Part 3 out of 7

were the rewards of those who give alms; in that one, of those who
bring up orphans. In this way He showed him the destination of
each one of the treasures, until at length they came to one of
gigantic size. "For whom is this treasure?" asked Moses, and God
answered: "Out of the treasures that I have shown thee I give
rewards to those who have deserved them by their deeds; but out
of this treasure do I give to those who are not deserving, for I am
gracious to those also who may lay no claim to My graciousness,
and I am bountiful to those who are not deserving of My bounty."

Moses now had to content himself with the certainty that the pious
were sure of their deserts; without, however, learning from God,
how it sometimes comes to pass that evil doers, too, are happy. For
God merely stated that He also shows Himself kind to those who
do not deserve it, but without further assigning the why and the
wherefore. But the reward to the pious, too, was only in part
revealed to him, for he beheld the joys of Paradise of which they
were to partake, but not the real reward that is to follow the feast
in Paradise; for truly "eye hath not seen, beside the Lord, what He
hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him." [289]

By means of the following incident God showed Moses how little
man is able to fathom the inscrutable ways of the Lord. When
Moses was on Sinai, he saw from that station a man who betook
himself to a river, stooped down to drink, lost his purse, and
without noticing it went his way. Shortly after, another man cam,
found the money, pocketed it, and took to his heels. When the
owner of the purse became aware of his loss, he returned to the
river, where he did not find his money, but saw a man, who came
there by chance to fetch water. To him he said: "Restore to me the
money that a little while ago I left here, for none can have taken it
if not thou." When the man declared that he had found none of the
money nor seen any of it, the owner slew him. Looking with horror
and amazement on this injustice on earth, Moses said to God: "I
beseech Thee, show my Thy ways. Why has this man, who was
quite innocent, been slain, and why hath the true thief gone
unpunished?" God replied: "The man who found the money and
kept it merely recovered his own possession, for he who had lost
the purse by the river, had formerly stolen it from him; but the one
who seemed to be innocently slain is only making atonement for
having at one time murdered the father of his slayer." [290] In this
way, God granted the request of Moses, "to show him His ways,"
in part only. He let him look into the future, and let him see every
generation and it sages, every generation and its prophets, every
generation and its expounders of the Scriptures, every generation
and its leaders, ever generation and its pious men. But when Moses
said: "O Lord of the world! Let me see by what law Thou dost
govern the world; for I see that many a just man is lucky, but many
a one is not; many a wicked man is lucky, but many a one is not;
many a rich man is happy, but many a one is not; many a poor man
is happy, but many a one is not;" then God answered: "Thou canst
not grasp all the principles which I apply to the government of the
world, but some of them shall I impart to thee. When I see human
beings who have no claim to expectations from Me either for their
own deeds or for those of their fathers, but who pray to Me and
implore Me, then do I grant their prayers and give them what they
require from subsistence." [291]

Although God had now granted all of his wishes, still Moses
received the following answer to his prayer, "I beseech Thee, show
me Thy glory": "Thou mayest not behold My glory, or else thou
wouldst perish, but in consideration of My vow to grant thee all
thy wishes, and in view of the fact that thou are in possession of
the secret of My name, I will meet thee so far as to satisfy thy
desire in part. Lift the opening of the cave, and I will bid all the
angels that serve Me pass in review before thee; but as soon as
thou hearest the Name, which I have revealed to thee, know then
that I am there, and bear thyself bravely and without fear.' [292]

God has a reason for not showing His glory to Moses. He said to
him: "When I revealed Myself to thee in the burning bush, thou
didst not want to look upon Me; now thou are willing, but I am
not." [293]


The cave in which Moses concealed himself while God passed in
review before him with His celestial retinue, was the same in
which Elijah lodged when God revealed Himself to him on Horeb.
If there had been in it an opening even as tiny as a needle's point,
both Moses and Elijah would have been consumed by the passing
Divine light, [294] which was of an intensity so great that Moses,
although quite shut off in the cave, nevertheless caught the
reflection of it, so that from its radiance his face began to shine.
[295] Not without great danger, however, did Moses earn this
distinction; for as soon as the angels heard Moses request God to
show him His glory, they were greatly incensed against him, and
said to God: "We, who serve Thee night and day, may not see Thy
glory, and he, who is born of woman, asks to see it!" In their anger
they made ready to kill Moses, who would certainly have perished,
had not God's hand protected him from the angels. Then God
appeared in the cloud.

It was the seventh time that He appeared on earth, [296] and taking
the guise of a precentor of a congregation, He said to Moses:
"Whenever Israel hath sinned, and calleth Me by the following
thirteen attributes, I will forgive them their sins. I am the Almighty
God who provides for all creatures. I am the Merciful One who
restrains evil from human kind. I am the Gracious One who helps
in time of need. I am the Long-Suffering to the upright as well as
to the wicked. I am Bountiful to those whose own deed do not
entitle them to lay claim to rewards. I am Faithful to those who
have a right to expect good from Me; and preserve graciousness
unto the two-thousandth generation. I forgive misdeeds and even
atrocious actions, in forgiving those who repent." [297] When
Moses heard this, and particularly that God is long-suffering with
sinners, [298] he prayed: "O forgive, then, Israel's sin which they
committed in worshipping the Golden Calf." Had Moses now
prayed, "Forgive the sins of Israel unto the end of all time," God
would have granted that too, as it was a time of mercy; but as
Moses asked forgiveness for this one sin only, this one only was
pardoned, and God said: "I have pardoned according to thy word."

The day on which God showed Himself merciful to Moses and to
His people, was the tenth day of Tishri, the day on which Moses
was to receive the tables of the law from God for the second time,
and all Israel spent it amid prayer and fasting, that the evil spirit
might not again lead them astray. Their ardent tears and
exhortations, joined with those of Moses, reached heaven, so that
God took pity upon them and said to them: "My children, I swear
by my lofty Name that these your tears shall be tears of rejoicing
for you; that this day shall be a day of pardon, of forgiveness, and
of the canceling of sins for you, for your children, and your
children's children to the end of all generations." [300]

This day was not set for the annual Day of Atonement, without
which the world could not exist, and which will continue even in
the future world when all other holy days will cease to be. The Day
of Atonement, however, is not only a reminiscence of the day on
which God was reconciled to Israel and forgave them their sins,
but it is also the day on which Israel finally received the Torah.
[301] For after Moses has spent forty days in prayer, until God
finally forgave Israel their sins, he began to reproach himself for
having broken the tables of the law, saying" "Israel asked me to
intercede for them before God, but who will, on account of my sin,
intercede before God for my sake?" Then God said to him: "Grieve
not for the loss of the first two tables, which contained only the
Ten Commandments. The second tables that I am now ready to
give thee, shall contain Halakot, Midrash, and Haggadot." [302]

At the new moon of the month Elul, Moses had the trumpet
sounded throughout the camp, announcing to the people that he
would once more betake himself to God for forty days to receive
the second tables from Him, so that they might be alarmed by his
absence; and he stayed in heaven until the tenth day of Tishri, on
which day he returned with the Torah and delivered it to Israel.


Whereas the first tables had been given on Mount Sinai amid great
ceremonies, the presentation of the second tables took place
quietly, for God said: "There is nothing lovelier than quiet
humility. The great ceremonies on the occasion of presenting the
first tables had the evil effect of directing an evil eye toward them,
so that they were finally broken." [304] In this also were the
second tables differentiated from the first, that the former were the
work of God, and the latter, the work of man. God dealt with Israel
like the king who took to himself to wife and drew up the marriage
contract with his own hand. One day the king noticed his wife
engaged in very intimate conversation with a slave; and enraged at
her unworthy conduct, he turned here out of his house. Then he
who had given the bride away at the wedding came before the king
and said to him: "O sire, dost thou not know whence thou didst
take thy bride? She had been brought up among the slaves, and
hence is intimate with them." The king allowed himself to be
appeased, saying to the other: "Take paper and let a scribe draw up
a new marriage contract, and here take my authorization, signed in
my own hand." Just so did Israel fare with their God when Moses
offered the following excuse for their worship of the Golden Calf:
"O Lord, dost Thou not know whence Thou hast brought Israel, out
of a land of idolaters?" God replied: "Thou desirest Me to forgive
them. Well, then, I shall do so, now fetch Me hither tables on
which I may write the words that were written on the first. But to
reward thee for offering up thy life for their sake, I shall in the
future send thee along with Elijah, that both of you together may
prepare Israel for the final deliverance." [305]

Moses fetched the tables out of a diamond quarry which God
pointed out to him, and the chips that fell, during the hewing, from
the precious stone made a rich man of Moses, so that he now
possessed all the qualifications of a prophet - wealth, strength,
humility, and wisdom. In regard to the last-named be it said, that
God given in Moses' charge all the fifty gates of wisdom except

As the chips falling from the precious stone were designed for
Moses alone, so too had originally the Torah, written on these
tables, been intended only Moses and his descendants; but he was
benevolent of spirit, and imparted the Torah to Israel. [306] The
wealth that Moses procured for himself in fashioning the Torah,
was a reward for having taken charge of the corpse of Joseph
while all the people were appropriating to themselves the treasures
of Egyptians. God now said: "Moses deserves the chips from the
tables. Israel, who did not occupy themselves with labors of piety,
carried off the best of Egypt at the time of their exodus. Shall
Moses, who saw to the corpse of Joseph, remain poor? Therefore
will I make him rich through these chips." [307]

During the forty days he spent in heaven, Moses received beside
the two tables all the Torah - the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud, and
Haggadah, yea, even all that ever clever scholars would ask their
teacher was revealed to him. When he now received the command
from God to teach all this to Israel, he requested God to write
down all the Torah and to give it to Israel in that way. But God
said: "Gladly would I give them the whole in writing, but it is
revealed before Me that the nations of the world will hereafter
read the Torah translated into Greek, and will say: 'We are the true
Israel, we are the children of God.' Then I shall say to the nations:
'Ye claim to be MY children, do ye not know that those only are
My children to whom I have confided My secret, the oral
teaching?'" This was the reason why the Pentateuch only was given
to Moses in writing, and the other parts of the Torah by word of
mouth. Hence the covenant God made with Israel reads: "I gave ye
a written and an oral Torah. My covenant with you says that ye
shall study the written Torah as a written thing, and the oral as an
oral; but in case you confound the one with the other you will not
be rewarded. For the Torah's sake alone have I made a covenant
with you; had ye not accepted the Torah, I should not have
acknowledged you before all other nations. Before you accepted
the Torah, you were just like all other nations, and for the Torah's
sake alone have I lifted you above the others. Even your king,
Moses, owes the distinction he enjoys in this world and in the
world hereafter to the Torah alone. Had you not accepted the
Torah, then should I have dissolved the upper and the under worlds
into chaos." [308]

Forty days and forty nights Moses now devoted to the study of the
Torah, and in all the time he ate no bread and drank no water,
acting in accordance with the proverb, "If thou enterest a city,
observe its laws." The angels followed this maxim when they
visited Abraham, for they there ate like men; and so did Moses,
who being among angels, like the angels partook of no food. He
received nourishment from radiance of the Shekinah, which also
sustains the holy Hayyot that bear the Throne. Moses spent the day
in learning the Torah from God, and the night in repeating what he
had learned. In this way he set an example for Israel, that they
might occupy themselves with the Torah by night and by day.

During this time Moses also wrote down the Torah, although the
angels found it strange that God should have given him the
commission to write down the Torah, and gave expression to their
astonishment in the following words, that they addressed to God:
"How is it that Thou givest Moses permission to write, so that he
may write whatever he will, and say to Israel, 'I gave you the
Torah, I myself wrote it, and then gave it to you?'" But God
answered: "Far be it from Moses to do such a thing, he is a faithful

When Moses had complete the writing of the Torah, he wiped his
pen on the hair of his forehead, and from this heavenly ink that
cleaved to his forehead originated the beams of light that radiated
from it. [309] In this way God fulfilled to Moses the promise:
"Before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been
done in all the earth, nor in any nation." [310] On Moses' return
from heaven, the people were greatly amazed to see his face
shining, and there was fear, too, in their amazement. This fear was
a consequence of their sin, for formerly they had been able to bear
without fear the sight of "the glory of the Lord that was like
devouring fire," although it consisted of seven sheaths of fire, laid
one over another; but after their transgression they could not even
bear to look upon the countenance of the man who had been the
intermediator between themselves and God. [311] But Moses
quieted them, and instantly set about imparting to the people the
Torah he had received from God.

His method of instruction was as follows: first came Aaron, to
whom he imparted the word of God, and as soon as he had
finished with Aaron, came the sons of Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar,
and he instructed them, while Aaron sat at his right hand, listening.
When he had finished with the sons of Aaron, the elders appeared
to receive instruction, while Eleazar sat at the right hand of his
father, and Ithamar at the left hand of Moses, and listened; and
when he had finished with the elders, the people came and
received instruction, whereupon Moses withdrew. Then Aaron
went over what had been taught, and his sons likewise, and the
elders, until every one, from Aaron down to every man out of the
people, had four times repeated what he had learned, for in this
way had God bidden Moses impress the Torah four times upon
Israel. [312]


At sight of the rays that emanated from Moses' face, the people
said to him: "We were humbled by God owing to that sin we had
committed. God, thou sayest, had forgiven us, and is reconciled to
us. Thou, Moses, were include in our humiliation, and we see that
He has once more exalted thee, whereas, in spite of the
reconciliation with God, we remain humbled." Hereupon Moses
betook himself to God and said; "When Thou didst humble them,
Thou didst humble me also, hence shouldst Thou now raise them
too, if Thou has raised me." God replied: "Truly, as I have exalted
thee, so will I exalt them also; record their number, and through
this show the world how near to My heart is the nation that before
all others acknowledged Me as their king, singing by the Red Sea:
'This is my God, and I will exalt Him.'" Moses then said to God: "O
Lord of the world! Thou hast so many nation in Thy world, but
Thou carest nothing about recording their numbers, and only Israel
dost Thou bid me count." God replied: "All these multitudes do not
belong to Me, they are doomed to the destruction of Gehenna, but
Israel is My possession, and as a man most prizes the possession
he paid for most dearly, so is Israel most dear to Me, because I
have with great exertions made it My own." [313] Moses further
said to God: "O Lord of the world! To our father Abraham Thou
made the following promises: 'And I will make thy seed as the
stars in the heavens,' but now Thou biddest me number Israel. If
their forefather Abraham could not count them, how, then, should
I?" But God quieted Moses, saying: "Thou needest not actually
count them, but if thou wouldst determine their number, add
together the numerical value of the names of the tribes, and the
result will be their number." And truly in this way did Moses
procure the sum total of the Jews, which amounted to sixty
myriads less three thousand, the three thousand having been swept
away by the plague in punishment for their worship of the Golden
Calf. Hence the difference between the number at the exodus from
Egypt, when Moses had counted them for the first time, and the
number at the second census, after the losses incurred by the
plague. God treated Israel as did that king his herd, who ordered
the shepherds tell the tale of the sheep when he heard that wolves
had been among them and had killed some, having this reckoning
made in order to determine the amount of his loss.

The occasions on which, in the course of history, Israel were
numbered, are as follows: Jacob counted his household upon
entering Egypt; Moses counted Israel upon the exodus from Egypt;
after the worship of the Golden Calf; at the arrangement into camp
divisions; and at the distribution of the promised land. Saul twice
instituted a census of the people, the first time when he set out
against Nahash, the Ammonite, and the second time when he set
out in war upon Amalek. It is significant of the enormous turn in
the prosperity of the Jews during Saul's reign, that at the first
census every man put down a pebble, so that the pebbles might be
counted, but at the second census the people were so prosperous
that instead of putting down a pebble, every man brought a lamb.
There was a census in the reign of David, which, however, not
having been ordered by God, had unfortunate consequences both
for the king and for the people. Ezra instituted the last census
when the people returned from Babylon to the Holy Land. Apart
from these nine censuses, God will Himself count His people in
the future time when their number will be so great that no mortal
will be able to count them. [314]

There was an offering to the sanctuary connected with the second
census in Moses' time, when every one above twenty years of age
had to offer up half a shekel. For God said to Moses: "They indeed
deserve death for having made the Golden Calf, but let each one
offer up to the Eternal atonement money for his soul, and in this
way redeem himself from capital punishment." When the people
heard this, they grieved greatly, for they thought: "In vain did we
exert ourselves in taking booty from the Egyptians, if we are not to
yield up our hard-earned possessions as atonement money. The
law prescribes that a man pay fifty shekels of silver for
dishonoring a woman, and we who have dishonored the word of
God, should have to pay at least an equal amount. The law
furthermore decrees that if an ox kill a servant, his owner shall pay
thirty shekels of silver, hence every Israelite should have to
discharge such a sum, for 'we changed our glory into the similitude
of an ox that eateth grass.' But these two fines would not suffice,
for we slandered God, He who brought us out of Egypt, by calling
out to the Calf, 'This is thy God, that brought thee up out of Egypt,'
and slander is punishable by law with one hundred shekels of
silver." God who knew their thoughts, said to Moses: "Ask them
why they are afraid. I do not ask of them to pay as high a fine as he
who dishonors or seduces a woman, nor the penalty of a slanderer,
nor that of the owner of a goring ox, all that I ask of them is this,"
and hereupon he showed Moses at the fire a small coin that
represented the value of half a shekel. This coin each one of those
who had passed through the Red Sea was to give as an offering.

There were several reasons why God asked particularly for the
value of half a shekel as a penalty. As they committed their sin, the
worship of the Golden Calf, in the middle, that is the half of the
day, so they were to pay half of a shekel; and, furthermore, as they
committed their sin in the sixth hour of the day, so were they to
pay half a shekel, which is six grains of silver. This half shekel,
furthermore, contains ten gerahs, and is hence the corresponding
fine for those who trespassed the Ten Commandments. The half
shekel was also to be an atonement for the sin committed by the
ten sons of Jacob, who sold their brother Joseph as a slave, for
whom each had received half a shekel as his share. [315]


When, on that memorable Day of Atonement, God indicated His
forgiveness to Israel with the words, "I have forgiven them
according as I have spoken," Moses said: "I now feel convinced
that Thou hast forgiven Israel, but I wish Thou wouldst show the
nations also that Thou are reconciled with Israel." For these were
saying: "How can a nation that heard God's word on Sinai, 'Thou
shalt have no other gods before Me,' and that forty days later called
out to the Calf, 'This is thy god, O Israel,' expect that God would
ever be reconciled to them?" God therefore said to Moses: "As
truly as thou livest, I will let My Shekinah dwell among them, so
that all my know that I have forgiven Israel. My sanctuary in their
midst will be a testimony of My forgiveness of their sins, and
hence it may well be called a 'Tabernacle of Testimony.'" [316]

The erection of a sanctuary among Israel was begun in answer to a
direct appeal from the people, who said to God: "O Lord of the
world! The kings of the nations have palaces in which are set a
table, candlesticks, and other royal insignia, that their king may be
recognized as such. Shalt not Thou, too, our King, Redeemer, and
Helper, employ royal insignia, that all the dwellers of the earth
may recognize that Thou are their King?" God replied: "My
children, the kings of the flesh and blood need all these things, but
I do not, for I need neither food nor drink; nor is light necessary to
Me, as can well be seen by this, that My servants, the sun and the
moon, illuminate all the world with the light they receive from
Me; hence ye need do none of these things for Me, for without
these signs of honor will I let all good things fall to your lot in
recognition of the merits of your fathers." But Israel answered: "O
Lord of the world! We do not want to depend on our fathers.
'Doubtless Thou are our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us,
and Israel acknowledge us not." God hereupon said: "If you now
insist upon carrying out your wish, do so, but do it in the way I
command you. It is customary in the world that whosoever had a
little son, cares for him, anoints him, washes him, feeds him, and
carries him, but as soon as the son is come of age, he provides for
his father a beautiful dwelling, a table, and a candlestick. So long
as you were young, did I provide for you, washed you, fed you with
bread and meat, gave you water to drink, and bore you on eagles'
wings; but now that you are come of age, I wish you to build a
house for Me, set therein a table and a candlestick, and make an
altar of incense within it." [317] God then gave them detailed
instruction for furnishing the Tabernacle, saying to Moses; "Tell
Israel that I order them to build Me a tabernacle not because I lack
a dwelling, for, even before the world had been created, I had
erected My temple in the heavens; but only as a token of My
affection for you will I leave My heavenly temple and dwell
among you, 'they shall make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell
among them.'"

At these last words Moses seized by a great fear, such as had taken
possession of him only on two other occasions. Once, when God
said to him, "Let each give a ransom for his soul," when, much
alarmed, he said: "If a man were to give all that he hath for his
soul, it would not suffice." God quieted him with the words, "I do
not ask what is due Me, but only what they can fulfil, half a shekel
will suffice." Then again, fear stirred Moses when God said to
him: "Speak to Israel concerning My offering, and My bread for
My sacrifices made by fire," and he said trembling, "Who can
bring sufficient offerings to Thee? 'Lebanon is not sufficient to
burn, nor the beast thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.'" Then
again God quieted him with the words, "I demand not according to
what is due Me, but only that which they can fulfil, one sheep as a
morning sacrifice, and one sheep as an evening sacrifice." The
third time, God was in the midst of giving Moses instructions
concerning the building of the sanctuary, when Moses exclaimed
in fear: "Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain
Thee, how much less this sanctuary that we are to build Thee?"
And this time also God quieted him with the words, "I do not ask
what is due Me, but only that which they can fulfil; twenty boards
to the north, as many to the south, eight in the west, and I shall
then so draw My Shekinah together that it may find room under
them." [318] God was indeed anxious to have a sanctuary erected
to Him, it was the condition on which He led them out of Egypt,
[319] yea, in a certain sense the existence of all the world
depended on the construction of the sanctuary, for when the
sanctuary had been erected, the world stood firmly founded,
whereas until then it had always been swaying hither and thither.
[320] Hence the Tabernacle in its separate parts also corresponded
to the heaven and the earth, that had been created on the first day.
As the firmament had been created on the second day to divide the
waters which were under the firmament from the waters which
were above, so there was a curtain in the Tabernacle to divide
between the holy and the most holy. As God created the great sea
on the third say, so did He appoint the laver in the sanctuary to
symbolize it, and as He had on that day destined the plant kingdom
as nourishment for man, so did He now require a table with bread
in the Tabernacle. The candlestick in the Tabernacle corresponded
to the two luminous bodies, the sun and the moon, created on the
fourth day; and the seven branches of the candlestick corresponded
to the seven planets, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Saturn,
Jupiter, and Mars. Corresponding to the birds created on the fifth
day, the Tabernacle contained the Cherubim, that had wings like
birds. On the sixth, the last day of creation, man had been created
in the image of God to glorify his Creator, and likewise was the
high priest anointed to minister in the Tabernacle before the Lord
and Creator. [321]


When, on the Day of Atonement, God said to Moses, "Let them
make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them," that the
nations of the world might see that He has forgiven Israel their sin,
the worship of the Golden Calf, it was gold He bade them bring for
the adornment of the sanctuary. God said: "The gold of the
Tabernacle shall serve as an expiation for the gold they employed
in the construction of the Golden Calf. Besides gold, let them
bring Me twelve other materials for the construction of the
Tabernacle: 'silver, brass, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, fine
linen, and goats' hair, and rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins,
and shittim wood, oil for the light, spices for anointing-oil, and for
sweet incense, onyx stones and stones to be set in the ephod and in
the breastplate.'" To these instructions, God added these words:
"But do not suppose that you are giving Me these thirteen objects
as gifts, for thirteen deed did I perform for you in Egypt, which
these thirteen objects now repay. For 'I clothed you with broidered
work, and shod you with badgers' skins, and girded you about with
fine linen, and I covered you with silk. I decked you also with
ornaments, and I put bracelets upon your arms, and chains about
your necks. And I put jewels on your foreheads, and earrings in
your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your heads.' But in the
future world, in return for these thirteen offerings to the
Tabernacle, you shall receive thirteen gifts from Me, when 'I shall
create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her
assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a
flaming fire by night, for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And
there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the
heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert, from storms and
from rain.'" God continued: "Give your contributions to the
sanctuary with a willing heart. Do not think that you need give
anything out of your pockets, for all you have belongs to Me,
through whom you received it in you passage through the Red Sea,
when you took their wealth from the Egyptians. [322] I demand
nothing from the other nations, but from you I do so, because it
was I that led you out of Egypt. But you shall erect a sanctuary to
Me not in this world only, but in the future world also. At first the
Torah dwelt with Me, but now that it is in your possession, you
must let Me dwell among you with the Torah."

Through the various objects God bade them dedicate to the
sanctuary, the course of their history was indicated. The gold
signified their yoke under Babylon, "the head of golds;" the silver
pointed toward the sovereignty of Persia and Media, who through
silver tried to bring about the destruction of Israel; brass stood for
the Greek Empire, that like this metal is of inferior quality, its rule
also was less significant than that of its predecessors in the
sovereignty over the world; the ram's skins dyed red indicate the
sovereignty of "red Rome." God now said to Israel: "Although you
now behold the four nations that will hold sway over you, still
shall I send you help out of your bondage, 'oil for the light,' the
Messiah, who will enlighten the eyes of Israel, and who will make
use of 'spices for anointing-oil,' for he will anoint the high priest,
that once again 'I may accept you with your sweet savour.'" [323]

When Moses was in heaven, God showed him the Tabernacle, as
well as models for all the holy vessels therein, hence Moses
naturally supposed that he was destined to be the builder of the
Tabernacle. But he was mistaken, for when he was about to leave
heaven, God said to Moses: "Thee have I appointed king, and it
does not behoove a king to execute works in person, but to give
people directions. Therefore thou are not to execute the building of
the Tabernacle in person, but thou art to give them thy directions
to be executed." Moses now asked God whom he should select as
the man to carry out his orders, whereupon God fetched out the
book of Adam and laid it before Moses. In this book he found
recorded all the generations, from the creation of the world to the
resurrection of the dead, and the kings, leaders, and prophets set
down beside every generation. Then God said to Moses: "In that
hour did I decree every man's calling, and Bezalel was then
appointed to his task." [324]


Bezalel was, first of all, of a noble line. His father Hur was a son
of Caleb from his union with Miriam, Moses' sister, that Hur who
gave his life to restrain Israel from the worship of the Golden Calf.
As a reward for his martyrdom, his son Bezalel was to build the
Tabernacle, and one of his later descendants, King Solomon, was
to build the Temple at Jerusalem. Bezalel was not only of a
distinguished family, he was himself a man of distinction,
possessed of wisdom, insight, and understanding. By means of
these three God created the world; Bezalel erected the Tabernacle.
Through their aid was the Temple complete, and even in the future
world will it be wisdom, insight, and understanding, these three
that God will employ to set up the new Temple. Bezalel,
furthermore, had wisdom in the Torah, insight into the Halakah,
and understanding in the Talmud, [325] but more than this, he was
well versed in secret lore, knowing as he did the combination of
letters by means of which God created heaven and earth. The name
Bezalel, "in the shadow of God," was most appropriate for this
man whose wisdom made clear to him what none could know save
one who dwelt "in the shadow of God."

Moses had an instant opportunity of testing the wisdom of this
builder appointed by God. God had bidden Moses first to erect the
Tabernacle, then the Holy Ark, and lastly to prepare the
furnishings of the Tabernacle; but Moses, to put Bezalel's wisdom
to the test, ordered him to construct first the Holy Ark, then the
furnishings of the Tabernacle, and only then the sanctuary.
Hereupon wise Bezalel said to Moses: "O our teacher Moses, it is
the way of man first to build his house, and only then to provide its
furnishings. Thou biddest me first provide furnishings and then
build a sanctuary. What shall I do with the furnishings when there
is no sanctuary ready to receive them?" Moses, delighted with
Bezalel's wisdom, replied: "Now truly, the command was given
just as thou sayest. Wert thou, perchance, 'in the shadow of God,'
that thou knewest it?"

Although God knew that Bezalel was the right man for the erection
of the Tabernacle, still He asked Moses, "Dost thou consider
Bezalel suited to this task?" Moses replied: "O Lord of the world!
If Thou considerest him suitable, then surely do I!" But God said:
"Go, nevertheless, and ask Israel if they approve My choice of
Bezalel." Moses did as he was bidden, and the people assented in
these words: "If Bezalel is judged good enough by God and by
thee, assuredly he is approved by us." [326] As the builder of the
Tabernacle, God gave Bezalel five other names to bear. He called
him Reaiah, "to behold," for Bezalel was beheld by God, by
Moses, and by Israel, as the one who had been decreed for his
activity since the beginning of the world. He called him "the son of
Shobal," because he had erected the Tabernacle that towered high,
like a dove-cote. He called him Jahath, "the Trembler," because he
made the sanctuary, the seat of the fear of God. He called him
Ahamai, because, through his work, the sanctuary, Israel, and God
were united; and finally Lahad, as the one who brought splendor
and loftiness it Israel, for the sanctuary is the pride and splendor of

At the side of Bezalel, the noble Judean, worked Oholiab, of the
insignificant tribe of Dan, to show that "before God, the great and
the lowly are equal." And as the Tabernacle rose, thanks to the
combined efforts of a Judean and a Danite, so too did the Temple
of Jerusalem, which was built at the command of the Judean
Solomon by the Danite Hiram. [327] As the head-workers of the
Tabernacle were filled with the holy spirit of God in order to
accomplish their task aright, so too were all who aided in its
construction, yes, even the beasts that were employed on this
occasion possessed wisdom, insight, and understanding. [328]


The very first thing that Bezalel constructed was the Ark of the
Covenant, contrary to Moses' order, first to erect the Tabernacle
and then to supply its separate furnishings. He succeeded in
convincing Moses that it was the proper thing to begin with the
Ark, saying: "What is the purpose of this Tabernacle?" Moses:
"That God may let His Shekinah rest therein, and so teach the
Torah to His people Israel." Bezalel: "And where dost thou keep
the Torah?" Moses: "As soon as the Tabernacle shall have been
complete, we shall make the Ark for keeping the Torah." Bezalel:
"O our teacher Moses, it does not become the dignity of the Torah
that in the meanwhile it should lie around like this, let us rather
first make the Ark, put the Torah into it, and then continue with
the erection of the Tabernacle, for the Tabernacle exists only for
the sake of the Torah." Moses saw the justice of this argument, and
Bezalel began his work with the construction of the Ark. In this he
followed the example of God, who created light before all the rest
of the creation. So Bezalel first constructed the Ark that contains
the Torah, the light that illuminates this world and the other world;
and only then followed the rest. [329]
The Ark consisted of three caskets, a gold one, the length of then
spans and a fractional part; within this a wooden one, nine spans
long, and within this wooden one, one of gold, eight spans long, so
that within and without the wooden was overlaid with the golden
caskets. The Ark contained the two tables of the Ten
Commandments as well as the Ineffable Name, and all His other
epithets. The Ark was an image of the celestial Throne, and was
therefore the most essential part of the Tabernacle, so that even
during the march it was spread over with a cloth wholly of blue,
because this color is similar to the color of the celestial Throne. It
was through the Ark, also, that all the miracles on the way through
the desert had been wrought. Two sparks issued from the
Cherubim that shaded the Ark, and these killed all the serpents and
scorpions that crossed the path of the Israelites, and furthermore
burned all thorns that threatened to injure the wanderers on their
march through the desert. The smoke rising from these scorched
thorns, moreover, rose straight as a column, and shed a fragrance
that perfumed all the world, so that the nations exclaimed: "Who is
this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the
merchant?" [330]

Apart from this Ark, which was kept in the Tabernacle, they had
another ark, in which were contained the tables broken by Moses,
which they carried with them whenever they went to war. [331]
The Ark that Bezalel constructed was also used again in Solomon's
Temple, for he retained the Ark used by Moses in the Tabernacle,
even though all the other furnishings of the Temple were fashioned
anew. It remained there up to the time of the destruction of the
Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, when it was concealed under the
pavement of the wood-house, that it might not fall into the hands
of the enemy. This place remained a secret for all time. Once a
priest, noticing about the wood-house that something lay hidden
under it, called out to his colleagues, but was suddenly stricken
dead before divulging the secret. [332]

On the Ark were the Cherubim with their faces of boys and their
wings. Their number was two, corresponding to the two tables, and
to the two sacred names of God, Adonai and Elohim, which
characterized Him as benevolent and as powerful. The face of each
Cherub measured one span, and the wings extended each ten
spans, making twenty-two spans in all, corresponding to the
twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. [333] It was "from
between the two Cherubim" that God communed with Moses, for
the Shekinah never wholly descended to earth any more than any
mortal ever quite mounted into the heaven, even Moses and Elijah
stood a slight distance from heaven; for, "The heaven, even the
heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath He given to the children
of men." Therefore God chose the Cherubim that were ten spans
above the earth as the place where the Shekinah betook itself to
commune with Moses. [334] The heads of the Cherubim were
slightly turned back, like that of a scholar bidding his master
farewell; but as a token of God's delight in His people Israel, the
faces of the Cherubim, by a miracle, "looked one to another"
whenever Israel were devoted to their Lord, yea, even clasped one
another like a loving couple. During the festivals of the pilgrimage
the priest used to raise the curtain from the Holy of Holies to show
the pilgrims how much their God loved them as they could see in
the embrace of the two Cherubim. [335]

A tow-fold miracle came to pass when the Cherubim were brought
into the Temple by Solomon: the two staves that were attached to
the Ark extended until they touched the curtain, so that two
protuberances like a woman's breasts became visible at the back of
it, and the wings of the Cherubim furthermore extended until they
reached the ceiling of the Holy of Holies. [336]


While the number of Cherubim was the same in the Temple as in
the Tabernacle, Solomon had, on the other hand, ten tables set up
in the Temple in place of the one fashioned by Moses. This was
because the one table sufficed to bring sustenance to Israel so long
as they were maintained by manna in the desert; but as the demand
for food was greater after they settled in the promised land,
Solomon had ten tables set up. But in the Temple also did the table
of Moses retain its ancient significance, for only upon it was the
shewbread placed, and it stood in the center, whereas the tables
fashioned by Solomon stood five to the south and five to the north.
For from the south come "the dews of blessing and the rains of
plenty," while all evil comes from the north; hence Solomon said:
"The tables on the south side shall cause the rains of plenty and the
dews of blessing to come upon the earth, while the tables on the
north side shall keep off all evil from Israel." [337]

Moses had great difficulty with the construction of the candlestick,
for although God had given him instructions about it, he
completely forgot these when he descended from heaven. He
hereupon betook himself to God once more to be shown, but in
vain, for hardly had he reached earth, when he again forgot. When
he betook himself to God the third time, God took a candlestick of
fire and plainly showed him every single detail of it, that he might
now be able to reconstruct the candlestick for the Tabernacle.
When he found it still hard to form a clear conception of the nature
of the candlestick, God quieted him with these words" "Go to
Bezalel, he will do it aright." And indeed, Bezalel had no difficulty
in doing so, and instantly executed Moses' commission. Moses
cried in amazement: "God showed me repeatedly how to make the
candlestick, yet I could not properly seize the idea; but thou,
without having had it shown thee by God, couldst fashion it out of
thy own fund of knowledge. Truly dost thou deserve thy name
Bezalel, 'in the shadow of God,' for thou dost act as if thou hadst
been 'in the shadow of God' while He was showing me the
candlestick." [338]

The candlestick was later set up in the Temple of Solomon, and
although he set up ten other candlesticks, still this one was the first
to be lighted. Solomon chose the number ten because it
corresponds to the number of Words revealed on Sinai; and each
of these candlesticks had seven lamps, seventy in all, to
correspond to the seventy nations. For while these lamps burned
the power of these nations was held in check, but on the day on
which these lamps are extinguished the power of the nations is
increased. [339] The candlestick stood toward the south, and the
table to the north of the sanctuary, the table to indicate the delights
of which the pious would partake in Paradise, which lies to the
north; the light of the candlestick to symbolize the light of the
Shekinah, for in the future world there will be but one delight, to
gaze at the light of the Shekinah. [340] On account of its
sacredness the candlestick was one of the five sacred objects that
God concealed at the destruction of the Temple by
Nebuchadnezzar, and that He will restore when in His
loving-kindness He will erect His house and Temple. These sacred
objects are: the Ark, the candlestick, the fire of the altar, the Holy
Spirit of prophecy, and the Cherubim. [341]


One of the most miraculous parts of the Tabernacle was the altar.
For when God bade Moses make an altar of shittim wood and
overlay it with brass, Moses said to God: "O Lord of the world!
Thou badest me make the altar of wood and overlay it with brass,
but Thou didst also bid me have 'a fire kept burning upon the altar
continually.' Will not the fire destroy the overlay of brass, and then
consume the wood of the altar?" God replied: "Moses, thou judgest
by the laws that apply to men, but will these also apply to Me?
Behold, the angels that are of burning flame. Beside them are My
store-houses of snow and My store-houses of hail. Doth the water
quench their fire, or doth their fire consume the water? Behold,
also, the Hayyot that are of fire. Above their heads extends a
terrible sea of ice that no mortal can traverse in less than five
hundred years. Yet doth the water quench their fire, or doth their
fire consume the water? For, 'I am the Lord who maketh peace
between these elements in My high places.' But thou, because I
have bidden thee to have 'a fire kept burning upon the altar
continually,' art afraid that the wood might be consumed by the
fire. Dead things come before Me, and leave Me imbued with life,
and thou are afraid the wood of the altar might be consumed!
Thine own experience should by now have taught thee better; thou
didst pierce the fiery chambers of heaven, thou didst enter among
the fiery hosts on high, yea, thou didst even approach Me, that 'am
a consuming fire.' Surely thou shouldst then have been consumed
by fire, but thou wert unscathed because thou didst go into the fire
at My command; no more shall the brass overlay of the altar be
injured by fire, even though it be no thicker than a denarium."

In the words, "Dead things come before Me and leave Me imbued
with life," God alluded to the three following incidents. The rod of
Aaron, after it had lain for a night in the sanctuary, "brought forth
buds, and bloomed blossoms, and even yielded almonds." The
cedars that Hiram, king of Tyre, sent to Solomon for the building
of the Temple, as soon as the incense of the sanctuary reached
them, thrilled green anew, and throughout centuries bore fruits, by
means of which the young priests sustained themselves. Not until
Manasseh brought the idol into the Holy of Holies, did these
cedars wither and cease to bear fruit. The third incident to which
God alludes was the stretching of the staves of the Ark when
Solomon set them in the Holy of Holies, and the staves, after
having been apart of the Ark for four hundred and eighty years,
suddenly extended until they touched the curtain.

Solomon erected a new altar for offerings, but knowing how dear
to God was the altar erected by Moses, the brazen altar, he at least
retained the same name for his altar. But in the following words it
is evident how much God prized the altar erected by Moses, for He
said: "To reward Israel for having had 'a fire kept burning upon the
altar continually,' I shall punish 'the kingdom laden with crime' by
fire 'that shall not be quenched night or day; the smoke thereof
shall go up forever.'" [342]

Beside the brazen altar there was also one of gold, which
corresponded to the human soul, while the former corresponded to
the body; and as gold is more valuable than brass, so also is the
soul greater than the body. But both altars were used daily, as man
must also serve his Maker with both body and soul. On the brazen
altar sacrifices were offered, as the body of man, likewise, is
nourished by food; but on the golden altar, spices and sweet
incense, for the soul takes delight in perfumes only. [343]

The materials employed for the constructions of the Tabernacle,
the skins and the wood, were not of the common order. God
created the animal Tahash exclusively for the needs of the
Tabernacle, for it was so enormous that out of one skin could be
made a curtain, thirty cubits long. This species of animal
disappeared as soon as the demands of the Tabernacle for skins
were satisfied. The cedars for the Tabernacle, also, were obtained
in no common way, for whence should they have gotten cedars in
the desert? They owed these to their ancestor Jacob. When he
reached Egypt, he planted a cedar-grove and admonished his sons
to do the same, saying: "You will in the future be released from
bondage in Egypt, and God will then demand that you erect Him a
sanctuary to thank Him for having delivered you. Plant cedar trees,
then, that when God will bid you build Him a sanctuary, you may
have in your possession the cedars required for its construction."
His sons acted in accordance with the bidding of their father, and
upon leaving Egypt took along the cedars for the anticipated
erection of the sanctuary. Among these cedars was also that
wonderful cedar out of which was wrought "the middle bar in the
midst of the boards, that reached from end to end," and which
Jacob took with him from Palestine when he emigrated to Egypt,
and then left to remain among his descendants. When the cedars
were selected for the construction of the Tabernacle, they intoned
a song of praise to God for this distinction.

But not all the twenty-four species of cedar might be used for the
Tabernacle, nay, not even the seven most excellent among them
were found worthy, but only the species shittim might be used. For
God, who foresees all, knew that Israel would in the future commit
a great sin at Shittim, and therefore ordained that shittim wood be
used for the Tabernacle to serve as atonement for the sin
committed at Shittim. Shittim furthermore signifies "follies,"
hence Israel were to construct the place of penance for their folly
in adoring the Golden Calf, out of shittim wood, to atone for this
"folly." And finally, the letters of which the wood "Shittim" is
composed, stand for Shalom, "peace," Tobah, "good," Yesh'uah.
"salvation," and Mehillah, "forgiveness." [344] The boards that
were made for the Tabernacle out of shittim wood never decayed,
but endure in all eternity. [345]


The separate parts of the Tabernacle had each a symbolical
significance, for to all that is above there is something
corresponding below. There are stars above, but likewise below,
where "a star shall come out of Jacob;" God has His hosts above,
and likewise below, His people Israel, "the hosts of the Lord;"
above there are Ofannim, and on earth likewise there is an Ofan;
above, God has Cherubim, and likewise below in the sanctuary of
Israel; God hath His dwelling above, but likewise below; and,
lastly, God hath stretched out the heavens above like a curtain, and
below, in the sanctuary, were curtains of goats' hair. [346]

The number of curtains, also, corresponds to those in heaven, for
just as there are eleven upper heavens, so also were there eleven
curtains of goats' hair. [347] The size of the Tabernacle was
seventy cubits, corresponding to the seventy holy days celebrated
annually by the Jews, to wit: fifty-two Sabbaths, seven days of
Passover, eight of Tabernacles, and a day each for Pentecost, the
Day of Atonement, and New Year's Day. The number of vessels
amounted to seventy also; as likewise God, Israel, and Jerusalem
bear seventy names; and as, correspondingly, in the time between
the building of the first and of the second Temple, there were
seventy consecutive Sanhedrin. [348]

Like the Tabernacle, so the altar, too had its symbolical
significance. Its length and its breadth were five cubits each,
corresponding respectively to the five Commandments on the two
tables of the law. Its height was three cubits, corresponding to the
three deliverers God sent to deliver Israel from Egypt, - Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam. It had four horns in the corners thereof, to
atone for the sins of the people that on Sinai receive four horns,
"the horn of the Torah," "the horn of the Shekinah," "the horn of
Priesthood," and "the horn of the Kingdom." [349]

In the Tabernacle, as later in the Temple, gold, silver, and brass
were employed, but not iron. God meant to indicate by the
exclusion of iron that "in the future time," "the golden Babylon,
the silver Media, and the brazen Greece," would be permitted to
bestow the gifts on the new Temple, but not "the iron Rome." It is
true that Babylon also destroyed the sanctuary of God, like Rome,
but not with such fury and such thorough-going wrath as Rome,
whose sons cried: "Raze it, raze it, even to the foundations
thereof," and for this reason Rome may not contribute to the
Messianic Temple. And as God will reject the gifts of Rome, so
also will the Messiah, to whom all the nations of the earth will
have to offer gifts. Egypt will come with her gifts, and although
the Messiah will at first refuse to accept anything from the former
taskmaster of Israel, God will say to him: "The Egyptians granted
My children an abode in their land, do not repulse them." Then the
Messiah will accept their gift. After Egypt will follow her
neighbor, Ethiopia, with her gifts, thinking that if the Messiah
accepted gifts from the former taskmaster of Israel, he will also
accept gifts from her. Then the Messiah will also accept Ethiopia's
gifts. After these two kingdoms will follow all others with their
gifts, and all will be accepted save those from Rome. This
kingdom will be sorely disappointed, for, depending upon their
kinship with Israel, they will expect kind treatment from the
Messiah, who had graciously received the other nations not
connected with Israel. But God will call out to the Messiah: "Roar
at this monster that devours the fat of nations, that justifies its
claims for recognition through being a descendant of Abraham by
his grandson Esau, the nation that forgives all for the sake of
money, that kept Israel back from the study of the Torah, and
tempted them to deeps that are in accord with the wishes of
Satan." [350]


Simultaneously with the construction of the Tabernacle and its
vessels, were fashioned the priestly robes for Aaron and his sons. It
was at this time that God made known Aaron's appointment to the
office of high priest, saying: "Go and appoint a high priest."
Moses: "Out of which tribe?" God: "Of the tribe of Levi." Moses
was most happy upon hearing that the high priest was to be chosen
out of his tribe, and his joy was increased when God added:
"Appoint thy brother Aaron as high priest." This choice of Aaron
was, of course, also a disappointment to Moses, who had hoped
God would appoint him as His high priest, but God had designed
this dignity for Aaron to reward him for his pious deeds when
Israel worshipped the Golden Calf. For when Moses returned from
Sinai and saw the Calf fashioned by Aaron, he thought his brother
was no better than the rest of the people, and had, like them,
devoted himself to idolatry. But God knew that Aaron's
participation in the construction of the Calf was merely due to the
pious motive of delaying the people until Moses should return,
hence He even then said to Aaron: "I am fully aware of they
motive, and, as truly as thou livest, I shall appoint thee as warden
over the sacrifices that My children offer Me." In consideration of
Moses' feelings, God gave into his hands the appointment of
Aaron, saying to him: "I might have installed thy brother as high
priest without having informed thee of it, but I relinquish his
appointment to thee, that thou mayest have an opportunity of
showing the people thy humility, in that thou dost not seek this
high office for thyself." [351] At God's bidding, Aaron and his two
sons were now chosen as priest, and, moreover, not for a limited
period, but Aaron and his house were invested with the priesthood
for all eternity. As soon as these were installed as priests, Moses
set to work to instruct them thoroughly in the priestly laws. [352]

God ordered the following eight garments as Aaron's garb: coat,
breeches, mitre, girdle, breastplate, ephod, robe, and golden plate;
but his sons needed only the first four garments. All these
garments had expiatory virtues, and each expiated a definite sin.
The coat atoned for murder, the breeches for unchastity, the mitre
for pride, the girdle for theft, the breastplate for partial verdicts,
the ephod for idolatry, the bells on the robe for slander, and the
golden plate for effrontery. [353]

The breastplate and the ephod were set with precious stones,
which were the gifts of the noble to the sanctuary, though, to be
exact, they were in reality a gift from God. For precious stones and
pearls had rained down with the manna, which the noble among
Israel had gathered up and laid away until the Tabernacle was
erected, when they offered them as gifts. [354]

The ephod had only two precious stones, one on each shoulder,
and on each of these stones were engraved the names of the six
tribes in the following order: Reuben, Levi, Issachar, Naphtali,
Gad, Jehoseph, on the right shoulder-piece; Simeon, Judah,
Zebulun, Dan, Asher, Benjamin, on the left shoulder. The name
Joseph was spelled Jehoseph, a device by which the two stones had
exactly the same number of letters engraved upon them. [355] On
the breast plate were twelve precious stones, on which the names
of the three Patriarchs preceded those of the twelve tribes, and at
the end were engraved the words, "All these are the twelve tribes
of Israel." [356]


The twelve stones differed not only in color, but also in certain
qualities peculiar to each, and both quality and color had especial
reference to the tribe whose name it bore. Reuben's stone was the
ruby, that has the property, when grated by a woman and tasted by
her, of promoting pregnancy, for it was Reuben who found the
mandrakes which induce pregnancy.

Simeon's stone was the smaragd, that has the property of breaking
as soon as an unchaste woman looks at it, a fitting stone for the
tribe whose sire, Simeon, was kindles to wrath by the unchaste
action of Shechem. It was at the same time a warning to the tribe
of Simeon, that committed whoredom at Shittim with the
daughters of Moab, to be mindful of chastity, and like its stone, to
suffer no prostitution.

Levi's stone was the carbuncle, that beams like lightning, as,
likewise, the faces of that tribe beamed with piety and erudition.
This stone has the virtue of making him who wears it wise; but
true wisdom is the fear of God, and it was this tribe alone that did
not join in the worship of the Golden Calf.

Judah's stone was the green emerald, that has the power of making
its owner victorious in battle, a fitting stone for this tribe from
which springs the Jewish dynasty of kings, that routed its enemies.
The color green alludes to the shame that turned Judah's
countenance green when he publicly confessed his crime with

Issachar's stone was the sapphire, for this tribe devoted themselves
completely to the study of the Torah, and it is this very stone, the
sapphire, out of which the two tables of the law were hewn. This
stone increases strength of vision and heals many diseases, as the
Torah, likewise, to which this tribe was so devoted, enlightens the
eye and makes the body well.

The white pearl is the stone of Zebulun, for with his merchant
ships he sailed the sea and drew his sustenance from the ocean
from which the pearl, too, is drawn. The pearl has also the quality
of bringing its owner sleep, and it is all the more to the credit of
this tribe that they nevertheless spent their nights on commercial
ventures to maintain their brother-tribe Issachar, that lived only for
the study of the Torah. The pearl is, furthermore, round, like the
fortune of the rich, that turns like a wheel, and in this way the
wealthy tribe of Zebulun were kept in mind of the fickleness of

Dan's stone was a species of topaz, in which was visible the
inverted face of a man, for the Danites were sinful, turning good to
evil, hence the inverted face in their stone.

The turquoise was Naphtali's stone, for it gives its owner speed in
riding, and Naphtali was "a hind let loose."

Gad's stone was the crystal, that endows its owner with courage in
battle, and hence served this warlike tribe that battled for the Lord
as an admonition to fear none and build on God.

The chrysolite was Asher's stone, and as this stone aids digestion
and makes its owner sturdy and fat, so were the agricultural
products of Asher's tribe of such excellent quality that they made
fat those who ate of them.

Joseph's stone was the onyx, that has the virtue of endowing him
who wears it with grace, and truly, by his grace, did Joseph find
favor in the eyes of all.

Jasper was Benjamin's stone, and as this stone turns color, being
now red, now green, now even black, so did Benjamin's feelings
vary to his brothers. Sometimes he was angry with them for having
sold into slavery Joseph, the only other brother by his mother
Rachel, and in this mood he came near betraying their deed to his
father; but, that he might not disgrace his brothers, he did not
divulge their secret. To this discretion on his part alludes the
Hebrew name of his stone, Yashpeh, which signifies, "There is a
mouth," for Benjamin, though he had a mouth, did not utter the
words that would have covered his brothers with disgrace. [357]

The twelve stones in the breastplate, with their bright colors, were
of great importance in the oracular sentences of the high priest,
who by means of these stones made the Urim and Tummim
exercise their functions. For whenever the king or the head of the
Sanhedrin wished to get directions from the Urim and Tummim he
betook himself to the high priest. The latter, robed in his
breastplate and ephod, bade him look into his face and submit his
inquiry. The high priest, looking down on his breastplate, then
looked to see which of the letters engraved on the stones shone out
most brightly, and then constructed the answer out of these letters.
Thus, for example, when David inquired of the Urim and Tummim
if Saul would pursue him, the high priest Abiathar beheld
gleaming forth the letter Yod in Judah's name, Resh in Reuben's
name, and Dalet in Dan's name, hence the answer read as follows:
Yered, "He will pursue."

The information of this oracle was always trustworthy, for the
meaning of the name Urim and Tummim is in the fact that "these
answers spread light and truth," but not every high priest
succeeded in obtaining them. Only a high priest who was
permeated with the Holy Spirit, and over whom rested the
Shekinah, might obtain an answer, for in other cases the stones
withheld their power. But if the high priest was worthy, he
received an answer to every inquiry, for on these stones were
engraved all the letters of the alphabet, so that all conceivable
words could be constructed from them. [358]


On the eleventh day of Tishri Moses assembled the people, and
informed them that it was God's wish to have a sanctuary among
them, and each man was bidden to bring to the sanctuary any
offering he pleased. At the same time he impressed upon them
that, however pious a deed participation in the construction of the
Tabernacle might be, still they might under no circumstances
break the Sabbath to hasten to building of the sanctuary. Moses
thereupon expounded to them the kind of work that was
permissible on the Sabbath, and the king that was prohibited, for
there were not less then thirty-nine occupations the pursuit of
which on the Sabbath was punishable by death. [359] Owing to the
importance of keeping the Sabbath, Moses imparted the precepts
concerning it directly to the great masses of the people that he had
gathered together, and not to the elders alone. In this he acted
according to God's command, who said to him: "Go, Moses, call
together great assemblages and announce the Sabbath laws to
them, that the future generations may follow thy example, and on
Sabbath days assemble the people in the synagogues and instruct
them in the Torah, that they may know what is prohibited and what
is permitted, that My name may be glorified among My children."
In the spirit of this command did Moses institute that on every holy
day there might be preaching in the synagogues, and instruction
concerning the significance of the special holy day. He summoned
the people to these teachings with the words: "If you will follow
my example, God will count it for you as if you had acknowledged
God as your king throughout the world." [360]

The stress laid on the observance of the Sabbath laws was quite
necessary, for the people were so eager to deliver up their
contributions, that on the Sabbath Moses had to have an
announcement proclaimed that they were to take nothing out of
their houses, as the carrying of things on the Sabbath is prohibited.
[361] For Israel is a peculiar people, that answered the summons to
fetch gold for the Golden Calf, and with no less zeal answered the
summons of Moses to give contributions for the Tabernacle. They
were not content to bring things out of their houses and treasuries,
but forcibly snatched ornaments from their wives, their daughters,
and their sons, and brought them to Moses for the construction of
the Tabernacle. In this way they thought they could cancel their sin
in having fashioned the Golden Calf; then had they used their
ornaments in the construction of the idol, and now they employed
them for the sanctuary of God. [362]

The women, however, were no less eager to contribute their mite,
and were especially active in producing the woolen hangings. They
did this in no miraculous a way, that they spun the wool while it
was still upon the goats. [363] Moses did not at first want to accept
contributions from the women, but these brought their cloaks and
their mirrors, saying: "Why dost thou reject our gifts? If thou doest
so because thou wantest in the sanctuary nothing that women use
to enhance their charms, behold, here are our cloaks that we use to
conceal ourselves from the eyes of the men. But if thou are afraid
to accept from us anything that might be not our property, but our
husbands', behold, here are our mirrors that belong to us alone, and
not to our husbands." When Moses beheld the mirrors, he waxed
very angry, and bade the women to be driven from him,
exclaiming: "What right in the sanctuary have these mirrors that
exist only to arouse sensual desires?" But God said to Moses:
"Truly dearer to Me than all other gifts are these mirrors, for it was
these mirrors that yielded Me My hosts. When in Egypt the men
were exhausted from their heavy labors, the women were wont to
come to them with food and drink, take out their mirrors, and
caressingly say to their husbands: 'Look into the mirror, I am much
more beautiful than thou,' and in this way passion seized the men
so that they forgot their cares and united themselves with their
wives, who thereupon brought many children into the world. Take
now these mirrors and fashion out of them the laver that contains
the water for the sanctifying of the priests." Furthermore out of this
laver was fetched the water that a woman suspected of adultery
had to drink to prove her innocence. As formerly the mirrors had
been used to kindle conjugal affection, so out of them was made
the vessel for the water that was to restore broken peace between
husband and wife.

When Moses upon God's command made known to the people that
whosoever was of a willing heart, man or woman, might bring an
offering, the zeal of the women was so great, that they thrust away
the men and crowded forward with their gifts, [364] so that in two
days all that was needful for the construction of the Tabernacle
was in Moses' hands. The princes of the tribes came almost too
late with their contributions, and at the last moment they brought
the precious stones for the garments of Aaron, that they might not
be entirely unrepresented in the sanctuary. But God took their
delay amiss, and for this reason they later sought to be the first to
offer up sacrifices in the sanctuary. [365]

After everything had been provided for the construction of the
Tabernacle, Bezalel set to work with the devotion of his whole
soul, and as a reward for this, the Holy Scriptures speak of him
only as the constructor of the sanctuary, although many others
stood by him in this labor. He began his work by fashioning the
boards, then attended to the overlaying of them, and when he had
completed these things, he set to work to prepare the curtains, then
completed the Ark with the penance-cover belonging to it, and
finally the table for the shewbread, and the candlestick. [366]


The work on the Tabernacle progressed rapidly, for everything was
ready in the month of Kislew, but it was not set up until three
months later. The people were indeed eager to set up the sanctuary
at once and to dedicate it, but God bade Moses wait until the first
day of the month of Nisan, because that was Isaac's birthday, and
God wished the joy of dedication to take place on this day of joy.
The mockers among Israel, of course, to whom this was not
known, made fun of Moses, saying: "Of course, is it possible that
the Shekinah should rest over the work of Amram's sons?" [357]

In regard to the Tabernacle, Moses had to suffer much besides
from the fault-finders and wicked tongues. If he showed himself
upon the street, they called out to one another: "See what a
well-fed neck, what sturdy legs the son of Amram has, who eats
and drinks from our money!" The other would answer: "Dost thou
believe that one who has construction of the Tabernacle in his
hands will remain a poor man?" Moses said nothing, but resolved,
as soon as the Tabernacle should have been completed, to lay an
exact account before the people, which he did. But when it came
to giving his account, he forgot one item of seven hundred
seventy-five shekels which he had expended for hooks upon which
to hang the curtains of the Tabernacle. Then, as he suddenly raised
his eyes, he saw the Shekinah resting on the hooks and was
reminded of his omission of this expenditure. Thereafter all Israel
became convinced that Moses was a faithful and reliable
administrator. [358]

As the people had brought much more material than was necessary
for the Tabernacle, Moses erected a second Tabernacle outside the
encampment on the spot where God had been accustomed to
reveal Himself to him, and this "Tabernacle of revelation" was in
all details like the original sanctuary in the camp. [359]

When everything was ready, the people were very much
disappointed that the Shekinah did not rest upon their work, and
the betook themselves to the wise men who had worked on the
erection of the Tabernacle, and said to them: "Why do ye sit thus
idle, set up the Tabernacle, that the Shekinah may dwell among
us." These now attempted to put up the Tabernacle, but did not
succeed, for hardly did they believe it was up, when it fell down
again. Now all went to Bezalel and his assistant Oholiab, saying to
them: "Do you now set up the Tabernacle, you who constructed it,
and perhaps it will then stand." But when even these two
master-builders did not succeed in setting up the Tabernacle, the
people began to find fault, and say: "See now what the son of
Amram has brought upon us. We spent our money and went
through a great deal of trouble, all because he assured us that the
Holy One, blessed be He, would descend from His place with the
angels and dwell among us under 'the hangings of goats' hair,' but
it has all been in vain." The people now went to Moses, saying: "O
our teacher Moses, we have done all thou has bidden us do, we
gave all thou didst ask of us. Look now upon this completed work,
and tell us if we have omitted aught, or have done aught we should
have refrained from doing, examine it with care and answer us."
Moses had to admit that all had been done according to his
instructions. "But if it be so," continued the people, "why then
cannot the Tabernacle stand? Bezalel and Oholiab failed to set it
up, and all the wise men as well!" This communication sorely
grieved Moses, who could not understand why the Tabernacle
could not be set up. But God said to him: "Thou wert sorry to have
had no share in the erection of the Tabernacle, which the people
supplied with material, and on which Bezalel, Oholiab, and the
other wise men labored with the work of their hands. For this
reason did it come to pass that none could set up the Tabernacle,
for I want all Israel to see that it cannot stand if thou dost not set it
up." Moses replied: "O Lord of the world! I do not know how to
put it up." But God answered: "Go, get busy with its setting-up, and
while thou art busy at it, it will rise of its own accord." And so it
came to pass. Hardly had Moses put his hand upon the Tabernacle,
when it stood erect, and the rumors among the people that Moses
had arbitrarily put up the Tabernacle without the command of God
ceased forevermore. [370]


Before the sanctuary and its vessels were dedicated for service,
they were anointed with holy oil. On this occasion the miracle
came to pass that twelve lugs of oil sufficed not only to anoint the
sanctuary and its vessels, and Aaron and his two sons throughout
the seven days of their consecration, but with this same oil were
anointed all the successors of Aaron in the office of high priest,
and several kings until the days of Josiah.

An especial miracle occurred when Aaron was anointed and on his
pointed beard two drops of holy oil hung pendant like two pearls.
These drops did not even disappear when he trimmed his beard,
but rose to the roots of the hair. Moses at first feared that the
useless waste of these drops of holy oil on Aaron's beard might be
considered sacrilege, but a Divine voice quieted him. A Divine
voice quieted Aaron, also, who likewise feared the accident that
had turned the holy oil to his personal use. [371]

The anointing of Aaron and his two sons was not the only
ceremony that consecrated them as priests, for during a whole
week did they have to live near the Tabernacle, secluded from the
outer world. During this time Moses performed all priestly duties,
even bringing sacrifices for Aaron and his sons, and sprinkling
them with the blood of these sacrifices. [372] It was on the
twenty-third day of Adar that God bade Moses consecrate Aaron
and his sons as priests, saying to him: "Go, persuade Aaron to
accept his priestly office, for he is a man whom shuns distinctions.
But effect his appointment before all Israel, that he may be
honored in this way, and at the same time warn the people that
after the choice of Aaron none may assume priestly rights. Gather
thou all the congregation together unto the door of the
Tabernacle." At these last words Moses exclaimed: "O Lord of the
world! How shall I be able to assemble before the door of the
Tabernacle, a space that measures only two seah, sixty myriads of
adult men and as many youths?" But God answered: "Dost thou
marvel at this? Greater miracles than this have I accomplished.
The heaven was originally as thin and as small as the retina of the
eye, still I caused it to stretch over all the world from one end to
the other. In the future world, too, when all men from Adam to the
time of the Resurrection will be assembled in Zion, and the
multitude will be so great that one shall call to the other, 'The
place is too strait for me, give place to me that I may dwell,' on
that day will I so extend the holy city that all will conveniently find
room there." [373]

Moses did as he was bidden, and in presence of all the people took
place the election of Aaron and his sons as priests, whereupon
these retired for a week to the door of the Tabernacle. During this
week, in preparing the burnt offering and the sin offering, Moses
showed his brother Aaron and Aaron's sons how to perform the
different priestly functions in the sanctuary. Moses made a sin
offering because he feared that among the gifts out of which the
sanctuary had been constructed, there might have been ill-gotten
gains, and God loves justice and hates loot as an offering, Moses
through a sin offering sought to obtain forgiveness for a possible
wrong. During this week, however, the sanctuary was only
temporarily used. Moses would set it up mornings and evenings,
then fold it together again, and it was not until this week had
passed that the sanctuary was committed to the general use. After
that it was not folded together except when they moved from on
encampment to another. [374]

These seven days of retirement were assigned to Aaron and his
sons not only as a preparation for their regular service, they had
another significance also. God, before bringing the flood upon the
earth, observed the seven days preceding as a week of mourning,
and in the same way He bade Aaron and his sons live in absolute
retirement for a week, as is the duty of mourners, for a heavy loss
awaited them - the death of Nadab and Abihu, which took place on
the joyous day of their dedication. [375]


The first day of Nisan was an eventful day, "a day that was
distinguished by ten crowns." It was the day on which the princes
of the tribes began to bring their offerings; it was the first day on
which Shekinah came to dwell among Israel; the first day on
which sacrifice on any but the appointed place was forbidden; the
first day on which priests bestowed their blessing upon Israel; the
first day for regular sacrificial service; the first day on which the
priests partook of certain portions of the offering; the first day on
which the heavenly fire was seen on the altar; it was besides the
first day of the week, a Sunday, the first day of the first month of
the year. [376]

It was on this day after "the week of training" for Aaron and his
sons that God said to Moses: "Thinkest thou that thou are to be
high priest because thou hast been attending to priestly duties
during this week? Not so, call Aaron and announce to him that he
has been appointed high priest, and at the same time call the elders
and in their presence announce his elevation to this dignity, that
none may say Aaron himself assumed this dignity." [377]
Following the example of God, who on Sinai distinguished Aaron
before all others, saying, "And thou shalt come up, thou and Aaron
with thee, but let not the priests and the people break through,"
Moses went first to Aaron, then to Aaron's sons, and only then to
the elders, to discuss with them the preparations for the installation
of Aaron into office. [378]

When Moses approached Aaron with the news of God's
commission to appoint him as high priest, Aaron said: "What!
Thou hadst all the labor of erecting the Tabernacle, and I am now
to be its high priest!" But Moses replied: "As truly as thou livest,
although thou art to be high priest, I am as happy as if I had been
chosen myself. As thou didst rejoice in my elevation, so do I now
rejoice in thine." [379] Moses continued: "My brother Aaron,
although God had become reconciled to Israel and has forgiven
them their sin, still, through thy offering must thou close the
mouth of Satan, that he may not hate thee when thou enterest the
sanctuary. Take then a young calf as a sin-offering, for as thou
didst nearly lose thy claim to the dignity of high priest through a
calf, so shalt thou now through the sacrifice of a calf be
established in thy dignity." Then Moses turned to the people,
saying: "You have two sins to atone for: the selling of Joseph,
whose coat you fathers smeared with the blood of a kid to
convince their father that its owner had been torn to pieces by a
wild beast, and the sin you committed through the worship of the
Golden Calf. Take, then, a kid to atone for the guilt you brought
upon yourselves with a kid, and take a calf to atone for the sin you
committed through a calf. But to make sure that God had become
reconciled to you, offer up a bull also, and thereby acknowledge
that you are slaughtering before God your idol, the bull that you
had erstwhile worshipped." The people, however, said to Moses:
"What avails it this nation to do homage to its king, who is
invisible?" Moses replied: "For this very reason did God command
you to offer these sacrifices, so that He may show Himself to you."
At these words they rejoiced greatly, for through them they knew
that God was now completely reconciled to them, and they
hastened to bring the offerings to the sanctuary. Moses
admonished them with the words: "See to it now that you drive
evil impulse from your hearts, that you now have but one thought
and one resolution, to serve God; and that your undivided services
are devoted singly and solely to the one God, for He is the God of
gods and the Lord of lords. If you will act according to my words,
'the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you.'"

But Aaron in his humility still did not dare to enter on his priestly
activities. The aspect of the horned altar filled him with fear, for it
reminded him of the worship of the bull by Israel, an incident in
which he felt he had not been altogether without blame. Moses had
to encourage him to step up to the altar and offer the sacrifices.
After Aaron had offered up the prescribed sacrifices, he bestowed
his blessing upon the people with lifted hands, saying: "The
Eternal bless thee and keep thee: The Eternal make His face shine
upon thee and be gracious unto thee: The Eternal lift up His
countenance upon thee and give thee peace."

In spite of the offerings and the blessings, there was still no sign of
the Shekinah, so that Aaron, with a heavy heart, thought, "God is
angry with me, and it is my fault that the Shekinah had not
descended among Israel, I merely owe it to my brother Moses that
to my confusion I entered the sanctuary, for my service did not
suffice to bring down the Shekinah." Upon this Moses went with
his brother into the sanctuary a second time, and their united
prayers had the desired effect, there came "a fire out from before
the Lord, and consumed upon the altar well-neigh one hundred and
sixteen years, and neither was the wood of the altar consumed, nor
its brazen overlay molten.

When the people saw the heavenly fire, the evident token of God's
grace and His reconciliation with them, they shouted, and fell on
their faces, and praised God, intoning in His honor a song of
praise. Joy reigned not only on earth, but in heaven also, for on this
day God's joy over the erection of the sanctuary was as great as had
been His joy on the first day of creation over His works, heaven
and earth. [380] For, in a certain sense, the erection of the
Tabernacle was the finishing touch to the creation of the world.
For the world exists for the sake of three things, the Torah, Divine
service, and works of love. From the creation of the world to the
revelation on Sinai the world owed its existence to the love and
grave of God; from the revelation to the erection of the sanctuary,
the world owed its existence to the Torah and to love, but only
with the erection of the Tabernacle did the world secure its firm
basis, for now it had three feet whereupon to rest, the Torah,
Divine service, and love. From another point of view, too, is the
day of consecration of the sanctuary to be reckoned with the days
of creation, for at the creation of the world God dwelt with mortals
and withdrew the Shekinah to heaven only on account of the sin of
the first two human beings. But on the day of consecration of the
Tabernacle the Shekinah returned to its former abode, the earth.
The angels therefore lamented on this day, saying: "Now God will
leave the celestial hosts and will dwell among mortals." God
indeed quieted them with the words, "As truly as ye live, My true
dwelling will remain on high," but He was not quite in earnest
when He said so, for truly earth is His chief abode. Only after the
Tabernacle on earth had been erected did God command the
angels to build one like it in heaven, and it is this Tabernacle in
which Metatron offers the souls of the pious before God as an
expiation for Israel, at the time of the exile when His earthly
sanctuary is destroyed.

This day marks an important change in the intercourse between
God and Moses. Before this, the voice of God would strike Moses'
ear as if conducted through a tube, and on such an occasion the
outer would recognized only through Moses' reddened face that he
was receiving a revelation; now, at the consecration of the
sanctuary, this was changed. For when, on this day, he entered the
sanctuary, a sweet, pleasant and lovely voice rang out toward him,
whereupon he said: "I will hear what God the Lord will speak."
Then he heard the words: "Formerly there reigned enmity between
Me and My children, formerly there reigned anger between Me
and My children, formerly there reigned hatred between Me and
My children; but now love reigns between Me and My children,
friendship reigns between Me and My children, peace reigns
between Me and My children."

It was evident that peace reigned, for on this day the undisturbed
freedom of movement over the world, which had until then been
accorded the demons, was taken from them. Until then these were
so frequently met with, that Moses regularly recited a special
prayer whenever going to Mount Sinai, entreating God to protect
him from the demons. But as soon as the Tabernacle had been
erected, they vanished. Not entirely, it is true, for even now these
pernicious creatures may kill a person, especially within the period
from the seventeenth day of Tammuz to the ninth day of Ab, when
the demons exercise their power. The most dangerous one among
them is Keteb, the sight of whom kill men as well as animals. He
rolls like a ball and had the head of a calf with a single horn on his

Just as God destroyed the power of these demons through the
Tabernacle, so too, through the priestly blessing that He bestowed
upon His people before the consecration of the sanctuary, did He
break the spell of the evil eye, which might otherwise have harmed
them now as it had done at the revelation on Sinai. The great
ceremonies on that occasion had turned the eyes of all the world
upon Israel, and the evil eye of the nations brought about the
circumstance of the breaking of the two tables. As God blessed His
people on this occasion, so too did Moses, who upon the
completion of the Tabernacle blessed Israel with the words: "The
Eternal God of you fathers make you a thousand times so many
more as ye are, and bless you, as He hath promised you!" The
people made answer to this blessing, saying: "Let the beauty of the
Lord our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our
hands upon us; yea the work of our hands establish Thou it." [381]


The happiest of women on this day was Elisheba, daughter of
Amminadab, for beside the general rejoicing at the dedication of
the sanctuary, five particular joys fell to her lot: her husband,
Aaron, was high priest; her brother-in-law, Moses, king; her son,
Eleazar, head of the priests; her grandson, Phinehas, priest of war;
and her brother, Nahshon, prince of his tribe. But how soon was
her joy turned to grief! Her two sons, Nadab and Abihu, carried
away by the universal rejoicing at the heavenly fire, approached
the sanctuary with the censers in their hands, to increase God's
love for Israel through this act of sacrifice, but paid with their lives
for this offering. From the Holy of Holies issued two flames of
fire, as thin as threads, then parted into four, and two each pierced
the nostrils of Nadab and Abihu, whose souls were burnt, although
no external injury was visible. [382]

The death of these priests was not, however, unmerited, for in spite
of their piety they had committed many a sin. Even at Sinai they
had not conducted themselves properly, for instead of following
the example of Moses, who had turned his face away from the
Divine vision in the burning bush, they basked in the Divine vision
of Mount Sinai. Their fate had even been decreed, but God did not
want to darken the joy of the Torah by their death, hence He
waited for the dedication of the Tabernacle. On this occasion God
acted like the king who, discovering on the day of his daughter's
wedding that the best-man was guilty of a deadly sin, said: "If I
cause the best-man to be executed on the spot, I shall cast a
shadow on my daughter's joy. I will rather have him executed on
my day of gladness than on hers." God inflicted the penalty upon
Nadab and Abihu "in the day of gladness of His heart," and not on
the day on which the Torah espoused Israel.

Among the sins for which they had to atone was their great pride,
which was expressed in several ways. They did not marry, because
they considered no woman good enough for them, saying: "Our
father's brother is king, our father is high priest, our mother's
brother is prince of his tribe, and we are heads of the priests. What
woman is worthy of us?" And many a woman remained unwed,
waiting for these youths to woo her. In their pride they even went
so far in sinful thoughts as to wish for the time when Moses and
Aaron should die and they would have the guidance of the people
in their hands. But God said: "'Boast not thyself of to-morrow;'
many a colt has died and his hide had been used as cover for his
mother's back." Even in the performance of the act that brought
death upon them, did they show their pride, for they asked
permission of neither Moses nor Aaron whether they might take
part in the sacrificial service. What is more, Nadab and Abihu did
not even consult with each other before starting out on this fatal
deed, they performed it independently of each other. Had they
previously taken counsel together, or had they asked their father
and their uncle, very likely they would never have offered the
disastrous sacrifice. For they were neither in a proper condition for
making an offering, nor was their offering appropriate. They
partook of wine before entering the sanctuary, which if forbidden
to priests; they did not wear the prescribed priestly robes, and,
furthermore, they had not sanctified themselves with water out of
the laver for washing. They made their offering, moreover, in the
Holy of Holies, to which admittance had been prohibited, and used
"strange fire," and the offering was all in all out of place because
they had had no command from God to offer up incense at that
time. Apart from this lists of sins, however, they were very pious
men, and their death grieved God more than their father Aaron, not
alone because it grieves God to see a pious father lose his sons, but
because they actually were worthy and pious youths. [383]

When Aaron heard of the death of his sons, he said: "All Israel saw
Thee at the Red Sea as well as at Sinai without suffering injury
thereafter; but my sons, whom Thou didst order to dwell in the
Tabernacle, a place that a layman may not enter without being
punished by death - my sons entered the Tabernacle to behold Thy
strength and Thy might, and they died!" God hereupon said to
Moses: "Tell Aaron the following: 'I have shown thee great favor
and have granted thee great honor through this, that thy sons have
been burnt. I assigned to thee and thy sons a place nearer to the
sanctuary, before all others, even before thy brother Moses. But I
have also decreed that whosoever enters the Tabernacle without
having been commanded, he shall be stricken with leprosy.
Wouldst thou have wished thy sons, to whom the innermost places
had been assigned, to sit as lepers outside the encampment as a
penalty for having entered the Holy of Holies?" When Moses
imparted these words to his brother, Aaron said: "I thank Thee, O
God, for that which Thou hast shown me in causing my sons to die
rather then having them waste their lives as lepers. It behooves me
to thank Thee and praise Thee, 'because Thy lovingkindness is
better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.'" [384]

Moses endeavored to comfort his brother in still another way,
saying: "Thy sons died to glorify the name of the Lord, blessed be
His name, for on Sinai God said to me: 'And there will I meet with
the children of Israel, the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by those
that glorify Me.' I knew that this sanctuary of God was to be
sanctified by the death of those that stood near it, but I thought
either thou or I was destined for this, but now I perceive that thy
sons were nearer to God than we." These last words sufficed to
induce Aaron to control his grief over the loss of his sons, and like
the true wise man he silently bore the heavy blow of fate without
murmur or lament. God rewarded him for his silence by addressing
him directly, and imparting an important priestly law to him.

Aaron could not take part in the burial of Nadab and Abihu, for a
high priest is not permitted to take part in a funeral procession,
even if the deceased be a near kinsman. Eleazar and Ithamar, also,
the surviving sons of Aaron, were not permitted to mourn or attend
the funeral on the day of their dedication as priests, so that Aaron's
cousins, the Levites Mishael and Elzaphan, the next of kin after
these had to attend to the funeral. These two Levites were the sons
of a very worthy father, who was not only by descent a near
kinsman of Aaron, but who was also closely akin to Aaron in
character. As Aaron pursued peace, so too did his uncle Uzziel,
father to Mishael and Elzaphan. Being Levites they might not enter
the place where the heavenly fire had met their cousins, hence an
angel had thrust Nadab and Abihu out of the priestly room, and
they did not die until they were outside it, so that Mishael and
Elzaphan might approach them. [385]

Whereas the whole house of Israel was bidden to bewail the death
of Nadab and Abihu, for "the death of a pious man is greater
misfortune to Israel than the Temple's burning to ashes," [386] -
Aaron and his sons, on the other hand, were permitted to take no
share in the mourning, and Moses bade them eat of the parts of the
offering due them, as if nothing had happened. Now when Moses
saw that Aaron had burnt to ashes one of the three sin offerings
that were offered on that day, without himself or his sons having
partaken of it, his wrath was kindled against his brother, but in
consideration of Aaron's age and his office Moses addressed his
violent words not to Aaron himself, but to his sons. He reproached
them with having offended against God's commandment in
burning one sin offering and eating of the other two. He asked
them, besides, if they were not wise enough to profit by the
example of their deceased brothers, who paid for their arbitrary
actions with their lives, particularly since they also had been
doomed to death, and owed their lived only to his prayer, which
had power to preserve for their father half the number of sons.
Moses' reproof, however, was unjustified, for Aaron and his sons
had done what the statutes required, but Moses had on this
occasion, as on two others, owing to his wrath, forgotten the laws
which he himself had taught Israel. Hence Aaron opposed him
decidedly and pointed out his error to him. Moses, far from taking
Aaron's reprimand amiss, caused a herald to make an
announcement throughout the camp: "I have falsely interpreted the
law, and Aaron, my brother, has corrected me. Eleazar and
Ithaman also knew the law, but were silent out of consideration for
me." As a reward for their considerateness, God thereupon
revealed important laws to Moses with a special injunction to tell
them to Aaron as well as to Eleazar and Ithamar. [387]


When Moses called on the people to make their offerings for the
erection of the sanctuary, it sorely vexed the princes of the tribes
that he had not summoned them particularly. Hence they withheld
their contributions, waiting for the people to give according to
their powers, so that they might step in and make up the
deficiency, and all should observe that without them the
Tabernacle could not have been completed. But they were
mistaken, for in their ready devotion the people provided all
needful things for the sanctuary, and when the princes of the tribes
perceived their mistake and brought their contributions, it was too
late. All that they could do was to provide the jewels for the robes
of the high priest, but they could no longer take a hand in the
erection of the Tabernacle. On the day of the dedication they tried
to make partial amends for letting slip their opportunity, by
following the advice of the tribe of Issachar, renowned for wisdom
and erudition, to bring wagons for the transportation of the
Tabernacle. These princes of the tribes were no upstarts or men
newly risen to honor, they were men who even in Egypt had been
in office and exposed to the anger of the Egyptians; they had also
stood at Moses' side when he undertook the census of the people.
They now brought as an offering to Moses six covered wagons,
fully equipped, and even painted blue, the color of the sky, and
also twelve oxen to draw the wagons. The number of wagons as
well as of oxen had been set with purpose. The six wagons
corresponded to the six days of creation; to the six Mothers, Sarah,
Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Billhah, and Zilpah; to the six laws that
the Torah prescribes exclusively for the king; to the six orders of
the Mishnah, and to the six heavens. The number of the oxen
corresponded to the twelve constellations, and to the twelve tribes.
Moses did not at first want to accept the teams, but God not only
bade him accept them, He also ordered him to address the princes
kindly, and to thank them for their gifts. Moses now even thought
the Shekinah had deserted him and would rest on the princes of the
tribes, assuming that they had received direct communication from
God to make this offering to the sanctuary. But God said to Moses:
"If it had been a direct command from Me, then I should have
ordered thee to tell them, but they did this on their own initiative,
which indeed meets with My wish." Moses now accepted the gifts,
not without misgivings, fearing lest a wagon should break, or an
ox die, leaving the tribe or that unrepresented by a gift. But God
assured him that no accident should occur to either wagon or ox, --
yes, a great miracle came to pass in regard to these wagons and
oxen, for the animals live forever without ailing or growing old,
and the wagons likewise endure to all eternity.

Moses then distributed the wagons among the Levites so that the
division of the sons of Gershon received two wagons, with the
transportation of the heavy portions of the Tabernacle, boards,
bars, and similar things, whereas the former, having the lighter
portions, had enough with two wagons. The third division of
Levites, the sons of Kohath, received no wagons, for they were
entrusted with the transportation of the Holy Ark, which might not
be lifted upon a wagon, but was to be borne upon their shoulders.
David, who forgot to observe this law and had the Ark lifted upon
a wagon, paid heavily for his negligence, for the priests who tried
to carry the Ark to the wagon were flung down upon the ground.
Ahithophel then called David's attention to the need of following
the example of Kohath's sons, who bore the Ark on their shoulders
through the desert, and David ordered them to do the same.

But the princes of the tribes were not content with having provided
the means for transporting the sanctuary, they wanted to be the
first, on the day of dedication, to present offerings. As with the
wagons, Moses was doubtful whether or not to permit them to
bring their offerings, for theses were of an unusual kind that were
not ordinarily permissible. But God bade him accept the dedication
offerings of the princes, though Moses was still in doubt whether
to let all the twelve princes make their offerings on the same day,
or to set a special day for each, and if so, in what order they should
make their offerings. God thereupon revealed to him that each one
of the princes of the tribes were to sacrifice on a special day, and
that Nahshon, the prince of Judah, was to make the start. He was
rewarded in this way for the devotion he had shown God during
the passage through the Red Sea. When Israel, beset by the
Egyptians, reached the sea, the tribes among themselves started
quarreling who should first go into the sea. Then suddenly
Nahshon, the prince of Judah, plunged into the sea, firmly trusting
that God would stand by Israel in their need. [388]

Nahshon's offering was one silver changer that had been fashioned
for the sanctuary, the weight whereof was an hundred and thirty
shekels; on bowl of equal size, but of lighter weight, of seventy
shekels; both of them full of fine flour mingles with oil for a meat
offering. Furthermore, one spoon of ten shekels of gold, full of
incense; on young bullock, the picked of his herd; one excellent
ram, and one lamb a year old, these three for a burnt offering; and
a kid of the goats for a sin offering, to atone for a possible
uncleanness in the sanctuary. These sacrifices and gifts Nahshon
offered out of his own possessions, not out of those of his tribe.
God's acceptance of the offerings of the princes of the tribes shows
how dear they were to God; for at no other time was and individual
allowed to offer up incense, as Nahshon and his fellows did. They
also brought sin offerings, which is ordinarily not permitted unless
on is conscious of having committed a sin. Finally the prince of the
tribe of Ephraim brought his offering on the seventh day of the
dedication, which was on a Sabbath, though ordinarily none but
the daily sacrificed may be offered on the Sabbath. [389]

The offerings of all the princes of the tribes were identical, but
they had a different significance for each tribe. From the time of
Jacob, who foretold it to them, every tribe knew his future history
to the time of the Messiah, hence at the dedication every prince
brought such offerings as symbolized the history of his tribe.

Nahshon, the prince of Judah, brought a silver charger and a silver
bowl, the one to stand for the sea, the other for the mainland,
indicating that out of his tribe would spring such men as Solomon
and the Messiah, who would rule over all the world, both land and
sea. The golden spoon of ten shekels signified the ten generations
from Perez, son of Judah, to David, first of Judean kings, all whose
actions were sweet as the incense contained in the spoon. The
three burnt offerings, the bullock, the ram, and the lamb,
corresponded to the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
whereas the kid of the goats was to atone for the sin of Judah, who
sought to deceive his father with the blood of a kid. The two oxen
of the peace offering pointed to David and Solomon, and the three
small cattle of the peace offering, the rams, the goats, and the
lambs, corresponded to the descendants and successors of these
two Judean kings, who may also be classified in three groups, the
very pious, the very wicked, and those who were neither pious nor

On the second day of the dedication appeared the prince of the
tribe of Reuben and wanted to present his offering, saying: "Tis
enough that Judah was permitted to offer sacrifice before me,
surely it is not time for our tribe to present our offerings." But
Moses informed him that God had ordained that the tribes should
present offerings in the order in which they moved through the
desert, so that the tribe of Issachar followed Judah. This tribe had
altogether good claims to be among the first to offer sacrifices, for,
in the first place, this tribe devoted itself completely to the study of
the Torah, so that the great scholars in Israel were among them;
and then, too, it was this tribe that had proposed to the others that
bringing of the dedication offerings. As this was the tribe of
erudition, its gifts symbolized things appertaining to the Torah.
The silver charger and the silver bowl corresponded to the written
and to the oral Torah; and both vessels alike are filled with fine
flour, for the two laws are not antagonistic, but form a unity and
contain the loftiest teachings. The fine flour was mingled with oil,
just as knowledge of the Torah should be added to good deeds; for
he who occupies himself with the Torah, who works good deeds,
and keeps himself aloof from sin, fills his Creator with delight.
The golden spoon of ten shekels symbolizes the two tables on
which God with His palm wrote the Ten Commandments, and
which contained between the commandments all the particulars of
the Torah, just as the spoon was filled with incense. The three
burnt offerings, the bullock, the ram, and the lamb corresponded to
the three groups of priests, Levites and Israelites, whereas the kid
of the goats alluded to the proselytes, for the Torah was revealed
not only for Israel but for all the world; and "a proselyte who
studies the Torah is no less than a high priest." The two oxen of
the peace offering corresponded to the oral and the written Torah,
the study of which brings peace on earth and peace in heaven.

After Nahshon, the temporal king, and Nethanel the spiritual king,
came the turn of Eliab, the prince of the tribe of Zebulun. This
tribe owed its distinction to the circumstance that it followed
commerce and through the profits thereof was enabled to maintain
the tribe of Issachar, which, entirely devoted to study, could not
support itself. The charger and bowl that he presented to the
sanctuary symbolize the food and drink with which Zebulun
provide the scholar-tribe Issachar. The spoon indicated the border
of the sea, which Jacob in his blessing had bestowed on Zebulun as
his possession, and the ten shekels of its weight corresponded to
the ten words of which this blessing consisted. The tow oxen point
to the two blessings which Moses bestowed upon Zebulun, as the
three small cattle, the ram, the goat, and the lamb, corresponded to
the three things which gave Zebulun's possessions distinction
before all others, the tunny, the purple snail, and white glass. [391]

After the tribes that belonged to Judah's camp division had brought
their offerings, followed Reuben and the tribes belonging to his
division. The gifts of the tribe of Reuben symbolized the events in
the life of their forefather Reuben. The silver charger recalled
Reuben's words when he saved Joseph's life, whom the other
brothers wanted to kill, for "the tongue of the just is as choice
silver." The silver bowl, from which was sprinkled the sacrificial
blood, recalled the same incident, for it was Reuben who advised
his brothers to throw Joseph into the pit rather than to kill him.
The spoon of ten shekels of gold symbolized the deed of Reuben,
who restrained Jacob's sons from bloodshed, hence the gold out of
which the spoon was fashioned had a blood-red color. The spoon
was filled with incense, and so too did Reuben fill his days with
fasting and prayer until God forgave his sin with Billhah, and "his
prayer was set forth before God as incense." As penance for this
crime, Reuben offered the kid of goats as a sin offering, whereas
the two oxen of the peace offering corresponded to the two great
deeds of Reuben, the deliverance of Joseph, and the long penance
for his sin. [392]

Just as Reuben interceded to save his brother Joseph's life so did
Simeon rise up for his sister Dinah when he took vengeance upon
the inhabitants of Shechem for the wrong they had done her.
Hence the prince of the tribe of Simeon followed the prince of the
tribe of Reuben. As the sanctuary was destined to punish
unchastity among Israel, so were the gifts of the tribe whose sire
figured as the avenger of unchastity symbolical of the different
parts of the Tabernacle. The charger corresponded to the court that
surrounded the Tabernacle, and therefore weighed one hundred
and thirty shekels, to correspond to the size of the court that
measured one hundred cubits, of which the Tabernacle occupied
thirty. The bowl of seventy shekels corresponded to the empty
space of the Tabernacle. These two, the charger and the bowl,
were filled with fine flour mingled with oil, because in the court of
the Tabernacle were offered up meat offerings, mingled with oil,
whereas in the Tabernacle was the shewbread of fine flour, and the
candlestick filled with oil. The spoon of ten shekels of gold
corresponded to the scroll of the Torah and the tables with the Ten
Commandments that rested in the Ark. The sacrificial animals, the
bullock, the ram, the lamb, and the kid corresponded to the four
different kinds of curtains and hangings that were used in the
sanctuary, and that were fashioned our of the hides of these
animals. The two oxen of the peace offering pointed to the two
curtains, the one in front of the Tabernacle, the other in front of
the court, whereas the three kinds of small cattle that were used as
offerings corresponded to the three curtains of the court, one to the
north, one to the south, one to the west of it; and as each of these
was five cubits long, so were five of each kind presented as
offerings. [393]

As Simeon, sword in hand, battled for his sister, so, by force of
arms, did the tribe of Gad set out to gain the land beyond the
Jordan for their brethren. Therefore did their prince follow
Shelumiel, prince of Simeon, with his offerings. This tribe, so
active in gaining the promised land, symbolized in its gifts the
exodus from Egypt, which alone made possible the march of
Palestine. The charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty
shekels alluded to Jochebed, who at the age of one hundred and
thirty years bore Moses, who had symbolical connection with the
bowl, for he was thrown into the Nile. This bowl weighed seventy
shekels, as Moses extended his prophetic spirit over the seventy
elders; and as the bowl was filled with fine flour, so did Moses'
prophetic spirit in no way diminish because the seventy elders
shared in prophecy. The three burnt offerings recalled the three
virtues Israel possessed in Egypt, which were instrumental in their
deliverance - they did not alter their Hebrew names, they did not
alter their Hebrew language, and they lived a live of chastity. The
sin offerings were to atone for the idolatry to which they were
addicted in Egypt, so that God did not permit their deliverance
until they had renounced idolatry. The two oxen of the peace
offering corresponded to Jacob and Joseph, for whose sake God
had delivered Israel out of Egypt. They brought, besides, fifteen
heads of small cattle as sacrifice, because God was mindful of His
vow to the three Patriarchs and the twelve fathers of the tribes, and
released Israel out of bondage. [394]

A special distinction was granted to the tribe of Ephraim, for God
allowed their prince to make his offering on the Sabbath, a day on
which otherwise none but the daily offerings were allowed to be
offered. This distinction the tribe of Ephraim owed to its ancestor
Joseph in recognition of his strict observance of the Sabbath as
governor of Egypt. The gifts of this tribe represent the history of
Jacob and of Joseph, for the descendants of the latter owed much
to Jacob's love for his son Joseph. The charger alluded to Jacob,
the bowl to Joseph, and as both these vessels were filled with fine
flour mingled with oil, so too were both Jacob and Joseph very
pious men, and the course of their lives ran evenly. The spoon
symbolized Jacob's right hand, which he laid on the head of
Ephraim to bless him; the spoon was filled with incense; Jacob
laid his right hand upon Ephraim and not upon his elder brother
Manasseh because he knew that the former was worthy of the
distinction. The three burnt offerings corresponded to the three
Patriarchs, whereas the kid of goats stood for Joseph, whose coat
had been smeared with a kid's blood. The two oxen of the peace
offering indicated the two blessings that the sons of Joseph had
received from their grandfather, Jacob, and the three kinds of
small cattle that were offered as peace offerings corresponded to
the three generations of Ephraim that Joseph was permitted to see
before his death. [395]

Joseph not only observed the Sabbath, he was also chaste, not to
be tempted by Potiphar's wife, and he was faithful in the service of
his master. God therefore said to Joseph: "Thou hast kept the
seventh commandment, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' and has
not committed adultery with Potiphar's wife; and thou hast also
kept the following commandment, the eighth, 'Thou shalt not
steal,' for thou didst still neither Potiphar's money nor his conjugal
happiness, hence there will come a time when I shall give thee the
reward due thee. When, hereafter, the princes of the tribes will
offer their offerings at the dedication of the altar, the two princes
among thy descendants shall one after the other offer their
offerings, the one on the seventh, the other on the eighth day of the
dedication, as a reward because thou didst observe the seventh and
the eighth commandments." The prince of the tribe of Manasseh
now followed that of Ephraim, trying like the preceding,
symbolically to represent Jacob's and Joseph's lives. The charger,
one hundred and thirty shekels in weight, indicated that Jacob at
the age of one hundred and thirty years migrated to Egypt for the
sake of Joseph. The bowl of seventy shekels corresponded to
Joseph who caused seventy souls of the Hebrews to migrated to
Egypt. The spoon of ten shekels of gold indicated the ten portions
of land that fell to Manasseh. The three burnt offerings
corresponded to the three generations of Manasseh that Joseph was
permitted to see before his death, whereas the kid of the goats
recalled Jair, son of Manasseh, who died childless. The two oxen
of the peace offering indicated that the possessions of the tribe of
Manasseh were to be divided into two parts, one on this side the
Jordan, and one beyond it. The three kinds of small cattle for
peace offerings corresponded to the triple attempt of Joseph to
influence his father in favor of Manasseh, whereas the five head of
each indicated the five daughters of Zelophehad, the only women
who, like men, received their shares in the distribution of the
promised land. [396]

As the sanctuary stood first in Shiloh, Joseph's possession, then in
Jerusalem, Benjamin's possession, so did this tribe with its
sacrifices follow Joseph's tribes. The charger signified Rachel, the
mother of Benjamin, who bore him to Jacob when he was a
hundred years old, and in memory of this, as well as of Benjamin's
attainment of thirty years when he came to Egypt, the weight of
the charger amounted to one hundred and thirty shekels. The bowl
indicated the cup Joseph employed to discover his brothers'
sentiments toward Benjamin, and both vessels, charger and cup,
were filled with fine flour, for both Joseph's and Benjamin's lands
were found worthy being sited for God's sanctuary. The spoon of
then shekels of gold full of incense corresponded to the ten sons of
Benjamin, all of whom were pious men. The three burnt offering
corresponded to the three temples erected in Jerusalem,
Benjamin's property, the Temple of Solomon, the Temple of the
exiles returned from Babylon, and the Temple to be erected by the
Messiah. The sin offering, the kid of the goats, points to the
building of the Temple by the wicked king Herod, who atoned for
his execution of the learned men by the erection of the santuary.
The two oxen of the peace offering corresponded to the two
deliverers of the Jews that sprang from the tribe of Benjamin,
Mordecai, and Esther. The five heads each of the three kinds of
small cattle for a peace offering symbolized the triple distinction
of Benjamin and his tribe by five gifts. The gift of honor that
Joseph gave his brother Benjamin five times exceeded that of all
his other brothers; when Joseph made himself known to his
brothers, he gave Benjamin five changes of raiment, and so too did
the Benjamite Mordecai receive from Ahasuerus five garments of
state. [397]


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