פָּרָשַׁת כִּי תִשָּׂא | Parashat Ki Tissa (Exodus 30:11-34:35), color-coded according to its narrative layers

According to the poetry of the Midrash Tanḥuma, Bereshit 1:1, the words of the Torah were inscribed “black fire on white fire.” For many years, I’ve wanted to look deeply into the black fire and visualize the full spectrum of the Torah’s sources, hidden within the black fire but revealed through a critical analysis of its layers of redaction. Below, I’ve set the text of the first Torah portion in the annual Torah reading cycle, using color-coding to distinguish the stratigraphic layers forming the composition of the Masoretic text according to the Supplementary Hypothesis presented by Tsemaḥ Yoreh in his Kernel to Canon series of books (2013-2017) and his website, the Sources of Biblical Narrative. As Dr. Yoreh explains,

The Supplementary Hypothesis asserts that the Pentateuch was composed by several different writers. This reflects an overwhelming academic consensus on Biblical authorship, even among scholars who do not subscribe to the Supplementary Hypothesis in particular.[….] According to the Supplementary Hypothesis, Biblical narrative is layered. No editor took a blowtorch to the parts of the Bible he disagreed with and destroyed them; if he had, we would not find these repetitions and contradictions. Instead, Biblical narrative began with a coherent, foundational bedrock, which over time accreted more and more storylines. Unlike geological processes, though, this process of addition was deliberate. What happened if one author disagreed with his predecessor’s storyline or worldview? He did not simply take an axe to the narrative; instead, he attempted to bury his predecessor’s point of view by repeating his own over and over again, thus skewing our understanding of the story in new ways. Every generation of readers sees the world differently, and thus every generation of writers seeks to adapt their predecessors’ cultural heritage to their own situation. We are not meant simply to dismiss earlier stories; rather, the intention of later writers is to transform our understanding of those stories via their additions.

⬛ The kernel of biblical text upon which all other narratives were laid is thought to have been composed in the mid- to late eighth century BCE toward the end of the heyday of the northern Kingdom of Ephraim (one of the two kingdoms that occupied Biblical Israel). This layer, commonly referred to as ‘E’, is indicated with INDIGO text. The first parashah containing text of this layer was parashat Vayera in Sefer Bereshit.

⬛ The next oldest layer is thought to have been composed in the late 8th or early 7th century BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah. This layer, commonly known as ‘J’, is indicated with a BLUE text.

⬛ This strata, thought to have been composed during the exilic to early post-exilic period (571–486 BCE) is, as Dr. Yoreh explains, “responsible for supplementing the ‘J’ narrative with dates, names, and numbers, thus ‘ordering’ and authenticating ‘J’s account.” This layer, commonly referred to as ‘P’ (for ‘Priestly’) appears here in GREEN text.

⬛ The next strata popularized Kohanite law for the remnant of Judah after the Temple was destroyed, and functioned as an intermediary between Kohanite lists and laws and the surrounding narrative. This layer, which Dr. Yoreh calls ‘H’ (for the ‘Holiness Code’) appears here in LIME-GREEN text.

⬛ The most recent layer of text, is a post-exilic (pre-3rd century BCE) text that Dr. Yoreh refers to as the “Bridger” which supplements earlier strata with genealogies and popular myths, providing narrative bridges between distant story cycles. This ‘B’ layer is presented here in FUCHSIA.

Parashat Ki Tissa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) in the annual Torah reading cycle, is read on the third shabbat of the month of Adar (or Adar Alef in a Jewish leap year). The parashah is preceded by parashat T’tsavveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10); parashat Vayaqhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20) follows it.

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

יא וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ יב כִּ֣י תִשָּׂ֞א אֶת־רֹ֥אשׁ בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ לִפְקֻדֵיהֶם֒ וְנָ֨תְנ֜וּ אִ֣ישׁ כֹּ֧פֶר נַפְשׁ֛וֹ לַיהֹוָ֖ה בִּפְקֹ֣ד אֹתָ֑ם וְלֹא־יִהְיֶ֥ה בָהֶ֛ם נֶ֖גֶף בִּפְקֹ֥ד אֹתָֽם׃ יג זֶ֣ה ׀ יִתְּנ֗וּ כׇּל־הָעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מַחֲצִ֥ית הַשֶּׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ עֶשְׂרִ֤ים גֵּרָה֙ הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל מַחֲצִ֣ית הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל תְּרוּמָ֖ה לַֽיהֹוָֽה׃ יד כֹּ֗ל הָעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מִבֶּ֛ן עֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וָמָ֑עְלָה יִתֵּ֖ן תְּרוּמַ֥ת יְהֹוָֽה׃ טו הֶֽעָשִׁ֣יר לֹֽא־יַרְבֶּ֗ה וְהַדַּל֙ לֹ֣א יַמְעִ֔יט מִֽמַּחֲצִ֖ית הַשָּׁ֑קֶל לָתֵת֙ אֶת־תְּרוּמַ֣ת יְהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶֽם׃ טז וְלָקַחְתָּ֞ אֶת־כֶּ֣סֶף הַכִּפֻּרִ֗ים מֵאֵת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְנָתַתָּ֣ אֹת֔וֹ עַל־עֲבֹדַ֖ת אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֩ לִבְנֵ֨י יִשְׂרָאֵ֤ל לְזִכָּרוֹן֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֖ר עַל־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶֽם׃
30 11 Now YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 12 “When you take up the head-count of the Children of Yisrael, in counting them, they are to give, each-man, a ransom for his life, for YHVH, when they count them, that there be no plague on them, when they count them. 13 This (is what) they are to give, everyone that goes through the counting: half a sheqel of the Holy-shrine sheqel — twenty grains to the sheqel — half a sheqel, a contribution for YHVH. 14 Everyone that goes through the counting, from the age of twenty years and upward, is to give the contribution of YHVH. 15 The rich are not to pay-more and the poor are not to pay-less than half a sheqel when giving the contribution of YHVH, to effect-ransom for your lives. 16 You are to take the silver for ransoming from the Children of Yisrael and are to give it over for the construction-service of the Ohel Mo’ed, that it may be for the Children of Yisrael as a remembrance before the presence of YHVH, to effect-ransom for your lives.”[1]Following the instructions construction of the Tabernacle and the investment of Aharon, P demands a further monetary donation from the Yisraelites, a ransom for the future census. This is quite curious considering that the two censuses in Numbers 1 and in Numbers 26 are both prescribed by God. It seems that P is closing a literary circle here, P begins the construction of the Tabernacle with a call for donations at the beginning of Exodus 25 and ends it with a call for donations, this time guaranteeing the Tabernacle’s financial viability.

יז וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ יח וְעָשִׂ֜יתָ כִּיּ֥וֹר נְחֹ֛שֶׁת וְכַנּ֥וֹ נְחֹ֖שֶׁת לְרׇחְצָ֑ה וְנָתַתָּ֣ אֹת֗וֹ בֵּֽין־אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ וּבֵ֣ין הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ וְנָתַתָּ֥ שָׁ֖מָּה מָֽיִם׃ יט וְרָחֲצ֛וּ אַהֲרֹ֥ן וּבָנָ֖יו מִמֶּ֑נּוּ אֶת־יְדֵיהֶ֖ם וְאֶת־רַגְלֵיהֶֽם׃ כ בְּבֹאָ֞ם אֶל־אֹ֧הֶל מוֹעֵ֛ד יִרְחֲצוּ־מַ֖יִם וְלֹ֣א יָמֻ֑תוּ א֣וֹ בְגִשְׁתָּ֤ם אֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֙חַ֙ לְשָׁרֵ֔ת לְהַקְטִ֥יר אִשֶּׁ֖ה לַֽיהֹוָֽה׃ כא וְרָחֲצ֛וּ יְדֵיהֶ֥ם וְרַגְלֵיהֶ֖ם וְלֹ֣א יָמֻ֑תוּ וְהָיְתָ֨ה לָהֶ֧ם חׇק־עוֹלָ֛ם ל֥וֹ וּלְזַרְע֖וֹ לְדֹרֹתָֽם׃
17 Now YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 18 “You are to make a Kiyor/Basin of N’ḥōshet/bronze, its Khan/pedestal of bronze, for washing, and you are to put it between the Ohel Mo’ed and the Mizbe’aḥ; you are to put water therein, 19 that Aharon and his sons may wash with it their hands and their feet. 20 When they come into the Ohel Mo’ed they are to wash with water so that they do not die, or when they approach the Mizbe’aḥ, to be-in-attendance, to send up fire-offerings in smoke for YHVH, 21 they are to wash their hands and their feet, so that they do not die. It is to be for them a law for the ages, for him and for his sons, throughout their generations.”[2]There are a number of reasons to posit that this is a further H addition to the text. A second cultic object (the basin) is mentioned here, once again out of place (the construction of cultic objects was dealt with in Chapter 25), and see the penultimate comment in T’tsavveh. Moreover, Aharon’s sons are mentioned here (in vss. 19-21) and it is quite clear that they were an addition to Chapters 28-29, as part of H’s general tendency to apply Priestly laws to the cult of subsequent generations. This is further emphasized by H’s statement that this ordinance to wash is a perpetual statute, a phrase which is a linguistic/ideological marker of this source.

The connection between the H additions to this chapter and Numbers 16-17 (Korach and the offering of the incense) is solidified here by mentioning that anybody who doesn’t properly approach YHVH is liable to be killed: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die: and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.


כב וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ כג וְאַתָּ֣ה קַח־לְךָ֮ בְּשָׂמִ֣ים רֹאשׁ֒ מׇר־דְּרוֹר֙ חֲמֵ֣שׁ מֵא֔וֹת וְקִנְּמׇן־בֶּ֥שֶׂם מַחֲצִית֖וֹ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים וּמָאתָ֑יִם וּקְנֵה־בֹ֖שֶׂם חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים וּמָאתָֽיִם׃ כד וְקִדָּ֕ה חֲמֵ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וְשֶׁ֥מֶן זַ֖יִת הִֽין׃ כה וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ אֹת֗וֹ שֶׁ֚מֶן מִשְׁחַת־קֹ֔דֶשׁ רֹ֥קַח מִרְקַ֖חַת מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה רֹקֵ֑חַ שֶׁ֥מֶן מִשְׁחַת־קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִהְיֶֽה׃ כו וּמָשַׁחְתָּ֥ ב֖וֹ אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְאֵ֖ת אֲר֥וֹן הָעֵדֻֽת׃ כז וְאֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ וְאֶת־כׇּל־כֵּלָ֔יו וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָ֖ה וְאֶת־כֵּלֶ֑יהָ וְאֵ֖ת מִזְבַּ֥ח הַקְּטֹֽרֶת׃ כח וְאֶת־מִזְבַּ֥ח הָעֹלָ֖ה וְאֶת־כׇּל־כֵּלָ֑יו וְאֶת־הַכִּיֹּ֖ר וְאֶת־כַּנּֽוֹ׃ כט וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ֣ אֹתָ֔ם וְהָי֖וּ קֹ֣דֶשׁ קׇֽדָשִׁ֑ים כׇּל־הַנֹּגֵ֥עַ בָּהֶ֖ם יִקְדָּֽשׁ׃ ל וְאֶת־אַהֲרֹ֥ן וְאֶת־בָּנָ֖יו תִּמְשָׁ֑ח וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ֥ אֹתָ֖ם לְכַהֵ֥ן לִֽי׃ לא וְאֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תְּדַבֵּ֣ר לֵאמֹ֑ר שֶׁ֠מֶן מִשְׁחַת־קֹ֨דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֥ה זֶ֛ה לִ֖י לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶֽם׃ לב עַל־בְּשַׂ֤ר אָדָם֙ לֹ֣א יִיסָ֔ךְ וּ֨בְמַתְכֻּנְתּ֔וֹ לֹ֥א תַעֲשׂ֖וּ כָּמֹ֑הוּ קֹ֣דֶשׁ ה֔וּא קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶֽם׃ לג אִ֚ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִרְקַ֣ח כָּמֹ֔הוּ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר יִתֵּ֛ן מִמֶּ֖נּוּ עַל־זָ֑ר וְנִכְרַ֖ת מֵעַמָּֽיו׃
22 Now YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 23 “And as for you, take you fragrant-spices, essence, streaming-myrrh, five hundred, cinnamon-spice, half as much — fifty and two hundred, fragrant-cane, fifty and two hundred, 24 and cassia, five hundred by the Holy-shrine sheqel, as well as olive oil, a hin, 25 and you are to make (from) it anointing oil of holiness, perfume from the perfume-mixture, of perfumer’s making; anointing oil of holiness is it to be. 26 You are to anoint with it the Ohel Mo’ed and the Arōn ha’Edut 27 and the Shulḥan and all its implements, and the Menorah and all its implements[3]The construction of the Tabernacle and investment of Aharon is concluded. The preparation of the anointment oil marks the beginning of the consecration of the Tabernacle and of Aharon, which is interrupted by the Sin of the Golden Calf. and the Mizbe’aḥ haQetoret/incense-smoke offerings[4]An H addition to the cultic furniture of the Tabernacle, and see the penultimate comment in T’tsavveh. 28 and the Mizbe’aḥ ha’Olah and all its implements[5]Vss. 27 and 28 are parallel in P, a major piece of furniture is mentioned and then its accessories: “30:27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, 30:28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils.” and the Kiyor and its pedestal.[6]Another H addition to the cultic furniture of the Tabernacle, and see penultimate comment in T’tsavveh and the first comment above. 29 You are to hallow them that they may become holiest holiness, whatever touches them shall become-holy.[7]P’s statement that these cultic objects are holy are sufficient for this source. It is H who bolsters this statement with the threat of punishment (vs. 33). This pattern recurs many times throughout P and H, and compare for example P’s incest prohibitions in Leviticus 18 with H’s incest prohibitions in Leviticus 20 which add the threat of capital punishment to each of the laws. 30 And Aharon and his sons you are to anoint, you are to hallow them to be-priests for me. 31 And to the Children of Yisrael you are to speak, saying: ‘Anointing oil of holiness this is to be for me throughout your generations. 32 On any (other) human body it is not to be poured out; in its (exact) proportion, you are not to make any like it — holiness is it, holiness it shall remain for you. 33 Any man who mixes-perfumes like it or who puts any of it on an outsider is to be cut off from his kinspeople!'”

לד וַיֹּ֩אמֶר֩ יְהֹוָ֨ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֜ה קַח־לְךָ֣ סַמִּ֗ים נָטָ֤ף ׀ וּשְׁחֵ֙לֶת֙ וְחֶלְבְּנָ֔ה סַמִּ֖ים וּלְבֹנָ֣ה זַכָּ֑ה בַּ֥ד בְּבַ֖ד יִהְיֶֽה׃ לה וְעָשִׂ֤יתָ אֹתָהּ֙ קְטֹ֔רֶת רֹ֖קַח מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה רוֹקֵ֑חַ מְמֻלָּ֖ח טָה֥וֹר קֹֽדֶשׁ׃ לו וְשָֽׁחַקְתָּ֣ מִמֶּ֘נָּה֮ הָדֵק֒ וְנָתַתָּ֨ה מִמֶּ֜נָּה לִפְנֵ֤י הָעֵדֻת֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֛ר אִוָּעֵ֥ד לְךָ֖ שָׁ֑מָּה קֹ֥דֶשׁ קׇֽדָשִׁ֖ים תִּהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶֽם׃ לז וְהַקְּטֹ֙רֶת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה בְּמַ֨תְכֻּנְתָּ֔הּ לֹ֥א תַעֲשׂ֖וּ לָכֶ֑ם קֹ֛דֶשׁ תִּהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֖ לַיהֹוָֽה׃ לח אִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה כָמ֖וֹהָ לְהָרִ֣יחַ בָּ֑הּ וְנִכְרַ֖ת מֵעַמָּֽיו׃
34 Now YHVH said to Mosheh: “Take you fragrant-spices, drop-gum, onycha, and galbanum, (these) fragrances and clear incense; part equaling part are they to be. 35 You are to make (with) it smoking-incense, perfume, of perfumer’s making, salted, pure-holy. 36 You are to beat some of it into fine-powder and are to put some of it in front of the Edut in the Ohel Mo’ed, where I will appoint-meeting with you; holiest holiness it is to be for you. 37 As for the smoking-incense that you make, you are not to make any for yourselves in its (exact) proportion; holiness shall it be for you, for YHVH. 38 Any man that makes any like it to savor it is to be cut off from his kinspeople!”[8]See the penultimate comment in T’tsavveh. Note also that the command to prepare incense is parallel to the command to prepare holy anointment oil. This parallelism is bolstered by the H additions to the preparation of the anointment oil commanding in vss. 31-33 (separated from the body of the law, by a command formulation in vs. 31), which prohibit its duplication. This is then echoed in vss. 37-38 regarding the incense.

לא א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ ב רְאֵ֖ה קָרָ֣אתִֽי בְשֵׁ֑ם בְּצַלְאֵ֛ל בֶּן־אוּרִ֥י בֶן־ח֖וּר לְמַטֵּ֥ה יְהוּדָֽה׃ ג וָאֲמַלֵּ֥א אֹת֖וֹ ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֑ים בְּחׇכְמָ֛ה וּבִתְבוּנָ֥ה וּבְדַ֖עַת וּבְכׇל־מְלָאכָֽה׃ ד לַחְשֹׁ֖ב מַחֲשָׁבֹ֑ת לַעֲשׂ֛וֹת בַּזָּהָ֥ב וּבַכֶּ֖סֶף וּבַנְּחֹֽשֶׁת׃ ה וּבַחֲרֹ֥שֶׁת אֶ֛בֶן לְמַלֹּ֖את וּבַחֲרֹ֣שֶׁת עֵ֑ץ לַעֲשׂ֖וֹת בְּכׇל־מְלָאכָֽה׃ ו וַאֲנִ֞י הִנֵּ֧ה נָתַ֣תִּי אִתּ֗וֹ אֵ֣ת אׇהֳלִיאָ֞ב בֶּן־אֲחִֽיסָמָךְ֙ לְמַטֵּה־דָ֔ן וּבְלֵ֥ב כׇּל־חֲכַם־לֵ֖ב נָתַ֣תִּי חׇכְמָ֑ה וְעָשׂ֕וּ אֵ֖ת כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתִֽךָ׃ ז אֵ֣ת ׀ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֗ד וְאֶת־הָֽאָרֹן֙ לָֽעֵדֻ֔ת וְאֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֖רֶת אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלָ֑יו וְאֵ֖ת כׇּל־כְּלֵ֥י הָאֹֽהֶל׃ ח וְאֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ וְאֶת־כֵּלָ֔יו וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָ֥ה הַטְּהֹרָ֖ה וְאֶת־כׇּל־כֵּלֶ֑יהָ וְאֵ֖ת מִזְבַּ֥ח הַקְּטֹֽרֶת׃ ט וְאֶת־מִזְבַּ֥ח הָעֹלָ֖ה וְאֶת־כׇּל־כֵּלָ֑יו וְאֶת־הַכִּיּ֖וֹר וְאֶת־כַּנּֽוֹ׃ י וְאֵ֖ת בִּגְדֵ֣י הַשְּׂרָ֑ד וְאֶת־בִּגְדֵ֤י הַקֹּ֙דֶשׁ֙ לְאַהֲרֹ֣ן הַכֹּהֵ֔ן וְאֶת־בִּגְדֵ֥י בָנָ֖יו לְכַהֵֽן׃ יא וְאֵ֨ת שֶׁ֧מֶן הַמִּשְׁחָ֛ה וְאֶת־קְטֹ֥רֶת הַסַּמִּ֖ים לַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוִּיתִ֖ךָ יַעֲשֽׂוּ׃
31 1 Now YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying: 2 “See, I have called by name Betsalel son of Uri, son of Ḥur, of the tribe of Yehudah. 3 I have filled him with the Ru’aḥ Elohim in practical-wisdom, discernment, and knowledge in all kinds of workmanship, 4 to design designs, to make them in gold, in silver and in bronze, 5 in the cutting of stones for setting and in the cutting of wood, to make them through all kinds of workmanship. 6 And I, here I give (to be) with him[9]According to P, the overseer of construction of the Tabernacle was a Judean, which serves to accentuate Judah’s dominance among the tribes according to this source. Note that the command for overseeing is given in the singular, implying that Oholiav of Dan was added by H at a later stage. Oholiav son of Aḥisamakh, of the tribe of Dan;[10]Oholiav the Dannite (Dan was the son of Rachel’s handmaiden) was added as a joint overseer with Betsalel, so as to create a more democratic overseeing committee. Note that according to H, in I Kings 7:13 Chiram was from the tribe of Naphtali. in the mind of all those wise of mind I place wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded you:[11]Since the vessels and vestments were just mentioned at length in the previous chapters, it stands to reason that their repetition here may very well be an addition, serving to inculcate H’s elaboration of the cultic objects, namely the incense altar and the basin, the construction of which was commanded in Chapter 30. 7 the Ohel Mo’ed and the Arōn ha’Edut and the Kaporet that is over it and all the implements of the Ohel/Tent 8 and the Shulḥan and all its implements and the pure Menorah and all its implements and the Mizbe’aḥ haQetoret 9 and the Mizbe’aḥ ha’Olah and all its implements and the Kiyor and its pedestal, 10 and the officiating garments and the garments of holiness for Aharon the priest and the garments of his sons for being-priests 11 and oil for anointing and fragrant smoke for the holy-offerings — according to all that I have commanded you, they are to make.”

יב וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ יג וְאַתָּ֞ה דַּבֵּ֨ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר אַ֥ךְ אֶת־שַׁבְּתֹתַ֖י תִּשְׁמֹ֑רוּ כִּי֩ א֨וֹת הִ֜וא בֵּינִ֤י וּבֵֽינֵיכֶם֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם לָדַ֕עַת כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָ֖ה מְקַדִּשְׁכֶֽם׃ יד וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת כִּ֛י קֹ֥דֶשׁ הִ֖וא לָכֶ֑ם מְחַֽלְלֶ֙יהָ֙ מ֣וֹת יוּמָ֔ת כִּ֗י כׇּל־הָעֹשֶׂ֥ה בָהּ֙ מְלָאכָ֔ה וְנִכְרְתָ֛ה הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַהִ֖וא מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמֶּֽיהָ׃ טו שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִים֮ יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י שַׁבַּ֧ת שַׁבָּת֛וֹן קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַיהֹוָ֑ה כׇּל־הָעֹשֶׂ֧ה מְלָאכָ֛ה בְּי֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת׃ טז וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַעֲשׂ֧וֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃ יז בֵּינִ֗י וּבֵין֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל א֥וֹת הִ֖וא לְעֹלָ֑ם כִּי־שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים עָשָׂ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י שָׁבַ֖ת וַיִּנָּפַֽשׁ׃
12 Now YHVH said to Mosheh: 13 “And you, speak to the Children of Yisrael, saying: However: my Shabbatot you are to keep! For it is a sign between me and you, throughout your generations, to know that I, YHVH, hallow you. 14 You are to keep the Shabbat, for it is holiness for you, whoever profanes it is to be put-to-death, yes, death! For whoever makes work on it — that person is to be cut off from among his kinspeople. 15 For six days is work to be made, but on the seventh day (is) Shabbat, Shabbat-ceasing, holiness for YHVH, whoever makes work on the Shabbat day is to be put-to-death, yes, death! 16 The Children of Yisrael are to keep the Shabbat, to make the Shabbat-observance throughout their generations as a covenant for the ages; 17 between me and the Children of Yisrael a sign it is, for the ages, for in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he ceased and paused-for-breath.”[12]H ends the instructions on how to build the Tabernacle, with a commandment to observe the Shabbat. He then begins the actual construction of the Tabernacle at the beginning of Exodus 35 with a parallel command. The commandments are phrased in a typical H fashion, emphasizing that those who don’t observe the Shabbat shall be put to death. It seems that H is juxtaposing between the very exclusive cult enacted in the Tabernacle and the very democratic cult of Shabbat that involves all the Yisraelites.

שני יח וַיִּתֵּ֣ן אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה כְּכַלֹּתוֹ֙ לְדַבֵּ֤ר אִתּוֹ֙ בְּהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י שְׁנֵ֖י לֻחֹ֣ת הָעֵדֻ֑ת לֻחֹ֣ת אֶ֔בֶן כְּתֻבִ֖ים בְּאֶצְבַּ֥ע אֱלֹהִֽים׃
18 Now he gave to Mosheh when he had finished speaking with him on Har Sinai the two Luḥot ha’Edut/Stelae of Testimony, luḥot of stone, written by the finger of Elohim.[13]This verse functions as a Priestly lead in to the Sin of the Golden Calf, the composition of which is restricted mainly to E and J. The sin of the Golden Calf is very problematic for P, since it portrays Aharon as a sinner and the Levites as the heroes. Numbers 16-19, does its best to fix that impression.

לב א וַיַּ֣רְא הָעָ֔ם כִּֽי־בֹשֵׁ֥שׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה לָרֶ֣דֶת מִן־הָהָ֑ר וַיִּקָּהֵ֨ל הָעָ֜ם עַֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ אֵלָיו֙ ק֣וּם ׀ עֲשֵׂה־לָ֣נוּ אֱלֹהִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר יֵֽלְכוּ֙ לְפָנֵ֔ינוּ כִּי־זֶ֣ה ׀ מֹשֶׁ֣ה הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֶֽעֱלָ֙נוּ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לֹ֥א יָדַ֖עְנוּ מֶה־הָ֥יָה לֽוֹ׃ ב וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵהֶם֙ אַהֲרֹ֔ן פָּֽרְקוּ֙ נִזְמֵ֣י הַזָּהָ֔ב אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּאׇזְנֵ֣י נְשֵׁיכֶ֔ם בְּנֵיכֶ֖ם וּבְנֹתֵיכֶ֑ם וְהָבִ֖יאוּ אֵלָֽי׃ ג וַיִּתְפָּֽרְקוּ֙ כׇּל־הָעָ֔ם אֶת־נִזְמֵ֥י הַזָּהָ֖ב אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּאׇזְנֵיהֶ֑ם וַיָּבִ֖יאוּ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹֽן׃ ד וַיִּקַּ֣ח מִיָּדָ֗ם וַיָּ֤צַר אֹתוֹ֙ בַּחֶ֔רֶט וַֽיַּעֲשֵׂ֖הוּ עֵ֣גֶל מַסֵּכָ֑ה וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ אֵ֤לֶּה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶעֱל֖וּךָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ ה וַיַּ֣רְא אַהֲרֹ֔ן וַיִּ֥בֶן מִזְבֵּ֖חַ לְפָנָ֑יו וַיִּקְרָ֤א אַֽהֲרֹן֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר חַ֥ג לַיהֹוָ֖ה מָחָֽר׃ ו וַיַּשְׁכִּ֙ימוּ֙ מִֽמׇּחֳרָ֔ת וַיַּעֲל֣וּ עֹלֹ֔ת וַיַּגִּ֖שׁוּ שְׁלָמִ֑ים וַיֵּ֤שֶׁב הָעָם֙ לֶֽאֱכֹ֣ל וְשָׁת֔וֹ וַיָּקֻ֖מוּ לְצַחֵֽק׃
32 1 Now when the people saw that Mosheh was shamefully-late in coming down from the mountain, the people assembled against Aharon and said to him: “Arise, make us an elohim who will go before us, for this Mosheh, the man who brought us up from the land of Mitsrayim, we do not know what has become of him!” 2 Aharon said to them: “Break off the gold rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring (them) to me.” 3 All the people broke off the gold rings that were in their ears, and brought (them) to Aharon. 4 He took (them) from their hand, fashioned it with a graving-tool, and made it into a molten calf. Then they said: “This is your elo’ah, O Yisrael, who brought you up from the land of Mitsrayim!”[14]Moses did not tell the people when he was planning to come down and thus they were apprehensive, despite the provisional leadership he’d installed according to E’s Exodus 24:13-14. The golden calf is, of course, reminiscent of the northern calves installed by Jeroboam I in the North (according to I Kings 12:25-33), as representational of the divine steeds. It is clear that E (like the Northern Hosea) is explicitly critical of this practice, and claims that the Yisraelites worshipped the calf as if it were the God. 5 When Aharon saw (this), he built a Mizbe’aḥ before it, and Aharon called out and said: “Tomorrow is a festival to YHVH!”[15]J interprets the Calf as a representation of YHVH, and thus the Yisraelites sin was not one of belief in other gods – but of representing YHVH in concrete form (and compare J’s Exodus 20:20). Note that Aharon is the vehicle of the Yisraelite sin, thus undermining his leadership – only YHVH leads the Yisraelites according to J. 6 They (started) early on the morrow, offered offerings-up and brought shalom-offerings; the people sat down to eat and drink and proceeded to revel.[16]In the E version Moses’ comes down the mountain right after receiving the tablets. Moses’ intercession, and foreknowledge of Yisrael’s sin is not apparent in E’s 32:15-20, Moses only gets angry after he comes down the mountain and sees the calf.

ז וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה לֶךְ־רֵ֕ד כִּ֚י שִׁחֵ֣ת עַמְּךָ֔ אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶעֱלֵ֖יתָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ ח סָ֣רוּ מַהֵ֗ר מִן־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתִ֔ם עָשׂ֣וּ לָהֶ֔ם עֵ֖גֶל מַסֵּכָ֑ה וַיִּשְׁתַּֽחֲווּ־לוֹ֙ וַיִּזְבְּחוּ־ל֔וֹ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ אֵ֤לֶּה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶֽעֱל֖וּךָ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃ ט וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹ֖רֶף הֽוּא׃ י וְעַתָּה֙ הַנִּ֣יחָה לִּ֔י וְיִֽחַר־אַפִּ֥י בָהֶ֖ם וַאֲכַלֵּ֑ם וְאֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה אוֹתְךָ֖ לְג֥וֹי גָּדֽוֹל׃
7 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Go, down! for your people whom you brought up from the land of Mitsrayim has wrought ruin! 8 They have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them, they have made themselves a molten calf, they have bowed to it, they have slaughtered-offerings to it, and they have said: ‘This is your elo’ah, O Yisrael, who brought you up from the land of Mitsrayim!'” 9 And YHVH said to Mosheh: “I see this people — and here, it is a hard-necked people! 10 So now, let me be, that my anger may flare against them and I may destroy them — but you I will make into a great nation!”

יא וַיְחַ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־פְּנֵ֖י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֑יו וַיֹּ֗אמֶר לָמָ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ יֶחֱרֶ֤ה אַפְּךָ֙ בְּעַמֶּ֔ךָ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הוֹצֵ֙אתָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּכֹ֥חַ גָּד֖וֹל וּבְיָ֥ד חֲזָקָֽה׃ יב לָ֩מָּה֩ יֹאמְר֨וּ מִצְרַ֜יִם לֵאמֹ֗ר בְּרָעָ֤ה הֽוֹצִיאָם֙ לַהֲרֹ֤ג אֹתָם֙ בֶּֽהָרִ֔ים וּ֨לְכַלֹּתָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֑ה שׁ֚וּב מֵחֲר֣וֹן אַפֶּ֔ךָ וְהִנָּחֵ֥ם עַל־הָרָעָ֖ה לְעַמֶּֽךָ׃ יג זְכֹ֡ר לְאַבְרָהָם֩ לְיִצְחָ֨ק וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל עֲבָדֶ֗יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֣עְתָּ לָהֶם֮ בָּךְ֒ וַתְּדַבֵּ֣ר אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אַרְבֶּה֙ אֶֽת־זַרְעֲכֶ֔ם כְּכוֹכְבֵ֖י הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וְכׇל־הָאָ֨רֶץ הַזֹּ֜את אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָמַ֗רְתִּי אֶתֵּן֙ לְזַרְעֲכֶ֔ם וְנָחֲל֖וּ לְעֹלָֽם׃ יד וַיִּנָּ֖חֶם יְהֹוָ֑ה עַל־הָ֣רָעָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבֶּ֖ר לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת לְעַמּֽוֹ׃
11 Mosheh soothed the face of YHVH his elo’ah, he said: “For-what-reason, O YHVH, should your anger flare against your people whom you brought out of the land of Mitsrayim with great power, with a strong hand? 12 For-what-reason should the Mitsrim (be able to) say, yes, say: ‘With evil intent he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains, to destroy them from the face of the fertile-ground?’ Turn away from your flaming anger, be sorry for the evil (intended) against your people! 13 Recall Avraham, Yitsḥaq and Yisrael your servants, to whom you swore by yourself when you spoke to them: ‘I will make your seed many as the stars of the heavens, and all this land which I have promised, I will give to your seed, that they may inherit (it) for the ages!'” 14 And YHVH let himself be sorry concerning the evil that he had spoken of doing to his people.[17]Note the typical J concern for YHVH’s standing among the nations which Moses uses to convince YHVH not to destroy the Yisraelites.

טו וַיִּ֜פֶן וַיֵּ֤רֶד מֹשֶׁה֙ מִן־הָהָ֔ר וּשְׁנֵ֛י לֻחֹ֥ת הָעֵדֻ֖ת בְּיָד֑וֹ לֻחֹ֗ת כְּתֻבִים֙ מִשְּׁנֵ֣י עֶבְרֵיהֶ֔ם מִזֶּ֥ה וּמִזֶּ֖ה הֵ֥ם כְּתֻבִֽים׃ טז וְהַ֨לֻּחֹ֔ת מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים הֵ֑מָּה וְהַמִּכְתָּ֗ב מִכְתַּ֤ב אֱלֹהִים֙ ה֔וּא חָר֖וּת עַל־הַלֻּחֹֽת׃ יז וַיִּשְׁמַ֧ע יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶת־ק֥וֹל הָעָ֖ם בְּרֵעֹ֑ה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה ק֥וֹל מִלְחָמָ֖ה בַּֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ יח וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֵ֥ין קוֹל֙ עֲנ֣וֹת גְּבוּרָ֔ה וְאֵ֥ין ק֖וֹל עֲנ֣וֹת חֲלוּשָׁ֑ה ק֣וֹל עַנּ֔וֹת אָנֹכִ֖י שֹׁמֵֽעַ׃ יט וַֽיְהִ֗י כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר קָרַב֙ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיַּ֥רְא אֶת־הָעֵ֖גֶל וּמְחֹלֹ֑ת וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֣ף מֹשֶׁ֗ה וַיַּשְׁלֵ֤ךְ מִיָּדָו֙ אֶת־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת וַיְשַׁבֵּ֥ר אֹתָ֖ם תַּ֥חַת הָהָֽר׃ כ וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶת־הָעֵ֨גֶל אֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשׂוּ֙ וַיִּשְׂרֹ֣ף בָּאֵ֔שׁ וַיִּטְחַ֖ן עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁר־דָּ֑ק וַיִּ֙זֶר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הַמַּ֔יִם וַיַּ֖שְׁקְ אֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
15 Now Mosheh faced about to come down from the mountain, the two Luḥot[18]Moses descends the Mountain with the Commandments preparing to present them to the Yisraelites – in E he still does not know that the Yisraelites have sinned. ha’Edut[19]A probable Priestly insert, since only in this source and in the later H are the tablets referred to as such – in E no covenantal ceremony between the Yisraelites and God is explicitly enacted. in his hand, luḥot written on both their sides, on this-one, on that-one they were written; 16 and the luḥot were Elohim’s making, and the writing was Elohim’s writing, engraved upon the luḥot. 17 Now when Yehoshua heard the sound of the people as it shouted, he said to Mosheh: “The sound of war is in the camp!” 18 But he said: “Not the sound of the song of prevailing, not the sound of the song of failing, sound of choral-song is what I hear!” 19 And it was, when he neared the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Mosheh’s anger flared up, he threw the luḥot from his hands and smashed them beneath the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it up until it was thin-powder, strewed it on the surface of the water and made the Children of Yisrael drink it.[20]This is the only punishment recorded in the E source. Perhaps a physical representation of God, is not as serious to this author, coming from Northern Yisrael with its golden calves. Ultimately the guiding tenet of this source was not abrogated in any way. The Yisraelites still feared God, they just didn’t do it in the right way.

כא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן מֶֽה־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּֽי־הֵבֵ֥אתָ עָלָ֖יו חֲטָאָ֥ה גְדֹלָֽה׃ כב וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אַהֲרֹ֔ן אַל־יִ֥חַר אַ֖ף אֲדֹנִ֑י אַתָּה֙ יָדַ֣עְתָּ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י בְרָ֖ע הֽוּא׃ כג וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ לִ֔י עֲשֵׂה־לָ֣נוּ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֵלְכ֖וּ לְפָנֵ֑ינוּ כִּי־זֶ֣ה ׀ מֹשֶׁ֣ה הָאִ֗ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֶֽעֱלָ֙נוּ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לֹ֥א יָדַ֖עְנוּ מֶה־הָ֥יָה לֽוֹ׃ כד וָאֹמַ֤ר לָהֶם֙ לְמִ֣י זָהָ֔ב הִתְפָּרָ֖קוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ־לִ֑י וָאַשְׁלִכֵ֣הוּ בָאֵ֔שׁ וַיֵּצֵ֖א הָעֵ֥גֶל הַזֶּֽה׃ כה וַיַּ֤רְא מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י פָרֻ֖עַ ה֑וּא כִּֽי־פְרָעֹ֣ה אַהֲרֹ֔ן לְשִׁמְצָ֖ה בְּקָמֵיהֶֽם׃ כו וַיַּעֲמֹ֤ד מֹשֶׁה֙ בְּשַׁ֣עַר הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מִ֥י לַיהֹוָ֖ה אֵלָ֑י וַיֵּאָסְפ֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו כׇּל־בְּנֵ֥י לֵוִֽי׃ כז וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם כֹּֽה־אָמַ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל שִׂ֥ימוּ אִישׁ־חַרְבּ֖וֹ עַל־יְרֵכ֑וֹ עִבְר֨וּ וָשׁ֜וּבוּ מִשַּׁ֤עַר לָשַׁ֙עַר֙ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְהִרְג֧וּ אִֽישׁ־אֶת־אָחִ֛יו וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵ֖הוּ וְאִ֥ישׁ אֶת־קְרֹבֽוֹ׃
21 Then Mosheh said to Aharon: “What did this people do to you that you have brought upon it (such) a great sin!” 22 Aharon said: “Let not my lord’s anger flare up! You yourself know this people, how set-on-evil it is. 23 They said to me: ‘Make us an elohim who will go before us, for this Mosheh, the man who brought us up from the land of Mitsrayim, we do not know what has become of him!’ 24 So I said to them: ‘Who has gold?’ They broke it off and gave it to me, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” 25 Now when Mosheh saw the people: that it had gotten-loose, for Aharon had let-it-loose for whispering among their foes, 26 Mosheh took-up-a-stand at the gate of the camp and said: “Whoever is for YHVH — to me!” And there gathered to him all the Sons of Levi. 27 He said to them: “Thus says YHVH, the elo’ah of Yisrael: “Put every-man his sword on his thigh, proceed and go back-and-forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every-man his brother, every-man his neighbor, every-man his relative!”

כח וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ בְנֵֽי־לֵוִ֖י כִּדְבַ֣ר מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיִּפֹּ֤ל מִן־הָעָם֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא כִּשְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת אַלְפֵ֖י אִֽישׁ׃ כט וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֗ה מִלְא֨וּ יֶדְכֶ֤ם הַיּוֹם֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה כִּ֛י אִ֥ישׁ בִּבְנ֖וֹ וּבְאָחִ֑יו וְלָתֵ֧ת עֲלֵיכֶ֛ם הַיּ֖וֹם בְּרָכָֽה׃ ל וַיְהִי֙ מִֽמׇּחֳרָ֔ת וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־הָעָ֔ם אַתֶּ֥ם חֲטָאתֶ֖ם חֲטָאָ֣ה גְדֹלָ֑ה וְעַתָּה֙ אֶֽעֱלֶ֣ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֔ה אוּלַ֥י אֲכַפְּרָ֖ה בְּעַ֥ד חַטַּאתְכֶֽם׃ לא וַיָּ֧שׇׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֖ה וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אָ֣נָּ֗א חָטָ֞א הָעָ֤ם הַזֶּה֙ חֲטָאָ֣ה גְדֹלָ֔ה וַיַּֽעֲשׂ֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י זָהָֽב׃ לב וְעַתָּ֖ה אִם־תִּשָּׂ֣א חַטָּאתָ֑ם וְאִם־אַ֕יִן מְחֵ֣נִי נָ֔א מִֽסִּפְרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתָֽבְתָּ׃ לג וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה מִ֚י אֲשֶׁ֣ר חָֽטָא־לִ֔י אֶמְחֶ֖נּוּ מִסִּפְרִֽי׃ לד וְעַתָּ֞ה לֵ֣ךְ ׀ נְחֵ֣ה אֶת־הָעָ֗ם אֶ֤ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּ֙רְתִּי֙ לָ֔ךְ הִנֵּ֥ה מַלְאָכִ֖י יֵלֵ֣ךְ לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וּבְי֣וֹם פׇּקְדִ֔י וּפָקַדְתִּ֥י עֲלֵהֶ֖ם חַטָּאתָֽם׃ לה וַיִּגֹּ֥ף יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־הָעָ֑ם עַ֚ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשׂ֣וּ אֶת־הָעֵ֔גֶל אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָׂ֖ה אַהֲרֹֽן׃
28 The Sons of Levi did according to Mosheh’s words. And there fell of the people on that day some three thousand men. 29 Mosheh said: “Be-mandated to YHVH today, even though it be every-man at the cost of his son, at the cost of his brother, to bestow blessing upon you today.” 30 It was on the morrow, Mosheh said to the people: “You, you have sinned a great sin! So now, I will go up to YHVH, perhaps I may be able to purge away your sin.” 31 Mosheh returned to YHVH and said: “Ah now, this people has sinned a great sin, they have made themselves elohim of gold! 32 So now, if you would only bear their sin — ! But if not, pray blot me out of the record that you have written!” 33 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Whoever sins against me, I blot him (alone) out of my record. 34 So now, go, lead the people to where I have spoken to you. Here, my messenger will go before you, but on the day of my calling-to-account, I will call-them-to-account for their sin!” 35 And YHVH plagued the people because they made the calf that Aharon made.[21]In J, the Yisraelites’ punishment is more severe – and consists of killing the sinners, plaguing the Yisraelites in general, and YHVH’s refusal to lead them himself (thus appointing an angel in His stead – 33:1-7). These multiple punishments emphasize the seriousness of the sin according to J.

לג א וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה֙ לֵ֣ךְ עֲלֵ֣ה מִזֶּ֔ה אַתָּ֣ה וְהָעָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֶֽעֱלִ֖יתָ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נִ֠שְׁבַּ֠עְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָ֨ם לְיִצְחָ֤ק וּֽלְיַעֲקֹב֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לְזַרְעֲךָ֖ אֶתְּנֶֽנָּה׃ ב וְשָׁלַחְתִּ֥י לְפָנֶ֖יךָ מַלְאָ֑ךְ וְגֵֽרַשְׁתִּ֗י אֶת־הַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ הָֽאֱמֹרִ֔י וְהַֽחִתִּי֙ וְהַפְּרִזִּ֔י הַחִוִּ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִֽי׃ ג אֶל־אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָ֑שׁ כִּי֩ לֹ֨א אֶֽעֱלֶ֜ה בְּקִרְבְּךָ֗ כִּ֤י עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹ֙רֶף֙ אַ֔תָּה פֶּן־אֲכֶלְךָ֖ בַּדָּֽרֶךְ׃
33 1 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Go, up from here, you and the people that you brought up from the land of Mitsrayim, to the land of which I swore to Avraham, to Yitsḥaq, and to Yaaqov, saying: ‘I will give it to your seed. 2 I will send a messenger before you and will drive out the K’naani, the Emori and the Ḥitti and the P’rizzi, the Ḥivvi and the Yevusi, — 3 to a land flowing with milk and honey.’ But: I will not go up in your midst, for a hard-necked people are you, lest I destroy you on the way!”[22]In Exodus 23:20ff (the Covenant Code), the appointment of an angel to lead the Yisraelites is considered a positive measure. This goes contra the J idea, that YHVH himself is to lead the Yisraelites into the land as in Exodus 3:7-8 – J, thus, reimagines the appointment of the angel as a the final punishment for the sin of the golden calf.

ה וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֱמֹ֤ר אֶל־בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אַתֶּ֣ם עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹ֔רֶף רֶ֧גַע אֶחָ֛ד אֶֽעֱלֶ֥ה בְקִרְבְּךָ֖ וְכִלִּיתִ֑יךָ וְעַתָּ֗ה הוֹרֵ֤ד עֶדְיְךָ֙ מֵֽעָלֶ֔יךָ וְאֵדְעָ֖ה מָ֥ה אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לָּֽךְ׃ *ד וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע הָעָ֗ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הָרָ֛ע הַזֶּ֖ה וַיִּתְאַבָּ֑לוּ וְלֹא־שָׁ֛תוּ אִ֥ישׁ עֶדְי֖וֹ עָלָֽיו׃ * ו וַיִּֽתְנַצְּל֧וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־עֶדְיָ֖ם מֵהַ֥ר חוֹרֵֽב׃
5 Now YHVH said to Mosheh: “Say to the Children of Yisrael: ‘You are a hard-necked people — if for one moment I were to go up in your midst, I would destroy you! So now, take down your ornaments from yourselves, that I may know what I am to do with you.'” *4 When the people heard this evil word they mourned, no man put on his ornaments (again).[23]Vs. 4 of this section is out of place. In vs. 4, the Yisraelites take their jewelry off, but in vs. 5, the jewelry is still on. This problem is easily solved by placing vs. 4 after vs. 5, as some modern commentators do.* 6 So the Children of Yisrael stripped themselves of their ornaments from Har Sinai on.

ז וּמֹשֶׁה֩ יִקַּ֨ח אֶת־הָאֹ֜הֶל וְנָֽטָה־ל֣וֹ ׀ מִח֣וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֗ה הַרְחֵק֙ מִן־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְקָ֥רָא ל֖וֹ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֙ כׇּל־מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה יֵצֵא֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֖ר מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ ח וְהָיָ֗ה כְּצֵ֤את מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־הָאֹ֔הֶל יָק֙וּמוּ֙ כׇּל־הָעָ֔ם וְנִ֨צְּב֔וּ אִ֖ישׁ פֶּ֣תַח אׇהֳל֑וֹ וְהִבִּ֙יטוּ֙ אַחֲרֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה עַד־בֹּא֖וֹ הָאֹֽהֱלָה׃ ט וְהָיָ֗ה כְּבֹ֤א מֹשֶׁה֙ הָאֹ֔הֱלָה יֵרֵד֙ עַמּ֣וּד הֶֽעָנָ֔ן וְעָמַ֖ד פֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֑הֶל וְדִבֶּ֖ר עִם־מֹשֶֽׁה׃ י וְרָאָ֤ה כׇל־הָעָם֙ אֶת־עַמּ֣וּד הֶֽעָנָ֔ן עֹמֵ֖ד פֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֑הֶל וְקָ֤ם כׇּל־הָעָם֙ וְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲו֔וּ אִ֖ישׁ פֶּ֥תַח אׇהֳלֽוֹ׃ יא וְדִבֶּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֤ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה֙ פָּנִ֣ים אֶל־פָּנִ֔ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר יְדַבֵּ֥ר אִ֖ישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵ֑הוּ וְשָׁב֙ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וּמְשָׁ֨רְת֜וֹ יְהוֹשֻׁ֤עַ בִּן־נוּן֙ נַ֔עַר לֹ֥א יָמִ֖ישׁ מִתּ֥וֹךְ הָאֹֽהֶל׃
7 Now Mosheh would take the Ohel/Tent and pitch it for himself outside the camp, going-far from the camp. He called it the Ohel Mo’ed. And it was, whoever besought YHVH would go out to the Ohel Mo’ed that was outside the camp. 8 And it was: whenever Mosheh would go out to the Ohel, all the people would rise, they would station themselves, each-man, at the entrance to his tent, and would gaze after Mosheh until he had come into the Ohel. 9 And it was: whenever Mosheh would come into the Ohel, the column of cloud would come down and stand at the entrance to the Ohel, and he would speak with Mosheh. 10 And all the people would see the column of cloud standing at the entrance to the Ohel, and all the people would rise, they would bow down, each-man at the entrance to his tent. 11 And YHVH would speak to Mosheh face to face, as a man speaks to his neighbor. Now when he would return to the camp, his attendant, the lad Yehoshua, would not depart from within the Ohel.[24]Vss. 7-11 interrupt the narrative sequence, which began in vs. 1 with YHVH appointing an angel, and then continues in vs. 12, where Moses asks for more information regarding this appointment. The intervening verses clarify the origin of the tent of meeting, according to this source it stands outside the camp, whereas in P and H it stands at the center of the camp. Note also, that Moses is depicted here as the mythic arch-prophet, the only man who speaks to YHVH face to face – “as one would speak to a friend”. Based on this narrative’s etiological and mythic quality, as well as its lateness (at least relative to J), we tentatively attribute this section to the late Bridger.

שלישי יב וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֗ה רְ֠אֵ֠ה אַתָּ֞ה אֹמֵ֤ר אֵלַי֙ הַ֚עַל אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה וְאַתָּה֙ לֹ֣א הֽוֹדַעְתַּ֔נִי אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־תִּשְׁלַ֖ח עִמִּ֑י וְאַתָּ֤ה אָמַ֙רְתָּ֙ יְדַעְתִּ֣יךָֽ בְשֵׁ֔ם וְגַם־מָצָ֥אתָ חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינָֽי׃ יג וְעַתָּ֡ה אִם־נָא֩ מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֜ן בְּעֵינֶ֗יךָ הוֹדִעֵ֤נִי נָא֙ אֶת־דְּרָכֶ֔ךָ וְאֵדָ֣עֲךָ֔ לְמַ֥עַן אֶמְצָא־חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ וּרְאֵ֕ה כִּ֥י עַמְּךָ֖ הַגּ֥וֹי הַזֶּֽה׃ יד וַיֹּאמַ֑ר פָּנַ֥י יֵלֵ֖כוּ וַהֲנִחֹ֥תִי לָֽךְ׃ טו וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֵלָ֑יו אִם־אֵ֤ין פָּנֶ֙יךָ֙ הֹלְכִ֔ים אַֽל־תַּעֲלֵ֖נוּ מִזֶּֽה׃ טז וּבַמֶּ֣ה ׀ יִוָּדַ֣ע אֵפ֗וֹא כִּֽי־מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֤ן בְּעֵינֶ֙יךָ֙ אֲנִ֣י וְעַמֶּ֔ךָ הֲל֖וֹא בְּלֶכְתְּךָ֣ עִמָּ֑נוּ וְנִפְלִ֙ינוּ֙ אֲנִ֣י וְעַמְּךָ֔ מִכׇּ֨ל־הָעָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הָאֲדָמָֽה׃
12 Mosheh said to YHVH: “See, you, you say to me: ‘Bring this people up!’ But you, you have not let us know whom you will send with me! And you, you said: ‘I have known you by name, and you have found favor in my eyes!’ 13 So now — if I have, pray, found favor in your eyes, pray let me know your ways, that I may (truly) know you, in order that I may find favor in your eyes: See, this nation is indeed your people!” 14 He said: “If my presence were to go (with you), would I cause you to rest-easy?” 15 He said to him: “If your presence does not go, do not bring us up from here! 16 For wherein, after all, is it to be known that I have found favor in your eyes, I and your people? Is it not (precisely) in that you go with us, and that we are distinct, I and your people, from every people that is on the face of the fertile-ground?”

רביעי יז וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה גַּ֣ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּ֛ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתָּ אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֑ה כִּֽי־מָצָ֤אתָ חֵן֙ בְּעֵינַ֔י וָאֵדָעֲךָ֖ בְּשֵֽׁם׃ יח וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הַרְאֵ֥נִי נָ֖א אֶת־כְּבֹדֶֽךָ׃ יט וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִ֨י אַעֲבִ֤יר כׇּל־טוּבִי֙ עַל־פָּנֶ֔יךָ וְקָרָ֧אתִֽי בְשֵׁ֛ם יְהֹוָ֖ה לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וְחַנֹּתִי֙ אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָחֹ֔ן וְרִחַמְתִּ֖י אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲרַחֵֽם׃ כ וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל לִרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־פָּנָ֑י כִּ֛י לֹֽא־יִרְאַ֥נִי הָאָדָ֖ם וָחָֽי׃ כא וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהֹוָ֔ה הִנֵּ֥ה מָק֖וֹם אִתִּ֑י וְנִצַּבְתָּ֖ עַל־הַצּֽוּר׃ כב וְהָיָה֙ בַּעֲבֹ֣ר כְּבֹדִ֔י וְשַׂמְתִּ֖יךָ בְּנִקְרַ֣ת הַצּ֑וּר וְשַׂכֹּתִ֥י כַפִּ֛י עָלֶ֖יךָ עַד־עׇבְרִֽי׃ כג וַהֲסִרֹתִי֙ אֶת־כַּפִּ֔י וְרָאִ֖יתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָ֑י וּפָנַ֖י לֹ֥א יֵרָאֽוּ׃
17 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Also this word that you have spoken, I will do, for you have found favor in my eyes, and I have known you by name.” 18 Then he said: “Pray let me see your Kavōd!” 19 He said: “I myself will cause all my Tōv/Beneficence to pass in front of your face, I will call out the name of YHVH before your face: that I show-favor to whom I show-favor, that I show-mercy to whom I show-mercy.” 20 But he said: “You cannot see my face, for no Adam/earthling can see me and live!” 21 YHVH said: “Here is a place next to me; station yourself on the rock, 22 and it shall be: when my Kavōd passes by, I will place you in the cleft of the rock and screen you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand; you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”[25]Moses asks for mercy, and YHVH once again consents to lead the Yisraelites. Note the negotiation regarding access to the divine presence, which typifies J as in 19:20-5 (J), as well as 24:1-3, 9 (J).

חמישי לד א ‏[26]ספק פרשה סתומה בכתר ארם צובה וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה פְּסׇל־לְךָ֛ שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִ֖ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֑ים וְכָתַבְתִּי֙ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֔ת אֶ֨ת־הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָי֛וּ עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֥ת הָרִאשֹׁנִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר שִׁבַּֽרְתָּ׃ ב וֶהְיֵ֥ה נָכ֖וֹן לַבֹּ֑קֶר וְעָלִ֤יתָ בַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וְנִצַּבְתָּ֥ לִ֛י שָׁ֖ם עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ הָהָֽר׃ ג וְאִישׁ֙ לֹֽא־יַעֲלֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְגַם־אִ֥ישׁ אַל־יֵרָ֖א בְּכׇל־הָהָ֑ר גַּם־הַצֹּ֤אן וְהַבָּקָר֙ אַל־יִרְע֔וּ אֶל־מ֖וּל הָהָ֥ר הַהֽוּא׃ ד וַיִּפְסֹ֡ל שְׁנֵֽי־לֻחֹ֨ת אֲבָנִ֜ים כָּרִאשֹׁנִ֗ים וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֨ם מֹשֶׁ֤ה בַבֹּ֙קֶר֙ וַיַּ֙עַל֙ אֶל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֹת֑וֹ וַיִּקַּ֣ח בְּיָד֔וֹ שְׁנֵ֖י לֻחֹ֥ת אֲבָנִֽים׃ ה וַיֵּ֤רֶד יְהֹוָה֙ בֶּֽעָנָ֔ן וַיִּתְיַצֵּ֥ב עִמּ֖וֹ שָׁ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֥א בְשֵׁ֖ם יְהֹוָֽה׃
34 1 Then YHVH said to Mosheh: “Carve yourself two luḥot of stone like the first-ones, and I will write on the luḥot the words that were on the first luḥot which you smashed. 2 And be ready by the morning: go up in the morning to Har Sinai, station yourself for me there, on top of the mountain. 3 No man is to go up with you, neither is any man to be seen on all the mountain, neither are sheep or oxen to graze in front of this mountain.” 4 So he carved two luḥot of stone like the first-ones. Mosheh (started) early in the morning and went up to Har Sinai, as YHVH had commanded him, and he took in his hand the two luḥot of stone. 5 YHVH came down in the cloud, he stationed himself beside him there and called out the name of YHVH.

ו וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהֹוָ֣ה ׀ יְהֹוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת׃ ז נֹצֵ֥ר‏[27]בספרי תימן נֹצֵ֥ר בנו”ן רגילה חֶ֙סֶד֙ לָאֲלָפִ֔ים נֹשֵׂ֥א עָוֺ֛ן וָפֶ֖שַׁע וְחַטָּאָ֑ה וְנַקֵּה֙ לֹ֣א יְנַקֶּ֔ה פֹּקֵ֣ד ׀ עֲוֺ֣ן אָב֗וֹת עַל־בָּנִים֙ וְעַל־בְּנֵ֣י בָנִ֔ים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁ֖ים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִֽים׃ ח וַיְמַהֵ֖ר מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיִּקֹּ֥ד אַ֖רְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּֽחוּ׃ ט וַיֹּ֡אמֶר אִם־נָא֩ מָצָ֨אתִי חֵ֤ן בְּעֵינֶ֙יךָ֙ אֲדֹנָ֔י יֵֽלֶךְ־נָ֥א אֲדֹנָ֖י בְּקִרְבֵּ֑נוּ כִּ֤י עַם־קְשֵׁה־עֹ֙רֶף֙ ה֔וּא וְסָלַחְתָּ֛ לַעֲוֺנֵ֥נוּ וּלְחַטָּאתֵ֖נוּ וּנְחַלְתָּֽנוּ׃
6 And YHVH passed before his face and called out: “YHVH YHVH EL, showing-mercy, showing-favor, long-suffering in anger, abundant in loyalty and faithfulness, 7 keeping loyalty to the thousandth (generation), bearing iniquity, rebellion and sin, yet not clearing, clearing (the guilty), calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons and upon sons’ sons, to the third and fourth (generation)!” 8 Quickly Mosheh did-homage, on the ground, bowing low, 9 and said: “Pray if I have found favor in your eyes, O my Lord, pray let my Lord go among us! Indeed, it is a hard-necked people — so forgive our iniquity and our sin, and make-us-your-inheritance!”

ששי י וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִנֵּ֣ה אָנֹכִי֮ כֹּרֵ֣ת בְּרִית֒ נֶ֤גֶד כׇּֽל־עַמְּךָ֙ אֶעֱשֶׂ֣ה נִפְלָאֹ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹֽא־נִבְרְא֥וּ בְכׇל־הָאָ֖רֶץ וּבְכׇל־הַגּוֹיִ֑ם וְרָאָ֣ה כׇל־הָ֠עָ֠ם אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּ֨ה בְקִרְבּ֜וֹ אֶת־מַעֲשֵׂ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ כִּֽי־נוֹרָ֣א ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲנִ֖י עֹשֶׂ֥ה עִמָּֽךְ׃ יא שְׁמׇ֨ר־לְךָ֔ אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוְּךָ֣ הַיּ֑וֹם הִנְנִ֧י גֹרֵ֣שׁ מִפָּנֶ֗יךָ אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי֙ וְהַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י וְהַחִתִּי֙ וְהַפְּרִזִּ֔י וְהַחִוִּ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִֽי׃ יב הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֗ פֶּן־תִּכְרֹ֤ת בְּרִית֙ לְיוֹשֵׁ֣ב הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֖ה בָּ֣א עָלֶ֑יהָ פֶּן־יִהְיֶ֥ה לְמוֹקֵ֖שׁ בְּקִרְבֶּֽךָ׃ יג כִּ֤י אֶת־מִזְבְּחֹתָם֙ תִּתֹּצ֔וּן וְאֶת־מַצֵּבֹתָ֖ם תְּשַׁבֵּר֑וּן וְאֶת־אֲשֵׁרָ֖יו תִּכְרֹתֽוּן׃ יד כִּ֛י לֹ֥א תִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֶ֖ה לְאֵ֣ל אַחֵ֑ר כִּ֤י יְהֹוָה֙ קַנָּ֣א שְׁמ֔וֹ אֵ֥ל קַנָּ֖א הֽוּא׃ טו פֶּן־תִּכְרֹ֥ת בְּרִ֖ית לְיוֹשֵׁ֣ב הָאָ֑רֶץ וְזָנ֣וּ ׀ אַחֲרֵ֣י אֱלֹֽהֵיהֶ֗ם וְזָבְחוּ֙ לֵאלֹ֣הֵיהֶ֔ם וְקָרָ֣א לְךָ֔ וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ מִזִּבְחֽוֹ׃ טז וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ מִבְּנֹתָ֖יו לְבָנֶ֑יךָ וְזָנ֣וּ בְנֹתָ֗יו אַחֲרֵי֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיהֶ֔ן וְהִזְנוּ֙ אֶת־בָּנֶ֔יךָ אַחֲרֵ֖י אֱלֹהֵיהֶֽן׃ יז אֱלֹהֵ֥י מַסֵּכָ֖ה לֹ֥א תַעֲשֶׂה־לָּֽךְ׃
10 He said: “Here, I cut a covenant: before all your people I will do wonders such as have not been created in all the earth, among all the nations. Then shall all the people among whom you are, see the work of YHVH, how awe-inspiring it is, which I do with you. 11 Take care for yourself regarding what I command you today! Here, I am driving out before you the Emori, the K’naani, the Ḥitti, the Perizzi, the Ḥivvi and the Yevusi, — 12 take-you-care, lest you cut a covenant with the settled-folk of the land against which you are coming, lest they become a snare among you. 13 Rather: their places-for-slaughter you are to pull down, their standing-pillars you are to smash, their tree-poles you are to cut down. 14 For: You are not to bow down to any other el! For YHVH — Jealous-one is his name, a jealous el/El Qanah is he! 15  — Lest you cut a covenant with the settled-folk of the land: when they go whoring after their elohim and slaughter-offer to their elohim, they will call to you to eat of their slaughter-offerings; 16 should you take of their women (in marriage) for your sons, their women will go whoring after their elohim, and they will cause your sons to go whoring after their elohim. 17 Molten elohim you are not to make for yourselves!”

יח אֶת־חַ֣ג הַמַּצּוֹת֮ תִּשְׁמֹר֒ שִׁבְעַ֨ת יָמִ֜ים תֹּאכַ֤ל מַצּוֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתִ֔ךָ לְמוֹעֵ֖ד חֹ֣דֶשׁ הָאָבִ֑יב כִּ֚י בְּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֔יב יָצָ֖אתָ מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ יט כׇּל־פֶּ֥טֶר רֶ֖חֶם לִ֑י וְכׇֽל־מִקְנְךָ֙ תִּזָּכָ֔ר פֶּ֖טֶר שׁ֥וֹר וָשֶֽׂה׃ כ וּפֶ֤טֶר חֲמוֹר֙ תִּפְדֶּ֣ה בְשֶׂ֔ה וְאִם־לֹ֥א תִפְדֶּ֖ה וַעֲרַפְתּ֑וֹ כֹּ֣ל בְּכ֤וֹר בָּנֶ֙יךָ֙ תִּפְדֶּ֔ה וְלֹֽא־יֵרָא֥וּ פָנַ֖י רֵיקָֽם׃ כא שֵׁ֤שֶׁת יָמִים֙ תַּעֲבֹ֔ד וּבַיּ֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֖י תִּשְׁבֹּ֑ת בֶּחָרִ֥ישׁ וּבַקָּצִ֖יר תִּשְׁבֹּֽת׃ כב וְחַ֤ג שָׁבֻעֹת֙ תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה לְךָ֔ בִּכּוּרֵ֖י קְצִ֣יר חִטִּ֑ים וְחַג֙ הָֽאָסִ֔יף תְּקוּפַ֖ת הַשָּׁנָֽה׃ כג שָׁלֹ֥שׁ פְּעָמִ֖ים בַּשָּׁנָ֑ה יֵרָאֶה֙ כׇּל־זְכ֣וּרְךָ֔ אֶת־פְּנֵ֛י הָֽאָדֹ֥ן ׀ יְהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ כד כִּֽי־אוֹרִ֤ישׁ גּוֹיִם֙ מִפָּנֶ֔יךָ וְהִרְחַבְתִּ֖י אֶת־גְּבֻלֶ֑ךָ וְלֹא־יַחְמֹ֥ד אִישׁ֙ אֶֽת־אַרְצְךָ֔ בַּעֲלֹֽתְךָ֗ לֵרָאוֹת֙ אֶת־פְּנֵי֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ שָׁלֹ֥שׁ פְּעָמִ֖ים בַּשָּׁנָֽה׃ כה לֹֽא־תִשְׁחַ֥ט עַל־חָמֵ֖ץ דַּם־זִבְחִ֑י וְלֹא־יָלִ֣ין לַבֹּ֔קֶר זֶ֖בַח חַ֥ג הַפָּֽסַח׃ כו רֵאשִׁ֗ית בִּכּוּרֵי֙ אַדְמָ֣תְךָ֔ תָּבִ֕יא בֵּ֖ית יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ לֹא־תְבַשֵּׁ֥ל גְּדִ֖י בַּחֲלֵ֥ב אִמּֽוֹ׃
18 “The Pilgrimage-Festival of Matsot you are to keep; for seven days you are to eat matsot, as I commanded you, at the appointed-time, in the New-moon of Ripe-grain, for in the New-moon of Ripe-grain you went out of Mitsrayim. 19 Every breacher of a womb is mine, and every one that your herd drops-as-male, breacher among oxen and sheep; 20 the breacher among donkeys you are to redeem with a sheep, and if you do not redeem it, you are to break-its-neck. Every firstborn among your sons you are to redeem. No one is to be seen before my presence empty-handed. 21 For six days you are to serve, but on the seventh day, you are to cease, at plowing, at grain-cutting, you are to cease. 22 The Pilgrimage-festival of Weeks you are to make for yourselves, of the first-fruits of the wheat cutting, as well as the Pilgrimage-festival of Ingathering at the turning of the year. 23 At three points in the year are all your male-folk to be seen before the presence of ha-Adōn/the Lord YHVH, elo’ah of Yisrael. 24 For I will dispossess nations before you, and widen your territory, so that no man will desire your land, when you go up to be seen before the presence of YHVH your elo’ah, at three points in the year. 25 You are not to slay my blood offering with anything fermented. You are not to leave-overnight, until morning, the pilgrimage-offering of Passover. 26 The premier of the first-fruits of your fertile-ground you are to bring into the house of YHVH your elo’ah. You are not to boil a kid in the milk of its mother.”[28]Note also J’s great concern with seeing “YHVH” which is echoed in Chapter 19:20-25, and in J’s additions to Chapter 24.

Since the tablets were the concrete manifestation of the covenant between Yisrael and the divine and they were shattered, a new set must be fashioned, and a new covenant wrought.

For this reason the final laws of the Book of the Covenant are reformulated by J this time with a more historically specific bent.

The laws of Passover are expanded in vss. 19-20 to include consecration of the first born (thus alluding to the plague of the first-born). Vs. 24 hints to one specific cultic center (alluding to centralization of cult in Jerusalem) which is to be visited by all males three times a year [vs. 24, and compare 15:17-18] as opposed to the more general formulation in Exodus 23:17. Also, the general law concerning “YHVH’s sacrifice” of Exodus 23, is seen here as referring only to Passover.


שביעי כז וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה כְּתׇב־לְךָ֖ אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה כִּ֞י עַל־פִּ֣י ׀ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה כָּרַ֧תִּי אִתְּךָ֛ בְּרִ֖ית וְאֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ כח וַֽיְהִי־שָׁ֣ם עִם־יְהֹוָ֗ה אַרְבָּעִ֥ים יוֹם֙ וְאַרְבָּעִ֣ים לַ֔יְלָה לֶ֚חֶם לֹ֣א אָכַ֔ל וּמַ֖יִם לֹ֣א שָׁתָ֑ה וַיִּכְתֹּ֣ב עַל־הַלֻּחֹ֗ת אֵ֚ת דִּבְרֵ֣י הַבְּרִ֔ית עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים׃ כט וַיְהִ֗י בְּרֶ֤דֶת מֹשֶׁה֙ מֵהַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וּשְׁנֵ֨י לֻחֹ֤ת הָֽעֵדֻת֙ בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּרִדְתּ֖וֹ מִן־הָהָ֑ר וּמֹשֶׁ֣ה לֹֽא־יָדַ֗ע כִּ֥י קָרַ֛ן ע֥וֹר פָּנָ֖יו בְּדַבְּר֥וֹ אִתּֽוֹ׃ ל וַיַּ֨רְא אַהֲרֹ֜ן וְכׇל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֔ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה קָרַ֖ן ע֣וֹר פָּנָ֑יו וַיִּֽירְא֖וּ מִגֶּ֥שֶׁת אֵלָֽיו׃ לא וַיִּקְרָ֤א אֲלֵהֶם֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיָּשֻׁ֧בוּ אֵלָ֛יו אַהֲרֹ֥ן וְכׇל־הַנְּשִׂאִ֖ים בָּעֵדָ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֲלֵהֶֽם׃ לב וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֥ן נִגְּשׁ֖וּ כׇּל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיְצַוֵּ֕ם אֵת֩ כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר דִּבֶּ֧ר יְהֹוָ֛ה אִתּ֖וֹ בְּהַ֥ר סִינָֽי׃ מפטיר לג וַיְכַ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֔ה מִדַּבֵּ֖ר אִתָּ֑ם וַיִּתֵּ֥ן עַל־פָּנָ֖יו מַסְוֶֽה׃ לד וּבְבֹ֨א מֹשֶׁ֜ה לִפְנֵ֤י יְהֹוָה֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אִתּ֔וֹ יָסִ֥יר אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶ֖ה עַד־צֵאת֑וֹ וְיָצָ֗א וְדִבֶּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְצֻוֶּֽה׃ לה וְרָא֤וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶת־פְּנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה כִּ֣י קָרַ֔ן ע֖וֹר פְּנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֑ה וְהֵשִׁ֨יב מֹשֶׁ֤ה אֶת־הַמַּסְוֶה֙ עַל־פָּנָ֔יו עַד־בֹּא֖וֹ לְדַבֵּ֥ר אִתּֽוֹ׃
27 YHVH said to Mosheh: “Write you down these words, for in accordance with these words I cut with you a covenant, and with Yisrael.” 28 Now he was there beside YHVH for forty days and forty nights; bread he did not eat and water he did not drink, but he wrote down on the luḥot the words of the covenant, the Ten Words. 29 Now it was when Mosheh came down from Har Sinai with the two Luḥot ha’Edut in Mosheh’s hand, when he came down from the mountain — (now) Mosheh did not know that the skin of his face was radiating because of his having-spoken with him, — 30 Aharon and all the Children of Yisrael saw Mosheh: and here, the skin of his face was radiating! So they were afraid to approach him. 31 Mosheh called to them, and then Aharon and all those exalted in the community came back to him, and Mosheh spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Children of Yisrael approached, and he commanded them all that YHVH had spoken with him on Har Sinai. 33 Now when Mosheh had finished speaking with them, he put a veil upon his face. 34 Now whenever Mosheh would come before the presence of YHVH, to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he had gone out; and whenever he would come out and speak to the children of Yisrael that which he had been commanded, 35 the Children of Yisrael would see Mosheh’s face, that the skin of Mosheh’s face was radiating; but then Mosheh would put back the veil on his face, until he came in to speak with him.[29]P, aware of the emasculation of Moses’ throughout the Exodus narratives, turns Moses into a holy man, suffused with divine sparks. Note typical Priestly formulations such as “leaders of the congregation” (vs. 31), and “tablets of the covenant” (vs. 28), as well as the idea of Moses’ constantly imparting “what he had been commanded (vs. 34) which fits with the theme of obedience throughout the P narrative, and compare the constant repetition of “as YHVH had commanded Moses” throughout Exodus 39-40 (P).

The Masoretic text presented here is from Rabbi Dr. Seth (Avi) Kadish’s Miqra al pi ha-Mesorah. For the translation in English, I have adapted the translation of Everett Fox in the Schocken Bible (1997), mostly to re-Hebraize divine names, place names, and personal names. As with the last parashot (Terumah and T’tsavveh), I have been careful to Hebraize the Mishkan and its main sacred objects. Instead of “soil” for ‘Adamah,’ I have used “fertile-ground.” Aside from these, I have made minor punctuation changes. –Aharon N. Varady

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Following the instructions construction of the Tabernacle and the investment of Aharon, P demands a further monetary donation from the Yisraelites, a ransom for the future census. This is quite curious considering that the two censuses in Numbers 1 and in Numbers 26 are both prescribed by God. It seems that P is closing a literary circle here, P begins the construction of the Tabernacle with a call for donations at the beginning of Exodus 25 and ends it with a call for donations, this time guaranteeing the Tabernacle’s financial viability.
  2. There are a number of reasons to posit that this is a further H addition to the text. A second cultic object (the basin) is mentioned here, once again out of place (the construction of cultic objects was dealt with in Chapter 25), and see the penultimate comment in T’tsavveh. Moreover, Aharon’s sons are mentioned here (in vss. 19-21) and it is quite clear that they were an addition to Chapters 28-29, as part of H’s general tendency to apply Priestly laws to the cult of subsequent generations. This is further emphasized by H’s statement that this ordinance to wash is a perpetual statute, a phrase which is a linguistic/ideological marker of this source.

The connection between the H additions to this chapter and Numbers 16-17 (Korach and the offering of the incense) is solidified here by mentioning that anybody who doesn’t properly approach YHVH is liable to be killed: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die: and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.

  3. The construction of the Tabernacle and investment of Aharon is concluded. The preparation of the anointment oil marks the beginning of the consecration of the Tabernacle and of Aharon, which is interrupted by the Sin of the Golden Calf.
  4. An H addition to the cultic furniture of the Tabernacle, and see the penultimate comment in T’tsavveh.
  5. Vss. 27 and 28 are parallel in P, a major piece of furniture is mentioned and then its accessories: “30:27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, 30:28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils.”
  6. Another H addition to the cultic furniture of the Tabernacle, and see penultimate comment in T’tsavveh and the first comment above.
  7. P’s statement that these cultic objects are holy are sufficient for this source. It is H who bolsters this statement with the threat of punishment (vs. 33). This pattern recurs many times throughout P and H, and compare for example P’s incest prohibitions in Leviticus 18 with H’s incest prohibitions in Leviticus 20 which add the threat of capital punishment to each of the laws.
  8. See the penultimate comment in T’tsavveh. Note also that the command to prepare incense is parallel to the command to prepare holy anointment oil. This parallelism is bolstered by the H additions to the preparation of the anointment oil commanding in vss. 31-33 (separated from the body of the law, by a command formulation in vs. 31), which prohibit its duplication. This is then echoed in vss. 37-38 regarding the incense.
  9. According to P, the overseer of construction of the Tabernacle was a Judean, which serves to accentuate Judah’s dominance among the tribes according to this source. Note that the command for overseeing is given in the singular, implying that Oholiav of Dan was added by H at a later stage.
  10. Oholiav the Dannite (Dan was the son of Rachel’s handmaiden) was added as a joint overseer with Betsalel, so as to create a more democratic overseeing committee. Note that according to H, in I Kings 7:13 Chiram was from the tribe of Naphtali.
  11. Since the vessels and vestments were just mentioned at length in the previous chapters, it stands to reason that their repetition here may very well be an addition, serving to inculcate H’s elaboration of the cultic objects, namely the incense altar and the basin, the construction of which was commanded in Chapter 30.
  12. H ends the instructions on how to build the Tabernacle, with a commandment to observe the Shabbat. He then begins the actual construction of the Tabernacle at the beginning of Exodus 35 with a parallel command. The commandments are phrased in a typical H fashion, emphasizing that those who don’t observe the Shabbat shall be put to death. It seems that H is juxtaposing between the very exclusive cult enacted in the Tabernacle and the very democratic cult of Shabbat that involves all the Yisraelites.
  13. This verse functions as a Priestly lead in to the Sin of the Golden Calf, the composition of which is restricted mainly to E and J. The sin of the Golden Calf is very problematic for P, since it portrays Aharon as a sinner and the Levites as the heroes. Numbers 16-19, does its best to fix that impression.
  14. Moses did not tell the people when he was planning to come down and thus they were apprehensive, despite the provisional leadership he’d installed according to E’s Exodus 24:13-14. The golden calf is, of course, reminiscent of the northern calves installed by Jeroboam I in the North (according to I Kings 12:25-33), as representational of the divine steeds. It is clear that E (like the Northern Hosea) is explicitly critical of this practice, and claims that the Yisraelites worshipped the calf as if it were the God.
  15. J interprets the Calf as a representation of YHVH, and thus the Yisraelites sin was not one of belief in other gods – but of representing YHVH in concrete form (and compare J’s Exodus 20:20). Note that Aharon is the vehicle of the Yisraelite sin, thus undermining his leadership – only YHVH leads the Yisraelites according to J.
  16. In the E version Moses’ comes down the mountain right after receiving the tablets. Moses’ intercession, and foreknowledge of Yisrael’s sin is not apparent in E’s 32:15-20, Moses only gets angry after he comes down the mountain and sees the calf.
  17. Note the typical J concern for YHVH’s standing among the nations which Moses uses to convince YHVH not to destroy the Yisraelites.
  18. Moses descends the Mountain with the Commandments preparing to present them to the Yisraelites – in E he still does not know that the Yisraelites have sinned.
  19. A probable Priestly insert, since only in this source and in the later H are the tablets referred to as such – in E no covenantal ceremony between the Yisraelites and God is explicitly enacted.
  20. This is the only punishment recorded in the E source. Perhaps a physical representation of God, is not as serious to this author, coming from Northern Yisrael with its golden calves. Ultimately the guiding tenet of this source was not abrogated in any way. The Yisraelites still feared God, they just didn’t do it in the right way.
  21. In J, the Yisraelites’ punishment is more severe – and consists of killing the sinners, plaguing the Yisraelites in general, and YHVH’s refusal to lead them himself (thus appointing an angel in His stead – 33:1-7). These multiple punishments emphasize the seriousness of the sin according to J.
  22. In Exodus 23:20ff (the Covenant Code), the appointment of an angel to lead the Yisraelites is considered a positive measure. This goes contra the J idea, that YHVH himself is to lead the Yisraelites into the land as in Exodus 3:7-8 – J, thus, reimagines the appointment of the angel as a the final punishment for the sin of the golden calf.
  23. Vs. 4 of this section is out of place. In vs. 4, the Yisraelites take their jewelry off, but in vs. 5, the jewelry is still on. This problem is easily solved by placing vs. 4 after vs. 5, as some modern commentators do.
  24. Vss. 7-11 interrupt the narrative sequence, which began in vs. 1 with YHVH appointing an angel, and then continues in vs. 12, where Moses asks for more information regarding this appointment. The intervening verses clarify the origin of the tent of meeting, according to this source it stands outside the camp, whereas in P and H it stands at the center of the camp. Note also, that Moses is depicted here as the mythic arch-prophet, the only man who speaks to YHVH face to face – “as one would speak to a friend”. Based on this narrative’s etiological and mythic quality, as well as its lateness (at least relative to J), we tentatively attribute this section to the late Bridger.
  25. Moses asks for mercy, and YHVH once again consents to lead the Yisraelites. Note the negotiation regarding access to the divine presence, which typifies J as in 19:20-5 (J), as well as 24:1-3, 9 (J).
  26. ספק פרשה סתומה בכתר ארם צובה
  27. בספרי תימן נֹצֵ֥ר בנו”ן רגילה
  28. Note also J’s great concern with seeing “YHVH” which is echoed in Chapter 19:20-25, and in J’s additions to Chapter 24.

Since the tablets were the concrete manifestation of the covenant between Yisrael and the divine and they were shattered, a new set must be fashioned, and a new covenant wrought.

For this reason the final laws of the Book of the Covenant are reformulated by J this time with a more historically specific bent.

The laws of Passover are expanded in vss. 19-20 to include consecration of the first born (thus alluding to the plague of the first-born). Vs. 24 hints to one specific cultic center (alluding to centralization of cult in Jerusalem) which is to be visited by all males three times a year [vs. 24, and compare 15:17-18] as opposed to the more general formulation in Exodus 23:17. Also, the general law concerning “YHVH’s sacrifice” of Exodus 23, is seen here as referring only to Passover.

  29. P, aware of the emasculation of Moses’ throughout the Exodus narratives, turns Moses into a holy man, suffused with divine sparks. Note typical Priestly formulations such as “leaders of the congregation” (vs. 31), and “tablets of the covenant” (vs. 28), as well as the idea of Moses’ constantly imparting “what he had been commanded (vs. 34) which fits with the theme of obedience throughout the P narrative, and compare the constant repetition of “as YHVH had commanded Moses” throughout Exodus 39-40 (P).

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