The Parasha for this week is Pekudei, which means “accounts,” and covers the last two and a half chapters of Exodus, Chapters 38:21 to Chapter 40:38.
Last week, in Parasha Vayakhel, we heard about how the people assembled together and donated generously to the building of the tabernacle, or Mishkan, as it was called in Hebrew. In fact, the people donated so much that Moses had to ask them to stop as it was more than enough to complete the work.
Parasha Pekudei begins with an accounting of the gold, silver, bronze and copper that the people had donated. In Exodus 38, the gold, silver, bronze, and copper are counted in biblical measurements, such as talents and shekels. Looking at just the gold and silver, if we translate those to modern weights the amount that was donated was about 2800 pounds of gold and 9600 pounds of silver. Today’s dollar value, when calculated, comes to almost $4 million in silver and almost $86 million in gold.
But here is the important point. When the gold, silver, bronze and copper were given, they were counted and dispersed by Ithamar, the son of Aaron the priest. Moses made sure that he chose a responsible person to take charge of counting and dispersing things of value. And, that holds true for us today. We want to make sure that we have access to people who we can trust with our things of value so that we can know that they are being used in a worthwhile manner.
One of the things that I really like about this parasha is that it is so positive and uplifting. The people donate their valuables and then a trusted person, like Ithamar, counts and disperses them for the required work in building the tabernacle of God. Bezalel and Oholiab, who we have been hearing about for the last few weeks are the trusted artisans that then direct the work to completion. And, if you read through the parasha, there is still much work to be done, although the building process has been taking place since Exodus, Chapter 35. But all through the remaining work that is required in these last chapters of Exodus, we often read these words: “…just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” We read this phrase 10 times in Chapter 39 and 8 times in Chapter 40. Just as the Lord commanded Moses means that everyone was doing what the Lord expected of them. They were following God’s direction. They were engaged in the tasks that He wanted them to be engaged in, and they were following those tasks to the exact requirements that God had laid down.
And, this is a lesson that we can learn in our lives. We want to be doing what God requires of us. We want to be fulfilling those requirements in the way that God wants us to do. We want to have the sense that we are doing just as the Lord commands us.
Part of the remaining work of the tabernacle is making the garments for the High Priest, Aaron, the brother of Moses. Chapter 39 talks about the priestly garments that need to be made. The High Priest’s garments are made with actual gold and include blue, purple and scarlet material. Precious stones are utilized as well. The High Priest’s breastplate includes rubies, topaz and emeralds, sapphires and diamonds and other precious stones. The priestly robe contains pomegranate shapes of blue, purple and scarlet and twisted linen on the hem of the robe. The pomegranate shapes of the robe are intermingled with bells of pure gold.
Think how magnificent Aaron would have looked when he was dressed in the garments of the High Priest. It had to have been a magnificent and amazing sight.
And, then, finally, in Chapter 40, all the work that has taken place in building the tabernacle comes together. The tabernacle is set up, the ark is placed inside and screened with the veil. The table with the showbread is brought in, the lampstand is set up and the lamps are mounted. The altar is set up and the basin is placed between the tent of meeting and the altar and water is poured in it. The court is set up and the curtain is at the courtyard entrance. Then, Moses takes the anointing oil and anoints everything that has just been set up.
And, after all this has been completed, the Glory of the Lord, in a form of a cloud descends upon the tabernacle. Another sign of the approval for the people for following the Lord’s direction.
I want to leave you with one last thought. The tabernacle and all its furnishings, the ark, the lampstand and everything else, including the High Priest’s adornments were magnificent. But, the writer of Hebrews puts it so beautifully in Chapter 8:5: They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”
The tabernacle and all its furnishings, the high priest’s adornments, all as magnificent as they were, were only a copy, a shadow of that which is in heaven as well as the Messiah, who was to come later as the final and great High Priest, who offered his sacrifice once and for all to take away all the sins of the world, past present and future for all those who believe.