The Tabernacle - 9
The Menorah - Part 2
by Brad Scott
It has been the agreement of most Talmudic authorities that the menorah's light specifically illuminated the table of shewbread. This fits typologically with the instruments of the light of YHVH, as well. That would be us folks! The menorah in the Holy Place was to illuminate the mind with the word of God. Then that same light was to be expressed in good works so that our Abba would be glorified. This is the way that our wonderful Creator has designed us. First, our hearts must receive His testimony, then our minds are changed through the study of His words, and finally our bodies are to respond to the commands of the mind. ’Elohiym created us, so He knew in advance that this is how we work. If the word of God is not in your heart, then instructions and communication have to come from somewhere else. This is precisely where most of us were at when we received the word of YHVH. Our minds were taught from sources outside of the word of God. Our view of the world and those around us were formed and shaped by the world and people we were struggling to learn about. In other words, we learned about the conclusion from the premise and we learned about the premise from the conclusion. The truth is that only an outside objective source can be trusted.
In the 16th and 17th centuries there was birthed the so-called "Age of Enlightenment", also called the "Age of Reason". Following on the heels of the Inquisitions, these men turned the western culture to a new kind of light, the light of reason. The religious culture of the post-dark ages continued to produce clergy-over-laity thinking. Church leaders were to be relied on for truth. This led to heavy persecution and death of untold millions, particularly Jews. In response to this, a group of very famous "philosophers of reason" came into being: Marquis de Condorcet, Rene Descartes, Denis Diderot, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire are but a few. During this age, to receive light was to receive truth. God had given man a mind and man was able to reason his existence whether it agreed with the Scriptures or not. Not only was the scriptural teaching of light reinvented, but the use of allegory became popular, once again. God could not be counted on to get any of the fields of science correct, or morality, for that matter. The book of Genesis was spiritualized away, and the rest of the Tanakh was considered ancient stories of a long forgotten people. The Old Testament was considered a lesson for the "church" to heed. The "church" was, of course, the whole intention of God's plan in the first place. The Jews were a picture of how NOT to respond to God. Much of modern Christian teaching today is a direct result of this age and the "romantic" age that followed.There have been a myriad of "ages" that man has seen come and go, all of which have rejected the light of God and accepted another "light". Many world religions today teach that man can receive light if he is willing. Many "new age" religions teach that man must reach out for the light. Many people today have had near death experiences where they have seen "light". To most of these religions, light is an intellectual concept. Light is indeed knowledge. Light is the process of learning about something, or perhaps leaping into another existence. But this is not what the "Jewish" followers of Yeshua‘ would have been thinking when Yeshua‘ taught on this subject. It was the menorah in the Temple that came to mind. It was the eternally lit words of God that would come to mind. The menorah was called the "Light of the World". When Yeshua‘ used this of Himself, He was saying that He was the true bearer of God's light. Simeon recognised this truth in Luke when he said:
Luke 2:30-32For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel ...
Yeshua‘ calls Himself the "Light of the World" during the Chanukah season in Yochanan chapters 8 through 10.
According to Shemot (Exodus) 25:33-38, the single beaten work of the menorah had bowls made like unto almonds at the top of each branch to contain the oil for the light. The bowls were made like unto almonds. The word almonds shares a very interesting root with another word. The word for almonds is shaqad (שקר) which shares the exact same spelling as its verbal root. The word shaqad everywhere else is translated as watch, alert, or to be sleepless. These almond-shaped bearers of the oil for the light teach us something about the nature of being a light bearer. They, or we, are to be watchful and alert as "sons of the light". Again I quote from 1 Thessalonians:
1Thessalonians 5:2-6For yourselves know perfectly that the day of YHVH so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be soberminded.
Hmmm. Remember the parable of the ten virgins, five which took oil in their lamps and five which did not? Do you remember the last thing Yeshua‘ says in that parable? "Watch therefore;..." The "sons of light" know the word of God, obey his commandments, and keep his feasts and sabbaths. The very nature of what they are doing during the courses of YHVH's cycles of righteousness makes them alert and watching. In the Hebrew culture the "sons of darkness", or "sons of the night", are those who do not know Torah and have not the light of YHVH.
The flowers, or perach (פרח), extended downward from the bowls. This word means to blossom, grow, or produce. They added fruitful beauty to the menorah. The true believers of YHVH are spoken of in these terms in many places. The Messiah tells us that we are to be known by our fruit in Mattityahu (Matthew) 7:20. In the Septuagint and Vulgate versions of the Scriptures, the flowers of the menorah are called lilies. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Messiah compares His true followers to the lilies of the field in Mattityahu 6:28-30. The true rod of God produced almonds and buds in Aarons hand in Bemidebar (Numbers) 17. The flowers were to adorn the lamp with beauty and loveliness. A watchful, ready, and waiting bride captures the attention of all that even glance in her direction. The knops or knobs, kaphtor (כפתר) in Hebrew, were also designed to decorate the shaft, as this word always accompanies the flowers. They were also understood to provide strength to the extended shafts or branches.
The tongs or melqach (מלקח) and snuff dishes or machtah (מחתה) are almost an after thought in the design of the menorah, but these were very important items in connection with the maintenance of the light. It is generally agreed by authorities on the tabernacle structure that the tongs were used by the priests to trim or dress the lamp. We must keep in mind that the candlestick translation is not to be seen through western eyes. This was a lamp in which oil sustained a wick in each of the decorative bowls. According to Shemot 30:7-8, the lamps were dressed in the morning and lit in the evening. The trimming and lighting was performed every day. This is the meaning behind the term perpetually. It is also one of the sources for the scriptural background of the morning and evening prayer times. Each time the priests entered to trim or light the menorah, they burned incense on the altar, which are the prayers of the saints (Hitgalut (Revelation) 5:8). We will discuss this further when we get to the golden altar. Perpetually does not mean twenty-four hours a day but daily and always. This is what Sha’ul is referring to when he tells the saints that he is praying for them always. The tongs were used to raise the wicks that the light may shine brighter. Wicks are seen typologically as people in Jewish thought in the same way that trees are also seen as people. If there was little or no oil in the lamp the wick could burn on its own for a short time, but would soon go out if there was no oil in the body of the wick. This is true of the word of God in His people, as well. Many times I have seen people respond to an altar call, or an emotional religious moment, and quickly come ablaze. But in a short time they quickly go out. This seems to be the background of the ten virgins of Mattityahu 25. A lamp can produce light for a short time by a burning wick, but soon goes dark if there is no oil, (Ruach haQodesh, God's word) to feed the wick so that it may shine. According to Jewish tradition, the center shaft, or the yarek (ירך), burned continuously and it was the other six branches that needed to be relit in the evening. The tongs were an important item associated with this lamp. The tongs were also used to take coals from the altar of incense as we see in Yesha’yahu's (Isaiah) vision in chapter six of his book. The snuff dishes were also used in the Holy Place to contain the ashes and the incense at the table of shewbread to be tossed on the golden altar. As we read from Shemot chapter 30, all the instruments of the Holy Place are involved in the daily service of the priests and all have a purpose, physically and spiritually.
YHVH concludes many of these instructions by stating that they were to be made "after the pattern that was given to thee on the mount." This, I believe, is eternally God's cry to His people. Our Creator, from the beginning, has given us His ways and blessed those ways only. It is a very serious matter to change or otherwise cast aside His instructions by allegorizing or spirituallizing them. We know from much revelation in the New Testament that Yeshua‘ is our ultimate temple or tabernacle, and that we, His body, are the earthy representation of this structure (Yochanan (John) 2:21, 1Corinthians 3:16, 1Corinthians 6:19, 2Corinthians 6:16). We must bring His light to a dark world and not our own light, much less the light of church tradition. Only YHVH's light has been blessed, in much the same way that only the seventh day is blessed. Clearly Yeshua‘ was pointing to the menorah, when He said that we were to let our light shine so that men may see our good works and glorify our Father. This is exactly what the menorah did in the Holy Place. It shone directly on the table of shewbread, the life sustaining word of God, that shows us the difference between good works and works of iniquity, or dead works. YHVH's light must not remain in the Holy Place, but is to be brought out into the courts to point to the brazen altar of sacrifice and the one and only door by which man can be saved.
I wish to close this section on the menorah with a few sidebar items. The menorah is a seven-branched lamp as opposed to the Chanukah lamp which is a nine-branched lamp. The two extra branches were added to commemorate the rededication of the temple in 165 B.M. (before Messiah). Technically, the Chanukah lamp is not the menorah, however it is a menorah since it does produce light. The seven-branched menorah was also the pattern used to express YHVH's light or word in the Torah and haftarah readings in the Temple during Yeshua‘’s time. In Luke 4:15-20 we have this image presented to us in Yeshua‘’s reading of Yesha’yahu, which would have been the haftarah reading for that day. As He stood up to read He would be standing on a raised platform called a bimah (βημα) in Greek. There would have been three ministers to His left and three ministers to His right, with the bimah platform in the middle, slightly raised. This viewed from the congregation would appear precisely as the menorah was designed. The minister proclaiming the Torah readings was called a shamash (שמש) or serving minister. This is who Yeshua‘ handed the Torah scroll to in Luke 4:20. The word or light given to the other ministers (remember the seven messengers of the churches in Hitgalut 1:20?) and the congregation was supplied by the shamash or serving minister.
Mattityahu 23:11He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
During the Chanukah season, the lamps are lit each night beginning with one candle and lighting an additional candle each successive night until all nine lamps are shining in full brightness. All the lamps are lit each night from the center lamp call the shamash. You see, none of us can produce our own light. The light we shine must come from the Master lamp. The Messiah, our light, was brought forth in Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 1:3-4. He gave light to the very first man of ’Elohiym's creation, and will not be finished until the entire lamp is illuminated.
Ephesians 4:13,16Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah ... From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of himself in love.
So, fill your bowls with the word of God through the power of the Ruach haQodesh and let your light shine!
Shalom Alecheim! ◊