Tetzaveh / You Shall Command
HafTorah Portion Ezekiel 43:10-27
Brit Chadasha Hebrews 13:10-17
Why do we study Tetzaveh? Some may ask why, what is the point…
Tetzaveh begins with the instructions for the pressed and pure olive oil for the lampstands.
Exodus 27:20-21 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.’ Matthew 5:15-16. ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’
The things of holiness for the Tabernacle continue with the sacred garments, Exodus 28:2-5 states: ‘Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor. 3 Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest. 4 These are the garments they are to make: a breast piece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests. 5 Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.’ Matthew 9:20 ‘Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the edge of His garment. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will be healed.”
In Exodus 28:9-28 Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar & Ithamar received their smicha, ordained to the priesthood. They were to be clothed with unique and beautiful garments. Aaron, the High Priest, would also wear an ephod with stones with the names of the tribes inscribed on them sewn into the shoulder area. He would also wear a very unique breastplate, having 12 precious and semi-precious stones fastened to it, representing the tribes of Israel; in Hebrew, Choshen HaMishpat – the breast piece of judgment; so-named because it would also house the Urim and Thummim the stones by which God would make known His decisions. It is worth noting that the list of stones is nearly identical to the list of stones in Revelation 21, which adorn the foundations of the walls of the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:18-21 ‘The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.
The beautiful hem in Exodus 28:34-38 ‘The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. 35 Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.36 “Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the Lord. 37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.’ The pomegranate is likened to fruitfulness and along with the Holy Spirit are the fruits of ‘joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control found in Galatians 5:22.
Exodus 29 continues with the consecration of the priests, and strict instructions regarding Aaron’s holy garments. Exodus 29:29-30 ‘“Aaron’s sacred garments will belong to his descendants so that they can be anointed and ordained in them. 30 The son who succeeds him as priest and comes to the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place is to wear them seven days.’ Hebrews 9:24 "For Messiah is not entered into the Holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us." And, Hebrews 4:14-16. ‘Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’
Tetzaveh closes with the sweet smelling incense, Exodus 30:7-10 “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. 8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. 9 Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ‘For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?’
And finally, with the atonement with blood, Exodus 30:10; ‘Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Romans 6:10. ‘The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.’
The items of holiness in Tetzaveh and the exact procedures that God explicitly directs for the Tabernacle point to Messiah; the pressed, pure oil, the eternal light, the lampstand, the breast plate, the turban, the garments, the hem, the blood and the offering, we can see this from the correlating verses. This is all truly holy and beautiful without shades of despair or darkness. Besides the direct references to the Messiah, is that what we are to only see? Maybe not. Maybe we are to see the beauty of God, for how can we represent the Living Tabernacle if we are clouded and draped in misery, lies, despair, anger, bitterness, hate; everything that is ugly? The answer is: we cannot.
1 Samuel 16:7 ‘But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 ‘Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.’.’
Psalm 139:13-16 ‘For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.’
Ephesians 5:27 ‘So that He might present the Kahal to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.’
1 Peter 1:19 ‘But with the precious blood of Messiah, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.’
Ephesians 5:1-33 ‘Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. ...’
Tetzaveh / You Command
Tetzaveh begins with the pressing of the pure olives to make pure undefiled olive oil for the lampstand, the menorah. Chapter 28 continues with the instructions for the garments of priesthood. The details are unmistakably clear and ornate, a beautifully colored array, which includes a variety of shades, from the vegetable (linen), animal (wool) and mineral (gold and precious gemstones) kingdoms. God even incorporates gold pomegranate bells to be sewn on the hem.
Tetzaveh continues with instructions for the breastplate, with twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. In verse 29-30 it states that Aaron is to bear the names of the sons of Israel, ‘So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually. 30 And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the Lord. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually.’
Continuing in Exodus 28 God commands: “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet:
HOLY TO THE LORD.
37 And you shall put it on a blue cord, that it may be on the turban; it shall be on the front of the turban. 38 So it shall be on Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.’
Other translations translate the Hebrew as: ‘You shall make a frontlet of pure gold and engrave on it the seal inscription: "Holy to the LORD." 37 Suspend it on a cord of blue, so that it may remain on the headdress; it shall remain on the front of the headdress. 38 It shall be on Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may carry any sin arising from the holy things that the Israelites consecrate, from any of their sacred donations; it shall be on his forehead at all times, to win acceptance for them before the LORD.’
In the prior instructions regarding the garments, the Torah describes Aaron's function as "carrying" the item, using the Hebrew verb נשׂא (nassa). These items are physical, as in the stones on the ephod as in some unspecified way "on behalf of the Israelites.” This last command Aaron is to carry the sins of the Israelites. Thus, the Torah uses a metaphor to describe sin as though it is a physical burden that is "carried." It is interesting that sin is referenced as a "burden".
Psalm 38:4 ‘For my iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.’
The engraved piece of gold read ‘Holy to the Lord’. The verse states quite clearly ‘to the Lord’. What is holiness to The Lord? Is it a place, or an attitude or a verse? Or is it non-tangible, a place of ‘being’. Holiness is difficult to define or to describe; it is a mysterious quality. Of what does holiness consist? In the simplest terms, “holy” has to be different from the profane, the ordinary or the common. It is only God’s holiness for He is uncommon. The Torah is the only place we find the instructions that are His will. His will is set-apart and holy.
Leviticus 20:26 ‘You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.’
2 Corinthians 7:1 ‘Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
1 Peter 1:15-16 ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Hebrews 12:14 ‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.’
2 Timothy 1:9 ‘He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.’
Our holiness is because of God’s holiness, it is a state of being because of our relationship with Yeshua and our obedience to Torah. The Torah has the instructions to keep us from the common of the world, to keep us set apart. Yeshua redefines this when He states that we are in the world but not of the world, John 15:19, John 17:14-16.
We carry the burden of our iniquities. When we move into Yeshua and the Torah, leaving our old self and entering into the process of returning (teshuva) to God, we have the choice to undo the old yoke and be under the yoke of Yeshua/Torah, Matthew 11:28-30.
Is Matthew 27:29 a prophetic statement to Tetzaveh and the clothing of the Cohen Gadol?
‘And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
The Roman soldiers mocked Yeshua and dressed him in their sarcasm. However, unbeknownst to them, they were setting apart the Saviour of the world.
John 19:17-22 ‘And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was
YESHUA OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS
20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
Everything that is written in the Torah, prophets and writings, the Tanakh, connects to Yeshua and everything that is written in the Brit Chadasha connects to the Torah. As Jeremiah states 2:13 we are empty broken cisterns when we have one without the other.