Shemot 38:21-40:38 [Hebcal] [על-התורה] שמות לח כא-מ לח
Haftarah: Melachim Alef 7:40-50 (Sefardi and Teimani) | Melachim Alef 7:51-8:21 (Ashkenazi) | When doubled with Vayakhel, the haftarah for Pekudei is read, unless it is Shabbat ha-Chodesh or Shabbat Shekalim
[על-התורה] הפטרה: מלכים א ז מ-נ (ספרדים ותימנים) | מלכים א ז נא-ח כא (אשכנזים) | אם נקרא ביחד עם פרשת ויקהל, קוראים את הפטרת פקודי, אלא אם כן זו שבת החודש או שבת שקלים
- An Accounting of the Mishkan
- The Efod and Other Clothing of the Kohanim
- The Mishkan is Completed
- The Cloud of Glory Descends upon the Mishkan and Lifts to Indicate the Next Journey
- Haftarah summary – ויעש חירום (ספרדים) | ותשלם כל המלאכה (אשכנזים)
The parsha begins with “these are the records of (pekudei) the Mishkan,” indicating its major subject, the Mishkan, which is completed in this parsha—although the kohanim are not yet inaugurated into service, an event that will take place in Parashat Shemini. The records are collected under Moshe’s instruction and carried out by the Levites under Itamar, the son of Aharon ha-Kohen.
An Accounting of the Mishkan
An accounting of the amounts of gold, silver, and copper donated and used is given: the gold totals “29 kikar (“talents”) and 730 shekels by the sanctuary weight (shekel ha-kodesh)” (תֵּשַׁע וְעֶשְׂרִים כִּכָּר וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וּשְׁלֹשִׁים שֶׁקֶל בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ) and the silver “100 kikar and 1,775 shekels by the sanctuary weight” (מְאַת כִּכָּר וְאֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשָּׁה וְשִׁבְעִים שֶׁקֶל בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ). This includes a half-shekel per head for all those aged over 20, from the census initiated at the beginning of Ki Tisa. The number of people counted in this census is noted: 603,550 (Shemot 38:26).1 Of the silver, 100 kikar are used for the sockets of the panels of the Mishkan and of its curtain, 1 kikar per socket, while the remaining 1,775 shekel of silver are used for the hooks of the posts. Of copper, 70 kikar and 2,400 shekels are brought, which are used to make the sockets of the entrance to the Ohel Moed; the copper Mizbeach (the outer Altar on which animal korbanot were offered), including its grating and utensils; the sockets of the enclosure and gate of the Mishkan; and all the pegs of the Mishkan and its enclosure.
The Efod and Other Clothing of the Kohanim
Then, details of the clothing of the kohanim are given, including the Efod (apron) which is woven from and embroidered with gold, techelet (a blue), argaman (a deep reddish-purple), and tolaat shani (crimson). Its shoulder-straps bear avnei shoham, precious stones inscribed with the names of the Twelve Tribes. The Choshen (breastplate) is also studded with precious stones. These are detailed row by row, here again.2 The precious stones are arranged in four rows (turim), each of three stones, for a total of 12, representing the 12 tribes (39:14):
- First row:
- Ruby (odem – אֹדֶם): red, for Reuven;
- Emerald (pitda – פִּטְדָה): green, for Shimon;
- Agate (bareket – בָרֶקֶת): a combination of red, white, and black, for Levi;
- Second row:
- Turquoise (nofech – נֹפֶךְ): sky blue, for Yehuda;
- Black Sapphire (sapir – סַפִּיר): black-blue, for Isaachar;
- Quartz (yahalom – יָהֲלֹם):7 white, for Zevulun;
- Third row:
- Sapphire (leshem – לֶשֶׁם): dark blue, representing Dan;
- Amethyst (shevo – שְׁבוֹ): purple, representing Naftali
- Crystal (achlama – אַחְלָמָה): gray, representing Gad.
- Fourth row:
- Beryl (tarshish – תַּרְשִׁישׁ): blue-green, for Asher;
- Onyx (shoham – שֹׁהַם): black, for Yosef;8
- Opal (yashfeh – יָשְׁפֵה): multicolored, for Binyamin.
Further details of the Efod are then given: its cording, edges, and fastenings; and its robe, which had golden bells and golden pomegranates on it. The kohanim’s tunics, headdresses, sashes, and frontlets are also detailed here again.
The Mishkan is Completed
The work of creating the Mishkan is complete, and it is brought in front of Moshe. Moshe sees that all has been done as commanded and blesses (va-yevarech – וַיְבָרֶךְ) the artisans.
G-d tells Moshe that on the first day of the first month (בְּיוֹם הַחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ – i.e., the 1st of Nisan), he should set up the Mishkan Ohel ha-Moed, “the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.” The Aron ha-Edut (Ark of Testimony) is to be placed inside, behind a curtain. Then, the table and its instruments are to be brought in and the Menora (lamp) is to be placed and lit. The altar for the incense is to be set up in front of the Aron, and a screen put in front of the entrance to the tent. The altar for the burnt offering is to be placed in front of the entrance. The Kiyor (basin) goes between that altar and the door to the ten, and is to be filled with water. The enclosure is then to be set up, and the entrance to it screened.
The Altar (Mizbeach) for the burnt offering and its instruments should then be anointed as kodesh kodashim (קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים), sacred in the highest degree. After the external Altar, the Kiyor and its stand are anointed. After that, Aharon and his sons can be washed with water. Aharon dresses in the specially prepared clothing of the kohen and is first anointed and consecrated, followed by his sons, which serves as kehunat olam le-dorotam (לִכְהֻנַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתָם), eternal priesthood for all time (40:15). Moshe does so.
We are then told that it was in the first month of the second year, on the first of the month (i.e., on the 1st of Nisan in the second year after Yetziyat Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt), that Moshe first set up the Mishkan.3 His actions are reviewed, and it is noted that he put the Edut (testimony or pact, meaning the second Luchot ha-Brit upon which the Aseret ha-Dibrot, “Ten Commandments,” were written4) into the Aron.
The Cloud of Glory Descends upon the Mishkan and Lifts to Indicate the Next Journey
When Moshe had finished the tasks of establishing the Mishkan for the first time, a cloud (anan -עָנָן) descends upon the Mishkan and Kevod Hashem (כְבוֹד ה’ – Presence or Glory of G-d) fills the Mishkan. Even Moshe could not enter the Tent then. When the cloud lifted, it was an indication to Bnei Yisrael to set out on their journeys (maseihem – מַסְעֵיהֶם). When it stayed present, they did not set out.
During the daytime, Anan Hashem was present over the Mishkan, and at night, a pillar of fire (Esh – אֵשׁ) would appear, in view of the whole camp.
Haftarah summary – ויעש חירום (ספרדים) | ותשלם כל המלאכה (אשכנזים)
[Melachim Alef 7:40-50 (Sefardi) | Melachim 7:51-8:21 (Ashkenazi)]
The Sefardi haftarah deals with the building of Melech Shlomo’s Temple, specifically the artisanry of the master craftsman Chirom of Tzor (Hiram of Tyre). Specifically, it details Chirom’s work on the Kiyor (basin), the two great columns with all their details, a (water) tank, and other instruments and fittings.
The Ashkenazi reading begins immediately after this, with the completion of Shlomo’s Beit ha-Mikdash and his opening of it. The elders are convoked and the Ark is carried into the Temple. Shelomo and all of the people bring numerous korbanot (sacrifices). The Ark is covered by the Kruvim (Cherubim) and inside are nothing but the stone Tablets (Lucho) “which Moshe had placed there at Chorev” (אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִנִּ֥חַ שָׁ֛ם מֹשֶׁ֖ה בְּחֹרֵ֑ב, Melachim Alef 8:9). As with the Mishkan, a Cloud descends upon the Mikdash. Shlomo takes this as an affirmative signal and as Moshe had done, turns and blesses the people. Melech Shelomo recalls that his father, Melech David, had the intention to build the Beit ha-Mikdash, but was told that it would be built by his son, which has now been accomplished.
Image: RODRIGO TORRES on Unsplash
- See Rashi on Shemot 38:26 on how this calculates to 100 kikar and 1,775 shekel, and the relationship between this census and the one at the beginning of Sefer Bemidbar.
- For the first time in the text the description is detailed, along with different possibilities for identifying the stones and their layout, see Parashat Tetzaveh.
- For more specifics on whether the Miluim (inauguration) of the Mishkan was completed on 1 Nisan, meaning that it was actually finished on the 23rd of Adar, see Ibn Ezra on Shemot 41:2 and Ramban on Shemot 41:2.
- See Rashi on Shemot 40:20