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Pekudei, Pekude, Pekudey, P’kude, or P’qude (פקודי — Hebrew for "amounts of,” the second word, and the first distinctive word, in the parshah) is the 23rd weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the 11th and last in the Book of Exodus. It constitutes Exodus 38:21–40:38. Jews in the Diaspora read it the 22nd or 23rd Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in March.

The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 54 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years. In years with 54 weeks (for example, 2011, 2014, and 2016), parshah Pekudei is read separately. In years with fewer than 54 weeks (for example, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017), parshah Pekudei is combined with the previous parshah, Vayakhel, to help achieve the needed number of weekly readings.

PLATE4DX

The High Priest wearing his breastplate

Summary

At Moses’ direction, Aaron’s son Ithamar oversaw the accounts of the Tabernacle, and the text sets forth the amounts of gold, silver, and copper that Bezalel, Oholiab, and their coworkers used. (Exodus 38:21–31.) The silver came from the half-shekel a head for each man 20 years old and older who was counted in the census. (Exodus 38:25–26.) Bezalel, Oholiab, and their coworkers made the priests’ vestments, the ephod, the breastpiece, the robe, the tunics of fine linen, and the frontlet inscribed “Holy to the Lord” — just as God had commanded Moses. (Exodus 39:1–32.) Then they brought the Tabernacle and all its furnishings to Moses, and he blessed them. (Exodus 39:33–43.)

God told Moses to set up the Tabernacle, and Moses did just as God had commanded him, on the first day of the second year of the Exodus. (Exodus 40:1–33.)

When Moses finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and God’s Presence filled the Tabernacle. (Exodus 40:33–34.) When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, and when the cloud did not lift, they would not set out. (Exodus 40:35–37.) And God’s cloud rested over the Tabernacle by day, and fire would appear in it by night, throughout the Israelites’ journeys. (Exodus 40:38.)

In classical rabbinic interpretation

Exodus chapter 38

Rabbi Tanchuma said in the name of Rav Huna that when Exodus 38:22 reported that “Bezalel . . . made all that the Lord commanded Moses,” the verse did not say “that Moses commanded Bezalel,” and thus the verse taught that Bezalel was able to conceive on his own exactly what God told Moses at Sinai, even though Bezalel did not hear it from Moses. (Jerusalem Talmud Peah 5a.)

Doing the math implied by Exodus 36:4, Exodus 38:22, Joshua 14:7, and 1 Chronicles 2:19–20, the Gemara deduced that in earlier generations, a boy of eight could father children. Exodus 38:22 reports that “Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the Lord had commanded Moses,” when they built the Tabernacle. And 1Chronicles 2:19–20 reports that Caleb fathered the Hur who fathered Uri who fathered Bezalel. Exodus 36:4 reports that “wise men . . . wrought all the work of the Sanctuary,” so Bezalel must have been at least 13 years old to have been a man when he worked on the Tabernacle. A Baraita taught that Moses made the Tabernacle in the first year after the Exodus, and in the second, he erected it and sent out the spies, so the Gemara deduced that Bezalel must have been at least 14 years old when Moses sent out the spies, the year after Bezalel worked on the Tabernacle. And Joshua 14:7 reports that Caleb said that he was 40 years old when Moses sent him to spy out the land. Thus, the Gemara deduced that Caleb was only 26 years older than his great-grandson Bezalel. Decucting two years for the three pregnancies needed to create the three intervening generations, the Gemara concluded that each of Caleb, Hur, and Uri must have conceived his son at the age of eight. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 69b.)

Rabbi Judah ben Simon taught that God required each of the Israelites to give a half-shekel (as reported in Exodus 38:26) because (as reported in Genesis 37:28) their ancestors had sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for 20 shekels. (Genesis Rabbah 84:18.)

Exodus chapter 39

Rabbi Judah ben Pazi noted that a similar word appears in both Genesis 1:6 — where rakya is translated as “firmament” — and Exodus 39:3 — where vayraku is translated as “and they flattened.” He thus deduced from the usage in Exodus 39:3 that Genesis 1:6 taught that on the second day of creation, God spread the heavens flat like a cloth. (Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 6a.) Or Rabbi Judah ben Simon deduced from Exodus 39:3 that Genesis 1:6 meant “let a lining be made for the firmament.” (Genesis Rabbah 4:2.)

Commandments

According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are no commandments in the parshah. (Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 2 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 1:433. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1991. ISBN 0-87306-179-9.)

Sack of jerusalem

Romans take the menorah from the Temple in Jerusalem (sculpture from the Arch of Titus)

Haftarah

The haftarah for the parshah is:

On Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

When the parshah coincides with Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (as it did in 2008), the haftarah is Isaiah 66:1–24.

On Shabbat Shekalim

When the parshah coincides with the special Sabbath Shabbat Shekalim (as it does in 2011 and 2014), the haftarah is 2 Kings 12:1–17.

Parshah Vayakhel–Pekudei

When parshah Vayakhel is combined with parshah Pekudei, the haftarah is:

Ezekiel

Ezekiel (painting by Michelangelo)

On Shabbat HaChodesh

When the parshah coincides with Shabbat HaChodesh ("Sabbath [of] the month," the special Sabbath preceding the Hebrew month of Nissan — as it does in 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2017), the haftarah is:

On Shabbat HaChodesh, Jews read Exodus 12:1–20, in which God commands that “This month [Nissan] shall be the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year” (Exodus 12:2), and in which God issued the commandments of Passover. (Exodus 12:3–20.) Similarly, the haftarah in Ezekiel 45:21–25 discusses Passover. In both the parshah and the haftarah, God instructs the Israelites to apply blood to doorposts. (Exodus 12:7; Ezekiel 45:19.)

On Shabbat Parah

When the parshah coincides with Shabbat Parah (the special Sabbath prior to Passover — as it does in 2012 and 2015), the haftarah is:

On Shabbat Parah, the Sabbath of the red heifer, Jews read Numbers 19:1–22, which describes the rites of purification using the red heifer (parah adumah). Similarly, the haftarah in Ezekiel 36 also describes purification. In both the special reading and the haftarah in Ezekiel 36, sprinkled water cleansed the Israelites. (Numbers 19:18; Ezekiel 36:25.)

Further reading

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:

Philon

Philo

Biblical

Early nonrabbinic

Josephus

Josephus

Classical rabbinic

  • Tosefta: Zevachim 1:8; Menachot 7:7–8. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:1310, 1434–35. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
  • Genesis Rabbah 3:9; 4:2; 84:18. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 1:25, 27; 2:783. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
First page of the first tractate of the Talmud (Daf Beis of Maseches Brachos)

Talmud

  • Jerusalem Talmud: Berakhot 6a; Peah 5a; Sukkah 8a, 27a. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vols. 1, 3, 22. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2005–2009.
  • Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 28a, 87b; Yoma 4b, 6a, 12a–b, 32a, 71b; Sukkah 7b, 21a; Rosh Hashanah 3a; Taanit 29a; Megillah 29b; Yevamot 4b; Nedarim 38a; Sotah 37a, 38a; Sanhedrin 69b; Zevachim 19b, 22a, 58b, 119a–b; Menachot 62a, 98a, 99a; Chullin 138a; Bekhorot 5a, 44a; Arakhin 3b. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.

Medieval

  • Exodus Rabbah 51:1–52:5. 10th Century. 10th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Exodus. Translated by S. M. Lehrman, 3:562–81. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
Rashi woodcut

Rashi

  • Rashi. Commentary. Exodus 38–40. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 2:507–24. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-89906-027-7.
  • Judah Halevi. Kuzari. 3:23. Toledo, Spain, 1130–1140. Reprinted in, e.g., Jehuda Halevi. Kuzari: An Argument for the Faith of Israel. Intro. by Henry Slonimsky, 162. New York: Schocken, 1964. ISBN 0-8052-0075-4.
  • Zohar 2:220a–269a. Spain, late 13th Century.

Modern

Thomas Hobbes (portrait)

Hobbes

External links


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