*Today’s post might come across as a bit complex. I encourage you to read—the scriptures especially—very carefully and patiently*
GOD AND ṢÊ-LĀʻ
EXODUS 25; THE ARK OF COVENANT
The Lord God speaking to Moses…
Vs. 10And they shall make an ark of acacia wood two cubits and a half in length, and a cubit and a half the width, and a cubit and a half the height.
Vs.12 and you shall cast for [the ark of covenant] four rings of gold and put [it] in the four feet; and the two rings [shall be] on one side (ṣal-̒ōw) [of the ark] and the two rings [shall be] on the other side (ṣal-̒ōw) [of the ark].
Vs. 13-14 And you shall make poles (ḇad-dê) of acacia wood and overlay them with gold; and you shall put the poles into the rings by the sides (ṣal-̒ōt) of the ark to lift the ark with them. The poles (ha-ḇad-dîm) shall not be removed from the rings of the ark.
EXODUS 26; THE TABERNACLE
Vs. 15 and you shall make boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood…
Vs. 18 and you shall make the boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards to the side (lip̄–’aṯ) of the south, toward the south…
Vs. 20 And to the side (ū-lə–ṣe-laʻ) of the tabernacle, [that is], the second side (lip̄–’aṯ) to the north, [shall also be] twenty boards.
Vs. 22 For the two rear sides (yar-kə–ṯê) of the tabernacle westward, you shall make six boards.
Vs. 26-27 And you shall make bars of acacia wood; five [bars] for the boards of one side (ṣe-laʻ) of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side (ṣe-laʻ–) of the tabernacle; and five bars for the boards of the side (ṣe-laʻ) of the tabernacle for the two rear sides (lay-yar-ḵa-ṯa-yim) westward.
Vs. 35 and you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand opposite the table on the side (ṣe-laʻ) of the tabernacle towards the south, and the table you shall put on the side (ṣe-laʻ) of the north.
EXODUS 27; THE ALTAR
Vs.1 And you shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be square [in shape], with the height [being] three cubits.
Vs. 4 And you shall make for the ark a net covering of bronze, and you shall make on the net four bronze rings [to be] in the four corners [of the altar].
Vs. 6 And you shall make poles (ḇad-dîm) for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze.
Vs. 7 And the poles (bad-dāw) shall be fit into the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides (ṣal-̒ōt) of the altar to lift it.
EXODUS 30; THE INCENSE ALTAR
Vs. 1 And you shall make an altar for burning incense. You shall make it of acacia wood.
Vs. 2 It shall be a cubit in length, and a cubit in width; it shall be a square. And the height of the horns [of the altar] shall be two cubits.
Vs. 3 And you shall overlay [the altar] with pure gold; the top, the walls around [it], and [also] the horns. You shall make a moulding of gold [all] around [the altar].
Vs. 4 And you shall make two golden rings underneath [it], you shall make the moulding [of the golden rings] by the two corners (ṣal-ʻōt-ṯāw) on the two sides (ṣid-dāw) ; and they [the rings] shall be places for poles(lə– ḇad-dîm) which will be used to carry the altar.
- The structures under observation: The Ark of covenant, The two Altars, and The Tabernacle.
- There are other Hebrew words in these instances, or in the Hebrew Bible in general, that are used to signify the sides of the objects/structures in question e.g. lip̄–’aṯ, yar-ḵā, ṣid-d.
- Ṣê-lāʻ is not used as a word on its own but as an extra description of certain sides of objects or structures. It depicts more significance.
- Ṣê-lāʻ is used in reference to only two [things]; two sides, two objects, two sections, two corners; the two sides of the tabernacle, the two sides of the rear (26:26, 27).
- The use of ṣe-laʻ for certain chosen sides or sections of a structure or an object connotes the prominence of those specific aspects above others that are apparent.
- In 26:18, 20, 26, 27; the north and south sides of the tabernacle are referred as the first and second (ṣe-laʻ), one or the other side. There was no reference to a third side. The west side, the rear, was mentioned only as itself, not as a third side.
- In 25:12; 27:7; 30:4; the ark and the two altars, being square and rectangular in shape respectively, have four sides but ṣe-laʻ is used in all three instances to signify only two sides as though the other sides are non-existent. Please think on that.
- 30:4 specifically uses tsela to depict ‘two corners’ on the sides, meaning it is not just about the side, but a specific aspect of it.
- The two sides take on important, and usually the exact same, tasks.
- 26:35; the table and the lampstand were each put on one of the two sides of the Tabernacle
- 25:13; 27:7; 30:4; on the two sides of the Ark of covenant and on the two sides of the two Altars, always rest the two poles (bad) that are used to lift them.
- The sides or positions of the structure and objects the word ṣe-laʻ is used for are always opposite to one another, and also facing each other. That is, the two sides of the Altars are opposite and facing each other; the two sides of the Ark; the north and south sides of the Tabernacle. All are opposite and facing each other. Sounds a lot like the word for word translation of ezer kenegedow, right?
- The sides referred to with ṣe-laʻ are always of equal dimensions; having the exact same properties. Twenty boards each were to be put on the north and south sides of the Tabernacle; the two opposite sides of the Altars and the Ark that were chosen, whether the length or the breadth, were of the same cubits in dimension.
- Poles used to lift the ark and the altar rest on the two sides. The poles must never be removed from the sides.
BACK TO GENESIS 2:21-22
Vs. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the ’ā-dām and he slept. And He took one (’a-ḥaṯ) miṣ–ṣal-ʻōt-ṯāw, and closed up the flesh underneath.
Vs. 22 And the Lord God built haṣ–ṣê-lāʻ which [He had] taken from (min-) the human into the female species/women (’iš-šāh); and she came towards the human.
The Exodus grants us access to God’s mind about ṣê-lāʻ, so, with that in mind, we could rewrite the verses above thus,
Vs. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the human and he slept. And He took out one of his two sides, and closed up the flesh underneath.
Vs. 22 And the Lord God built the [one] side which [He had] taken from the human into the female species/women (’iš-šāh); and she came towards the human (now the male-human).
As we can see, there is no actual anatomical rib in this narrative, and we cannot categorically assert, as we used to, that the first human was essentially a male. God did not take a ‘rib’ from the first human, and He certainly did not make a woman from a man’s rib. There is no missing rib. What God took out was way bigger than a rib.
More accurately, the idea is that in that sixth day of the first week, there was in the garden that God had planted a human with the two essential sides of human nature in him. ‘Sides’ is what ṣal-ʻōt-ṯāw means, not ‘ribs’. And it is not just some random sides, but the major sides of whatever is under observation. Here, the sides of the first human (’ā-dām) are what is in focus. Also, we know it was only two sides because tsela always depicts just two things. Gen 1:27, and Gen. 5:2 tell us what these two sides of ’ā-dām are; the male and the female.
In the first human resided a male and a female side. Little wonder he could not find a mate among animals. The human mate could not be found outside of him because they were within him. God did not go back to the mud because he had put the seed for all humans in the first human. Therefore, what God did was put the one to sleep and take out one from the two sides that had been resident in that one body. The side that was left behind and closed up is what became the male as we know it today. The other one that was taken out of that body is what God built into another body that we know today as the female.
This raises other questions…I think? We will get to them in next post. You can also let me know some of yours in the comments.
Have a great weekend ahead!