Friday, May 30, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 27

Tablets of stone

Hollow spaces

Object and surrounding come together

With expanses around

An eternal flame

[For full chapter, click here
We arrive finally at the altar that closed both visions of Sinai. Here too, it acts as a sum-up to the "vision on the mountain" being made of concrete. The divine Tablets (luhot) of the Ten Commandments, here become actual, physical: "hollow with tablets (luhot) shall you make it." It is the merging of the visions of the previous chapter, bringing together the point/counterpoint of object and negative space: it is both a furnishing, and the hollow within, defined by the "sides" (tzela) that characterized the building.
Once again, the altar acts as a transition from the sacred space into the wider world. The altar is followed by the extension of the Dwelling into a broader court, that unfurls--as does the altar--to four sides. From incorruptible gold, we move to a space of silver and bronze. The asymptitic  longing of the keruvim--a single while, yet always apart--extends outward. "And their pins shall be silver--ve-haskukhem kesef" also means "and their desire shall be longing."
This chapter deals with these liminal edges. Its key words are "tzela" (side, in the concrete sense of a slab, plank, or a rib) and pe'ah (side, in the more abstract sense of space). Both come together in the concrete luhot (tablets/plank) that is navuv, hollow.]

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