Today is the 22nd Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Vayakel + Pekudei / And he assembled + Amounts of, Exo 35:1-40:38. Read Exodus 35:1-40:38 at Bible Gateway.
We saw that the chiastic structure formed by last week’s Torah portion continued with this week’s Torah portion, and of necessity, that means that the front part of the structure was also extended backwards:
1a) Exo 25:1-31:11, Tabernacle offering commanded + tabernacle instructions given + Bezalel called;
1b) Exo 31:12, YHVH spoke to Moses;
1c) Exo 31:13-17, Sabbath commandment;
1d) Exo 31:18a, YHVH made an end of speaking with Moses;
1e) Exo 31:18b, YHVH gave Moses the two tablets of the Testimony;
1f) Exo 32:1-6, Idolatry committed + the covenant broken;
1g) Exo 32:7-20, Moses intercedes for the wrath of YHVH to turn from them;
1h) Exo 32:21-29, Idolaters restrained at the entrance to their tents;
1i) Exo 32:30-32, Confession of sin and plea for forgiveness;
central axis) Exo 32:33-33:3, Consequence for sin = separation from YHVH’s Presence;
2i) Exo 33:4-6, Repentance of sin;
2h) Exo 33:7-11, Every man worshiped at the entrance to their tents;
2g) Exo 33:12-34:9, Moses intercedes for the Presence of YHVH to go with them;
2f) Exo 34:10-27, Idolatry forbidden + the covenant renewed;
2e) Exo 34:29a, Moses came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony;
2d) Exo 34:29b-35, When YHVH spoke with Moses his face shone;
2c) Exo 35:1-3, Sabbath commandment;
2b) Exo 35:4, Moses spoke to all the congregation ofIsrael;
2a) Exo 35:5-39:32, Tabernacle offering brought + Bezalel called + tabernacle instructions followed.
This leaves Exo 40 as a loose end. Here is the outline for Exo 40 according to its strong and weak paragraph divisions:
Exo 40:1-16 s Erect the tabernacle on the first day of the first month + so Moses did
Exo 40:17-19 s On the first day of the first month, Moses set up the tabernacle
Exo 40:20-21 s He put the tablets into the ark, brought the ark in, hung the veil, and partitioned it
Exo 40:22-23 s He set up the table of showbread and put the bread in order on it
Exo 40:24-25 s He set up the lampstand and lit the lamps before the Lord
Exo 40:26-27 s He set up the golden altar of incense and burned incense on it
Exo 40:28-29 s He set up the screen of the Holy Place, the altar of burnt offering, and offered
Exo 40:30-32 s He set up the bronze laver and washed and Aaron and sons washed
Exo 40:33 p He raised up the outer court and hung up the screen + Moses finished the work
Exo 40:34-38 p The cloud and the glory covered and filled the Tabernacle + directed their journey
Since Exo 40:1-33 is the account of the Tabernacle being erected, it is possible that it is meant to be a part of the 2a element of the chaistic structure above, having to do with the building of the Tabernacle. If so, that leaves just Exo 40:34-38 as a loose end.
As I was meditating on it, on the account of the cloud and the glory covering the Tabernacle and filling the Tabernacle, I realized that as the cloud and the glory covered the Tabernacle in Exo 40:34-35, so the cloud of the Lord’s presence, and His glory, covered Mount Sinai in Exo 19-24. And as Exodus concludes with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, directing Israel on their journey, I realized that the last time we had read language something like that, was here:
So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. Exo 13:20-22
Exo 13:20-19:2, when the thick cloud of the Lord’s glory covered Mount Sinai, is the account of Israel’s journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai. So it might even be said that the chiastic structure above, should extend through Exo 40:38 this way:
Exo 35:5-40:33, Tabernacle offering brought + Bezalel called + tabernacle instructions followed;
Exo 40:34-35, The cloud and glory of the Lord filled and covered the Tabernacle;
Exo 40:36-38, The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night directed Israel on their journey.
And if so, then on the front side of the chiastic structure, it should extend backward this way:
Exo 13:20-19:2, The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night directed Israel on their journey;
Exo 19:3-24:18, The cloud and glory of the Lord covered Mount Sinai;
Exo 25:1-31:11, Tabernacle offering commanded + tabernacle instructions given + Bezalel called;
If so, we can see that Exodus can be said to be formed of two major chiastic structures:
1a) Exo 1:1-7, Israel began their sojourn in Egypt;
1b) Exo 1:8-6:9, Egypt plagues Israel;
1c) Exo 6:10-7:2, Moses commanded to meet with Pharaoh and tell him YHVH’s demand;
central axis) Exo 7:3-5, YHVH will glorify His name;
2c) Exo 7:6-13, Moses meets with Pharaoh;
2b) Exo 7:14-12:36, YHVH plagues Egypt;
2a) Ex0 12:37-42, Israel ceased their sojourn in Egypt.
This one opens the book, and spans Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The one we have been examining today concludes the book, and might be said to span or teach, once God’s people are delivered from the kingdom of darkness, I mean Egypt, how they dwell with God in His kingdom (where He is King and has the right and responsibility to give commandments), for the Tabernacle is all about God providing a way so that He Himself may dwell among and with His people.
As I was thinking about the meaning of these two major chiastic structures, this very simple one from the center of the book kept coming to my mind:
Exo 20:22-26 (p)
1a) Exo 20:22, I have come down to you;
1b) Exo 20:23, You shall not fashion idols with tools;
1c) Exo 20:24a, The altar of earth;
central axis) Exo 20:24b, “In every place where I record My name, I will come to you, and I will bless you;”
2c) Exo 20:25a, The altar of stone;
2b) Ex0 20:25b, You shall not fashion My altar with tools;
2a) Exo 20:26, You shall not come up to Me.
“I have come down to you, you shall not come up to Me.” That is the lesson of Exodus, for we are unable and unworthy to come up to Him! Therefore He has come down to us! Amen! Thank You, Lord and Father; we love You and give You all praise and honor and glory due Your awesome Name forever!