9The length of a single sheet was twenty-eight cubits, its width four cubits, all the sheets being of the same size. 10He joined five of the sheets to one another, and the other five sheets to one another. 11He made violet loops along the edge of the first sheet, at the end of the set, and did the same along the edge of the last sheet in the other set. 12He made fifty loops on the first sheet and fifty loops along the outer edge of the sheet of the second set, the loops corresponding to one another. 13He made fifty gold clasps and joined the sheets together with the clasps. In this way the Dwelling was a unified whole. 14Next he made sheets of goats' hair for the tent over the Dwelling; he made eleven of these. 15The length of a single sheet was thirty cubits and its width four cubits; the eleven sheets were all of the same size. 16He joined five sheets together into one set and six sheets into another. 17He made fifty loops along the edge of the last sheet of the first set, and fifty loops along the edge of the sheet of the second set. 18He made fifty bronze clasps, to draw the tent together and make it a unified whole. 19And for the tent he made a cover of rams' skins dyed red, and a cover of fine leather over that.
Exodus 36:8-38:20 is a detailed account of the work on the Sanctuary. It is a repetition of the earlier instructions given to Moses on the mountain before the sin of the Golden Calf (Ex 25:10-29:35), but in these passages the verbs are phrased as completed action (JPS Commentary: Exodus, page 225) and the order of the items is sometimes listed differently. The earlier instructions moved from the sacred furniture and their accessories (Ex 25:10-40) to the construction of the Tabernacle (Ex 26:1-30) and then the outer structure of the Sanctuary and its courtyard (Ex 27:1-19); however, in these instructions the sequence is somewhat reversed beginning with the structure of the Tabernacle.
Question: Why is the building of the Sanctuary in a different order from the instructions first given to Moses on the mountain? How does the building of the Sanctuary reflect a practical plan? See Ex 25:10-40 versus Ex 36:8-38.
Answer: The initial instructions God gave Moses began with the plans for the sacred furniture that was to be placed inside the Tabernacle: the Ark and Mercy-seat, the table, and the lamp-stand. That the building plan is different makes perfect sense from a practical perspective "you build the house, then you furnish it, and then you build any perimeter structures like fences, etc. The same principle is applied in the construction of the Sanctuary.
Construction began first on the most important structure: the Tabernacle that will house the Ark of the Covenant and the Divine Presence. Earlier instructions were given for the Dwelling and its frame work in Exodus 26:1-30.
Answer: Bezalel is in charge of the daily construction of the Sanctuary, assisted by Oholiab and the skilled men, and it is Bezalel, filled with the Holy Spirit, who will build the Ark and its Mercy-seat, but the one person responsible for overseeing the construction and making sure everything is built according to God's plan, is Moses.
Question: Which members of the covenant community worked on building the Tabernacle? See Ex 38:21.
Answer: The Levites (Moses' and Aaron's tribe) under the direction of Aaron's youngest son, Ithamar.
Christ is our Tabernacle (Jn 2:18-22). Notice that despite the two parts of the Tabernacle that it is described twice (vs. 13 and 18) as a unified whole. Christ, in His humanity and divinity, has two natures and two wills (He became truly man by remaining truly God), His humanity and divinity perfectly in accord in one person and at one with the unified One of the Godhead (CCC 464; 468-469).
Please read Exodus 36:20-34: Building the Framework for
36:20For the Dwelling he made vertical frames of acacia wood. 21Each frame was ten cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. 22Each frame had twin tenons; this was how he made all the frames for the Dwelling. 23He made frames for the Dwelling: twenty frames for the south side, to the south, 24and made forty silver sockets under the twenty frames, two sockets under one frame for its two tenons, two sockets under the next frame for its two tenons; 25and for the other side of the Dwelling, the north side, twenty frames 26and forty silver sockets, two sockets under one frame, two sockets under the next frame. 27For the back of the Dwelling, on the west side, he made six frames. 28He also made two frames for the corners at the back of the Dwelling; 29these were coupled together at the bottom, staying so up to the top, to the level of the first ring; this he did with the two frames forming the two corners. 30Thus there were eight frames with their sixteen silver sockets; two sockets under each frame. 31He made crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames for the first side of the Dwelling, 32five crossbars for the frames of the other side of the Dwelling and five crossbars for the frames which formed the back of the Dwelling, to the west. 33He made the middle bar, to join the frames from one end to the other, halfway up. 34He overlaid the frames with gold, made gold rings for them, through which to place the cross bars, and overlaid the crossbars with gold.
Moses received the instructions for building the framework in Exodus 26:15-30.
Please read Exodus 36:35-38: Making the Curtains
36:35He made a curtain of finely woven linen, dyed violet-purple, red-purple and crimson and embroidered with great winged creatures, 36and for it he made four poles of acacia wood, overlaying them with gold, with golden hooks for them, for which he cast four sockets of silver. 37For the entrance to the tent he made a screen of finely woven linen embroidered with violet-purple, red-purple and crimson, 38as also the five columns for it and their hooks; he overlaid their capitals and rods with gold, but their five sockets were of bronze.
Moses received these instructions in Ex 26:31-32 and 36-37. The curtain woven with the images of the cherubim was the beautiful curtain that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies. It came to symbolize Israel's restricted access to God "it was a barrier that reminded them of their sins.
Question: What happened to the curtain that covered the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple on the day Jesus gave up Him life on the altar of the Cross? What did this mean? See Jn 2:19-21; Mt 12:6; 27:51; Mk 15:37-38; Lk 23:45-46; CCC 586
Answer: Jesus identified Himself as God's definitive dwelling place among men, as did St. John in his Gospel. When Jesus willingly gave up His life on the Cross, the curtain that symbolized the barrier between God and His people in the Jerusalem Temple was torn from top to bottom (not by human hands). It was the sign that God had accepted His Son's sacrifice, and the sign that the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal salvation was now open to all men and women, and the old order was being fulfilled. No longer was the earthly Temple the dwelling place of God but every New Covenant believer baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity and indwelt by the Holy Spirit now became God's dwelling place.
Question: How can the curtain that covered the Holy of Holies be compared to Jesus' earthly body?
Answer: The curtain that was intended to hide the Presence of God resting between the cherubim of the Mercy-Seat from view in the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies can be compared to Jesus' human body that hid His divinity "which was only revealed when the "curtain" of His human flesh was torn and His divinity was revealed in His Resurrection and Ascension.
Please read Exodus 37:1-9: Bezalel Makes the Ark of the
37:1Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide and one and a half cubits high. 2He overlaid it, inside and out, with pure gold, and made a gold moulding all round it. 3He cast four gold rings for it at its four supports: two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 4He also made shafts of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold, 5and passed the shafts through the rings on the sides of the ark, by which to carry it. 6He also made a mercy-seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide, 7and modeled two great winged creatures of beaten gold, putting them at the two ends of the mercy-seat, 8one winged creature at one end and the other winged creature at the other end, making the winged creatures of a piece with the mercy-seat at either end. 9The winged creatures had their wings spread upwards, protecting the ark with their wings and facing each other, their faces being towards the mercy-seat.
Moses received the instructions for the Ark and its Mercy-seat in Exodus 25:10-20. The Ark was to be placed in the Holy of Holies and was to contain the treasured covenant documents "the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. Its cover was the solid gold Mercy-seat: the place where God dwelt in the midst of His people.
Question: The Ark of the Covenant was the most holy of the
three altars in the Sanctuary of Yahweh for what three reasons?
Question: What is the New Covenant Mercy-seat?
Answer: Jesus Christ is our Mercy-Seat. It is to Him we go to confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we repent our sins it is Jesus' blood that is smeared on our sins (as the blood was applied to the Mercy-seat for forgiveness of sins at Yom Kippur), and in repentance and in turning back to God our sins are forgiven and our fellowship with God is restored.
Please read Exodus 37:10-16: Construction of the Table of
the Bread of the Presence
37:10He made the table of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high, and made a gold moulding all round it. 11He fitted it with struts a hand's breadth wide and made a gold moulding round the struts. 12He cast four gold rings for it and fixed the rings at the four corners where the four legs were. 13The rings lay close to the struts to hold the shafts for carrying the table. 14He made the shafts of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 15These were for carrying the table. 16He made the accessories which were to go on the table: its dishes, cups, jars and libation bowls, of pure gold.
The instructions Moses received on the mountain are found in Exodus 25:23-29. It was placed on the north side of the Holy Place opposite the golden lamp-stand which illuminated the golden table.
Question: What is the Table of the Bread of the Presence in New Covenant worship?
Answer: The table points to the Lord Jesus Himself as the Bread of Life given for His people (Jn 6:25-63) and the Communion table of the New Covenant Church. The altar upon which our offerings of bread and wine are placed in the sacrifice of the Mass will become the table of the Presence of God when our gifts are transformed by the words of Christ at the Last Supper (the words of consecration) into His Body and Blood (1 Cor 10:15-21; 11:23-34). The Old Covenant table was illuminated only by the light of the lamp-stand that symbolized the light of God's spirit in the darkened space of the Holy Place; our table is illuminated by the Light of the Holy Spirit, transforming our simple gifts into Jesus Christ: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Next lesson will be our last lesson in the study of the Book of Exodus. We will study the completion of the Sanctuary, the ordination of the priesthood, and the amazing event when God took possession of the earthly Sanctuary.
Moses' revelation of God's glory when he was placed in the cleft of the rock on Mt. Sinai was similar to the experience of the 9th century BC prophet Elijah. God also placed Elijah in a "cleft in the rock" (cave) at Mt. Sinai and revealed His glory to His faithful prophet (1 Kng 19:1-14). In the fullness of time God was to grant both Moses and Elijah an even greater revelation of His glory, revealing His face to His faithful prophets in the face of the glorified Jesus Christ in the Theophany on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36). ...Elijah, like Moses before him, hides "in a cleft of the rock" until the mysterious presence of God has passes by. But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of him whom they sought; "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ, crucified and risen (CCC 2583). In their "one on one" encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history (CCC 2584). Their experience is a revelation of God's glory we will all see in the fullness of time in our own lives or in the Second Advent of Christ when both the righteous and the wicked stand before the judgment throne of Yahweh-God (Rev 20:11-12).
Questions for group discussion:
Question: Exodus 34:20 contains the command that the covenant people must not appear "empty handed" before Yahweh in the liturgy of worship (given three times in the Pentateuch). Does this command also apply to the New Covenant worshipper? What did the command mean in Old Covenant liturgy and what does it mean today?
Possible answer: Liturgy is a "public work," and despite the fact that many may make a once-a-month payment in support of the covenant community/ Parish, it is not the same as bringing Yahweh a personal offering along with the communal offering in the midst of communal worship even if it is only a dollar, a dime or a note of thanks. It is important to offer something of yourself, materially out of God's bounty, as well as spiritually (Rom 12:1) in the sacrifice of the Mass. In the Old Covenant the communal offering was the Tamid lamb but in addition the people made personal offerings of grain, produce, or money. The comparison can be made to our individual monetary offerings and our offerings of service as laymen and women supporting the liturgy of worship. We are to bring these individual offerings to the altar together with the communal offering of the bread and the wine which is transformed into the Body and Blood of the "Lamb of God" "the eternal Tamid lamb who offers Himself to "take away the sins of the world" (Jn 1:29).
Question: Read about Jesus' praise of the widow bringing her small offering to the Temple service in Luke 21:1-4. Why did Jesus praise her? What did He mean when He praised her for bringing her meager offering out of her poverty instead of out of abundance like the other people Jesus saw? What lesson is there for us in this account of the widow's faithful generosity to God?
1. According to Jewish tradition the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Shelosh Esreh Middot) are the "ways" (Ex 33:19) by which God governs the universe and directs the destiny of man. The list was composed from Talmudic and rabbinic tradition and is built on the thirteen Hebrew words found in Ex 34:6-7a and 9b. Instead of using YHWH, which is in the Hebrew text, the Jews never write or pronounce the Divine Name but substitute the word "Adonai" (Lord): (1) Adonai "compassion before man sins; (2) Adonai "compassion after man has sinned; (3) El (God): mighty in compassion to give all creatures according to their need; (4) Rachum "merciful, that mankind may not be distressed; (5) Hanan/Chanun "gracious if mankind is already in distress; (6) Erech appayim "slow to anger; (7) Rav hesed/chesed "plenteous in mercy; (8) Emet "truth; (9) Notzer hesed/chesed laalafim "keeping mercy unto the thousands; (10) Noseh avon "forgiving iniquity; (11) Noseh peshah "forgiving transgression; (12) Noseh hatah/chatah "forgiving sin; (13) Venakeh "and pardoning. There are several different opinions as to how to count the attributes and on which word begins the list, i.e., whether beginning the list with the first use of God's Divine Name (written in the Tanach as "Adonai") or the second. See S. D. Luzartto, Commentary to the Pentateuch, pages 386-387.
2. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called the "days of repentance" when many penitential prayers are recited in addition to the daily prayers. After every such petition the introductory prayer known as the El Melech Yoshev is recited, followed by the verses from Ex 34:5-7a and 9b "the Shelosh Esreh Middot (Thirteen Attributes of Mercy). God's attributes of mercy are echoed in other Scripture passages, i.e., see Ps 86:15-16; 103:8; 145:8.
3. The Hebrew word which describes Moses' face as "radiant" or "shinning" is the verb karan (qaran), which is derived from the Hebrew root keren/qeren, a noun meaning "horn." Unfortunately, St. Jerome mistranslated this passage and described Moses' face as "horned" in his Latin Vulgate translation; hence Michelangelo's famous statue shows Moses sitting with the tablets of the Law in his lap and horns on his head.
4. The JPS Commentary notes that the Hebrew verbal forms used to describe the renewing of the radiance and the wearing of the veil indicate that until his death Moses' face remained radiant (page 221).
5. For example see Gen 28:18 where Jacob erected a standing stone to commemorate his vision of Yahweh at Bethel and again in Gen 35:14, or in Gen 31:44-45, 52 when Jacob erected a standing stone as a witness to his treaty with Laban. A standing stone could also mark a grave as it did for Rachel in Gen 35:20. Moses erected twelve standing stones at Mt. Sinai to commemorate God's covenant treaty with the twelve tribes of Israel in the ratification ceremony (Ex 24:4).
Catechism references: Exodus 33:18-36:34 (* indicates the Scripture passage is either quoted or paraphrased in the citation).
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