Monday, June 16, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 38

To count 

Meet yourself at the entrance 
Coming towards you 

[For full chapter, click here
We continue the actual construction of the Dwelling, moving out from the furnishings of the inner Sanctum to the outer courtyard, marked by the use of bronze and silver, rather than gold. Again, the execution ("and Bezalel did") transforms the initial vision ("as God commanded Moses"), as the people bring theere own drives and desires. The laver is made of "the mirrors of the serving women that did service at the door of the tent of meeting." The gifts that create the Dwelling come also from the discounted classes: women--and serving women at that. What is more, the gifts are not homogenized: we know which specific objects create the laver. The people brings "mirrors," reflecting their own desires and involvement, and these gifts retain their presence within the completed Dwelling, as a kind of incorporated found object. The material changes the piece.
The chapter closes with an "accounting" (pikudei) of all the materials that went into the dwelling. No gift is lost, everything is given its place. 
This laden leitwort also creates an arch connecting the beginning of this book towards its end. "I have surely remembered you--pakod pakadeti"  is God's initial message to the children of Israel: you have been taken into account and will be redeemed. But this retained memory is a double edged sword, that also implies consequence and accountability. In the aftermath of the Golden Calf, God is "poked--accounts the inquiry of the fathers on the sons," and the nation's sin will continued to be held in account: "beyom pokdi u-pakadeti--on the day that there is an accounting, I will account their sin on them." Now, we make an accounting of the Dwelling. "Pakod"--"memory, accounting" implies continuity, care. It is the source of relationship, both for redemption and anger] 

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