Shmos 25 (6) lists amongst the materials needed for the mishkan "oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the incense" which seem to be consumables and not for the building of the mishkan. The Daas Zekainim points out the incongruity especially as the wheat for the Shewbread the lambs for the daily sacrifice and the wood for the altar are not mentioned.

He and the Chizkuni answer that it is customary to perfume the palace and light lights (even though He does not need the light) before the King comes to palace. In the mishkan too, G-d could not, so to speak, dwell there until there was perfume and light.

Therefore these materials were essential to the construction of the mishkan. Without them G-d could not have, so to speak, dwelt there.

I clearly do not understand the answer sufficiently because the question still seems to me to be better than the answer.

Can someone please explain or quote another answer?

  • As I understand your presentation of the answer, what they are saying is that the oil and spices are used to prepare the Mishkan for God to "dwell there"( because they beautify it), whereas the wheat for the show-bread, the animals for the sacrifices, and the wood for the alter are used in serving God in the Mishkan. What exactly is your problem with the answer?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 13:15
  • @TamirEvan The idea that we need light and perfume for the King to enter the palace is not mentioned anywhere else. Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 22:09
  • Why is that a problem?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 4:28
  • @TamirEvan An answer is more acceptable if it builds on a previously known and accepted principle. But I do like your restatement of the answer "to prepare the Mishkan for God to "dwell there" because they beautify it" and barring any new contributions will be happy to leave it at that. Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 13:56
  • @TamirEvan These Rashi references to kings and the mishkan fit the comparison of the mishkan and Hashem to palace and the King. I am happy. 25 (24) “a golden crown: symbolic of the crown of kingship, for the table represents wealth and greatness, as they say, “the royal table.” - 26 (31) “a dividing curtain: a word denoting a dividing curtain. In the language of the Sages פַּרְגוֹד something that separates between the king and the people.” 29 (43) “There I will arrange meetings: I will arrange to speak with the children of Israel, as a king who arranges a place to speak with his servants.” Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


Another answer is offered by Netziv (Shemos 25:6), who says that these specific things are mentioned here because they need to be specially purchased and are very expensive:

ובזה נתיישב הא שמונה הכתוב ״שמן למאור בשמים לשמן המשחה ולקטורת הסמים״ בכלל מעשה המשכן יותר מחיטים לסולת המנחות או בהמות לקרבן תמידים, וכן מפורש במעשה המשכן שעשה בצלאל את לחם הפנים, וא״כ נצרכו לסולת. ולא נמנה כאן השמן אלא בשביל שהיה דבר יקר ואינו נמצא לקנות אלא בסגולת מלכים ועשירי עם.

Presumably this applies to the Ketores as well. See also Ralbag who emphasizes similarly that the oil was very special and hard-to-get.

Artom here seems to suggest that since they had various uses in the Mishkan, they were collected now for all of their uses, even though some of them were not necessary for building.

As an aside, I (and Tamir Evan in the comments, h/t to you for how you responded and explained yourself) don't understand your problem with the answer you brought from Chizkuni. It seems to be very straightforward - for a regular palace, a king would only move in after the house was properly lit up and perfumed. It has nothing to do with whether or not we see Hashem being unable to dwell there beforehand. That which you said from Chizkuni, that

"...In the mishkan too, G-d could not, so to speak, dwell there until there was perfume and light. Therefore these materials were essential to the construction of the mishkan. Without them G-d could not have, so to speak, dwelt there.

is your personal interpretation, as well as the basis for your issue that this idea is not mentioned elsewhere. Chizkuni actually says:

שמן למאר – כל עניני הפרשה מתקוני הבנין שאין דרך למלך לבא אל ביתו עד שיתקנו בו אורה, ומאותו שמן עצמו יקחו לצורך המשחה לקדש בו כל הבנין. בשמים – בלולים בשמן המשחה. דרך מלכים לבשם להם הבית קודם שיכנסו בו.‏


Maybe it would help to recast the Chizkuni's analogy in contemporary terms:

Suppose a flesh-and-blood man who lives like a king (as we all B"H do nowadays, compared to people in the Dark Ages the Chizkuni lived in) buys a house. Would he consider the house ready to move into if the electricity, water, and heat are not turned on? No. Even though every single piece of fixed infrastructure is there, without ready flows of these essential consumables, the house is not a habitable structure yet (for spoiled 21st-century people, at least).

Maybe more to the point, if you built a house for, say, your parents, as an expression of respect and desire for them to live near you, would you invite them to move in before the utilities are turned on? No. Beside the practical problems, this would feel neither respectful nor a sincere expression of wanting them to be close.

Similarly, if we consider light and perfume to be necessary elements of high-class living, we wouldn't present a house as a representation of our desire to be close to God's Presence (as it were) without them in place.

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