Vayakhel / And He Assembled
Haf Torah 1 Kings 7:40-50
2 Corinthians 9:9-11
Pekudei / Accounting Of
Haf Torah 1 Kings 7:51-8:21
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
In the Shadow of God…
In the last Torah portion, Ki Tisa, God calls Bezalel, a rare type of person in the Hebrew Bible – the artist, the craftsman, the shaper of beauty in the service of God, the man who, together with Aholiab, fashioned the articles associated with the Tabernacle. These craftsmen are mentioned again in this Torah Portion, ‘Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the Lord had commanded Moses. 23 And with him was Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer, a weaver of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and of fine linen.’ Exodus 38:22-23.
The key to Bezalel is in his name. It means “In the shadow of God.” Bezalel’s gift was in his ability to communicate, through his work, that the craftsmanship of his handiwork for the tabernacle was and is the shadow cast by God.
In Exodus 31 and 35 the Torah states that God filled him with His spirit, wisdom and knowledge.
Unlike secular art, this points to something beyond. The Tabernacle itself was a shadow of God and His handiwork. There was the presence of something unexplainable – what the Torah calls “the glory of God” which “filled the Tabernacle”. Exodus 40:35 - ‘And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.’ Benjamin Constant (1804) used the term art for art’s sake. But art for the glory of God is never art for art’s sake.
What does it mean to live, to create, and to walk in the shadow of God? God’s shadow is mentioned frequently in the Scriptures and refers usually to God’s protective presence.
Psalm 91:1 ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.’
Isaiah 49:2 ‘He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver.’
Isaiah 51:16 "I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, 'You are My people.'"
Psalm 121:5 ‘The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.’
A shadow is cast from the main object; a shadow cannot happen without the original, there is no shadow unto itself. Hebrews 7:26-8:5 ‘For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. 8 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things…’
Colossians 2:16-19 ‘So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.’
To walk in the light of Adonai means to continuously walk in the covering God.
This Torah portion, the last parsha of Exodus ends with the cloud and the glory:
Exodus 40:34-38 – ‘Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.’
Throughout Scripture, clouds are a common manifestation of God’s presence. On Mt. Sinai, Moses disappears into a cloud on the mountain. In the desert, the pillar of cloud guides the Israelites and descends to speak with Moses. God’s glory (kavod) appears in a cloud at the dedication of the Tabernacle and again at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, in each case preventing entry into the sanctuary. These clouds are not mists; they are tangible.