(א) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ (ב) דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃ (ג) וְזֹאת֙ הַתְּרוּמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּקְח֖וּ מֵאִתָּ֑ם זָהָ֥ב וָכֶ֖סֶף וּנְחֹֽשֶׁת׃ (ד) וּתְכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ וְעִזִּֽים׃ (ה) וְעֹרֹ֨ת אֵילִ֧ם מְאָדָּמִ֛ים וְעֹרֹ֥ת תְּחָשִׁ֖ים וַעֲצֵ֥י שִׁטִּֽים׃ (ו) שֶׁ֖מֶן לַמָּאֹ֑ר בְּשָׂמִים֙ לְשֶׁ֣מֶן הַמִּשְׁחָ֔ה וְלִקְטֹ֖רֶת הַסַּמִּֽים׃ (ז) אַבְנֵי־שֹׁ֕הַם וְאַבְנֵ֖י מִלֻּאִ֑ים לָאֵפֹ֖ד וְלַחֹֽשֶׁן׃ (ח) וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃
(1) The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. (3) And these are the gifts that you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and copper; (4) blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair; (5) tanned ram skins, dolphin skins, and acacia wood; (6) oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the aromatic incense; (7) lapis lazuli and other stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (8) And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.
R. Isaac Abravanel (15th cent. Spain)- Commentary on Exodus 25:8
Why did [God] command the erection of the tabernacle, when [God] said "that I may dwell among them," as if God were an object demarcated and limited in space — which is the opposite of the truth!... After all, God himself spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah (66:1): "The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what kind of house can you build for me?"
Sefer HaChinuch (16 cent.)
Know, my child, that any commandment that God requires of humankind comes only out of God's desire to benefit us... God's command to build the Tabernacle, for us to offer therein our prayers and sacrifices, comes not out of God's needs to dwell in an earthly dwelling among humankind, but rather [out of God's awareness that we need] train our own selves...
The verse does not say, "and I will dwell within it," but "and I will dwell within them"--within each and every one of them.
Malbim (19th cent. Eastern Europe)- Commentary on Exodus 25:8
...Each one of us needs to build God a Tabernacle in the recesses of our hearts, by preparing oneself to become a Sanctuary for God and a place for the dwelling of God's glory.
Oh Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
And in thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for you.
Ve-asu li mikdash
Ve-a-nach-nu ne-var-ech Yah
May-atah ve-ad o-lam.
Even more than the Star of David, the menorah is the symbol that has long been synonymous with the Jewish people. It is the central image in the official seal of the State of Israel.
The Arch of Titus in Rome. This arch was commissioned a mere 12 years (82 CE) after the destruction of the Temple for Rome to celebrate the conquering of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Then 1100 years later, Maimonides offered a version of what he thought the Menorah looked like. Here, the arms are straight diagonals rather than curved branches as depicted in the Arch of Titus. Maimonides interpreted the menorah to look very different than the earlier depiction in the Arch of Titus would suggest.English
(א) יצאים מצדיה. לְכַאן וּלְכַאן בַּאֲלַכְסוֹן, נִמְשָׁכִים וְעוֹלִין עַד כְּנֶגֶד גָּבְהָהּ שֶׁל מְנוֹרָה שֶׁהוּא קָנֶה הָאֶמְצָעִי, וְיוֹצְאִין מִתּוֹךְ קָנֶה הָאֶמְצָעִי זֶה לְמַעְלָה מִזֶּה, הַתַּחְתּוֹן אָרוּךְ, וְשֶׁל מַעֲלָה קָצַר הֵמֶנּוּ, וְהָעֶלְיוֹן קָצָר הֵימֶנּוּ, לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה גּוֹבַהּ רָאשֵׁיהֶן שָׁוֶה לְגָבְהוֹ שֶׁל קָנֶה הָאֶמְצָעִי, הַשְּׁבִיעִי, שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ יוֹצְאִים הַשִּׁשָׁה קָנִים:
(1) יצאים מצדיה [AND SIX BRANCHES] SHALL GO OUT OF ITS SIDE — on each side extending diagonally (b’alachson) on high up to the level of the candlestick proper, i. e. of the middle branch. They came out from the middle branch, one above the other — the lowest being the longest, that above it being shorter than it, and the upper one even shorter than that, for the height of their tops was to be the same as the height of the middle branch — the seventh, the central one, from which the other six branches came out.
Image from fragments in the Burnt House. The Burnt House is believed to have been set on fire during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Those who argue against its authenticity are quick to point out that certain elements of the menorah are omitted in this depiction. For example, the menorah had feet extending from its base whereas the menorah on the Arch of Titus has no feet. The base of the menorah certain fits the Hellenistic and Herodian style which was current at that time and there is ample reason to suggest Herod redesigned the menorah to make it more atheistically appealing.
Over the last couple of years or so, the feet of the menorah unearthed from a newly-discovered synagogue not far from the Migdal Beech in Jerusalem, strongly resembles the feet of the menorah depicted on the famous Hasmonean coin. But the synagogue menorah is resting on a square base, whereas the coin’s menorah is not.