Table of Shew-bread

Table Of Shew-Bread

(שֻׁלחִן הִפָּנַים, table of the faces, Nu 4:7; שֻׁלחִן הִמִּעֲרֵכֶת, table of the arrangement, 1Ch 28:16; הִשֻּׁלחָן הִטָּהֹר, the pure table, Le 24:6; 2Ch 13:11; Sept. ἡ τράπεζα τῆς προθέσεως), one of the pieces of furniture in the Mosaic tabernacle (Ex 25:23 sq.; 37:10 sq.), in Solomon's Temple (1Ki 7:48; comp; 2Ch 29:18), in its restoration by Zerubbabel (1 Macc. 1, 22), and in Herod's reconstruction of that edifice (Josephus, War, 7:5, 5). It stood in the outer apartment or holy place, on the right hand or north side, and was made of acacia (shittim) wood, two cubits long, one broad, and one and a half high, and covered with laminate of gold. According to the Mishna (Menach. 11:5), it was ten handbreadths long and five wide; other traditions make it twelve handbreadths long and six wide. The top of the leaf of this table was encircled by a border or rim (זֵר, a crown or wreath) of gold. The frame of the table, immediately below the leaf, was encircled with a piece of wood of about four inches in breadth, around the edge of which was a rim or border (מַסגֶּרֶת, a margin) similar to that around the leaf. A little lower down, but at equal distances from the top of the table, there were four rings of gold fastened to the legs, through which staves covered with gold were inserted for the purpose of carrying it (Ex 25:23-28; Ex 37:10-16). The description of Josephus, which is quite minute, varies in several particulars (Ant. 3, 6,6). These rings were not found in the table which was afterwards made for the Temple, nor indeed in any of the sacred furniture, where they had previously been, except in the ark of the covenant. Twelve unleavened loaves were placed upon this table, which were sprinkled with frankincense (the Sept. adds salt; Le 24:7). The number twelve represented the twelve tribes, and was not diminished after the defection of ten of the tribes from the worship of God in his sanctuary, because the covenant with the sons of Abraham was not formally abrogated, and because there were still many true Israelites among the apostatizing tribes. The twelve loaves were also a constant record against them, and served as a standing testimonial that their proper place was before the forsaken altar of Jehovah (see Philo, Opp. 2, 151; Clem. Alex. Strom. 6:279).

Wine also was placed upon the table of shew-bread in bowls, some larger, קעָרוֹת, and some smaller, כִּפּנֹת; also in vessels that were covered, קשָׂווֹת, and in cups, מנִקַּיּוֹת, which were probably employed in pouring in and taking out the wine from the other vessels, or in making libations. Gesenius calls them "paterse libatoria;" and they appear in the A. V. as "spoons." Some of them were perhaps for incense (בזיכי לבונה, Mishna, Yoma, 5, 1). See generally Ex 25:29-30; Ex 37:10-16; Ex 40; Ex 4; Ex 24; Le 24:5-9; Nu 4:7.

The fate of the original table of shew-bread is unknown. It was probably transferred by David (if it then still existed) to his temporary sanctuary on Mt. Zion, and thence by Solomon to his sumptuous Temple, With the other articles of sacred furniture, it was carried away by the Babylonians and possibly in like manner restored after the Captivity. Antiochus Epiphanes despoiled the second Temple of this as well as of its other treasures (1 Macc. 1, 23), and hence on the Maccabaean restoration a new one was made (4, 49). According to 'Josephus, it was reconstructed in a most elaborate and costly manner at the expense of Ptolemy Philadelphus (Ant. 12:2,9, where the description is very detailed). The same historian again describes more briefly the Herodian shew-bread table, which was carried away by the Romans (War, 7:5, 5), and was deposited by Vespasian in his newly erected Temple of Peabe at Rome (ibid. 7:5, 7). where it survived the burning of that building under Commodus (Herodian, 1, 14), and in the middle of the 5th century, was taken by the Vandals under Genseric to Africa (Cedren. Compend. 1, 346). It is said to have been rescued by Belisarius (A.D. 520), and sent to Constantinople, whence it was finally remitted to Jerusalem (Propius, Vandal. 11:9). The only authentic representation of this interesting article extant is that upon the arch of Titus at Rome, SEE SHEW-BREAD, which was carefully delineated and described by Reland (De Spoliis Templi [Fr. ad Rh. 1716], c. 6-9) when it seems to have been in a better state of preservation than at present. See, generally, Schlichter, De Mensa Facierum (Hal. 1738; also in Ugolino, Thesaur. 10); Witsius, Miscell. Sacr. 1, 336; Carpzov, Appar7. Crit. p. 278; Bahr, Symbol. d. mos. Cultus, 1, 435; Friederich, Symbol. d. mos. Stiftshütte, p. 170: Keil, Tempel Sal. p. 109; Paine, The Tabernacle and the Temple (Bost. 1861), p. 11; Neumann, Die Stiftshütte, etc. (Leips. 1861), p. 135; Riggenbach, Die mos. Stiftshütte (Basel, 1867), p. 37; Soltau, Vessels of the Tabernacle (Lond. 1873), p. 17-28. SEE TABERNACLE; SEE TEMPLE.

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