The Parshah of Vayakhel records the actual implementation of G‑d’s instructions on how to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle), recounted earlier in the Parshah of Terumah. Indeed, much of Vayakhel is almost an exact repeat of Terumah, the only apparent difference being that the details which in Terumah are prefaced with the words “They shall make . . .” are here presented following the preface “They made . . .”
Moses assembled the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them: These are the words which G‑d has commanded, that you should do them:
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of sabbaths to G‑d; whoever does work on it shall be put to death.
You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.
Moses then tells the people:
Take from among you an offering to G‑d: whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it . . .
Gold, silver and copper;
Blue-, purple- and scarlet- [dyed wool], fine linen and goats’ hair;
Rams’ skins dyed red, tachash skins and shittim wood;
Oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense;
Shoham stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate.
Every wise-hearted man among you shall come and make all that G‑d has commanded . . .
The response was overwhelming:
They came, everyone whose heart stirred them and everyone whose spirit made them willing, and they brought the offering to G‑d for the work of the Tent of Meeting, for all its service and for the holy garments.
They came, the men along with the women . . . and they brought bracelets, earrings, rings and girdles, all golden ornaments . . .
The women brought spun thread of multicolored wool, linen and goat hair for the roof coverings and the priestly garments; the tribal heads brought the precious stones for the high priest’s ephod (apron) and breastplate, and the herbs for the anointing oil and the incense.
All the wise men who carried out all the work of the Sanctuary came, every man from his work which they did, and they spoke to Moses, saying: “The people are bringing much more than enough for the service of the work which G‑d commanded to do.”
Moses commanded that they proclaim throughout the camp, saying: “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the Sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing.
The material was sufficient for all the work to do it, and too much.
The Making of the Sanctuary
The team of “wise-hearted” artisans, headed by Betzalel ben Uri of the tribe of Judah and Aholiav ben Achisamach of the tribe of Dan, set about the task of fashioning these 15 materials into a dwelling for the Divine Presence.
They made the ten tapestries of the Mishkan[’s roof] of finely spun linen and [wool dyed] blue, purple and scarlet; with cherubim of artistic work did [Betzalel] make them . . .
He made sheets of goat hair as an ohel (tent covering) over the Mishkan—eleven sheets he made them . . .
He made the boards for the Mishkan[’s walls] of shittim wood, to be stood upright. . . . Twenty boards for the south walls; and he made forty silver foundation sockets under the twenty boards: two sockets under each board, for its two pegs. . . . And for the other side of the Mishkan—for the north side—he made twenty boards and forty silver sockets. . . . And for the rear of the Mishkan, to the west, he made six boards, and two boards for the rear corners . . .
He made the parochet (the “veil” that separated between the Sanctuary’s two chambers) of [wool dyed] blue, purple and scarlet, and fine-spun linen; with artistically woven cherubim he made it . . .
He made a screen for the doorway of the tent, of blue-, purple- and scarlet- [dyed wool], and fine-spun linen, with embroidered work . . .
The Sanctuary’s Vessels
Betzalel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was its length, a cubit and a half its breadth and a cubit and a half its height. He overlaid it with pure gold inside and out, and made a rim of gold for it all around . . .
He made the kaporet (the ark’s cover) of pure gold. . . . He made two cherubim of gold; he made them beaten out of one piece, on the two ends of the covering. . . . And the cherubim spread out their wings on high, shielding the kaporet with their wings, with their faces one to another . . .
He made the table of shittim wood . . . and covered it with pure gold...
He made the menorah of pure gold; of beaten work he made the menorah. Its foot, its shaft, its branches, its goblets, its bulbs and its flowers were of the same piece . . .
He made the incense altar of shittim wood . . . and covered it with pure gold . . .
He made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of spices . . .
The Outdoor Furnishings
He made the altar of burnt offering . . . five cubits was its length and five cubits its breadth—it was square—and three cubits its height . . .
He made the basin of copper, and its pedestal of copper, out of the mirrors of the assembled women, who assembled at the door of the Tent of Meeting . . .
He made the courtyard: on the south side, he hangings of the court were of fine-spun linen, a hundred cubits in length. Their pillars were twenty, their copper sockets twenty, and the hooks of the pillars and their trimmings were of silver. And for the north side, the hangings were a hundred cubits. . . . And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits. . . . The [width of] the east side was fifty cubits, [with] hangings of fifteen cubits on each side [of the entrance] . . .
The screen for the gate of the court was embroidered work, of blue, purple and scarlet, and fine-spun linen; and twenty cubits was the length . . .
All the pegs of the Tabernacle, and of the courtyard around it, were of copper.
(For more on the Mishkan, see summary and commentary for Terumah.)