Betzalel - Many Layers of Meaning


Who or what is Betzalel?  What does Betzalel have to do with the Exodus Tabernacle? 

SHORT ANSWER: A man named "Betzalel" (or בצלאל in Hebrew) was Moses’ assistant who was appointed to coordinate the construction of the Tabernacle during the time of the Egyptian Exodus (see Exodus 31:2).

LONG ANSWER: The meaning of Betzalel is multi-faceted, as the word is comprised of Hebrew letters with their own individual meanings.(a) The Hebrew word Betzalel suggests:

ב צ ל א ל


1. "In (the) image (of) God".
The Hebrew letter ב (typically pronounced "biet") is a preposition meaning "in", the word צל (pronounced "tzal") means "image", and אל (pronounced "el") means "god".


2. "House (in the) image (of) God".
In addition to being used as a preposition, the Hebrew letter ב also signifies a tent floorplan or house (also pronounced "biet").


3. “House (of) wandering teacher (of) God”.

The Hebrew letter צ also implies "wandering", and ל resembles a staff of authority, used for guiding and correcting, i.e., teaching.  The Tabernacle is associated with Moses, who was Israel's instructor who wandered with Israel.


4. "House (of) wandering sheep (of) God".
The Hebrew letter ל also resembles shepherd's staff used for directing sheep.  The Israelites were often likened unto sheep.


5. "Onion (of) God".
Derived from צל, the Hebrew word בצל (betzal) means "onion", which is a vegetable that features multiple and translucent layers of a similar and proportioned "image".

6. "Gem (of) God".
The English word "bezel" (thought to be derived from French or Spanish) is used to describe the angled face or facet of a gemstone. Obviously, gemstones are known for their ability to collect and reflect light (ultimately creating multiple images). According to the Exodus account, a variety of gems were used in the priests’ breast piece, which was constructed and used in conjunction with Betzalel’s Tabernacle.

Go to next page:  Why Betzalel?


References:

a.  For ancient Hebrew letter meanings, see chart below (ref. http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/28_chart.html.)



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