<< Exodus 36: The Tabernacle >>

Tabernacle32_500_375 WE have learned how the Lord gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, first by a voice and then written on tables of stone. Now we learn what was done by the Lord's instruction to keep the precious tables safe and holy. The ark was made, and the tabernacle was built and the ark was put in its inmost chamber.

All the people who were willing hearted brought gold and silver ornaments and brass (or copper) and shittim wood (believed to be the thorny acacia of the desert) and skins. The women spun and wove curtains, and the most skilful workmen took charge of the work. And Moses told them how every part of the tabernacle should be made, for the Lord had told him in the mount and had showed him the pattern.

On the ground the building was ten cubits wide and thirty cubits long. (The cubit is the length from the elbow to the end of the fingers, about a foot and a, half, making the building forty-five feet long and fifteen feet wide.) It was divided into two chambers; the inner chamber, which was called the most holy place, was square; the outer chamber, called the holy place, was twice as long as it was wide.

The walls of the tabernacle at the back and on the two sides were made of heavy planks of shittim wood covered with gold. The planks stood on end and were ten cubits high, the same as the width of the building. Each plank had two tenons at the bottom which fitted into a silver base which rested on the ground. Poles run through rings in the side of the planks helped to stiffen the walls.

The coverings of he building were curtains.   Remember that the people themselves lived in tents. The innermost covering was of "line linen" in beautiful colors, perhaps in stripes, and embroidered with cherubim, which we may think of as angel forms. The most holy and the holy chambers were separated by a veil of this same beautiful cloth, supported by four poles covered with gold. This delicate cover was protected by a tent of coarser goats' hair cloth; over this was a cover of rams' skins dyed red, and over all, to keep it safe from the weather, a cover of leather, called in our translation "badgers' skins" and believed by some to have been the skins of seals or dolphins, from the Red Sea.

The beautiful embroidered cover and the goats' hair tent were made, not in one piece, but in long, narrow curtains something like the boards of which the walls were made, and these curtains were joined into two sets, and these two into one by loops of blue and taches or couplings of gold and brass.

The front of the tabernacle was closed by a special curtain of bright colors and needlework, hung by golden hooks upon five pillars covered with gold, resting in sockets of brass.

Around the building there was a large yard or court enclosed by a sort of fence five cubits high, half the height of the tabernacle walls, made of "linen" curtains hung upon little posts of brass, resting in bases of brass, but with silver hooks and caps. The whole court was one hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. At the east end, the direction in which the tabernacle faced, the curtain of the court for a length of twenty-five cubits was beautiful with bright colors and needlework. This was the gate.

 Now we must look into the tabernacle. In the most holy place was the ark withe commandments in it, written upon two tables of of stone. The ark was a. sacred chest made of shittim wood and covered with gold within and without. it was two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits broad and high; that is, about three feet nine inches long and two feet three inches broad and high. There were four rings near the corners, two on the front side and two on the back, into which were put staves of shittim wood covered with gold, by which the ark was carried. The ark had a crown of gold about the edge. The lid, which was called the mercy-seat, was of solid gold, and from the two ends of it arose two cherubim, angel forms, which faced each other and stretched out their wings over the mercy-seat. The presence of the Lord was felt and answers were given "from above the mercy seat." He was called, "Thou that dwellest between the cherubims." (Ps. lxxx. 1.)

The outer chamber of the tabernacle was the holy place. Standing at the curtained doorway, on the right hand (which was the north side, as the tabernacle faced the east) stood a table made, like the ark, of shittim wood covered with gold. It had a border and a crown around it and four rings at the corners, in which the staves were put for carrying the table. Upon this table were golden dishes and two piles of thin loaves of bread called shewbread; six loaves were in a pile, with pure incense laid upon the top. The shewbread was put in order upon the table every Sabbath ; and that which was taken away was eaten by the priests in the holy place. (Lev. xxiv. 5-9.)

Opposite the table, on the left of one entering the tabernacle, was the "candlestick" or branching lamp, of pure gold. It was no doubt in general form like the lamp sculptured on the Arch of Titus at Rome, which pictures the triumph after the destruction of Jerusalem. It had a middle stem and three branches from each side, wrought in the form of knops and almond flowers, each ending in a little cup for oil. The lamp was carried upon one bar. The people brought the best olive oil for the light, and the priests trimmed the wicks and filled the lamps every morning and lighted them every evening. So the holy place was bright while the most holy place was dark.

There was one other thing in the holy place of the tabernacle just in front of the priest as he entered from the court, the little altar of incense. It was of shittim wood covered with gold, a cubit square and two cubits high, with a crown of gold about it and horns, and two rings, one in each side, under the crown, in which the staves were put to carry it. Aaron burned sweet incense on this altar every morning when he trimmed the lamps and every evening when he lighted them.

In the court before the tabernacle there was a much larger altar. It was made of shittim wood covered, not with gold, but with brass or copper, and part of it was also of open work of brass. There were horns at the four corners. All the vessels and instruments of the altar were of brass. There were rings in the sides in which the staves were put to carry it. This altar was not for incense but for burnt-offerings, which were made every morning and evening and at many other times.

Between the altar and the tabernacle was placed the laver of brass, which was made of the polished mirrors of thewomen. Itwas like a larrge basin resting upon a base. It was filled with water, for Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet entering the tabernacle or offering sacrifices on the altar.

And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, 35:7 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, 35:8 And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate. And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded; The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets, The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the vail of the covering, The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread, 35:14 The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light, And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entering in of the tabernacle, The altar of burnt offering, with his brasen grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot, The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court, The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords, The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office.

And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD. And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins, brought them. Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the LORD's offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair. And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars. And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark: And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses. And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail: And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle. And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.---Exodus XXXV. 4-29; XL. 17-38.

Author: William L. Worcester 1904

Spiritual Correspondences

      Tabernacle >> A human life in true order >> True Church >> True Heaven

      Most holy place, holy place, court >> Celestial, Spiritual, Natural Heaven >> Love of the Lord, Conscious thought, Outer Life

      Golden taches >> Love which holds together inwardly

      Brass taches >> Works of Service which bind outwardly

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