The Word Made Stone

Moses descends from Mount Sinai, ascends the mountain, and descends again. That is to say, he came down from heaven, returned to heaven, and came down a second time.

Wood carving of the ten commandments in stone on Mount Sinai (Image © Dreamstime/FFOZ)

Ki Tisa

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Ki Tisa (כי תשא | When you take)
  • Torah: Exodus 30:11-34:35
  • Haftarah: 1 Kings 18:1-39
  • Gospel: Mark 9:1-10

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Exodus 30:11 | The Half Shekel for the Sanctuary
    • Exodus 30:17 | The Bronze Basin
    • Exodus 30:22 | The Anointing Oil and Incense
    • Exodus 31:1 | Bezalel and Oholiab
    • Exodus 31:12 | The Sabbath Law
    • Exodus 31:18 | The Two Tablets of the Covenant
    • Exodus 32:1 | The Golden Calf
    • Exodus 33:1 | The Command to Leave Sinai
    • Exodus 33:7 | The Tent outside the Camp
    • Exodus 33:12 | Moses' Intercession
    • Exodus 34:1 | Moses Makes New Tablets
    • Exodus 34:10 | The Covenant Renewed
    • Exodus 34:29 | The Shining Face of Moses
  • Prophets
    • 1Ki 18:1 | Elijah's Message to Ahab
    • 1Ki 18:20 | Elijah's Triumph over the Priests of Baal

Portion Summary

Ki Tisa (כי תשא), the twenty-first reading from the Torah, literally means "when you lift up." It comes from the first words of the second verse of the reading, which could be literally rendered, "When you lift up the head of the sons of Israel to reckon them" (Exodus 30:12). The phrase "lift up the head" is an idiom for taking a head count. The portion begins with instructions for taking a census, finishes up the instructions for making the Tabernacle, reiterates the commandment of Shabbat and then proceeds to tell the story of the golden calf. The majority of Ki Tisa is concerned with the sin of the golden calf, the breach in the covenant between God and Israel, and how Moses undertakes to restore that covenant relationship.

In this Torah portion, Moses descends from Mount Sinai, ascends the mountain, and descends again. That is to say, he came down from heaven, returned to heaven, and came down a second time. The first and second coming of the Messiah follows the same pattern. As the divine Logos descended from the heavenly glory of the Father to take on flesh and dwell among men, He came with a purpose: to save Israel and to bring salvation to the world. Just like Moses at Mount Sinai, the Messiah descended on a rescue mission to call Israel to repentance and to avert the disaster of judgment. He descended to renew the covenant between God and His people.

When Moses came down the first time, he carried the Word of God—not the Word made flesh but the Word made stone— upon the two tablets of the covenant. In this way the Word descended from the heavens and entered this lower world: “The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16). The breaking of the tablets allude to the death of the Messiah:

The letters of the tablet are likened to its soul, while the tablets themselves are its body. When the soul deserts the body, the body is ready for burial. When Moshe saw the letters fly off, he broke the tablets. Our Sages say that the tablets became very heavy in Moshe’s hands after the letters flew off, just as a man becomes heavier after his death, when his soul departs. (Tz’enah Ur’enah)

Moses interceded in prayer and fasting on behalf of the people. He provoked them to repent. Moses said to the people, “Perhaps I can make atonement for your sin” (Exodus 32:30).

God told Moses to carve out new stone tablets and return to Him on the mountain. If the tablets that Moses broke allude to the body of Yeshua which died for the sins of Israel, then we might say that the new tablets represent His resurrected body—the token of the new covenant. Moses brought the new tablets back up the mountain. Likewise, Yeshua rose from the dead in a renewed body and returned to the Father. Just as the new tablets went back up the mountain, so too, Messiah ascended back to the heavens, back to the Father.

Moses went back down the mountain with the new tablets. Likewise, when the Messiah returns, He “will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28, NIV). Moses’ face radiated the brilliant glory of the LORD. So too, when Messiah returns, He will come like Moses, in His Father’s glory, in power and splendor, as He has promised, saying, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels” (Matthew 16:27). He comes white as snow, blazing like the sun, fairest of fair, purest of pure, glory unveiled, glory revealed.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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Torah Club is an interactive group Bible study that brings together disciples from diverse backgrounds to share the common ground of new discovery. This year only, Torah Clubs have the option of following the main study track commentary, Shadows of the Messiah. This deep dive into the Torah employs Jewish commentary and ancient Christian texts to reveal Messiah in the books of Moses.

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