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Parashah 23 Pekudei

Exodus 38:21 – 40:38

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted 

Torah Readings (when Pekudei is read separately):

  1. 38:21 – 39:1
  2. 39:2-21
  3. 39:22-32
  4. 39:33-43
  5. 40:1-16
  6. 40:17-27
  7. 40:28-38
  8. Maftir: 40:34-38


Haftarah: 1 Kings 7:51 – 8:21 (Ashkenazi); 7:40-50 (Sephardic)


means “accounts of”


The First Aliyah, 38:21 – 39:1

38:21 “This is the amount of material used for the tent, even the Tent of the Testimony, as they were counted, according to the command of Moshe, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Itamar, the son of Aharon the Kohen.”(HNV revised) – Moshe commanded that an account be given in the presence of all the people, of how the material that they had given to the Eternal’s work had been used. However, it was not only the people of Israel who would be able to see this account, but all people on earth who have access to the Torah are able to see how Moshe used the gold, silver, copper, precious stones, and all the other valuables. That teaches us how important it is to have thorough bookkeeping in a congregation or in other public organizations. Moshe took the initiative of giving this report to the people so that no one would accuse him of being dishonest. He did not give the people an opportunity to, at any time, think that he had made himself rich at the cost of the offerings that were given to the work of the Eternal, as it is written in Numbers 16:15b,

I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them.”(HNV)

 Moshe could have asked for compensation for the donkey that he used on his journey from Midyan to Egypt, when he was called to serve in the work of the Eternal, see Exodus 4:20. He gave of his own possessions in order to fulfill the task of bringing the people out of slavery, but he did not demand it to be returned to him later, even though he had the right to.

In 1 Samuel 12:3, the prophet Shmuel speaks to the people, according to what is written,

Here I am: witness against me before HaShem, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose donkey have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I taken a ransom to blind my eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.”(HNV revised)

In 2 Corinthians 7:2, it is written,

 “Open your hearts to us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We took advantage of no one.”(HNV)

The way that Moshe dealt with the valuable objects of the tabernacle is a good example for all leaders who handle money, and especially money that has been donated to the work of the Eternal. As I have traveled in different nations, I have noticed that in many cases there is a lack in this area among those who administer the finances in congregations. Many are not careful in this area, and that is one of the reasons why the shechinah, the glory of the Eternal, does not come over us more powerfully. If we do not take thorough care of our private and corporate finances, then we are not capable of administrating the spiritual manifestations. If we are not faithful with the riches of this world, how will we be able to be faithful when it comes the true riches, as it is written in Luke 16:10-12,

“He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”(HNV)

This text teaches us that we cannot receive the gifts of the Spirit if we are not faithful in our finances. A leader who makes personal gain from the Eternal’s work will be exposed to the Messiah’s wrath, as it is written in John 2:13-16,

“The Pesach of the Jews was at hand, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables. To those who sold the doves, he said, ‘Take these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a marketplace!’”(HNV revised)

The Messiah’s wrath was not directed at those who had honest motives and wanted to make it possible for those who had traveled far to buy an animal for sacrifice, or to exchange their money, but his wrath, which came from the Father, was caused by other things:

  • Instead of keeping outside of the temple, it seems as though they had entered into the temple area itself.

  • Instead of offering their wares at normal prices, they made unjust gain from the worshippers who came to sacrifice unto the Eternal.

  • Instead of serving the people in love, they took advantage of the Eternal’s work in order to make themselves rich.

The last one of these three reasons is mainly what caused the Messiah’s wrath. Woe unto those leaders who view the Eternal’s work as a means for earning money! As it is written in Acts 8:20,

“But Kefa said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!’”(HNV revised)

Woe unto leaders who force money out of needy people in order to live easy lives at the cost of others! As it is written in 1 Timothy 6:5a,

constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”

In 1 Peter 5:1-2, it is written,

“I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Messiah, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed. Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, not for dishonest gain, but willingly.”(HNV revised)

On the one hand, it is right that one who preaches the good news should live by it, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 9:14,

“Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the Good News should live from the Good News.”(HNV)

But living by it, and thus having your needs met, is not the same thing as making oneself rich at the cost of others. A leader who dedicates himself to leading and teaching, ought to receive a salary for this, as it is written in 1 Timothy 5:17,

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.”(HNV revised)

The expression “double honor” means that he should be honored as a leader, or elder, as well as being honored by financial compensation for his work, see Hebrews 5:4; Romans 13:7; Matthew 15:4-6; 1 Timothy 5:3-4.

How much should the salary of an elder who dedicates himself fulltime to the work of the Eternal be? A good rule is that it should be a middle range salary, so that he will neither suffer want nor become rich at the expense of the work of the Eternal. If a congregation does not honor its leader with material wellbeing, it will not be successful. In other words, if a congregation is more interested in paying for a building than it is to care for its leader, then it is putting its own comfort above the needs of the leader, and this is not pleasing to the Eternal.

If a congregation loves the Eternal, and therefore loves the Torah, it will value the work of the one who teaches and preaches so highly that it will be the highest priority for that congregation. It is more important to give a suitable salary to the one who dedicates himself to teaching the Torah, than it is to paint the meeting hall. If one has to choose between these two, then the wellbeing of the leader is more important.

38:24 “All the gold that was used for the work in all the work of the sanctuary, even the gold of the offering, was twenty-nine talents, and seven hundred thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.”(HNV) – When a voluntary offering is collected from the people, it ought always to be counted and registered in writing by at least two persons who have the complete trust of the congregation. All the money that is collected ought to be recorded in an accounting book, see Philippians 4:15. Every income that is recorded in the book ought to have a receipt that justifies the figures in the book. Every receipt ought to be undersigned by two responsible persons. The book of the accounts ought also to have all the expenses of the congregation recorded in it. For each expense there ought to be a receipt that is either stamped or signed by the company that received the money. If the expense is a purchase, then the receipt for the purchase ought to be included. It should be possible for all the members of the congregation to look in the accounting book. The financial administration must be handled with complete openness so that there is no room for suspicions of squander or misuse of corporate means. If the congregation has been registered as a legal entity, it can open a bank account as such an entity. If it is not a legal entity, however, there should be three signatures required in order to administrate the congregational bank account, in spite of the fact that the account is only under one person’s name. The bank account ought not to be registered by the name of the person who receives a salary from the congregation for his work.

If an elder, or leader receives a salary for his work in the congregation, then he ought not to be the one who administers the finances of the congregation. Not even Yeshua handled the finances of his own ministry. He had an appointed treasurer. One specific person ought to be responsible for the financial administration, but he ought to have two accountants who examine the accounts regularly. If it is a large organization, it ought to entrust this to accountants who are not members of the congregation, preferably a professional accounting agency. If the accounts are kept carefully, then the leaders will not run the risk of being accused by the people. One of the worst things that could happen to a leader is that he loses the trust of the people. In order to avoid suspicion, it is important to be very particular in financial administration.

38:25-26 “The silver of those who were numbered of the congregation was one hundred talents, and one thousand seven hundred seventy-five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: a beka a head, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for everyone who passed over to those who were numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty men.”(HNV)­ – Half of 603,550 is 301,775. There were therefore altogether 301,775 silver shekels. This teaches us that every talent contains 3,000 shekels. One hundred talents equal 300,000 shekels. That leaves 1,775 shekels left over. A common talent equals 60 maneh. One maneh equals twenty-five shekels. According to Rashi, the maneh that was used in the sanctuary was twice as large as the common one. In that case, the talent that is mentioned here, in Hebrew kikar, equals 120 maneh. 25 shekels x 120 maneh = 3,000 shekels.

“a beka a head” – In Hebrew it is written beka la-gulgolet. The word gulgolet[1] means “skull”. That is where the word Gulgolta came from, which is the name of the place where Yeshua died, as it is written in Matthew 27:33,

They came to a place called ‘Gulgolta’, that is to say, ‘The place of a skull’.”(HNV revised)

This is therefore, a reference to the fact that the place where the Messiah died is connected with a beka. The beka was the ransom for each and every one of the children of Israel who were counted. The Hebrew word beka[2] comes from the root bakah[3], which means “to cleave”, “to break”, “to cut out”, “to invade”. In this text we can therefore find key words that speak of the Messiah’s death at Gulgolta as a foundation for the ransom of the children of Israel. The word beka is only found in two places in the Scriptures, here and in Genesis 24:22, see the comments on that verse in Parashah 5 – Chayei Sarah.

38:29 “The brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand four hundred shekels.”(HNV) – If the shekel weighed 17 gram, we get the following total:

Gold- 29 talents, 730 shekels=87,730 shekels.            87,730 x 17 gr. =        1,491 kg

Silver- 100 talents, 1,775 shekels=301,775 shekels.  301,775 x 17 gr. =        5,130 kg

Brass- 70 talents, 2,400 shekels=212,400 shekels.     212,400 x 17 gr. =        3,610 kg

TOTAL                                                                                                        10,231 kg

The silver was the heaviest material in the entire tabernacle. Silver represents redemption and compassion. It is interesting to note that the brass, or copper, weighed less than the silver. Brass, or copper, represents judgment and righteousness. This teaches us that the compassion of the Eternal outweighs his judgment, as it is written in Romans 5:20,

The Torah came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 103:10, it is written,

"He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor repaid us for our iniquities.”(HNV)

In Titus 3:5, it is written,

“not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Ruach HaKodesh”(HNV)

These two materials, silver and copper, make up the foundation of the tabernacle. In the tent of meetings, there were one hundred sockets of silver, which speak of the compassion of the Eternal. The sixty sockets that were in the outer court were made out of copper, which speaks of the righteousness of the Eternal. The four pillars that held up the veil that hung between the consecrated and the most consecrated area, were covered in gold and had sockets of silver. The five pillars that were at the entrance of the tabernacle and which held up the curtain that separated the outer court from the consecrated area were covered in gold and had sockets of copper. The foundation of the outer court was only of copper. The foundation of the consecrated area was made of both copper and silver, and the foundation of the most consecrated area was of silver. The copper poles that were in the outer court, had details of silver on them as well. That speaks of the fact that the Eternal shows compassion in judgment.

39:1 “Of the blue, purple, and scarlet, they made finely worked garments, for ministering in the sanctuary, and made the consecrated garments for Aharon; as HaShem commanded Moshe.”(HNV revised) – The first part of the verse mentions three kinds of wool yarn; sky blue, purple, and scarlet, but no linen is mentioned. The conclusion that Rashi makes from this is that it does not refer to the priestly garments, which contained linen, but to the material that was used to wrap the consecrated objects for travel, see Numbers 4:8, 12, 13.

“as HaShem commanded Moshe” – This expression is found eighteen times in this Parashah. How important it is to do everything according to the word that is spoken from heaven through Moshe!

These eighteen times that this expression is used could represent the eighteen blessings[4], which the Wise of the Great Congregation[5] instituted for the amidah-prayer.[6]

The Second Aliyah, 39:2-21

39:5 “The skillfully woven band that was on it, with which to fasten it on, was of the same piece, like its work; of gold, of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen; as HaShem commanded Moshe.”(HNV revised) – Only one person in the entire congregation received the full vision of the construction of the tabernacle. The others were forced to submit to the main leader in order to be able to do the will of the Eternal.

The Third Aliyah, 39:22-32

39:32 “Thus all the work of the tent of meeting was finished. The children of Yisra'el did according to all that HaShem commanded Moshe; so they did.”(HNV revised) – According to Midrash literature[7], Moshe came down from the mountain on the tenth day of the seventh month, called Tishrei, after having received forgiveness for the sin with the golden calf. After that, the work on the tabernacle commenced, and it was finished before the first month of the second year. This teaches us that the work of the construction could not have gone on for more than five months. According to a Midrash,[8] the work was finished on the 25th of Kislev year 2,449. Kislev is the ninth Hebrew month. That means that the work lasted just over two months. Today, the 25th of Kislev is the day that the celebration of Chanukah begins, which was instituted in memory of the restoration of the temple service during the time of the Maccabees.

The Fourth Aliyah, 39:33-43

39:43 “Moshe saw all the work, and, behold, they had done it as HaShem had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moshe blessed them.”(HNV revised) – Blessing comes through obedience. If you want to be blessed, obey the Eternal and submit to the leadership that he has instituted. The blessing came through Moshe. The leadership conveys the blessings to the people.

The Fifth Aliyah, 40:1-16

40:2 “On the first day of the first month you shall raise up the Tent of Meeting.”(HNV) – The month of Aviv, or Nissan, is the month of the redemption. It is also the month in which the ministry in the sanctuary began, see Ezekiel 45:18; 2 Chronicles 29:3, 17; Ezra 7:9. According to Rashi, the tabernacle was raised up on the eighth day of the priests’ dedication.

The Sixth Aliyah, 40:17-27

40:18 “Moshe raised up the tent, and laid its sockets, and set up the boards of it, and put in the bars of it, and raised up its pillars.”(HNV) – It says that it was Moshe who raised up the tabernacle. This teaches us that the Messiah is the one who raises up the consecrated temple made of those who believe in him, see Matthew 16:18.

According to a Midrash[9] that is quoted by Rashi, Moshe received the honor of raising up the tabernacle since he had not done any of the work on it. According to this interpretation, no other man was able to raise it up since the boards were so heavy. Moshe was able to do it because the Eternal worked a miracle that raised the tabernacle on its own when Moshe tried to do it. It is however, more probable that Moshe received the honor of raising the tabernacle since he had led the work, in the same way that Betzal’el received the honor of having made all the objects even though he had several helpers. In Numbers 1:50-51, it is written that the Levites  took down and raised the tabernacle.

The Seventh Aliyah, 40:28-38

40:33 “He raised up the court around the tent and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moshe finished the work.”(HNV) – It is very important for a leader to have a vision from heaven of the Eternal’s work. It is very important that this vision is conveyed to the people. It is very important that the people back this vision up and give of their belongings so that it can become a reality. It is very important that there are capable men who stand in the gap for the Eternal’s work. It is very important that the people work meticulously and without laziness. It is very important to have public accounting of the Eternal’s work. It is very important that everything is done according to what the Eternal has spoken to the main leader. But, the most important thing of all is to finish the work, and not to leave it halfway completed. It is good to remember that this magnificent construction that would last for four hundred years was constructed in the desert. It is possible to complete a heavenly calling in spite of opposing circumstances.

40:34 “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of HaShem filled the tent.”(HNV revised) – When the Eternal’s house was finished, his glory moved in to dwell in it. Thus the purpose of this building project was fulfilled.

40:35 “Moshe wasn’t able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud stayed on it, and HaShem’s glory filled the tent.”(HNV revised) – Here it says that Moshe could not go into the tent of meeting, but in Numbers 7:89, it is written,

“When Moshe went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with HaShem, he heard his voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two Keruvim: and he spoke to him.”(HNV revised)

These two verses seem to contradict one another. In this case we must use Rabbi Yishmael’s thirteenth rule of interpretation, which is: “When two texts are contradictory (one cannot understand their meaning) until a third text comes that causes them to agree”. The third text in this case is found directly after the first. It says, “because the cloud stayed on it”. This teaches us that while the cloud was over the tent of meeting, Moshe could not enter, but when the cloud lifted, he could enter.

40:38 “For the cloud of HaShem was on the tent by day, and there was fire in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Yisra'el, throughout all their journeys.”(HNV revised) – The word “journeys” includes the places where they camped as well, because from each place they began a new journey. The cloud was not over the tabernacle during the journeys, only when they camped, see 40:36.

[1]     Strong H1538 gûlgôleth, gul-go'-leth, By reduplication from H1556; a skull (as round); by implication a head (in enumeration of persons): - head, every man, poll, skull.

[2]     Strong H1235 beqa‛, beh'-kah, From H1234; a section (half) of a shekel, that is, a beka (a weight and a coin): - bekah, half a shekel.

[3]     Strong H1234 bâqa‛, baw-kah', A primitive root; to cleave; generally to rend, break, rip or open: - make a breach, break forth (into, out, in pieces, through, up), be ready to burst, cleave (asunder), cut out, divide, hatch, rend (asunder), rip up, tear, win.

[4]     R´Bechay 38:9.

[5]     Ezra and his followers were called the Wise of the Great Assembly, in Hebrew Anshei Knesset Ha-Gedolah.

[6]     Amidah-prayer (amidah means “standing”), which is also called “shmoneh esreh” (eighteen), the most important prayer in the three daily prayers, shacharit – “morning prayer”, minchah – “afternoon prayer”, and arvit – “evening prayer”. This prayer consists of eighteen blessings, which cover all of man’s needs in life. In the Talmud Brachot 28b-29a, it talks about how the rabbis in Yavne added an additional blessing against heretics, some years after the destruction of the temple.

[7]     Tanchumah Tissah 37.

[8]     Midrash HaGadol 36:4.

[9]     Tanchumah 11.