Torah Portion Tetzaveh (Command ) Sh’mot (Exodus) 27-30
Haftorah Reading Ezekiel 43:10-27
This week we read a great deal about the clothes worn by the priests as they went about their functions in the Mishkan and later in the Temple. This Torah portion is always read on the Sabbath before Purim. Next week, will be Purim so we might ask what if anything do the two have to do with each other? I think one answer might be the clothes that are mentioned in the Torah portion and in the story of Purim. As I mentioned earlier, here in our portion we read of the clothes worn by the priest while in the book of Esther we read quite a bit about clothing as well. Clothing is important in many ways. It can identify someone with a certain role such as a police officer, a nun, or other jobs that require a certain uniform. Clothes can also be used to disguise a person, such as a mask or uniform used to gain entrance to a place where the person would not ordinarily be admitted.
Torah Portion: Vayakhel (And He Assembled) Exodus 35:1-38:20
HafTorah: I Kings 7:40-7:50
II Cor 9:6-11; I Cor 3:11-18
Tonight we look at the Torah section, “And He Assembled.” The root word in Hebrew Khal is the word usually translated as assembly. In the Hebrew Scriptures this word often refers to the people in the tabernacle or temple as the assembly. You have heard me often refer to the group here as the kehila which is the assembly. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated to Greek, in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, this word passed over into Greek as ekklesia. It appears throughout the Septuagint in place of khal. However, when this same Greek word appears in the New Testament it is almost always translated by the English word “church.” What does it matter? A recent letter to the editor in the Pensacola News Journal highlights this problem by stating, “The Old Testament is Jewish scriptures; those living under it are living under the law. Although it is our history, for Christians it has been replaced with the New Testament. Those living under the New Testament are living in the age of grace, which was ushered in by the resurrection of our Lord….” This gives the impression that the church is an exclusive New Testament term and draws a stark boundary between the two sections of the Bible. It is a way of disconnecting us from our Jewish roots as believers. Another even more striking example is the Hebrew word “eda” translated in Exodus 35:1 as congregation. When it came into the Septuagint it was translated with the Greek word “sunagogay”, it was usually linked to the place the “eda” met. However in places like James 2:2 the Greek again was translated into English as assembly. Paul uses the same word in I Cor. 11:16. The effect of such translation biases has been to hide any connection between Judaism, from which we sprung and Christianity. We as believers are the worse for it. We have to a large extent been deprived of the sweetness and spiritual food of the Hebrew Scriptures because of these sort of deceptions. And I for one count us most blessed that we have begun to restore some of what has been lost for almost 2000 years.