Tabernacle is the rendering, in the A. V., of the following Heb. and Gr. words;
1. אֹהֶל, ohel, the most frequent term, but often signifying and rendered a common "tent;"
2. משֹׁכָּן, mishken, the distinctive term, always so rendered, except ("dwelling") in 1Ch 6:32; Job 18:21; Job 21:28; Job 39:6; Ps 26:8; Ps 49; Ps 11; Ps 74; Ps 7; Ps 87; Ps 2; Isa 32:18; Jer 9:19; Jer 30:8; Jer 51; Jer 30; Eze 25:4; Heb 1:6; ("habitation") 2Ch 29:6; Ps 78:28; Ps 132; Ps 5; Isa 22:16; Isa 54; Isa 2; ("tent") Song 1:8;
3. סֹך [once שׂך, La 2:6], suk (Ps 76:2), סֻכָּה, sukkah (Le 23:34; De 16:13,16; De 31:10; 2Ch 8:13; Ezr 3:4; Job 36:29; Isa 4:6; Am 9:11; Zec 14:16,18-19), or סַכּוּת, sikkuth (Am 5:26), all meaning a booth, as often rendered;
4. σκηνή, σκῆνος (2Co 5:1,4) or σκήνωμα (Ac 7:46 [rather habitation]; 2Pe 1:13-14), a tent. Besides occasional use for an ordinary dwelling, the term is specially employed to designate the first sacred edifice of the Hebrews prior to the time of Solomon; fully called אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, the tent of meeting, or (especially in Numbers) מַשׁכִּן הָעֵדוּת, tabernacle of the congregation (Sept. σκηνὴ) [1Ki 8:4,6, σκήνωμα] τοῦ μαρτυρίου; Philo, ἱερὸν φορητόν, Opp. 2 146; Josephus, μεταφερόμενος καὶ συμπερινοστῶν ναός, Ant. 3, 6, 1). (In the discussion of this interesting subject we have availed ourselves of MS. contributions from Prof. T Paine, LL.D., author of Solomon's Temple, etc., in addition to the suggestions in the book itself. For an exhaustive treatment we refer to the most recent Volume and charts, entitled The Tabernacle of Israel in the Desert, by Prof. James Strong, Providence, 1888.)
I. Terms and Synonyms. —
1. The first word thus used (Ex 25:9) is מַשׁכָּן, mishkan, from שָׁכִן, to lie down or dwell, and thus itself equivalent to dwelling. It connects itself with the Jewish, though not scriptural, word Shechinah (q.v.), as describing the dwelling place of the divine glory. It is noticeable, however, that it is not applied in prose to the common dwellings of men, the tents of the patriarchs in Genesis, or those of Israel in the wilderness. It seems to belong rather to the speech of poetry (Ps 87:2; Song 1:8). The loftier character of the word may obviously have helped to determine its religious use, and justifies translators who have the choice of synonyms like "tabernacle" and "tent" in a like preference. In its application to the sacred building, it denotes (a) the ten tri-colored curtains; (b) the forty-eight planks supporting them; (c) the whole building, including the roof. SEE DWELLING.
2. Another word, however, is also used, more connected with the common life of men; אֹהֶל, ohel, the tent of the patriarchal age, of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob (Ge 9:21, etc.). For the most part, as needing something to raise it, it is used, when applied to the sacred tent, with some distinguishing epithet. In one passage only (1Ki 1:39) does it appear with this meaning by itself. The Sept., not distinguishing between the two words, gives σκηνή for both. The original difference appears to have been that אֹהֶל represented the uppermost covering, the black goats-hair roof, which was strictly a tent, in distinction from the lower upright house-like part built of boards. The two words are accordingly sometimes joined, as in Ex 39:32; Ex 40:2; Ex 6:29 (A.V. "the tabernacle of the tent"). Even here, however, the Sept. gives σκηνή only, with the exception of the var. lect. of ἡ σκηνὴ τῆς σκεπῆς in Ex 40:29. In its application to the tabernacle, the term ohel means (a) the tent-roof of goats-hair; (b) the whole building. SEE TENT.
3. בִּיַת, bayith, house (οικος, domus), is applied to the tabernacle in Ex 23:19; Ex 34:26; Jos 6:24.; 9:23; Jg 18:31; Jg 20:18, as it had been, apparently, to the tents of the patriarchs (Ge 33:17).
So far as it differs from the two preceding words, it expresses more definitely the idea of a fixed settled habitation. It was therefore fitter for the sanctuary of Israel after the people were settled in Canaan than during their wanderings. For us the chief interest of the word lies in its having descended from a yet older order, the first word ever applied in the Old Test. to a local sanctuary, Bethel, "the house of God" (28, 17, 22), keeping its place, side by side, with other words — tent, tabernacle, palace, temple, synagogue-and at last outliving all of them; rising, in the Christian Ecclesia, to yet higher uses (1Ti 3:15). SEE HOUSE.
4. קֹדֶשׁ, kódesh, or מַקדָּשׁ. mikdash (ἁγίασμα, ἁγιαστήριον, τὸ ἃγιον, τὰ ἃγια, sanctuarium'), the holy, consecrated place, and therefore applied, according to the graduated scale of holiness of which the tabernacle bore witness, sometimes to the whole structure (Ex 25:8; Le 12:4), sometimes to the court into which none but the priests might enter (Le 4:6; Numbers 3, 38; 4:12), sometimes to the innermost sanctuary of ail, the Holy of Hohes. (Le 16:2). Here also the word had an earlier starting-point and a far-reaching history. En-Mishpat, the city of judgment, the seat of some old oracle, had been also Kadesh, the sanctuary (Ge 14:7; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 2, 307). The name El-Kuds still clings to the walls of Jerusalem. SEE SANCTUARY.
5. הֵיכָל, heykal, temple (ναός, templum), as meaning the stately building, or palace of Jehovah (1Ch 29:1,19), is applied more commonly to the Temple (2Ki 24:13, etc.), but was used also (probably at the period when the thought of the Temple had affected the religious nomenclature of the time) of the tabernacle at Shiloh. (1Sa 1:9; 1Sa 3:3) and Jerusalem (Ps 5:7). In either case the thought which the word embodies is that the "tent," the "house," is royal, the dwelling-place of the great king. SEE TEMPLE.
The first two of the above words receive a new meaning in combination with מוֹעֵד (moed), and with הָעֵדוּת (ha-eduth). To understand the full meaning of the distinctive titles thus formed is to possess the key to the significance of the whole tabernacle.
(a.) The primary force of יָעִד is "to meet by appointment," and the phrase אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד has therefore the meaning of "a place of or for a fixed meeting." Acting on the belief that the meeting in this case was that of the worshippers, the A.V. has uniformly rendered it by "tabernacle of the congregation" (so Seb. Schmidt, "tentorium convents;" and Luther, "Stiftshutte" in which Stift = Pfarrkirche) while the Sept. and Vulg., confounding it with the other epithet, have rendered both by ἡ σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτυρίου, and "tabernaculum testimonii." None of these renderings, however, bring out the real meaning of the word. This is to be found in what may be called the locus classicus, ῥas the interpretation of all words connected with the tabernacle. "This shall be a continual burnt-offering at the door of the tabernacle of meeting (מוֹעֵד) where I will meet you (אַוָּעֵד, γνωσθήσομαι) to speak there unto thee. And there will I meet (נֹעִדנתּי, τάξομαι) with the children of Israel. And I will sanctify (קַדִּשׁתַּי) the tabernacle of meeting... and I will dwell (שָׁכִנתַּי) among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God" (Ex 29:42-46). The same central thought occurs in 25:22, "There I will meet with thee" (comp. also 30:6, 36; Nu 17:4). It is clear, therefore, that "congregation" is inadequate. Not the gathering of the worshippers, but the meeting of God with his people, to commune with them, to make himself known to them, was what the name embodied. Ewald has accordingly suggested Offenbarungszelt= tent of revelation, as the best equivalent (Alterthümer, p. 130). This made the place a sanctuary. Thus it was that the tent was the dwelling, the house of God (Bahr, Symb. 1, 81). SEE CONGREGATION.
(b.) The other compound phrase, אֹהֶל הָעֵדנת, as connected with עוּד (= to bear witness), is rightly rendered by ἡ σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτυρίου, tabernaculum testimonii, die Wohnung des Zeugnisses, "the tent of the testimony" (Nu 9:15) "the tabernacle of witness" (Nu 17:7; Nu 18:2). In this case the tent derives its name from that which is the center of its holiness. The two tables of stone within the ark are emphatically the testimony (Ex 25:16,21; Ex 31:18). They were to all Israel the abiding witness of the nature and will of God. The tent, by virtue of its relation to them, became the witness of its own significance as the meeting-place of God and man. The probable connection of the two distinct names, in sense as well as in sound (Bahr, Synb. 1, 83; Ewald, Alt. p. 230), gave, of course, a force to each which no translation can represent. SEE TESTIMONY.
II. History. —
1. We may distinguish in the Old Test. three sacred tabernacles:
(1.) The Ante-Sinaitic, which was probably the dwelling of Moses, and was placed by the camp of the Israelites in the desert, for the transaction of public business. Ex 33:7-10, "Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent- door, and looked after Moses until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle-door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every one in his tent-door." This was neither the sanctuary of the tabernacle described in ch. 25 sq., which was not made till after the perfect restoration of the covenant (ch. 35 sq.), nor another sanctuary that had come down from their forefathers and was used before the tabernacle proper was built (as Le Clerc, J. D. Michaelis, and Rosenmüller supposed); but an ordinary tent used for the occasion and purpose (Keil, Comment. ad loc.).
(2.) The Sinaitic tabernacle superseded the tent which had served for the transaction of public business probably from the beginning of the Exode. This was constructed by Bezaleel and Aholiab as a portable mansion- house, guildhall, and cathedral, and set up on the first day of the first month in the second year after leaving Egypt. Of this alone we have accurate descriptions. It was the second of these sacred tents, which, as the most important, is called the tabernacle par excellence. Moses was commanded by Jehovah to have it erected in the Arabian desert, by voluntary contributions of the Israelites, who carried it about with them in their migrations until after the conquest of Canaan, when it remained stationary for longer periods in various towns of Palestine (as below).
(3.) The Davidic tabernacle was erected by David, in Jerusalem, for the reception of the ark (2Sa 6:12); while the old tabernacle remained to the days of Solomon at Gibeon, together with the brazen altar, as the place where sacrifices were offered (1Ch 16:39; 2Ch 1:3).
2. Varied Fortunes of the Sinaitic Tabernacle.
(1.) In the Wilderness. —The outward history of the tabernacle begins with Exodus 25. It comes after the first great group of laws (ch. 19-23), after the covenant with the people, after the vision of the divine glory (ch. 24). For forty days and nights Moses is in the mount. Before him there lay a problem, as measured by human judgment, of gigantic difficulty. In what fit symbols was he to embody the great truths without which the nation would sink into brutality? In what way could those symbols be guarded against the evil which he had seen in Egypt, of idolatry the most degrading? He was not left to solve the problem for himself. There rose before him, not without points of contact with previous associations, yet in no degree formed out of them, the "pattern" of the tabernacle. The lower analogies of the painter and the architect seeing, with their inward eye, their completed work before the work itself begins, may help us to understand how it was that the vision on the mount included all details of form, measurement, materials, the order of the ritual, the apparel of the priests. lie is directed in his choice of the two chief artists, Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah, Aholiab of the tribe of Daniel (Daniel 31). The sin, of the golden calf apparently postpones the execution. For a moment it seems as if the people were to be left without the Divine Presence itself without any recognized symbol of it (Daniel 33:3). As in a transition period, the whole future depending on the patience of the people, on the intercession of their leader, a tent is pitched (probably that of Moses himself, which had hitherto been the headquarters of consultation), outside the camp, to be provisionally the tabernacle of meeting. There the mind of the lawgiver enters into ever-closer fellowship with the mind of God (Daniel 33:11), learns to think of him as "merciful and gracious" (Daniel 34:6); in the strength of that thought is led back to the fulfillment of the plan which had seemed likely to end, as it began, in vision. Of this provisional tabernacle it has to be noticed that there was as yet no ritual and no priesthood. The people went out to it as to an oracle (Daniel 33:7). Joshua, though of the tribe of Ephraim, had free access to it (Daniel 33:11).
Another outline law was, however, given; another period of solitude, like the first; followed. The work could now be resumed. The people offered the necessary materials in excess of what was wanted (Daniel 36:5, 6). Other workmen (Daniel 36:2) and workwomen (Daniel 35:25) placed themselves under the direction of Bezaleel and Aholiab. The parts were completed separately, and then, on the first day of the second year from the Exode, the tabernacle itself was erected and the ritual appointed for it begun (Daniel 40:2).
The position of the new tent was itself significant. It stood, not, like the provisional tabernacle, at a distance from the camp, but in its very center. The multitude of Israel, hitherto scattered with no fixed order, were now, within a month of its erection (Nu 2:2), grouped round it, as around the dwelling of the unseen Captain of the Host, in a fixed order, according to their tribal rank. The priests on the east, the other three families of the Levites on the other sides, were closest in attendance, the "body-guard" of the Great King. SEE LEVITE. In the wider square, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, were on the east; Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, on the west; the less conspicuous tribes, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, on the north; Reuben, Simeon, Gad, on the south side. When the army put itself in order of march, the position of the tabernacle, carried by the Levites, was still central, the tribes of the east and south in front, those of the north and west in the rear (ch. 2). Upon it there rested the symbolic cloud, dark by day and fiery-red by night (Ex 40:38). When the cloud removed, the host knew that it was the signal for them to go forward (Ex 40:36-37; Nu 9:17). As long as it remained — whether for a day, or month, or year they continued where they were (Ex 40:15-23). Each march, it must be remembered, involved the breaking up of the whole structure, all the parts being carried on wagons by the three Levitical families of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari, while the "sons of Aaron" prepared for the removal by covering everything in the Holy of Holies with a purple cloth (Ex 4:6-15). SEE ENCAMPMENT.
In all special facts connected with the tabernacle, the original thought reappears. It is the place where man meets with God. There the Spirit "comes upon" the seventy elders, and they prophesy (Nu 11:24-25). Thither Aaron and Miriam are called out when they rebel against the servant of the Lord (Nu 12:4). There the "glory of the Lord" appears after the unfaithfulness of the twelve spies (Nu 14:10) and the rebellion of Korah and his company (Nu 16:19,42) and the sin of Meribah (Nu 20:6). Thither, when there is no sin to punish, but a difficulty to be met, do the daughters of Zelophe had come to bring their cause "before the Lord" (Nu 27:2). There, when the death of Moses draws near, is the solemn "charge" given to his successor (De 31:14).
(2.) In Palestine. — As long as Canaan remained unconquered and the people were still therefore an army, the tabernacle was probably moved from place to place, wherever the host of Israel was for the time encampedat Gilgal (Jos 4:19), in the valley between Ebal and Gerizim (Jos 8:30-35), again, at the headquarters of Gilgaal (Jos 9:6; Jos 10:15,43); and, finally, as at "the place which the Lord had chosen," at Shiloh (Jos 9:27; Jos 18:1). The reasons of this last choice are not given. Partly, perhaps, its central position, partly its belonging to the powerful tribe of Ephraim, the tribe of the great captain of the host, may have determined the preference. There it continued during the whole period of the judges, the gathering-point for "the heads of the fathers" of the tribes (Jos 19:51), for councils of peace or war (Jos 22:12; Jg 21:12), for annual solemn dances, in which the women of Shiloh were conspicuous (ver. 21). There, too, as the religion of Israel sank towards the level of an orgiastic heathenism, troops of women assembled, shameless as those of Midian, worshippers of Jehovah, and, like the ἱερόδουλοι of heathen temples, concubines of his priests (1Sa 2:22). It was far, however, from being what it was intended to be, the one national sanctuary, the witness against a localized and divided worship. The old religion of the high places kept its ground. Altars were erected, at first under protest, and with reserve, as being not for sacrifice (Jos 22:26), afterwards freely and without scruple (Jg 6:24; Jg 13:19). Of the names by which the one special sanctuary was known at this period, those of the "house" and the "temple" of Jehovah (1Sa 1:9,24; 1Sa 3:3,15) are most prominent.
A state of things which was rapidly assimilating the worship of Jehovah to that of Ashtaroth or Mylitta needed to be broken up. The ark of God was taken, and the sanctuary lost its glory; and the tabernacle, though it did not perish, never again recovered it (1Sa 4:22). Samuel, at once the Luther and the Alfred of Israel, who had grown up within its precincts, treats it as an abandoned shrine (so Ps 78:60), and sacrifices elsewhere-at Mizpeh (1Sa 7:9), at Ramah (1Sa 9:12; 1Sa 10:3), at Gilgal (1Sa 10:8; 1Sa 11:15). It probably became once again a movable sanctuary; less honored, as no longer possessing the symbol of the Divine Presence, yet cherished by the priesthood, and some portions at least of its ritual kept up. For a time it seems, under Saul, to have been settled at Nob (1Sa 21:1-6)., which thus became what it had not been before — a priestly city. The massacre of the priests and the flight of Abiathar must, however, have robbed it yet further of its glory. It had before lost the ark. It now lost the presence of the high-priest, and with it the oracular ephod, the Urim and Thummim (1Sa 22; 1Sa 20; 1Sa 23:6). What change of fortune then followed we do not know. The fact that all Israel was encamped, in the last days of Saul, at Gilboa, and that there Saul, though without success, inquired of the Lord by Urim (1Sa 28:4-6), makes it probable that the tabernacle, as of old, was in the encampment, and that Abiathar had returned to it. In some way or other it found its way to Gibeon (1Ch 16:39). The anomalous separation of the two things which, in the original order, had been joined brought about yet greater anomalies, and while the ark remained at Kirjath-jearim, the tabernacle at Gibeon connected itself with the worship of the high-places (1 Kings 52:4). The capture of Jerusalem, and the erection there of a new tabernacle, with the ark, of which the old had been deprived (2Sa 6:17; 1Ch 15:1), left it little more than a traditional, historical sanctity. It retained only the old altar of burnt-offerings (1Ch 21:29). Such as it was, however, neither king nor people could bring themselves to sweep it away. The double service went on; Zadok, as high- priest, officiated at Gibeon (1Ch 16:39); the more recent, more prophetic service of psalms and hymns and music, under Asaph, gathered round the tabernacle at Jerusalem (ver. 4, 37). The divided worship continued all the days of David. The sanctity of both places was recognized by Solomon on his accession (1Ki 3; 1Ki 15; 2Ch 1:3). But it was time that the anomaly should cease. As long as it was simply tent against tent, it was difficult to decide between them. The purpose of David, fulfilled by Solomon, was that the claims of both should merge in the higher glory of the Temple. Some, Abiathar probably among them, clung to the old order, in this as in other things; but the final day at last came, and the tabernacle of meeting was either taken down or left to perish and-be forgotten. So a page in the religious history of Israel was closed. Thus the disaster of Shiloh led to its natural consummation.
III. Description. — The written authorities four the restoration of the tabernacle are, first, the detailed account to be found in Exodus 26 and repeated in 36:8-38, without any variation beyond the slightest possible abridgment; secondly, the account given of the building by Josephus (Ant. 3, 6), which is so nearly a repetition of the account found in the Bible, that we may feel assured that he had no really important authority before him except the one which is equally accessible to us. Indeed, we might almost put his account on one side if it were not that, being a Jew, and so much nearer the time, he may have had access to some traditional accounts which may have enabled him to realize its appearance more readily than we can do, and his knowledge of Hebrew technical terms may have assisted him to understand what we might otherwise be unable to explain. The additional indications contained in the Talmud and in Philo are so few and indistinct, and are, besides, of such doubtful authenticity, that they practically add nothing to our knowledge, and may safely be disregarded.
For a complicated architectural building, these written authorities probably would not suffice without some remains or other indications to supplement them; but the arrangements of the tabernacle were so simple that they are really all that are required. Every important dimension was either five cubits or a multiple of five cubits, and all the arrangements in plan were either squares or double squares, so that there is, in fact, no difficulty in putting the whole together, and none would ever have occurred, were it not that the dimensions of the sanctuary, as obtained from the "boards" that formed its walls, appear at first sight to be one thing, while those obtained from the dimensions of the curtains Which covered it appear to give another. The apparent discrepancy is, however, easily explained, as we shall presently see, and never would have occurred to any one who had lived long under canvas or was familiar with the exigencies of tent architecture.
The following close translation of Exodus 26 will set the subject generally before the reader. We have indicated, by the use of italics, marked variations from the A.V.
1. And the tabernacle (מַשׁכָּן) thou shalt make ten curtains; twisted linen, and violet and purple and crimson of cochineal: cherubs, work of (an) artificer, thou shalt
2. make them. (The) length of the one curtain (shall be) eight and twenty by the cubit, and (the breadth) four by the cubit, the one curtain: one measure (shall be)
3. to all the curtains. Five of the curtains shall be joining each to its fellow, and five of the curtains joining
4. each to its fellow. And thou shalt make loops (לוּל) of violet upon (the) edge of the one curtain from (the) end in the joining, and so shall thou make in (the) edge
5. of the endmost curtain in the second joining: fifty loops shalt thou. make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in (the) end of the curtain which is in the second joining, the loops standing opposite (מִקבַּלוֹת)
6. the one to its fellow. And thou shalt make fifty taches I (קֵרֶס) of gold, and thou shalt join the curtains one to its fellow with the taches, and the tabernacle shall be one.
7. And thou shalt make curtains of goats (hair) for a tent (אֹהֶל) upon the tabernacle, eleven curtains shalt
8. thou make them. (The) length of the one curtain (shall be) thirty by the cubit, and (the) breadth four by the cubit, the one curtain: one measure (shall be) to
9. (the) eleven curtains. And thou shalt join five of the curtains separately, and six of the curtains separately; and thou shalt double the sixth curtain towards (the)
10. fore front of the tent. And thou shalt make fifty loops upon (the) edge of the one curtain-the endmost in the joining, and fifty loops upon (the) edge of the cur-
11. tain — the second joining. And thou shalt make taches of copper-fifty; and shalt bring the taches in the loops, and thou shalt join the tent, and (it) shall be
12. one. And (the) overplus hang in (the) curtains of the tent- half of the overplus curtain shall hang upon
13. the back of the tabernacle; and the cubit from this (side) and the cubit from that (side) in the overplus in (the) length of (the) curtains of the tent shall be hung, upon (the) sides of the tabernacle from this (side) and from that (side), to cover it.
14. And thou shalt make (a) covering to the tent, skins of rams reddened, and (a) covering of skins of tach-ashes from above.
15. And thou shalt make the planks (קֶרֶשׁ) for the tabernacle, trees [wood] of acacias (שַׁטַים), standing.
16. Ten cubits (shall he the) length of the plank; and (a) cubit and (the) half of the cubit (the) breadth of the
17. one plank. Two hands [teons] (shall there be) to the one plank, joined (משׁלָּבוֹת, others corresponding) [comp. 36:22] each to its fellow: so shalt thou
18. make [or do] for all (the) planks of the tabernacle. And thou shalt make the planks for the tabernacle, twenty planks for (the) Nogeb [south] quarter towards Tey-
19. man [the south]. And forty bases (אֶדֶן) of silver shalt thou make under the twenty planks, two bases under the one plank four its two hands, and two bases under
20. the one [next] plank for its two hands., And for the second rib [flank] of the tabernacle to (the) Tsaphrnm
21. [north] quarter (there shall be) twenty planks; and their forty bases of silver, two bases under the one plank, and two bases under the one [next] plank.
22. And for (the) thighs [rear] of the tabernacle seaward
23. [west] thou shalt make six planks. And two planks shalt thou make for (the) angles (מַקצוֹע, cutting off)
24. of the tabernacle in the thighs [rear]: and (they) shall be twinned (תֹּאֲמַים, perhaps jointed, hinged, or bolted) from below together, and shall be twins upon its head [top] towards the one ring: so shall (it) be too both of them; for the two angles shall (they) be.
25. And (there) shall be eight planks, and their bases of silver-sixteen bases, two bases under the one plank, and two bases under the one [next] plank.
26. And thou shalt make bars (בּרַיחִ) of trees [wood] of acacias [Shittim]; five for (the) planks of the one rib
27. [flank] of the tabernacle, and five bars for (the) planks of the second rib [flank] of the tabernacle, and five bars for (the) planks of (the) rib [flank] of the taber-
28. nacle for the thighs [rear] seaward [west]. And the middle bar, in (the) middle of the planks (shall) bar (מִברַיחִ, be bolting through) from the end to the end.
29. And the planks thou shalt overlay (with) gold, and the rings then shalt make (of) gold, (as) houses [places] for the bars; and thou shalt overlay the bars (with) gold.
30. And thou shalt rear the tabernacle like it — judgment [style] which I made thee see in the mountain.
1. The court (חָצֵר) was a large rectangular enclosure, open to the sky, and with its entrance at the east end. Its dimensions are given more than once, being 100 cubits long and 50' broad. Its construction was very simple, being composed of a frame of four sides of distinct pillars, with curtains hung upon them. In other words, it was surrounded by canvas screens-in the East called kannats, and still universally used to enclose the private apartments of important personages. The pillars were probably of shittim- wood (that is, the desert acacia), a light, close-grained, imperishable wood, easily taking on a fine natural polish, though it is nowhere directly intimated of what material they were; they were five cubits in height (sufficient to prevent a person from looking over them into the enclosure), but their other dimensions are not given, so that we cannot be sure whether they were round (Ewald) or four-cornered (Bähr), probably the latter. At the bottom these pillars were protected or shod by sockets of brass (copper). It is not quite easy to say whether these sockets were merely for protection, and perhaps ornament, or if they also helped to give stability to the pillar. In the latter case, we may conceive the socket to have been of the shape of a hollow wedge or pointed funnel driven into the ground, and then the end of the pillar pushed down into its cavity; or they may have been simply plate laid on the ground, with a hole for the reception of the tenoned foot of the pillar, as in the case of the "boards" noticed below. Other appliances were used to give the structure firmness, viz. the common articles of tent architecture, ropes and pins (Ex 35:18). At the top these pillars had a capital or head (Ex 38:17, chapter), which was overlaid with silver; but whether the body of the pillar was plated with any metal is not said. Connected with the head of the pillar were two other articles, hooks, and things called חֲשֻׁקַים, chashukim, rendered "fillets," i.e. ornamental chaplets in relief round the pillar (so Ewald, Alterthümer, p. 335, note 5), but most probably meaning rods (so Gesenius, Fürst, and others), joining one pillar to another. These rods were laid upon the hooks, and served to attach the hangings to and suspend them from. The hooks and rods were silver, though Knobel conjectures the latter must have been merely plated (Exodus p. 278). The mode of adjusting these hangings was similar to that of the doorway screens and "vail" described below. The circumference of the enclosure thus formed was 300 cubits, and the number of pillars is said to have been 20 + 20 + 10 + 10 = 60, which would give between every two pillars a space of 3-0 =5 cubits. There has been considerable difficulty in accurately conceiving the method adopted by the writer in calculating these pillars. This difficulty arises from the corner pillars, each of which, of course, belongs both to the side and to the end. It has been supposed by many, that the author calculated each one corner pillar twice; that is, considered it, though one in itself, as a pillar of the side and also as a pillar of the end. This would make in all 56 actual pillars, and, of course, as many spaces (Biahr, Knobel, etc.); that is, nineteen spaces on each side, and nine on the end. Now since the side was 100 cubits and the end 50, this would give for each side space 10'=5 and for each end space 54=5 cubits, spaces artificial in themselves and unlike each other. It is certainly most probable that the spaces of side and end were of exactly the same size, and that each of them was some exact, and no fractional, number of cubits. The difficulty may be completely removed by assuming the distance of 5 cubits to each space, and counting as in the accompanying ground-plan. Thus, since each side was 100 cubits, this needs twenty spaces. But twenty spaces need twenty-one pillars. So that, supposing us to start from the south-east corner and go along the south side, we should have for 100 cubits twenty-one pillars and twenty spaces; but of these we should count twenty spaces and pillars for the south side, and call the south-west corner pillar, not the twenty-first pillar of the side, but the first of the end. Then going up the end, we should count ten pillars and spaces as end, but consider the north-west corner pillar not as eleventh of the end, but first of the north side; and so on. In this way we gain sixty pillars and as many spaces, and have each space exactly 5 cubits. The hangings- (קַלָעַים, kelaim') of the court were of twined shesh; that is, a fabric woven out of twisted yarn of the material called shesh. This word, which properly means white, is rendered by our version "fine linen,'" a rendering with which most concur, while some decide for cotton. At all events, the curtains were a strong fabric of this glancing white material, and were hung upon the pillars, most likely outside, though that is not known, being attached to the pillar sat the top by the hooks and rods already described, while the whole was stayed by pins and cords, like a tent. The entrance, which was situated in the center of the east end and was twenty cubits in extent, was formed also of a hanging (technically מָסָך, masak) of "blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, work of the רוֹקֵ, roken" (A.V.
"needle-work"). The last word has usually been considered to mean embroiderer with the needle, and the curtain fancied to have had figures, flowers, etc., of the mentioned colors wrought into it. But such kinds of work have always a "wrong" side, and, most probably taking into account the meaning of the word in Arabic, and the fondness of the Arabs at this day for striped blankets, the word means "weaver of striped cloth," and the hanging is to be conceived as woven with lines or stripes of blue, purple, and scarlet an the white ground of shesh (Knobel, Keil, etc.). In other words, the warp, or longitudinal threads, was of white linen, while the woof made cross-bars (which would hang vertically) of brilliantly dyed wool in a treble thread. They were merely spun and woven, without gold or embroidered figures. The furniture of the court consisted of the altar of burnt-offering and the laver. These are sufficiently described under their appropriate headings. SEE ALTAR; SEE LAVER. What concerns us is the position of them. In all probability, the tabernacle proper stood with its entrance exactly in the middle of the court, that is, fifty cubits from the entrance of the court; and very possibly the altar of burnt-offering stood, again, midway between the door of the court and that of the tabernacle, i.e. twenty-five cubits from each, and somewhere in the twenty-five cubits between the altar and the tabernacle stood the laver (Josephus, Ant. 3, 6, 2).
2. The Tabernacle itself – Following the method pursued with the outer court, we begin with the walls. These were built of boards, or, rather, planks (קרָשַׁים, kerashim), in close contact with each other. They were of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold on both sides, ten cubits high and one and a half cubit broad, their thickness being nowhere given. From the foot of each plank came out two "tenons" (יָדוֹת, yadoth-hands), which must not be conceived as connecting the planks with each other laterally, as if there corresponded to a tenon in one plank a mortise in another; they were for connecting each particular plank with the ground, and must be conceived as two wedge-shaped or pointed pieces (probably of copper, or perhaps of silver); projecting from the lower end of the plank. These tenons were thrust into silver sockets, of which two were prepared for each plank, each socket being the weight of a talent of silver. Whether these sockets were wedge shaped or pointed, and themselves went into the ground, or whether they were mere foot-plates for the plank, with holes for the tenons to pass through into the ground (the last more probable), is not intimated. Prof. Paine has ingeniously suggested the thickness of these sockets as one sixth of a cubit, SEE METROLOGY, and likewise their form (half a cubit square), as in the adjoining cut. He also calculates from this size of the sockets, or foot-plates, that the planks should be (as Josephus says) one third of a span, i.e. one sixth of a cubit thick (which is quite sufficient for strength), in order to turn the corners neatly as illustrated in the subjoined cut. This might indeed have been effected on the supposition that the planks were one cubit thick as the accompanying cut will show; but we can hardly suppose that the planks overhung the bases which supported them. These bases did not require to enter deeply into the ground, as there was no lateral strain upon them, and the whole weight of the building kept them firmly in their place. Their only object was to keep the bottom of the planks level and even. The upper ends of the planks, however, needed to be kept from separating, as they would certainly do under the traction of the stay- cords fore and aft. Hence the tenons mentioned in Ex 26:17 are carefully distinguished from those (already described) referred to in ver. 19; and they are designated (without any sockets assigned to them) by a peculiar term, מַשֻׁלָּבוֹת, meshullaboth, which occurs here only. It is regarded by Gesenius as radically signifying notched, but he understands it here as meaning joined, a sense in which Furst and Milhlau emphatically concur, to the exclusion of that adopted by the Sept. (ἀντιπίπτοντες) and the A.V. ("set in order"). Prof. Paine refers the term to the top of the planks, and renders it clasped, understanding a separate plate with holes corresponding to pins or tenons (probably all of copper) in the upper end of the planks likewise, as in the annexed cut. This is an essential provision for the stability of the structure, of which no one else seems to have thought. Nevertheless, as he privately informs us, he has since abandoned this distinction between the top and bottom tenons, and in his forthcoming second edition he will dispense with the clasps. The long middle bar, if pinned to each end plank, would subserve a similar purpose. Something of this sort is perhaps intimated by the bolting (מִברַיחִ, לַברֹחִ) of Ex 26:28; Ex 36:33. The roof-curtains would likewise assist in holding the planks together.
Of these boards, which, being one and a half cubit, i.e. about two and a half feet broad, must have been formed of several smaller ones jointed together, there were twenty on the north and twenty on the south side, thus making each side the length of thirty cubits. For the west end were made six boards, yielding nine cubits, and in addition two boards for the corners (Ex 26:22 sq.), making in all eight boards and twelve cubits; and as the end is thought (so Josephus, Ant. 3, 6, 3) to have been ten cubits (proportionate to that in Solomon's Temple, 1Ki 6:2,20), this would imply that each corner plank added half a cubit to the width, but nothing to the length, the measurements being taken inside. Were the planks supposed a cubit thick, which is the usual calculation (but an extravagant one on account of the weight), the remaining cubit of the corner plank would exactly cover the thickness of the side plank. The description given of the corners is exceedingly perplexing, and the diversity of opinion is naturally great. The difficulties all lie in Ex 24:18. It goes on, "they shall be coupled together;" rather, they shall be "twins," or "twinned" (תֹּאֲמַם, toamim). "They" evidently refers to the corner planks; and, setting aside the idea that they make twins together, which cannot be, since they are at opposite corners, the expression may mean that each corner plank of itself makes twins, which it would do if it had two legs containing the angle between them. If the corner plank be two-legged, it adds necessarily something to the length, and thus destroys the measurement. One explanation is therefore to regard the end of the corner plank, e, as twin, i.e. corresponding to the side plank a. Further, each corner plank must be "entire (תִּמַּים, tammim) at or on its head (A. V., with many others, considers tammim the same as todnim). Now if the "head" be not the top of the plank, but the edge or point of the corner; then the statement implies that the corner plank of the end wall, though prolonging the side wall outside, must not be cut away or sloped, for example, in the fashion indicated by the dotted lines c d. Once more, the words are added "unto one ring," accurately "unto the first ring." Keil (Comment. ad loc.) understands that "the two corner boards at the back were to consist of two pieces joined together at a right angle, so as to form, as double boards, one single whole from the top to the bottom," and that "one ring was placed half-way up the upright board in the corner or angle, in such a manner that the central bolt, which stretched along the entire length of the walls, might fasten into it from both the side and back." Murphy (Comment. ad loc.) suggests a form which we represent by the annexed figure. But Paine's arrangement, as in the cut below, seems to us to meet all the requirements of the case in the simplest and most effectual manner. The ring and staples at the top and bottom of the corner planks formed a hinge, so that the adjoining planks were twinned, or carried together as one. That the end planks went in between the last side planks (as neatness and usage in such structures dictated), making the interior width of the tabernacle the full twelve cubits, is probable from the length of the roof-curtains presently described, if they were longitudinally arranged.
The walls or planks, in addition to the stability they may have derived from the sockets at the bottom (and perhaps the clasps at the top), were bound together by five bars or bolts, thrust into rings attached to each plank. These bars, in all probability, ran along the outside, though that is not intimated, and Ewald thinks otherwise. One bar is said to have gone in the middle (בּתוֹך): this is usually taken to mean half-way up the plank, and with two bars on each side of it, above and below; but some interpret "through the heart of the boards" (Riggenbach), and others understand it of the rear bar alone. Thus there seem to have been three rows of bars, the top and bottom one on each of the sides being in two pieces. Josephus's account is somewhat different: "Every one," he says (Ant. 3, 6, 3), "of the pillars or boards had a ring of gold affixed to its front outwards, into which were inserted bars gilt with gold, each of them five cubits long, and these bound together the boards; the head of one bar running into another after the manner of one tenon inserted into another. But for the wall behind there was only one bar that went through all the boards, into which one of the ends of the bars on both sides was inserted." The whole edifice was doubtless further stayed by ropes attached to tent-pins in the ground from knobs on the outside of the planks. (See below.)
3. Drapery of the Tabernacle. —The wooden structure was completed as well as adorned by four kinds of hangings, each of which served a useful and even needful purpose.
(1.) The Roof. — The first question that arises here is whether the roof was flat, like that of Oriental houses, or peaked and slanting, as in Occidental buildings. The old representations, such as Calmet's, take the former view; but to this it may be forcibly objected that it would in that case be impossible to stretch the roof covering sufficiently tight to prevent the rain and-snow from collecting in the middle, and either crushing the whole by its weight or flooding the apartments. Hence most later writers assume a peaked roof, although there is no mention of a ridge-pole, nor of supports to it; but the name "tent" given to the upper part of the edifice is itself conclusive of this form, and then these accessories would necessarily follow.
The roofing material was a canvas of goats hair, the article still employed by the Bedawin for their tents. It consisted of eleven "curtains" (יַרַיעות), i.e. breadths or pieces of (this camlet) cloth, each thirty cubits long and four cubits wide, which is as large, probably, as could well be woven in the loom at once. Ten of these were to-be "coupled" (חַבֵּר), i.e. sewed together, five in one sheet, and five in another, evidently by the selvage; thus making two large canvases of thirty cubits by twenty each. But as the building was only twelve cubits wide, one of them alone would more than suffice for a roof, even with a peak. Hence most interpreters understand that the surplus width was allowed to hang down the sides. But what is to be done with the other sheet? Fergusso (in Smith's Dict. of the Bible, s.v. "Temple") supposes (with interpreters in general) that the two sheets were thrown side by side across the ridgepole, the extra length (some fifteen cubits) being extended at the eaves into a kind of wings, and the surplus width (ten cubits) furled along the slope of the gable, or perhaps stretched out as a porch. But there is no authority whatever for this disposal; and if the two pieces of canvas were intended to be thus adjoined, there appears no good reason why they should not have been sewed together at the first, like the individual breadths. Hence, Paine suggests that they were designed as a double roof, so as to more effectually to shed rain somewhat in the manner of a "fly" or extra roof to a modern tent. For this the size is exactly adequate. If the angle at the peak were a right angle, as it naturally would be, the gable, of course, being an isosceles triangle, eight and a half cubits would be required for each slope of the roof (these being the two legs of which twelve is the hypotenuse); thus leaving one cubit to cover each of the eaves (as specified in ver. 13), and lone cubit for seams, and perhaps hems. The seams, in order to be water-tight (especially since they ran parallel with the ridge and eaves) as well as smooth, would best be formed by overlapping the edges, in shingle style. The sixth "curtain," or extra single piece, was to be "doubled in the fore-front of the tabernacle" (26:9, וכָפִלתָּ אֶלאּמוּל פּנֵי הָאֹהֶל), which interpreters generally have understood as meant to close the gable. This, as Paine suggests, it would neatly do if folded in two thicknesses (like the rest of the goat's hair cloth) across the lower part of the rear open space above the "boards," as it is just long enough (twice fifteen cubits; the surplus three cubits being employed exactly as in the case of the other sheets), and sufficiently wide (four cubits up the six of the perpendicular; leaving only a small triangle at the peak for ventilation); the gores or corners probably being tucked in between the two thicknesses of the roof-sheets. This sixth curtain, of course, was sewed endwise to one of the outer pieces of the under canvas. These roof-curtains were joined by means of fifty "loops" (לֻלָאֹת, luslsth) of unspecified (probably the same strong) material, and as many taches (קרָסַים, keraszin) of "brass." With most interpreters, Fergisson understands these to be intended for connecting the edges of the two sheets together so as to form one roof canvas. But besides the uselessness of this (as above pointed out), on this plan the rain would find an easy inlet at this imperfect suture. Hence Paine more reasonably concludes that they were designed for buttoning down the double canvas at the eaves so as to form "one tent" (26, 11, אֹהֶל אֶחָד, i.e. the upper or tent part of the building). The taches, accordingly, were not hooks (as most understand: Fergusson thinks "S hooks"), but knobs in the planks on the outside, placed one cubit below the top (ver. 12). The number of the taches would thus exactly correspond to the requirements of the "boards," i.e. twenty for each side and eight for the end, with one additional for each rear corner (where a tache would be needed for both edges of the board. the others being in the front edge, as the first board would necessarily have it there; in the rear boards the knob would be in the middle). SEE TACHE.
(2.) Another set of curtains was provided, consisting of ten pieces of stuff, each twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide, to be sewed into two large cloths of five "curtains" or breadths each. From the general similarity of the description, interpreters have naturally inferred that they were to be joined and used in like manner; but the necessity or. practicability of employing them over head is far from obvious. Nor does the size in that case suit; for besides the difficulty of disposing of the surplusage in breadth (in length they would be scant if double), we naturally ask, Why were they different in number and size from the other roofing material? Prof. Paine therefore thinks that they were sewed end to end (the original is אַשָּׁה אֶלאּאֲחֹתָהּ, one to the other, 26:3; different from לבָד, separately, ver, 9, of the roof-curtains) in two long pieces (they: would probably have been woven thus had it been possible), and' then hung double in loose drapery around the interior of the tabernacle, being just high enough (four cubits) to cover the joints of the boards and prevent any one from looking through the cracks from without. These curtains were suspended on fifty knobs or taches of gold by means of fifty loops of the same material as the curtains themselves; these fastenings may be arranged as in the case of the roof canvas. It thus became "one tabernacle (ver. 6, אֶהָד מַשׁכָּן, i.e. these curtains belonged to the upright [wooden] part of the structure, in distinction from the sloping [canvas] or "tent" part above it)., The material of these inner curtains was similar to that of the door of the outer court (27:16), but it was also to be embroidered with cherubim, like the interior "vail" (26:31), which will be considered below.
(3.) A coat of "rams skins dyed red and tachash (A. V. "badgers'," probably seal or some other fur) skins" was furnished as an additional covering (26:14, מַלמִעלָה, millenalah, from upward). This is usually regarded as a part of the roof; but to pile them there would have been sure to catch, the rain, and so prove worse than useless. Paine places them on the outside of the "boards" to hide the cracks and prevent the wind nd d rain from driving in. Hence the number of skins is not specified; they were to form a blanket sufficiently large to cover the walls, and run up under the edge of the roof-canvas so as to catch the drip from the eaves. Doubtless the tachash fur was placed next the smooth gilding, and in its natural state, because hidden; and the rougher but more durable ram's-wool was exposed, the hair shingling downward to the weather, but dyed a brilliant color for effect. They would naturally be hung upon the copper taches, which served so many useful purposes in the "boards." They are called in ver. 14 "a covering (מַכסֶה, mikseh, not necessarily a roof, for it is used only of this fur robe [or some similar one, Nu 8:12] and of the screen [whatever that may have been] of Noah's ark [Ge 42; Ge 13]) for the tent" (לָאֹהֶל), apparently as completing the canvas or tent-like part of the structure.
Saalschiitz (Archiol. der Hebraer, 2, 321 sq.) represents the hangings of the tabernacle as suspended in the form of a tent, but in a peculiar form. He thinks the מַשׁכָּן was properly the space enclosed by the boards of acacia- wood; and that these formed the outer wall, so to speak, within which the tabernacle, the אֹהֶל properly so called, was reared in the form of a peaked tent. Of this the byssus curtains, he supposes, formed the internal drapery, while the goats'-hair curtains, covered with leather and tachash skins, formed the outer covering. The whole structure would thus present the appearance externally of a peaked tent, reared within a high palisade of wood, and open at the front. This representation has the advantage of allowing the ornamental curtain, and also the gilded boards with their golden rings and silver sockets, to be fully visible. There seems, however, at least one fatal objection to it, viz. that it does not fulfill the condition that the joining of the curtains shall be over the pillars that separate the holy from the most holy place-a condition of essential significance, as we shall see.
(4.) The doorways of the tabernacle were formed or rather closed in a manner altogether analogous to the entrance of the exterior court, namely, by a vertical screen or sheet of cloth made of heavy material, and (in one case) still further stiffened by embroidery, similar to the piece of tapestry that hangs at the portal of modern cathedrals in Italy, or (to speak more Orientally) like the flap at the opening of a modern tent and the carpet or camlet partition between the male and female apartments of a Bedawin abode. Of these there were two, each of which is denoted by a distinctive term rarely varied.
(a.) The front opening (פֶּתִח, pethach; A.V. "door") was closed sufficiently high to prevent a passer-by from looking in, by a "hanging" (מָכָך, masak, a screen, or covering from the sun [Ps 105:39] or from observation [2Sa 7:19; Isa 22:8]) of materials exactly like that of the entrance to the court already described, suspended upon five copper-socketed and gilded pillars (עמוּדַים) of acacia-wood by means of golden hooks (וָוַים, pegs, spoken only of these and those at the outer entrance), the whole being probably of the same height, proportions, and style in other respects as the exterior one just referred to. The number of these pillars is significant: as there were five of them, one must necessarily stand in the center, and this one was probably carried up, so as to support one end of the ridge-pole, which we have above seen is presumable. A corresponding pillar in the rear of the tent may be inferred to sustain the other end, and possibly one or more in the middle of the building. (b.) A "vail" (פָּרֹכֶת, paroiketh, separatrix, used only of this particular thing, sometimes [Ex 35:12; Ex 39:34; Ex 40; Ex 21] with the addition of the previous term for emphasis) divided the interior into two apartments, called respectively the "holy place" and the "most holy." This partition-cloth differed only from the exterior ones in being ornamented (perhaps on both sides; comp. 1Ki 6:29) with figures of cherubim stitched (probably with gold thread, i.e. strips of goldleaf rolled and twisted) upon it, apparently with the art of the embroiderer (מִעֲשֵׂה חשֵׁב, the work of an arficer; A.V. "cunning work"). It was suspended upon four pillars precisely like those of the door "hanging," except that their sockets were of silver. A special statement of the text (Ex 26:33), "And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches" (תִּחִת הִקּרָסַי ונָתִתָּה אֵתאּהִפּרֹכֶת), evidently meaning that the pillars to which its ends were to be attached were to be placed directly beneath the golden knobs opposite in the walls, on which-likewise hung the side-curtains, shows both that these latter were thus completed by a drapery on the remaining side of each room (it will be remembered that the front knobs likewise correspond in position to that of the doorway screen), and likewise proves the character and situation of the taches themselves (not hooks in the roof, which at the eaves was at least five cubits above the top of the "vail"). As the vail," like the two outer screens, was stretched tight across the space it occupied, it was of course made exactly long enough for that purpose; thus, too, the embroidered figures (which, if of life-size, were of just the height to extend upright across the stuff-about four cubits) would show to the finest effect, not being it folds like the interior side-curtains.
It is not a little singular that the exact position of the "vail" is not otherwise prescribed than by the above requirement; nor is the length of either of the apartments which it separated given, although together they amounted ) to thirty cubits. On the supposition (sustained by the analogy in the Temple) that the Most Holy was an exact square, i.e. (according to our determination above) twelve cubits each way, the knob or tache opposite which it would hang must have been that which stood in the forward edge of the eighth plank from the rear of the building. Whether it was in front of or behind the pillars is not certain; but the former is probable, as it would thus seem a more effectual barrier from without. The end pillars apparently stood in immediate contact with the side walls, both in order to sustain the ends of the vail, and to leave a wider space between them for ingress and egress. The vail was suspended directly upon golden pins (A.V. "hooks'") inserted in the face of the pillars near their summit; and thus differed (as did likewise the screen of the door of the tabernacle) from the hangings of the outer court, which hung upon silver rods (A. V. "fillets") (doubtless by loops running on the rods) resting on similar pins or "hooks." The reason of this difference seems to have been that the greater space between the court pillars (so as to admit animals as well as men) would have caused too much sag in the hanging without intermediate support, which could only be furnished by the rods and attachments along the upper edge.
4. Supplementary Note. — Since the above was in type we have reconsidered a few points concerning the structure of this edifice which admit of further elucidation.
(1.) The "Corner-boards." — The fact that the dimensions of the courts and the building itself were in decimal proportions, and that in the temple subsequently erected for the same purpose, which maintained multiples of these dimensions, the holy and most holy were exactly twenty cubits wide (1Ki 6:2), leads so strongly to the presumption that in the tabernacle these rooms were ten cubits wide, that we are disposed to recall the arrangement adopted in the foregoing discussion, which gives these apartments a width of twelve cubits, leaving for the holy place the irregular dimensions of eighteen by twelve cubits. Adopting the suggestion of Keil (Commentary, ad loc.) that the corner-boards were constructed of two- parts, forming a right angle with each other, we have only to take a plank one and a half cubits wide, like all the others, divide it lengthwise into two portions, one four sixths and the other five sixths of a cubit wide, and fasten these together in that manner, in order to obtain the needed half cubit necessary at each end of the rear, and allow one wing of the corner- board to lap around the end of the last side-board, and cover the joint neatly and symmetrically, as in the following figure. This last is the adjustment adopted by Brown (The Tabernacle, etc. [Lond. 1872], p. 23), who reviews and justly rejects the conjectures of Josephus (Ant. 3, 6, 3), Kalisck (Commentary, ad loc.), and Von Gerlach (ibid.). His complicated arrangement of the sockets, however, is unnecessary, as may be seen from the following diagram.
The statement respecting these corner -planks in Ex 26:24, "And they shall be twinned (תֹּאֲמַים) from below, and together they shall be complete (תִּמַּים) upon its top to the first (or same) ring," we may then understand to mean that they were to be in that, manner jointed throughout their length, and were to use the first or end ring of the side-plank in common for the topmost bar, thus holding the corner firm in both directions, as seen in the accompanying figure. The topmost rear bar may have been dowelled into the end of the side-bar for further security.
(2.) Position of the Curtains. The use of these pieces of drapery will not be materially affected by this change in the width of the structure. We need only raise the peak into an acute instead of a right angle in order to dispose of the roof-canvas. The curtain across the rear gable may be wrapped a little farther along the side at each end, and it will at the same time cover the tops of the rear planks, and close the joint where the ends of the roof- curtains fall short of doing so.
On the supposition of a flat roof stretched directly across the tops of the planks, the dimensions of both sets of curtains may readily be made to correspond with the requirements of the building. The embroidered curtains may either be used around the walls, as previously, or they may be joined together into one large sheet to cover the ceiling and walls on the inside. Their length (twenty-eight cubits) would in the latter case reach to within one cubit of the ground; and their combined breadth (forty cubits) would in like manner cover the end wall (ten cubits + thirty cubits of length of building). The suture, where the two canvases are ῥordinarily supposed to be joined by the loops, would thus also exactly fall over the "vail," separating the holy from the most holy place.
The same would be true likewise of the goats'-hair curtains if similarly joined and spread over the roof and outside of the tabernacle, reaching to within one sixth cubit of the ground on each side and rear. The only difficulty would be as to the eleventh or extra goats hair curtain. If this were attached in the same manner as the other breadths, it would be wholly superfluous, unless used to close the entire front, as it might be if doubled (according to the usual interpretation of Ex 26:9). But it seems agreed upon by all critics that it must be employed upon the rear of the building (as explicitly stated in ver. 12). Keil understands that it was divided between the back and the front equally; but this answers to neither passage, makes part of the rear trebly covered in fact, and brings (by his own confession) the suture one cubit behind the "vail" (contrary to ver. 33). Brown reviews and confutes the explanations of other interpreters (Kalisch, Von Gerlach, and Fergusson), but frankly admits his own inability to solve the problem (p. 43). Paine's interpretation is the only one that meets the case.
This last insuperable difficulty, together with the impossibility of shedding the rain and snow, seems to us a conclusive objection against the flat-roof theory of the building. Brown innocently remarks (p. 47), "Admitting that snow sometimes falls on the mountains of Sinai, it seldom, if ever, falls in the wadies or plains; and if slight showers ever do occur, they must be like angels visits, few and far between. None of the many authors I have followed across the desert of wandering seem ever to have witnessed snow, and very rarely even rain." This last circumstance is probably owing to the fact that travelers almost invariably avoid the winter or rainy season. The writer of this article was overtaken, with his party, by a snow-storm in March, 1874, which covered the ground in the plains and bottoms of the wadies of Mount Sinai ankle-deep; and every traveler must have observed the unmistakable traces of terrific. floods or freshets along the valleys of the whole region. It often rains here in perfect torrents (see Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, p. 33,177). "A single thunder-storm, with a heavy shower of rain, falling on the naked granite mountains, will be sufficient to convert a dry and level valley into a roaring river in a few short hours" (ibid. p. 129). It is essential to any reconstruction of the tabernacle that the roof be made water-tight, and this can only be done effectually by the true tent- form, with ridge and peak. SEE TENT.
5. Furniture of the Tabernacle. — The only piece of furniture within the inner or most holy place was the ark of the covenant; and the furniture of the outer room or holy place consisted of the altar of incense, the table of show-bread, and the "golden candlestick," the position of each of which is given in Ex 26:34-35. They are all described in detail under their respective heads in this Cyclopaedia, but we subjoin the following particulars as supplementary to the article on the last-named piece. The candelabrum, as described in Ex 25:31-37 (of which 37:17-23 is almost verbatim a copy), differs considerably from that in the account of Josephus (Ant. 3, 6, 7), and from the sculptured figure still extant upon the Arch of Titus (Reland, De Spoliis Templi, p. 6; in which work other representations, all slightly varying, are given from Rabbinical sources and coins). Hence it is probable that the "candlestick" as constructed for the tabernacle by Moses was not exactly the same in form as in the later models of Solomon's and Herod's temples; it would naturally be simpler and less ornamental in the earliest case, and the Herodian fabrication (if, indeed, this were other than that of the restoration from Babylon), to which all the later Jewish and profane statements apply (Solomon does not appear to have furnished his Temple with any other than the original candelabrum of the tabernacle), would of course depart most widely from the severity of the primitive type.
(1.) In the original object, the following elements are clearly defined by the language (as above) employed: There was a main or central stem (יָרֵך, yarek, thigh, A.V. "shaft"), doubtless flaring or enlarged at the bottom, for a secure foot. From each side of this went off (apparently opposite each other, and at equal intervals), three arms (קָנַים, kanimr, reeds, "branches"), having each along their course three almond-shaped calyces (גּבַיעַים, gebiim, cups, "bowls"), one crown (כִּפַתֹּר, kaphtor, circlet, "knop"), and one blossom (פֶּרִח, perach, flower"): the middle stem had four such calyces, and at least three crowns, placed each immediately beneath the several junctions of the arms with the main stem; also more than one blossom. Finally, there were seven burners (נֵרַים, nerzi, lights, "lamps"), evidently one for the extremity of each arm, and one for the top of the central stem.' Every part of the candelabrum (including the burners, only so far as applicable to them) was a continuous rounded (hammered or turned) piece of refined gold (מַקשָׁה אִחִת זָהָב טָהוֹר, "one beaten work of pure gold"). It has usually been assumed that the arms were all in the same plane with the main stem, and their summits all of equal height, and equidistant from each other, as is the case with the representation on the Arch of Titus.
(2.) The following are the principal points that remain uncertain: The relative position of the calyces, crowns, and blossoms on the arms; for although they are always enumerated in this order, there is nothing to show absolutely whether the enumeration begins at the intersection with the shaft or with the extremities. The former view, which is countenanced by the rest of the description (since this proceeds upward from the base), is adopted by Dr. Conant (in the Amer. ed. of Smith's Dict. of the Bible, s.v. "Candlestick"); the latter, which is favored by the difficulty (or rather impossibility) of assigning more than one blossom to the summit of the central stem (as the text would then seem to require), is adopted by Prof. Paine (Solomon's Temple, etc., p. 10). The signification of the terms is not decisive; for the kaphtor, or "knop," may quite as well signify a little ornamental ball or globular enlargement in the necks of the arms and in the stem at their points of departure, as a capital or surmounting decoration (the three ranged along the main stem certainly were not such in strictness). The perach, or "flower," is regarded by both the above writers (who thus agree in making these, after all, the extreme points of the chandelier) as- the " receptacles" of the lamps themselves; these last being regarded by Paine as denoted by the gebiim, or "bowls," having a trial form in the case of the side arms, and a quaternal in that of the main stem a view which leads to great complexity in their construction and in the form of their sockets, and which, moreover, is incongruent with the number (seven only) assigned to the lights. Furthermore, in the comparison of the ornament in question with the shape of almonds, it is not clear whether the flower or fruit of that tree is referred to; we prefer the latter as being more properly designated by the simple word, and because the former is denoted by a different term in the same connection, the blossom shaped ornament. It must also be noted that the arms had each three of the first-named ornament, and but one of the other two; whereas the main stem had four of' the first, and at least three of the second and two of the third: the three kinds, therefore, did not invariably go together, although they may have done so in the case of the central stem. Perhaps the whole may be best adjusted by assigning such a group or combination of the threeῥ kinds to each summit and to each intersection of the arms with the main stem, and merely two others of one kind (the gebia, or "bowl") to the side arms, probably at equidistant points; the group itself consisting simply of an ovate cup-like enlargement of the rod colstituting the shaft, with a raised band just above the bulb, and the rim opening into petal-like lips, forming a cavity or socket for the lamp. SEE LAMP.
IV. Relation of the Tabernacle to the Religious Life of Israel. —1. Whatever connection may be traced between other parts of the Mosaic ritual and that of the nations with which Israel had been brought into contact, the thought of the tabernacle meets us as entirely new. Spencer (De Leg. Hebraeor. 3, 3) labors hard, but not successfully, to prove that the tabernacles of Moloch of Am 5:26 were the prototypes of the tent of meeting. It has to be remembered, however, (1) that the word used in Amos (sikkuth) is never used of the tabernacle, and means something very different; and (2) that the Moloch-worship represented a defection of the people subsequent to the erection of the tabernacle. The "house of God" SEE BETHEL of the patriarchs had been the large "pillar of stone" (Ge 28:18-19), bearing record of some high spiritual experience, and tending to lead men upward to it (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 93), or the grove which, with its dim, doubtful light, attuned the souls of men to a divine awe (Ge 21:33). The temples of Egypt were magnificent and colossal, hewn in the solid rock, or built of huge blocks of stone as unlike as possible to the sacred tent of Israel. The command was one in which we can trace a special fitness. The stately temples belonged to the house of bondage which they were leaving. The sacred places of their fathers were in the land towards which they were journeying. In the meanwhile, they were to be wanderers in the wilderness. To have set up a bethel after the old pattern would have been to make that a resting-place, the object then or afterwards of devout pilgrimage; and the multiplication of such places at the different stages of their march would have led inevitably to polytheism. It would have failed utterly to lead them to the thought which they needed most of a Divine Presence never absent from them, protecting, ruling, judging. A sacred tenat, a moving bethel, was the fit sanctuary for a people still nomadic. It was capable of being united afterwards, as it actually came to be, with "the grove" of the older cultus (Jos 24:26). Analogies of like wants, met in a like way, with no ascertainable historical connection, are to be found among the Gaetulians and other tribes of Northern Africa (Sil. Ital. 3, 289), and in the sacred tent of the Carthaginian encampments (Diod. Sic. 20:65).
2. The structure of the tabernacle was obviously determined by a complex and profound symbolism, but its meaning remains one of the things at which we can but dimly guess. No interpretation is given in the law itself. The explanations of Jewish writers long afterwards are manifestly wide of the mark. That which meets us in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the application of the types of the tabernacle to the mysteries of redemption, was latent till those mysteries were made known. Yet we cannot but believe that, as each portion of the wonderful order rose before the inward eye of the lawgiver, it must have embodied distinctly manifold truths which he apprehended himself and sought to communicate to others. It entered, indeed, into the order of a divine education for Moses and for Israel, and an education by means of symbols, no less than by means of words presupposes an existing language. So far from shrinking, therefore, as men have timidly and unwisely shrunk. (Witsius, Egyptiae, in Ugolijo, Thesaur. vol. 1), from asking what thoughts the Egyptian education of Moses would lead him to connect with the symbols he was now taught to use, we may see in it a legitimate method of inquiry almost the only method possible. Where that fails, the gap may be filled up (as in Bahr, Symbol. passim) from the analogies of other nations, indicating, where they agree, a widespread primeval symbolism. So far from laboring to prove, at the price of ignoring or distorting facts, that everything was till then unknown, we shall as little expect to find it so, as to see in Hebrew a new and heaven- born language, spoken for the first time on Sinai, written for the first time on the two tables of the covenant.
3. The thought of a graduated sanctity, like that of the outer court, the holy place, the holy of holies, had its counterpart, often the same number of stages, in the structure of Egyptian temples (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 216). SEE TEMPLE.
(1.) The interior adytum (to proceed from the innermost recess outward) was small in proportion to the rest of the building, and commonly, as in the tabernacle (Josephus, Ant. 2, 6. 3), was at the western end (Spencer, De Leg. Hebreor. 3, 2), and was but little lighted. In the adytum, often at least, was the sacred ark, the culminating point of holiness, containing the highest and most mysterious symbols-winged figures generally like those of the cherubim (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 5, 275; Kenrick, Egypt, 1, 460), the emblems of stability and life. Here were outward points of resemblance. Of all elements of Egyptian worship this was old which could be transferred with least hazard, with most gain. No one could think that the ark itself was the likeness of the God he worshipped. When we ask what gave the ark its holiness, we are led on at once to the infinite difference, the great gulf between the two systems. That of Egypt was predominantly cosmical, starting from the productive powers of nature. The symbols of those powers, though not originally involving what we know as impurity, tended to it fatally and rapidly (Spencer) Leg. Hebreor. 3, 1; Warburton, Divine Legation, 2, 4, note). That of Israel was predominantly ethical. The nation was taught to think of God, not chiefly as revealed in nature, but as manifesting himself in and to the spirits of men. In the ark of the covenant, as the highest revelation then possible of the Divine nature, were the two tables of stone, on which were graven, by the teaching of the Divine Spirit, and therefore by the finger of God" (Mt 12:28; Lu 11:20; see also Clement of Alexandria [Strom. 6:133] and 1Ki 18:46; 2Ki 3:15; Eze 1:3; Eze 3:14; 1Ch 28:19), the great unchanging laws of human duty which had been proclaimed on Sinai. Here the lesson taught was plain enough. The highest knowledge was as the simplest, the esoteric as the exoteric. In the depths of the holy of holies, and for the high-priest as for all Israel, there was the revelation of a righteous Will requiring righteousness in man (Saalschtitz, Archaöl. c. 77). SEE ARK.
Over the ark was the kophereth ("mercy-seat"), so called with a twofold reference to the root-meaning of the word. It covered the ark. It was the witness of a mercy covering sins. As the "footstool" of God, the "throne" of the Divine glory, it declared that over the law which seemed so rigid and unbending there rested the compassion of one forgiving "iniquity and transgression." Ewald, however, giving to כָּפִר, the root of kophereth, the meaning of "to scrape," "erase," derives from that meaning. the idea implied in the Sept. ἱλαστήριον, and denies that the word ever signified ἐπίθεμα (Alterth. p. 128, 129). SEE MERCY-SEAT.
Over the mercy-seat were the cherubim, reproducing, in part, at least, the symbolism of the great Harnitic races, forms familiar to Moses and to Israel, needing ri1o description for them, interpreted for us by the fuller vision of the later prophets (Eze 1:5-13; Eze 10:8-15; Eze 41:19), or by the winged forms of the imagery of Egypt. Representing as they did the manifold powers of nature, created life in its highest form (Bihr, De Leg. Hebreor. 1, 341), their "overshadowing wings," "meeting" as in token of perfect harmony, declared that nature as well as man found its highest glory in subjection to a divine law, that men might take refuge in that order, as under "the shadow of the wings" of God (Stanley, Jewish Church, p. 98). Placed where those and other like figures were, in the temples of Egypt, they might be hindrances and not helps, might sensualize instead of purifying the worship of the people. But it was part of the wisdom which we may reverently trace in the order of the tabernacle that while Egyptian symbols are retained, as in the ark, the cherubim, the urim, and the thummim, their place is changed. They remind the high-priest, the representative of the whole nation, of the truths in which the order rests. The people cannot bow down and worship that which they never see. SEE CHERUBIM.
The material, not less than the forms, in the holy of holies was significant. The acacia or shittim-wood, least liable of woods then accessible to decay, might well represent the imperishableness of divine truth, of the laws of duty (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 286). Ark, mercy seat, cherubim, the very walls, were all overlaid with gold, the noblest of all metals, the symbol of light and purity-sunlight itself, as it were, fixed and embodied, the token of the incorruptible, of the glory of a great king (ibid. 1, 282). It was not without meaning that all this lavish expenditure of what was most costly was placed where none might gaze on it. The gold thus offered taught man that the noblest acts of beneficence and sacrifice are not those which are done that they may be seen of men, but those which are known only to him who "seeth in secret" (Mt 6:4).
Dimensions also had their meaning. Difficult as it may be to feel sure that we have the key to the enigma, there can be but little doubt that the older religious systems of the world did attach a mysterious significance to each separate number; that the training of Moses, as afterwards the far less complete initiation of Pythagoras in the symbolism of Egypt, must have made that transparently clear to him, which to us is almost impenetrably dark. A full discussion of the subject is obviously impossible here, but it may be useful to exhibit briefly the chief thoughts which have been connected with the numbers that are most prominent in the language of symbolism. Arbitrary as some of them may seem, a sufficient induction to establish each will be found in Bahr's elaborate dissertation (Symbol. 1, 128-255) and other works (comp. Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 4:190-199; Leyrer, in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. s.v. "Stiftshüte"). ONE — The Godhead, eternity, life, creative force, the sun, man. TWO — Matter, time, death, receptive capacity, the moon, woman. THREE — (as a number or in the triangle) — The universe in connection with God, the absolute in itself, the unconditioned, God.
FOUR — (the number, or in the square or cube)-Conditioned existence, the world as created, divine order, revelation.
SEVEN — (as 3 + 4)-The union of the world and God, rest (as in the Sabbath), peace, blessing, purification.
TEN — (as = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4) — Completeness, moral sand physical, perfection.
FIVE — Perfection half attained, incompleteness.
TWELVE — The sign of the zodiac, the cycle of the seasons; in Israel the ideal number of the people, of the covenant of God with them. To those who think over the words of two great teachers, one heathen (Plutarch, De Is. et Os. p. 411) and one Christian (Clem. Al. Strom. 6:84-87), who had at least studied as far as they could the mysteries of the religion of Egypt, and had inherited part of the old system, the precision of the numbers in the plan of the tabernacle will no longer seem unaccountable. If, in a cosmical system, a right-angled triangle, with the sides three, four, five, represented the triad of Osiris, Isis, Orus, creative force, receptive matter, the universe of creation (Plutarch, loc. cit.), the perfect cube of the holy of holies, the constant recurrence of the Nu 4; Nu 10, may well be accepted as symbolizing order, stability, perfection (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 225). The symbol reappears in the most startling form in the closing visions of the Apocalypse. There the heavenly Jerusalem is described, in words which absolutely exclude the literalism that has sometimes been blindly applied to it, as a city four-square-12,000 furlongs in length and breadth and height (Re 21:16). SEE NUMBER.
Into the inner sanctuary neither people nor the priests as a body ever entered. Strange as it may seem, that in which everything represented light and life was left in darkness and solitude. Once only in the year, on the day of atonement, might the high-priest enter. The strange contrast has, however, its parallel in the spiritual life. Death and life, light and darkness, are wonderfully united. Only through death can we truly live. Only by passing into the "thick darkness" where God is (Ex 20:21; 1Ki 8:12) can we enter at all into the "light inaccessible" in which he dwells everlastingly. The solemn annual entrance, like the withdrawal of symbolic forms from the gaze of the people, was itself part of a wise and divine order. Intercourse with Egypt had shown how easily the symbols of truth might become common and familiar things, yet without symbols the truths themselves might be forgotten. Both dangers were met. To enter once, and once only in the year, into the awful darkness-to stand before the law of duty, before the presence of the God who gave it, not in the stately robes that became the representative of God to man, but as representing man in his humiliation in the garb of the lowly priests, barefooted and in the linen ephod to confess his own sins and the sins of the people this was what connected the atonement-day (kippur) with the mercy-seat (kophereth). To come there with blood, the symbol of life, touching with that blood the mercy-seat-with incense, the symbol of adoration (Le 16:12-14), what did that express but the truth (1) that man must draw near to the righteous God with no lower offering than the pure worship of the heart, with the living sacrifice of body, soul, and spirit; (2) that could such a perfect sacrifice be found, it would have a mysterious power working beyond itself, in proportion to its perfection, to cover the multitude of sins?
From all others, from the high-priest at all other times, the holy of holies was shrouded by the heavy vail, bright with many colors and strange forms, even as curtains of golden tissue were to be seen hanging before the adytum of an Egyptian temple, a strange contrast often to the bestial form behind them (Clem. Al. Peed. 3, 4). In one memorable instance, indeed, the vail was the witness of higher and deeper thoughts. On the shrine of Isis at Sais, there were to be read words which, though pointing to a pantheistic rather than an ethical religion, were yet wonderful in their loftiness, "I am all that has been (πᾶν τὸ γεγονός), and is, and shall be, and my vail no mortal hath withdrawn" (ἀπεκάλυψεν) (Plutarch, De Is. et Osir. p. 394). Like, and yet more unlike, the truth, we feel that no such words could have appeared on the vail of the tabernacle. In that identification of the world and God all idolatry was latent, as, in the faith of Israel, in the I am all idolatry was excluded. In that despair of any withdrawal of the vail, of any revelation of the Divine will, there were latent' all the arts of an unbelieving priestcraft, substituting symbols, pomp, ritual, for such a revelation. But what, then, was the meaning of the vail which met the gaze of the priests as they did service in the sanctuary? Colors, in the art of Egypt, were not less significant than number, and the four bright colors, probably, after the fashion of that art, in parallel bands-blue, symbol of heaven, and purple of kingly glory, and crimson of life and joy, and white of light and purity (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 305-330)-formed in their combination no remote similitude of the rainbow, which of old had been a symbol of the Divine covenant with man, the pledge of peace and hope, the sign of the Divine Presence (Eze 1:28; Ewald, Alterth. p. 333). SEE COLOR. Within the vail, light and truth were seen in their unity. The vail itself represented the infinite variety, the πολυποίκιλος σοφία of the divine order in creation (Eph 3:10). There, again, were seen copied upon the vail the mysterious forms of the cherubim; how many, or in what attitude, or of what size, or in what material, we are not told. The words "cunning work" in Ex 36:35, applied elsewhere to combinations of embroidery and metal (Ex 28:15; Ex 31:4), seem to justify the conjecture that here also they were of gold. In the absence of any other evidence, it would have been perhaps natural to think that they reproduced on a larger scale the number and the position of those that were over the mercy-seat. The visions of Ezekiel, however, reproducing, as they obviously do, the forms with which his priestly life had made him familiar, indicate not less than four (Eze 1; Eze 10), and those not all alike, having severally the faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle strange symbolic words, which elsewhere we should have identified with idolatry, but which here were bearing witness against it, emblems of the manifold variety of creation as at once manifesting and concealing God.
(2.) The outer sanctuary was one degree less awful in its holiness than the inner. Silver, the type of human purity, took the place of gold, the type of the Divine glory (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 284). It was to be trodden daily by the priests as by men who lived in the perpetual consciousness of the nearness of God, of the mystery behind the vail. Barefooted and in garments of white linen, like the priests of Isis, SEE PRIEST, they accomplished their ministrations. Here, too, there were other emblems of divine realities. It was specially illumined by the golden lamp with its seven lights, never all extinguished together, the perpetual symbol of all derived gifts of wisdom and holiness in man, reaching their mystical perfection when they shine in God's sanctuary to his glory (Ex 25:31; Ex 27:20; Zec 4). The shew-bread (the "bread of faces") of the Divine Presence, not unlike in outward form to the sacred cakes which the Egyptians placed before the shrines of their gods, served as a token that, though there was no form or likeness of the Godhead, he was yet there, accepting all offerings, recognizing in particular that special offering which represented the life of the nation at once in the distinctness of its tribes and in its unity as a people (Ewald, Alterth. p. 120). The meaning of the altar of incense was not less obvious. The cloud of fragrant smoke was the natural, almost the universal, emblem of the heart's adoration (Ps 141:2). The incense sprinkled on the shew-bread and the lamp taught men that all other offerings needed the intermingling of that adoration. Upon that altar no "strange fire" was to be kindled. When fresh fire was needed it was to be taken from the altar of burnt-offering in the outer court (Le 9:24; Le 10:1). (Very striking, as compared with what is to follow, are the sublimity and the purity of these symbols. It is as if the priestly order, already leading a consecrated life, were capable of understanding a higher language which had to be translated into a lower for those that were still without (Saalschütz. Archaöl. § 77).
(3.) Outside the tent, but still within the consecrated precincts, was the court fenced in by an enclosure, yet open to all the congregation as well as to the Levites, those only excepted who were ceremonially unclean. No Gentile might pass beyond the curtains of the entrance, but every member of the priestly nation might thus far "draw near" to the presence of Jehovah. Here, therefore, stood the altar of burnt-offerings, at which sacrifices in all their varieties were offered by penitent or thankful worshippers (Ex 27:1-8; Ex 38:1), the brazen laver at which those worshippers purified themselves before they sacrificed, the priests before they entered into the sanctuary (Ex 30:17-21). Here the graduated scale of holiness ended. What Israel was to the world, fenced in and set apart, that the court of the tabernacle was to the surrounding wilderness, just as the distinction between it and the sanctuary answered to that between the sons of Aaron and other Israelites; just as the idea of holiness culminated personally in the high-priest, locally in the holy of holies.
V. Theories of Later Times. —
1. It is not probable that the elaborate symbolism of such a structure was understood by the rude and sensual multitude that came out of Egypt. In its fullness, perhaps, no mind but that of the lawgiver himself ever entered into it, and even for him, one half, and that the highest, of its meaning must have been altogether latent. Yet it was not the less, was perhaps the more fitted, on that account, to be an instrument for the education of the people. To the most ignorant and debased it was at least a witness of the nearness of the Divine King. It met the craving of the human heart, which prompts to worship, with an order that was neither idolatrous nor impure. It taught men that their fleshly nature was the hindrance to worship; that it rendered them unclean; that only by subduing it, killing it, as they killed the bullock and the goat, could they offer up an acceptable sacrifice; that such a sacrifice was the condition of forgiveness, a higher sacrifice than any they could offer as the ground of that forgiveness. The sins of the past were considered as belonging to the fleshly nature, which was slain and offered, not to the true inner self of the worshipper. More thoughtful minds were led inevitably to higher truths. They were not slow to see in the tabernacle the parable of God's presence manifested in creation. Darkness was as his pavilion (2Sa 22:12). He has made a tabernacle for the sun (Ps 19:4). The heavens were spread out like its curtains. The beams of his chambers were in the mighty waters (Ps 104:2-3: Isa 40; Isa 22; Lowth, De Sac. Poes. 8). The majesty of God seen in the storm and tempest was as of one who rides upon a cherub (2Sa 22:11). If the words He that dwelleth between the cherubim" spoke on the one side of a special, localized manifestation of the Divine Presence, they spoke also on the other of that Presence as in the heaven of heavens, in. the light of setting suns, in the blackness and the flashes of the thunder-clouds.
2. The thought thus uttered, essentially poetical in its nature, had its fit place in the psalms and hymns of Israel. It lost its beauty, it led men on a false track, when it was formalized into a system. At a time when Judaism and Greek philosophy were alike effete, when a feeble physical science which could read nothing but its own thoughts in the symbols of an older and deeper system was after its own fashion rationalizing the mythology of heathenism, there were found Jewish writers willing to apply the same principle of interpretation to the tabernacle and its order. In that way, it seemed to them, they would secure the respect even of the men of letters who could not bring themselves to be proselytes. The result appears in Josephus and in Philo, in part also in Clement of Alexandria and Origen.
Thus interpreted, the entire significance of the two tables of the covenant and their place within the ark disappeared, and the truths which the whole order represented became cosmical instead of ethical. If the special idiosyncrasy of one writer (Philo, De Profug.) led him to see in the holy of holies and the sanctuary that which answered to the Platonic distinction between the visible (αἰσθητά) and the spiritual (νοητά), the coarser, less intelligent Josephus goes still more completely into the new- system. The holy of holies is the visible firmament in which God dwells, the sanctuary is the earth and sea which men inhabit (Ant. 3, 6, 4, 7; 7, 7). The twelve loaves of the shew-bread represented the twelve months of the year, the twelve signs of the zodiac. The seven lamps were the seven planets. The four colors of the vail were the four elements (στοιχεῖα), air, fire, water, earth. Even the wings of the cherubim were, in the eyes of some, the two hemispheres of the universe, or the constellations of the greater and the lesser bears (Clem. Alex. Strom. 5, 35). The table of shew-bread and the altar of incense stood on the north, because north winds were most fruitful; the lamp on the south, because the motions of the planets were southward (ibid. § 34, 35). We need not follow such a system of interpretation further. It was not unnatural that the authority with which it started should secure for it considerable respect. We find it reappearing in some Christian writers-Chrysostom (Hom. in Joann. Bampt.) and Theodoret (Quaest. in Exodus); in some Jewish-Ben-Uzziel, Kimchi, Abarbanel (Bahr, Symbol. 1, 103 sq.). It was well for Christian thought that the Church had in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse of St. John that which helped to save it from the pedantic puerilities of this physico-theology. It is curious to note how in Clement of Alexandria the two systems of interpretation cross each other, leading sometimes to extravagances like those in the text, sometimes to thoughts at once lofty and true. Some of these have already been noticed. Others, not to be passed over, are that the seven lamps set forth the varied degrees and forms (πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως) of God's revelation, the form and the attitude of the cherubim, the union of active ministry and grateful, ceaseless contemplation (Strom. 5, 36, 37).
3. It will have been clear from all that has been said that the Epistle to the Hebrews has not been looked on as designed to limit our inquiry into the meaning of the symbolism of the tabernacle, and that there is consequently no ground for adopting the system of interpreters who can see in it nothing but an aggregate of types of Christian mysteries. Such a system has, in fact, to choose between two alternatives. Either the meaning was made clear, at least to the devout worshippers of old, and then it is no longer true that the mystery was hid "from ages and generations," or else the mystery was concealed and then the whole order was voiceless and unmeaning as long as it lasted, then only beginning to be instructive when it was "ready to vanish away." Rightly viewed, there is, it is believed, no antagonism between the interpretation which starts from the idea of symbols of great eternal truths, and that, which rests on the idea of types foreshadowing Christ and his Work and his Church. If the latter were the highest manifestation of the former (and this is the keynote of the Epistle to the Hebrews), then the two systems run parallel with each other. The type may help us to understand the symbol. The symbol may guard us against: misinterpreting the type. That the same things were at once symbols and types may take its place among the proofs of an insight and a foresight more than human. Not the vail of nature only, but the vail of the flesh, the humanity of Christ, at once conceals and manifests the Eternals glory. The rending of that vail enabled all who had eves to see and hearts to believe to enter into the holy of holies, into the Divine Presence, and to see, not less clearly than the high-priest, as he looked on the ark and the mercy-seat, that righteousness and love, truth and mercy, were as one. Blood had been shed, a life had been offered which, through the infinite power of its love, was able to atone, to satisfy, to purify.
The allusions to the tabernacle in the Apocalypse are, as might be expected, full of interest. As in a vision, which loses sight of all time limits, the temple of the tabernacle is seen in heaven (Re 15:5), and yet in the heavenly Jerusalem there is no temple seen (Re 21:22). In the heavenly temple there is no longer any vail; it is open, and the ark of the covenant is clearly seen (Re 11:19).
4. We cannot here follow out that strain of a higher mood, and it would not be profitable to enter into the speculations which later writers have engrafted on the first great thought. Those who wish to enter upon that line of inquiry may find materials enough in any of the greater commentaries on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Owen's, Stuart's, Bleek's, Tholuck's, Delitzsch's, Alford's), or in special treatises, such as those of Van Till (De Tabernac. in Ugolino, Thesaurus, 8), Bede (Expositio Mystica et Moralis Hosaici Tatbernaculi), Witsils (De Tabemn. Levit. Mysteriis, in the Miscell. Sacr.). Strange outlying hallucinations, like those of ancient rabbins, inferring from "the pattern showed to Moses in the Mount" the permanent existence of a heavenly tabernacle, like in form, structure, proportions to that which stood in the wilderness (Leyrer, loc. cit.), or of later writers who have seen in it (not in the spiritual, but the anatomical sense of the word) a type of humanity, representing the outer bodily framework, the inner vital organs (Friederich, Syinb. der M- os. Stiftshütte, in Leyrer, loc. cit., and Ewald, Alterth. p. 338), may be dismissed with a single glance. The Judaic and patristic opinion in the main, though not in the details, was advocated by Bahr in his Symbolik (1837), in which he considered the tabernacle a symbol of the universe, the court representing earth, and the tabernacle, strictly so named, heaven, though not in a material sense, but as the place and instruments of God's revelation of himself. In his work on the temple, ten years later, Bihr retracted much of his former theory, and advocated the opinion that the tabernacle symbolized the idea of the dwelling of God in the midst of Israel. Another view, which seems an exaggeration into unwarrantable detail of the true idea that each Christian is a temple of God, proceeds to adapt to the elements of human nature the divisions and materials of the tabernacle. Thus the court is the body, the holy place the soul, the holiest the spirit-true dwelling place of God. This might do very well as a general illustration, and was so used by Luther; but the idea has been fully developed and defended against the attack of Bahr by Friederich in his Symb. der Mos. Stiftshütte (Leips. 1841).
5. Nevertheless, as the central point of a great symbolical and typical institute, the tabernacle necessarily possessed, both as a whole and in its contents, a symbolical and typical significance, which has been recognized by all orthodox interpreters. On this head, as we see above, much fanciful and unregulated ingenuity has been indulged; but this must not induce us to neglect those conclusions to which a just application of the principles of typological interpretation conducts.
(1.) Under the Old-Test. economy, the primary idea of the tabernacle was that of a dwelling for Jehovah in the midst of his people and this was prominently kept in view in all' the arrangements concerning the construction and location of the structure. "Let them," said God to Moses, "make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them" (Ex 25:8; Ex 29:45); when the structure was completed it was set up in the midst of the congregation, and there it always remained, whether the people rested or were on their march (Numbers 2); on it rested the cloud which indicated the Divine Presence, and which by its quiescence or removal indicated the will of the Great Sovereign of Israel as to the resting or the removing of the camp (Ex 40:36-38); and to it the people repaired when they had sacrifice to offer to God, or counsel to ask of in (Le 1:3; Nu 27:2; De 31:14, etc.). As Judaism was strictly monotheistic, it knew but one sacred place where Jehovah was to be found. The holy of holies, which the apostle calls "the second tabernacle" (Heb 9:7), was the appropriate residence of Jehovah as the God of Israel. In this the principal thing was the ark, in which was placed "the testimony" (עֵדוּת), and which was covered by "the mercy-seat" (כִּפֹּרֶת). The testimony was the book of the law, and it was put into the ark as a witness against the people because of their sinfulness (De 31:26-27).. This symbolized the great truth that the first relation into which Jehovah comes with the sinner is that of a ruler whose law testifies against the transgressor. But this testimony was hid by the mercy-seat, on which the blood of atonement was sprinkled by the high-priest when he entered within the vail, and on which the visible emblem of Jehovah's presence the shechinah between the cherubim of glory-was enthroned; and in this there was an emblem of the fact that the condemning and accusing power of the law was taken away by the propitiatory covering which God had appointed. By all this was indicated the grand truth that the character in which Jehovah dwelt among his people was that of a justly offended but merciful and propitiated sovereign, who, having received atonement for their sins, had put these out of his sight, and would remember them no more at all against them (comp. Philo, De Vit. Mosis, bk. 3).
In the first or outer tabernacle, were the altar of incense, the table with the shew-bread, and the golden candlestick. The first was symbolical of the necessity and the acceptableness of prayer, of which the smoke of sweet incense that was to ascend from it morning and evening appears to be the appointed Biblical symbol (comp. Ps 141:2; Lu 1:10; Re 5:8; Re 8:3-4). The second was emblematical of the necessity of good works to accompany our devotions, the bread being the offering of the children of Israel to their Divine King (Le 24:8), and consecrated to him by the offering of incense along with it as emblematical of prayer. The third was the symbol of the Church, or people of' God, the gold of which it was formed denoting the excellence of the Church, the seven lamps its completeness, and the oil by which they were fed being the appropriate symbol of the Divine Spirit dwelling in his people and causing them to shine (comp. Zec 4:2-3; Mt 5:14,16; Re 1:12,20).
In the fore-court of the tabernacle stood the altar of burnt-offering, on which were offered the sacrifices of the people, and the laver, in which the priests cleansed their hands and feet before entering the holy place. The symbolical significance of these is too well known to need illustration. SEE OFFERING; SEE PURIFICATION.
(2.) Under the new dispensation, if we view the tabernacle as a general symbol of Jehovah's dwelling in the midst of his people, then that to which it answers can be no other than the human nature of our Lord. He was "God manifest in the flesh," "Immanuel," God with us, and in him "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (1Ti 3:16; Matthew, 23; Col 2:9). Hence John (Joh 1:14), in speaking of his incarnation, says, "The Word became flesh and tabernacled (ἐσκήνωσε) among us," where the language evidently points to the ancient tabernacle as the symbolical residence of Jehovah; and in the book of Revelation (Re 21:5) the same apostle, in announcing the final presence of Christ in his glorified humanity with his Church, uses the expression, The tabernacle of God is with men." From these statements of the New Test. we may hold ourselves justified in concluding that the ancient tabernacle, viewed in its general aspect as the dwelling of Jehovah, found its antitype in the human nature of Christ, in whom God really dwelt. Viewed more particularly in its two great divisions, the tabernacle symbolized in its inner department the reign of Jehovah in his own majesty and glory, and in its outer department the service of God by propitiation and prayer. In keeping, with this, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches (as above seen) us to regard the outer part of the tabernacle as more strictly typical of the person of Jesus Christ, and the inner of heaven, into which he has now entered. Thus he speaks of him (Heb 8:2) as now, in the heavenly state, "a minister of the true [i.e. real, ἀληθινή, as distinguished from symbolical] tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man," where the allusion seems to be partly to the fact that Christ is in heaven, and partly to the fact that he ministers there in human nature. Still more explicit is the language used in 9:11, where the writer, after speaking of the sacerdotal services of the ancient economy as merely figurative and outward, adds, But Christ having appeared— as high-priest of the good things to come, by means of the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), nor by means of blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, entered once (for all) into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." In interpreting this passage, we would follow those who take the whole as far as the words "his own blood" as the subject of the sentence, and consequently join the clauses depending from διά with παραγεμόμενος, and not with εἰσῆλθεν; for it seems to be more natural to suppose that the writer should say that it was by means of a more perfect tabernacle and a holier sacrifice that Christ became the high-priest of spiritual blessings than that it was by these means that he entered into the holy place. The objection to this construction which dean Alford urges, that "in that case οὐδέ would be left without any preceding member of the negation to follow," is of no weight, for it burdens the construction he adopts as much as that he rejects, and is to be obviated in either case by resolving οὐδέ into καὶ οὐ (see Meyer's note on ver. 12). Assuming this to be the proper construction of the passage, it seems clearly to represent the human nature of our Lord — that in which he made his soul an offering for sin — as the antitype of the ancient tabernacle in which the high-priest offered sacrifice, while the heavenly world into which he had entered as a high-priest was typified by the holy place into which the Jewish high-priest entered to appear in the symbolical presence of Jehovah. For further confirmation of this may be adduced Heb 10:20, where the writer, speaking of the privilege enjoyed by believers under the new dispensation of approaching God through Christ, says we can do it "by a new and living way which he hath inaugurated (ἐνεκαίνισεν) for us through the vail (that is, his own flesh)." The allusion here is undoubtedly to the ancient tabernacle service, and the truth set forth is that as the high-priest of old went with sacrificial blood through the vail into the holy of holies, so we, as made priests unto God by Jesus Christ, may approach the immediate presence of Jehovah through that path which the Savior has inaugurated for us by his death in human nature-that path by which he himself has preceded us as our great intercessor, and which is ever fresh and living for us. There may be some rhetorical confusion in this passage, but the general idea seems plainly this, that the body of Christ, slain for us, affords us a passage, by means of sacrifice, into the presence of God, just as the first tabernacle with its services afforded an entrance to the high-priest of old into the holy of holies (see Hofmann, Schrifibeweis, II, 1, 405 sq.; Weissag. u. Erfüllung, 2, 189 sq.).
For the symbolism, in a New Test. sense, of the various parts and uses of the tabernacle, such as the altar (θυσιαστήριον, Heb 13:10), the vail (καταπέτασμα, 10:20), the mercy-seat (ἱλαστήριον, Rom. 3, 25), etc., see each word in its place.
6. It is proper in this connection to refer to a speculative hypothesis which, though in itself unsubstantial enough, has been revived under circumstances that have given it prominence. It has been maintained by Von Bohlen and Vatke (Bühr, 1, 117,273) that the commands and the descriptions relating to the tabernacle in the books of Moses are altogether unhistorical, the result of the effort of some late compiler to ennoble the cradle of his people's history by transferring to a remote antiquity what he found actually existing in the Temple, modified only so far as was necessary to fit it into the theory of a migration and a wandering. The structure did not belong to the time of the Exodus, if indeed there ever was an Exodus. The tabernacle thus becomes the mythical after growth of the Temple, riot the Temple the historical sequel to the tabernacle. It has lately been urged as tending to the same conclusion that the circumstances connected with the tabernacle in the Pentateuch are manifestly unhistorical. The whole congregation of Israel are said to meet in a court which could not have contained more than a few hundred men (Colenso, Pentateuch and Book of Joshua, pt. 1, ch. 4:5). The number of priests was utterly inadequate for the services of the tabernacle (ibid. ch. 20). The narrative of the head-money collection, of the gifts of the people, is full of anachronisms (ibid. ch. 14).
Some of these objections those, e.g., as to the number of the first-born, and the disproportionate smallness of the priesthood, have been met by anticipation in remarks under PRIEST and LEVITE. Others bearing upon the general veracity of the Pentateuch history it is impossible to discuss here. SEE PENTATEUCH. It will be sufficient to notice such as bear immediately upon the subject of this article.
(1.) It may be said that this theory, like other similar theories as to the history of Christianity, adds to instead of diminishing difficulties and anomalies. It may be possible to make out plausibly that what purports to be the first period of an institution is, with all its documents, the creation of the second; but the question then comes, How are we to explain the existence of the second? The world rests upon an elephant, and the elephant on a tortoise, but the footing of the tortoise is at least somewhat insecure.
(2.) Whatever may be the weight of the argument drawn from the alleged presence of the whole congregation at the door of the tabernacle tells with equal force against the historical existence of the Temple and the narrative of its dedication. There also, when the population numbered some seven or eight millions (2Sa 24:9), "all the men of Israel" (1Ki 8:2), "all the congregation" (ver. 5), "all the children of Israel" (ver. 63) were assembled, and the king "blessed" all the congregation (ver. 14, 55).
(3.) There are, it is believed, undesigned touches indicating the nomadic life of the wilderness. "The wood employed for the tabernacle is not the sycamore of the valleys nor the cedar of Lebanon, as afterwards in the Temple, but the shittim of the Sinaitic peninsula. SEE SHITTAH-TREE; SEE SHITTIM. The abundance of fine linen points to Egypt, the seal or dolphin skins ("badgers" in the A.V., but see Gesenius; s.v. תִּחִשׁ) to the shores of the Red Sea. SEE BADGER. The Levites are not to enter on their office till the age of thirty, as needing for their work as bearers a man's full strength (Nu 4:23,30). Afterwards, when their duties are chiefly those of singers and gatekeepers, they were to begin at twenty (1Ch 23:2) 1. Would a later history, again, have excluded the priestly tribe from all share in the structure of the tabernacle, and left it in the hands of mythical persons belonging to Judah, and to a tribe then so little prominent as that of Dan?
(4.) There remains the strong Egyptian stamp impressed upon well-nigh every part of the tabernacle and its ritual, and implied in other incidents. SEE BRAZEN SERPENT; SEE LEVITE; SEE PRIEST; SEE URIM AND THUMMIM. Whatever bearing this may have on our views of the things themselves, it points, beyond all doubt to a time when the two nations had been brought into close contact, when not jewels of silver and gold only, but treasures of wisdom, art, knowledge, were "borrowed" by one people from the other. To what other period in the history before Samuel than that of the Exodus of the Pentateuch can we refer that intercourse?
When was it likely that a wild tribe, with difficulty keeping its ground against neighboring nations, would have adopted such a complicated ritual from a system so alien to its own? The facts which, when urged by Spencer, with or without a hostile purpose, were denounced as daring and dangerous and unsettling, are now seen to be witnesses to the antiquity of the religion of Israel, and so to the substantial truth of the Mosaic history. They are used as such by theologians who in various degrees enter their protest against the more destructive criticism of our own time (Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses; Stanley, Jewish Church, lect. 4).
(5.) We may, for a moment, put an imaginary case. Let us suppose that the records of the Old Test. had given us in 1 and 2 Samuel a history like that which men now seek to substitute for what is actually given, had represented Samuel as the first great preacher of the worship of Elohim, Gad, or some later prophet, as introducing for the first time the name and worship of Jehovah, and that the Old Test. began with this (Colenso, pt. 2, ch. 21). Let us then suppose that some old papyrus, freshly discovered, slowly deciphered, gave us the whole or the greater part of what we now find in Exodus and Numbers, that there was thus given an explanation both of the actual condition of the people and of the Egyptian element so largely intermingled with their ritual. Can we not imagine with what jubilant zeal the books of Samuel would then have been "critically examined," what inconsistencies would have been detected in them, how eager men would have been to prove that Samuel had had credit given him for a work which was not his; that not he, but Moses, was the founder of the polity and creed of Israel; that the tabernacle on Zion, instead of coming fresh from David's creative mind, had been preceded by the humbler tabernacle in the wilderness?
The objection raised against the truthfulness of the narrative (Colenso, ibid. ch. 7) on the ground that the entire congregation of 600,000 is said to have been convened at the door of this small structure (Leviticus 8) is readily obviated by the natural interpretation that only the principal persons stood immediately near, while the multitude easily viewed the ceremonies from a convenient distance (Birks, The Exodus of Israel, p. 111).
VI. Literature. — Besides the commentaries on Exodus ad loc., see Babhr, Symbolik d. mos. (ult. 1, 56 sq.; Lund, Die jid. Heiligthümer dargestellt (Hamb. 1695, 1738); Van Til, Comment. de Tabernac. Mos. (Dord. 1714; also in Ugolino, Thesaur. vol. 8); Conrad, De Tabernaculi Mosis Structura et Figura (Offenbach, 1712); Lamy, De Tabernaculo Faederis (Paris, 1720); Tympe, Tabernaculi e Monumentis Descriptio (Jena, 1731); Carpzov, Appar. p. 248 sq.; Reland, Antiq. Sacr. 1, 3-5;
Schacht, Animadv. ad Iken. Antiq. p. 267 sq.; D'Aquine [Phil.], Du Tabernacle (Paris, 1623-24); Benzelii Dissertationes, 2, 97 sq. Millii Miscellanea Sacra (Amit. 1754), p. 329 sq.; Ravius, De iis quace ex Arabia in usum Tabernaculi fuerant Petita (Ultraj. 1753, ed. J. M. Schröckh, Lips. 1755); Recchiti, (הִמַּשׁכָּן (Mantua, 1776); Vriemoet, De Aulceo adyti Tabernaculi (Franec. 1745); Meyer, Bibeldeutung, p. 262 sq.; Lanzi [Michelangelo], La Sacra Scrittura Illustrata con Monum. Fenico A ssiri ed. Egiziani (Roma, 1827, fol.); Neumann, Die Stiftshütte (Gotha, 1861); Friederich, Symbol. d. mos. Stiftshütte (Leips. 1841); Kurtz, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1844, 2, 305 sq.; Riggenbach, Die mos. Stiftshütte (Basel, 1862, 1867); Soltau, Vessels of the Tabernacle (Lond. 1865); Paine, The Tabernacle, Temple, etc. (Bost, 1861); Kitto, The Tabernacle and its Furniture (Lond. 1849): Simpson, Typ. Character of the Tabernacle (Edinb. 1852); Brown, The Tabernacle, etc. (ibid. 1s71, 1872, 8vo).