Andrews University Seminary Studies, Summer 1992, Vol 30, No. 2, 123-138.

Copyright 1992 by Andrews University Press. Cited with permission.

 

 

 

 

A LITERARY STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-401

 

 

RALPH E. HENDRIX

Andrews University

 

 

 

1. Introduction

 

The first two studies on Exod 25-40 dealt primarily with the

etymology and use of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed within the passage,

and so provided an overarching, "terminological" structure.2 This

final article provides a structural overview which takes its cue from

the literary, topical, and grammatical dimensions within the

passage.

The structure of the Masoretic text of Exod 25-40 shows

several dimensions.3 To correctly describe the complex, multi-

dimensional structure of the passage, clear terminology is essential.

In this study, the term "axis" is used to describe that dimensional

plane along which the text divides itself. This structural axis (or

form of the text as determined by internal parameters) may be seen

in terms of structural size (sub-structural components within larger

structures). "Literary structure" is determined by the order of these

 

1The author here wishes to express appreciation to J. Bjornar Storfjell, Richard

M. Davidson, and Randall W. Younker, members of the faculty of the Seventh-day

Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, for their patience in

overseeing the preparation of this, and related, studies.

2Ralph E. Hendrix, "Miskan and 'ohel mo'ed: Etymology, Lexical Definitions,

and Extra-biblical Usage," AUSS 29 (1991): 213-224; Idem, "The Use of Miskan and

'ohel mo'ed in Exod 25-40," AUSS 30 (1992): 3-13.

3John H. Stek, "The Bee and the Mountain Goat: A Literary Reading," in A

Tribute to Gleason Archer, ed. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and Ronald Youngblood

(Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 59. Here Stek compares these dimensions to a

"hologram" rather than a "photograph." Also, see S. Bar-Efrat, "Some Observations

on the Analysis of Structure in Biblical Narrative," VT 130 (1980): 170, where he

discusses "structural patterns" which belong to various "structural levels."

 

123


124 RALPH E. HENDRIX: Andrews University Seminary Studies

 

components within the text. One stratum or level within a structure

of the text is called an "element."

Literary structures may be delimited both by "numbers" of

elements (in this case, six- or nine-element groups) or by "type" of

elements (physical items, verbal ideas, etc.). A large, overarching

literary form ("maxi-structure") may encompass smaller sub-

structures ("midi-" and "mini-structures"). A "terminological"

structure takes its form from the use-pattern of a certain term or

phrase (as in the case of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed). A "topical"

structure receives its form from the recurrence of a common theme

or topic or subject.4 A "grammatical" structure reflects patterning

at the level of grammar. In short, literary axes concern the overall

form of the text and may include variations such as lists, parallels,

inverse parallels (chiasms)5 gathered in such a way as to augment

the surface meaning of the text.

In practice, structure is not as difficult to recognize as it may

be to describe. For example, the structure of Exod 32:1-33:6 is a six-

element inverted-parallel structure, thematically focusing on its

central structural element.6 As shown below, Exod 40:1-8 is a

simple list of nine elements which is parallel to Exod 40:17-33

(which has the same nine elements in the same order).

The previous analysis of the use of miskan and ohel mo'ed in

Exod 25-40 provided a concrete example of a "terminological"

structure. Table 1 of that study7 displays the existence of four

terminological units which occur within the basic literary structure

of the passage. This terminological axis, missed by many scholars,

has resulted in insensitivity to the discrete and separate

connotations of miskan and 'ohel moed. Miskan is used in contexts

describing the physical construction, primarily associated with

commands to manufacture and assemble the Dwelling Place of

YHWH, but secondarily in its generic sense simply as "dwelling

place." The phrase 'ohel mo'ed appears where the concern is the

cultic function of the habitation. The house of YHWH must,

 

4Bar-Efrat, 157, 168-169, cf. his 1evel of conceptual content" with our

"topical" structure, and his "verbal level" with our "terminological" structure.

5Bar-Efrat, 170, lists "parallel" (AA1), "ring" (AxA1), "chiastic" (ABB1A1), and

"concentric" (ABxB1A1) patterns.

6Ralph E. Hendrix, "A Literary Structural Analysis of the Golden-Calf Episode

in Exodus 32:1-33:6," AUSS 28 (1990): 211-217.

7Hendrix, "Use," 7.



STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 125

 

therefore, be understood as a transient dwelling place,

corresponding to the dwelling places of nomadic peoples (and so

the choice of miskan), yet its continual function of fostering the

cultic relationship (best expressed by the choice of 'ohel mo'ed) must

also be acknowledged. All of this is evident from the terminological

structure of Exod 25-40.

The structural analysis which follows is not exhaustive. It is

meant to point a direction and to encourage further sensitivity to

literary structure as an aid to understanding the biblical text.

 

2. Overview of the Literary Structure

A Structural Summary. The terminological maxi-structure

formed by the succession of occurrences of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed

forms an important literary dimension in Exod 25-40. This was

presented in the second study, mentioned above. As I shall present

below, this large, overarching, four-part maxi-structure encom-

passes two sub-structures (Exod 25:1-31:18 and Exod 35:1-36:7).

Further, each of these two main sub-structures is also sub-divided.

Exod 25:1-31:18 includes six midi-structures: the second (Exod

27:20-21) and fifth (Exod 30:1-10) of which are transitional passages,

and the first (Exod 25 1-27:19), third (Exod 28:1-43), fourth (Exod

29:1-46), and sixth (Exod 30:11-31:18) of which are divided into four

sub-structures of six major elements each. Taken together, the

passage consists of alternately-sized structures: LARGE-small-

LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE (Table 1). Next come four

supportive, interlocutory narratives (the Golden-Calf episode, Exod

32:1-33:6; the episode of Moses' Tent, Exod 33:7-11; the Theophany,

Exod 33:12-23; and the Giving of the Second Tables, Exod 34:1-35)

as presented in Table 2. Exod 35:1-40:38 has four smaller midi-

structures, which alternate with four nine-element midi-structures:

small-LARGE-small-LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE-small (Exod 35:1

-36:7, 36:8-38:20, 38:21-31, 39:1-43, 40:1-8, 40:9-16, 40:17-33, and

40:34-38) as shown in Table 3. Taken together, these three tables

present the overarching literary structure of Exod 25-40. These

midi-structures are, themselves, composed of even smaller sub-

structures: topical, grammatical, and terminological.



126 RALPH E. HENDRIX: Andrews University Seminary Studies

 

3. Instructions for Making the Miskan: Exod 25:1-31:18

The first midi-structure includes instructions to make the holy

precinct for YHWH. The literary structure is composed of six

sections which will be considered individually.

Exod 25:1-27:19. This section includes three introductory

statements: YHWH speaks to Moses (25:1) saying, bring offerings

(25:2-7), and make a miskan (25:8-9). These are followed by six

topical elements: Ark (25:10-22), Table (25:23-30), Lampstand (25:31-

40), the Dwelling Place (26:1-37), Altar of Burnt Offering (27:1-8),

and the Courtyard (27:19). The concern of this passage is the design

of the dwelling place: its size, pattern, and materials. The name for

the physical structure described here is exclusively miskan. The

phrase 'ohel mo'ed does not occur in this section. Here first appears

a connection between the idea of "construction" and the term

miskan.

Exod 27:20-21. This next section deals with how the Dwelling

Place is to be used. These verses mark the transition from a

"construction" context to a "function" context: Exod 27:19 instructs

that the tent pegs for the courtyard be made of bronze, but Exod

27:20-21 gives instructions on how the sons of Israel are to bring

olive oil for the lamp so it can burn continually before YHWH.

These are clearly two different types of activities. At precisely this

transition in context, comes a transition from miskan to 'ohel mo'ed.

Both topically (construction versus function) and terminologically

(miskan versus 'ohel mo'ed), Exod 27:20 begins a new literary sub-

structure, characterized by three elements: Command (to bring oil,

Exod 27:20), Explanation (of its cultic function, Exod 27:21a), and

Duration (lasting ordinance, Exod 27:21b).

Exod 28:1-43. In this passage come the commands to gather the

priests (28:1) and to make garments (28:2-5). A consideration of six

more topical elements follows: Ephod (28:6-14), Breastpiece (28:15-

30), Robe (28:31-35), Turban (28:36-38), Tunic and small garments

(28:39-41), and Undergarments (28:42-43). Each topical element

further includes the Command to make it, and an Explanation of

its function within the cult. The literary structure of this section is

similar to that of Exod 25:1-27:19, considered above: Said-Bring-

Make-Six Elements / / Bring-Make-Six Elements.

Exod 28:1-43 emphasizes the function of each item. The Ephod

was to act as a memorial (28:12). The Breastpiece, with its Urim

and Thummim, was to be Aaron's means of making decisions



STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 127

 

(28:29-30). The Robe, with its bells, was to preserve Aaron's life

(28:35). The Turban and plate enabled Aaron to bear the guilt of

the sacred gifts (28:38). The Tunic and small garments were to

bring the priests "dignity and honor" (28:40). The Undergarments

were to be worn by the priesthood as they ministered so that they

would not "incur guilt and die" (28:43). The subject matter clearly

concerns the cultic function of the topical elements, rather than

simply manufacturing instructions. In this cult-functional context,

the dwelling place is called only 'ohel mo'ed, thereby linking the

cult-function with the phrase 'ohel mo'ed.

What is particularly interesting, from the perspective of

analyzing the literary structure of Exod 25-40, is that a comparison

of Exod 25:1-27:19 and Exod.28:1-43 reveals the interrelation of two

different structural dimensions: terminological and topical. The

terminological structure (miskan in the first section and 'ohel mo'ed

in the second) meshes with the topical structure found in both

(Bring-Make-Six Elements). Since the first, six-element section is

strictly a miskan section, and the latter is exclusively an 'ohel mo'ed

passage, the intentional use of two different denominatives within

a single literary structure is apparent.

Exod 29:1-46. Still within the 'ohel mo'ed terminological

structure (the phrase occurs seven times), this section considers the

consecration of cultic objects. Two preliminary instructions,

consecrating (make holy) the priests (29:1a) and bringing the priests

and sacrifices (29:1b-4), are followed by six elements: Dressing the

priests (29:5-9), the Bull (sin) Offering (29:10-14), the Ram (burnt)

Offering (29:15-18), the Ordination Ram (Wave) Offering (29:19-24),

the Ordination Ceremony (29:25-37), and the "Daily" Offering

(29:38-41). All of this action is to take place either in the 'ohel mo'ed

or at the entrance to the 'ohel mo'ed (further cementing the

association of cult-function and 'ohel mo'ed). Once again, six

elements are introduced with commands to "make" and "bring"

(although in inverted order from that in the preceding sections).

Exod 29:42-46 acts as an Epilogue.

Exod 30:1-10. This section is another short transitional passage,

similar to Exod 27:20-21. Two commands (to "make," Exod 30:1-5,

and to "place," Exod 30:6, the incense altar), are followed by an

explanation of the altar's use (Exod 30:7-10b) and a statement

regarding its duration (generations to come, Exod 30:10c). Hence,

we find the same basic elements in both this transitional section

(Exod 30:1-10) and the previous one (Exod 27:20-21), namely:



128 RALPH E. HENDRIX: Andrews University Seminary Studies

 

Command(s), Explanation, and Duration. This similarity occurs in

the linguistic dimension as well, with both sections including the

root: drt in reference to perpetuity. This second transitional section

serves, as did the first, to link two larger sections. Thus, the two

transitional sections are similar in three ways: topically,

linguistically, and functionally.

Exod 30:11-31:18. This section includes the now familiar six-

elements: Atonement Money (30:11-16), [Wash] Basin (30:17-21),

Anointing Oil (30:22-33), Incense (30:34-38), Craftsmen (31:1-11),

and the Sabbath(s) (31:12-17). Following, comes an Epilogue (31:18).

Each of the six elements begins with a similar phrase: "YHWH

spoke (dbr) to Moses saying ('mr)" (Elements 1, 2, 3, 5), "YHWH said

('mr) to Moses" (Element 4) or "YHWH said ('mr) to Moses saying

('mr)" (Element 6). The repeated use of the roots dbr and/or ('mr)

provides internal grammatical structure.

Summary of Exod 25:1-31:18. The literary structure of this

passage is based on four sections, each composed of six elements.

The first two and last two are divided by smaller, transitional

sections, providing a LARGE-small-LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE

pattern. The transitional sections are characterized by Command(s)-

Explanation-Duration elements. The first two large sections have

introductory Bring-Make elements, while the third has a Make-

Bring sequence. The last two large sections have Epilogues. The

first section uses the term miskan, while the latter five sections use

'ohel mo'ed. Noteworthy is that these structures co-exist along

different dimensional axes.

 

4. Interlocutory Narratives

Four narratives appear next in the literary structure of Exod

25-40. The Golden Calf episode (Exod 32:1-33:6), the episode of

Moses' Tent (Exod 33:7-11), the Theophany (Exod 33:12-23), and the

Giving of the Second Pair of Tables (Exod 34:1-35) divide the

previous midi-structure (characterized by six-element topical

structures) from the closing midi-structure which will be seen to

have nine-element structures.

Rather than being interruptions in the flow of the miskan/'ohel

mo'ed (Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting) construction account, these

four narratives serve to focus the reader's attention on YHWH's

uninterrupted desire to dwell among the people. The first and last

narratives exemplify the basis of YHWH's relationship with the

people: law/grace. The middle two narratives manifest the purpose



STRUTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 129

 

of the miskan/'ohel mo'ed to allow YHWH to live amid the people

(by Moses' representation in his tent and then by direct

theophany).

The Golden Calf Episode: Exod 32:1-33:6. This narrative has been

treated previously,8 and will not be presented in detail here. The

passage is structurally divided as follows: A (32:1-6) people

act/ Aaron reacts, B (32:7-10) YHWH's two utterances, C (32:11-14)

Moses intercedes, D (32:15-20) Moses goes down the mountain, E

(32:21-25) Moses investigates judgment F (32:26a) opportunity for

repentance, E1 (32:26b-29) Moses executes judgment D1 (32:30)

Moses goes up the mountain, C1 (32:31-32) Moses intercedes, B1

(32:33-33:3) YHWH's two utterances (inverted from previous order),

A1 (33:4-6) YHWH acts/people react. The central structural

element F, is a call for repentance and illustrates that the narrative

is about a more fundamental human issue than anger, idolatry, or

law: it is about the opportunity for repentance.9

The Episode of Moses' Tent: Exod 33:7-11. There is considerable

disagreement over the relation of the 'ohel mo'ed mentioned here

with the 'ohel mo'ed mentioned elsewhere in Exodus.10 Theological

and historical issues arising from the passage should be considered

in another forum. Whatever the interpretation of the passage, its

structure is linear. It is divided on the basis of its action: Moses

took an 'ohel (33:7a), pitched it outside of camp (33:7b), called it the

'ohel mo'ed (33:7c). All the people who were inquiring of YHWH

went to the 'ohel mo'ed (33:7d). When Moses went to the 'ohel, the

 

8See note 6.

9Brevard S. Childs sees that "the canonical function of Ex. 32-34 is to place the

institution of Israel's worship within the theological framework of sin and

forgiveness" (Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture [Philadelphia: Fortress

Press], 175).

10Jack P. Lewis, "Mo'ed," Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird

Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980),

1:339; Joe O. Lewis, "The Ark and the Tent; RevExp 74 (1977): 539; Childs, 173;

J. Coert Rylaarsdam, "Introduction to the Book of Exodus," IB (New York: Abingdon

Press, 1952) 1:845; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1969), 587; Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 2 vols.,

trans. D. M. G. Stalker (New York: Harper and Row Pub. Co., 1%2), 1:236. See also,

W. Johnstone, Exodus, Old Testament Guides (Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1990);

Terence E. Fretheim, Exodus, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and

Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991); Nahum M. Sarna, The JPS Torah

Commentary: Exodus (New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1991).



130 RALPH E. HENDRIX: Andrews University Seminary Studies

 

people arose (33:8a); each person stood at his own 'ohel (33:8b); they

watched Moses enter the 'ohel (33:8c). When Moses went to the

'ohel, the Cloud Pillar came (33:9a); it stayed at the entrance of the

'ohel (33:9b); it spoke with Moses (33:9c). All the people saw the

Cloud stand at the entrance of the 'ohel (33:10a); all stood (33:10b);

all worshipped at the entrance of their own 'ohel (33:10c). YHWH

spoke with Moses face-to-face (33:11a). He (Moses) returned to

camp (33:11b); Joshua did not leave the ohel (33:11c). This forms a

certain pattern in terms of who performs the action: Moses-Moses-

Moses- People-People- People-Moses-Cloud-Cloud-Cloud-People-

People-People-YHWH-Resolution (Moses, Joshua). The parallel of

Moses/ /Cloud Pillar, of People/ /People, and of Moses/ /YHWH

is evident.

The content is undoubtedly one of cult-function and it is not

surprising that 'ohel or 'ohel mo'ed occurring eleven times in the five

verses. Moses acts in the priestly role as representative of the

people. YHWH is present in the "Pillar of Cloud" which "stayed"

or "stood" at the entrance to the tent (precisely where the cultic

ministry took place; cf. esp. Exod 29:1-46 and Lev 8). This context

of close intimacy between YHWH and the people is paralleled in

the next interlocutory narrative.

The Theophany: Exod 33:12-23. Here Moses glimpses the "faces"

of YHWH. This straightforward dialogue parallels the previous

section (and perhaps compliments Exod 34:5-9), indicating that the

central two interlocutory narratives emphasize YHWH's insistent

longing to dwell amid the people; His desired immanence. Based

on the verb wayy'omer (and he "said"), the structure of the narrative

is: A (33:12-13) Moses said, B (32:14) [YHWH] said, A1 (33:15-16)

[Moses] said, B1 (33:17) YHWH said, A2(33:18) [Moses] said, B2

(33:19) [YHWH] said, B3 (33:20) [YHWH] said, and B4 (33:21)

YHWH said.

The Giving of the Second Pair of Tables: Exod 34:1-35. This last

interlocutory narrative concerns the events surrounding the giving

of a second set of tablets including A (34:1-3) YHWH's command

to Moses, B (34:4) Moses' response: made tablets, A1 (34:5-7) the

theophany, B1 (34:8-9) Moses' response: worshipped, A2 (34:10-26)

the specifics of YHWH's Covenant, B2 (34:27) YHWH's command

to Moses to write the covenant, and an Epilogue (34:28). The

passage provides historically and theologically important

information which precedes the resumption of the process of

establishing the miskan/'ohel mo'ed.



STRUCTRURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 131

 

In the overall literary structural framework of Exod 25-40,

these interlocutory narratives form the center, between a pattern of

six-element structures and a pattern of nine-element structures.

These four interlocutory narratives also thematically form a

structure: A-B-B1-A1. The "A" elements both deal with a

tablets/covenant context; while the "B" elements both deal with the

immanence of YHWH. Therefore, the central focus of the literary

structure of Exod 25-40 appears to be the co-elements: Exod 33:7-11

and 33:12-23, both of which emphasize the immanence of YHWH

among the people.

 

5. Making and Assembling the Components: Exod 35:1-40:38:

 

The final chapters of the segment analyzed provide the second

maxi-structure of Exod 25-40. It is composed of a linkage of midi-

structures in a manner similar to that found in the first maxi-

structure (Exod 25-31). Notably different is the number of topical

elements which make up each sub-structure. Here, the number of

elements is nine, rather than six as found in the first. There are

four nine-element sections which alternate with smaller structures

in a small-LARGE-small-LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE-small

pattern.

Exod 35:1-36:7. These verses form an introduction to the task

of actually making the components of the Dwelling Place/Tent of

Meeting which were already described in Exod 25-31. Exod 35:4-9

very closely parallels Exod 24:2-7, both enumerate the specific

offerings of raw material in some detail. The Sabbath reminder of

Exod 35:1-3 is generally equivalent to Exod 31:12-17, though the

Exod 35 section has a more specific focus. Exod 35:30-36:1 parallels

Exod 31:1-11 regarding the craftsmen Bezalel and Oholiab.

Overall structure is given by the term siwwah, "commanded."

This appears as "YHWH commanded" at the beginning of Element

A (Exod 35:1-4a) and Element B (Exod 35:4b-19) and at the end of

Element B1 (Exod 35:20-29) and Element A1 (Exod 35:30-36:1). The

verb, placed at the beginning two elements and the end of the

other two, provides the passage's inverted parallel literary structure

(chiasm). Verses 2-7 provide an epilogic response to call for

materials.

Miskan appears three times in this passage (35:11, 15, 18) and

'ohel mo'ed appears once (35:21). Although both words appear,

miskan occurs much more often than 'ohel mo'ed, and so begins the



132 RALPH E. HENDRIX: Andrews University Seminary Studies

 

third terminological literary structure, a "miskan-dominant"

section.11 Here for the first time both terms occur in the same

literary unit, which marks the transition between the second

terminological literary structure ('ohel mo'ed-only) and the third

terminological literary structure (miskan-dominant).

The first element, A (Exod 35:1-4a), deals with the Sabbath and

specifically with a prohibition against lighting fires. This

prohibition is remarkable in the context of the construction of

YHWH's dwelling, especially since fire is essential for smelting ore

and working with gold, silver, and bronze. Later, in the epilogue

of this passage, the Israelites respond with more offerings than

needed. Perhaps such a prohibition was necessary as a restraint

against those, who in their overzealousness, were tempted to work

seven days a week. According to the literary structure of this

passage, this prohibition is parallel to the element detailing the

provision of workmen (A1): Bezalel, Oholiab, and their helpers, as

if to indicate that there is no need to break the Sabbath, as YHWH

has provided enough workers.

The appeal for raw material offerings in vv. 4b-19 (Element B)

has its parallel in the bringing of those offerings by the people in

vv. 20-29 (Element B1). Exod 36:2-7 provides an epilogue regarding

the abundance of offerings which resulted from the plea. The

literary structure of Exod 35:1-36:7, therefore, exhibits four elements

in an inverted parallel pattern provided by siwwah: A-B-A1-B1,

followed by the Epilogue.

Exod 36:8-38:20. The narrative moves directly to the account of

making the components of the Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting.

Again, this section parallels the previous "command" section (Exod

25:8-27:19). Terminologically, this passage continues the miskan-

dominant structure of the preceding section.

The call to construct the miskan in Exod 25:8, with its resulting

treatment of six elements (Ark, Table, Lampstand, Miskan, Altar of

Burnt Offering, and Courtyard), is augmented here with three

additional elements: Altar of Incense (seen in the transitional

passage, Exod 30:1-10, esp. vv. 1-5); the Anointing Oil and Incense

(from Exod 27:20-21; 30:34-38); and the [Wash] Basin (found also in

Exod 30:17-21). The passage contains a list of nine elements, the

first of four such nine-element lists which characterize the literary

structure of the latter portion of Exod 25-40.

 

11See Hendrix, "Use," p. 8.



STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 133

The order of the elements is the same in both the "command"

and "execution" passages, except for the rearrangement of the

miskan-element, from the fourth place into the first place, and the

addition of three new elements. The overall terminology of the

passages is also very similar, almost as if in the course of the

narrative, the author were purposely drawing attention to the

minute and detailed fulfillment of YHWH's design orders.

Exod 38:21-31. Now follows the second, short passage within

the Exod 35:1-40:33 midi-structure. It is an account of the gold,

silver, and bronze used in the manufacturing process. The passage

continues the miskan-dominant terminological structure of the

preceding sections. Its topical structure consists of an introduction

(38:21), a discussion of the workers (38:22-23), and a tally of the

amount of raw materials used in the manufacturing process (38:24-31).

Exod 39:1-43. Here is the second, nine-element passage.

Terminologically, it continues the miskan-dominant section while

the verb siwwah ("commanded") provides the literary structure.

Each of nine elements ends with YHWH commanded, providing little

room for error in recognizing its inherent structure. This second

passage in the "execution" section parallels Exod 28:1-43, the second

passage in the "command" section. It incorporates five of the six

elements of the preceding passage and inverts the preceding order

of elements four and five.

In contrast to Exod 36:8-38:20, the total number of nine

elements in this passage is made up of emphasized events as well

as physical objects. The nine elements are: an Introduction (39:1),

Ephod made (39:2-5), Stones assembled (39:6-7), Breastpiece made

(39:8-21), Robes made (39:22-26), Tunic made (39:27-29), Plate made

(39:30-31), the Miskan presented (39:32-42), and the Miskan

inspected (39:43). As this is a combination of physical objects and

literary statements, it is the use of the verb siwwah which insures

recognition of each structural element. The inclusion of nine

elements within the literary structure appears to be intentional,

bringing this section into balance with the other sections in the

literary structure.

Exod 40:1-8. This forms the third, nine-element passage which

follows the general order of Exod 25:1-19 and 36:8-38:20. These nine

elements include an Introduction (40:1), the Miskan (40:2), Ark

(40:3), Table (40:4a), Lampstand (40:4b), Incense Altar (40:5), Altar

of Burnt Offering (40:6), [Wash] Basin (40:7), and the Courtyard

(40:8). The miskan element in Exod 40:2 is rearranged from the



134 RALPH E. HENDRIX: Andrews University Seminary Studies

 

order of Exod 25:1-19, just as it was in Exod 36:8-38:20. The

anointing oil/incense element of Exod 36:8-38:20 is not present here;

an element of introduction is added. Still, the major elements of the

Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting are included and generally retain

their order of appearance as in parallel passages. Terminologically,

miskan and 'ohel mo'ed appear both alone and grammatically linked.

Thus, a new terminological sub-structure is introduced, the "mixed

miskan-'ohel mo'ed" section.

Exod 40:9-16. This short passage continues the section that

mixes the terms miskan-'ohel mo'ed. Its five-element linear structure

concerns the Anointing of the Miskan (40:9), the Altar of Burnt

Offering (40:10), the [Wash] Basin (40:11), the Priests (40:12-15), and

an Epilogue (40:16).

Exod 40:17-33. This passage rounds out the group of four sub-

structures, each with nine elements. It is a virtual rehearsal of the

elements included in the commands to assemble the Dwelling

Place/Tent of Meeting given in Exod 40:1-8. The elements include

an Introduction (40:17), the Miskan (40:18-19), Ark (40:20-21), Table

(40:22-23), Lampstand (40:24-25), Golden Altar (40:26-28), Altar of

Burnt Offering (40:29), [Wash] Basin (40:30-32), and the Courtyard

(40:33). Terminologically, this passage continues the mixed miskan-

'ohel mo'ed structure found in the immediately preceding passages.

Exod 40:34-38. One final passage remains for consideration.

This provides an epilogue to the accounts of Exod 25:1-40:33. A

straightforward, linear structure (A-B-A1-B1-A2-B2) is apparent.

Exod 40: 34a, 35a, and 36-37 (the "A" elements) concern the Cloud;

Exod 40:34b, 35b, and 38 (the "B" elements) concern the immanence

of YHWH (Glory, cloud-by-day, fire-by-night). The passage closes

out the mixed miskanan-'ohel mo'ed terminological structure of the

preceding three sections, and completes the description of the

construction of YHWH's Dwelling Place among the people.

 

6. Summary

Exod 25-40 has at least three maxi-structural axes: literary,

topical, and terminological. It has at least one subsidiary, mini-

structural axis: grammatical. Its structural integrity, particularly

that integrity demanded by the presence of overarching maxi-

structures, has given strong argument for approaching the biblical

text in its canonical form.

As considered in a previous study, in Exod 25-40 the terms

miskan and 'ohel mo'ed provide a four-section terminological



STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 135

 

structure. In these sections the term(s) used to name the physical

construction were variously miskan, 'ohel mo'ed, miskan-dominant,

and mixed miskan-'ohel mo'ed. Within this terminological structure,

coexisted topical structures (generally presented in lists of six or

nine elements) and literary sub-structures such as parallelism,

inverted parallelism, and linear lists. In their co-existence, none of

the literary structures negated the others, but rather complemented

them along axes within differing literary dimensions.

Exod 25:1-31:18 exhibits six literary midi-structures: four with

topical structures of six elements each, and two small literary midi-

structures each with three parallel elements. These basic elements

show a pattern: 6-3-6-6-3-6. This topical structure provides

continuity over the transition between two of the miskan/ 'ohel mo'ed

terminological structures. The term variation within the literary

maxi-structure minimizes the likelihood of an intentional source

seam between literary structures. The overarching literary structure

argues strongly in favor of a unified literary product. The six midi-

structures concern the design of the physical Dwelling Place/cultic

Tent of Meeting.

Exod 32:1-34:35 incorporates four interlocutory narratives: the

Golden Calf Episode (Exod 32:1-33:6), the episode of Moses' Tent

(Exod 33:7-11), the Theophany (Exod 33:12-23), and the Giving of

the Second Set of Tablets (Exod 34:1-35). These range in structure

from complex, inverted parallelism (Golden Calf) to simple, linear

narrative (the others).

Exod 35 begins the second, major maxi-structure of the Exod

25-40 complex. In Exod 35:1-40:38, there are eight midi-structures:

four of which are very short, transitional, structures, and four of

which exhibit a nine-element topical form. In terms of numbers of

elements, these eight midi-structures follow a 5-9-3-9-9-5-9-3

pattern. The first four structures are miskan-dominant; the latter

four are mixed miskan-'ohel mo'ed. The first four structures consider

the making of the Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting; the latter four

concern its assembly. Exod 33:7-11/ /Exod 33:12-21 provide the

thematic focus for Exod 25-40, namely, the immanence/indwelling

of YHWH among the people of Israel.



 

"Command Narratives"

 

Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod

25:1-27:19 27:20-21 28:1-43 29:1-46 30:1-10 30:11-31:18

miskan 'ohel mo'ed 'ohel mo'ed 'ohel mo'ed 'ohel mo'ed

Lord Said Command --- --- Command ---

Bring --- Bring Make Command ---

Make Explanation Make Bring Explanation ---

--- Duration --- --- Duration ---

1 Ark 1 Ephod 1 Dress 1 Money

2 Table 2 Breastpiece 2 Bull 2 Washbasin

3 Lampstand 3 Robe 3 Ram 3 Oil

4 Dwelling 4 Turban 4 Ord. Ram 4 Incense

5 Altar 5 Tunic 5 Ceremony 5 Craftsmen

6 Courtyard 6 Garments 6 Daily 6 Sabbath(s)

Epilogue Epilogue

 

TABLE 1: LITERARY STRUCTURE OF EXODUS 25-31



"Interlocutory Narratives"

 

Golden Calf Moses' Tent Theophany Second Tablets

Exod Exod Exod Exod

32:1-33:6 33:7-11 33:12-23 34:1-35

'Ohel mo'ed

 

A Act/React A Moses took A Moses said A Y's command

B Spoke/Said A [Moses] pitched it B [YHWH] said B Moses's response

C Moses intercedes A [Moses] called it A1 [Moses] said A1 Y's Theophany

D Moses goes down B people went B1 YHWH said B1 Moses's response

E Investigation B people arose A2 [Moses] said A2 Y's Covenant

F Repentance offered B [people] stood B2 [YHWH] said A3 Y's command

E1 Execution A Moses enterred A3 [YHWH] said Epilogue

D1 Moses goes up C Cloud Pillar came A3 YHWH said

Cl Moses intercedes C Cloud Pillar stayed

Bl Said/Spoke C Cloud Pillar spoke

A1 Act/React B [people] saw

B [people] stood

B [people] worship'd

C YHWH spoke

Resolution

 

 

TABLE 2: LITERARY STRUCTURE OF EXODUS 32-34



 

"Execution Narratives"

 

Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod

35:1- 36:8- 38:21-31 39:1-43 40:1-8 40:9-16 40:17-33 40:34-38

36:7 38:20

miskan- miskan- miskan- miskan- Mixed- Mixed- Mixed- Mixed-

dominant dominant dominant dominant terms terms terms terms

 

A Sabbath 1 miskan 1 Intro. 1 Intro. 1 Intro. 1 miskan 1 Intro. 1 Coming

B Offering 2 Ark 2 Workers 2 Ephod 2 miskan 2 Altar 2 miskan 2 Function

B1 Offering 3 Table 3 Amounts 3 Stones 3 Ark 3 Basin 3 Ark 3 Duration

A1 Work 4 Lamp 4 Breast 4 Table 4 Priests 4 Table

Epilogue 5 Incense 5 Robe 5 Lamp Epilogue 5 Lamp

6 Oil 6 Tunic 6 Incense 6 Incense

7 Burnt 7 Plate 7 Burnt 7 Burnt

8 Basin 8 Present 8 Basin 8 Basin

9 Court 9 Inspect 9 Court 9 Court

 

TABLE 3: LITERARY STRUCTURE OF EXODUS 35-40.

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Andrews University Seminary Studies

SDA Theological Seminary
Berrien Springs
, MI 49104-1500

http://www.andrews.edu/SEM/

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: thildebrandt@gordon.edu