THE TABERNACLE :
something of the Tabernacle, it's size and structure and purpose,
can only be found in the following chapters and we encourage any
reader who does not want to omit reading these chapters not to
miss reading the following notes which we hope will put the following
chapters in context. We hope, if you've never read these chapters
before, you will give them a try and we invite you to imagine
how these descriptions were worked out by the top Israelites'
Spirit-empowered craftsmen [see later].
These 7 Chapters of Exodus, 25 to 31, will appear for many modern
readers of the Bible, an apparently alien, almost irrelevant part
of Scripture that seems to cover a set of instructions that are
not so much descriptions of ongoing law, ongoing behaviour to
be followed, but mostly instructions for originally building and
using an elaborate tent and the things that went in it, the Tabernacle.
It was otherwise known as the ‘tent of meeting' (1 Chron 6:32).
In Samuel's time it had been at Shiloh (1 Sam 1:3,24, 3:3) and
later at Nob in Saul's time (1 Sam 21) before being moved to Gibeon
(1 Chron 21:19), before Solomon replaced it with the temple (1
It comprised a rectangular frame thought to be approximately 45
feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet tall, covered with curtains
and outer coverings. Its function was to be the focal point for
Israel as the dwelling place of God in their midst AND
the meeting place between God and people who sought to
come to Him, either to express their devotion, or to express their
repentance when they had knowingly done wrong and wanted to clear
their conscience before God according the ways He had laid down.
There was also a courtyard to be erected with ‘fencing' all round.
It had to travel with Israel in all their travels from Mount Sinai
onwards for the forty years in the wilderness and then into the
Promised Land. It thus had to be quickly demountable and easily
carried whenever Israel were on the move and then quickly erected
again when they came to a stop. The movements of Israel were governed
by the cloud of the glory of the Lord that hung over the Tabernacle,
and which would then start to move off (Ex 40:36,37).
We have used the word ‘approximately' because sizes given were
in cubits but there is uncertainty over exactly what that was.
It is difficult to comprehend (and we are not told) what periods
of remaining stationary versus travelling occurred and whether
or not, in reality, the Tabernacle was erected every single time
they stopped. The design details, it has been suggested, were
not entire so we are left to guess some of the details and interpret
others, but it is clear that Moses had these things in his mind
having been told them by God on the mountain (Ex 25:40, 26:30
& 27:8) and so it would seem he simply only recorded the main
parts and would have verbally directed those tasked with constructing
The inside was divided into two rooms: The furthest from the front
was the Most Holy Place, an inner sanctum, (where
God was said to reside) about a third of the depth of the room,
where the ark was housed and which would only be entered once
a year by the high priest. The second was the Holy Place
that was two thirds of the length where daily procedures
were carried out. The Holy Place was lit only by one large candlestick
with a seven oil-burning lights. For a room approximately 30 feet
long, 15 feet wide and high this was not a lot. Although there
was a door opening there is uncertainty about whether this would
be kept open or shut while the priest was ministering inside.
Certain denominations in the past have gone to great lengths teaching
on ‘types' or how parts of the tabernacle typified spiritual truths.
What this tends to do, apart from creating a somewhat elitist
form of theology, is miss the main issue: this was a mobile structure
had its origins
was to be
considered a holy place for limited contact with God,
to be the focal point of carrying out specific procedures ‘before
God' as expressions of the piety of the priests and the people
that we will seek to clarify in the notes with the text, i.e.
keeping it as simple as possible. A way of understanding why
these things were done, as we will see in the text, is to ask,
what would be conveyed in the understanding of the people of
Israel who used the tabernacle?
far as ‘the public' were concerned these procedures laid out in
the Scriptures focused largely on bringing sacrifices and offerings
to God at the Tabernacle (as you'll find in Leviticus.
of the regulations involving the priesthood were to distinguish
them from all others in Israel, as the intermediaries between
God and the people, that they were to be holy, utterly different
and separated from the rest of the nation, in order to increase
the sense of specialness of being able to draw near to God.
Exodus 25: For Inside the Tabernacle
Offerings for the Tabernacle
The Atonement Cover
Offerings for the Tabernacle
the Israelites to bring me an offering . You
are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts
them to give.
are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and
purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair;
skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood;
oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant
onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast-piece.
have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.
this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern
I will show you.
In what follows in respect of both the articles and
the Tabernacle itself, to make reading easier and avoid copious
explanatory notes, we have taken the modern figures for dimensions
rather than the Hebrew dimensions of the original text.
this first section the Lord invites people to bring precious metals
or other materials that can be used to create this ‘sanctuary'
(dwelling place on earth) for God.]
them make an ark [ That
is, a chest ] of
acacia wood—3.75 feet (1.1m) long, 2.25 feet (68cm) wide, and
it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding
four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with
two rings on one side and two rings on the other.
make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.
the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it.
poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to
put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give
The ark (of the covenant) becomes the key most important
(and only) article kept within the Most Holy Place. Eventually
it was to hold the tablets of stone on which were the Ten Commandments
[Ex 25:16,21, 40:20], and beside it, Aaron's staff (see Num 17),
and the jar of manna [Ex 16:34]. The box was wooden but overlaid
with gold sheet, and had rings on either side through which long
carrying poles could be inserted for when it needed to be moved.]
The Atonement Cover
an atonement cover of pure gold (same
size as v.10)
make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover.
one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make
the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends.
cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing
the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking
toward the cover.
the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of
the covenant law that I will give you.
above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark
of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my
commands for the Israelites.
This is essentially a lid for the ark, made of gold,
with two angels cast into it, facing towards each other and there
the presence of God was said to come.]
a table of acacia wood—3 feet (90cm) long, 1.5 feet (45cm) wide
and 2.25 feet (68cm) high.
it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it.
make around it a rim a handbreadth 3 inches (7.5cm) wide
and put a gold molding on the rim.
four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners,
where the four legs are.
rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying
the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the
table with them.
make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers
and bowls for the pouring out of offerings.
the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all
There is also a table to be put in the outer room [see
later] on which was placed bread which would be replaced daily.
It was a wooden table overlaid with gold sheet and it also had
rings through which carrying poles could be inserted. There were
also to be various utensils for use in the Tabernacle, all made
a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make
its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them.
branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on
one side and three on the other.
cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to
be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all
six branches extending from the lampstand.
on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond
flowers with buds and blossoms.
bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the
lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud
under the third pair—six branches in all.
buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand,
hammered out of pure gold.
make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light
the space in front of it.
wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold.
75 pounds (34kg) of
pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories.
that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.
The lamp standard used to light the Holy Place has seven
lamps. The rest of the detail is simply to allow the worker in
gold to know what to do to make it strong as well as ornamental.
It was filled daily with oil for helping the wicks to burn. It
has become a symbol for Judaism and is otherwise known as the
Continue to Chapter 26