“These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, as they were counted by Moses’ command . . .”
Pekudei (“Accounts”) is the last in a series of five Parshiot (Torah sections) describing the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary built by the people of Israel in the Sinai Desert by Divine command to serve as “a dwelling for G‑d in the physical world.”
In the Parshiot of Terumah, Tetzaveh and the first part of Ki Tisa were detailed G‑d’s instructions to Moses regarding the making of the Mishkan, its “vessels” and the priestly garments.
In Vayakhel was related—again, in minute detail—the actual making of the Mishkan and its vessels.
Our Parshah, Pekudei, contains: a) an audit of the gold, silver and copper used in the Mishkan’s construction; b) the making of the priestly garments; c) the erection and consecration of the Mishkan.
Gold, Silver and Copper
The menorah and the kapporet (ark cover) were of solid gold; the ark, table, golden altar, and the Mishkan’s wall panels and posts were gold-plated; gold thread was added to the fibers in the roof coverings, the veil (parochet), the screens and the high priest’s garments. Altogether,
The gold of the offering was twenty-nine talents and seven hundred and thirty shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.
The silver for the Mishkan was supplied by the half-shekels contributed by each of those who “went to be numbered”: 603,550 men of draftable age, each giving half a shekel, made 100 talents plus 1775 shekels of silver (a “talent” is approximately 150 lb.). The 100 talents were used to make the 100 foundation sockets that held up the Mishkan’s wall panels and posts; the 1775 shekels were used for the hooks and trimmings on the 60 posts that held up the wall-hangings which enclosed the courtyard.
The copper totaled 70 talents and 2400 shekels, and was used to make “the foundation sockets to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; the copper altar, its copper grate, and all the vessels of the altar; the foundation sockets of the courtyard surrounding it, and the sockets of the courtyard entrance; and all the pegs of the Tabernacle and all the pegs of the courtyard surrounding it.”
Although the priestly garments have already been described in detail in G‑d’s instruction to Moses related in the Parshah of Tetzaveh, the Torah now devotes 30 verses (39:2–31) to repeat these details in describing the actual making of the garments:
He made the ephod of gold; blue-, purple- and scarlet- [dyed wool], and fine twined linen . . .
He made the breastplate. . . . They set in it four rows of stones . . . enclosed in fixtures of gold in their settings. The stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names.
He made the cloak of the ephod of woven work, all of blue. . . . They made upon the hems of the cloak pomegranates of blue-, purple- and scarlet- [dyed wool], twined together. They made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the cloak . . .
They made tunics of fine linen of woven work for Aaron and for his sons; and the turban of fine linen . . . and linen breeches of fine twined linen; and a sash of fine twined linen, and blue-, purple- and scarlet- [dyed wool], the work of an embroiderer, as G‑d commanded Moses.
They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like the engravings of a signet, “Holy to G‑d.” They tied to it laces of blue, to fasten it on the turban above, as G‑d commanded Moses.
(For more on the priestly garments, see summary and commentary for Tetzaveh.)
“Thus was all the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting finished. The children of Israel did [it]; according to all that G‑d commanded Moses, thus they did.”
The Dwelling Assembled
They brought the Tabernacle to Moses. . . . Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as G‑d had commanded, thus had they done it. And Moses blessed them.
Moses erected the Tabernacle, fastened its sockets, set up its wall panels, put in its bars, and raised up its pillars.
He spread the tent over the Mishkan, and put the covering of the tent above upon it, as G‑d commanded Moses.
He took and placed the [tablets of] testimony into the ark, and set the carrying poles on the ark, and put the kapporet above, upon the ark. He brought the ark into the Tabernacle, and set up the veil of the screen and screened the ark of the testimony, as G‑d commanded Moses.
He put the table in the Tent of Meeting, upon the northward side of the Tabernacle, outside the veil. He set the bread in order upon it before G‑d, as G‑d commanded Moses.
He put the menorah in the Tent of Meeting, opposite the table, on the southward side of the Tabernacle. He lit the lamps before G‑d, as G‑d commanded Moses.
He put the golden altar in the Tent of Meeting, in front of the veil. He burnt sweet incense upon it, as G‑d commanded Moses.
He set up the screen at the door of the Tabernacle. And the altar of burnt offering he placed before the door of the Tabernacle . . . and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meal offering, as G‑d commanded Moses.
He set the basin between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water there for washing . . .
He erected the courtyard surrounding the Tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the courtyard entrance. Thus Moses finished the work.
(For more on the Mishkan, see summary and commentary for Terumah.
The Dwelling Inhabited
The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of G‑d filled the Tabernacle . . .
When the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up.
For the cloud of G‑d was upon the Tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.