Parashat T’tzaveh (you shall command)

T’tzaveh  (“you shall command”) from Exodus 27:20 to 30:10 is the Parsha for this week.

The Israelites are commanded to bring fresh olive oil to ensure that Aaron and his sons keep the lampstand in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) burning all night long.

Sacred garments were to be made for Aaron and his sons to consecrate them as Priests. God had endowed certain people with the skills to make them. The garments were to be a turban, ephod, breastpiece, tunic and sash.

The ephod was to comprise two shoulder pieces and a waistband. It was to be made of purple, scarlet blue and gold yarn. Two onyx stones were to be engraved with the names of the twelve sons of Israel, six names on each stone. The stones were to be mounted on gold filigree settings and fastened to the ephod. Two precious stones were added for the Urim and Thummim to discern God’s will.

A breastpiece was to be made of the same material as the ephod – that is to say – blue, scarlet, purple, and gold yarn. It would be folded double to form a square piece of a span on each side, which is about nine inches or twenty-three centimetres It was hung from the ephod by means of two gold chains attached to the ephod which was secured to the breast piece by means of gold rings held together by blue cord. A further set of gold rings tied with blue cord secured the bottom of the breast piece to the ephod. The breast piece was to have four rows of three precious stones, each stone engraved with one of the twelve sons of Israel.

In the drawing of the breast piece below each precious stone represents a tribe of Israel in order of birth. The shapes at the bottom are the Urim and Thummim

A gold plate was to be made inscribed with the words

Kadosh le Adonai — HOLY TO THE LORD — קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה

This plate was to be secured to the Priest’s turban over his forehead with blue cords.

Shirt and trousers were worn as undergarments.  The tunic was blue decorated with gold bells and pomegranates at the hem. The ephod was worn over the tunic.

Consecration of the Priests 

The consecration of the priests took place over seven days. Aaron and his sons wash in water before donning the priestly garments. Loaves of unleavened bread were made. Some were thick and mixed with olive oil; while others were thin and coated with olive oil. The loaves were to be used as a wave offering before the Lord.

A bull and two rams are offered as sacrifices. The blood of the bull is sprinkled against the altar while its internal organs are burnt as an offering and the rest of it is burned outside the camp.

Then the first ram is offered in a similar way but the whole ram is burnt on the altar and the blood mixed with olive oil is sprinkled on the priestly garments to consecrate them A further ram is offered and its blood splashed on the altar. Some of the blood is placed on the ear lobe and the thumb of the priests. The animal’s organs were burnt but the breast and thigh of the animal are for the priests to eat, cooked outside of the Tent of Meeting for themselves only.

Altar of Incense

The last item of furniture to be mentioned is the altar of incense. This was a cubit square – that is to say about half a metre or eighteen inches square at the top and double that in height. It was to be fashioned out of acacia wood overlayed with gold with horns at each corner. Like all the other furniture it needed to be portable so acacia wood poles overlayed with gold were inserted into gold rings attached to the altar for that purpose. The altar was only to be used to burn incense when the Priest attended to the lampstand in the morning and rekindled it in the evening. Once a year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) it was to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice.

Haftarat T’tzaveh הפטרת תצוה

The Haftarah associated with the Parsha this week is Ezekiel 43:10 to 27

Ezekiel has a vision of a Temple, all the dimensions of which are detailed along with the sacrifices that are to be performed to consecrate it. It is larger and more elaborate than the Mishkan  (tabernacle). Ezekiel describes an altar that is built on a platform fourteen cubits (about seven metres or eighteen feet) square with steps going up to it.

Ezekiel prophesied just before and during the Babylonian Exile. The Temple was rebuilt seventy years after the Babylonians destroyed it, but it had nothing like the grandeur of the Temple Ezekiel saw which is still to come in the future.

Messianic Message

When we accept Messiah into our lives, we become Priests (Revelation 1:16. What happens when we are consecrated?

  1. We are washed                                           1 Corinthians 6:11
  2. We put on new garments                          Revelation 19:8
  3. We wear a breast plate                              Ephesians 6:14
  4. We wear a sash                                           Isaiah 11:5 
  5. We will wear a Crown                              2 Timothy 4:8        
  6. God’s name will be on our forehead      Revelation 22:4

All that remains of a once-great Temple is a wall that was actually part of a later addition by Herod and not the Temple itself. Yeshua’s prediction that not one stone would be standing on another came to pass exactly as He said it would in Matthew 24:2

Will the Temple be rebuilt? The fourteenth and fifteen benedictions of the Amidah(standing prayer) reflect that hope:

Have mercy and return to Jerusalem, Your city. May Your presence dwell there as You have promised. Build it now, in our days and for all time. Re-establish there the majesty of David, Your servant. Praised are You Adonai, who builds Jerusalem.

Cause the offspring of Your servant David to flourish and hasten the coming of Your deliverance. We hope continually in Your redemption. Praised are You Adonai, who assures our redemption.

But where is the Temple right now? How could Yeshua claim to rebuild it in three days?

The Temple now exists in the lives in all people in congregations and churches throughout the world who confess his name.

This article originally appeared on the BMJA website and is reposted with permission.