The Tabernacle Is an Expression of the Biblical Commitment to Human Freedom

Beginning last Saturday and continuing for the next few weeks, synagogues will read the last twenty chapters of the book of Exodus, which are taken up primarily by a detailed account of the construction of the Tabernacle and its various accoutrements. In seeking to connect these passages with the first half of Exodus, which concerns the Israelites’ enslavement in Egypt and their miraculous redemption, Daniel Berkove calls attention to the parallels and contrasts between the Tabernacle and the ancient pharaonic public works in which the enslaved Jews were engaged. He notes first the similarity between the Hebrew word for the Tabernacle (mishkan, plural mishk’not) and the storage cites (arei misk’not) Pharaoh tasked the Israelites with building.

This curious linguistic connection gives us reason to consider how else the building of the Tabernacle and storage cities might relate to one another.

Ancient Egypt’s palaces, temples, and tombs were magnificent structures built to precise measurements, meant to last millennia, ornately decorated with gold, hieroglyphics, and brightly painted frescoes. . . . But the Tabernacle, which did include furnishings of gold and silver and required skilled workmanship, was essentially a large tent. Rather than permanent stone and brick, it was a modest structure primarily of wood, wool, and animal skins, and by design, easily portable.

Another difference between the Tabernacle and storage cities concerns the labor involved to build them. Pharaoh not only used slaves, but he worked them especially hard and intentionally made their burdens difficult. . . . Compare this to God’s instructions for building the Tabernacle. All of it was to be carried out voluntarily, from the provision of its materials to its construction. Moreover, in an astonishing juxtaposition, when God finished instructing Moses on how to build the Tabernacle, He then told Moses to command the Israelites to keep the Sabbath. The contrast between these two narratives could not be clearer.

Each story represents a different civilization. The civilization of Egypt, so dominant in those ancient times, was one built on material wealth, hierarchy, compulsion, and misery. It was a polytheistic society with deities of limited power that were ambivalent to humanity and required appeasement from their worshipers. . . . The Tabernacle represented an opposing civilization.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Ancient Egypt, Exodus, Hebrew Bible, Tabernacle

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy