The parshah starts off with the tax for census purposes, the monies from which were used for the building of the Communion Tent. Each man over 20, regardless of financial status, was expected to give a half shekel-no more, no less.
There was a washstand made of copper between the Communion Tent and altar. Aaron and his descendants would was their hands and feet there. They are presenting an offering to G-d, thus they must wash.
A formula was given for the holy anointing oil. The contents included: distilled myrrh, cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia and olive oil. They would use this to anoint many of the items used for worship, as well as the kohanium. No one was to use this formula outside of this prescribed usage. If they did, they would be cut off. Then a formula for incense was given. This had the same type of restrictions to worship usage.
Then G-d picks out a group of Israelites to be the skilled laborers and their assistants. He lists again all the items he just spoke of and states that they will make all of these items, as prescribed.
There are two whole paragraphs devoted, at this point, to the importance of keeping the Sabbath. We are to do our work the other six days of the week, but not on Shabbat. This is indicative of the creation of the world in six days, followed by a day of rest.
Since Moses was gone so long, the men [as per the pro-female midrash] gathered up gold jewelry, melted it down and created a golden calf. They decided, on their own, that this was the Jewish god. We know that because the said it was Israel, and that god that brought you out of Egypt. They even sacrificed offerings to this man-made creation. I’m sorry but, what were they thinking? They create a golden calf and then decide that not only is it worthy to make offerings to, but, that it is in fact the Creator. How can man creator the being that being that created man? I think I’m liking that midrash that says us women had nothing to do with this.
G-d was beyond ticked, miffed or perturbed. He was infuriated. However, Moses was able to convince Him not to unleash His wrath on the people of Israel. After all, they Egypt would get to gloat. So, Moses comes down the mountain to see this golden calf celebration. He takes the tablets he has just brought from G-d and throws them down. Then he throws the calf into the fire and has a little chat with Aaron. Aaron blames it on the people and their bad tendencies. Moishe asks for the people that are with G-d and the Levite respond. They are given the task of killing the remaining Israelites (the ones who were involved in the golden calf incident.) For those that remained (of the golden calf incident), their punishment was a plague.
So the news came that the people were on their way to land flowing with milk and honey. However, G-d would not go with them. Instead, an angel would lead before them. This made them take off their jewelry and mourn. Moses set up a Meeting Tent where those who sought G-d would go. Moses had the privilege of speaking to G-d, as people speak to each other, one on one. Also, his aid, Joshua son of Nun, stayed in the tent, even when Moishe left it.
At this point, Moses argues to G-d that since they will go to the Promised Land via an angel and not G-d, Himself, how can Moishe really believe that he is pleasing to G-d?
G-d allows Moses to see His afterglow, that is, He passes by Moses and after He Himself has past there will still be a vision of what follows. I translate that into afterglow.
So, G-d instructs Moses to carve out another two tablets. G-d re-gives him the same words as before since he broke the first two tablets (with good cause, I might add.) As the afterglow is passing, Moses calls out to G-d speaking of His Just and merciful nature. Moishe prostrates himself and begs again that He will go with them. G-d makes a covenant to do unseen miracles for the people. G-d warns him to be careful. He will drive out the other nations but, the people must not make any treaties with these people or have anything to do with their gods.
G-d made me laugh. He tells Moses. “Do not make any cast metal idols.” It’s like... just in case they didn’t learn their lesson, let me REITERATE.
He goes on to state some other redundancies. It’s like, “I meant what I said about the Feast of Matzahs being for all time...” There’s a reminder that the first born gets redeemed. You must not appear before G-d empty handed. Again, Shabbos, keep it. Also, we shouldn’t forget Shavuoth or the Harvest Festival. Three times a year, the males should present themselves before G-d. Also, for pesach, no leaven in one’s possession when they slaughtered the lamb or leaving the sacrifice overnight. We must bring the first fruits of our land to the Temple. Do not cook meat in milk.
Moses came down the mountain with the tablets that had the Ten Commandments on them. When he came down, his face was all aglow. So, Moses would go speak with G-d, bring word down the mountain and then cover his face with a hood. As it’s written it looks like this was an ongoing thing that Moses would always wear this hood except for when he spoke with G-d and brought the words to the people.