Shiur #29: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina(Part XIII) - The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part V)

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mikdash
Yeshivat Har Etzion


 

 

Shiur #29: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina

(Part XIII)

The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part V)

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            In his commentary to the offerings of the tribal princes (Bamidbar 7:13), the Ramban proposes that the princely initiative established a mitzva of dedicating the Temple for future generations:

 

God agreed with the princes and commanded: "They shall offer their offering, each prince on his day" (Bamidbar 7:11). And, therefore, it is possible that this is a mitzva for [future] generations that they should always dedicate the Temple and the altar. And, therefore, Shlomo dedicated the Temple, as it is written: "So the king and all the people consecrated the house of God" (II Divrei Ha-yamim 7:5). And so, too, the men of the Great Assembly made a dedication, as it is written: "And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the exile, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy" (Ezra 6:16). And so too in the days of the Messiah, as it is stated in Yechezkel (43:26-27): "Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; and they shall consecrate it. And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and onwards, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings." … Now this is a mitzva, like the matter regarding those who are ritually impure on Pesach (Bamidbar 9) and the matter regarding the descendants of Yosef (ibid. 36), where their thoughts accorded with the supernal intention, and we were commanded with respect to them for [future] generations.

 

            The details of the sacrifices, however, changed from one dedication to the next, in accordance with the period and the context. After having compared at length in the previous lecture the dates of the various dedications, I wish in this lecture to briefly compare the various sets of sacrifices at the different dedications.

 

I.          THE DEDICATION OF THE MISHKAN

 

Of all the dedications, the dedication of the Mishkan – with its three accounts – is described in the fullest manner: 38 verses in Shemot 40; 24 verses in Vayikra 9; and 89 verses in Bamidbar 7.

 

As we have already seen at length, the resting of the Shekhina in the Mishkan has two focuses. At the end of the book of Shemot, it is related that the glory of the Lord filled the Mishkan – like a king who arrives to reside in his palace:

 

Then a cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moshe was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Shemot 40:34-35)

 

            In the book of Vayikra, the resting of the Shekhina focuses upon the altar and the sacrifices:

 

… And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat, which, when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. (Vayikra 9:23-24)

 

            The sum total of the sacrifices that were commanded by God was 27: one bullock and two rams on each of the seven days of milu'im, and on the eighth day, a calf and a ram for Aharon, and a he-goat, a calf, a lamb, an ox and a ram for the people. In addition, the princes offered for the dedication of the altar "twenty four bullocks, sixty rams, sixty he goats, and sixty lambs of the first year" (Bamidbar 7:87-88) – for a total of 252 sacrifices (besides the meal offerings that were brought in silver bowls and dishes).

 

II.        THE DEDICATION OF THE FIRST TEMPLE

 

The dedication of the First Temple is described in 66 verses (in I Melakhim 8 and in II Divrei Ha-yamim 5:2 – 7:11). Here, too, we find the two focuses of the resting of the Shekhina that are familiar to us from the Mishkan:

 

And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. (I Melakhim 8:10-11)

 

Now when Shlomo had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and prostrated themselves, and praised the Lord, saying, "For He is good." (II Divrei Ha-yamim 7:1-3)

 

            Scripture greatly emphasizes the enormous number of sacrifices that were brought at this dedication:

 

And king Shlomo, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude…

And Shlomo offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, twenty two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. On the same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord; for there he offered burnt offerings, and meal offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the altar of brass that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt offerings, and meal offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. (I Melakhim 8:5, 63-64)

 

            There are two striking points here. The first, as was already noted, is the enormous number of sacrifices; the peace offerings alone numbered 142,000, and Shlomo was forced to hallow the floor of the courtyard because the altar was too small to contain all the sacrifices! The midrash explains this as an expression of a change in the state of the people of Israel:[1]

 

To what might this be likened? To a king who set out on a journey, and meals would be brought before him in accordance with the road and the inn. The king said to them: This is the way you honor me and this is what you give me? Am I not the king, and do I not rule over the kingdom? They said to him: Our lord, we are on the road, and we have brought you in accordance with the road and the inn. When you arrive in the city and enter your palace, you shall see how much we honor you. So, too, when the Mishkan was set up, the princes offered a present and a sacrifice, a bowl and a dish and a spoon, and one bullock, etc., and a he goat, etc., and a peace offering. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: This is My honor? They said to him: Master of the universe, we are in the wilderness and we have offered before You in accordance with the wilderness. When You enter Your palace, You will see how many sacrifices and how many bullocks we will offer before You. This is what is written: "Do good in Your favor to Zion; build You the walls of Jerusalem. Then shall You be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then shall they offer bullocks upon the altar" (Tehillim 51:20-21) – and not one bullock. And so, too, you find with Shlomo who built the Temple and wanted to bring offerings for the dedication of the Temple. See what is written there: "And Shlomo offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, etc." And so too in the days of Ezra… This is: "Do good in Your favor to Zion… Then shall You be pleased." (Bamidbar Rabba 13, 1; parallel in Tanchuma Nasa 15)

 

            The dedication of the Mishkan took place in the temporary context of the journey through the wilderness, while the people enjoyed miraculous Divine governance, and before they had settled in their land in the framework of a permanent political regime. Their sacrifice was therefore small and modest, as befits a nation in the middle of a journey. The tremendous number of sacrifices at the dedication of the First Temple gives expression to the permanence that had been reached at that time, the permanent kingdom of the house of David in Jerusalem over all of Israel, who were now living in their own land, and the transition from the temporary and movable Mishkan to the permanent Temple on Mount Moriya. In such a situation, and in the absence of any lack of means or money, it is fitting for the king to express his gratitude to his Creator by way of a large royal offering.

 

            The sacrifices were of three types: burnt offerings, meal offerings, and peace offerings, which are especially emphasized through the noting of their number. This arrangement is familiar to us from the offerings of the princes, which also included these three types of sacrifices, the largest number of which were peace offerings: "Fine flour mingled with oil… One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering… And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year" (Bamidbar 7:13, 15, 17).

 

It is precisely against the background of this correspondence that we are struck by the absence of "one kid of the goats for a sin offering" (ibid. v. 16) in the First Temple dedication (which does appear in the later dedications, as we shall see below). This reflection of dibura di-nedava (the free will offerings mentioned in chapters 1-3 of the book of Vayikra, which include precisely these sacrifices) in the dedication of Shlomo may fit in well with Shlomo's understanding that the house of God that he had built already expressed a state of "world peace:" the relationship between creation and its Creator has already reached perfection, in such a manner that the Shekhina rests upon the entire world and the service of God is based first and foremost on the foundation of love of and connection to God.[2]

 

III.       THE DEDICATION OF THE SECOND TEMPLE

 

The dedication of the second Temple was much more modest in all senses. Only three verses are dedicated to it (Ezra 6:15-17), and there is no description of the resting of the Shekhina – because in fact the Shekhina did not rest in the Second Temple (as we saw at length in our Lectures on Biblical Jerusalem, 5766, lectures 25-28). In total, 712 sacrifices were offered:

 

And they offered at the dedication of this house of God a hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. (Ezra 6:17)

 

            The returnees to Zion – few in number relative to the majority of the Jewish people who remained in exile and lacking political independence – dedicated the Second Temple in accordance with their means, with several hundred sacrifices. This is a much more modest number than had been offered at the dedication of the First Temple, although it too reflects a certain permanence (as stated in the midrash above). It is also possible that they contented themselves with this number because they saw themselves as only having begun to repossess the land.

 

            Scripture does not specify the types of sacrifices for which the bullocks, rams and lambs were used. At the dedication of the Mishkan, these three types of animals were used for both burnt offerings and peace offerings, and it may be that the same is true here.

 

            In addition, the sin offering returned at this dedication - twelve he-goats to atone for the twelve tribes of Israel. It seems clear that these twelve he-goats correspond to the twelve he-goat sin offerings brought by the princes at the dedication of the Mishkan. Nevertheless, the commentators tried to explain the sin for which they came to atone. Metzudat David (ad loc.) writes that these sin offerings were "for all of Israel, for only Yehuda and Binyamin returned during the Second Temple period." In contrast, R. Shmuel Ha-Kohen[3] suggests – in the wake of the gemara (Horayot 6a; Temura 15b) that states that the he-goat sin offerings brought by the returnees in the time of Ezra were "for the idols that had been fashioned during the days of Tzidkiyahu" – that even at the dedication of the second Temple the returnees wanted to purify themselves of all traces of idolatry, it having been one of the causes of the destruction of the First Temple. These sin offerings express, then, an attempt on the part of the people as a whole (through representatives of all the tribes) to repair the sins of the past and to open "a new page."[4]

 

IV.       THE DEDICATION OF THE MIKDASH OF YECHEZKEL

 

As we saw in the previous lecture, our discussion of this dedication is divided into two.

 

1)         THE SACRIFICES IN YECHEZKEL 43

 

These sacrifices are explicitly defined as sacrifices for the consecration of the altar:

 

These are the ordinances of the altar on the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings upon it, and to sprinkle blood upon it. And you shall give to the priests the Levites… a young bullock for a sin offering. And you shall take of its blood, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the ledge, and upon the border round about; thus shall you purify and make atonement for it. You shall take the bullock also of the sin offering, and it shall be burnt in the appointed place of the house, outside the sanctuary. And on the second day you shall offer a he-goat without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall purify the altar, as they did purify it with the bullock. When you have made an end of purifying it, you shall offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. And you shall present them before the Lord, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering to the Lord. Seven days shall you prepare every day a goat for a sin offering; they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; and they shall consecrate it. And when these days are expired, it shall be that upon the eighth day and onwards, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings. (Yechezkel 43:18-27)

 

            There are several correspondences here to the days of milu'im – the days of the dedication of the altar in the Mishkan (for comparison see lecture no. 26): the bullock for a sin offering is burned despite the fact that it is a sin offering offered on the outer altar; the offering of a ram for a burnt offering for seven days; the command, "Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar" corresponds to the command at the time of the milu'im, "Seven days shall you make atonement for the altar" (Shemot 29:37).

 

            Nevertheless, there are a significant number of differences between the two dedications. In Yechezkel, there is no ram of milu'im (perhaps because the ram's role at the dedication of the Mishkan was connected to the consecration of the priests, rather than the dedication of the altar), while on the other hand, there is the addition of a bullock for a burnt offering which was not offered in the Mishkan. Furthermore, whereas during the days of the milu'im, a bullock for a sin offering was offered every day (ibid. v. 36), a bullock for a sin offering is offered in Yechezkel's Temple only on the first day; during the next seven days, it is replaced with a he-goat for a sin offering (this is the understanding of Y. Moshkowitz in the Da'at Mikra commentary to Yechezkel 43:22).

 

This he-goat for a sin offering drew special attention from the commentators. For example, Rashi comments (v. 22): "'You shall offer a he goat' – this was not in the Mishkan, but they will be in the future milu'im based on the [prophetic] word." And similarly the Radak (on v. 25): "'Seven days shall you prepare every day a he-goat for a sin offering' – there was nothing like this in the milu'im of Moshe, nor do we find that the returnees from the exile offered such a sacrifice… We are forced to say that this will be a novelty in the sacrificial order of the future." As Y. Moshkowitz formulated (in his introduction to the section, Da'at Mikra on Yechezkel, p. 356): "Our conclusion is that there is no one law governing the dedication of the altar, but rather a temporary ruling is issued for each dedication, based on the words of the prophets living at the time."

 

2)         THE SACRIFICES IN YECHEZKEL 45

 

            In the continuation, in chapter 45, other sacrifices are mentioned that must be offered on various different dates – the 1st of Nisan, the 7th of Nisan, the 14th of Nisan, the days of Pesach and the days of Sukkot:

 

In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bullock without blemish, and purify the sanctuary. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering, and put it upon the doorposts of the house, and upon the four corners of the ledge of the altar and upon the doorpost of the gate of the inner court. And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone that sins in error or in ignorance; so shall you make atonement for the house.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering. And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily for the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering. And he shall prepare a meal offering of an efa for a bullock, and an efa for a ram, and a hin of oil for an efa.

In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, in the feast, shall he do the like the seven days; both as to the sin offering, as to the burnt offering, and as to the meal offering, and as to the oil. (ibid. 45:18-25)

 

            As we saw in the previous lecture, the commentators disagree (in the wake of the gemara in Menachot 45a) regarding whether these sacrifices are part of the sacrifices brought at the dedication, and if so, what their relationship to the sacrifices mentioned in chap. 43 is. According to Rabbi Yochanan (ibid.), "this section will in the future be expounded by Eliyahu," whereas Rav Ashi argues that "they offered milu'im sacrifices in the days of Ezra just as they offered them in the days of Moshe." The commentators disagree whether Rav Ashi is referring to the days of Ezra (so Rashi, ad loc.), or perhaps this prophecy is referring to the future, as argued by the Rambam (Hilkhot Ma'aseh Ha-Korbanot 2:14-15), and also by the Abravanel and Malbim.

 

            The commentators also disagree about the relationship between these verses and the sacrifices mentioned in chap. 43. Rashi and the Radak identify the bullock for a sin offering mentioned at the beginning of this section with the bullock for a sin offering of the dedication of the altar mentioned in chap. 43, and the first seven days of the month of Nisan with the seven days of milu'im described there:

 

"Thus says the Lord God; In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bullock without blemish" this is the bullock of the milu'im mentioned at the beginning. It teaches here that the milu'im are on the 1st of Nisan

"And so you shall do on the seventh of the month" This means: "And so you shall do all seven days."[5] And so to it says earlier: "Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar." (Rashi, Yechezkel 45:18, 20)

 

            According to their explanation, the two passages complement each other. What was left unclear in chap. 43 (the date of the dedication of the altar and some of the sprinklings of blood) is clarified in chap. 45. The Malbim (as well as the second explanation of the Radak and the Abravanel), on the other hand, understands that the two chapters constitute a continuum:

 

He informed him about the future dedication of the Temple. He already told him (43:18) how he is to make atonement for the altar, and this will begin on the 23rd of Adar and continue for eight days until Rosh Chodesh Nisan, as was the case with the milu'im of Moshe. And now he informs him what he should do from Rosh Chodesh after the altar already achieved atonement, and he should begin to make atonement for the Temple, and this will continue until the 14th of Nisan. And then the days of dedication will begin and continue until Shemini Atzeret. (Malbim on Yechezkel 45:18)

 

            As for the special sacrifices that are to be brought on Pesach and on Sukkot, it seems that their connection to the dedication of the Temple is also a subject of disagreement. These sacrifices are totally new – there is no hint of them in the Torah (they do not correspond at all to the musaf offerings brought on these festivals) – and they are also different from the previous sacrifices in that it is the prince who is commanded to bring them, and not the priests. As opposed to the Malbim (and the Metzudat David), who sees these sacrifices as part of the drawn out dedication of the Temple (I refer once again to the Malbim's original explanation cited in note 21 of the previous lecture), Rashi and the Radak imply that they are not part of the dedication process.

 

***

 

            Thus, we have completed our analysis of the dedication of the Mishkan, and with it this year's series of lectures on the resting of the Shekhina in Israel. I will be very happy to continue learning with you next year as well. In the meantime, be well, and may God's blessing rest upon you.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] The midrash is cited and explained by R. Shmuel Ha-Kohen in his article, "Chanukat Ha-Bayit Ha-Sheni," Shema'atin 56-57 (Adar 5739), pp. 22-27.

[2] This is not the forum to expand upon this point. We made slight allusions to the special significance of the peace offerings in lecture no. 26, III, 4, and note 15 (ad loc.).

[3] Mi-Moshe ad Ezra, vol. I (Jerusalem 5763), p. 220.

[4] In his article, "Tivam shel Korbanot Ha-Chatat Be-Chanukat Bayit Sheni," Magal 14, pp. 131-137, R. Tzvi A. Slouschz proposed that the he goats for a sin offering came to atone for the uncertain impurity of kever ha-tehom, similar to the he-goats for a sin offering included among the offerings of the tribal princes, which came "to atone for kever ha-tehom and uncertain impurity" (Rashi, Bamidbar 7:16, based on Sifrei Bamidbar 51).

[5] The Radak offers a different explanation: "'And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone that sins in error or in ignorance' – this will be new in the future to cleanse the altar and the Temple also on the seventh of the month."