The colors.

Before we complete the Tabernacle and leave Exodus/Shemot, I must pause to consider the oft-mentioned color trio: “tekhelet, v’argaman v’tolaat shani.” These colors are central in the tent instructions/construction and appear throughout the priestly garments. The same colors are, of course, prominent in contemporary Jewish textiles and other arts.

Tekhelet — Blue, Sky Blue or Indigo.

Argaman — Purple.

Tolaat shani — Scarlet or Crimson.

“Blue Wheat,” “Ode to Overturning Bowers vs. Hardwick” and “Pink Pomegranate” (looks scarlet to me) — above — are all works by DC-area artist Judybeth Greene.

The quilt below was made by Amy Leila Smith, of Blue Feet Studio in Maine, for the National Havurah Committee.

…seems fitting closure for a portion which focuses on weaving, long a woman’s art. See, e.g., Women’s Work, the First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber (Norton, 1994).

For more on the special history of tekhelet blue, see Ehud Spanier’s history (details in Source Materials).

[Note on print and internet sources focusing on these three colors, especially tekhelet: Many Jews involved in reconstructing exact colors of the Tabernacle and related work are deeply concerned with preparing for the Third Temple.]

Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.

The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

Posted by vspatz

Virginia blogs on Jewish topics at "A Song Every Day" and manages the Education Town Hall and #WeLuvBooks sites. More at

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