וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן תַּעֲשֶׂה עֶשֶׂר יְרִיעֹת שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתֹלַעַת שָׁנִי כְּרֻבִים מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב 26:1
Exod. 26:1 “And you shall make the tabernacle of ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet cloth. Cherubim, you shall make them of cunning workmanship.”
I presume that at least one cherub was embroidered, woven, or sewn (probably embroidered) into each curtain.
אֹרֶךְ הַיְרִיעָה הָאַחַת שְׁמֹנֶה וְעֶשְׂרִים בָּאַמָּה וְרֹחַב אַרְבַּע בָּאַמָּה הַיְרִיעָה הָאֶחָת מִדָּה אַחַת לְכָל־ 26:2
Exod. 26:2 “The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain, four cubits, one size for all the curtains.”
If the cubit is about eighteen inches, the curtains would each be about 504 inches (42 feet) long and 72 inches (6 feet) wide. That’s a big curtain. Was it woven on a loom? Where did the loom come from? I guess it might have been done by hand, without a mechanical loom. Strangely, the ratio of length to width of the curtain is precisely 7 to 1.
חֲמֵשׁ הַיְרִיעֹת תִּהְיֶיןָ חֹבְרֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ וְחָמֵשׁ יְרִיעֹת חֹבְרֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ 26:3
Exod. 26:3 “Five of the curtains shall be joined together each to another, and five curtains joined together each to another.”
There is no explanation of how the curtains are to be joined, lengthwise or widthwise. Assuming that the curtains would be joined widthwise, long end to long end, each five-curtain set would be 360 inches (30 feet) long and 504 inches (42 feet) wide.
וְעָשִׂיתָ לֻלְאֹת תְּכֵלֶת עַל שְׂפַת הַיְרִיעָה הָאֶחָת מִקָּצָה בַּחֹבָרֶת וְכֵן תַּעֲשֶׂה בִּשְׂפַת הַיְרִיעָה 26:4
הַקִּיצֹונָה בַּמַּחְבֶּרֶת הַשֵּׁנִית
Exod. 26:4 “And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the one curtain at the end in a set, and you shall do the same on an edge of the curtain that is at the end in the other set.”
חֲמִשִּׁים לֻלָאֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה בַּיְרִיעָה הָאֶחָת וַחֲמִשִּׁים לֻלָאֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה בִּקְצֵה הַיְרִיעָה אֲשֶׁר בַּמַּחְבֶּרֶת 26:5
שֵּׁנִית מַקְבִּילֹת הַלֻּלָאֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ
Exod. 26:5 “You shall make fifty loops in the one curtain and you shall make fifty loops in the edge of the curtain that is in the other set. The loops shall be opposite each to the other.”
If the curtains were to be joined lengthwise, this sounds like the fifty loops should be along the 30-foot end of a curtain. Assuming that one loop was at each end, fifty loops along a 30-foot length situates each loop at an interval of 7.35 inches. This spacing could be fairly easily measured as about two handbreadths. The spacing could also be determined by a measuring line of two handbreadths long.
וְעָשִׂיתָ חֲמִשִּׁים קַרְסֵי זָהָב וְחִבַּרְתָּ אֶת־הַיְרִיעֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ בַּקְּרָסִים וְהָיָה הַמִּשְׁכָּן אֶחָד 26:6
Exod. 26:6 “And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and you shall join the curtains together each to the other with the clasps, so the tabernacle will be one.
The complete joined curtain would be 720 inches (60 feet) long. This curtain would be on the inner walls of the Tabernacle. The height of the curtained walls is clearly uncertain -- they could not be 42 feet high. The curtains would be open -- not joined -- at the ends of the set of ten curtains. I assume this means that the curtains would cover the three sides of the tabernacle area to an unknown height less than 42 feet.
וְעָשִׂיתָ יְרִיעֹת עִזִּים לְאֹהֶל עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּן עַשְׁתֵּי־עֶשְׂרֵה יְרִיעֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם 26:7
Exod. 26:7 “And you shall make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle. You shall make eleven curtains with them.”
אֹרֶךְ הַיְרִיעָה הָאַחַת שְׁלֹשִׁים בָּאַמָּה וְרֹחַב אַרְבַּע בָּאַמָּה הַיְרִיעָה הָאֶחָת מִדָּה אַחַת לְעַשְׁתֵּי 26:8
Exod. 26:8 “The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits and four cubits the width of the one curtain, one size for the eleven curtains.”
The goats’ hair curtains would be about 540 inches (45 feet) long and 72 inches (6 feet) wide. No simple ratio here (7.5 to 1).
וְחִבַּרְתָּ אֶת־חֲמֵשׁ הַיְרִיעֹת לְבָד וְאֶת־שֵׁשׁ הַיְרִיעֹת לְבָד וְכָפַלְתָּ אֶת־הַיְרִיעָה הַשִּׁשִּׁית אֶל־מוּל פְּנֵי 26:9
Exod. 26:9 “And you shall join five of the curtains separately and six of the curtains separately, and fold the sixth curtain double at the front face of the tent.”
As this is referring to the tent top, I have to assume that the goats’ hair curtains were to be joined along their long sides. That would make the five-curtain set 540 inches (45 feet) by 360 inches (30 feet), and the six-curtain set 540 inches (45 feet) by 432 inches (36 feet).
וְעָשִׂיתָ חֲמִשִּׁים לֻלָאֹת עַל שְׂפַת הַיְרִיעָה הָאֶחָת הַקִּיצֹנָה בַּחֹבָרֶת וַחֲמִשִּׁים לֻלָאֹת עַל שְׂפַת 26:10
הַיְרִיעָה הַחֹבֶרֶת הַשֵּׁנִית
Exod. 26:10 “And you shall make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain at the end in a set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain of the other set.”
Making the same assumption that I did for v. 26:5, the fifty loops along the 45-foot end would be situated at an interval of 11.02 inches, which is not too much smaller than about three handbreadths.
וְעָשִׂיתָ קַרְסֵי נְחֹשֶׁת חֲמִשִּׁים וְהֵבֵאתָ אֶת־הַקְּרָסִים בַּלֻּלָאֹת וְחִבַּרְתָּ אֶת־הָאֹהֶל וְהָיָה אֶחָד 26:11
Exod. 26:11 “And you shall make fifty clasps of brass, and bring the clasps in the loops, and join the tent together so it shall be one.”
Now the total of the eleven skins together, the two sets joined on their long ends, would be 792 inches (66 feet) long and 540 inches (45 feet) wide.
וְסֶרַח הָעֹדֵף בִּירִיעֹת הָאֹהֶל חֲצִי הַיְרִיעָה הָעֹדֶפֶת תִּסְרַח עַל אֲחֹרֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן 26:12
Exod. 26:12 “And of the excess remaining in the curtains of the tent, you shall extend half of the remaining curtain over the back of the tabernacle.”
Half of the remaining curtain would be two cubits, that is, 36 inches or three feet, hanging behind the rear (western) wall.
וְהָאַמָּה מִזֶּה וְהָאַמָּה מִזֶּה בָּעֹדֵף בְּאֹרֶךְ יְרִיעֹת הָאֹהֶל יִהְיֶה סָרוּחַ עַל־צִדֵּי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה 26:13
Exod. 26:13 “And the cubit on one side and the cubit on the other side remaining in the length of the curtains of the tent shall be hung over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side to cover it.”
The sides of the tabernacle must refer to the boards that are described below. Subtracting 1 cubit from the width of the tent curtains leaves us with a remainder of 42 feet for the tabernacle tent top, with 18 inches of curtain overhang on each of the side walls.
וְעָשִׂיתָ מִכְסֶה לָאֹהֶל עֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וּמִכְסֵה עֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים מִלְמָעְלָה 26:14
Exod. 26:14 “And you shall make a covering of the ram skins dyed red and a covering of the badger skins for the tent over the top.”
We have no idea how these are combined to complete the roof of the tent.
וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת־הַקְּרָשִׁים לַמִּשְׁכָּן עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים עֹמְדִים 26:15
Exod. 26:15 “And you shall make the boards for the tabernacle of wood of acacia standing up.”
עֶשֶׂר אַמֹּות אֹרֶךְ הַקָּרֶשׁ וְאַמָּה וַחֲצִי הָאַמָּה רֹחַב הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד 26:16
Exod. 26:16 “The length of a board shall be ten cubits and the width of one board a cubit and a half of a cubit.”
Each board would be 180 inches (15 feet) long by 27 inches (21/4 feet) wide. Were each of these boards made of one piece of wood? From the next verse, it would seem that they were of one piece. Remarkable!
שְׁתֵּי יָדֹות לַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד מְשֻׁלָּבֹת אִשָּׁה אֶל־אֲחֹתָהּ כֵּן תַּעֲשֶׂה לְכֹל קַרְשֵׁי הַמִּשְׁכָּן 26:17
Exod. 26:17 “There shall be two tenons for one board, joining together each to another. So shall you do for all the boards of the tabernacle.”
It seems that the tenons should be carved from the boards, and should be joined together, but how does that work? A tenon is presumed to be a projection off the end of the board. If they are joined, they would be in the center of the 27-inch width of the board. That doesn’t seem like it would hold up the standing board very well. More than likely the spaces cut out between the tenons would be joined. That would put the tenons at or near the outside edges of the board. My guess is that the cutouts in the board to make the tenons would be perhaps one foot or so deep
וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת־הַקְּרָשִׁים לַמִּשְׁכָּן עֶשְׂרִים קֶרֶשׁ לִפְאַת נֶגְבָּה תֵימָנָה 26:18
Exod. 26:18 “And you shall make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side southward.”
If the boards were to be fitted together with no space between, their length edge to edge would be 45 feet. That would probably be the length of the south wall.
וְאַרְבָּעִים אַדְנֵי־כֶסֶף תַּעֲשֶׂה תַּחַת עֶשְׂרִים הַקָּרֶשׁ שְׁנֵי אֲדָנִים תַּחַת־הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד לִשְׁתֵּי יְדֹתָיו 26:19
וּשְׁנֵי אֲדָנִים תַּחַת־הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד לִשְׁתֵּי יְדֹתָיו
Exod. 26:19 “And you shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards, two sockets under one board for its two tenons and two sockets under another board for its two tenons.”
The silver sockets apparently received the tenons, which must have been along the narrow edge of the boards. Thus I imagine the boards were able to stand up to their height of about 15 feet. I don’t quite see how the boards were fitted together. Perhaps that was the function of the bars described beginning with v. 26:26.
וּלְצֶלַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן הַשֵּׁנִית לִפְאַת צָפֹון עֶשְׂרִים קָרֶשׁ 26:20
Exod. 26:20 “And for the second side of the tabernacle, for the north side, there shall be twenty boards
וְאַרְבָּעִים אַדְנֵיהֶם כָּסֶף שְׁנֵי אֲדָנִים תַּחַת הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד וּשְׁנֵי אֲדָנִים תַּחַת הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד 26:21
Exod. 26:21 and their forty sockets of silver, two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board.”
וּלְיַרְכְּתֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן יָמָּה תַּעֲשֶׂה שִׁשָּׁה קְרָשִׁים 26:22
Exod. 26:22 “As for the rear of the tabernacle to the west, you shall make six boards.”
From this verse we learn that the ends of the tabernacle were to face east and west, with the rear to the west and the front to the east. In a sense, this reflects humanity’s augmented isolation from Eden at least inside the Tabernacle and courtyard. Being on the east sets the front of the tabernacle and courtyard farther from Eden. As we will learn, the tribes of Israel will be encamped surrounding the courtyard each time it is erected. Thus they are unevenly separated from Eden, those to the west being closer.
וּשְׁנֵי קְרָשִׁים תַּעֲשֶׂה לִמְקֻצְעֹת הַמִּשְׁכָּן בַּיַּרְכָתָיִם 26:23
Exod. 26:23 “And you shall make two boards for the corners of the tabernacle in the rear.”
וְיִהְיוּ תֹאֲמִים מִלְּמַטָּה וְיַחְדָּו יִהְיוּ תַמִּים עַל־רֹאשֹׁו אֶל־הַטַּבַּעַת הָאֶחָת כֵּן יִהְיֶה לִשְׁנֵיהֶם לִשְׁנֵי 26:24
Exod. 26:24 “And they shall be fitted from beneath, and together they shall be coupled over the top of it to the first ring. So it shall be for the two of them. They shall be for the two corners.”
וְהָיוּ שְׁמֹנָה קְרָשִׁים וְאַדְנֵיהֶם כֶּסֶף שִׁשָּׁה עָשָׂר אֲדָנִים שְׁנֵי אֲדָנִים תַּחַת הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד וּשְׁנֵי 26:25
אֲדָנִים תַּחַת הַקֶּרֶשׁ הָאֶחָד
Exod. 26:25 “So they shall be eight boards with their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets, two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board.”
וְעָשִׂיתָ בְרִיחִם עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים חֲמִשָּׁה לְקַרְשֵׁי צֶלַע־הַמִּשְׁכָּן הָאֶחָד 26:26
Exod. 26:26 “And you shall make bars of wood of acacia, five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle
וַחֲמִשָּׁה בְרִיחִם לְקַרְשֵׁי צֶלַע־הַמִּשְׁכָּן הַשֵּׁנִית וַחֲמִשָּׁה בְרִיחִם לְקַרְשֵׁי צֶלַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן לַיַּרְכָתַיִם יָמָּה 26:27
Exod. 26:27 and five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle to the rear westward.”
וְהַבְּרִיחַ הַתִּיכֹן בְּתֹוךְ הַקְּרָשִׁים מַבְרִחַ מִן־הַקָּצֶה אֶל־הַקָּצֶה 26:28
Exod. 26:28 “And the middle bar in the midst of the boards will be passing through from end to end.”
The middle bars must have passed through grooves carved in the middle of the boards. They were apparently intended to lend strength to the walls by keeping the boards in place. For the boards to be self-supporting, even with the grooves across their middle, they would have had to be pretty thick, possibly on the order of six to ten inches.
וְאֶת־הַקְּרָשִׁים תְּצַפֶּה זָהָב וְאֶת־טַבְּעֹתֵיהֶם תַּעֲשֶׂה זָהָב בָּתִּים לַבְּרִיחִם וְצִפִּיתָ אֶת־הַבְּרִיחִם זָהָב 26:29
Exod. 26:29 “And you shall lay gold over the boards, and you shall make their rings of gold as holders for the bars, and you shall lay gold over the bars.”
The other four bars for each side most probably passed through the sets of rings mentioned in this verse. we cannot know at what distances the rings were set into the gold overlay. We may as well assume that there was one row of rings at or near the top and bottom of the boards and two rows intermediate between them and the middle bar.
וַהֲקֵמֹתָ אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן כְּמִשְׁפָּטֹו אֲשֶׁר הָרְאֵיתָ בָּהָר 26:30
Exod. 26:30 “And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its plan that you are shown on the mountain.”
This is the third reference to a picture or vision that the Lord showed Moses.
וְעָשִׂיתָ פָרֹכֶת תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתֹולַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב יַעֲשֶׂה אֹתָהּ כְּרֻבִים 26:31
Exod. 26:31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet cloth, and fine twined linen. Cherubim, a cunning workman shall make it.”
וְנָתַתָּה אֹתָהּ עַל־אַרְבָּעָה עַמּוּדֵי שִׁטִּים מְצֻפִּים זָהָב וָוֵיהֶם זָהָב עַל־אַרְבָּעָה אַדְנֵי־כָסֶף 26:32
Exod. 26:32 “And you shall put it on four gold overlaid columns of acacia, their hooks of gold, on four sockets of silver.”
וְנָתַתָּה אֶת־הַפָּרֹכֶת תַּחַת הַקְּרָסִים וְהֵבֵאתָ שָׁמָּה מִבֵּית לַפָּרֹכֶת אֵת אֲרֹון הָעֵדוּת וְהִבְדִּילָה 26:33
הַפָּרֹכֶת לָכֶם בֵּין הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּבֵין קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים
Exod. 26:33 “And you shall set the veil under the hooks. Then you shall bring the ark of the testimony there inside the veil. So the veil shall be a divider for you between the holy place and the Holiest of Holy Places.”
Notice the distinction that the Lord makes between the holy place, that is, the tabernacle outside the veil, and the Holiest of Holy Places, that is, inside the veil. [Return to Exod. 40:10]
וְנָתַתָּ אֶת־הַכַּפֹּרֶת עַל אֲרֹון הָעֵדֻת בְּקֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים 26:34
Exod. 26:34 “And you shall place the ark cover on the ark of the testimony in the Holiest of Holy Places.”
וְשַׂמְתָּ אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן מִחוּץ לַפָּרֹכֶת וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָה נֹכַח הַשֻּׁלְחָן עַל צֶלַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן תֵּימָנָה וְהַשֻּׁלְחָן 26:35
תִּתֵּן עַל־צֶלַע צָפֹון
Exod. 26:35 “And you shall set the table outside of the veil, and the lamp stand opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle. And you shall put the table on the north side.”
וְעָשִׂיתָ מָסָךְ לְפֶתַח הָאֹהֶל תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתֹולַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר מַעֲשֵׂה רֹקֵם 36:36
Exod. 26:36 “And you shall make a covering of blue and purple and scarlet cloth for the entrance of the tent with fine twined linen of embroidered workmanship.”
וְעָשִׂיתָ לַמָּסָךְ חֲמִשָּׁה עַמּוּדֵי שִׁטִּים וְצִפִּיתָ אֹתָם זָהָב וָוֵיהֶם זָהָב וְיָצַקְתָּ לָהֶם חֲמִשָּׁה אַדְנֵי 26:37
Exod. 26:37 “And you shall make five columns of acacia for the covering, and lay gold over them, their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five sockets of brass for them.”
Let’s see how much sense we can make of these instructions. There should be twenty boards on each of the two sides to the north and south. They would constitute walls of about 45 feet (20 x 21/4) each. The rear wall to the west consisted of six boards (131/2 feet). Four of the five bars described in vss. 26:26 to 26:29 pass through gold rings attached to the boards’ gold overlay, which apparently helped to hold the boards together. Their lengths aren’t specified, so we have to make some assumptions. Notice that there were five bars designated for each of the walls, including the rear wall. But the side walls were almost twice as long as the rear wall. So the lengths could not have been equal. We can surmise that the middle boards mentioned in v. 26:28 were 70 feet long for the two sides and 39 feet long for the rear (not counting the corner boards yet). Then the boards in the southwest and northwest corners have to be accounted for. But it’s almost impossible to understand how they were to be attached without a picture or vision. Suffice it to say that they added up to about another 41/2 feet to the rear wall dimension. So the rear wall might have been about 39 feet long. There was no wall in the front, the east side. Only five columns of gold-overlaid acacia wood stood up inside five brass sockets. Apparently the covering mentioned in v. 26:36 hung from these columns. I have assumed that the five columns were situated two at the sides, and the other three distributed evenly across the front. That would put the three columns close to 13 feet apart.
The roof of the tabernacle was composed of the animal skins.
Now for the interior of the Tabernacle. The Holiest of Holy Places was delineated by four columns (v. 26:32) and the veil was hung from hooks mounted on these columns. We can only assume that these four columns were similar in size to the other columns, and all were likely to be about 15 feet tall. The question I had to ask myself is, were the interior columns and the veil arranged in a rectangle or did they stretch across the width of the Tabernacle? Thinking about it, I questioned whether the Holiest of Holy Places would be situated against the rear wall, and I answered that it probably would not. In addition, I reasoned that the roof curtains needed some support in the middle of the Tabernacle area. Thus I tentatively concluded that the veil and columns were arranged in a rectangle. Then the lamp was on the south wall and the table was on the north wall outside the veil. Where do you suppose the entrance to the Holiest of Holy Places was? I suspect it was in the rear, so the holiest interior could not be accidentally viewed from the front of the Tabernacle.
The above conjectures appear reasonable, but two questions remain. One, if the boards stood 15 feet high and the curtains were 11 feet in length, was there actually a four-foot gap below the curtains? Two, why were the outer curtains so much wider than the inner curtains. The outer curtains should have covered about the same length of wall, but were 15 feet longer than the inner curtains. These are the only aspects that don’t seem reasonable. But I can’t see how they can be reconciled with this cryptic description.
The only other concern we’re left with, is that my tentative depiction of the Tabernacle differs radically from other pictures and models. My response is that this is as good as any other guess in the absence of more information.
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