Exodus 30:1-10



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30:1 VE ASIYTA MIZBE'ACH MIKTAR KETORET ATSEY SHITIM TA'ASEH OTO

וְעָשִׂיתָ מִזְבֵּחַ מִקְטַר קְטֹרֶת עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתוֹ

KJ (King James translation): And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.

BN (BibleNet translation): And you shall make an altar to burn incense upon; you shall make it of acacia-wood.



A group of refugees camped in the wilderness with nowhere to go except a dream of a promised land, does not normally sit down and work out these sorts of precise detail. Laws may well get written, even written down. But the kind of ceremony and ritual and clothing elaborated in these books is simply implausible. If they had dressed the priests, they would have used such clothing as was available, and based it on what they were familiar with in Mitsrayim (Egypt). Where would they have had the equipment to make all these things - the wood in particular, so much seasoned acacia, in what, if this is indeed Sinai, was an immense sand desert? When Shelomoh (Solomon) built the Temple later, he imported all his wood from Lebanon and Cyprus, there being none or insufficient available in Kena'an; and his Temple was scarcely larger than a parish church.

ATSEY SHITIM: Why acacia wood? In a world in which every aspect of Nature was once connected with a god or goddess, and had previously been used in some context connected with that god or goddess, we have to assume that acacia was not chosen for the quality of its grain or its ease of carpentry. And so it is no surprise to discover that, in ancient Egypt, the acacia that grew along the River Nile was regarded as the Tree of Life, under which all the deities of Mitsrayim were born; but the most important version of it was the one that grew in the temple of Amun-Ra at On (Heliopolis), which of course was where Yoseph served as vizier.




The illustration above shows Pharaoh Rameses II - the most likely candidate for the Pharaoh of the Exodus - seated under the Tree of Life, which is held up (much in the manner that Mosheh's arms were held up in the battle with the Amalekites in Exodus 17:11), by the god Thoth on the left, and the goddess Ptah on the right; not difficult from here to make a Yisra-Eli adaptation into MoshehAharon and Mir-Yam (see also my note to Exodus 25:9).

Magical and healing properties were attached to the Acacia Nilotica then, and still are today, especially among those who take an interest in hallucinogenics and psychedelics.


30:2 AMAH ARKO VE AMAH RACHBO RAVU'A YIHEYEH VE AMATAYIM KOMATO MIMENU KARNOTAV

אַמָּה אָרְכּוֹ וְאַמָּה רָחְבּוֹ רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה וְאַמָּתַיִם קֹמָתוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ קַרְנֹתָיו

KJ: A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.

BN: Its length shall be a cubit, and its breadth likewise a cubit. It shall stand foursquare. Its height shall be two cubits. The horns shall be of one piece with it.


30:3 VE TSIPIYTA OTO ZAHAV TAHOR ET GAGO VE ET KIYROTAV SAVIV VE ET KARNOTAV VE ASIYTA LO ZER ZAHAV SAVIV

וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתוֹ זָהָב טָהוֹר אֶת גַּגּוֹ וְאֶת קִירֹתָיו סָבִיב וְאֶת קַרְנֹתָיו וְעָשִׂיתָ לּוֹ זֵר זָהָב סָבִיב

KJ: And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.

BN: And you shall overlay its top and sides with pure gold, and its horns likewise; and you shall make a crown of gold to encircle its top.


KARNOTAV: see previous note and illustration on the horned altar (Exodus 27:2)


30:4 U SHETEY TAB'OT ZAHAV TA'ASEH LO MI TACHAT LE ZERO AL SHETEY TSAL'OTAV TA'ASEH AL-SHENEY TSIDAV VE HAYAH LE VATIM LE VADIM LASE'T OTO BA HEMAH

וּשְׁתֵּי טַבְּעֹת זָהָב תַּעֲשֶׂה לּוֹ מִתַּחַת לְזֵרוֹ עַל שְׁתֵּי צַלְעֹתָיו תַּעֲשֶׂה עַל שְׁנֵי צִדָּיו וְהָיָה לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים לָשֵׂאת אֹתוֹ בָּהֵמָּה

KJ: And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.

BN: And you shall make two golden rings for it, underneath its crown, set upon each of its two ribs, one on either side; and they shall provide places for the staves with which it may be carried.


LE VATIM...LE VADIM: Literally "houses", in the sense that carpenters use the word: a place to "house" the staves.

BAHEMAH: Sounds like BEHEMAH (= "cattle"), but it isn't, even though it will indeed be oxen that will draw the Ark. BA-HEM-AH, to break it down into its syllables: "in them".


30:5 VE ASITA ET HA BADIM ATSEY SHITIM VE-TSIPITA OTAM ZAHAV

וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת הַבַּדִּים עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתָם זָהָב

KJ: And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

BN: And you shall make the staves of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.


ATSEY SHITIM: I shall not continuously comment, every time the acacia wood is mentioned; but you will see that acacia is the predominant material of the Ark in the desert, where cedar will be the predominant material of the Temple in Yeru-Shalayim, a switch from the traditions of Mitsrayim to those of Lebanon, from Osher (Osiris) to Adonis; and this latter will also be reflected in the name of god, YHVH here, but which will begin to be pronounced Adonai from that time on, and translated into English later as "the Lord", precisely because that was the meaning of Adonis.


30:6 VE NATATAH OTO LIPHNEY HA PAROCHET ASHER AL ARON HA EDUT LIPHNEY HA KAPORET ASHER AL HA EDUT ASHER IVA'ED LECHA SHAMAH

וְנָתַתָּה אֹתוֹ לִפְנֵי הַפָּרֹכֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל אֲרֹן הָעֵדֻת לִפְנֵי הַכַּפֹּרֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל הָעֵדֻת אֲשֶׁר אִוָּעֵד לְךָ שָׁמָּה

KJ: And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

BN: And you shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the ark-cover that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you.


Note the word-play between PAROCHET and KAPORET, which in Yehudit are anagrams (פָּרֹכֶת - כַּפֹּרֶת).

IVA'ED: suggests the idea of "witness" or "testimony", from which we can read a very different type of religious encounter with god than in modern forms of prayer. 


30:7 VE HIKTIR ALAV AHARON KETORET SAMIM BA BOKER BA BOKER BE HEYTIYVO ET HA NEROT YAKTIYRENAH

וְהִקְטִיר עָלָיו אַהֲרֹן קְטֹרֶת סַמִּים בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר בְּהֵיטִיבוֹ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת יַקְטִירֶנָּה

KJ: And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.

BN: And Aharon shall burn on it incense of sweet spices; every morning, when he dresses the lamps, he shall burn it.


The same sweet spices used at Havdalah, presumably.

Maphtir


30:8 U VE HA'ALOT AHARON ET HA NEROT BEYN HA ARBA'IM YAKTIYRENAH KETORET TAMID LIPHNEY YHVH LE DOROTEYCHEM

וּבְהַעֲלֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַנֵּרֹת בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם יַקְטִירֶנָּה קְטֹרֶת תָּמִיד לִפְנֵי יְהוָה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם

KJ: And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.

BN: And when Aharon lights the lamps at dusk, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before YHVH throughout your generations.


The purpose of the sweet-smelling incense was simply to take away the odours of the sacrifices. The details of the incense are given in "Day of Atonement".


30:9 LO TA'ALU ALAV KETORET ZARAH VE OLAH U MINCHAH VE NESECH LO TISCHU ALAV

לֹא תַעֲלוּ עָלָיו קְטֹרֶת זָרָה וְעֹלָה וּמִנְחָה וְנֵסֶךְ לֹא תִסְּכוּ עָלָיו

KJ: Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.

BN: You shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt-offering, nor meal-offering; and you shall pour no drink-offering on it.


All this incense and sacrifice makes the cult of the Beney Yisra-El really no different from any other cult of the period; just the name of the god and a few minor details are specific.


30:10 VE CHIPER AHARON AL KARNOTAV ACHAT BA SHANAH MI DAM CHAT'AT HA KIPURIM ACHAT BA SHANAH YECHAPER ALAV LE DOROTEYCHEM KODESH KADASHIM HU LA YHVH

וְכִפֶּר אַהֲרֹן עַל קַרְנֹתָיו אַחַת בַּשָּׁנָה מִדַּם חַטַּאת הַכִּפֻּרִים אַחַת בַּשָּׁנָה יְכַפֵּר עָלָיו לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים הוּא לַיהוָה

KJ: And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

BN: And Aharon shall make atonement on its horns once every year; using the blood of the sin-offering of atonement, once every year he shall make atonement for it, throughout your generations. It is most holy to YHVH.


This is quite clearly an injunction to celebrate Yom Kippur, though it is not stated as such, and the Rabbis have never treated it as such; the actual institution of Yom Kippur takes place in Leviticus 16 - why is this then overlooked?




Chapter 30 continues in Sedra Ki Tisa; this sedra now ends.





Exodus: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13a 13b 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30a 30b 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38a 38b 39 40



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