Today is the 21st Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Ki Tisa / When you take, Exo 30:11-34:35. Read Exodus 30:11-34:35 at Bible Gateway.
In searching for the chiastic structure for this week’s parashah, I encountered several puzzles. Setting up puzzles is one way Scripture invites us to look deeper and dig deeper! Here is the outline of this week’s parashah with the strong and weak paragraph divisions marked.
Exo 30:11-16 p The atonement money for the Tabernacle
Exo 30:17-21 p The pattern for the laver of bronze
Exo 30:22-31:11 p Anointing oil + filled with the Spirit in all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding
Exo 30:22-33 s The pattern for the holy anointing oil
Exo 30:34-38 s The pattern for the holy incense
Exo 31:1-11 p Bezalel + Aholiab called and gifted to make the Tabernacle
Exo 31:12-32:6 p Sabbath rest commanded + Moses receives the tablets + idolatry committed
Exo 31:12-17 s The Lord spoke to Moses + the Sabbath commandment
Exo 31:18-32:6 p He ended speaking + gave the tablets + idolatry committed (covenant broken)
Exo 32:7-14 p Intercession: The Lord: Let me consume them + Moses: Relent + The Lord relented
Exo 32:15-33:11 p Moses intercedes + covenant status (broken)
Exo 32:15-35 s Moses and the aftermath + intercession for forgiveness + the Lord’s answer
Exo 33:1-11 p The command to leave Sinai without the Lord’s presence + Moses pitched his tent for the tabernacle of meeting
Exo 33:12-16 p Moses intercedes for the Lord’s presence also + the Lord agrees
Exo 33:17-23 p Moses asks to see the Lord’s glory + the Lord agrees
Exo 34:1-26 p Moses makes new tablets + Moses sees the Lord’s glory + Commandments renewed (Covenant renewed)
Exo 34:27-35:3 p The Lord’s commandments + Moses’ face shone + The Sabbath commandment
Exo 34:27-35 s Write these words on the tablets + Moses face shone and the veil
Exo 35:1-3 p The Lord has commanded the Sabbath commandment
Now here is the first puzzle. The parashah ends before the strong paragraph of Exo 34:27-35:3 ends. This makes Exo 35:1-3 a “loose end,” or highlighted. The spotlight on Exo 35:1-3 reminds me that Exo 31:12-17 also had to do with the Sabbath commandment. So, a chiastic structure can be formed with these two bookends:
1a) Exo 31:12-17, Sabbath commandment;
1b) Exo 31:18a, The Lord made an end of speaking with Moses;
1c) Exo 31:18b, The Lord gave Moses the two tablets of the Testimony;
1d) Exo 32:1-6, Idolatry committed + the covenant broken;
1e) Exo 32:7-20, Moses intercedes for the wrath of the Lord to turn from them;
1f) Exo 32:21-29, Idolaters restrained at the entrance to their tents;
1g) Exo 32:30-32, Confession of sin and plea for forgiveness;
central axis) Exo 32:33-33:3, Consequence for sin = separation from the Lord’s Presence;
2g) Exo 33:4-6, Repentance of sin;
2f) Exo 33:7-11, Every man worshiped at the entrance to their tents;
2e) Exo 33:12-34:9, Moses intercedes for the Presence of the Lord to go with them;
2d) Exo 34:10-27, Idolatry forbidden + the covenant renewed;
2c) Exo 34:29a, Moses came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony;
2b) Exo 34:29b-35, When the Lord spoke with Moses his face shone;
2a) Exo 35:1-3, Sabbath commandment.
The chiastic structure introduces a second puzzle, however. Exo 30:11-31:11 makes another “loose end.” The loose end allows me to see that the structure in fact continues in conjunction with next week’s parashah, which I will post next week.
So the big picture being painted by the structure: Rest (the Sabbath commandment) opens it, and closes it. Rest paints a picture of right relationship with God. In between, is grievous sin and its consequence. But when there is recognition of sin, confession of sin, and repentance of sin, the mediator of the covenant (Moses as a type of Messiah) intercedes on our behalf and restores us in covenant with the Lord our God,
That is the gospel of grace preached from Torah!