You can bookmark articles to Read Later

Parasha Terumah (Offering)‏‏‏: The Dwelling Place of God

Terumah (Offering)
Exodus 25:1–27:19; 1 Kings 5:26–6:13; 2 Corinthians 9:1–15

In last week’s Parasha, Israel received God’s laws (mishpatim) at Mount Sinai after being delivered from bondage in Egypt.

This week’s Torah study describes the construction of the Sanctuary.

God wants to ensure that His people will remain in communion with Him, so He commands Moshe (Moses) to build the Sanctuary as a visible reminder that God dwells among them.

Tabernacle-Timna Park-Israel

Timna National Park in Israel: A life-size replica of the portable Tabernacle

The Sanctuary: God’s Tabernacle

The Sanctuary is a visible reminder of God’s presence.

“Then have them make a sanctuary [mikdash] for Me, and I have dwelt [shekhanti] among them.”  (Exodus 25:8)

In verse 8 of Exodus 25, the Hebrew word for sanctuary is mikdash.  This word comes from the Hebrew root K-D-SH.  Many other words denoting sanctity and holiness arise from this root, such as kadosh, which means holy, consecrated, or set apart for sacred purpose, and kedusha, which means holiness.

In the next verse, God’s dwelling place is called a tabernacle.

“Make this tabernacle [mishkan] and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:9)

The Hebrew here is mishkan, and it comes from a Hebrew root word SH-KH-N meaning to dwell.  Derived from this root is the word Sh’chinah, which is the word for the Divine presence or “Shechinah glory” of God.

Hayim Street-Jewish-Quarter-Old City-Jerusalem

Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem

Interestingly enough, this same root word is used for the word neighbor (shochen), one who dwells close to us.  What does this tell us?

That a spark of the Divine, the Shechinah glory of God, resides in each and every person, since we have all been created by the Almighty God, Elohim, in His image.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)

Because that spark of the Shechinah resides in all of us, Yeshua (Jesus) taught us that just as important as it is to love God, it is equally important to love our shochen (neighbor).

God is love, and if we don’t really love people, then we have totally missed His heart:

“The one who does not love does not know God because God is love.”  (1 John 4:8)


Chassidic Orthodox Jew praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

Yeshua’s summary of the Torah deliberately put loving God first because when we put anything or anyone else before God, our world becomes a mess.  When we love God, however, loving our neighbor becomes easier and more natural.

“And we have this command from Him; the one who loves God must also love his brother.”  (1 John 4:21)

Loving one another brings us closer to God.

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  (1 John 4:12)

Do we want to be closer to God?

We may find that we don’t experience the Shechinah glory of God in our own times of prayer as much as when we reach out with hope to the hopeless, food to the famished, and a warm smile to those whose hearts have grown cold.

“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble.  Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”  (Isaiah 58:10)


“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16)

The compassion of God is for the outcast and the downcast, those on the outside looking in, the “have nots” who are too discouraged to even cast a glance at what the “haves” are enjoying.

God dwells with those who are lowly and broken in heart and spirit.

“For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy:  “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  (Isaiah 57:15)

When we obey the promptings of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to practice “acts of random kindness,” we are constructing an ARK—a safe shelter where people can find refuge from the storms of life.

We become a walking mishkan, bringing the Shechinah glory of God to the wilderness areas of our cities and nations.

Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle-James Jacques Joseph Tissot

Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

Offerings for the Sanctuary

“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering.  You are to receive the offering for Me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.”  (Exodus 25:2)

In this Torah portion, God tells Moses to ask the children of Israel to give an offering (terumah) towards the construction of the Sanctuary.

Only those stirred in their hearts with a desire to participate in this holy work are to donate their material goods.  No one is to give grudgingly or out of a sense of duty but out of love and gratitude towards God.

“These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.”  (Exodus 25:3–7)

But where had they acquired all this gold, silver, bronze, precious stones and other symbols of wealth and abundance that they are to give?  Of course, it had all come from the Egyptians.

The Israelites’ memory of their own state of destitution before God rescued and redeemed them is fresh.  All that they have is a direct result of God at work in their lives, so it all belongs to Him.  They are only too happy, therefore, to give some of it back for the construction of a Sanctuary where they can meet with God and commune with Him.


Two Orthodox boys overlook the crowded plaza at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

Why Be a Generous Giver?

No one can outgive God.  Generosity is one of His core attributes and He gives generously.  When He gave us Yeshua, He gave us His very best and most beloved of all.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

Moreover, everything we have also comes from the hand of God.  We should also, therefore, be willing to give back to His work cheerfully and willingly.

In the New Covenant (New Testament) portion of this week’s Parasha, we read that each of us should give as we have purposed in our heart, “not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7)


“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”  (2 Corinthians 9:10)

With this in mind, we also need to understand the spiritual law of sowing and reaping:  He who sows sparingly will reap a sparse harvest, and he who sows abundantly will reap an ample harvest.  (2 Corinthians 9:6)

This principle doesn’t just apply to our financial giving; it is a spiritual law that applies to every area of our life.

Whatever we give generously, we are going to receive back in equal measure—whether that is anger, bitterness, judgment, criticism, and condemnation—or grace, mercy, kindness, encouragement and love.  (Matthew 7:2)

So let’s make sure that we are giving generous praise, encouragement, love, help, blessings, and all the good things that we would want to receive generously in return, including our material offerings (terumot).

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”  (Proverbs 11:25)


A Jewish man reads from the Torah scroll using a yad (Torah pointer) to follow the text and ensure that the parchment is not touched.

 The Pattern Shown to Moses

The Sanctuary (or Mikdash), was a portable structure to accompany the Israelites on their wanderings.

However, the children of Israel could not build a Sanctuary (or tabernacle) for God any way they wanted to; they had to build it according to the specific pattern that God showed Moses on the mountain.

“Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”  (Exodus 25:9)

Why?  Because the Old Covenant tabernacle would become a copy and shadow of a heavenly reality.  (Revelation 15:5; Hebrews 8:5)


Replica of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple Period: the outer court surrounds the central building which houses the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.

The Sanctuary consisted of three main areas: the outer court, the inner court (Holy Place), and the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies).

Some say the three sections of the Mikdash represent our humanity.  We have an outer court–our physical bodies and all of its systems; an inner place where our mind, will and emotions function; and the most holy place, the most inner, secret place where our spirit dwells and communes with God.

The inner Holy of Holies could only be entered once a year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) by the Cohen HaGadol (The High Priest).

The holy places were divided from the outer court by a veil and only the priest could enter them.

When Yeshua died on the execution stake (cross), this all changed.

The veil was torn and through His blood we have all been made priests who have access to the presence of God.  May we never take this privilege for granted.

“In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”  (Ephesians 3:12)

Temple-Holy of Holies

Model of the building housing the Holy of Holies

Building Our Lives According to His Pattern

Our homes are meant to be a mini Beit Mikdash—a mini Holy Temple—a place where God’s presence dwells with us.  For that reason, a serious question we need to ask ourselves is, “Would my home be a place where God can feel comfortable to dwell?”

In the same way that the Sanctuary had to be built according to the pattern shown to Moses on the mountain, we also need to build our homes and lives after the heavenly pattern that God revealed in the Torah, which He gave on Mount Sinai.

No guesswork is involved.

All the wisdom and understanding we need to draw a blueprint for our lives and build a blessed home is found in God’s Word.

Thankfully, Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) is always at work in our lives to show us areas that need to be brought into a closer alignment with the heavenly pattern, rather than our own faulty design.


Jerusalem, Old and New City.  You can clearly see the Temple Mount in this photo.  Behind the green trees in the center, is the top of the “Wailing Wall.”  Many feet below is where the Jewish people worship at the Wall.

In the prophetic portion of Scripture, King Solomon builds a Temple for God in Jerusalem that his father, King David, really wanted to build himself.

However, David was not allowed to build it because he was a man of war; he had too much blood on his hands (1 Chronicles 22:7–9).

The Hebrew name for David’s son, Solomon, is Shlomo.  This name shares the same root same Hebrew root (S-L-M) as shalom, meaning peace.

Indeed, as Solomon’s name testifies, peace was established during his reign.

“And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon.”  (1 Kings 5:26)

report article corrections