Illustration: Garments of the High Priest of Israel


In previous articles we have touched upon materials, numbers, animals, names and other items associated with the tabernacle. In this article I would like to discuss the three main colors which are repeatedly referred to in this Torah portion, as well as previous ones:  argaman” which is usually described as: purple or crimson; “talit” which is usually described as: light blue or sky blue; and “shani” which is usually described as: scarlet.

The Hebrew word for: purple/crimson also means: “to throw a stone” (as in an execution). We have shown in other articles that a stone should be associated with the law since the Ten Commandments are written on stone. We also mentioned that David had used 5 stones to kill Goliath by destroying the source of his ideas (i.e. his brain) and we suggested that this had something to do with the laws about redemption. What we did not discuss, however, was David used his hand to reach into a stream of water to locate these stones. Since Moses said his words were like a heavy rainfall, this suggests that water from a stream also represents teachings or explanations about God’s word, but at a lower level of understanding. So, these explanations, represented by the water, cleansed away some misconceptions and made it possible for David “to grasp” some basic and fundamental concepts about God’s teachings on redemption and then to use these legal principles to defeat the religious ideas of the Philistines.

In an article about the ancient language of Paleo-Hebrew we noted that a ox’s head ( the letter: “aleph”) represented: intellectual strength. It is my personal opinion that when the Tanakh speaks about powerful men like Samson or Goliath these are metaphors for academic ability. Hence, Goliath was an “intellectual giant” and not the large man Jack found at the top of the beanstalk.

In other articles we also spoke about a person’s clothes indicating the source of his religious beliefs and that naked men like King Saul and Noah were associated with prophets.

If we look at the Paleo-Hebrew letters used to spell: “argaman” we get a set of pictures representing: an ox’s head (intellectual strength); a head (the source of man’s ideas); a foot (the part of the body needed to walk along: “the way”); water (religious explanations); and a seed (an idea passed from one generation to the next).

In order to better appreciate what we are being shown here, it is necessary to recall the curse God placed on Eve and the Snake: the snake would bite the heel of Eve’s descendants and they would try and use that same heel to crush the head of the snake. In other words: each would attack the source of inspiration of the other.

We have already discussed in several articles that Jacob’s son: “Dan” is compared to a snake and that his name means: “judge”. Therefore, a snake represents a teacher of the law and not a demonic being. We also mentioned that the Hebrew word for snake shares the same root as the word used in the Torah for bronze/copper and that these materials were used for the two main pillars in the temple and for the incense altar. Our conclusion was that: “the bronze snake” was a metaphor for: “inspirational laws which were the foundation of communicating with God”.

 So, in Greek Mythology, a sea goddess named Thetis, dips her son into the river Styx and makes him invulnerable to the attacks of men. Unfortunately, she holds his heel with her hand and at this location he is still vulnerable. Naturally, as Jews, we immediately compare this to the story of Jacob grasping the heel of his brother Esau and the curse we just discussed about the heel of Eve’s descendants.

To make a long story short: the waters of the River Styx removes one’s memory, hence the mind of Achilles is wiped clean of the teachings of men and he can no longer be harmed by them. Yet, he is indeed killed by Paris who shoots a poisoned arrow into this exposed heel. There are two very significant points to consider here:

·        Homer always referred to Paris by the name: “Alexander” and this name means: “defender of men”.

·        “God’s mountain” is also called: “Mount Moriah” and the root of the Hebrew word “Moriah” means: “to shoot an arrow” as well as: “teacher”

So, if God is indeed a teacher who provides the priest with the source of his religious beliefs, then the color “argaman” must reflect or reinforce this idea in some way.

So again: in the letters of the word “argaman” we have “intellectual strength” (bull’s head); a source of men’s ideas (man’s head), a source of men’s inspirations (his foot/heel); explanations of God’s teachings (water) and an idea which can be passed from generation to generation (seed). So, in my personal opinion, this could mean: “When we use explanations of God’s laws to cleanse and purify the teachings of men, then this will open him to the inspirational teachings of God and give him great intelligence and the ability to pass along God’s ideas to his sons”.   

The second color is “talit” which is generally described as: “sky blue”. In Hebrew this word is associated with flowers and, in fact, the original design of: “the fringes” on the four corners of one’s clothing were supposed to be this light blue color and the designed was to remind one of flowers. Unfortunately, modern teachers of the oral law, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that Jews should not wear this blue thread because we are not absolutely sure which shade of blue the Torah refers to and hence they have decided Jews must wear white threads. Of course, we must also remember that these teachers of the oral law told the orthodox Jews of Poland not to move to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to remain in Poland despite the oncoming threat of Nazi Germany.  But hey, if you are an orthodox man, keep wearing your white fringes. After all, what are the chances that the teachers of the oral law are wrong …. again ?

Regardless, the purpose of the blue, flower like, threads on one’s garments was to help one “not forget God’s commandments” to keep one from “following one’s own heart and following one’s own way”.

So, it should be clear then why the teachers of the oral law do not want their followers to wear the sky blue threads and why they told their followers to stop placing the Ten Commandments on their doors. Teachers of the oral laws don’t want you to remember God’s commandments; they want you to remember their commandments. Teachers of the oral law don’t want you to follow God’s way; they want you to follow their ways.

Thus, teachers of the oral law do not shoot the arrows of Mount Moriah; they shoot the poisoned arrows of Paris/Alexander.

Regardless, it is obvious that if the color “sky blue” is associated with remembering God’s commandments and following God’s ways then this color would be selected for the garments of God’s spokesmen.

The final color is scarlet and in Hebrew this word “shani” also means “second”. We see it in the story of Judah’s twin sons who were the result of him having intercourse with Tamar the widow of his two evil sons: Er and Onan.

In short: the hand of Judah’s son “Zerah” (whose name also means: “scarlet”) appeared first and the midwife attached a scarlet thread to the hand to mark which child was born first. But, the hand was withdrawn and out popped the other twin “Peretz” and he became the first born (his name means: “to break out”).

What is interesting about all this, is that the teachers of the oral law say that the color scarlet should be associated with good fortune and material wealth and today many celebrities wear a scarlet thread on their wrists for: “luck”. Well, it wasn’t too lucky for “Zerah”, was it?

Nevertheless: If the color scarlet is associated with the concept of: “second place”, then why does it appear on the clothing of the priests?

The concept of twin brothers reversing their order of birth appears three times in the Torah: Jacob & Esau; Zerah & Peretz; and then with Joseph’s sons: Manasseh & Ephraim. The psychologist Maurice Nicoll in his book: “The New Man” felt that Esau, Zerah and Manasseh represented: righteousness and knowledge of the law, whereas Jacob, Peretz and Ephraim represented “goodness”. Hence, first we must study the law for 6 days of the week and then we must rest and allow God’s message to come to us on the Sabbath.

Therefore, the “second teaching” is the more important one, even though righteousness and knowledge of the law is extremely important.

Leah is associated with the heifer and we noted in the story of Samson’s riddle that heifers are metaphors for the intellectual strength needed to study in a religious school. Rachel, however, is associated with the lamb and Joseph is associated with the Sabbath (the son set apart from his brothers). We discussed in the article about David and Bathsheba that a lamb was associated with revelations from God thru spiritual mediums:

Hence Joseph, as the son of the Rachel the Ewe, had the ability to interpret dreams and explain God’s will.

Accordingly, the scarlet color on the priest’s clothing seems to suggest that the source of their teachings is not religious law, but inspirational messages from God. Messages indeed worth waiting for….          

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