HafTorah 1Kings 18:1-39
Brit Chadasha 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Ki Tisa begins with the instructions for the ransom money, the bronze laver, the holy anointing oil, and the incense. In chapter thirty one God calls by name Bazalel and Aholiab, filling with them with the spirit, wisdom and knowledge and ‘to work in all manner of workmanship.’
A focal point in Ki Tisa is the giving of the tablets of stone with the 10 Words. Directly preceding the tablets, however, God reiterates the importance of the Sabbath in Exodus 31:12-17. This is so important to note, as this is the only commandment that God repeats immediately before the 10 Words are written on tablets of stone and given to Moses. This brings such value and clarity to the Shabbat. Exodus 31:18 then continues with: ‘And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.’
As Moses was receiving the Words of God, the people grew restless, panicked and abandoned the Lord, reverting to old Egyptian ways. They melted their gold and formed the infamous golden calf.
The end of chapter 33 is a great reminder and a great mystery of God’s mercy and grace/chesed. Exodus 33:15-23 is such a powerful dialogue between Moses and God. Moses is pleading for God to go with them, to have His presence accompany the people; in effect, saying to God: 'what the people need is not for me to be close to them. I am just a human. But You are eternal. You are their God. They need You to be close to them, other than in ways of an fundamental force, but rather as a guiding protecting never-ending figure.'
Moses asks God ‘show me Your glory’ at which point God answers with a reminder that He is mysterious with divine justice that eludes our human comprehension. We cannot enter into the mind of another person to know exactly what they are thinking, how much less so the mind of the Creator Himself.
‘Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19.
Ki Tisa ends with the thirteen attributes, the covenant renewed and the glowing face of Moses.
The thirteen attributes of God are found in Exodus 34:5-7 ‘Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
The two beginning attributes reveal the character of God. In Exodus 34:6 God proclaims
י-ה-ו-ה YHWH… י-ה-ו-ה YHWH…stating that He is unchanging and has an unchanging nature, character and mercy. This echoes Exodus 3:14 when God tells Moses “I AM who I AM.”
The third attribute is ‘El’א-ל or more precisely in the Hebrew language, first, mighty; Genesis 1:1. These are followed by;
רַחוּם / rachum — merciful, that humankind may not be distressed;
וְחַנּוּן / ve’chanun — and gracious if humankind is already in distress;
אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם / erech apayim — slow to anger;
וְרַב-חֶסֶד / ve’rav chesed — and plenteous in kindness;
וֶאֱמֶת / ve’emet — and truth;
נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים / notzer chesed laalafim — keeping kindness unto thousands;
נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן / noseh avon — forgiving iniquity;
וָפֶשַׁע / vafeshah — and transgression;
וְחַטָּאָה / VeChata'ah — and sin;
וְנַקֵּה / VeNakeh — and pardoning.
Proverbs 8:17 continues the divine mystery and justice of The God of the universe:
‘I love those who love Me and those who diligently seek Me will find Me.’