This week's Torah portion gives an overview of how to construct a moveable structure so that the Divine Presence can dwell within the people of Israel. Unlike the redemption half-shekels required of all, the amount of this contribution depends upon the individual's heart. Adonai has given the Israelites everything they have, but they can decide how much they give back. Like the corners of a farmer's field that he must leave for the stranger, alien, orphan, and widow, the amount is not defined. A generous farmer will leave big corners; a generous individual will give much silver, gold, copper, linen, wool, spice, or hides to the common meeting place for worship.
One Jewish tradition is that the gemstones for the high priest's garment were Divinely placed into the clouds of glory that accompanied Israel. This is an interesting detail, giving a glimpse back to the Garden of Eden and how the Israelites built the Mishkan (Tabernacle) off the grid. The energy of the Garden was found in the "wheels" of its rivers, which circled it (see
Creation Gospel Workbook Five Volume 1 "Bereishit"). In Genesis Two are multiple prophecies that are re-established in the Mishkan, and later, the Temple.
The outer river of Eden was the Pishon, which the rabbis associate with pishton, or flax, the substance of priestly linen.
bdolach) stone inside the rivers was said to have a prism-like effect, bending light into a rainbow of colors. Likewise, the
tachash, the creature from whose skin the outer Mishkan cover was made, was said to be an animal known for its rainbow-like colors of its skin. It is sometimes translated as a "porpoise" or "badger," but the tradition is that no one knows exactly what it looked like, for it was created especially for the Mishkan.
The manna that supplied the Israelites' daily bread had the appearance of bdellium (
bdolach) stone. Some of that manna was hidden inside the Holy of Holies, hidden manna.
shoham (onyx) stones inside the rivers are black stones, but their Hebrew root means "to turn white," matching the white stone of John's vision, but also forming the shoulder-pieces of the ephod. Each stone held six of the twelve tribes' names.
Inside the Garden was the Tree of Life, the wisdom of the Torah. This, too, was enclosed in a golden cabinet inside a wooden box inside another golden cabinet (overlay) on tablets in the Ark. The shittim tree formed the interior of several pieces of the Mishkan along with its beams.
There was Good Gold inside the rivers of Eden, a noun construct that the Jewish translators say was a proper name, not a description of the gold. In other words, it was a prophecy of a people who would one day populate that Garden, and gold was the setting for the jewels of the
choshen (breastplate) of the High Priest and the
shoham stones. Gold was used extensively in the Mishkan's inner areas.
The cheruvim guarded the entrance to the Garden and the Tree of Life. Likewise, cheruvim guarded the commandments in the Holy of Holies, spreading their wings over them:
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments... She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast. (Pr 3:1, 18)
The cheruvim were also woven into the parokhet and one of the covers of the Mishkan. Incredibly, the "four faces" of the cheruvim as described in Ezekiel (man, ox, lion, eagle) were not embroidered as is sometimes translated, but actually woven in such a way that there were different faces front and back, such as a lion on one side and an eagle on the other. Those four living creatures defined the flaming wheels within the wheel in Ezekiel, perfectly describing the movement of the fiery rivers of Eden and the Spirit of Adonai. For this reason, some depictions of the cheruvim have an extra set of wings according to Ezekiel's vision.
Want to know more about those fiery rivers and how Eden was built off the grid? Join Brad Scott and me May 3-5, 2019, in Cincinnati for a Creation experience and optional visits to The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.