Parshas Ki Sisa

Words in bold represent changes to the traditional translation based on the Aramaic translation/commentary attributed to Onkelos the Ger.

Parshas Ki Sisa


11. Hashem spoke with[1] Moshe, saying:

12. When you accept an accounting of the children of Israel according to their numbers, each man shall pay a redemption for his soul before Hashem when they are counted and there will be no plague among them through their being counted.

13. This is what everyone who passes through the counting shall give: half a sela[2] of the holy sela, 20 ma’ah[3] to the sela. Half a sela as an offering before Hashem.

14. Everyone who passes through the counting, from 20 years old up, shall give a portion before Hashem.

15. The rich shall not increase and the poor shall not decrease from half a shekel to give Hashem’s offering to atone for your souls.

16. You shall take the atonement money from the children of Israel and give it to the service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a reminder before Hashem for the children of Israel, to atone for your souls.

17. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

18. Make a basin of copper and its stand of copper, for sanctifying.[4] Place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water there.

19. Aharon and his sons shall sanctify their hands and feet from it.

20. When they come to the Tent of Meeting they shall sanctify with water and they won’t die, or when they approach the altar to serve, to bring an offering[5] before Hashem,

21. they shall sanctify their hands and feet, and they won’t die. It will be an eternal statute for them, for him and his descendants for their generations.

22. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

23. (As for) you, take to yourself choice spices: pure myrrh, 500 (sela in) weight; fragrant cinnamon, half as much – 250 (in) weight; fragrant cane, 250 (in) weight;

24. and cassia, 500 weight in the holy sela; olive oil, a full hin.[6]

25. Make it into a holy anointing oil, a perfumed mixture, the work of a perfumer. It will be holy anointing oil.

26. Anoint with it the Tent of Meeting, and the Ark of the testimony,

27. and the table and all its utensils, and the Menorah and all its utensils, and the spice incense altar,

28. and the altar for burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin and its stand.

29. You shall sanctify them and they will be most holy;[7] whatever touches them shall be holy.

30. Anoint Aharon and his sons, and sanctify them to minister before Me.

31. And speak to the children of Israel, saying: This will be holy anointing oil before Me throughout your generations.

32. It shall not be poured on a person’s flesh, and according to its recipe do not make anything in its ratio. It is holy and to you it shall be holy.

33. A person who mixes its like, or who puts from it onto an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.

34. Hashem said to Moshe: Take to yourself spices – balsam sap, onycha and galbanum—spices and pure frankincense; unit for unit they shall be.[8]

35. Make it into spice incense, aromatic, the work of a perfumer, blended, pure, holy.

36. Beat (some) of it and crush it; put (some) of it before the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, that I will cause My Word to meet with you there. It will be most holy to you.[9]

37. The spice incense that you make, in its ratio you may not make for yourselves. It shall be holy to you before Hashem.

38. A person who makes its like to smell it shall be cut off from his people.

Chapter 31

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe, saying:

2. See, I have elevated by name Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur of the tribe of Yehuda.

3. I have filled with him a spirit from before Hashem in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in every craft,

4. to teach skills[10] to work in gold, and in silver, and in copper,

5. to cut stones for setting and to carve wood – to work in every craft.

6. And I, behold, I have given him Oholiav the son of Achisamach of the tribe of Dan, and in the heart of everyone wise of heart I have given wisdom, and they will make all that I commanded you:

7. the Tent of Meeting, and the Ark for the testimony, and the cover that is on it, and all the utensils of the tent;

8. and the table, and its utensils, and the pure Menorah, and all its utensils, and the spice incense altar,

9. and the burnt offering altar, and all its utensils, and the basin, and its stand;

10. and the service garments,[11] and the holy garments of Aharon the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister,

11. and the anointing oil and the spice incense for the sanctuary. According to all I have commanded you, they shall do.

12. Hashem said to Moshe, saying:

13. And you, speak to the children of Israel, saying: Only observe My Sabbath days because it is a sign between My word and between you for your generations, to know that I, Hashem, sanctify you.

14. Observe the Sabbath because it is holy to you. One who profanes it will surely be executed[12] for all who perform labor on it, that person will be cut off from among his people.

15. Six days labor may be done, and on the seventh day a Sabbath of complete rest, holy before Hashem. All who perform labor on the Sabbath day will surely be executed.

16. The children of Israel will observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath for their generations, an eternal covenant.

17. It is a sign between Me and between the children of Israel forever, because (in) six days Hashem made Heaven and Earth, and on the seventh day He refrained and rested.


18. He gave to Moshe, when He finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets written with the finger of Hashem.

Chapter 32

1. The people saw that Moshe was delayed to descend from the mountain; the people gathered against Aharon and they said to him, “Arise, make for us a “god” that will go before us, because this man Moshe, who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we don’t know what became of him.”

2. Aharon said to them, “Remove the gold rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

3. All the people removed the gold rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aharon.

4. He took (them) from their hands and fashioned it with an engraving tool and made it into a molten calf. They said, “This is your ‘god,’ Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

5. Aharon saw and he built an altar before it. Aharon called and he said, “Tomorrow will be a festival before Hashem!”

6. They got up early the next day, and they offered burnt offerings and brought offerings.[13] The people reclined[14] to eat and drink, and they arose to jest.

7. Hashem spoke to Moshe: “Go descend because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly.

8. They quickly turn from the way that I commanded them. They have made themselves a molten calf, bowed to it and sacrificed to it. They said, ‘This is your ‘god,’ Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt!’”

9. Hashem said to Moshe, “This people is revealed before Me and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.

10. Now, cease pleading before Me,[15] and My anger will ignite against them. I will destroy them and make you into a great nation.”

11. Moshe prayed[16] before Hashem his God and he said, “Why, Hashem, should Your anger be ignited against Your people, whom You brought from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?

12. Why should the Egyptians say, saying, ‘It was with evil (intentions) that He brought them out, to kill them between the mountains and to destroy them from upon the face of the earth?’ Turn from Your burning anger and return from[17] the evil that you intended for Your people.

13. Remember Avraham, Yitzchak and Yisroel – Your servants – that You swore to them by Your word and told them, “I will increase your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land of which I spoke I will give to your descendants and they will possess it forever.’”

14. Hashem returned from the evil that He spoke to do to His people.

15. Moshe turned and descended from the mountain and the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets written on both their sides – on this (side) and on this (side) they were written.

16. The tablets were Hashem’s work, and the writing was Hashem’s writing, explicit[18] on the tablets.

17. Yehoshua heard the sound[19] of the people as they were shouting. He said to Moshe, “There is a sound of war in the camp!”

18. He said, “It is not a voice of strong ones victorious in war and not a voice of weak ones being broken; it is the sound of partyers[20] I hear!”

19. It happened when Moshe came near to the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. Moshe’s anger ignited and he sent the tablets from his hands; he shattered them at the base of the mountain.[21]

20. He took the calf that they had made and burned (it) in fire. He ground it until it was powder and scattered (it) on the surface of the water; he made the children of Israel drink.

21. Moshe said to Aharon, “What did this people do to you that you brought great sin on it?”

22. Aharon said, “Let my master’s anger not be ignited. You know this people, that it is in[22] evil.

23. They said to me, ‘Make for us a ‘god’ that will go before us because that man Moshe, who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what became of him.’

24. I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, remove it!’ They gave it to me, I threw it into the fire and this calf out came!”

25. Moshe saw the people, that it was invalidated,[23] because Aharon had invalidated them, to spread a bad name for their generations.[24]

26. Moshe stood up in the gate of the camp. He said, “Whoever has reverence for Hashem, come to me!” All the children of Levi gathered to him.

27. He said to them, “Thus says Hashem, the God of Israel: Each man put his sword on his thigh. Pass and return from gate to gate in the camp. Let a man kill his brother, a man his fellow, and a person his relative.”

28. The children of Levi did according to Moshe’s word. On that day, about 3,000 men of the people fell.

29. Moshe said, “Your hands offered a sacrifice before Hashem today – for man with his son and his brother[25] – that He may bestow blessings[26] upon you today.”

30. It happened the next day, Moshe said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. Now I will ascend before Hashem; perhaps I will (be able to) atone for your sins.”[27]

31. Moshe returned to Hashem. He said, “Please, this people sinned a great sin and made themselves a ‘god’ of gold.

32. Now, if You will forgive their sins. If not, erase me now[28] from Your book that You have written!”

33. Hashem said to Moshe, “(One) who has sinned before Me, him I will erase from My book.

34. Now go, lead the people to the place where I told you. Behold, My angel will go before you and on the day I make an accounting, I will make an accounting of their sins upon them.”

35. Hashem struck the people because they served the calf that Aharon made.

Chapter 33

1. Hashem spoke with Moshe: “Go ascend from here, you and the people that you brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land that I swore to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

2. I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Emorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Chivites, and the Jebusites,

3. to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not remove My presence from among you because you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way.”

4. The people heard this bad word and they mourned, and no man put his weaponry[29] on himself.

5. Hashem said to Moshe, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. (If I would) remove My presence from among you for one moment, I would destroy you. Now remove your weaponry from yourselves and it is revealed before Me what to do with you.’”

6. The children of Israel removed their weaponry from Mount Horeb.

7. Moshe took the tent and pitched it outside the camp, he distanced it from the camp. He called it the Tent of the house of study and whoever sought instruction from Hashem would go out to the Tent of the house of study that was outside the camp.

8. It happened when Moshe went out to the tent, (that) all the people rose and stood, each at the entrance to his tent. They gazed after Moshe until he came into the tent.

9. It happened when Moshe came into the Tent (that) the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the entrance to the tent, and He (i.e., God) spoke to Himself[30] with Moshe.

10. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, and all the people arose and bowed, each at the entrance to his tent.

11. Hashem spoke with Moshe speech to speech,[31] like a person speaks to his fellow. He returned to the camp and his attendant – Yehoshua the son of Nun, a youth – would not depart from within the tent.


12. Moshe said before Hashem, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring this people up,’ but You have not made known to me whom You will send with me. And You said, ‘I have increased you by name and also you have found favor before Me.’

13. And now, if I have please found favor before You, please make the way of Your goodness[32] known to me. I will know Your favor in order to find favor before You. And it is revealed before You that this nation is Your people.”

14. He said, “My presence[33] will go and I will give you rest.”

15. He said before Him, “If Your presence doesn’t go among us, do not bring us up from here.

16. How will it be known here that I have found favor before You – I and Your people? Is it not in that Your presence goes with us and performs wonders for us? Then I and Your people will be different from every people on the face of the earth.”


17. Hashem said to Moshe, “Also this thing that you have spoken I will do because you have found favor before Me and I have increased you by name.”

18. He said, “Please show me Your glory!”

19. He answered, “I will pass all My goodness before you and I will call in the name of Hashem before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I will be merciful to whom I will be merciful.

20. He said, “You cannot see the face of My presence,[34] for no man can see Me and live.”

21. Hashem said, “Behold a place prepared before Me. Stand yourself on the rock

22. and it will be, when My glory passes, I will put you in a cave of the rock. I will protect You with My word[35] until I have passed.

23. I will remove the guidance of My glory and you will see what is behind Me; what is before Me will not be seen.”[36]

Chapter 34


1. Hashem said to Moshe: “Carve for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones; I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.

2. Be ready for morning; in the morning ascend to Mount Sinai and stand yourself there before Me, on the top of the mountain.

3. No man shall ascend with you, also no man shall be seen on the entire mountain, also the sheep and the cattle shall not graze opposite this mountain.”

4. He carved two tablets of stone like the first. Moshe got up in the morning, he ascended on Mount Sinai as Hashem had commanded him, and he took in his hand (the) two stone tablets.

5. Hashem was revealed in a cloud. He stood with him there and called in the name of Hashen.

6. Hashem passed His presence before him and called: “Hashem! Hashem! Compassionate and gracious God, distancing anger, abundant to perform kindness and truth,

7. preserving kindness to the thousandth generation,[37] forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. He forgives those who return to His Torah but those who do not return He doesn’t acquit, visiting the iniquity of fathers on rebellious sons, and on sons’ sons, to the third generation and to the fourth generation.”

8 Moshe hurried; he kneeled on the ground and prostrated.

9. He said, “If I have now found favor before You, Hashem, let Hashem’s presence now[38] go among us, because[39] it is a stiff-necked people. Forgive our iniquity and our sin, and take us as a possession!”


10. He said: Behold I forge a covenant. In front of all your people I will work wonders that were never created in all the earth and in all the nations. All the people whom you are among will see Hashem’s work – for it is awe-inspiring – that I will perform with you.

11. Guard for yourself what I command you today. Behold, I will drive out from before you the Emorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Chivites and the Jebusites.

12. Guard yourself lest you forge a covenant with the residents of the land that you are coming upon, lest they be an obstacle[40] among you.

13. Rather, you must demolish their altars, break their pillars and cut down their asheiras[41]

14. because you shall not bow to errors[42] of the nations because Hashem, Whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.

15. Lest you forge a covenant with the residents of the land, and they go astray after their errors and sacrifice to their errors and they will[43] call to you, and you will eat from their sacrifices.

16. You will take (wives) from their daughters for your sons, and their daughters will go astray after their errors and will cause your sons to go astray after their errors.

17. You shall not make molten idols[44] for yourself.

18. Observe the feast of unleavened bread; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread,[45] as I have commanded you. At the season of the month of Aviv[46], for in the month of Aviv you went out from Egypt.

19. Everything that opens the womb[47] is Mine, and all your livestock you shall sanctify the males, the firstborn[48] ox and sheep.

20. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a sheep; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. Every firstborn of your sons you shall redeem, and do not appear before Me empty-handed.

21. Six days you shall work and on the seventh day you shall refrain; from planting[49] and from harvesting you shall rest.[50]

22. Make for yourself the feast of weeks, the first fruits of the wheat harvest; and the feast of gathering at the end of the year.

23. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Master of the world, Hashem, the God of Israel.

24. For I will drive out nations from before you. I will widen your borders and no one will covet your land when you ascend to appear before Hashem your God three times in the year.

25. Do not slaughter the blood of My Passover sacrifice on leaven, and the fats of the sacrifice of the Passover festival shall not lie over to the morning outside of the altar.

26. The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the Temple[51] of Hashem your God. Do not eat meat in milk.[52]


27. Hashem said to Moshe, “Write for yourself these words, for in accordance with these words I will forge a covenant with you and with Israel.”

28. He was there before Hashem 40 days and 40 nights. He didn’t eat bread and he didn’t drink water; he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten statements.[53]

29. It happened when Moshe descended from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in Moshe’s hand in his descent from the mountain. Moshe didn’t know that the radiance of glory of his face had increased while he was speaking with Him.

30. Aharon and all the children of Israel saw Moshe and behold, the radiance of glory had increased. They were afraid to draw near to him.

31. Moshe called to them, and Aharon and all the princes in the congregation returned to him. Moshe spoke with them.

32. After that, all the children of Israel drew near. He commanded them all that Hashem had told him on Mount Sinai.

33. Moshe finished speaking with them and he put a veil on his face.

34. When Moshe came before Hashem to speak with Him, he removed the veil until he came out; he came out and told the children of Israel what he was commanded.

35. The children of Israel saw Moshe’s face, that the radiance of glory of Moshe’s face had increased. Moshe returned the veil on his face until he entered to speak with Him.

[1] Rather than “to.”

[2] Half a shekel.

[3] Geira in the Hebrew.

[4] Rather than washing.

[5] Rather than “smoke a fire offering.”

[6] A measure of volume.

[7] Literally, holy of holies.

[8] i.e., they shall be of equal weight.

[9] “You” is in the plural, referring to the Jewish people and not just to Moshe.

[10] Rather than “for master weaving.”

[11] Rather than “the mesh garments.”

[12] Rather than “die.”

[13] As opposed to “peace offerings.”

[14] In the manner familiar to Onkelos’ audience, rather than “sat.”

[15] Rather than “let Me be.”

[16] Rather than “pleaded.”

[17] i.e., retract, as opposed to “renounce.”

[18] Rather than “engraved.”

[19] Literally, voice.

[20] The meaning of the Hebrew is obscure; perhaps “distress” or “blasphemy.”

[21] Rather than “under the mountain.”

[22] i.e., inclined towards.

[23] Rather than “exposed.”

[24] Chumash: “exposed them, to disgrace among their enemies.”

[25] i.e., that each of them had to fight against loved ones,

[26] Onkelos changes this word from singular to plural.

[27] Onkelos also makes this word plural.

[28] Rather than “please.”

[29] As opposed to “finery.”

[30] See Rashi.

[31] As opposed to “face to face.”

[32] Rather than “Your way.”

[33] As opposed to “My face.”

[34] As opposed to “My face.”

[35] Rather than “cover you with My hand.”

[36] Chumash: “you will see My back; My face will not be seen.”

[37] “Generation” is understood in the Hebrew.

[38] Rather than “please.”

[39] i.e., even though.

[40] Rather than “a snare.”

[41] Understood as a tree that was worshipped.

[42] Referring to false “gods.”

[43] Onkelos switches the singular to plural.

[44] As opposed to “gods.”

[45] Here, Onkelos changes the plural to singular, though this is not evident in English.

[46] Literally, spring.

[47] i.e., the firstborn.

[48] More specific than the Hebrew “opener” (i.e., of the womb).

[49] Rather than “plowing.”

[50] Rather than “refrain.”

[51] “Beis HaMikdash,” as opposed to “house.”

[52] Rather than “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.”

[53] Typically translated as the “Ten Commandments,” though those statements actually include 14 commandments.

© Copyright 2021 Rabbi Jack Abramowitz