Vayakhel (And He Assembled) Exodus 35:1-38:20 HafTorah: I Kings 7:40-7:50

1.The name of our Torah portion this week is based on the Hebrew word, Kahal or assemble. This word throughout the Hebrew Bible was used when referring to times when the people assembled in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) or Beit Mikdash (Temple). When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek this word came over as ekklesia. It was used to speak about the assembly in the Temple or the assembly of the whole people of Israel. A kehila in Hebrew was a congregation, also from the same root word.

Now the interesting part, when the Messianic scripture was translated to English this same word, ekklesia or kahal was almost never translated as assembly. It was translated as church.  Why do you think this change in translation happened? What did this do? See if you can find any history on the word church. Look in the Messianic scripture for examples of where the word church is used. How does this change in translation affect a Christian’s understanding when he reads Matthew 16:18?

I know this question may be a review for some of you but it is worth looking at again. There are two Hebrew words that are used in the Tanakh to mean community of Israel as a whole or an assembly or group of some kind. These words are edah and kahal. Proverbs 5:14 uses both words. “I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly (kahal) and congregation (edah). Today, in a trial in Israel, a witness testifying in court would be an ed.

Psalms 35:18 says, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly (kahal), I will praise You among many people.”

The Septuagint translators used the Greek word ekklesia for kahal all through the Tanakh. No where will you find the word church .

But in the Messianic Scripture we find: (words inserted beside the word church is the Hebrew translation.)

Acts 11:26, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they aassembled themselves with the church,(kehila/congregation) and taught great numbers of people. And the disciples were called bChristians (anointed ones/Messianics) first in cAntioch.

Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church (kehila/witnessing community), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

I Timothy 3:14-15, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of G-d, which is the church (kehilat Elohim) of the living G-d, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” 

Acts 7:37-38 KJV This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the L-rd your G-d raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.  This is he, that was in the church(kahal) in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

Other examples of where the word church is used in the Messianic Scripture: Col. 1:17-20, Acts 20:28, Eph. 5:25-32. The word church is used 120 times in the Messianic scripture.

Look at James 2:2. This passage is one of the few where the word assembly is used instead of church. In the Messianic Scripture this very same word became “church.” What did this do?

It would appear that church is exclusively a Messianic Scripture phenomenon disconnected with its Hebrew roots. By translating ekklesia or kahal as church our English Bible has made us think that the church is distinct and separate from Judaism.

Church actually comes from an old English Scottish word, kirk. There is a Greek word kuriakos which means belonging to the L-rd. This word does appear in the Messianic Scripture twice in I Cor. 11:20(L-rd’s-Adonai Supper) and Rev. 1:10 (L-rd’s-Adonai Day). But it was never translated in these places as church. Rather a completely different word, ekklesia, with Jewish overtones was mistranslated over and over as church. Facts like these should help us all reclaim some of our heritage and connection with Judaism and Israel.

2.Now to move on to another thought, in Exodus 35:1-2, Moses is speaking to the people saying, “These are the words which the L-rd has commanded you to do, Work shall be done for six days but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you.” My question is, why did Moses pick this to begin his speech? Why did he not choose to talk about repentance, or a strong rebuke for their sin with the calf? Also he had already talked about the Sabbath at Mt. Sinai. Lastly the wording, why do you think he said,  “Work shall be done,” instead of “you shall work.” 

When you say these two phrases, “work shall be done” and “you shall work” can you feel the difference? One is more active. My conclusion is that he was telling them more about Sunday – Friday than about the Sabbath. I think Moses was telling them idolatry is more than worshipping some statue. If we believe our lives are controlled by anything other than G-d we are breaking the second commandment. 

If we can reform the work we are involved in it can change our lives. G-d runs this world. Our work is only a way for us to receive what G-d has for us in this world. We are not to sacrifice our relationship with Him for anything else, not an extra hour of work for sure. To say, “work shall be done,” means what needs to be done for six days will get done. We don’t have to stress through the week rushing to get all the work done before the Sabbath. 

Can we enter the Sabbath with peace even if all the work we thought needed to be done didn’t get finished? If we can rest in the thought  that what needed to be done was done we will enter the Sabbath ready to receive His rest instead of being exhausted. Our family, our health, our personal time with Him are eternally more valuable than that. Moses was telling the people how to see Sunday through Friday. When we know and have the faith that G-d will supply all our needs, each day, we will live our lives differently. Ulcers will go away and we will leave each day as a preview of the Sabbath to come. Moses was teaching them and us to put everything into perspective. G-d has this. We can sleep at night and spend our days living for Him and “work shall be done.”

3.In Shemot/Exodus 38:8 it says, “And he made the bronze laver and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the door of the tent of meeting.”  At this time mirrors were made from copper or bronze that had been polished to a glossy shine.  Since they would tarnish easily the mirrors had to be polished frequently.  Even these instruments of vanity were surrendered to the service of the L-rd. See if you can find other verses in scripture about mirrors or our reflections. One last thought, what are we reflecting to the world?

The identity of these women who served at the door of the tent of meeting has long puzzled the commentators. They are referenced only here and in 1 Samuel 2:22 in connection with Eli’s sons. It is likely that these women performed menial work.  Some commentators have suggested a cleaning and repairing service, others singing and dancing.  It could also have been women who came regularly to pray at the tent.  

Whoever they were, they abandoned all the vanities of the world and gave up their mirrors. These mirrors became the material for priestly purification with the basin of water. Once they were transformed into use in the Tabernacle or Temple they became holy.

As we stated before, their mirrors were cast out of copper or bronze metal. The word for mirror is derived from the root word to look or see.  This same word can be used as a vision.  It appears four times in the Tanakh, here in this passage, Genesis 46:2, Ezekiel 8:3, Ezekiel 40:2. 

In I Corinthians 13:12 Paul says, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” People hearing this verse would know only too well the need to frequently polish mirrors to keep them clean.

A mirror that does not properly reflect is not fit for use. As disciples of Yeshua we are called to be mirrors reflecting His glory to the world. To do this we too have to be polished frequently. Only then will people see an accurate picture of Yeshua when they look at us.

James 1:23-24 says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Our question then is where are we looking and what are we doing with what we see? Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of G-d.”

When we consistently look at Him we become more polished and to more accurately reflect Him.