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Monday, January 14, 2013

Did The Levites Wear Shoes Inside The Tabernacle?

This question was raised in this post, and since it is such a good question I wanted to dedicate a separate post to it, as well as to elaborate a little bit more about what I think.

As you can see from this image, Aaron and his sons (Eleazar and Ithamar) shown as wearing shoes.

But as you might have noticed from the text of the Pentateuch, in the description of the Priestly Garments in Exodus 28 and Exodus 39, there are absolutely no details about any kind of special footwear for the priests. This, in my opinion, provides us with two possibilities:

  1. The text of the Pentateuch as we have it to day is missing this part of the description; similar to description of the transportation of the Tabernacle Laver, which is not present in traditional Masoretic Text but only in the Samaritan Pentateuch. 
  2. There are invisible clues, somewhere in the text that need to be found in order to definitively say if the priests wore any footwear or not.
If it is the matter of the first case, then we have no other choice but to wait until some other complete version of the Pentateuch surfaces which will provide us with the exact details of the footwear for the priests. In this case there is not much that can be done to resolve this question.

However, there are some clues in the text that I would like to present to you below, which in my opinion can be used as a good starting point for the research of the answer to this question.

There are two clues that I'm aware so far that may help to answer this question:
  1. In Exodus 3:5 Moses is asked to remove his shoes because he appeared to have been standing in the presence of God and on the Holy Ground. As you remember, the Tabernacle also "housed" the presence of God and in a way it was also a Holy Ground. So as you can see, this clue is in favor of the priests walking barefoot either within the confinements of the entire Tabernacle, or at least within the confinements of the Tent of the Tabernacle.
  2. On the other hand, Exodus 30:18-21 tells us explicitly, that the priest were to wash their hands and feet so that they would not die when they are either going into the Tent of the Tabernacle or when they are serving by the Altar of Burnt Offering. So, as you can see, this clue provides us with completely opposite picture, which does not put any emphasis on the footwear, but only requires libation of the hands and feet.
  3. The text of Deuteronomy 8:15 tells us that the desert where the Hebrews traveled and abode for 40 years was very harsh and dangerous, which implies that it was not nice, beach like, sandy desert, but rather very rocky terrain with dust and rough ground. This suggest that walking barefoot in such conditions would be rather very painful and uncomfortable for the priests, even if the Tabernacle area was cleaned up beforehand. And even in the sandy desert, it is still not very comfortable to walk barefoot as the sand would constrain the walking. Not to mention that any desert gets very cold at night, especially during the winter season and if the priests were to walk barefoot they would most certainly would get ill and cold.
Thus, my current opinion on this matter is that the priests most certainly wore some kind of footwear (shoes, or whatever was most convenient for them. Just like I show on this and my other images of the priests:



However, it is possible that either they had a separate pairs of shoes when which they would put on when they were dressing for the service (Exodus 28:42-43 or Leviticus 16:3-4), or they wore the same footwear that they would wear outside the Tabernacle. However, as its been pointed out in Exodus 30:18-21, they still would have to wash their feet and hands before entering the Tent or coming close to the Altar of Burnt Offering. 

And once again, just like I pointed out above, it is also quite possible that all of the versions of the Pentateuch that we have today were simply edited and the part about special footwear for the priests has been lost. This is why it is always important to examine all available manuscripts and not just the traditional ones.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Александр, шалом!

Тема обуви Первосвященника Израиля нас еще заставит очень сильно поработать головой.
Источник тепла в Шатре все-таки был - Светильники Меноры горели с вечера и до утра.
Вся конструкция Шатра была укрыта утепленным пологом из шерсти и шкур бараньих, и шкур тахашей. Возможно, что дополнительный обогрев был за счет "работы термопар",которыми являлись блоки Мишкана. Нельзя отвергать сходу это хитрое устройство стен Шатра, а надо исследовать физику устройства Шатра.
Даже без учета всех физико-технических хитростей Шатра, могу предположить, что в Шатре было тепло. После войны я была в деревне у своей слепой тетки. В хате был земляной пол, от двери до печки была положена одна широкая доска, по ней она ходила зимой и летом босяком. Возможно, что и в Шатре от входа до Меноры была положена доска или деревянный настил, а может быть и просто шкуры баранов постелены, но сейчас эти сведения утеряны. Скоро всё откроется.
Не знаю как за пределами Шатра, но в самом Шатре, думаю, что Первосвященник ходил босяком. Хотя не исключено, что "на босу ногу" - это значит просто без носков. Но это только мои предположения.
Спасибо Вам за эту многотрудную работу.

Дина из Москвы.

The Intrepid Hen said...

Was the outer part of the tabernacle considered holy ground, or only the tent of meeting?

The way Exodus 30 is phrased, it does sound as if the barefoot part is while they are IN the tent, including burning incense (perfuming the offering). The language does seem specific to that part of the tabernacle. It makes sense that to wear footwear outside the tent (which seems quite logical) isn't what is being addressed here.

Still...why no shoes on holy ground? What do shoes represent that they have to be removed?

Aleksandr Sigalov said...

All the text says is that the priests were to wash their hands and feet before entering the Tent and approaching the Altar of Burnt offering. Aside from that, there are no explicit references to footwear of any kind. In my opinion this is strange, as the text provides minute details about Priestly Garments, even the underwear... but not the footwear.

Like I mentioned in my post, most likely this is either not important or this part of the text got lost in time. Maybe if some earlier version of Torah will ever be found, maybe there will be some details about the footwear. That is my best guess for now.

But the reason Moses was asked to take off his shoes in Exodus 3:5 was perhaps because shoes are dirty and also because walking barefoot gets you in touch with the ground you are walking on... something like that, i guess.

But just like most questions in Torah, the research needs to be done to answer it properly. I just brought it up because it seemed important to me.

Anonymous said...

Александр, я считаю, что Вы совершенно правильно рассуждаете. Вопрос наличия или отсутствия обуви у Первосвященника при входе в Шатер - это очень важный. Действительно, ходьба босиком по земле делает нас в контакте с земным магнетизмом.
Уверена, что природа влияния на мозг и сердце человека земного магнетизма не изучена должным образом, а напрасно. Могу предположить, что Мишкан был своего рода "живым организмом" со своими магнитными, электрическими и энергетическими полями, своего рода камертоном для всех участников Собрания около Мишкана. И не только в духовном плане, но и в физическом. Человек получал около Мишкана не только духовную терапию, но и физиотерапию. Уверена, что многие болезни сердца излечивались около Мишкана. Мишкан был своего рода "водителем ритма" духовной и физической жизни человека.
Мишкан - это выдающееся изобретение инженерной мысли, которое до сих пор совершенно не изучено.
Спасибо Вам за внимание ко всем аспектам этого сложнейшего сооружения под названием "Мишкан".

Dina из Москвы.

Aleksandr Sigalov said...

Спасибо вам за комментарий, Дина. Я вобщем-то с вами полностью согласен.

Anonymous said...

Мишкан - это нам подарок от Бога!
Странно мне, что Мишкан отвергнут не только сынами Израиля, что является самой ужасной ошибкой всего общества Израиля за всю историю народа, но даже и весь христианский мир не придаёт должного значения Мишкану.
Йешуа для того и учил народ, чтобы вернулись сыны Израиля к той исконной традиции служения Богу, где Мишкан играет ведущую роль, является незаменимым инструментом, и является очень важным аспектом ("деталью") в деле Преображения человеческого сознания в мировом масштабе.
Учение Моисея говорит нам о том, что Спасение невозможно в отдельно взятой Стране. Но оно возможно во всём мире при условии, что сыны Израиля сами будут примером для дугих народов и даже Эталоном служения Богу через Десятины свои. Заповедь Бога о Десятинах просто обязывает Левитов нашего поколения работать только в Мишкане, потому что сказано в Торе Моше - это вечное установление Бога. На все времена! (Числа 18:23). К сожалению, этого понять сейчас не могут даже мудрецы Израиля.
Спасибо Вам, Александр, что напоминаете сынам Израиля о той традиции служения Богу, которую основал сам Моисей в Пустыне.

Dina из Москвы.

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