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Shemot/Exodus 39:2 ... gold, blue, and purple and scarlet yarn and twisted linen
The Bavli Talmud explains how the various threads and yarns in this colour mixture were combined in groups of six, eighteen and twenty four, and hold the gold was beaten thinly into a sheet then then cut up into threads and woven into the strands of yarn (Yoma 72a). The blending was perfect, according to a precise formula which prescribed the exact numbers of each coloured thread and the amount of gold to be included as the groups of threads were woven and re-combined. Great care was taken with the handling and presentation of the materials that the people had given to the L-rd for the building of the Mishkan, its furniture and the official clothing of the High Priest.
Neither were these materials cheap or common place. The 'techelet' blue is the same colour that was used as a single thread in the tzitzit, or fringes, worn on the corners of every four-cornered garment (B'Midbar 15:38); made from a mollusc, this colour has been lost for over a thousand years and has only recently been rediscovered. Purple was a colour only worn by the very rich throughout the ancient world because of the cost of the dyes and dying process. Scarlet, sometimes translated crimson, was a very strong and permanent dye extracted from the 'tola' worm, which is why it is used by the prophet Isaiah as picture of sin: "though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18, NASB). Finely twisted white linen took a long time to prepare and weave, combining out all the woody stems and seeds of the flax plant to get the clean white fibres to spin the thread. Gold has always had value and was the most costly of the precious metals known in biblical times.
The people in the desert brought of their very best for the "freewill offering from the heart" for the Mishkan and all its accoutrements. Then they gave again of their skills in building, carving, weaving and assembling these materials into a structure and garments that were to reflect the glory of G-d in their midst. We see the same dedication, design and craftsmanship in the synagogues and cathedrals of the Middle Ages - buildings which still defy the skills of modern architects in their intricate design and sheer lofty grandeur - dedicated to the glory of G-d.
How much more then should we today offer of our best to G-d, presenting it the best and most effective way to reflect His glory and bring Him pleasure. Rav Sha'ul wrote: "I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of G-d's mercies to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for G-d. This will please Him; it is the logical 'Temple worship' for you" (Romans 12:1, CJB).
Further Study: Malachi 1:6-14; 1 Corinthians 11:20-22
Application: How do you view what we are and bring to G-d, be it ever so much or ever so little? What care do we take as stewards over what is His while it is in our charge? Resolve today to give Him the very best you have - yourselves - and keep it in spotless condition for Him always.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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