God spoke to Moses, saying:
Vayedaber Adonay el-Moshe lemor.
||Speak to the Israelites and have them bring Me an offering. Take My offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give.
Daber el-beney Yisra'el veyikchu-li trumah me'et kol-ish asher yidvenu libo tikchu et-trumati.
||The offering that you take from them shall consist of the following: Gold, silver, copper,
Vezot hatrumah asher tikchu me'itam zahav vachesef unechoshet.
||sky-blue [wool], dark red [wool], [wool dyed with] crimson worm, linen, goats' wool,
Utchelet ve'argaman vetola'at shani veshesh ve'izim.
|God spoke to Moses...|
Some say that this was said to Moses during the 40 days on the mountain (Tanna DeBei Eliahu Rabbah 17; Lekach Tov on Exodus 35:1; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth; Zohar 2:194a, 224a). According to others, it was said after the Golden Calf, when Moses went up for the second set of tablets (Exodus 34:29; Seder Olam Rabbah 6 from Exodus 34:32; Tanchuma 8; Rashi on Exodus 31:18, 33:11). See notes on Exodus 25:16, 26:30.
Terumah in Hebrew, literally, something that is uplifted or elevated (to a higher status).
Or, 'bronze.' The Septuagint thus translates the word as xalkos which can denote copper or bronze, and the MeAm Lo'ez, also, translates it as alambre which is Spanish for copper or bronze. There is some indication that the Hebrew word nechosheth used here indicates pure unalloyed copper (Deuteronomy 8:9; Radak on 1 Kings 7:45). Others, however, state that the Temple vessels were made of brass, which has the same color as gold (Ezra 8:27, Ibn Ezra ad loc.; Radak, s.v. Tzahav; Rambam on Middoth 2:3), and the Talmud clearly states that the vessels made by Moses consisted of this material (Arkhin 10b). Josephus writes that the brass altar looked like gold (Antiquities 3:6:8, see Exodus 27:2). Perhaps it was an alloy of copper and silver or gold.
(Saadia; Yad, Tzitzith 2:1; Josephus 3:6:4). Tekheleth in Hebrew. According to others, it was greenish blue or aquamarine (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; cf. Yerushalmi, Berakhoth 1:5), deep blue, the color of the evening sky (Menachem, quoted in Rashi on Numbers 15:38), azure or ultramarine (Radak, Sherashim), or hyacinth blue (Septuagint; cf. Arukh s.v. Teynun). The Talmud states that it resembled indigo (Menachoth 42b).
This blue dye was taken from an animal known as the chilazon (Tosefta, Menachoth 9:6). It is a boneless invertebrate (Yerushalmi, Shabbath 1:3), having a shell that grows with it (Devarim Rabbah 7:11). It is thus identified with a snail of the purpura family (Ravya on Berakhoth 3b; Mossef HeArukh, s.v. Purpura). The Septuagint also occasionally translates tekheleth as oloporphoros, which indicates that it was made from the pure dye of the purpura (see note, this verse, 'dark red.'
There were some who identified the chilazon with the common cuttlefish, Sephia officinalis (Eyn Tekheleth, p. 29), but most evidence contradicts this.
It is known that the ancient Tyrians were skilled in making this sky-blue dye (2 Chronicles 2:6; cf. Ezekiel 27:16), and that the snails from which it was made were found on the coast of northern Israel and Phoenecia (Targum Yonathan on Deuteronomy 33:19; Shabbath 26a; Strabo 16:757). This indicates that it was the famed Tyrian blue. Around the ancient Tyrian dyeworks, shells of Murex trunculus and Murex brandaris are found. These dyes were also made in Greece and Italy, (Ezekiel 27:7, Targum ad loc.; cf. Iliad 4:141; Aristotle, History of Animals 5:15), and remains of these ancient dyeworks have been found in Athens and Pompeii. The shells found there were the Purpura haemastoma and Murex brandaris (cf. Pliny 9:61).
Some have identified the chilazon with Janthina pallia or Janthina bicolor, deep water snails which produce a light violet-blue (hyacinth) dye (Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac HaLevi Herzog; The Dying of Purple in Ancient Israel, Unpublished, 1919). In ancient times, animals such as these were renowned for their dyes (Pliny 9:60,61).
The dye is removed from a cyst near the head of the snail, preferably while the animal is still alive (Shabbath 75a; Aristotle, History of Animals 5:15). It is boiled with alum as a clarifyer (Menachoth 42b, Rashi ad loc.; cf. Rashi, Avodah Zarah 33b) to produce the dye. The wool is then grounded with alkanat root or aloe wood in order for it to take the dye well (Yad, Tzitzith 2:2; Pliny 9:63).
Only a few drops of dye could be obtained from each snail (Pliny 9:61), and according to one modern researcher, over 8000 snails would be needed to make a single cubic centimeter of the dye. This explains its high cost and its restriction to royalty. See note on Numbers 15:38.
(Yevamoth 4b; Rashi). Nothing other than wool or linen could be used for the priestly vestments (Kelayim 9:1). Some say that the verse here is speaking of dyed silk (Abarbanel; cf. Ibn Ezra), but this goes against Talmudic tradition (Bachya; Sedey Chemed, Chanukah 14, 8:52).
(Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; Pesikta Rabathai 20:3, 86a). Argaman in Hebrew. Others state that it is similar to lake, a purplish red dye extracted from lac (Radak, Sherashim; Rambam on Kelayim 9:1; cf.Yad, Kley HaMikdash 8:13). Although the Septuagint translates argaman as porphura or porphoreus, which means purple, in ancient times, 'purple' denoted a deep crimson, most notably the dye obtained from the purpura snail. Ancient sources indicate that it was close to the color of fresh blood (Iliad 4:141).
Talmudic sources state that argaman was obtained from a living creature (Yerushalmi, Kelayim 9:1), and other sources indicate that it was an aquatic creature (I Maccabees 4:23; Abarbanel on Exodus 25:10). Like tekheleth it was obtained from Tyre (2 Chronicles 2:6, cf. Ezekiel 27:16) as well as Greece or Italy (Ezekiel 27:7, Targum ad loc.).
This dye was therefore most probably derived from a species of the murex or purpura snail. The Septuagint translation, porphura, also denotes the purpura snail. Ancient sources indicate that snails caught in the north yielded a blue dye, while those from the south yielded a reddish dye (Aristotle, History of Animals 5:15). Argaman was most probably obtained from the 'red purpura,' Purpura haemastoma, known to the ancients as the buccinum (Pliny 9:61; see Reshith Limudim 1:6).
In ancient times, material dyed with this color was extremely valuable (cf. Shabbath 90a; Kelim 27:12), and it was weighed as carefully as gold (Kelim 29:4).
The Hebrew word argaman is obscure, but it is thought to be related to ragman, Sanskrit for red. Others say that it is related to the root arag, meaning 'to weave' (BeMidbar Rabbah 4:17, 12:4). Some therefore say that it consisted of two types of thread or three colors woven together (Raavad, Kley HaMikdash 8:13). Some say that it is an irridescent dye, having greenish overtones (Zohar 2:139a; Tikkuney Zohar 70, 127b, top, 124a, top; Maaseh Choshev 3:2).
(Saadia; Radak, Sherashim; Ramban on Parah 3:10; Septuagint). Tolaath shani in Hebrew. Some sources indicate that it was close to orange (Pesikta Rabathai 20:3, Radal ad loc. 36) or pink (Zohar 2:139a as quoted in Maaseh Choshev 3:2).
The dye is produced by a mountain worm (Tosefta, Menachoth 9:16) that looks like a red pea (Rashi on Isaiah 1:18; Yad, Parah Adumah 3:2). This is the Kermes biblicus, known as kermez in Arabic (cf. Saadia; Ralbag translates it as grana, Spanish for conchineal), the conchineal insect, or shield louse, that lives on oak trees in the Holy Land (cf. Pliny 21:22). There are two species, Kermes nahalali and Kermes greeni. In the early spring, when the females are filled with red eggs and become pea-shaped, the red dye can be squeezed out of them (MeAm Lo'ez). See Leviticus 14:4-6, Numbers 19:6.
Shesh in Hebrew, literally, 'six,' indicating a six ply linen thread (Yoma 71b). For this purpose, Egyptian linen, which was particularly silk-like, was used (Saadia; Ibn Ezra).
Like angora (Saadia; Rashi; Abarbanel) or mohair (MeAm Lo'ez, tiptik in Turkish). Or, 'goats' hair' (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra).