Torah Pearls #22 – Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Torah Pearls Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Nehemia Gordon, tabernacle, wilderness, Jewish, hebrewIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20), we begin with asking what it means to "kindle a fire" on the Sabbath.  Then we ask what it means for someone's heart to be stirred, and how the various traditions understand this, leading to a wonderful discussion on how and why we give to God. There is a fascinating discussion of the nature of Polygamy in the Torah, which leads to an exciting examination of the nature of Paleo-Hebrew.

Looking forward to reading your comments!

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28 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #22 – Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

  1. Nehemia, your comments on the polygamy thing made so much sense! I have noticed that at no time did Y’hovah ever tell people they should do this, or give his blessing to such situations. It seemed to be something people decided to do on their own and it never seemed to work out well. There always seemed to be jealousy, resentment and general unhappiness as the end result. One person who practiced this after the Torah was given was Solomon and he was negatively influenced by these wives’ and concubines’ worship of alien gods and in the Book of Ecclesiastes he didn’t sound at all happy!

  2. Fire,sex and smoke on Shabbat,

    My personal thoughts on the fire issue relate to starting a fire on Shabbat. I find it an act of creating, which Yehovah completed and rested from. I think of Him creating the very first LIGHT from the darkness. I picture Him sitting on a knoll when He was finished and it was ‘very good’, and Him calling Adam over to Him to sit with Him to contemplate and admire all perfection that had been made. Perhaps He rested an arm over Adam’s shoulder as He drew him close to explain some of the secrets of the stars or the sea creatures.
    To take it further, I contemplated the thoughts of whether or not sex is appropriate on Shabbat as some of my Jewish roots friends believe is positively yes. However, I see this as creation again as its purpose was intended for propagation. (Gen 1:27-28) What makes the connection is that Israel was supposed to go to the mishkan where Yehovah’s presence dwelt except if they were defiled …sex being one way. So how do we set aside Shabbat to rest in the presence of our Father if we are intentionally defiled on His day?
    One more point I think about is that Yehovah’s Presence in the mishkan was in a pillar of fire and a cloud of smoke. Should we be (creating) these false pictures in our homes…?
    All this makes me question our need to have a clear picture of reverencing Yehovah”s creative plan as compared to our own paltry imitations; and our selfish desires to explain away that which could draw us closer if we tried to understand His ways better.
    These are just some thoughts of mine for me on these things. I so thank Nehemia and friends for these friendly and joyful and sometimes funny studies to keep me thinking and God focused; thankyou.

  3. I have yet another question that may only be confusing because the English Translations may not be the same as the Hebrew. As the scriptures SEEM to say, that Israel was to keep the Passover lamb until the 14th DAY of the month, and they were to kill the lamb between the evenings. Then they were tp roast, and eat that evening. Since the lambs were killed on the DAY of the 14th, and God starts the day with evening, the eve of the 14th would have occurred before the lambs were slain, and there is no command to slay on the 13th, then would not Passover coincide with , and be eaten on the First Day (eve) of Unleavened Bread? In other words, was the Passover meal to be eaten as the eve of 15th was beginning? Ithe night of the 14th after slaying on the 14th?) Now the 15th or first day of Unleavened Bread is an annual holy day, Feast of Trumpets is a Sabbath per Leviticus 23:24, Day of Atonement in Levitcius 23:32 is also referred to as a Sabbath, so the holy eve/day of Unleavened Bread is likely also considered a Sabbath. hHw could Israel burn any leftover lamb with fire the next day if any of the lamb were not eaten by morning? Remember, they were not supposed to kindle or feed a fire on the Sabbath, and if the morning/day after Passover/Unleavened Bread is a Sabbath Day, how could they burn the remains and not kindle or feed a fire on the Sabbath?

  4. You guys got off the topic of fire rather quickly, b t my question was, “What did they do when it was a cold night, such as during winter? If they were not allowed to feed the fire, how did they stay warm on a wintery Sabbath night? It would be rather difficult to consider the Sabbath a blessing, a delight, and a joyous day if one was expected to sit and shiver from the cold. By the same token, a man was put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. So how did God expect His people to stay warm on the Sabbath Day/night? (cause it does get cold at night even in the desert,) I know of no scriptures that say anything like God miraculously provided heat like he did the manna. HELP!

  5. Just absolutely love “watching” your different personalities that Yehovah created, interacting together as you feast on the words of Yehovah, and search out the treasures that He has hidden in his scriptures He has to be smiling, too. And another point…you can’t have an Aspergers person in a group without a lot of reactions from the group resulting in amused chuckles. Aspergers are dead serious from the depths of their hearts about what they believe and say, as well as clueless as to how most people will perceive it, though they have their own brand of humor, too, but most everyone else get tickled at their serious way of thinking or their passion about everything they talk about. It seems like they live continually in the immediate present in one sense. Thankfully, Yehovah gave us the ability to get tickled, too, at the ones laughing at us.

    So all that to say, I absolutely LOVE watching how Yehovah has made us so different, and it is a beautiful thing to see it all working together to glorify Him on this program. And Nehemia, I am so thankful that you are so passionate about teaching only what Yehovah has spoken in His Word even though there is still the question on Yehoshua. May our dear Father bring the answer soon to your seeking heart. When it becomes clear what Yehovah did in coming to us in the body of His Messiah, Yehoshua, the hearts burst with love and gratitude and awe. Yehovah is our Saviour and Creator and Redeemer and has always been. There is no other and there will be no other. My deep gratitude to Keith and the other brother for everything that you all bring to this program, too.

    • Oh, and I am glad that you lay out more than one view of certain scriptures instead of only pushing one view. Very grateful for that!
      And there should be a ‘period’ before “He has to be smiling, too!”

  6. I can’t thank you all enough for what you do in your weekly Torah Pearls. Your insights and Hebrew expertise has become a major source of learning for us and several of the families in our fellowship group. You bring Zechariah 8:23 to life as we, members of the nations, grab hold of the robe of a Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” You are all an inspiration and a blessing to us.

  7. I am so happy to hear the expounding here.
    Nehemiah is such a eye opener on the perspective of the Jewish side…

    I ponder on the fact that being learned by several religious [denominations] aspects of faith here in America, we all have so many divided beliefs in the WHOLE of Scripture.

    I ask YHWH to aid me in seeing things as He does after all in Him is no deceit and only Truth. With everyone talking on the matters of faith, not sitting in judgment here but questioning human kind and the thoughts passed on to us.

    All through the Old Testament [Torah and the Prophets] YHWH is reprimanding the nation of Israel by their religious doings…

    YSHWH, YHWH’s gift to us in redemptive power by Ruach haQodesh also reprimands the Jewish religion so why can we all not discuss this as a point of serious concern.

    Shalom to all as we endeavor to work out our own salvation with REVERENCE AND TREMBLING.

  8. Kindle a fire” is T’va’aru in Exodus 35:3, whose root word is ba`ar (בָּעַר) and throughout scripture we see this word connected to; strife;evil;lashonhara;jealousy; anger. I believe this has to do with ‘anger’ on the Shabbat and not a literal ‘fire’ otherwise I would freeze on Shabbats and wish it were over so I could warm myself again as the wood stove is all I have for heat and so then how could I call Shabbat a delight? Shabbat Shalom

  9. I have an interesting perspective about kindling a fire on Sabbath. If the correct understanding is that firewood should not be sought out and gathered, or if the understanding is that fire is not to be started, or if the understanding is fire that has been started should not be fed…..and any or all of those things are a violation of the Sabbath, then why did Moses have to go ask YHVH anything? Why seek out the answer to whether this man violated the command when its an obvious violation?
    My point is that maybe all along, the violation of the Sabbath command is solely about the kind of work that results in provision or livelihood. Isn’t the command to Sabbath (rest) all about allowing our Father to have a day, we rest from providing and trust He will not only make up that provision for that day but exponentially provide beyond what we could have worked to do for ourselves anyway?
    Therefore, the reason Moses had to inquire from YHVH was to assess the man’s motives. If his motive was to keep warm or cook a meal (certainly allowed on Sabbath as stated during a Feast) then this is not the work of provision. But if he was gathering wood to do his “work”, Moses would not know this without YHVH’s council. YHVH knows the heart and would be the only One to assess the answer.
    Kindling a fire in Ex 35 would then relate to kindling a fire for the purpose of the work one does during the week for his livelihood…..and not simply keeping warm in the middle of winter in case his fire went out or warming his soup or baking some matzah.

    • Your post is where I have pitched my tent on this matter. I believe Shabbat is a “Date with Dad” and He doesn’t like me staring at my Smartphone while He’s seated across the table desiring dialogue.I do better with interpreting matters of Shabbat from that perspective. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

    • … some understandings tie kindling a fire to the man who was killed for gathering wood on Shabbat as he was doing work.

      Numbers 15:32-35
      And while the children of Yisra’ĕl were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Mosheh and to Aharon, and to all the congregation. And they put him in under guard, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. And יהוה said to Mosheh, “The man shall certainly be put to death, all the congregation stoning him with stones outside the camp.”

      How does Scripture define work? If we are to look at the Word in context, then we should also be looking at verse 2.

      Exodus 35:2
      Work is done for six days, but on the seventh day it shall be set-apart to you, a Sabbath of rest to יהוה. Anyone doing work on it is put to death.

      It’s understandable why these two can seem to be related. The man was gathering wood on the Sabbath – he must have been working, right? but for now we submit that the two are not related. Why?

      Jeremiah 7:18
      The children are gathering wood, the fathers are lighting the fire, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the sovereigness of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other mighty ones, to provoke Me.

  10. On the Fire issue, I used to take a casual approach on Shabbat, but after going thru Firefighting Academy and agreeing with the instructors; Fire is a living, breathing organism that can turn into a monster. Scripture regards fire as something special. In short; DON’T PLAY WITH FIRE(especially on the Sabbath). Regarding the humor, you guys are obviously happy to be here and enjoying what you do. Levity and word-plays often arise, and those of us with a sense of humor can identify, and sometimes even learn from it. What we file away in the ‘trivia box’ today, may one day be the answer to ‘Final Jeopardy’.

  11. Nehemia, thank you for being ‘controversial’!!!! This topic/issue of the multiple wives has been a hot one with my husband and me (guess who’s for it, lol). He really won’t see my point because it’s coming from ME, a woman (so OF COURSE I would be against it he says). I love the Torah Pearls and Prophet Pearls, they are a HUGE blessing to me. Praise Yah!

  12. On the subject of the sabbath, work to be more exact, clearly it talks about fire. The subject of electricity is brought up and whether or not to flip on a light, but my question is even if you leave a light on during the sabbath or only benefit from air conditioning, should we be enjoying such things like electricity on a day we should not be working yet someone else has to for us to have it? Is this being hypocritical to say that we should not work but benefit from the work of others? And dont stop the jokes, it keeps our attention.

  13. Around 12:30 in this discussion, (I believe it was Nehemiah’s voice) it was stated that “work” was mentioned in verse 2, where kindling was mentioned in verse 3.

    When were the separations of sentences (with numbers) implemented? And why would one want to ignore a statement in a previous sentence as having nothing to do with the following sentence?

    Is every single thought its own unique paragraph, never to be confused with nor expanded upon by any other thoughts?

    your servant… again

  14. The humor is greatly enjoyed. I can only imagine the pure laughter with which The Most High God freely expresses Himself. I am sorry that Phil and Linda (?) or anyone desires a dry reading only, BUT, such brethren are crucially invaluable to take and maintain precise accountings… a necessity that they themselves derive great enjoyment from, while those whose joy is overflowing, would find excruciatingly tenuous.

    I find your laughter to be healing.

    your servant,

  15. Dear Nehemia;

    looking at ex 35:3, I wonder if all traditions are not missing the point, but that it is a simple prohibition against burning the trash on shabbath? This speculation is based on an apparent piel form of baar rather than hiphil, and the shared meaning of “baar” between burn, remove completely, and be stupid. It seems to me possible the word “th’vaaru” might be translatable as “incinerate”, a specific type of burning that requires little intelligence, and has the one purpose of removing completely. Your thoughts?

    • Spot-on Walter!
      We saw this as a possible meaning quite some time ago but ‘left it on the shelf’ until other witnesses were found (or not…).

      As in all study of scripture, CONTEXT is all-important in setting the scene for delving into the meaning of any passage; the context here is clearly the building of the Tabernacle, for which detailed instructions were about to be given. The people were enthusiastic for the task and it would have been easy to get carried away and work ceaselessly seven days a week because this was clearly ‘God’s work’. As any good trainer would do today, YHVH first prefaced his instructions with the important reminders:- that the task was NOT to be worked on on Shabbat but He also gave a reminder of what else wasn’t to be done. Given that He knew what time and effort was required to complete the task, the priority of keeping the Shabbat was simply re-stated as it is many, many times in His instructions – it is one of the key markers for who His people are, He wants us to rest with Him on this day.
      Interestingly, to our knowledge, this is the ONLY place in scripture where the prohibition on kindling (or ‘consuming’) with fire is given; here your word study makes great sense… Was YHVH simply instructing Israel that He didn’t want the aroma of burning rubbish to be wafting around the camp and up His ‘nostrils’ on Shabbat because the people took a break from Tabernacle building on that day and may use the day off to burn the trash that accumulated over the week?
      So pleased that there is at least one other who has been lead to see that this understanding is possibly the intent. There are many winter Shabbats where the lack of a fire to heat the home or food makes for a truly miserable and uncomfortable day – not restful at all. For some of our people living in extreme climatic zones this could even be damaging to health. Maybe the distinction is being drawn between using fire for necessary things versus using it for work-related activities, burning trash kind of sits in the middle of these two?
      As in all things however, we must continue to prayerfully seek the truthful understanding of scripture – this one is pretty radical and has potential to be divisive through argument of “right and wrong”. I really appreciated Nehemiah’s point that the process of seeking truth is the most important and gives honour to YHVH; knowing the truth will have to wait until one who has the authority given by YHVH can teach us…

      Many blessings in your search for things that please our Father, shalom, shalom…

      • Thanks Alan & Kathryn; it is great to know I am not all alone on this one. And yet there are cases like this, where literally NO translation follows the base language text. Keeps us amateur translators hopeful that we too can contribute to Yah’s work. Even if they did not have much noxious plastic in those days, it would have been a needless effort and risk to neighbors to have a “dumb” fire burning on into the shabbath.

      • the root word for kindle/burn is Baár and throughout scripture it is linked to:evil; jealousy; strife; lashonhara; anger etc, and the man gathering wood was killed/stoned NOT for working on the Shabbat but for making offerings to other gods…
        Jeremiah 7:18
        The children are GATHERING WOOD, the fathers are LIGHTING THE FIRE, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the sovereigness of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me.

        We see here the children GATHERING WOOD for the purpose of making offerings to other gods, and this provokes YHVH’s anger (or kindles his fire/Baar). Following Numbers 15 what do we read in Ch. 16? Korah’s rebellion.

        During the winter I light my wood burning stove every day including Shabbat as it is the only heating source I have in my home here in Colorado, if I’m freezing to death on the Shabbat, how can I call Shabbat a delight? LOL

  16. Shalom! i would like to thank you again for the get insight in these Torah portions and special thanks for the Prohet pearls that have given us a push to study the prophets as we go along their Torahporton parallels. It is so sad-you-see (sadducees) that imposters are trying to spoil this great assignment! and we at Beit Midrash Nissi continue to support and encourage in this work The LORD Yehovah poured his spirit upon you two, a Karaite and a Methodist to bless His Name, let no imposter pull you down!
    1) what day is Passover 2015? we want you with Keith Johnson to teach us how we should celebrate Passover!
    Basing on your discussion Exo. 35:3 “Ye shall not kindleI no fire…” is it ok to light candles on Erev Sabbath?

  17. My understanding, Stephen, is that these things were brought from Egypt where it is written in the Torah that God told the Hebrews to ask of the Egyptians to give them gold, silver, clothing, etc. and that the Egyptians gave so much it was written that the Hebrews “plundered” the wealth of Egypt.

  18. Hi Nehemia,

    First, let me say I like your show very much and listen to your Torah portions almost every Shabbat.

    Since this week Torah portion is Vayakhel which talks about contributing materials of all sorts (except the gold & silver) for building the ‘Tent of Meeting’. My question to you is, “Where did these people get all the materials from since they all lived in the desert of Mount Sinai at that time which was a barren place all around?” If you would elaborate on it, much appreciated!

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