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Terumah (parsha)

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Terumah or Trumah (תרומה — Hebrew for "gift" or “offering,” the twelfth word and first distinctive word in the parshah) is the nineteenth weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the seventh in the Book of Exodus. It constitutes Exodus 25:1–27:19. Jews in the Diaspora read it the nineteenth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in February or early March.


Royal Arch Room Ark replica 2

the Ark of the Covenant

God instructed Moses to tell all Israelites whose heart so moved them to bring gifts of gold, silver, copper, colored yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair, tanned ram skins, acacia wood, oil, spices, lapis lazuli, and other fine stones to make a sanctuary — the Tabernacle (Mishkan) — and its furnishings, so that God could dwell among them. (Ex. 25:1–8.)

God instructed them to make the Ark of the Covenant of acacia wood overlaid with gold in which to deposit the tablets setting forth God’s commandments. (Ex. 25:10–16.) God told them to make two cherubim of gold to place on the ark’s cover or mercy seat. (Ex. 25:17–21.) God promised to impart commandments to Moses from between the two cherubim above the cover of the Ark. (Ex. 25:22.) God instructed them to make a table of acacia wood overlaid with gold, on which to set the bread of display or showbread. (Ex. 25:23–30.)

Sack of jerusalem

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

God instructed them to make a six-branched, seven-lamped lampstand — menorah — of pure gold. (Ex. 25:31–40.) God instructed them to make the Tabernacle of ten strips of fine twisted linen, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, with a design of cherubim worked into them. (Ex. 26:1–6.) God instructed them to make 11 cloths of goats’ hair for a tent over the Tabernacle (Ex. 26:7–13), and coverings of tanned ram skins and tachash skins. (Ex. 26:14.) God instructed them to make planks of acacia wood for the Tabernacle. (Ex. 26:15–25.) God instructed them to make a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, with a design of cherubim, to serve as a partition obscuring the Holy of Holies. (Ex. 26:31–33.) God instructed them to place the Ark, the table, and the lampstand in the Tabernacle. (Ex. 26:34–35.) God instructed them to make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of colored yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery and supported by five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. (Ex. 26:36–37.) God instructed them to make the altar of acacia wood overlaid with copper. (Ex. 27:1–2.) And God instructed them to make the enclosure of the Tabernacle from fine twisted linen. (Ex. 27:9–16.)

In classical rabbinic interpretation

Daniel Interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2:32 (illustration from the 1917 book Our Day in the Light of Prophecy)

Exodus chapter 25

A midrash read Exodus 25:2 to say “that they take Me as an offering” and thus to tell how God gave the Torah to Israel and said to them: “You are taking Me.” (Exodus Rabbah 33:6.)

A midrash taught that Exodus 25:3 calls for offerings of gold, silver, and brass for the construction of the Tabernacle, because gold symbolizes Babylon, of which Daniel 2:32 says, “As for that image, its head was of fine gold”; silver symbolizes the Medes, of which Daniel 2:32 says, “Its breast and its arms were of silver”; and brass refers to Greece, of which Daniel 2:32 says, “Its belly and thighs were of brass.” But the Bible makes no mention of iron in the construction either of the Tabernacle or of the Temple, because iron symbolizes Rome, which destroyed the Temple. (Exodus Rabbah 35:5.)

The Rabbis taught in a Baraita that the turquoise wool (techeilet) listed in Exodus 25:4 came from an animal called a chilazon that resembled the sea in color and a fish in shape, that appeared once every 70 years, and whose blood was used to dye the expensive blue thread. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 26a; Menachot 42b.)

The Tosefta deduced from Exodus 25:5 (and the principle that the law prohibits doing on the Sabbath all that was done to build the Tabernacle) that one who tans hides on the Sabbath violates the commandment to keep the Sabbath. (Tosefta Shabbat 8:23.)

The Tosefta taught that invalidity of either the onyx stones or the stones to be set described in Exodus 25:7 invalidated the other, and invalidity of any of the cups, knops, or flowers of the candlestick described in Exodus 25:31 invalidated the others. (Tosefta Menachot 6:11.)

The Tosefta taught that Exodus 25:8 provided the commandment that Exodus 39:43 said that Moses fulfilled. (Tosefta Menachot 7:7.)

The Mishnah described how on Yom Kippur the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) would place a fire pan between the two bars of the Ark of the Covenant described in Exodus 25:12. (Mishnah Yoma 5:1; Babylonian Talmud Yoma 52b.)

The Mishnah described details of the table envisioned in Exodus 25:23. (Mishnah Menachot 11:5–7; Babylonian Talmud Menachot 96a, 99b.) Rabbi Jose differed with the Mishnah to teach that the handbreadth-high frame described in Exodus 25:25, not props, held the showbread in place, but they interpreted the table’s rim to exist only at the feet of the table, not at its surface. (Tosefta Menachot 11:6.)

Seraph medieval

a seraph (illustration from a medieval manuscript)

The Mishnah taught that one who stole one of the sacred vessels (kisvot) described in Exodus 25:29 and Numbers 4:7 was struck down by zealots on the spot. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 9:6; Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 81b.)

Ben Zoma interpreted Exodus 25:30 to teach that the showbread had to have faces. (Mishnah Menachot 11:4; Babylonian Talmud Menachot 96a.) And the Tosefta interpreted Exodus 25:30 to teach that the table did not remain overnight without bread. (Tosefta Menachot 11:12.)

Rabbi Abin compared the instruction of Exodus 25:40 to a handsome king who instructed a servant to fashion a bust exactly like him. The servant exclaimed that he could not possibly make a likeness exactly like the king. But the king replied that the servant would paint it with his materials, but the king would appear in his own glory. Thus, when in Exodus 25:40 God told Moses “see that you make them after their pattern,” Moses complained that he was not God that he should be able to make one exactly like the pattern. God replied that Moses should follow the pattern of blue, purple, and scarlet that he saw above. The “acacia-wood, standing up” of Exodus 26:15 would reflect the Seraphim who stand above, and Rabbi Hiyya ben Abba said that the gold clasps of Exodus 26:6 would reflect the glittering stars in heaven. Thus God told Moses that if he would make below a replica of that which was above, God would cause God’s Shechinah to dwell among the people. (Exodus Rabbah 35:5.)

Exodus chapter 26

Rabban Johanan ben Zakai interpreted the word “Lebanon” in Deuteronomy 3:25 to refer to the Temple in Jerusalem and “that goodly mountain” to refer to the Temple Mount. (Babylonian Talmud Gittin 56b.) A midrash employed this understanding of “Lebanon” as the Temple to explain the role of gold in the world. Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish taught that the world did not deserve to have the use of gold. But God created gold for the sake of the Tabernacle (for example, in Exodus 26:6) and the Temple. The midrash deduced this from the use of the word “good” in both Genesis 2:12, where it says, “the gold of that land is good,” and Deuteronomy 3:25, where it says, “that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon,” concluding that the gold of the land was created for that which is good, the Temple. (Genesis Rabbah 16:2; see also Exodus Rabbah 35:1.)

Rav Ashi taught that one could derive from the term עַשְׁתֵּי-עֶשְׂרֵה, ashtei-esreih, or “eleven,” in Exodus 26:7 that one who adds to God’s word actually subtracts from it. Were one to subtract the first letter of the term, it would yield שְׁתֵּי-עֶשְׂרֵה, shtei-esreih, or “twelve,” so adding that letter reduces its meaning. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 29a.)

The Rabbis taught in a Baraita that the Tabernacle’s lower curtains were made of blue wool, purple wool, crimson wool, and fine linen, while the upper curtains that made the tent spread were made of goats’ hair. And they taught that the upper curtains required greater skill than the lower, for Exodus 35:25 says of the lower ones, “And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands,” while Exodus 35:26 says of the upper ones, “And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun the goats.” It was taught in Rabbi Nehemiah's name that the hair was washed on the goats and spun while still on the goats. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 99a.)

Rav Adda bar Ahavah said that the tachash skins mentioned in Exodus 26:14 came from an animal that lived in the days of Moses. The Gemara interpreted Rabbi Nehemiah to say that its skin had many colors. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 28a.)

Rabbi Haninah taught that the world was unworthy to have cedar trees, but God created them for the sake of the Tabernacle (for example, in the acacia-wood of Exodus 26:15) and the Temple, as Psalm 104:16 says, “The trees of the Lord have their fill, the cedars of Lebanon, which He has planted,” once again interpreting Lebanon to mean the Temple. Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman in the name of Rabbi Jonathan taught that there are 24 kinds of cedars, of which seven are especially fine, as Isaiah 41:19 says, “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia-tree, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane-tree, and the larch together.” God foresaw that the Tabernacle would be made of these trees, as Psalm 104:17 says, “Wherein the birds make their nests,” and “birds” refers to those birds that the priests offered. And when Psalm 104:17 says, “As for the stork (חֲסִידָה, hasidah), the fir-trees are her house,” the חֲסִידָה, hasidah (stork) refers to the High Priest, of whom Deuteronomy 33:8 says, “Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one (חֲסִידֶךָ, hasidekha).” (Exodus Rabbah 35:1.)

Another midrash explained that in Exodus 26:15, God chose acacia-wood — the wood of a tree that does not bear fruit — to build the Tabernacle to set an example for all time that people should not build houses with the wood of fruit-producing trees. (Exodus Rabbah 35:2.)

The Gemara deduced from the report in Exodus 26:16 of the length of the boards that both the Tabernacle and the altar were ten cubits (about 15 feet) high. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 92a.)

Rabbi Levi read Exodus 26:28, regarding “the middle bar in the midst of the boards, which shall pass through from end to end,” calculated that the beam must have been 32 cubits in length, and asked where the Israelites would find such a beam in the desert. Rabbi Levi deduced that the Israelites had stored up the cedar to construct the Tabernacle since the days of Jacob. Thus Exodus 35:24 reports, “And every man, with whom was found acacia-wood,” not “with whom would be found acacia-wood.” Rabbi Levi taught that the Israelites cut the trees down in Magdala of the Dyers near Tiberias and brought them with them to Egypt, and no knot or crack was found in them. (Genesis Rabbah 94:4.)

The Mishnah described two veils that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Second Temple, but Rabbi Jose said that there was only a single veil, as described in Exodus 26:33 in connection with the Tabernacle. (Mishnah Yoma 5:1; Tosefta Kippurim (Yoma) 2:12; Babylonian Talmud Yoma 51b.)

Exodus chapter 27

Rabbi Jose noted that even though Exodus 27:18 reported that the Tabernacle’s courtyard was just 100 cubits by 50 cubits (about 150 feet by 75 feet), a little space held a lot, as Leviticus 8:3 implied that the space miraculously held the entire Israelite people. (Genesis Rabbah 5:7.)


According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are 2 positive and 1 negative commandments in the parshah:


Solomon's Temple

(See, e.g., Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 1:27–29, 36–37; 2:84–85. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 1:355–77. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1991. ISBN 0-87306-179-9.)


The haftarah for the parshah is 1 Kings 5:26–6:13. Both the parshah and the haftarah describe a great Jewish leader’s marshalling of resources to build a dwelling place for God, the parshah in Moses’ collection of gifts to build the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:1–8), and the haftarah in Solomon’s conscription of labor and collection of timber and stone to build the Temple in Jerusalem. (Kings 5:26–31.) Both the parshah and the haftarah describe conditions for a structure where God could dwell (ve-shakhanti) among (be-tokh) the Israelites. (Ex. 25:8; Kings 5:13.)

In the liturgy

PikiWiki Israel 146 Hanukka חנוכה

Hanukkah menorah

God’s Presence in a throne between cherubim in Exodus 25:17–22 is reflected in Psalm 99:1, which is in turn one of the six Psalms recited at the beginning of the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service. (Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 19. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0916219208.)

The kindled lights of the Menorah of Exodus 25:31–40 played a key role in Hanukkah and are thus in turn noted in the Hanukkah insertion to the Modim section of the Amidah prayer in each of the three prayer services. (Hammer, at 8.)

The Weekly Maqam

In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parshah. For Parshah Terumah, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Hoseni, the maqam that expresses beauty. This is especially appropriate for this parshah because it is the parshah where the beauty of the Tabernacle and its utensils are elaborated.

Further reading

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:




Early nonrabbinic



Classical rabbinic

  • Mishnah: Yoma 5:1; Sanhedrin 9:6; Menachot 11:4–7;. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 272, 604, 757–58. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
  • Tosefta: Shabbat 8:23; Eruvin 4:9; Shekalim 3:13–14; Kippurim (Yoma) 2:12; Sanhedrin 4:8; Menachot 6:11, 7:7, 11:6, 12. 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, 1:384, 444, 535–36, 553; 2:1159, 1431, 1434–35, 1457, 1458–59. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
  • Jerusalem Talmud: Sukkah 3a–b. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vol. 22. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2008.
First page of the first tractate of the Talmud (Daf Beis of Maseches Brachos)


  • Genesis Rabbah 3:9; 5:7; 8:1; 17:6; 66:2; 80:6; 91:9; 94:4. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 1:26, 38, 54, 137; 2:601, 739, 845, 871. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Babylonian Talmud: Berakhot 30a; Shabbat 28a, 48a, 91a, 92a, 98b, 133b; Eruvin 2a–b, 4a–b, 23b, 58a; Pesachim 76b; Yoma 3b, 33b, 38a, 51b, 52b, 71b, 72b; Sukkah 4b–5b, 7b, 45b, 49a, 50b; Rosh Hashanah 31a; Chagigah 26b; Yevamot 81b; Ketubot 62b, 106a; Nedarim 38a; Bava Kamma 110b; Bava Batra 12b, 67a, 99a; Sanhedrin 7a, 16b, 22a, 29a, 39a; Makkot 15a, 22a; Shevuot 15a, 16b; Avodah Zarah 9b, 23b–24b; Zevachim 53a, 59b, 62a–b, 82b, 85b, 96a, 119b; Menachot 27b–29a, 88b, 96a, 97a, 98a–b, 99b; Chullin 133b; Bekhorot 44a; Temurah 31b; Niddah 26b. 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.


Rashi woodcut


  • Exodus Rabbah 33:1–35:6. 10th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Exodus. Translated by S. M. Lehrman, vol. 3: 414–35. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  • Solomon ibn Gabirol. A Crown for the King, 31:378. Spain, 11th Century. Translated by David R. Slavitt, 50–51. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-511962-2.
  • Rashi. Commentary. Exodus 25–27. 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, vol. 2, 319–73. 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 1:31a, 74a, 130a, 217a, 224a; 2:14b, 55a, 63a, 76a, 89b, 126a–43a, 154b, 157b, 159a, 162b, 169a, 171a, 176a, 195a, 221a, 233b, 235b, 241a; 3:4b, 126a, 192a. Spain, late 13th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 vols. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
Thomas Hobbes (portrait)



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