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Ki Tissa (when you elevate)

Exodus 30:11 to 34:35, 1 Kings 18:1-39


The census described in Exodus 30:11-16 does not happen until the first chapter of the book of Numbers. Note that Numbers 7:1 and Exodus 40 speak of the same day. The disaster of Leviticus 10 happens later, chronologically, than the events of Numbers 1-10.

Before the episode of the golden calf, the covenant consists of the Decalogue, the social laws of chapters 21-22, the calendar laws of chapter 23 (rest cycles of days and years, not the 50th yovel year; three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Firstfruits, Sukkot), and the promise of God's angel and blessing-in-conquest (end of chapter 23). Is it significant that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are excluded, and the people have "atonement for their lives"?

This early version of the covenant has very simple rules for society and priests, which focus not on a community that is a light to the world but priests being a light to the people and everyone being fragrance to a very present God.

During the episode of the golden calf, the word elohim is used, but with the pronoun "they" instead of "he".

I had always pictured this tent functioning as the Holy of Holies later would, with God's cloud inside and Moses outside the door. But Moses is inside, and God's cloud is outside. God is visible to all but the petitioner, who does not see but hears! Joshua stays in the tent as much as he can! (Besides 33:7-11 see 34:33-35.)

Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God (31:3 and 35:31). The only other person in the Tenach to be "filled" with God's Spirit is Hiram who helped build Solomon's Temple (1st Kings 7:14).

Traditional Jewish Commentary

Jeff Feinberg notes that the silver from the census is used to make one hundred pedastals that elevate the Tabernacle (Exodus 38:25-26).

Efraim Levine writes, "Moshe requested Hashem that he be allowed to see His Honor. Hashem replied that He would not show His face but only His back (Shemos 33:18-23). The commentators homiletically explain the dialogue as follows: Moshe requested of Hashem a profound understanding into the workings His conduct in relation to this world. Hashem replied that it is impossible for a human being to understand His actions as they occur. Only in retrospect can one contemplate and understand. This idea is captured with the precise words of the posuk. The words 'my face that you may not see' is symbolic of the present and future. However, the words 'my back that you may see' is symbolic of the past."