Should Our Ancestors Have Needed a Mishkan?

February 19, 2010

The order of the Biblical parshiyot from Schemot 25 through the end of that book presents a particular chronological and thematic challenge. In the parshiyot Terumah and Tetzaveh (chs. 25-30), G”d tells Moshe Rabbenu to command the Israelites to make a Mishkan, that G”d may reside in the Israelites’ midst. Then, in the beginning of Ki Tissa, the command is relayed to the people, and immediately afterwards the Torah reports the sin of the Golden Calf. Finally, in Vayaqhel and Piqudei(chs. 35-40), the work is carried out and brought to a successful completion.

This gives rise to a chronological question and a difficult philosophical corollary. Since Moshe ascended Mount Sinai when G”d spoke the Ten Utterances (erroneously known as Ten Commandments), and remained there for forty days, only coming down after the Golden Calf was celebrated, Shemot 31 could not have come before ch. 32! Read the rest of this entry »