Messianic Education Trust
    Tetzaveh  
(Ex 27:20 - 30:10)

Shemot/Exodus 28:35   And [the robe] shall be on Aharon to minister and its voice will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before Adonai and when he goes out

This verse is talking about the splendid robe that Aharon the High Priest is to wear whenever he is officiating in the Holy Place - the Tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting. Made entirely of , that special shade of blue/turquoise from which the thread of blue in the , or tassels at the four corners of a garment is also taken, and which featured so heavily in the "blue, purple and scarlet" designs of the curtains if the Tabernacle, the robe is hemmed with "pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the hem, with bells of gold between them" (Shemot 28:33, NJPS). This is why the robe is spoken of in our text as having a voice: the bells on the hem will tinkle and jingle as the High Priest moves around conducting the ritual in the Tabernacle. Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi explains that " these were bells with the clappers that are within them."

The verb - the Nif'al 3ms affix form of the root , to hear or listen, with a vav-reversive to render a future tense, so "he will be heard" - only occurs three times in the Tanakh according to the Who Is ...

Ba'al HaTurim: Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (1269-1343 CE), born in Cologne, Germany; lived for 40 years in and around Toledo, Spain; died en route to Israel; his commentary to the Chumash is based upon an abridgement of the Ramban, including Rashi, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra; it includes many references to gematria and textual novelties
Baal HaTurim. These are (i) here; (ii) in the reply of the people to being offered the Torah and covenant with The Name ...

HaShem: literally, Hebrew for 'The Name' - an allusion used to avoid pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, the so-called 'ineffable' name of G–d
HaShem, "All that HaShem has said, we will do and we will hear" (Shemot 24:7); and (iii) "Then the king's decree will be heard ... for it is great" (Esther 1:20). "This implies," he comments, "that the king's decree will take precedence over Torah study and Temple ritual."

The sudden switch from a strongly visual description of the High Priest's garments to the sound that the [bells on the bottom of the] robe makes, even that it has a voice, attracts the attention of the commentators. There must be more going on that just denoting who the High Priest is or to make him look splendid. What is the noise for? The Who Is ...

Ramban: Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman of Gerona or Nachmanides (1194-1270 CE), Spanish rabbi, author and physician; defended Judaism in the Christian debates in Barcelona before making aliyah
Ramban suggests that "the sound [of the bells] is supposed to announce his presence, so that he may (as it were) be granted permission to appear before his L-rd." The Who Is ...

The Rashbam: Rabbi Samuel ben Asher (1085-1174 CE), a grandson of Rashi; lived in Northern France; worked from the plain meaning of the Hebrew text even when this contradicted established rabbinic interpretaton
Rashbam offers the idea that "since the Holy One commanded that 'when he goes in to make expiation in the Shrine, nobody else shall be in the Tent of Mercy until he comes out' (Vayikra 16:17), He likewise commanded that the sound must be heard when he comes into the Sanctuary so that everyone who hears it can distance himself."

Sadly, this argument is weakened significantly by the fact that the Rashbam's proof text comes from the portion of the Yom Kippur ritual when the High Priest has swapped his formal robe of office for a plain linen tunic, breeches and belt. Nahum Sarna reports that "other suggestions are that the tinkling attracts the attention of the worshippers outside the Tent to the fact the the High Priest is performing the ritual; or that the bells sent out a message that no mishap had occurred in the course of the priestly duties. Another possibility is that the High Priest is himself reminded by the sound of the bells on his robe that he is to attune his heart and mind to his solemn duties and that he must be fully conscious that he is in the presence of G-d."

Putting words in HaShem's mouth, the Who Is ...

Bekhor Shor: Joseph ben Isaac Bekhor Shor; a twelfth century French tosafist, commentator and poet; he lived in Orleans and was a pupil of the Rashbam and Rabbenu Tam; wrote a commentary to the Torah and made contributions to the Talmud commentaries; followed the p'shat method of interpretation in the style of Rashi, to the extent of rationalising many miracles
Bekhor Shor proposes, "'So he does not sneak in on Me like a thief in the night.' From this we learn good manners: One should not simply walk unannounced into someone else's home, in case he is doing something that requires privacy." The Torah's terseness implies that it was written by or for people who knew exactly what the garments, rituals, furniture and procedures looked and sounded like. Hampered as we are by a gap of several thousands of years, it would be very difficult to replicate either the items or the rituals with a high degree of certainty; our reconstructions must always involve a degree of guesswork, both to the appearances and the exact usage of these items. Thomas Dozeman gives us a helpful scholarly summary: "[The bells] protect Aharon as he enters and leaves the holy place of the sanctuary. Thus their sound is apotropaic,1 perhaps also signifying a ritual act associated with entering and exiting the presence of G-d."2

What, however, can we learn from this text - preserved as it is for us by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures? Firstly, I think we should be aware of the power of ritual and dress. I have been struck on a number of occasions when attending funerals of the tremendous power wielded by an Anglican priest at a time of huge emotional vulnerability. He stands at the end of the open grave, dressed in a long black cape with his surplice and cassock underneath, intoning the funeral service - dust to dust, ashes to ashes - to bring closure to the earthly life of the deceased. He may have had no more contact with the grieving family than a short hour's visit to collect some biographical details for a eulogy; they may be a completely secular and non-church going or believing family. But yet his quiet authority, his familiarity with the words and readings bring a sense of dignity and finality to a week or more of absolute panic and emotional trauma triggered by the death of a loved (at least by some) family member: spouse, parent, child, sibling. The words of the funeral service offer no promise of heaven to those who do not believe, yet the combination of ritual and official authority conveyed by the minister's apparel allow the mourners to recognise that this is it, the chapter is closed and it is time to move on. As Dozeman comments, "the Aharonic priests are non-charismatic figures; their authority is hereditary, residing in the holy clothing and the access it affords them to G-d. The spirit of G-d does not seize Aharon and his sons in Shemot 28. They exercise the power of their office in rituals, which they are able to perform, in part, because they are invested with holy clothes."3

Secondly, since we have all been included in G-d's "kingdom of priests and holy nation" (Shemot 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9) by virtue of our faith in Yeshua, we stand in the position of priests - or perhaps we could the word introducers - and representatives of G-d to the people around us. How should we dress and what should we wear? I am not primarily thinking here of physical clothes, important though appropriate choices in this area are, but of our spiritual clothes, our conversational clothes and our behavioural clothes. Are we faithfully imaging Yeshua to the people around us by our language, our actions and the stories we tell? Are we telling the stories of the kingdom of G-d - of Yeshua (of course), of Avraham, Moshe, Elijah and the great men of faith? Fragments of our own personal stories are always fun to share and have a real impact on other people because they happened to the person in front of them! Have we learned how to sum up the arc of the gospel in the form of a loose story or paraphrase that people can hear and understand without being frightened off? Then there are our attitudes and the way we speak of others - are we understanding and positive, always trying to see and portray other people in as good a light as possible? Are we scrupulous in our financial and moral honesty without criticising others?

People usually have remarkably good noses and can all too easily tell if they are being treated as a project or being sold religion. They need to be able to smell the "aroma of Messiah to G-d among those who are being saved" (2 Corinthians 2:15, ESV), the "fragrance from life to life" (v. 16, ESV). Paul concludes, speaking at the time of himself and his ministry team, "For we are not, like so many, peddlers of G-d's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by G-d, in the sight of G-d we speak in Messiah" (v. 17, ESV). They spoke honestly and openly of G-d in a way that people could see was genuine and without guile as they shared the faith and the love that they had received from G-d with others. Surely that holds true for us today - we should be spreading "the fragrance of the knowledge of [Yeshua] everywhere" (v. 14, ESV).

Aharon wore clothing of glory, garments such as the turquoise robe with pomegranates and bells around the hem so that people could see and hear the image of G-d on him. Yeshua was the fullest possible expression and revelation of G-d - "the radiance of the glory of G-d and the exact imprint of His nature" (Hebrews 1:3, ESV) - and told his disciples, "behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49, ESV). This is what G-d does for us as we walk before Him: He clothes us with the power of His Spirit and conforms us to the image of His Son. As for ourselves, the apostle Peter writes, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another" (1 Peter 5:5, ESV). We should always seek to "do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God" (Micah 6:8).

1. - Oxford Dictionary of English: supposedly having the power to avert evil influences or bad luck.

2. - Thomas B. Dozeman, Exodus, Eerdmans Critical Commentaries, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmanns, 2009), page 647.

3. - Ibid., 642-643.

Comment - 01Mar20 19:24 Bonnie: Well, I can tell you that my Shield of Faith is very worn and dented from all the fiery darts.

Further Study: D'varim 10:12-13; 1 Peter 3:3-4

Application: How do you clothe yourself when you are with others? Do you image Yeshua faithfully by the different types of garments that you wear? Why not drop in on the Master Tailor and see if He thinks that your clothing might need a little adjustment for kingdom wear!

Comment - 08Mar20 09:02 Brian and Anne Nelson: Always a good thing to be reminded of our/my frailty, our/my waywardness and daily need of a Saviour; Messiah Yeshua Hamashiach, Tsidekenu. Toda raba for Your Grace and Mercy and Your unfailing Love

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© Jonathan Allen, 2020



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