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Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Tetzaveh

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Tetsaveh- You Shall Command

Shemot/Exodus 27:20 – 30:10; Ezekiel 43:10-27; Romans 12:1-13:14, Philippians 4:10-20

This week’s parasha deals almost entirely with the selection of the Kohanim/Priests, the garments they wore, and the inaugural service by which they and their offspring would become confirmed for all time as special ministers of Yahweh.

THE HIGH PRIEST'S CLOTHING Yahweh told Moshe to make expensive clothing for the Cohen. This he was told to do before Aharon or his sons were allowed to present themselves before Him. Looking at the materials used in the clothes of the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) we see richness and finery far beyond what the average person would wear. The vestments were made of gold and precious jewels as well as the finest possible cloth. Additionally because the blue in his vestments looks like the blue in the sky, a connection is established between him and the heavenly throne of God. Everything in the garments had a spiritual significance. None of the priests were fit to serve in the Temple unless he was wearing the sacred garments. These garments are essential in order for the priests to function in their sacred capacity; so much so that in their absence, the offerings made by the priests in the Temple had no validity! As the Talmud states, “While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them” (BT Zevachim 17:B). The garments elevated them to the high levels of sanctity required from those who come to serve before God in the holy place.

After the sin of Adam and Eve in Gan Eden, Yahweh 'clothed them'; in this week's Torah portion, Moshe is commanded to 'clothe Aaron and his sons' in not just anything he designed, but as Yahweh instructed in the finest clothing available, wearing fine ornate jewelry and being cleansed and even perfumed in the prescribed manner. How much more should we apply these things to our physical and spiritual walks, before presenting ourselves to Him?

A picture is being painted for us, we are not to come to Him without blood sacrifice, the anointing of the Spirit and our priestly vestments should be beautifully ornate representing the spiritual garments which He has given us - holy garments to perform His service and not doing it in our own 'garments' - our own energies and capabilities.

Despite the splendour and beauty of these priestly robes, it still took the blood of the korban (offering) and the oil of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), to make Aharon acceptable before Yahweh. None of us are exceptions, no, not one! Our good deeds or position or station in life can not make us acceptable before a holy (kadosh) God. Many people are trying to come to Yahweh by fulfilling the mitzvot (commandments) or by their charity and prayer but without applying the blood and the oil and their efforts are futile. Not Until we apply the blood shed for us by the Messiah Yeshua, and we apply the oil of the Ruach HaKodesh are we acceptable to appear before Yahweh, no matter how righteous our lifestyle. It is these and these alone that make us holy/kadosh in His eyes.


Now you shall command the Children of Yisrael that they shall take for you pure olive oil, pressed for illumination, to kindle a lamp continually. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the Partition that is near the testimonial-tablets, Aaron and his sons shall arrange it from evening until morning, before Yahweh, an eternal decree for their generations, from the Children of Yisrael.

The word tetzaveh, “to command,” also means “to connect” and “to bond.” Thus the verse can also be read as God saying to Moshe: “And you shall bond with the Children of Israel.” Shemot/Exodus 27:20-21

Moshe is being given a charge of authority, from Yahweh, to take control over the Children of Yisrael and instruct them regarding the requirement of bringing only pure olive oil for the menorah. The menorah was to burn before Yahweh from evening till morning every day, without exception. Great care was given in gathering the olive fruit from the tree. In order not to injure the crop or the tree, it was gathered either by hand or by shaking the fruit off carefully with a light stick. It was only the third crop of the harvest on the inner branches which was used for the Menorah because it had ripened slowly and had no dross in it. It was carefully cleansed and carried to a press, which was considered the best method of obtaining oil from the fruit. In order to make oil, the fruit was made by hand pressing each olive gently until only one drop of pure oil emerged. The olive oil used in the Tent of Meeting for the menorah had to be free of sediment or debris.

It was only lit once a day, in the afternoon, at the same time as the evening sacrifice in the outer court. The word “continually”, in Hebrew “tamid”, is used in Exodus 29:42 and Numbers 28:6 regarding the daily sacrifice. In Exodus 25:30, it is used for the bread placed before the Eternal once a week.

The seven lamp stands were cleaned in the morning and the new oil was poured in, in the afternoon. It was calculated how much oil was needed for the menorah to burn throughout the longest night of the year. The same amount of oil was used all year around, which meant that the lamps burned even after the sunrise on the shorter nights of the year. The longest night in Yerushalayim is approximately fourteen hours long and the shortest is approximately ten hours long. If the illumination from the menorah was to reflect Yahweh’s image, it would therefore be appropriate that anyone or anything that was to be used in His presence should reflect His Holiness. Pure oil from the olive therefore symbolized the Ruach (Spirit) of Yahweh, and the burning of this oil in the menorah would shed forth Yahweh’s marvelous light. This is a picture of the pure oil of the Spirit shining forth through His anointed corporate vessel - His witness upon earth - His holy nation, the kingdom of priests.


Until now, Yahweh had spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak unto the Children of Yisrael,” and tell them what thus says Yahweh. But here, Yahweh tells Moshe “Now you shall command the Children of Yisrael that they shall take for you pure olive oil, pressed for illumination, to kindle a lamp continually.” (Exodus 27:20). This is the only example in the bible with Moshe being told by Yahweh to command the Children of Yisrael. Each of the other examples found in the Tanach shows that Yahweh spoke to Moshe to speak unto the Children of Yisrael. Moshe now takes on the duty of Pastoral care for the Children of Yisrael, and it is of importance for His leaders to understand that their charge is to ensure there is a daily supply of oil in each vessel by feeding the flock and teaching obedience to Yahweh’ written word. “That He might present it to Himself a glorious Assembly, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27

Moshe had placed the Children of Yisrael’s well being before his very own life. It was Moshe’ duty to guide and instruct the Children of Yisrael and to present them before Yahweh without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. Likewise, Yahweh had committed Himself to the Children of Yisrael through His promises. Moshe, exemplified here, was a type of groomsman or pastor. It is the job of a groomsman/pastor to keep the bride chaste and without blemish. “And He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah.” Ephesians 4:11-12


The Children of Yisrael metaphorically speaking, are likened to virgins. You could not separate the two groups in the parable as they were identical, but for one significant exception. Each of the ten was identified as a virgin; each of the ten had all come together for the same purpose. The ten virgins were for all intent and purpose identical in their appearance; however, there was one significant difference with that difference being that five of them chose the path of disobedience. They all knew that someday, sooner than later, the bridegroom was coming. All of the Children of Yisrael were required to have a daily supply of oil with which to light the menorah in the temple. Five of the virgins decided to be obedient and equip themselves with the prescribed daily supply of extra-virgin olive oil for their lamps, while the other five for one reason or another did nothing in immediate preparation. Perhaps, they were too involved with the cares of this world and forgot to prepare for the world to come, or just maybe it was not expedient to be diligent each day, or they just did not care. But for reason or another, they did not prepare themselves to provide the daily oil which was needed for the menorah to burn in the presence of Yahweh in the temple. Exodus 27:20

The oil for the temple was not to be sold, but it was something that each person was to prepare and contribute. The olives were provided from vineyards that were set aside for the purpose of this provision for the temple. It was not a requirement to pay for the olives to prepare the oil, but it was necessary for your heart to be submitted to labor towards this daily task. We must put in the preparation each day to ensure that our lives are illuminated by His Spirit.

In the preparation of the oil, the olive gives its yield only when it is pounded, and so the light of His presence will only come forth from us when the flesh has been broken and crushed, then the oil of His Spirit will ooze out and become that which can be ignited and used to shine forth His glory. In this process, our egos and rebellious natures — “our own heart and our own eyes,” are crushed into pulp and discarded, leaving the Spirit within to shine forth through the broken ‘clay’ vessel. Our perspective is shortsighted during our trials, not seeing the value of the glory of His Presence which will be revealed through our crushed flesh

The Children of Yisrael were to walk in the marvelous light of truth and salvation. Nothing was to be hid from them - the word of Yahweh was not for private interpretation, but for all Yisrael’s ear to hear. If we were to rehearse His word daily in our lives and were to allow His ways to become our ways at all seasons, we indeed could walk in that marvelous light and be a light for all the world - a spiritual city that sits high on a hill for all to see.

"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness how great is that darkness!" Matt.6:22

“But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever does make manifest is light”. Ephesians 4:13

THE PRIESTLY MINISTRY Incense The incense altar was located in the centre of the tabernacle and it was here that man approached Yahweh and began to enter into communion with Him by means of the incense which would arise and form a link between man below and God above. Our prayers ascend as incense before Him linking us into a communion with Him.

Yahweh said to Moshe for the construction of the Incense Altar, “You shall overlay it with pure gold, the top of it, the sides of it around it, and its horns; and you shall make a gold molding around it.” (30:3 HNV) “You shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you.” (30:6 HNV)

“Aharon shall burn incense of sweet spices on it every morning. When he tends the lamps, he shall burn it.” (30:7 HNV) - also, “When Aharon lights the lamps at evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations” (30:8 HNV)

In the Scriptures, incense represents knowledge, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Messiah, and reveals through us the sweet aroma (incense) of his knowledge in every place. For we are a sweet aroma of Messiah to God, in those who are saved, and in those who perish” (HNV revised)

The burning of incense each morning and each evening symbolizes praying with understanding. Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4 Sacrifices offered on the brass altar symbolize prayer in the spirit. That teaches us the importance of praying both with the spirit and with understanding every morning and every afternoon. (1 Corinthians 14:15) This is the reason for the practice of praying morning and evening at the time when the morning and evening sacrifices were offered in the temple. These are our priestly offerings unto Yahweh.

The Ephod "And they shall make the ephod of gold [thread], blue, purple and scarlet [wool], and fine twined linen, artistic work."

The ephod resembled an apron worn backwards, so that it covered the back of the wearer from above the waist down to the ankles and overlapped in the front. A sash tied in the front beneath the heart, and two bands extended up the wearer's back to his shoulders. On the ends of these bands (which rested on the shoulders of the wearer) God tells Moshe to place two shoham (onyx?) stones in gold settings. The stones should be engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel: "six of their names on one stone, and the other six names on the other stone, according to their birth." Thus as God's representative. he carried Israel upon his shoulders when he went before Yahweh.

When Aharon was clad in the blue ephod robe, he was carrying out a prophetic action, which showed that the Messiah would rise through the heavens after the resurrection. "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities."(Isaiah 53:11 HNV)

Just as the High Priest bore the names of the 12 tribes on his shoulders and well as having them engraved upon the stones which were upon his heart, our High Priest and Messiah, has His people upon His heart as a remembrance (28:12) and upholds them with His strength and carries them to their eternal destination. Tiller says that, "When a shepherd rescues a lamb he carries it upon his shoulder; so the infinite strength of Messiah is capable of bearing us until we reach heaven's fold" Tiller op. cit. p.36 "Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25 HNV revised) Hebrews 9:24-28 tells us that Yeshua has entered into heaven itself on our behalf of which the earthly tabernacle and all its procedures was a representation. There He makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34

Since Messiah carries the names of the children of Israel on his shoulders, there is a constant memorial before the Father of his death for us all. The fifty days correspond with the fifty letters of the names of Israel's sons that are on the Messiah's shoulders. In regard to the breastplate, hertz says that "The stones on his heart are Aaron's silent prayer to God on behalf of his entire people" Hertz op. cit.342 Tiller suggests that the Messiah "continually bears our names as He ministers in the presence of God for us" (op. cit. p.34) The whole ministry of the High Priest Aharon, which also includes his clothes, speaks of the ministry that the Messiah has from the time of his resurrection until this day. This is the reason that the Torah goes into all the details of the clothes of the High Priest.

Aharon's head was over the blue robe, and his body was under. In the same way, the Messiah, who is the head of His body, sits above the heavens in His High-priestly ministry of intercession for Israel, while His body ministers upon earth The Messiah's ministry according to the order of Malki-Tzedek was also given to his talmidim, fifty days after his resurrection, on Shavuot, when the Spirit was poured out, as we see in Acts chapter two.

The Breastplate The breastplate was called choshen mishpat, the "breastplate of judgement" (Exo 28:15). It was decorated with jewels and gold. A rectangular piece of fabric (woven of the same materials as the ephod) should be folded in half to make a square pouch measuring half a cubit by half a cubit (approximately 10 inches x 10 inches). Upon its front, in gold settings, twelve gemstones should be arranged in four rows According to the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 2:7), the colorings of the stones were as follows: Reuben's stone, odem, was red; Simeon's stone, pitedah, was green; Levi's stone, bareket, was white, black and red; Judah's stone, nofech, was sky-colored; Issachar's stone, sapir, was dark blue; Zebulun's stone, yahalom, was white (lavan, which can also mean clear); Dan's stone, leshem, was of a similar hue as that of the sapir; Gad's stone, shvo, was gray; Naphtali's stone, achlamah, was the color of clear wine; Asher's stone, tarshish, was "the color of the precious stone with which women decorate themselves"; Joseph's stone, shoham, was black; Benjamin's stone yashpei, had the colors of all twelve stones. In addition to the names of the tribes, the stones also contained the words, "Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Shivtei Yeshurun ('righteous tribes')," so the Breastplate should contain all 22 letters of the Holy Tongue (Talmud) Rashi says that it is called "breastplate of judgment" because it confirms the message given by the urim and tummim, see Numbers 27:21.

The Urim and the Thummin “You shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Tummim; and they shall be on Aharon’s heart, when he goes in before Yahweh: and Aharon shall bear the judgment of the children of Yisra’el on his heart before Yahweh continually."(28:30) The Hebrew word “urim”, the plural of “ur”, means “flames”, “light”. The Hebrew word “tummim”, the plural of “tam”, means “fulfillments”, completions”. Talmud[Yomá 73b] says, “Why were they called ‘urim and tummim’? ‘Urim’, because they caused the words to light up, and ‘tummim’ because the words were fulfilled."

According to Rashi “urim ve-tummim” is the name of a piece of parchment where Yahweh’s Name was written. The parchment was placed inside the double-layered breastplate, and it caused the letters to light up and be fulfilled when they gave about important things that concerned the whole nation, see Judges 20:27-28; 1 Samuel 23:9-12.

Usually translated as ‘lightings and perfections,’ since the message shone forth and was then perfected by the High Priest. The Urim and Thumim would be consulted like an oracle; the High Priest would meditate on the stones until he reached a level of divine inspiration. He would see the breastplate with inspired vision, and the letters containing the answer would appear to light up or stand out. With his divine inspiration, the High Priest would then be able to combine the letters to spell out the answer (Yoma 73b; Ramban; Bachya - Nu.28:21; cf. Handbook of Jewish Thought 6:36). Josephus writes that when the Israelites went to battle, the stones would shine forth with great splendor as a sign of victory (Antiquities 3:8:9).

Urim and thummim, therefore, represent the will of the Eternal. Urim - light, reveals his will. Tummim - fulfillments, enables man to fulfill his will. In the Melchizedek ministry which Yeshua established for today, urim and tummim are within the heart of the priest. His only longing is for the will of the Eternal to be fulfilled.

His priests today have the voice of the Spirit in their inner man to light the way and give them direction in the specifics of life as the Urim and Thummin. This inner guidance can come through meditation or by a definite ‘witness of the Spirit’ and even as an audible voice at times. Therefore as priests subject to His guidance we wait upon Him for His direction in the affairs of this life. His Presence can be manifest when His people follow the divine pattern and walk in fellowship with Him.

The Tzitz "You shall make a head-plate of pure gold, and you shall engrave upon it, engraved like a signet ring, 'Holy to Yahweh.' " (28:36) The Tzitz was a band which the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, wore across his forehead. Engraved into this band, pressed in from the back so as to appear in relief, coming out from the band, were the words "Kadosh Yahweh," i.e. - Sanctified to Yahweh. He wore it affixed to his forehead by a single blue strap. By bearing the name of God upon his head, the high priest was symbolically invested with the authority of that name. Like a king’s servant bearing the signet ring of the king, the high priest was God’s official agent on Earth.

The Golden Altar The last ten verses of Tetzaveh describe the Golden Altar - "And you shall make an altar for the burning of incense; of shittim wood shall you make it. A cubit shall be the length of it and a cubit its breadth, foursquare shall it be, and two cubits shall be its height; the horns thereof shall be o the same." "And you shall overlay it with pure gold, its top, and its sides round about, and its horns; and you shall make for it a rim of gold round about..." Like the other Vessels, the Golden Altar should have rings and carrying poles to transport it. It should be placed in the center of the outer chamber of the Sanctuary, "before the Veil (Parochet) that is by the Ark of the Testimony." The Golden Altar should be used only for the twice-daily burning of the Ketoret (incense): "And Aaron shall burn upon it sweet incense every morning: when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at evening, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before God throughout your generations."

Once a day each year, however, the Golden Altar served an additional function: On Yom Kippur, the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the day's special offerings on its "horns." "Once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy to God."

The Levites served in the courtyard. If one views the set up of the Tabernacle in a “verticle” fashion (with the Holy of Holies being at the top), it can be said that the Levites were “below” the incense altar. Thus the souls of men (corresponding to the teaching level of the Levites) are also “under the altar.” Consider that the “souls of the saints,” in the book of Revelation (whose prayers are mixed with incense), are seen as located “under the altar."

All the priests were to wear head coverings as a sign of submission. The Talmud teaches “cover your head that the reverence of heaven be upon you” The practice of not going about bareheaded at any time has become a mark of Jewish piety.

Initially, kohanim (priests) served before Yahweh in the Tent of Meeting; they would later serve in the first as well as second temples. It had always been the hope of Yahweh that the children of Yisrael would be unto Him a kingdom of priests, a holy nation which is being fulfilled in the new covenant.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

“And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation,” I Peter 2:9-10 & Exodus 19:6