Shiur #21: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina(Part XI) - The Song of the Sea:The First Explicit Mention of the Mikdashin the Torah

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mikdash
Yeshivat Har Etzion


 

Shiur #21: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina

(Part XI)

The Song of the Sea:

The First Explicit Mention of the Mikdash in the Torah

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            We saw in previous lectures that the Torah alludes to the Mikdash in the book of Bereishit in its description of the Garden of Eden, in the account of the Akeida, and in the story of the revelation to Yaakov at Bet-El. In this lecture, I wish to examine the first explicit mention of the Mikdash in the Torah – in the Song of the Sea (Shirat Ha-yam).

 

            Even more than the other miracles connected to the exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea expresses with enormous intensity God's absolute rule over all of creation, over Pharaoh and Egypt, and over the people of Israel; the Song of the Sea concludes with the words: "The Lord shall reign for ever and ever." For the very first time, and in the wake of God's appearance at the sea as a "warrior," the people of Israel as a nation recognize the kingship of God. One of the interesting expressions of this recognition of God's kingship is found in the statement that this kingship will reveal itself in the future when the people of Israel enter into their land and build the Temple. In this lecture, I wish to examine the various allusions to the Mikdash in the Song of the Sea.

 

            The splitting of the sea took place before the revelation at Mount Sinai. As we saw in the previous lecture, the essence of that revelation was the unique appearance of God to all of Israel, which from many perspectives comprised the beginning of the appearance of the Mikdash, and whose direct continuation was in the establishment of the Mishkan. Without a doubt, however, the first explicit mention in the Torah of the word "Mikdash" is found in the Song of the Sea (although it is used in reference to a future reality). The verses in the song (Shemot 15) which relate or allude to the Mikdash are as follows:

 

The Lord is my strength and song, and He is my salvation. He is my God, ve-anvehu; my father's God, and I will exalt Him. (v. 2)

 

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (v. 11)

 

You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed. You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation. (v. 13)

 

You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in, in the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. (vv. 17-18)

 

            Let us now analyze the contents of these verses and try to justify our assumption that the Torah relates here to the Mikdash.[1]

 

I.          "HE IS MY GOD, VE-ANVEHU… YOU HAVE GUIDED THEM IN YOUR STRENGTH TO YOUR HOLY HABITATION"

 

The Lord is my strength and song, and He is my salvation. He is my God, ve-anvehu; my father's God, and I will exalt Him. (v. 2)

 

1.         EXPLANATION OF THE WORD VE-ANVEHU

 

Many explanations have been offered regarding the word ve-anvehu. Some have explained (see Da'at Mikra, ad loc.): "And I will raise Him; I will relate His greatness." According to this, the word parallels "ve-aromemenhu" – "and I will exalt Him." In the Mekhilta, the word is understood in the sense of "accompaniment":

 

And the Sages say: I shall accompany Him until I come with Him to His Temple.[2] This may be likened to a king whose son went abroad, and he went out after him and reached him. [The son] then went to a different country, and he went out after him and reached him. So, too, Israel, when they went down to Egypt, the Shekhina went down with them. As it says: "I shall go down with you to Egypt" (Bereishit 46:4). When they went up [from there], the Shekhina went up with them. As it says: "And I will surely bring you up again" (ibid.). When they went down into the sea, the Shekhina was with them. As it says: "And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed" (Shemot 14:19). When they went out into the wilderness, the Shekhina was with them. As it says: "And the Lord went before them by day" (Shemot 13:21). Until I come with Him to His Temple. And similarly it says: "Scance had I passed from them…" (Shir Ha-shirim 3:4). (Mekhilta, Beshalach, masekhta de-shira, parasha 3)

 

            According to the midrash, the verse means that God accompanies Israel along its entire journey: when they go down to Egypt, and when the go out from there, at the sea, in the wilderness and until they come to the Mikdash. In other words, the sea is a station on the way to the Mikdash.

 

            According to another possibility, the word ve-anvehu is derived from the word noi, beauty: "I shall glorify Him, I shall speak of His beauty, splendor and majesty." Thus, for example, writes the Bekhor Shor (ad loc.): "He is my God, who stood with me in my troubles; and I shall beautify him with song, in the sense of 'comely (na'ava) as Jerusalem' (Shir Ha-shirim 6:4)."

 

            Many have understood the word ve-anvehu as referring to the Mikdash, similar to what is stated later in the song itself: "You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation" (naveh). Thus, for example, we find in Onkelos (ad loc.): "He is my God, and I will build him a Mikdash." The Midrash Ha-Gadol (ad loc.) brings another proof from the verse, "to you house, a habitation (na'ava) of holiness" (Tehillim 93:5).[3] Similarly, Rav Kasher (Torah Shelema, Beshalach, p. 110, no. 56 in the notes) brings in the name of a manuscript entitled Or Afela: "Ve-anvehu – they prophesied about the establishment of the Mishkan." Similarly, the Ibn Ezra writes in his short commentary:

 

As explained in the Aramaic translation [Onkelos]. And this means: He is my God, and I will want to make Him a habitation so that He will live with me for ever. And the Ga'on [Rabbenu Sa'adya Ga'on] said: I will make Him a habitation for Me.[4] But this is the opposite of what is written.[5]

 

            The two last explanations – "beauty" and "habitation" – are combined into one in the Mekhilta (ibid.):

 

Ve-anvehu – Rabbi Yishmael says: Is it possible for [a man of] flesh and blood to beautify his Creator? Rather, I shall beautify Him with mitzvot: I shall make before him a comely lulav, a comely sukka, comely tzitzit, comely tefilin

Rabbi Yose ben Dormaskit says: I shall make before Him a comely Mikdash. Naveh here means Mikdash, as it is stated: "And they laid waste His dwelling place (navehu)" (Tehillim 79:7). And it says: "Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities, your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation (naveh)" (Yeshayahu 33:20).

 

            A similar combination is found in Rava's understanding of the verse, "And he and Shmuel went and dwelt in Nayot in Rama" (I Shmuel 19:18):

 

Rava expounded: What is the meaning of that which is written: "And he and Shmuel went and dwelt in Nayot in Rama"? What is Nayot doing next to Rama? Rather, they dwelt in Rama and occupied themselves in the noy of the world. (Zevachim 54b)

 

            As Rashi explains (ad loc.): "The noy of the world – to locate the site of the Temple from the Torah" (as is evident from the continuation of the passage). The word Nayot could have been understood in the sense of naveh (habitation),[6] but Rava, like Rabbi Yose ben Dormaskit in the Mekhilta, joins the two meanings: The naveh – the Mikdash – is the noy – the beauty – of the world.

 

            I wish now to expand on these two understandings of the word.

 

2.         VE-ANVEHU – IN THE SENSE OF BEAUTY

 

"Beauty and eternity to the Life of the world:"[7] There is an important and essential connection between God's revelation in the Mikdash and beauty.[8] The entire Mishkan was especially crafted by craftsmen selected by God, at the head of whom stood Betzalel, about whom it is stated: "And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (Shemot 31:3). Since the beauty of the Temple is but a revelation of the beauty of He who dwells therein, Divine wisdom is required to make this revelation possible.

 

In this manner, the author of the Avnei Ezel[9] explains the prohibition, "You shall not plant an ashera of any tree near the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself" (Devarim 16:21). Rashi (ad loc.) explains: "A warning against one who plants a tree or builds a house on the Temple Mount." The Avnei Ezel adds:

 

The site of holiness must be comely by virtue of its sanctity, and not because of superficial decorations, such as attractive wood and magnificent buildings. Therefore, if you come to beautify the sanctity by way of superficial means, this means that you are belittling its intrinsic beauty.

 

            That is to say, the Temple's beauty stems from its intrinsic sanctity; any superficial addition merely detracts from its inner beauty.

 

            The Radak explains the designation of the Mikdash, "As for the beauty of His ornament which He set in majesty" (Yechezkel 7:20), in similar fashion:

 

This refers to the Mikdash which is the majestic beauty of the glory of the holy God who dwells therein, with which they would prettify themselves as with an ornament. The Holy One, blessed be He, set it as majesty, for Israel would take pride in it and see themselves as raised through it above all other nations…

 

            The Radak notes a similar element found in the Temple – the element of majesty, which Scripture attributes to it in various places. For example: "Our holy and our majestic house, where our fathers praised You" (Yeshayahu 64:10); "And cast down from heaven to earth the majesty of Israel, and remembered not His footstool" (Eikha 2:1; and see Rashi, ad loc.). It is interesting that God Himself is referred to as the majesty of Israel – "For you are the majesty of their strength; and in Your favor our horn shall be exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord; and our king to the Holy One of Israel" (Tehillim 89:18-19) – and the priestly garments are also "for honor and for majesty" (Shemot 28:2, 40). That is to say: God's majesty reveals itself in the Temple and in the priestly garments, as we saw with respect to the element of righteousness (see my lectures on biblical Jerusalem, 5765, lecture no. 6).

 

            Aside from in the building itself, the beauty of the Mikdash is evident in the things that were added to it for beauty. For example: "When Shlomo built the Mikdash, he planted in it all sorts of fruit of gold" (Yoma 21b); "A golden grapevine stood at the entrance to the Heikhal" (Middot 3:8). Similarly, the Rambam ruled (Hilkhot Bet Ha-Bechira 1:11): "The highest form of the mitzva is to strengthen the building and raise it in accordance with the community's capability, as it is stated: 'To raise up the house of our God' (Ezra 9:9). And it should be embellished and beautified in accordance with their capability. If they can coat it with gold, and make it greater, this is a mitzva."

 

            Portions of the Temple service were also for the sake of beauty. For example, the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna explains the addition of another pile of wood for fire on Yom Kippur as follows (Yoma 4:6): "And all agree that we add another pile of wood on the day of the fast of Kippur, as splendor and beauty for the fire."

 

2) "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the earth, the city of the great king:"[10] It is not only the Mikdash that stands out in its beauty, but rather the entire city of Jerusalem. For example:

 

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth: Mount Zion, on the northern side, the city of the great king. (Tehillim 48:2-3)

 

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth. (Tehillim 50:2)

 

The perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth. (Eikha 2:15)

 

Ten kavs of beauty came down to the world, nine of which were taken by Jerusalem, and one by the rest of the world. (Kiddushin 49b)

 

There is no beauty like the beauty of Jerusalem. (Avot De-Rabbi Natan 28:1)

 

            Various special practices and ordinances were instituted in order to preserve the beauty of the city. For example:

 

The marketplaces of Jerusalem were swept every day. (Pesachim 7a)

 

Ten things were said about Jerusalem… And furnaces would not be built there, because of the smoke [Rashi: smoke that blackens the wall and is a disgrace]. And gardens and orchards would not be planted there, because of the stench [Rashi: Weeds that grow there and are cast outside. Moreover, gardens are manured and there is a stench]… (Bava Kama 82b)[11]

 

As we have learned (Ma'aser Sheni 5:2): Kerem reva'i would be brought up to Jerusalem, a day's journey in each direction… And Ulla said, and some say that Rabba bar Ulla said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: What is the reason? In order to decorate the markets of Jerusalem with fruit. (Rosh Ha-Shana 31b; Beitza 5a)

 

            The Maharal explains in Derekh Chayyim, at the end of his commentary to tractate Avot:

 

Magnificence and beauty stem from the Divine element in created beings, for beauty does not relate to the material side whatsoever. We already explained that beauty and magnificence relate to the non-material.

 

            That is to say, the source of beauty is God Himself, and beauty reveals itself to a greater degree in things that represent His presence in this world: in the Temple, in the priestly garments, and in the city of Jerusalem – the primary characteristic of all of them being the resting of the Shekhina. This principle was revealed for the first time in the Song of the Sea, when Israel accepted upon themselves the kingdom of God.

 

3.         VE-ANVEHU – IN THE SENSE OF HABITATION: "YOU HAVE GUIDED THEM IN YOUR STRENGTH TO YOUR HOLY HABITATION"

 

As stated above, many commentators understood the verse "He is my God, ve-anvehu" in the same sense as verse 13: "You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy naveh (habitation)." I shall first examine the meaning of the term there, and then consider the meaning of the term "naveh" in Scripture in general.

 

1)         "To your holy habitation (naveh):" There are four main understandings of this expression.

a) The Ibn Ezra in his long commentary (ad loc.) writes: "'To your holy habitation' – this is Mount Sinai where the Shekhina dwelt. As it is written: 'And I shall bring you to Me' (Shemot 19:4)." In his short commentary, he writes: "And what seems correct to me is that 'the holy habitation' is Mount Sinai, where they will serve God, and where the Torah will be given."  According to the Ibn Ezra, then, "Your holy habitation" refers to the next important stop on Israel's journey.

 

b) In Bamidbar Rabba (12, 12) the verse is interpreted as follows:

 

There we learned (Avot 1:2): The world is based upon three things: upon the Torah, upon Divine service and upon the practice of loving-kindness. And Moshe mentioned the three of them in the same verse: "You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed" – this is loving-kindness; "You have guided them in Your strength" – this is Torah, as it says: "The Lord gives strength to His people" (Tehillim 29:11); "to Your holy habitation" – this is the service of the Mishkan and the Mikdash. "You in Your mercy have led forth" – these are the generations from when the world was created until Israel went out of Egypt and received the Torah… And by virtue of that loving-kindness Israel went out of Egypt… "You have guided them in Your strength" – You have guided them by virtue of the Torah that they received prior to the erection of the Mishkan. To what was the world likened at that point?  To a stool with two legs which cannot stand firm, but rather it shakes. As soon as they made a third leg for it, it stood firm. So, too, as soon as the Mishkan was erected, as it is stated, "to Your holy habitation," it immediately stood firm. For at the outset the world had only two legs, loving-kindness and Torah, and it shook. When it was made a third leg, that is, the Mishkan, it immediately stood firm.

 

c) The commentators who follow the plain sense of Scripture (Rashbam, Bekhor Shor, Chizkuni, and Malbim, ad loc.) understand that the reference is to all of Eretz Yisrael. As the Chizkuni puts it: "All of Eretz Yisrael is called "the holy habitation." As in: "And He brought them to His holy border, to the mountain, which His right hand had purchased" (Tehillim 78:54); and "They that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of My sanctuary" (Yeshayahu 62:9).

 

d) The Mekhilta (ad loc., Beshalach, masekhta de-shira, parasha 3) explains: "'To your holy habitation' – by virtue of the Mikdash that they will build in the future. 'Naveh' means Mikdash, as it is stated: 'They have made His habitation (navehu) desolate' (Yirmiyahu 10:25), and it says: 'Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities, your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation (neveh)' (Yeshayahu 33:20)." And in Midrash Tehillim, 84:2, we find: "'My soul longs, indeed, it faints for the courts of the Lord.' Not from now, but rather from when Israel was in the sea, they longed for the Mikdash, as it is stated: "You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed… to Your holy habitation… You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance' (Shemot 15:13, 17)." Many commentators followed in this direction, such as the Ramban and the Ralbag.[12]

 

It should be noted that three out of these four understandings relate to places where there was a manifest resting of the Shekhina: Mount Sinai, the Mishkan, and the Mikdash.

 

2)         The word "naveh" in Scripture: In this section, I will follow in the footsteps of the Mekhilta and examine the meaning of the word naveh in Scripture. I shall focus on three primary meanings:

 

a)Place where flocks of sheep are allowed to rest (II Shmuel 7:8; Yeshayayahu 65:10; Yirmiyahu 33:12; Yechezkel 34:14; I Divrei Ha-yamim 17:7; and elsewhere.) For example: "And in all its cities shall be a habitation of shepherds who make their flocks lie down" (Yirmiyahu, Ibid.).[13]

 

b) Tent/house (Yeshayahu 32:18; 33:20; Iyov 5:24; Mishlei 3:33.) For example: "And you shall know that your tent is at peace; and you shall visit your habitation (navekha), and shall miss nothing" (Iyov, ibid.).

 

c) In the figurative sense: Mikdash (II Shmuel 15:25;[14]   Yeshayahu 33:20; Yirmiyahu 31:22; 10:25; Tehillim 79:7).[15]

 

Like a naveh where sheep rest, and a tent or house where people gather and rest, the Mikdash, on the one hand, functions as a place where all of Israel gather together (especially during the pilgrim festivals), and on the other hand, it is designated in Scripture as a place of rest in general,[16] and as a place of rest for the ark in particular:

 

But when you traverse the Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit, and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about so that you dwell in safety. Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there; there shall you bring all that I command you. (Devarim 12:10-11)

 

Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of tranquility; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about. For his name shall be Shlomo, and I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name. (I Divrei Ha-yamim 22:9-10)

 

Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, "Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had it in my heart to build a house for rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and I had made ready for building." (I Divrei Ha-yamim 28:2)

 

            In addition, the parallel to a habitation for sheep also alludes to the metaphor of shepherd and flock that is used to describe the relationship between God and Israel.

 

            We can summarize by saying that the Song of the Sea uses the expressions, "He is my God ve-anvehu" and "Your holy naveh," to allude to the future Mikdash; and thus it constitutes the first recognition of this fundamental element of the worship of God.

 

II.        "GLORIOUS IN HOLINESS"

 

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (v. 11)

 

"Glorious in holiness" – this refers to the Throne of Glory. (Ibn Ezra in his long commentary, ad loc.)

 

This is the meaning of "Who is like You, glorious in holiness," that there is none like Him glorious in His holy habitation in heaven. (Ramban, ad loc.)

 

            According to both explanations, we are dealing with the heavenly Mikdash, which corresponds to the earthly Mikdash (see below, III, 2).

 

III.       "IN THE MOUNTAIN OF YOUR INHERITANCE… IN THE PLACE… FOR YOU TO DWELL IN… IN THE SANCTUARY, O LORD, WHICH YOUR HANDS HAVE ESTABLISHED

 

You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in, in the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. (v. 17)

 

            The verse contains several phrases that require explanation, all of which are connected to the resting of the Shekhina. The overall meaning of the verse is: "Settle them permanently in Eretz Yisrael, Your dwelling place, and let them merit that You will build your sanctuary there and dwell therein." Alternatively, "Bring them to the site of the Mikdash" (in which case all the expressions – "the mountain of your inheritance… the place… for You to dwell in… the sanctuary" – refer to the Mikdash). I shall now explain in detail each of the expressions found in the verse.

 

1)         "IN THE MOUNTAIN OF YOUR INHERITANCE"

 

The Mekhilta (ad loc.) states:

 

Four are called an inheritance: The Mikdash is called an inheritance, as it is stated: "In the mountain of Your inheritance;" Eretz Yisrael is called an inheritance, as it is stated: "In the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance" (Devarim 25:19); similarly, the Torah is called an inheritance, as it is stated: "And from Matana to Nachliel" (Bamidbar 21:19); similarly, Israel is called an inheritance, as it is stated: "My people and My inheritance Israel" (Yoel 4:2). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let Israel who are called an inheritance come to Eretz Yisrael, which is called an inheritance, and build the Mikdash, which is called an inheritance, by virtue of the Torah, which is called an inheritance. Therefore it is stated: "In the mountain of Your inheritance." (Mekhilta, Beshalach, masekhta de-shira, parasha 10)

 

            According to the Mekhilta, "the mountain of Your inheritance" refers to the Mikdash. Similarly, several Rishonim understand the phrase as referring to Mount Moriya, "where the Mikdash stood" (Ralbag) or "about which it was said, 'In the mount the Lord will appear' (Bereishit 22:14)" (Seforno), and "therefore it is followed by, 'the place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in'" (Ibn Ezra, in his long commentary).

 

            According to Rav Sh. R. Hirsch (ad loc., and see also Da'at Mikra, p. 278), the term refers to all of Eretz Yisrael (this is also implied by what is related in Ketubot 65a).

 

2)         "THE PLACE, O LORD, WHICH YOU HAVE MADE FOR YOU TO DWELL IN"

 

"The place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in" (makhon le-shivtekha). This is one of the expressions of the fact that the earthly throne corresponds to the heavenly throne. And similarly it is stated: "The Lord in His holy Temple, the Lord whose throne is in heaven" (Tehillim 11:4). And it is stated: "I have surely built You a house to dwell in, a settled place for You to abide in (makhon le-shivtekha) for ever" (I Melakhim 8:13). (Mekhilta, ibid.)

 

            The Mekhilta identifies "the place which You have made for You to dwell in" with the same expression appearing in the words of Shlomo at the dedication of the first Temple, and learns from this that "the earthly throne corresponds to the heavenly throne;"[17] as Rashi puts it (ad loc.): "The earthly Mikdash corresponds to the heavenly throne." The truth is that this idea is found in the text of Shlomo's prayer itself:

 

"I have surely built You a house to dwell in, a settled place for You to abide in for ever (makhon le-shivtekha)….

Then hear You in heaven, Your dwelling place (makhon le-shivtekha)… Hear You in heaven, Your dwelling place (makhon le-shivtekha)… then hear You in heaven, Your dwelling place (makhon le-shivtekha)." (I Melakhim 8:13, 39, 43, 49; paralleled by I Divrei Ha-yamim 6:2, 30, 33, 39).[18]

 

            It should be noted that the Seforno bases his argument that the expression refers to the Mikdash on the word le-shivtekha, "for you to dwell in:" "'In the place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in' – as it says: 'Here I will dwell; for I have desired it' (Tehillim 132:14)."

 

3)         "WHICH YOU HAVE MADE, O LORD"

 

"Which You have made, O Lord." The Mikdash is dear to Him who spoke and the world came into being, for when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He created it with speech, as it is stated: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made" (Tehillim 33:6). When He came to the Mikdash, there was action, as it were, as it is stated: "Which You have made, O Lord." (Mekhilta, ibid.)

 

4)         "IN THE SANCTUARY, O LORD, WHICH YOUR HANDS HAVE ESTABLISHED"

 

            To which Temple is Scripture referring?

 

            According to the plain sense of the text, the verse means that following their entry into the land, Israel will merit that God will build His Temple and dwell therein. I It is not by chance that Shlomo in his prayer refers to the Mikdash as "the place which You have made for You to dwell in," the same term that appears in the Song of the Sea. He clearly wishes to imply that with the building of the Mikdash, Israel's prayer at the Song of the Sea was fulfilled. Despite the fact that the song implies that God Himself will build the Mikdash, since Shlomo built it in fulfillment of God's command, it is regarded as if God Himself had built it. As Seforno comments (ad loc.): "'In the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established,' as it is stated: 'And let them make Me a sanctuary… according to all that I show you' (Shemot 25:8-9). And David said: 'All this, said he, is put in writing by the hand of the Lord who instructed me, all the works of this pattern' (I Divrei Ha-yamim 28:19)" – that is to say, by building the Mishkan and the Mikdash in accordance with the Divine command, it is regarded as if God Himself had built them.

 

            The Mekhilta (ad loc.) proposes a different understanding (see also Rashi, ad loc.):

 

"In the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established." The Mikdash is dear to the Holy One, blessed be He, for when the Holy One, blessed be He, created His world, He created it with one hand, as it is stated: "My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth" (Yeshayahu 48:13). When He came to build the Mikdash, he used, as it were, two hands, as it is stated: "In the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established." When will You build it with Your two hands? This may be likened to bandits who entered the king's palace and plundered his possessions and killed the king's retinue and destroyed the king's palace. After some time, the king sat in judgment over them, arrested them, killed them, crucified them, and sat in his palace, and then his kingdom became known in the world. Therefore, it says: "In the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established."

 

            In other words, the song alludes here to the Mikdash that will be built in the future in the end of days, which will be built by God Himself.

 

            The Ibn Ezra, on the other hand, argues that the words "which Your hands have established," parallel the words, "which You have made, O Lord," and refer to the site of the Mikdash on Mount Moriya:

 

This is an allusion to the Temple Mount, where the Shekhina would rest. The term "which You have made," means that You established it in ancient times to be a dwelling place for You. (Ibn Ezra, short commentary)

 

This is an allusion to Mount Moriya… And the expression "which You have made," means that You established the sanctuary as Your dwelling place, for the place that is mentioned corresponds to the venerable place up above.[19] For the places on earth vary in accordance with the star that stands above them, and astrologers will understand this… "which Your hands have established" – like "which You have made." (Ibn Ezra, long commentary)

 

IV.       "THE LORD SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER"

 

            At the end of the song, the people of Israel express for the first time their recognition of the kingdom of God:

 

The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. (v. 18)

 

            There is room here for two questions: What is the connection between the splitting of the Red Sea and the kingdom of God? What is the connection between recognition of this kingdom and the Mikdash?

 

1)         THE SPLITTING OF THE RED SEA AS THE FOUNDATION OF ISRAEL'S RECOGNITION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

It seems that the splitting of the sea brought the people of Israel to recognize God's kingdom because it completed the process of the exodus from Egypt. For two hundred and ten years, the people of Israel were absolutely enslaved, physically and spiritually, to Pharaoh and Egypt. Only with the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea and the great deliverance brought to Israel – the splitting of the sea, Israel's safe passage between the waters, the sea's closing upon the Egyptians, and seeing God as a warrior who performs miracles at the sea - was it clear that the servitude was really over.[20] All this brought Israel to recognize for the first time in an unmediated manner their total dependence upon God; in the wake of this recognition, they openly expressed and declared God's kingdom in the world at this transitional point between Egypt and the wilderness, even before the giving of the Torah.

 

We saw above that the Midrash Ha-Gadol draws a connection between ve-anvehu and the phrase "na'ava kodesh" in Tehillim 93 (v. 5). This short psalm deals in its entirety with the revelation of the kingdom of God in the world; it begins with the creation, continues with the manifestation of His control over the forces of nature – represented here by water – and concludes with the resting of His Shekhina in the Mikdash:

 

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is robed; He has girded Himself with strength. The world also is established, that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established of old; You are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. The Lord on high is mightier that the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea. Your testimonies are very sure. Holiness becomes Your house, O Lord, for the length of days.

 

            A careful examination of the text reveals many parallels between this psalm and the Song of the Sea (brought in the summary of the psalm in the Da'at Mikra edition, p. 188):

 

 

Tehillim 93

Song of the Sea

The Lord reigns… O Lord, for the length of days

The Lord shall reign for ever and ever

He is clothed with majesty (ge'ut)

For He has triumphed gloriously (ga'o ga'eh)

He has girded Himself with strength

The Lord is my strength and my song… You have guided them in Your strength

The world also is established… Your throne is established

In the place, O Lord, which You have made for You to dwell in… which Your hands have established

Mightier that the noise of many waters

In the mighty waters

The mighty waves of the sea

Has He thrown into the sea

Holiness becomes Your house

Your holy habitation

 

            These parallels teach us that the psalm alludes to God's miracles at the splitting of the sea; like the Song of the Sea itself, it expresses the hope for the full revelation of God's kingdom in the future.

 

2)         THE RECOGNITION OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE ASPIRATION TO BUILD THE MIKDASH

 

After their deliverance from the yoke of Egypt, the people of Israel start out on their journey to Eretz Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael is wholly the inheritance of God; it will make possible the revelation of His kingdom in a permanent place, where the people of Israel will dwell in their inheritance and establish its state. Then, in a state of permanent rule and inheritance, the kingdom of God will reveal itself in a permanent revelation to the world through the establishment of the Mikdash. The vision of the Mikdash is connected, then, to the recognition of the kingdom of God, the establishment of the Mishkan being its practical public manifestation. As the Midrash Ha-Gadol says (Shemot 15:17):

 

Another explanation: "In the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established" – when is His name sanctified in His world? When He establishes His sanctuary and gathers his exiles to Himself, as it is stated: "The Lord builds Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel." (Tehillim 147:2)

 

            We find several connections between the revelation at the splitting of the sea and the kingdom of God in the Mikdash:

 

a)                        The Divine revelation itself: The kingdom of God reveals itself in the Mikdash, and at the splitting of the sea, God appears before Israel as a king and as a warrior, as is well-expressed in the Song of the Sea.

 

b)                        Providence: As Shlomo says in his prayer, it is from the Mikdash that God oversees the world and rules over it; at the splitting of the sea, God's special providence over Israel and the clear distinction that He makes between Israel and Egypt is made manifest.

 

c)                        The splitting of the sea was God's salvation (Shemot 14:13), and the Mikdash is similarly a place of salvation. See, for example, Aggadat Bereishit (ed. Buber, 54a): "'May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion' (Tehillim 20:3). When the Holy One, blessed be He, will come to redeem Israel, He will only redeem them out of Zion. Why? Because it was from there that the world was founded (nishtakhlel), as it is stated: 'Out of Zion, the perfection (mikhlal) of beauty, God has shone forth' (ibid. 50:2).[21] Therefore, the holy spirit cries out and says: 'O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion' (ibid. 14:7)."

 

d)                        The feeling of absolute nullity and total dependence on God - the deep recognition of the kingdom of God and that everything comes from Him is one of the foundations of the Temple service (see Lecture no. 6).

 

e)                        At the splitting of the sea, there is fear – "And the people feared the Lord, and believed in the Lord, and in His servant Moshe" (Shemot 14:31). This is also one of the principle foundations of the Temple and its service (see especially Lectures no. 3, 8 and 16).

 

Indeed, the Mekhilta draws a direct connection between the splitting of the Red sea and the Akeida, the Mikdash, and Jerusalem.

 

"Why do your cry to me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward" (Shemot 14:15). Rabbi Yishmael says: "Why do you cry to me" – by the merit of Jerusalem I shall split the sea for them, as it is stated: "Awake, awake; put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean" (Yeshayahu 52:1). And it says: "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Are You not He Who has cut Rachav in pieces, and wounded the crocodile? Are You not He Who dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; Who made the depths of the sea a way of the ransomed to pass over?" (ibid. 51:9-10)…

Rabbi Bena'a says: By the merit of the mitzva that their father Avraham performed I shall split the sea for them, as it is stated: "And they split the wood for the burnt offering" (Bereishit 22:3), and it is written: "And the waters were split" (Shemot 14:21)…

Rabbi Yose the Galilean says: When Israel entered into the sea, Mount Moriya became uprooted from its place, together with the altar of Yitzchak built upon it and the pile of wood arranged upon that, with Yitzchak bound as it were and placed on the altar, and Avraham as it were stretching out his hand and taking the knife to slay his son, as it is stated: "And Avraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son" (Bereishit 22:10). (Mekhilta, Beshalach, masekhta de-shira, parasha 3)

 

***

 

            In this lecture, we examined the clear reference in the Song of the Sea to the building of the Mikdash and the connection between the splitting of the sea and the recognition of the kingdom of God and its revelation in the Mikdash.

 

            In the next lecture, I shall begin to discuss the question whether the building of the Mishkan was lekhatchila or bedi'eved.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] A. Shaviv relates to this issue in "Shirat Ha-Yam: Me-Avdut Le-Avoda Bi-Neveh Kodshekha," Bet Mikra 25:2 (5740).

[2] Rav Kasher notes in Torah Shelema (ad loc., Beshalach, p. 111, notes to no. 59) that this understanding is based on a transmutation of lamed and nun (nishkalishka; Nechemia 13:6-8), as if the word were alvehu, instead of anvehu.

[3] That is to say: Na'ava kodesh is like neveh kodshekha – a holy dwelling place.

[4] He is referring to Rabbenu Sa'adya Ga'on's commentary, ad loc.: "Ve-anvehu – I will long for Him, and enter into His dwelling places." That is to say, according to Rabbenu Sa'adya Ga'on, the word ve-anvehu is in the nif'al – man makes God into his dwelling place. Similarly, Rav Kasher (p. 110, notes to no. 57) brings in the name of another early commentator: "Ve-anvehu – in the hif'il from 'neveh tzedek' (Yirmiya 31:24). It means: I shall build Him a dwelling place, similar to 'Let them make Me a sanctuary.' And so, too, the Targum. Alternatively, 'I shall make Him into a dwelling place for me,' similar to 'my rock and my fortress' (II Shmuel 22:2)."

[5] See other commentators, e.g., Bekhor Shor and Ralbag.

[6] So, too, Radak ad loc and various other sources (Halakhot Gedolot Aspamya, p. 614, and Midrash Mishlei in Ginzei Schechter, I, p. 167; cited by Rav Kasher, p. 140, notes to no. 178), which connect this derasha to the verse, "You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation."

[7] From the piyyut, "Ha-Aderet Ve-He-Emuna," recited on Shabbat and Yom Tov according to the Sefardi rite and on Yom Kippur according to the Ashkenazi and Yemenite rites.

[8] Rav Y. Shaviv dealt with this issue in two articles: "Ha-Mikdash – Moked Le-Yetzira Emunatit Be-Yisrael," Machanayim 10 (5755), pp. 80-85; "Ha-Noi Ve-Ha-Netzach, Perek be-Ekologiya Yehudit," Techumin 12 (5751), p. 470 ff. I shall bring below some of the sources brought in these articles, together with additional sources.

[9] Brought by Rav Shaviv (ibid.) from Sichat Ha-Shavu'a, Parashat Shoftim, 5754.

[10] From the well-known poem of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi.

[11] In the parallel in Avot de-Rabbi Natan (version 2, chap. 39): "And manure is not brought into it… And nothing is planted in it other than a rose garden which had been planted in it from the days of the early prophets."

[12] The Ibn Ezra brings another explanation (which he rejects) in his short commentary: "That God will guide them until He brings them to Jerusalem, which is the holy habitation."

[13] The frequent instances of the word in the plural – na'ot – are also connected to flocks (Yirmiyahu 25:36; Amos 1:2; Tehillim 23:2). The term "ne'ot midbar" usually refers to the dwelling places of shepherds in the desert (Yirmiyahu 9:9; 23:10; Yoel 1:19-20; Tehillim 65:13; and elsewhere).

[14] This verse was stated at the time of Avshalom's rebellion (i.e., before the Mikdash was built), when David ordered Tzadok: "Carry back the ark of God into the city. If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring be back, and show me both it and His habitation." The commentators disagree about the meaning of the words "and His habitation." The Targum and Metzudat David explain that they refer to the Mikdash, whereas the Radak explains "the house where the ark was." Both explanations fit in with two of the meanings of the word "naveh:" According to the Radak, we are dealing with a tent in the City of David in which the ark had been placed during that period; according to the Targum and Metzudat David, the reference is to the Temple – the place where the ark came to rest (see below).

[15] It is interesting that in Yirmiyahu 50:7 God refers to Himself as a naveh: "All that found them have devoured them, and their adversaries have said, 'We are not guilty,' because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation (neveh) of justice, even the Lord, the hope of their fathers." In the past, I discussed the relationship between God and justice at length (in my lectures on biblical Jerusalem, 5765, Lecture no. 6). There is a semantic connection between the words naveh and mikveh: A naveh is a place where the flocks gather and rest, and a mikveh is a place where water gathers (see Bereishit 1:9-10). The designation for God in the book of Yirmiyahu, "the hope of Israel" (see Yirmiyahu 14:8: "O the hope of Israel, its savior in the time of trouble"; 17:13: "O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake You shall be ashamed… because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters"), also bears the sense of hope that follows from the role of a mikveh in the processes of purification and repentance. As in the famous derasha of Rabbi Akiva: "And it says: 'O Lord, the hope of Israel' – just as a mikveh purifies the impure, so too the Holy One, blessed be He, purifies Israel" (Yoma 8:9).

[16] This is the basis for the various derashot about Shilo and Jerusalem as the rest and inheritance (Devarim 12:9); see Sifri, Devarim, piska 66; Tosefta Zevachim 13:20; Bavli, Zevachim 119a-b; Yerushalmi, Megila 1:12.

[17] In Yerushalmi, Berakhot (4:5) we find: "The earthly Holy of Holies corresponds to the heavenly Holy of Holies: 'In the place which You have made for You to dwell' – a place corresponding to where You dwell."

[18] In other contexts in Scripture, the word "makhon" almost always refers to the Mikdash (Yeshayahu 18:4 [see commentators, ad loc.]; Daniel 8:11; Ezra 2:68) or to the site of God's dwelling in heaven (Tehillim 33:14).

The one clear exception is "Who laid the foundations (mekhoneha) of the earth" (Tehillim 104:5), where the word appears in the plural.

We have also omitted Yeshayahu 4:5: "And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place (makhon) of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For upon all the glory shall there be a canopy." The verse is clearly making use of the description of the resting of the Shekhina on the Mishkan, but the commentators understand that the reference is to all of Jerusalem.

There is room also to discuss Tehillim 89:15 ("Righteousness and justice are the foundation (makhon) of Your throne") and 97:2 ("righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne"). The Ibn Ezra (ad loc.) says: "Like 'For a throne is established (yikon) by righteousness' (Mishlei 16:12)." Thus, it is possible that the word makhon here is not a place, but a verbal noun.

[19] Like "the earthly Temple corresponds to the heavenly throne;" see above, III, 2.

[20] Regarding the effect of the splitting of the sea upon the souls of Israel, see Rav E. Samet, Iyunim Be-Parashat ha-Shavu'a, Jerusalem 5762, pp. 192-205.

[21] The midrash alludes here to a tradition according to which the world was created from the even ha-shetiya (see Lecture no. 10), and it therefore follows that it understands the term "Zion" as referring to the Mikdash.