Kennedy, A. R. S. "Tabernacle." A Dictionary of the Bible. Ed. J. Hastings.
[This outdated article assumes JEDP theory unfortunately and flat out denies
the tabernacle’s historical existence based on his presuppositions. Good example
how old critical scholarship sliced and diced the text. TAH]
by A. R. S. Kennedy
i. The Tabernacle of the oldest sources.
ii. The Tabernacle of the priestly writers. The literary sources.
iii. The nomenclature of the Tabernacle.
iv. The fundamental conception of the Sanctuary in P.
Nature and gradation of the materials employed in its construction.
v. General arrangement and symmetry of the Sanctuary.
The Court of the Dwelling.
vi. The furniture of the Court--(a) the Altar of Burnt-
offering ; (b) the Laver.
vii. The Tabernacle proper--(a)the Curtains and Coverings;
(b) the wooden Framework; (c) the arrangement of
the Curtains, the divisions of the Dwelling, the Veil
and the Screen.
The furniture of the
bread or Presence-Table; (b) the golden Lampstand;
(c) the Altar of Incense.
The furniture of the
the Propitiatory or Mercy-seat.
x. Erection and Consecration of the Tabernacle.
xi. The Tabernacle on the march.
xii. The Historicity of P's Tabernacle.
xiii. The ruling Ideas and religious Significance of the Tabernacle.
The term tabernaculum, whence ‘ tabernacle’ of the Eng. VSS since
Wyclif, denoted a tent with or without a wooden framework, and, like the
skhnh< of the Gr. translators, was used in the Latin VSS to render
indiscriminately the lh,xo or goats'-hair 'tent' and the hKAsu or 'booth' (which see)
of the Hebrews. Its special application by the Romans to the tent or templum
minus of the augurs made it also a not altogether inappropriate rendering of the
NKAw;mi or ' dwelling' of the priestly writers (see § iii.), by which, however, the
etymological signification of the latter was disregarded, and the confusion further
Kennedy: Tabernacle 653
increased. The same confusion reigns in our AV. The Revisers, as they inform
us in their preface, have aimed at greater uniformity by rendering mishkan by
‘tabernacle’ and ‘ohel by ‘tent’ (as AV had already done in certain cases, see
§ iii.). It is to be regretted, however, that they did not render the Heb. sukkah
with equal uniformity by ' booth' (e.g. in Mt 17:4 and parallels), and particularly in
the case of the Feast of Booths (EV Tabernacles),
i. THE TENT OR TABERNACLE OF THE OLDEST SOURCES.--Within
the limits of this art it is manifestly impossible to enter in detail into the problems
of history and religion to which the study of ‘the tabernacle’ and its appointments,
as these are presented by the priestly authors of our Pentateuch, introduces the
student of the OT. The idea of the tabernacle, with its Aaronic priesthood and
ministering Levites, lies at the very foundation of the religious institutions of
this conception here--a conception which has dominated Jewish and Christian
thought from the days of Ezra to our own--would lead us at once into the heart of
the critical controversy which has raged for two centuries round the literature and
religion of the OT. Such a task is as impossible to compass here as it is
unnecessary. The almost universal acceptance by OT scholars of the post-exilic
date of the books of the Pentateuch in their present form is evident on every page
of this Dictionary. On this foundation, therefore, we are free to build in this
article without the necessity of setting forth at
every stage the processes by which the critical results are obtained.
Now, when the middle books of the Pentateuch are examined in the same
spirit and by the same methods as prevail in the critical study of other ancient
literatures, a remarkable divergence of testimony emerges with regard to the tent
which, from the earliest times, was employed to shelter the sacred ark. In the
'tent' in the present text of Ex 3:37 as of something with which the readers of this
document--the Pentateuch source E, according to the unanimous verdict of modern
scholars--are already familiar. This source, as it left its author's pen, must have
contained some account of the construction of the ark, probably from the offerings
of the people (33:8) as in the parallel narrative of P (25:2ff), and of the tent
required for its proper protection. Regarding this tent we are supplied with some
interesting information, which may be thus summarized:--(a) Its name was in Heb.
'ohel mo'ed (33:7, AV 'the tabernacle of the congregation,' RV 'the tent of
meeting'). The true significance of this term will be fully discussed in a subsequent
section (§ iii.) (b) Its situation was ‘without the camp, afar off from the camp,’
recalling the situation of the local sanctuaries of a later period, outside the villages
temporarily or on special occasions only, but, as the tenses of the original demand,
throughout the whole period of the desert wanderings (cf. RV v.7 ‘Moses used to
take the tent and to pitch it,’ etc., with AV). Above all, (c) its purpose is clearly
stated. It was the spot where J", descending in the pillar of cloud which stood at
the door of the tent (v. 9f, cf. Nu 12:5, Dt 31:15), ‘met his servant Moses and
spake unto him face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend’ (v. 11). On these
occasions Moses received those special revelations of the Divine will which were
afterwards communicated to the people. To the tent of meeting, also, every one
repaired who had occasion to seek J" (v. 7), either for an oracle or for purposes of
worship. Finally, (d) its aedituus was the young Ephraimite Joshua, the son of
Nun, who ‘departed not out of the tent’ (v.11, cf. Nu 11:28), but slept there as the
of the ark, as the boy Samuel slept in the sanctuary at
The same representation of the tent as pitched without the camp, and as
associated with Moses and Joshua in particular, reappears in the narrative
of the seventy elders (Nu 11:16f, 24-30), and in the incident of Miriam's leprosy
(12:1ff, note esp. v. 4f), both derived from E; also in the reference, based
upon, if not originally part of, the same source, in Dt 31:14f..
The interpretation now given of this important section of the Elohistic
source is that of almost all recent scholars, including so strenuous an opponent of
the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis as August Dillmann (see his Com. in loc.). Little,
therefore, need be said by way of refutation of the views of those who have
endeavoured to harmonize this earlier representation with that which dominates
the Priestly Code. The only one of these views that can be said to deserve serious
consideration is that which sees in the tent of Ex 33:7ff a provisional tent of
meeting pending the construction of the tabernacle proper. This interpretation is
Kennedy: Tabernacle 654b
generally combined with the theory that the tent in question was originally Moses'
private tent--an opinion which dates from the time of the Gr. translators (labw>n
Moush?j th>n skhnh>n au]tou? ktl. so also Pesh.), and has found favour with
commentators, from Rashi downwards, including most English expositors. This
view is a priori plausible enough, but it falls to pieces before the fact disclosed
above, that the same representation of the tent of meeting situated without the
camp, with Joshua as its solitary guardian, is found in the Pentateuch, even after
the erection of the more splendid tabernacle of the priestly writers. Moreover,
there is no hint in the text of Ex 33:7-11 of the temporary nature of the tent; on
the contrary, as we have seen, the tenses employed are intended to describe the
habitual custom of the Hebrews and their leader during the whole period of the
wanderings. The closing verse of the section, finally, proves conclusively that
Moses had his abode elsewhere, and only visited the tent when he wished to
meet with J". At the same time, the preservation of this section of E by the final
editor of the Pentateuch, when the preceding account of the construction of the ark
(cf. Dt 10:1-5 with Driver's note) was excised, can hardly be explained other-
wise than by the supposition that lie regarded the tent of meeting here described as
having some such provisional character as this theory presupposes.
During the conquest and settlement, the tent of meeting presumably
continued to shelter the ark (which see) until superseded by the more substan-
tial 'temple' of J" at
doorposts (1 S l:9; 3:15) disposes of the late gloss (2:22b), based on a similar
gloss, Ex 38:8, which assumes the continued existence of the tent of meeting (see
Comm. in loc.). So, too, Ps 78:60, which speaks of the
a tent and a tabernacle (mishkan), is of too uncertain a date to be placed against
the testimony of the earlier historian. In the narrative of the older sources of the
Book of Samuel (1 S 4ff.) there is no mention of any special protection for the ark
we read of the tent pitched for it by David in his new capital on
(2 S 6:17, cf. I Ch 16:1, and the phrase ‘within curtains,’ 2 S 7:2, 1 Ch 17:1). The
later author of 2 S 7:6, however, evidently thought of the ark as housed
continuously from the beginning in a tent. ‘I have not dwelt in an house,’ J" is
as saying, ‘since the day that I brought up the children of
(mishkan),’ or, as the text should more probably run, ‘from tent to tent, and from
tabernacle to tabernacle’ (so Klost., Budde, basing on 1 Ch 17:5). David's tent was
known as 'the tent of J"' (1 K 2:28ff.). Before it stood the essential accompaniment
of every sanctuary, an altar, to which the right of asylum belonged (ib. 1:50). What
the tent may have contained in addition to the sacred ark is unknown, with the
exception, incidentally mentioned, of 'the horn of oil,' with the contents of which
Zadok the priest anointed the youthful Solomon (ib. 1:39). A solitary reference to
'the tent of meeting' in a pre-exilic document yet remains, viz. the late gloss
1 K 8:4, the unhistorical character of which is now admitted (see Kittel,
Benzinger, etc., in loc., and cf. Wellh. Proleg. [
To sum up our investigation, it may be affirmed that the author of 2 S 7 not
only accurately represents the facts of history when he describes the ark as having
been moved 'from tent to tent and from tabernacle to tabernacle,' but reflects with
equal accuracy the opinion of early times that a simple tent or tabernacle was the
appropriate housing for the ancient palladium of the Hebrew tribes. This is
confirmed both by the analogy of the practice of other branches of the Semitic
and by incidental references from the period of religious decadence in
which imply that tent-shrines were familiar objects in connexion with the worship
at the high places (2 K 23:7 RVm, Ezk 16:16; cf. the names 0holibah and
Oholibamah, and art. OHOLAH).
ii. THE TABERNACLE OF THE PRIESTLY WRITERS.
--The literary sources.--These are almost exclusively from the hand of the authors
of the great priestly document of the Pentateuch. This document, as has long been
recognized, is not the product of a single pen, or even of a single period.
The results which recent criticism has achieved in disentangling and
exhibiting the various strata of the composite literary work denoted by the
convenient symbol P, end the grounds on which these results are based, must be
sought else where, as, e.g.,--to name only a few accessible in English,--Kuenen,
Hexateuch, 72ff., Driver, LOT6
40ff., the more elaborate tables of the
Hexateuch, i. 255, 261, ii. 138, and the art. EXODUS in vol. i. p. 808ff., with the
table, p. 810b. Reference may also be made here to the present writer's
forthcoming commentary on Exodus in the Internat. Critical Series.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 655a
The sections of the Pentateuch dealing with the subject of this art. are the
(1) Ex 25-29, a fairly homogeneous section (but cf. Oxf. Hex. ii. 120) of the
main or ground-stock of P (hence the symbol Ps), containing minute directions for
the construction of the furniture and fabric of the sanctuary (25-27), followed by
instructions relative to the priestly garments (28) and the consecration of Aaron
and his sons (29).
(2) Ex 30. 31, a set of instructions supplementary to the foregoing. For their
secondary character (hence the symbol P') see the authorities cited above and
§ viii. (c) below.
(3) Ex 35-40, also a fairly homogeneous block of narrative, reproduced in
the main verbatim from 25-31 'with the simple substitution of past tenses
for future,' but in a systematic order which embodies the contents of 30. 31 in their
proper places in the older narrative 25 ff. (see authorities as above). It is therefore
younger than either of these sections, hence also P'. The critical problem
is here complicated by the striking divergence of the LXX in form and matter from
the MT, to some points of which attention will be called in the sequel.
(4) Nu 3:25ff; 4:4ff; 7:1ff contain various references to the tabernacle and
its furniture, which also belong to the secondary strata of P (see NUMBERS, vol.
p. 568). To these sources have to be added the description of the
Solomon in 1 K 6 ff and the sketch of Ezekiel's temple (Ezk 40 ff.), which disclose
some remarkable analogies to the tabernacle. The references to the latter in the
Bks. of Chronicles are of value, as showing how completely the later Heb.
literature is dominated by the conceptions of the Priestly Code. Outside
the Canon of the OT, the most important sources are the sections of Josephus'
Antiquities which deal with the tabernacle (III. vi.), Philo's De Vita
Moysis (ed. Mangey, vol. ii. p. 145 ff., Bohn's tr. iii. 88 ff.), and the 3rd cent. treatise,
containing a systematic presentation of the views of the Jewish
authorities, Nkwmh tklmd xtyyrb (ed. Flesch, Die Baraijtha von der
Herstellung der Stiftshutte; Eng. tr. by Barclay, The Talmud, 334ff.). The Epistle
to the Hebrews, finally, supplies us with the first Christian interpretation of the
tabernacle (§ xiii.).
iii. THE NOMENCLATURE OF THE TABERNACLE.* --(a) In our oldest
sources the sacred tent receives, as we have seen, the special designation (1) dfeOm
lh,xo (Ex 33:7, Nu 11:16; 12:4, Dt 31:14, all most probably from E). This
designation is also found about 130 times in the priestly sections of the Hexateuch.
The verb dfy (dfv) from which dfvm is derived signifies 'to appoint a
time or place of meeting,' in the Niphal 'to meet by appointment' (often in P).
* Cf. the suggestive note on the various designations of the tabernacle with the
inferences therefrom in Oxf. Hex. ii. 120; also Klostermaun in the New kirchliche
Zeitsch. 1897, 288ff.; Westcott, Hebrews, 234 ff.
Hence dfeOm lh,xo--as the name is understood by P, at least--signifies ‘the tent of
meeting' (so RV) or 'tent of tryst' (OTJC2 246), the spot which J" has appointed to
or hold tryst with Moses and with
purpose of speaking with them (Ex 29:42; 33:11, Nu 7:89 etc.), of declaring His
will to them, the expression 'tent of meeting' is practically equivalent to 'tent
of revelation' (Driver, Deut. 339, following Ewald's ' Offenbarungszelt'). It has
lately been suggested that behind this lies a more primitive meaning. From the fact
that one of the functions of the Babylonian priesthood was to determine the proper
time (adanu, from the same root as mo'ed) for an undertaking, Zimmern has
suggested that the expression dfvm lhx may originally have denoted 'the tent
where the proper time for an undertaking was determined,' in other words, 'tent
of the oracle' (Orakelzelt). See Zimmern, Beitrage zur Kenntnis d. bab. Religion,
p. 88 n. 2 (cf. Haupt, JBL, 1900, p. 52). Still another view of P's use of the term
dfeOm has recently been suggested (Meinhold, Die Lade Jahves, 1900, p. 31.). P,
according to Meinhold, intends to give to the older term (dfeOm lh,xo) of E the
same significance as his own tUdfehA lhAxo 'tent of the testimony' (see No. 10
below), by giving to the Niphal of dfy; ('make known,' ' reveal one's self,' as
above) the sense of dUf 'to testify of one's self.' The LXX, therefore, according to
this scholar, was perfectly justified in rendering both the above designations by
skhnh> tou? marturi<ou (see below) The rendering of AV 'tabernacle of the
congregation' is based on a mistaken interpretation of the word mo'ed, as if
synonymous with the cognate Mg.
(2) The simple expression 'the tent' (lx,xoha) Is found in P 19 times (Ex
26:9, 11 etc.). We have already (§ i.) met with the title (3) 'the tent of J"' (1 K
2:28ff). To these may be added (4) 'the house of the tent' (1 Ch 9:23), and (5) ' the
house of J"' (Ex 23:19).
(b) In addition to the older 'tent of meeting' a new and characteristic
designation is used extensively in P, viz. (6) NKAw;mi mishkan (about 100 times in
the Hex.), 'the place where J" dwells' (NkewA ), 'dwelling,' 'habitation' (so Tindale);
by AV rendered equally with lh,xo 'tabernacle' (but 1 Ch 6:32 'dwelling-place')
A marked ambiguity, however, attaches to P's use of this term. On its first
occurrence (Ex 25:9) it manifestly denotes the whole fabric of the tabernacle, and
so frequently. It is thus equivalent to the fuller (7) ' dwelling (EV ' tabernacle') of
J"' found in Lv 17:4 (here || (1), Nu 16:9 etc., 1 Ch 16:39; 21:29), and to 'the
dwelling of the testimony' (No. 11 below). In other passages it denotes the tapestry
curtains with their supporting frames which constitute 'the dwelling' par
excellence (26:1, 6f. etc.), and so expressly in the designation (8) ' dwelling (EV
'tabernacle') of the tent of meeting' (Ex 39:32; 40:2 etc., 1 Ch 6:32). In the
passages just cited and in some others where the 'ohel and the mishkan are clearly
distinguished (e.g. Ex 35:11; 39:40; 40:27ff:, Nu 3:25; 9:15), the AV has rendered
the former by 'tent' and the latter by 'tabernacle,' a distinction now consistently
carried through by RV.* In 1 Ch 6:48 [MT 33] we have (9) 'the dwelling of the
house of God.'
Kennedy: Tabernacle 655c
(c) Also peculiar to P and the later writers influenced by him is the designation
(10) tUdfhA lh,xo (Nu 9:16 etc., 2 Ch 24:6, RV throughout 'tent of the testimony';
so AV in Nu 9:15, but elsewhere 'the tabernacle of witness'). The tabernacle was
so called as containing 'the ark of the testimony' (see § ix). Hence too the parallel
designation (11) tUdfehA NKaw;mi (Ex 3821, Nu 150 etc., EV 'tabernacle of [the]
(d) In addition to these we find the more general term (12) wDAq;mi 'holy
place or sanctuary; applied to the tabernacle (Ex 25:8 and often; in the Law of
Holiness (Lv 17ff.) almost exclusively.
Passing to the versions that have influenced our own, we find as regards the
LXX a uniformity greater even than in our AV. Owing to the confusion of NKAw;mi
and lhAxo (both=skhnh<) on the one hand, and of dfeOm and tdufe on the other (but
cf. Meinhold, op. cit. 3 f.), we have the all but universal rendering h[ skhnh> tou?
marturi<ou, 'the tent of the testimony,' to represent (1), (8), (10), and (11) above.
This, along with the simple skhnh<, is the NT designation (Ac 7:44 AV 'tabernacle
witness,' Rev 15:5 AV 'tabernacle of the testimony'). In
have a new title (13) 'the sacred tent' (skhnh< a[gi<a, with which cf. the i[era>
skhnh< of the Carthaginian camp, Diod. Sic. xx. 65) The Old Lat. and Vulg.
follow the LXX with the rendering tabernacalum and tab. testimonii, though
frequently also ('habitually in Numbers,' Westcott, Ep. to the Hebrews, 234 f.) tab.
foederis, the latter based on the designation of the ark as the 'ark of the covenant'
§ ix.). As to the older Eng. VSS, finally, those of
the Vulg. closely with 'tab. of witness, witnessynge, testimonye,' and ‘tab. of the
boond of pees (t. foederis).’ Tindale on the other hand follows LXX with the
rendering 'tab. of witnesse' for (1) and (10), but then again he restores the
distinction between 'ohel and mishkan by rendering the latter 'habitation,' except in
the case of (7), 'the dwellinge-place of the Lorde.' Coverdale in the main follows
Tindale. It is to be regretted that this distinction was obliterated in the later versions.
iv. THE UNDERLYING CONCEPTION OF THE TABERNACLE –
SANCTUARY.--Nature and gradation of the materials employed in its
construction.--In Ezekiel's great
picture of the ideal
401) ' the ruling conception is that of J" dwelling in visible glory in his sanctuary
in the midst of his people’. The prophet's one aim is to help forward the realization
of the earlier promise of J”: 'My dwelling (mishkan) shall be with them, and I will
be their God, and they shall be my people' (37:27). The same grand conception,
the same high ideal, took possession of the priestly writers on whom Ezekiel's
mantle fell. The foundation on which rests the whole theocratic structure of the
Priestly Code is the provision of
* The authors of the Oxford Hexateuch call attention to 'the curious fact that in
Ex 25-27:19 the sanctuary is always called the "dwelling" [mishkan], while in 28.
29 this name is replaced by the older term "tent of meeting." ... The title
"dwelling” is, of course, freely used in the great repetition, Ex 35-40, but the main
portions of the Priestly Law in Leviticus ignore it (ii. 120, where see for suggested
Kennedy: Tabernacle 656a
a sanctuary, which in its fabric, in its personnel, and in all its appointments, shall
be for future ages the ideal of a fit dwelling for J", the holy covenant God of the
view from which to approach our study of the tabernacle of the priestly writers is
placed beyond question, not only by the characteristic designation of the
tabernacle proper as the miskhan or dwelling (see above, § iii.), but by the express
statement at the opening of the legislative section 'Let them make me a sanctuary,
that I may dwell among them' (Ex 25:8. cf. 29:45).
Such a dwelling could only be one reared in accordance with the revealed
will of J" Himself. Moses, accordingly--according to the representation of P--is
to meet J" in the cloud that rested on the top of
arrival there of the children of
summon the Israelites to make voluntary offerings of the materials necessary for
the construction of the sanctuary. A pattern or model of this dwelling and of all its
furniture is shown to Moses, who is at the same time instructed in every detail by
J" Himself (Ex 25:1-9 [Pg] = 35:4-29 [Ps], cf. 38:21-31). In the later strata of P
we find the call of Bezalel (so RV), the son of Uri, and his endowment by J" as
constructor-in-chief, assisted by Oholiab (AV Aholiab),the son of Ahisamach
A list of the materials employed is succinctly given at the head of each
section (25:3ff=35:4ff). Of these the three great metals of antiquity, bronze (see
BRASS), silver, and gold, are used in a significant gradation as we proceed from
the outer court to the innermost sanctuary. Of the last-named, two varieties are
employed-the ordinary gold of commerce, and a superior quality in which the pure
metal was more completely separated from its native alloys, hence known as re-
fined or 'pure' gold (rOhFA bhAzA). As to the technical treatment of the metals, we
find various methods employed. They might be used in plain blocks or slabs, as
for the bases of pillars and for the mercy-seat; or they might be beaten into plates
(Nu 17:3 [Heb. 16:38]) and sheets (Ex 39:3) for the sheathing of large surfaces,
like the great altar, the frames (but see § vii. (b)), and most of the furniture. The
most artistic work is the hammered or repousse work in gold, of which the
cherubim and the candlestick are examples.*
The wood used throughout was that of the tree named hF.Awi shittah (AV
‘shittim wood,' RV 'acacia wood'), now usually identified with the Acacia
seyal or A. nilotica (see, further, SHITTAH). Its wood is noted for its durability
(cf. LXX rendering cu<la a@shpta). We come next to a graduated series of
* No account is taken here of the quantities of these metals provided for the
tabernacle, for the passage Ex 38:24-31 was long ago recognized (Popper, Der
bibl. Bericht uber die Stiftshutte, 1862) as a late insertion in a late context. This is
evident from the one fact alone that the silver, which provided, interalia, for
the sockets or bases at a talent each, is thought to be the produce of the poll-tax of
half a shekel, which was not instituted till some time after the tabernacle had been
set up (cf. Nu 11; Ex 40:1).
products of the loom. At the bottom of the scale we have the simple shesh (wwe).
This material has been variously identified with linen, cotton, and a mixture of
both. The history of the textile fabrics of antiquity favours linen (see LINEN, and
Dillmann's elaborate note, Exod.-Levit.3 305 ff.). A superior quality of it was
termed 'fine twined linen' (rzAw;mAa wwe), spun from yarn of which each thread was
composed of many delicate strands. When dyed with the costly Phoenician dyes,
both yarn and cloth received the names of the dyes, ' blue, purple, and scarlet'
(25:4 etc.). The first two represent different shades--of purple (see COLOURS),
and may be conveniently rendered by 'violet' and 'purple' respectively. The
spinning of the yarn was the work of the women, the weaving of it the work of the
men (35:25-35, cf. 39:3). Among the latter a clear distinction is drawn between the
ordinary weaver and the more artistic rokem and hosheb, who represent
respectively the two forms of textile artistry practised from time immemorial in
tike East--embroidery and tapestry. The rokem or embroiderer (so RV) received the
web, complete in warp and weft, from the loom, and worked his figures in colours
upon it with the needle. The hosheb (lit. ' inventor,' ' artist,' as 31:4 ; EV 'cunning
workman'), on the other hand, worked at the loom, weaving with 'violet, purple,
and scarlet' yarn (cf. LXX 28:6 e@rgon u[fanto>n poikiltou?) his figures into the
warp, and producing the tapestry for which the East has always been famed. A
gradation from without inwards, similar to that in the application of the metals,
will meet us in the employment of these varied products of the loom.
v. THE GENERAL ARRANGEMENT AND SYMMETRY OF THE
SANCTUARY. --The Court of the Dwelling (Ex 27:9-19 [Pg] 38:9-20 [Ps]; cf.
realization of his great ideal, Ezekiel places his new temple in the centre of a
square tract of country, 25,000 cubits in the side, 'a holy portion of the land'
(Ezk 45:1ff; 48:8ff.). Within this area is a still more sacred precinct, the property
of the priests alone, who thus surround the temple on every side to guard
it from possible profanation. The same idea of the unapproachable sanctity of the
wilderness 'dwelling' is emphasized by P through his well-known symmetrical
arrangement of the camp of the Israelites. Around four sides of a huge square the
tents are pitched, three tribes on each side (Nu 2:1ff; 10:13ff). Within this square
is another, the sides of which are occupied by the priests and the three divisions of
the Levites, the sons of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (Nu 3:23ff). In the centre of
this second square, finally, we find the sacred enclosure (te<menoj) which con-
stitutes the wilderness sanctuary. This enclosure is the ‘court of the dwelling’
(NKAw;miha rcaHE 27:9, au]lh> th?j skhnh?j, atrium tabernaculi), a rectangular
space, lying east and west, 100 cubits* in length by 50 in breadth (proportion 2:1)
--in other words, a space made up of two squares, each 50 cubits in the side. At
*The length of P's cubit is uncertain. For convenience of reckoning it may be
taken as 18 inches.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 656c
this point it will help us to over-come subsequent difficulties if we look more
closely at the proportions of the sanctuary as a whole, as revealed by the
accompanying diagram. Beginning with the eastern square we note as its
most prominent feature the altar of burnt-offering, lying 'four square' (5 cubits by
5) presumably at the intersection of the diagonals. In the western square stands 'the
dwelling,' occupying three of the small plotted squares, of 10 cubits each way,
its length being to its breadth in the proportion of 3:1. Like the temples of
Solomon and Ezekiel, it consists of two parts, the outer and inner sanctuary, in the
proportion of 27:1. The latter is the true sanctuary, the special abode of J", a
perfect cube, as we shall afterwards see, each dimension one-half of the inner
shrine of the Solomonic temple. It stands exactly in the centre of its square, while
its own centre in turn is occupied by the most sacred of all the objects in the
sanctuary, the ark, the throne of J", the dimensions of which, we shall find, are 5 x
3 x 3 half-cubits. These data are meanwhile sufficient to prove P's love for 'order,
and system,' which has long been recognized as one of his most prominent
characteristics. From the first section of Genesis (11-28) onwards, with its
arrangement by 10 and 7 and 3 (see art. NUMBER, vol. iii. p. 5651), his
his chronology, his theory of the religious development of
Scale 1/32 inch=l cubit.
are all constructed on a definite system.* Nowhere is this fondness for symmetry
and proportion so evident as in the measurements of the tabernacle. Three, four,
seven, ten, their parts and multiples, dominate the whole (see further, § xiii. ). The
desire to preserve the proportion and ratio of certain parts and measurements has
* Cf. Dillmann, Num.-Josua, 649f., who also considers P to have distinguished
four periods of the world's history characterized by the decreasing length of human
life in the proportion 8:4:2:1.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 657b
led to awkwardness and even inconsistency in other parts--a fact which lies
at the root of not a few of the difficulties that beset the path of those that attempt to
construct the tabernacle from the data of the priestly writers.
The court of the tabernacle is screened off from the rest of the encampment
by five white curtains (MyfilAq;; kel’aim) of 'fine twined linen' of the uniform
height of 5 cubits, but of varying length. Those on the N. and S. long sides measure
each 100 cubits, that on the W. 50, while the two remaining curtains of 15
cubits each screen off the E. side, one on either hand of the entrance to the court.
The latter is a space of 20 cubits, which is closed by a hanging or portibre (j`sAmA)
of the second grade of workmanship explained above, i.e. embroidered in colours
on a white ground. All six hangings are suspended from pillars of the same height,
standing on bases (Nd,xA, EV ' sockets') of bronze. The shape and size of 'these bases
can only be conjectured. Elsewhere in OT (Ca 5:15, Job 38:6, and corrected text of
Ezk 41:22) Nd,x, is the base in the shape of a square plinth on which a pillar or an
altar stands. So most probably in the case before us, the wooden pillar being sunk
well into the plinth (so the Baraitha), which would thus be reckoned to the height
of the pillar. The pillars were then kept in position by means of the usual ' cords' †
† These are first mentioned in Pa (36:18 'the pins of the courts and their cords,'
stays (MyrHAyme) fastened to pegs or 'pins' (tOdtey;) of bronze stuck in the ground.
This seems preferable to the view first suggested by Josephus that the bases ended
in spikes (saurwth?rej) like that by which the butt-end of a spear was stuck in
the ground-a method scarcely in place in the sand of the desert. According to P,
(38:17), the pillars had capitals (EV 'chapiters') overlaid with silver. Further, 'the
hooks or pegs (MyvivA) of the pillars and their fillets (MyqiUwHE) shall be of silver' (27:10f.,
but 38:19 makes the latter only overlaid with silver). The word rendered
'fillet' probably signifies a band or necking of silver (Ew., Dill. et al.) at the base
of the capital, rather than, as is more generally supposed, silver rods connecting
the pillars. And this for three reasons : (1) only on this view is the phrase 'filleted
with silver' (27:17) intelligible; (2) no mention is made of any such connecting-rods
in the minute directions for the transport of the tabernacle furniture (Nu 4) ;
and (3) the screen and veil of the tabernacle proper (§ vii. (c)) were evidently
attached to their pillars by hooks.
At this point we encounter our first difficulty. How are the pillars placed,
on what principle are they reckoned (27:10ff.)? Ezekiel begins the description of
his outer court with the wall 'round about' (40:5). P does likewise, only his curtain-
wall is like a mathematical line, having length without breadth. It is as though the
writer were working from a ground--plan like our diagram. The periphery of the
court measures 300 cubits. This and no more is the length of his six curtains.
Not even in the case of the entrance portiere is allowance made for folds*--the
first hint that we are dealing with an ideal, not an actual, construction. The pillars
must be thought of as standing inside the curtains, otherwise they would not
belong to the sanctuary at all. The principle on which they are reckoned is clear.
It is that one pillar, and one only, is assigned to every five cubits of curtain. Now,
a curtain of 20 cubits' length, like the entrance screen, requires not four, which is
the number assigned to it, but five pillars; and on the same principle each of the
of smaller curtains on either side of it requires four pillars, not three, and so with
the rest. But to have counted twenty-one pillars for the sides, eleven for the end
curtain, and 5+4+4 for the front, would have spoiled the symmetry, and so the
artificial method of the text is adopted. Counting four for the entrance, as on the
diagram, and three for the curtain to the left (vv.16.14) we proceed round the
court, reckoning always from the first corner pillar met with and counting no pillar
twice. It is thus absurd to charge P with mis-calculation, as his latest commentator
still does (Baentsch, in loc.). But the charge is the price paid for the determination
to reckon the pillars on the E. side as only ten in all, arranged symmetrically as 3 +
4 + 3 (when there are really eleven), and those of the N. and S. sides as multiples
vi. THE FURNITURE OF THE COURT.--(a) The altar of burnt-offering,
Ex 27:1-8=38:1-7 [LXX 38:22-24],--In the centre of the court, as the symmetry
requires, stands ' the altar' (27:1 RV ; for the significance of the article see § viii. (c))
of the sanctuary, also termed more precisely 'the altar of burnt-offering'
(30:28; 31:9 and oft.), and, from its appearance, 'the altar of bronze,' AV ' brazen
altar' (38:30; 39:39), both sets of passages probably belonging to P'. ' Foursquare'
it stands, 5 cubits in length and breadth, and 3 cubits in height, a hollow chest† of
acacia wood sheathed with
* Josephus is quite wrong, therefore, in speaking of the curtains hanging in a 'loose
and flowing manner' (l.c.).
† Nothing in the text suggests a mere four-aided frame to it filled with earth, as is
Kennedy: Tabernacle 658a
bronze. From the four corners rise the indispensable horns, 'of one piece with it'
(RV), the form and significance of which have been much debated. From the
representations of similar 'horns' on Assyrian altars (see Perrot and Chipiez, Hist.
of Art in Chaldea and Assyria, i. 255 f.), they would appear to have been merely
the prolongation upwards of the sides of the altar to a point, for a few inches at
each corner. The horns of Ezekiel's altar, e.g., form 1/12th of the total height (see
43:13-17 with Toy's diagram in SBOT). The horns play an important part in the
ritual of the priests' consecration (Ex 29:12), the sin-offering (Lv 4:18), the Day
of Atonement (16:18), and elsewhere.* According to a later tradition, the ' beaten
plates' of bronze for the
ALTAR OP BURNT-OFFERING.
covering of the altar' were made from the bronze censers of the rebellious
company of Korah (Nu 16:35ff). Round the altar, half-way between top
and bottom, ran a projecting 'ledge' (so RV for the obscure bKor;Ka, only 27:5; 38:4;
AV 'the compass,' etc.), attached to which and reaching to the ground was a
grating (RV ; AV 'grate,' which see) of bronze. The purpose of these two append-
ages can only be conjectured (see the Comm. and works cited in the Literature for
the numerous conjectures that have been put forward). Considering the height of
the altar, at least 42 feet, one naturally supposes that the ledge was for the priests
* For the special sanctity attaching to the horns see ALTAR (vol. i. p. 77). It is
open to grave doubt whether this widespread custom of providing altars with these
projections has anything to do with the ox or calf symbolism (see CALF [GOLDEN]
vol. i. p. 342), as Stade and others suppose. 'Horn' is rather a
popular metaphor for the more correct faOcq;mi of Ezekiel (4122; cf. Josephus'
phrase gwni<ai keratoeidei?j), and their ultimate raison d'etre is probably to be
sought in the same primitive circle of thousht as ascribed a special sanctity to the
four corners of a tube (see FRINGES, vol. 1i. p. 69x). Another view is suggested
by RS2 436, Baentsch (Com. in loc.).
to stand upon during their ministrations at the altar, and in Lv 9:22 we actually
read of Aaron ' stepping down' from the altar. Together with the grating, it may
also have been a device to prevent the ashes, etc., from falling upon and defiling
the sacrificial blood, J"'s peculiar portion, which could still be dashed against the
base of the altar through the wide meshes of the network. Four bronze rings were
attached to the corners of the grating, presumably where it met the ledge,
to receive the poles for carrying the altar. The necessary utensils were also of
bronze ; they comprised shovels or rakes for collecting the ashes, pots (AV pans)
for carrying them away, the large basins for catching the blood of the animals
sacrificed, the flesh hooks or forks, and the fire-pans. The fire is to 'be kept
burning upon the altar continually, it shall not go out' (Lv 6:13), which hardly
accords with the prescriptions of Lv 17 and Nu 4:13.
The idea underlying this unique structure--a hollow wooden chest with a
thin sheathing of bronze, little adapted, one would think, for the purpose it is to
serve--is now generally recognized as having originated in the desire to construct a
portable altar on the lines of the massive brazen altar of Solomon, which was itself
a departure from the true Heb. tradition (Ex 20:24ff). The account of the making
of this altar, which was one-fourth larger in cubic content than the whole
tabernacle of P (2 Ch 4:1), has now disappeared from the MT of 1 K 7, but was
still read there by the Chronicler and references to it still survive (1 K 8:22, 64;
9:25, 2 K 16:14f.). Its disappearance is easily accounted for by the fact that its
construction appeared to a later age as quite unnecessary, since the 'tent of
meeting' and all its vessels, including the bronze altar of this section, were
considered to have been transferred by Solomon, along with the ark, to his new
(1 K 83; see Wellh. Proleg. [
Reden, 164 ; and the Comm.).
(b) The Laver (Ex 30:17-21, Cf. 38:8 [LXX 38:26]). Between the altar
above described and the tabernacle stood the laver of bronze (rOy.Ki, louth<r), to
the description of which only a few words are devoted, and these few are found
not in the main body of P, but in a section (30. 31) bearing internal evidence of a
later origin (see § ii., and more fully § viii. (c)). Beyond the fact that it was a large
basin of bronze, and stood upon a base of the same material, we know nothing of
its workmanship or ornamentation. It served to hold the water required for the
ablutions of the priests in the course of their ministrations, and is frequently
mentioned in the secondary strata of the priestly legislation (30:28; 31:9 etc. ; it is
omitted, however, from the directions for the march in Nu 4). A curious tradition
grew up at some still later period, to the effect that the laver was made of the
bronze 'mirrors of the serving-women which served at the door of the tent of
meeting' (38:8, cf. 1 S 2:22). The latter, needless to say, was not yet in exist-
LAVER), the second temple apparently had only one (Sir 50:3).
Kennedy: Tabernacle 658c
vii. THE TABERNACLE PROPER--(a) The Curtains of the Dwelling and
the Tent, the outer coverings (Ex 26:1-14=36:8-19 [LXX 37:1]; Jos. Ant. III. vi. 4
[ed. Niese, § 130 ff.]).-Probably no section of the OT of equal length is
responsible for so large a number of divergent interpretations as the chapters
now before us. It is clearly impossible within the limits of this article to refer to
more than a very few of these interpretations, even of those associated with
scholars of repute. What follows is the result of an independent study of the
original in the light of the recognized principles underlying the scheme of the
wilderness sanctuary as conceived by the priestly writers (see § iv.). Fuller
justification of the writer's position with regard to the many matters of controversy
that emerge will be found in his commentary on Exodus (Internat. Crit. series).
Now, on the very threshold of our study of Ex 26, we meet with a clear
statement, the farreaching significance of which has been overlooked by most of
those who have written on this subject. It is contained in these few words: 'Thou
shalt make the dwelling (NKAw;mi, EV ' tabernacle') of ten curtains' (26:1). To this
fact we must hold fast through all our discussion as to the measurements and
arrangements of the tabernacle. It is the curtains, not the so-called ' boards,' that
constitute the dwelling of J". The full bearing of this fact will appear as we
proceed. The walls of the true dwelling, then, are to consist, on three sides at least,
of ten curtains of beautiful Oriental tapestry, full of figures of the mystic herubim,
woven in colours of the richest dyes, violet, purple, and scarlet (see § iv.). The
curtains form, as it were, the throne-room of J". It is therefore ap. propriate that the
mysterious beings that ministel around His heavenly throne should be represented
in J”'s presence-chamber upon earth (see, further, § ix. for cherubim upon the
mercy-seat). The curtains measure each 28 x 4 cubits (7:1), and are sewed
together in two sets of five. Along one long side of either set are sewed fifty loops
(txolAl;) made of violet thread. By means of an equal number of gold clasps
(MysirAq;, RV ; AV 'taches') the two hangings are coupled together to form one
large covering, 40 (4 x 10) cubits in length by 28 c. in breadth, for 'the dwelling
shall be one' (26:6).
For a tent (lh,xo) over the dwelling (v.7), eleven curtains are to be woven of
material usually employed for the Eastern tent (see CURTAINS), viz. goats' hair,
and, to ensure that the dwelling shall be completely covered by them, they are
each to be 30 cubits in length by 4 in breadth. These are to be sewed together to
form two sets of five and six curtains respectively, coupled together as before
by loops and clasps; the latter, in this case, of bronze, and forming one large
surface (44 x 30 cubits), that the tent also 'may be one' (v. 11). Thus far there is no
difficulty such as emerges in the verses (v.126.) that follow, and will be
considered later (§ vii. (c)).
As the dwelling is to be covered by the tent, so the tent in its turn is to
receive two protecting coverings, the dimensions of which are not given. Immediately
above it is to be a covering of 'rams' skins dyed red' (MymiDAxAm;, h]ruqrodanwme<na).
The dye employed is not the costly Phoenician scarlet or
crimson dye previously met with (obtained from the coccus ilicis, see COLOURS,
vol. i. p. 457 f.), but, as the Gr. rendering suggests, madder (e]ruqro<danon,
rubia tinctoria), a vegetable dye.* The outermost covering is formed of the skins
of an obscure animal (win, AV 'badger,' RV ' seal,' RVm 'porpoise'), now most
identified with the dugong, a seal-like mammal found in the
(see note with illustration in Toy's 'Ezekiel' [SBOT], p. 124).
At this point in P's statement, one naturally expects him to proceed to give
directions for the pitching of this fourfold tent and for the preparation of the
necessary poles, ropes, and pegs. There is thus every a priori probability in favour
of the theory of the tabernacle associated in this country with the name of Mr.
Fergusson, that the four sets of coverings now described were in reality intended
by the author to be suspended by means of a ridge-pole or otherwise over the
wooden framework about to be described. But it is inconceivable that so radical a
part of the construction as the provision of a ridge-pole and its accompaniments
should have been passed over in silence in the text of P. (For this theory see
more recently, and in greatest detail, by Schick, Die Stifshutte, der Tempel, etc.).
On the contrary, P's wilderness sanctuary is to combine with certain features of
a nomad's tent others suggestive or reminiscent of the temples of a sessile
population. In short, as Josephus puts it, the finished structure is to 'differ in no
* The Heb. name of this dye is hxAUP, frequent in the Mishna. In OT it occurs only
as a proper name, e.g. the minor judge, Tolah ben Puah (Scarlet, the son of
Madder ! Jg 10:1).
Kennedy: Tabernacle 659b
respect from a movable and ambulatory temple' (Ant. III. vi. 1 [Niese, § 103]).
(b) The wooden framework of the Dwelling (Ex 26:15-30=36:26-8
[LXX 38:18-21]; Jos. Ant. l.c. 116ff.). --The right understanding of this important
part of the dwelling, by which it is to be transformed into a portable temple,
depends on our interpretation of the opening verses of the section (vv.15-17).
Literally rendered they run thus: 'And thou shalt make the kerashim† for the
dwelling of acacia
† EV 'boards'; LXX stu<loi Jos. and Philo ki<onej, both=pillars.'
wood, standing up--10 cubits the length of the single * keresh, and a cubit and a
half the breadth of the single keresh-2 yadoth † for the single keresh, meshullaboth ‡
to each other.' Here everything depends on the three more or less obscure
technical terms of the Heb. arts and crafts given in transliteration. The true
exegetical tradition, we are convinced, had been lost, as was the case with the still
more complicated description of Solomon's brazen lavers (1 K 7:27ff), until the
key was discovered by Stade and published in his classical essay (ZATW iii.
(1883) 129ff =Akad. Reden, 145 ff., corrected in details ZATW xxi. (1901)
145 ff.). The Jewish tradition, as we find it first in Josephus (l.c.) and in the
Baraitha, has held the field to the present day. According to these authorities the
kerashim were great columns or beams of wood 15 ft. high, 2 ft. 3 in. wide, and-
by a calculation to be tested in due time-1 ft. 6 in. thick, i.e. 10 x 1 1/2 x l cubits.
The yadoth were pins or tenons (Jos. stro<figgej, 'pivots') by which the beams
were inserted into mortices in the silver sockets or bases. Forty-eight of these
beams were placed side by side to form the three walls (S.W. and N.) of the
tabernacle, the eastern end or entrance being formed by a screen (for details and
reff see below). This interpretation, with numerous modifications in detail, particularly
as regards the thickness of the so-called 'boards,' § has been adopted
by every previous writer without exception.
We now proceed to test the value of this tradition. The avowed intention of
P, it is admitted on all hands, is to construct ' a movable and ambulatory temple'
for the desert marches. Could anything be more absurd than to begin by
constructing enormous logs of wood, each with a cubic content--on the most usual
computation of 1 cubit of thickness--of about 50 cubic feet, each weighing,
* So LXX, Pesh. etc.
† EV 'tenons' ; LXX; LXX a]gkani<skouj=' joints or arms; but else
where me<rh, 'sides.'
‡ RV ' joined'; LXX a]ntipi<ptontaj as in v.5 for
§ The familiar rendering ' boards,' adopted by Tindale, goes back to Jerome, who
thought of the tabulae, of which the Roman tabernacula were frequently
constructed, and from which, indeed, the name is derived.
according to a recent calculation (Brown, The Tabernacle6, 1899, 275), close
upon 1 ton, and out of all proportion to the weight they would have to bear? And
this quite apart from the open question of the possibility of obtaining beams of
such dimensions from the acacia tree of Arabia.||. Further, how is the fact that the
tapestry curtains with their cherubim figures are always called 'the dwelling' to be
reconciled with the traditional theory that they were completely hidden from view,
except on the roof, by the intervention of the wooden walls? This difficulty has
been felt by several writers, who have sought to avoid it by hanging these curtains
inside the boards as a lining, thereby doing violence to the clear intention of the
text (see below). 'These considerations by no means exhaust the difficulties
presented by the current conception of the tabernacle, as may be seen on any page
of the commentaries and special monographs cited in the Literature at the end of this article.
The way is now clear for a fresh examination of the technical terms of
vv.15-17 The first of the three (wdAq;) is practically confined to P's account of the
tabernacle, for its only other occurrence (Ezk 27:6) requires light from our passages
rather than throws light upon them. The Gr. translators had no clear
idea of what the word meant, and were content to render throughout by stu<loi,
‘pillars,' a rendering
|| No use is here made of the argument from Nu 7:8 compared with 3:36, four
waggons, each drawn by a pair of oxen, for the transport of the ' boards,' bases,
pillars, etc., as these passages are probably from a different hand from Ex 26.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 660a
suggested to them by the last word of v.15, which they apparently read Myrimu.fa,
the ordinary word for pillars (cf. Dillm. in loc. ). Passing, therefore, to the second
technical term yadoth (v.17), we find the current text of the LXX responsible for a
grave mis-interpretation of this verse, by prefixing 'and thou shalt make' to the
original text (but AF omit kai> poih<seij). In reality we have here the continuation
of v.15, from which it is separated merely by a parenthesis, as translated above.
The yadoth are thus seen not to be something additional to the keresh, but to
constitute its main component parts (as indeed may underlie the Gr. rendering
me<rh in vv.19, 21 and elsewhere). What then is the signification of dyA as a
technical term in the constructive arts? In 1 K 10:19=2 Ch 9:18 yadoth denotes
the ' arms' of Solomon's throne, of which a]gw?nej is the technically correct equi-
valent (2 Chron. l.c., see illustration of chair with arms bent at right angles in
Rich, Dict. of Antiq. s. ' Ancon'). In I K 7:32-33--as Stade (ll.cc.) has conclusively
proved from extant ancient models--yadoth is the technical name for the stays or
supports (EV ‘axletrees’) underneath the body or framework of the laver (illustrs.
ZATW, 1901, 152, 167), as also for the similar stays projecting from the top of the
frame and supporting the stand of the basin (cf. LAVER, Vol. iii. p. 64a).
Technically, therefore, like our own 'arm,' and the classical a]gkw<n and ancon, dyA
may denote any arm-like structural element, whether straight or bent, especially if
occurring in pairs. This result is strengthened by the phrase that follows,
h.tAHoxE-lxA hw.Axi tbolA.wum; (v. 17, cf. 36:22 and the various renderings in AV
and RV). Here again the description of the avers comes to our aid (1 K 7:28f.), for
the cognate term there employed (MyBilaw;, with which cf. the rounds or rungs of a
ladder in later Heb.) is now universally understood to mean the cross-rails joining
the uprights of the frame of the laver. It seems evident, therefore, that the keresh
of P must be a frame of wood, such as builders in all countries have employed in
the construction of light walls (see Blunmer, Technologic, etc. iii. 151, for the
paries craticius with its arrectarii and transversarii ; cf. our own brick-nogged
partitions with their timber 'quarters'). This sense suits Ezk 27:6 admirably: 'thy
panels are of ivory inlaid in boxwood' (see illustr. in Toy, SBOT 150). We may
now tr. v.15ff thus, taking the parenthesis last; ‘And thou shalt make the frames
for the dwelling of acacia wood, standing up, two uprights for each frame, joined
to each other by cross-rail--10 cubits the height and a cubit and a half the breadth
of the single frame.' We now see how it is that a writer so fond of measurements as
P has omitted to give the third dimension: a frame has, strictly speaking, no
* We may thus claim to have solved what our latest commentator has termed P's
'secret' with regard to v.17 (Baentsch, in loc.; cf. Holzinger, who gives up the
verse in despair). Riehm had previously tried to solve the problem by taking the
text to mean that each board consisted of two pieces mortised together by means
of the yadoth (HlVB2, art. 'Stiftshatte,' 1679f.). Jerome's interpretation is
evidently borrowed from the Rabbis, some of whom thought that the yadoth joined
one board to another (Flesch, Baraijtka, 61 f.).
The frames, according to our present text, are to be overlaid with gold; but
the position of this instruction (v. 29) after the other instructions for the frames
have been completed (contrast 25:11; 24; 30:3), the variant tradition of the Gr. of
38:18ff (perihrgu<rwsen, 'overlaid with silver'), the late origin of the kindred
in 1 K 6 f. (see
probable that we have here an addition to the original text, both as regards the
frame and bars, and the pillars. Like the pillars of the court, the uprights of the
framework are to be sunk in bases of solid silver,--the reason for two bases to
each frame being now for the first time apparent,--regarding the shape and size† of
which we are equally dependent on conjecture. For reasons that will appear in the
next section, we may think of them as square plinths, 3/4 cubit in the side and a
cubit in height, forming a continuous foundation wall round the dwelling, with the
uprights sunk well down so that the height of the framework was not materially
To provide the necessary rigidity for the frames the simple device is
adopted of running five wooden bars along the three sides, passing through rings
attached to the woodwork of the frames. Much needless discussion has been raised
over the expression 'the middle bar in the midst of the boards (v. 28), which has
been taken by various writers to mean that the middle bar of the five is intended to
pass from end to end through a hole pierced in the heart of the massive 'boards' of
the traditional theory (see diagrams of Riggenbach, Brown, etc. ). But the phrase is
merely an epithet, after P's well-known manner, explanatory of the bar in question,
the distinguishing feature of which is that it runs along the whole length of its side,
north, west, south, as the case may be, in contradistinction to the remaining four,
which we may presume run only half-way along-one pair at the top, the other
pair at the bottom of the frames. This arrangement of the bars suggests that the
frames were provided with three cross-rails--one at the top, rounded like the ends
of the uprights to avoid injury to the curtains, another in the middle, and a third
immediately above the bases. We thus obtain a double row of panels right round
the dwelling (see the accompanying illustration with drawings to scale from a
specially prepared model).
The difficulties of this section, however, are not yet exhausted. We have
still to grapple with the problem of the arrangement of the frames, and in
particular with the much debated vv. 23ff, before we can proceed to discuss the
manner in which the curtains were utilized. The discussion of the former problem
may best start from the data of 26:33, from which we learn that the veil dividing
the dwelling into two parts (see next section) is to be hung 20 cubits, the width of
5 curtains, from the front of the dwelling. Now, the admitted symmetry of the
whole sanctuary requires us to infer that the area of the outer sanctuary is intended
to measure 20 x 10 cubits, and that of the inner sanc-
† The oldest, but erroneous, conjecture on this point (EX 33:27 has been already
dealt with (§ iv. footnote p. 6.56).
Kennedy: Tabernacle 661a
tuary 10 x 10 cubits, the measurements in both cases being exactly half those of
corresponding parts of the temples of Solomon and Ezekiel (see
With this agrees the direction of the text, that twenty frames, each 1 1/2 cubits
wide, are required for the two long sides, and six for the shorter west side
(vv. 18, 20, 22). Now, an easy calculation shows that since the total area of the
dwelling from curtain to curtain is 30 x 10 cubits, and inside width of the short
side is only 9 cubits (1 1/2 x 6), we must allow half a cubit (9 in.) for the
thickness of the woodwork of either of the long sides. This would allow 6 in. (two
handbreadths) for the thickness of the uprights of the framework and 3 in. (one
handbreadth) for that of the bars.
The assumption of the majority of previous writers, from the Baraitka to
Baentsch, that the measurement, 30 x 10 cubits, gives the clear inside area of the
tabernacle as formed by the wooden 'boards,' implying on the cubit of thickness
theory (see above) an outside measurement of 31x12 cubits, falls to the ground if
the view here advocated of the true nature of the boards' is accepted. But, even
with the traditional interpretation, the theory of inside measurements is absolutely
inadmissible. (1) The true walls of P's dwelling are, as we have already
emphasized, the tapestry curtains, precisely as the linen hangings are the walls of
the court (§ v.). The framework here takes the place of the pillars round the court,
and, like these, must be treated as une quantite negligeable where proportions are
concerned. (2) ADP's other measurements are outside measurements, as in the altar
of burnt-offering, the ark, etc. (3) Only on the supposition that the entire fabric of the
tabernacle covered a space 30 x 10 cubits is the true proportion (3:1)
of the structure and the complete symmetry of the western square maintained. It is
absolutely necessary from P's entirely contained within the centre square of its
own court (see diagram). With an inside area of 30x10, requiring on the traditional
hypothesis an outside measurement of 31x12, the symmetry of the whole
sanctuary is ruined.
We are now prepared to take up the problem of the two frames described
with tantalizing obscurity in the difficult verses 22, 23-25.* These two frames are
expressly stated to be 'for the tfocoq;mi† of the dwelling in the hinder part.' What,
now is the meaning of this rare word? The key, we believe, will be found in
Ezekiel's presumably technical use of it to denote the projecting corners, popularly
known as 'horns,' of his altar of shewbread (41:22, see for these § vi. above; and
cf., besides the Assyrian altars, the plan of a Phoenician sanctuary in
Pietschmann's Geschichte der Phoenizier, 200f.). It is used by later writers to
a part of the wall of
* For the extraordinary number of guesses that have been hazarded as to the
meaning of these verses, see, besides the Comm., the text and diagrams of
Riggenbach, Schick, and Brown.
† To be pointed so, with most moderns, for tfociqum; of MT.
fore one of the projecting bastions (2 Ch 26:9, Neh 3:24) which guarded the wall at
important changes in its course. We conclude from these data that the word in
the passage before us must denote something of the nature of a projecting buttress
at the two western corners of the wooden framework. V. 24 has been the despair
of many generations of students, and is almost certainly corrupt. If with most
modern scholars we read MymiTo (twins) in both clauses, it seems to imply that these
corner frames shall be made 'double,' i.e. consist of two ordinary frames
braced together for the sake of strength; further, that each is intended to form a
buttress sloping upwards and terminating short of the top of the framework, at 'the
first' or topmost 'ring' (see RVm), that is, underneath the top bar of the west side
(see illustration). In any case, three purposes are apparently served by these corner
buttresses. They supply additional strength at the two weakest parts of the
framework--the points of meeting of the two long walls with the west wall ; they
take up the folds of the curtains at these two corners, and--we do not hesitate to
add--they raise the number of the frames to a multiple of four (48, so many were
the pillars in Solomon's temple according to the Gr. of I K 7:45), and the number
of the bases required for the dwelling to a multiple of ten 100, see next section).
(c) The arrangement of the Curtains of the Dwelling and the Tent. The
divisions of the Dwelling and the Tent. The divisions of the Dwelling. The Screen and
the Veil (Ex 26:9, 12ff. 31-33, 36f and parallels). –In the secondary stratum
of P (40:17ff) we read how 'the tabernacle was reared up' by Moses. First he put
down its bases, then he placed its frames, put in its bars, and reared up its pillars.
'Thereafter 'he spread the tent over the dwelling, and placed the covering of the tent
above upon it.' Here the tapestry and hair curtains are strangely enough together
named the tent,' and the two outer coverings similarly taken as one.* Now it is
worth noting (1) that Moses is said to have 'spread' the curtains over the dwelling,
the same word (WraPA) being used as is employed of wrapping up the sacred
furniture for transport (Nu 4:6ff § xi.); and (2) that neither here nor elsewhere is
the ordinary word for erecting 'or pitching a tent (hFAnA) applied to the tabernacle,
as it is to the old 'tent of meeting' (33:7) and to David's tent for the ark (2 S 6:17,
see § i.). This fact of itself tells against the view, noted above, that the curtains
were stretched tent-wise above the dwelling, and in favour of the usual concep-
* The author of this section (P'), however, may not have bad Ex 25 f. before him in
quite the same form as we now have it (see § iii. above).
Kennedy: Tabernacle 662a
tion, that they were spread over the framework 'as a pall is thrown over a coffin.'
The tapestry curtains measuring 40 cubits from front to back and 28 cubits across
(§ vii. (a)) thus constitute the dwelling, the centre portion (30 x 10 cubits) forming
the roof and the remainder the three sides. On the long sides it hung down 9 cubits
till it met, as we may conjecture, the silver bases of the framework, which made up
the remaining cubit (so the authorities of the Baraitha (Flesch, 50; cf. Philo,
op. cit. ii. 148, who no doubt gives the true reason of the vacant cubit, 'that the
curtain might not be dragged,' and Jos. Ant. III. vi. 4 [Niese, § 130]). At the back,
however, where 10 cubits (40-30) were left over, the last cubit would have to be
folded along the projecting base, one of the results of requiring the total length to
be another multiple of ten (40 cubits instead of 39). A striking confirmation of the
signification here assigned to the kerashim is now brought to light. Instead of
nearly two-thirds of the ‘all-beautiful and most holy curtain’ (pa<gkalon kai>
i[eroprepe>j u!fasma, Philo, l.c.) being hidden from view by the so-called
'boards,' the whole extent of the curtain is now disclosed, with, we may fairly
conjecture, a double row of the mystic inwoven cherubim filling the panels of the
framework, just as they filled the wainscot panels with which the temples of
Solomon and Ezekiel were lined (1 K 6:28ff., Ezk 41:18ff).* The view of Bahr,
Neumann, Keil, Holzinger, and others (see Literature), that these curtains were
suspended, by some method unknown to the text, inside the framework,--in their
case the gold-sheathed walls,--has been already disposed of (vii. (b)).
* See illustration.
Over the tapestry curtain was spread in like manner the curtain of goats’
hair, the 'tent' of Pg. Our present text (vv.9. 12), however, presents an
insurmountable difficulty in the arrangement of these curtains. To cover the
dwelling, and that completely, they required to be only 40 x 30 cubits.
But even when the sixth curtain of the one set is doubled, as required by v. 9, a
total length of 42 cubits remains. The explanation usually given, which indeed is
required by v.12, is that 'the half curtain that remaineth' must have been stretched
out by ropes and pegs behind the dwelling; an assumption which is at variance
with the arrangement at the other sides, and which leaves the sacred tapestry
curtain exposed to view. The only remedy is to regard v. 12f as a gloss, as
Holzinger does (Kurzer Hdcom. in loc.), from the pen of a reader who
misunderstood v.9b. Taken by itself, this half-verse plainly directs that the sixth
curtain shall be doubled 'in the forefront of the dwelling'; that is, not, as Dillm.
and other commentators maintain, laid double across the easter-most tapestry half-
curtain, but--as already advocated in the Baraitha, p. 58--hanging doubled over the
edge of the latter, covering the pillars at the door of the tabernacle and entirely
excluding the light of day. This secures that the dwelling shall be in perfect
darkness. This is not secured on the ordinary supposition that the edges of both
curtains were flush with each other, for the screen could not possibly be so
adjusted as to completely exclude the light. The objection, of which so much is
made by Riggenbah, etc., that the joinings of the two sets of curtains would thus
coincide and moisture be admitted, is utterly invalid when we recall the two heavy
and impervious coverings that overlay the two inner sets of curtains. In this way,
then, we find that the goats' hair curtains exactly fitted the dwelling on all three
sides, covering the tapestry and the bases as well, and, in Josephus' words,
‘extending loosely to the ground.' They were doubtless fixed thereto by means of
the bronze pins of the dwelling (27:19 Pg, which makes no mention of cords),
as the Kiswa
or covering of the Kaaba
rings at the base of the latter (Hughes, Dict. of Islam, s.v.).*
Two items still remain to complete the, fabric of the dwelling, viz. the
screen and the veil. The former (j`sAmA, RV 'screen,' AV 'hanging') was a portiere
of the same material as the portiere of the court, closing the dwelling on the east
side. It was hung by means of gold hooks or pegs horn five pillars of acacia wood
standing on bases of bronze (26:36f, 36:37f. [LXX 37:5f]), a detail which marks
them out as pertaining to the court rather than to the dwelling, the bases of which
are of silver. Like the rest of the woodwork, they were probably left unadorned in
the original text, for the text of P' (36:38, cf. Gr. of 26:37) speaks only of the
capitals being overlaid with gold, a later hand, as in 1 K 6 f., heightening the
magnificence of the tabernacle by sheathing the whole pillars (26:37).
At a distance of 20 cubits† from the entrance screen was hung another of
the same beautiful tapestry as the curtains (v.81), depending from four pillars '
overlaid with gold,' and standing, like the framework, on bases of silver (v. 31).
This second screen is termed the paroketh (tkAroPA AV 'vail,' RV 'veil'; LXX
katape<tasma, cf. He 9:3 'the second veil' as distinguished from the veil or
screen just mentioned). By means of 'the veil' the dwelling was divided into two
parts, the larger twice the area of the smaller (2:1). The former is termed by the
priestly writers ' the holy place' (wd,qo.ha 26:33 and oft.) ; the latter receives the
name MywidAq.;h wd,qo), best rendered idiomatically 'the most holy place,' also
literally ' the holy of holies,' § in LXX to> a!gion and to> a!gion (or ta> a!gia)
* The arrangement of the Kisma, indeed, affords a striking analogy to that of the
curtains of the tabernacle.
†This follows from the fact that the veil is to bang directly under the gold clasps
joining the two sets of tapestry curtains, and therefore 5 times 4 cubits (the breadth
of the individual curtain) from the front of the dwelling (v. 33). The importance of
this datum for the dimensions of the tabernacle has already been pointed out.
‡ This word has an interesting affinity with the Assyrian word parakku, the
innermost shrine or ‘holy of holies’ of the Babylonian temples in which stood the
statue of the patron deity.
§ The usage of Lv 16--is peculiar to itself. The ‘holy place' P is here
curiously 'the tent of meeting' (v.16 etc.); the 'most holy place’ is named simply
‘the holy place' (vv-3- 16 etc.) shortened from ‘the holy place within the veil'
Kennedy: Tabernacle 662c
tw?n a[gi<wn. These names first came into use priestly circles in the Exile. The
corresponding parts of Solomon's temple were known as the hekal, or temple
proper (1 K 6:3 RVm), and the debir (EV ‘oracle,’ v.16).|| The former is retained
by Ezekiel, while the latter is discarded and the 'most holy place' substituted (414,
but also ' holy place,' v.23). P by his nomenclature stamps his sanctuary still
further with the attribute of holiness in an ascending scale as we approach the
presence of J".
viii. THE FURNITURE OF THE HOLY PLACE.--(a) The Table of
Shewbread (Ex 25:23-30=37:15-16 [LXX 38:9-12] ; Jos. Ant. III. vi. 6).--This
section is intended merely to supplement the art. SHEWBREAD by giving the
barest details regarding the presence-table' (MyniPAha Nhal;wu, see l.c. § i.) of the
Our understanding of this section is materially assisted by the representation of the
of Herod's temple, which may still be seen on the Arch of Titus at
Careful measurements were taken and drawings made both of the table and of
the candlestick (see next section) by friends of Adrian Reland in 1710-11, at a
time when the sculptures were less dilapidated than at present. These were
published by him in his work, De spoliis Templi Hierosolymitani, etc., 1710.
The material was acacia wood, overlaid like the ark with pure gold. The
sheathing of these two
|| The presence of the term 'most holy place' in 1 K 6:16 etc is now recognized
as due to post-exilic glossators.
sacred articles of the cultus and of the later altar of incense (§ viii. (c)) is quite in
place, and stands on quite a different footing from the sheathing of such secondary
parts of the fabric as the framework and the pillars at the entrance, the originality
of which we saw reason to question. The height of the table was that of the ark,
1 ½ cubits, its length and breadth 2 cubits and 1 cubit respectively. The massive top
--in the Roman sculpture 6 in. thick--was decorated with a zer (rze, AV and RV
‘crown,' RVm 'rim or moulding') of gold. The precise nature of this ornament,
which is also prescribed for the ark (v.11) and the altar of incense (30:3), is
unknown. That it was some species of moulding may be regarded as fairly certain.
The Gr. translators render variously by stefa<nh, whence the Vulg. Corona and
'crown'; by kuma<tia strepta<; or by a combination of both. The authors of the
divergent Gr. text of 35-40 omit this ornament altogether (LXX 38:1ff). The
phrase kuma<tia strepta< suggests a cable moulding, as explained by pseudo-
Aristeas (Epist. ad Philocratem, ed. Wendland, § 58, 'worked in relief in the form
of ropes'), which also suits Josephus' description (to< e]dafoj e!likoj [a spiral],
l.c. § 140). On the other hand, the same phrase is used in architecture of an ogee
moulding, and this is certainly the nature of the, ornament on the table of the Arch
of Titus (see Reland, op. cit. 73 ff., and plate of mouldings opp. p. 76). In any
case, both the sides and ends of the massive top were separately decorated by
a solid gold moulding, which gave them the appearance of four panels sunk into
the table (Reland, ut sup., and cf. Jos. § 140, koilai<netai de> kaq‘ e!kaston
pleuro<n, k. t. l.). The legs, according to Josephus, were square in the upper and
rounded in the lower half, terminating in claws, a statement confirmed by the
sculpture and by the analogy of the domestic art of the ancients. They were
connected by a binding rail (trAg,s;mi, EV ' border') 'of an handbreadth round about'
(v.25), also ornamented with a cable or an ogee moulding. It doubtless marked
the transition from the square to the round portions of the legs. The broken ends of
this rail are still visible on the arch with a pair of trumpets leaning against them
(illustr. under Music, vol. iii. p. 462). At its four corners four gold rings were
attached, through which, and parallel to the sides, the two poles or staves were
passed by means of which the table was moved from place to place.
For the service of the table a number of gold vessels (cf. Reland, op. cit. 99-
122), presumably of hammered or repousse work, were provided. These
comprised, in our RV rendering, 'dishes, spoons, flagons, and bowls to pour out
withal' (v.29, cf. AV). The' dishes' were the flat salvers or chargers on which the
loaves of the presence-bread were conveyed to, or in which they were placed
upon, the table, or both together. The 'spoons' were rather the cups containing the
frankincense (LXX ta>j qui<skaj) which entered into this part of the ritual (Lv
24:7), two of which were still visible in Reland's day. The 'flagons'* were the
larger, the ' bowls' the smaller vessels (spondei?a kai> ku<aqoi) for the wine,
which we must suppose also entered into the ritual of the shewbread. The silence
* A flagon is a favourite type on Jewish coins (MONEY, VOL iii.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 663b
of the OT on this point led the Jewish doctors to give novel and absurd
explanations of the vessels last mentioned--such as hollow pipes between the loaves,
or parts of a frame on which they lay. Similarly, these authorities differ as
to whether the loaves were laid in two piles lengthwise across the width of the
table--as one would naturally suppose--or along its length. A favourite tradition
gives the length of each loaf as ten handbreadths (2 1/2 ft.) and the breadth as five.
Since the width of the table was only 1 cubit or six handbreadths, the loaves were
baked with two handbreadths [their 'horns'] turned up at either end, thus taking the
shape of a huge square bracket I (For these and similar speculations, as curious as
useless, see Menahoth xi. 4 ff.; the Baraitha, § vii., with Flesch's notes and
diagrams ; Edersheim, The Temple, 154 fl. ; and Ugolinus' treatise in his
Thesaurus, vol. x.). The position of the table was on ‘the north side’ of the holy
(b) The golden Lampstand (Ex 25:31-40 = 37:17-24 [Gr. 38:13-17] ; cf. Jos.
since Wyclif's time, our
designation ‘the candlestick,’ afforded the greatest opportunity for the display of
artistic skill. It was in reality a lampstand (hrAOnm;, luxni<a--the latter in Mt 5:10
and parallels, where RV gives ' [lamp]-stand,' Vulg. candelabrum) of pure gold (§
iii.), hence also termed the ' pure lampstand' (318 3937 etc. [cf. 'the pure table,' Lv
248] ; for other designations see below). See also LAMP.
The lampstand on the Arch of Titus differs from that described in the text
of P in several particulars, notably in the details of the ornamentation (see Reland's
plate, op. cit. 6). In this respect it agrees better with the description of Josephus,
who speaks of its 'knops and lilies with pomegranates and bowls,' seventy
ornaments in all. The base, further, is hexagonal in form and ornamented with
non-Jewish figures, while Jewish tradition speaks of the lampstand of the second
temple as having a tripod base. The earliest known representation of the stand is
found on certain copper coins doubtfully attributed to Antigonus, the last of the
Hasmonwans (Madden, Coins of the Jews, 102, with woodcut). At a later period
the seven-branched 'candlestick,' more or less conventionally treated, was a
favourite motif with Jewish and Christian artists on lamps," gems, tombs, etc.
Like the cherubim above the propitiatory (§ ix.), the lampstand was of
‘beaten (i. e. repousse) work' (hwAq;mi). A talent of gold was employed in its con-
struction, the general idea of which is clear (see illustration): from a central stem
THE GOLDEN LAMPSTAND.
pairs of arms branched off 'like the arrangement of a trident' (Josephus), curving
outwards and upwards till their extremities, on which the lamps were placed, were
on a level with the top of the shaft. The upper portion of this central stem, from the
lowest pair of arms upwards, is termed the shaft (hn,qA, so RV; not as AV 'branch'),
also the lampstand par excellence (v. 34); the lower portion is the base (so rightly
RV for j`reyA lit. 'loins, in the Mishna sysiBA Kel. xi. 7). The latter, we have seen,
probably ended in a tripod with clawed feet, as in the table of shewbread. The
leading motive of the ornamentation on stem and arms is derived
* For one of the best of these, showing the base in the form of a tripod, see PEFSt,
1886, p. 8.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 664a
from the flower or blossom of the almond tree. The complete ornament,
introduced four times on the stem and three times on each of the six branches, is
termed faybig; (gebia', lit. 'cup,' so RV; AV 'bowl'), and consists of two parts,*
corresponding to the calyx and corolla of the almond flower, the kaphtor (EV
‘knop’) and the perah (EV 'flower') of the text. At what intervals these 'knops and
flowers' are to be introduced is not stated (for the speculations of the Rabbis see
Flesch, op. cit. with diagrams), nor do we know how the four sets of V. 34 are to
be distributed. It is usually assumed that these include the three knops which in v.
35 ornament the points where the branches diverge from the stem. It seems to us
more in harmony with the text to regard the three knops in question, with which no
flowers are associated, as suggested rather by the scales of the stem of a tree, from
whose axils spring the buds which develop into branches. We accordingly prefer
to find seven knops on the central stem, viz. two 'knops and flowers' to ornament
the base, three ' knops' alone, forming axils for the branches, and two 'knops and
flowers' on the upper part of the shaft. Shaft and arms alike probably termin-
ated in a 'cup' with its knop and flower, the five outspread petals of the corolla
serving as a tray for one of the seven lamps.† The latter were doubtless of the
unvarying Eastern pattern (see LAMP). The nozzles were turned towards the
north, facing the table of shewbread, the lampstand having its place on the south
of the olive ('pure olive oil beaten,' for which see OIL, vol. iii. p. 591a, 592a),
trimmed and cleaned, was part of the daily duty of the priests. The necessary
apparatus, the snuffers and snuff-dishes (which see) with the 'oil vessels' (Nu 4:9),
were also of pure gold.
From the notices in the different strata of P (Ex 27:20f., cf. 30:7, Lv 24:18ff,
Nu 8:1ff) it is not clear whether the lamps were to be kept burning day
and night or by night only. The latter alternative was the custom in the sanctuary
later reproduction--it would appear that the lamps burned only 'from evening to
morning.' At the time of the morning sacrifice they were to be trimmed, cleaned,
and replaced (Ex 30:7, cf. Tamid iii. 9, vi. 1), ready to be relit in the evening (30:8,
2 Ch 13:11). Against this, the prima facie interpretation, must be put such con-
siderations as these: (1) the ancient custom of the ever burning lamp alluded to
under CANDLE (vol. i. P. 348b) ; (2) the expression dymiTA rne, a 'continual
*This appears from 25:33, where the cups are defined as each consisting of 'a knop
and a flower'; hence in v. 31 'its knops and its flowers' are to be taken as in
apposition Wits cups' (see Dillm. in l.c.), not, as already in Lxx as two additional
ornaments (oi[ krath?rej kai> oi[ sfairouth?rej kai> ta> kri<na; of the similar
misinterpretation regarding the frames of the dwelling on the part of the LXX, §
vii. (b) above).
† In the Mishna perah (‘flower’) has on this account become the usual term for the
plinth or tray of an ordinary lampstand (Ohaloth xi. 8, Kelim xi. 7). Of the
e]nqe<mia of the divergent description in the G r. text (37:17ff).
lamp or light' (Lv 24:2=Ex 27:20) ; and (3) since the dwelling was absolutely dark,
there must, one would think, have been some provision for lighting it during the
day. The practice of a later period, vouched for by Josephus (Ant. III. viii. 3
[§ 199], with which cf. his quotation from pseudo-Hecatieus, c. Apion. i. 22 [§
199]), by which only three of the lamps burned by day and the remaining four
were lighted at sunset, seems to be a compromise between the directions of the
text and the practical necessities of the case (so Riehm, HWB2, art. 'Leuchter').
The Rabbinical notices are still later, and differ frim both the data of P and those
of Josephus. (On the whole question see Schurer, HJP II. i. 281 f. with full reff.,
and 295 f.).
The fate of the golden lampstand of the second temple, made under the
direction of Judas Maccabaeus (1 Mac 4:49) to replay the earlier stand (th>n
luxni<an tou? fw?toj, ib. 121, Ben Sira's luxni<a a[gi<a, 26:17) carried
off by Antiochus iv., has been narrated under SHEWBREAD (§ iii.). Onias in
furnishing his temple at Leontopolis was content with a single golden lamp,
suspended by a
chain of gold (Jos. BJ VII. x. 8).
(c) The Altar of Incense (Ex 30:1-5=37:25-28 [the latter absent in Gr.];
Jos. Ant. III. vi. 8 [§ 147 IL]).--No part of the furniture of the tabernacle has been the
subject of so much controversy in recent years as the altar of incense, which in our
present text of Exodus occupies the place of honour in front c f the veil. The
attitude of modern criticism to Ex 30. 31 has been already stated (§ iii.), and it
must suffice here to indicate in a summary way the principal grounds on which
recent critics, with one voice, have pronounced against the presence of this altar in
the tabernacle as sketched by the original author of Ex 25-29 (cf. EXODUS, vol. i.
810 ; INCENSE, vol. ii. p. 467 f.;
(1) The tabernacle and its furniture have been described in detail, as also
the dress and consecration of its ministrant priests, and the whole section brought
to a solemn close with 29:5f. Advocates of the traditional view must therefore
explain the absence from its proper place in ch. 25 of an article ex hypothesi so
essential to the daily ritual (30:7f) as the altar of incense. They have also to
account for the fact that the position of Ex 30:1-10 varies in the MT, the
Samaritan-Hebrew, and Or. texts (being altogether absent from the latter in the
recapitulation in ch. 37). (2) Pg in the most unmistakable manner refers to the altar
of burnt-offering as 'the altar' (so not less than 100 times, according to the Oxf.
Hex. ii. 127), implying that he knew no other. Only in strata that bear other marks
of a later origin does it receive a distinguishing epithet (§ vi. (a)). (3) The
reference in 30:10 'is clearly based on, and is therefore younger than, the ritual of
the Day of Atonement as described in Lv 16:12-14. But this chapter ignores the
altar of incense, and, in harmony with Lv 10:1 and Nu 16:17, requires the incense
to be offered on censers. (4) Careful examination of the MT of 1 K 7 and Ezk 41
neither in the real
references in 1 Ch 28:18, 2 Ch 4:19 etc., are too late in date to enter into the
Kennedy: Tabernacle 664c
argument as to the contents of P. The first historical reference to the 'golden altar'
is found in the account of the sack of the temple by Antiochus iv. (1 Mac 1:21).
the other hand, the extreme scepticism of Wellhausen (
others as to the existence of such an altar even in the second temple is unwarranted
(see Delitzsch, 'Der Itaucheraltar' in Zeitschr. f. kirchl. Wissenscha-ft, 1880, 114-
Assuming, then, that we have to do with a later addition (novella) to the
original code, we note that this second altar is named trAFoq; rFaq;mi HaBez;mi (30;1);
or simply hrAFoq;ha "m (3027 etc.), also the 'golden altar' (3938 etc., 1 'Mac 121) ;
in the LXX to> qusiasth<rion tou? qumia<matoj, in Philo and Josephus to>
qumiath<rion--so Symm. and Theod. 30:1; for He 9:4 see end of section. Like the
larger altar it is 'four square,' a cubit in length and breadth, and 2 cubits in
height, and furnished with horns (for these see § vi.). The material is acacia wood,
overlaid with pure gold, the ornamentation a moulding of solid gold (rze, see § viii.
(a)), with the usual provision for rings and staves (v. 4f). "Its position is to be in
and his sons shall offer 'a perpetual incense' upon it night and morning, when they
enter to dress and light the lamps of the golden stand (v. 7ff). Once a year, on the
Day of Atonement, its horns shall be brought into contact with the atoning blood
(v.10). Owing to the ambiguity in the directions of v.6 (cf. 6) with 64 in MT,
Sam., and LXX ; also Holzinger, in loc.) if taken by themselves, and to the
influence of the late gloss (1 K 6:22b), a tradition grew up, which finds expression
the famous passage He 9:4, that the incense altar stood in the
'which had a golden altar’
* Differently expressed from Pg.
of incense * and the ark of the covenant.' The same verse contains a similar
divergent tradition regarding the contents of the ark (see next section).
THE FURNITURE OF
Propitiatory (Ex 25:10-22=37:1-9[Gr. 38:1-8] ; Jos. Ant. III. vi. 5).--Within the
Most Holy Place stood in solitary majesty the sacred ark, on which rested the
propitiatory or mercy-seat with its overarching cherubim. The history of the
ancient palladium of the Hebrew tribes, 'the ark of J"' of the older writers, has been
given under ARK. We have here a more elaborate shrine, to which P gives by
preference the designation' ark of the testimony' (tUdfehA NOrxE 25:22 and often,
h[ kibwto>j tou? marturi<ou), a phrase parallel to and synonymous with that
favoured by Deut. and the Denteronomistic editors, 'ark of the covenant.' In both
cases the ark was so named as containing the Decalogue (tUdfehA 'the testimony,'
25:16, 21), written on ‘the tables of testimony' (31:18). The ark itself sometimes
receives the simple title 'the testimony' (16:34 etc.); and the tabernacle, as we have
seen (§ iii.), as in its turn containing the ark, is named 'the dwelling of the testimony'
and the tent of the testimony.’† See TESTIMONY.
The ark of P is an oblong chest of acacia wood overlaid within and without
with gold, 2 1/2 cubits in length, and l 1/2 in breadth and height (i.e. 5 x 3 x 3 half-
cubits). Each of its sides is finished with a strip of cable or ogee moulding (rze, EV
'crown,' see § viii. (a)) of solid gold in the same manner as the top of the table of
shewbread; with this difference, however, that in the former the upper line of
moulding must have projected beyond the plane of the top of the ark, probably to
the extent of the thickness of the propitiatory, in order that the latter, with its
cherubim, might remain in place during the march. Within the sacred chest was to
be deposited 'the testimony' (v.16) or Decalogue, as already explained. Before
it--not within it, as a later tradition supposed (He 9:4)--were afterwards placed a
pot of manna (Ex 16:33f.) and Aaron's rod that budded (Nu 17:10).
Distinct from but resting upon the ark, and of the same superficial
dimensions (2 1/2 x 1 1/2 cubits), was a slab of solid gold, to which the name
kapporeth is given (only in P and 1 Ch 28:11 EV ‘mercy-seat’).
The familiar rendering 'mercy-seat; first used by Tindale, following
Luther's Gnadenstuhl (cf. SHEWBREAD, § i.), floes back to that of the oldest
VSS (LXX i[lasth<rion, Vulg. propitiatorium)--and is based on the secondary
and technical sense of the root--verb rpk, viz. 'to make propitiation' for sin. Hence
the Wyclif-Hereford rendering 'propitiatory,' derived from Jerome, is preferable to
Tindale's 'mercy-seat.' In our opinion the rendering 'propitiatory' must be
maintained. The alternative 'covering' (RVm) adopted in preference by so many
* So RVm and American RV in text for xrusou?n qumiath<rion, with most
recent interpreters ; AV and RV ' a golden censer.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 665b
modern, particularly German, scholars (cf. e]pi<qema in Gr. of Ex 25:17, and
Philo, op. cit. [ed. Mangey, ii. 150] e]pi<qema a[sanei> pw?ma [a lid]), is open to
two serious objections. On the one hand it is based on the still unproved
assumption that the primary signification of rpk was 'to cover,'‡ and on the other
hand the kapporeth was in no sense the lid or cover of the ark, which was a chest
or coffer complete in itself. Dillmann and others have unsuccessfully attempted a
via media by taking kapporeth in the sense of a protective covering (Schutzdach,
Deckplatte, etc.) See, further, Deissmann,
Bible Studies [
Near the ends of the propitiatory stood, facing each other, two small §
emblematic figures, the cherubim, of the same material and workmanship
as the golden lampstand, viz. ‘beaten' or repousse work (hwAq;mi, xrusotoreuta<)
of pure gold. Being securely soldered to the propitiatory they are reckoned as 'of
one piece' with it (v.19). Each cherub was furnished, like the larger and differently
placed cherubim of Solomon's temple (1 K 6:23ff), with a pair of wings which met
overhead, while their faces were bent downwards towards the propitiatory.
Whatever may have been their significance in primitive Hebrew mythology, the
cherubim as here introduced, like the kindred seraphim in Isaiah's vision, are the
angelic ministers of J", guarding in the attitude of adoration the throne of His
earthly glory (cf. Book of Enoch, ed. Charles, 717). The propitiatory, with the
overarching cherubim, was, in truth, the innermost shrine of the wilderness
sanctuary, for it was at once J"'s earthly and the footstool of His heavenly
throne.* (cf. 1 Ch 28:2). Not at the tent door, as in the earlier representation (Ex
33:7ff.), but ‘from above the propitiatory, from between the cherubim' (25:22),
will J" henceforth commune with His servant doses (30:6). 'There, in the darkness
and the silence, he listened to the Voice' (Nu 7:8).
For the transport of the sacred chest, its propitiatory and cherubim, two
poles of acacia wood overlaid with mold are provided. These are to rest
permanently (Ex 25:18, otherwise Nu 4:6, where the staves are inserted when the
arch begins) in four rings, attached, according to our present text, to the four ' feet'
(vytAmofEPa, v.12, so RV, but AV ‘corners') of the ark.
But this text and rendering are open to serious question. For (1) of the
shape, length, and construction of these 'feet' nothing is said ; (2) why should the
author employ the Phoenician word (MfaPa) for 'foot' here in place of the usual lg,R,
(v.26)? (3) If the rings were attached so far down, a state of dangerously unstable
equilibrium would result; (4) all the oldest versions apparently read, or at least, as
our own AV, rendered as in v.28), vytAxoP; its four corners.'† We must suppose,
then, that the rings were attached, perhaps below the moulding, at the corners
† In the art.
designations of the ark characteristic of the early, the Deuteronomic, and the
priestly writers respectively, of which all the other OT titles, some twenty in all,
are merely variations and expansions. See for later discussions H. P. Smith,
of the short sides of the ark (so the Baraitha, Neumann, Keil), along which, and
not along the long sides (as Riggenbach, Dillm., and most), the poles rested. The
object of this arrangement is to secure that the Divine throne shall always face in
the direction of the march. The weight of the whole must have been considerable,
with poles, certainly not 'staves,' and bearers to correspond.‡
In the second temple there was no ark, and consequently no propitiatory,
notwithstanding the statement in the Apocalypse of Baruch (6:7) that it was hidden
by an angel before the destruction of the temple, A.D. 70. According to P the sole
contents of the ark, as we have seen, were the two tables of testimony on which
the Decalogue was inscribed, Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high
priest alone entered the Holy of Holies to bring the blood of the sin-offerings into
contact with the propitiatory (Lv 16:14f.; see ATONEMENT, DAY OF, vol. i. P.
x. ERECTION AND CONSECRATION OF THE TABERNACLE.--In the
oldest stratum of the Priests' Code the directions for the preparation of the
sanctuary and its furniture (Ex 25-27), which have engaged our attention up to this
point, are followed by equally minute instructions as to the priestly garments (28),
and by the solemn consecration of Aaron and his sons for the priestly office
(29). The altar alone of the appointments of the
‡ The most recent research seems to point in favour of the alternative 'to wipe
off'; see Zimmern, Beitrage zur Kenntniss d. babyl. Religion, 92; Haupt in JBL, xix.
(1900) 61, 80.
§ It must be noted that, with bodies bent and wings out-stretched, the cherubim
were accommodated on a surface lees than 4 ft. from end to end.
* For this idea and its possible bearing on the ultimate historical origin of the
ark as the empty throne of an imageless deity, see Memhold, Die Lade Jahves
(1900), 44 and passim, based on the researches of Reichel in Ueber Vorhellenisehe
Gotterculte (esp. 27ff.); cf. also Budde in Expos. Times, June 1898, p.
396ff. (reprinted [in German] in ZATW, 1901, p. 1941£.).
† Cf. 1 K 7:30, where vytmfp of MT (AV here also 'corners') is similarly
regarded by recent commentators as a corruption of vytxp or vytnp.
‡ The propitiatory, even if only a fingerbreadth thick, would alone weigh 760
lb. troy. The weight of the whole must be put at about 6 cwt. The Talmud
mentions four bearers (Flesch, op cit. 66). Two sufficed for the historical ark
(ARK, vol. i. p. 1506)
Kennedy: Tabernacle 666a
sanctuary is singled out for consecration (29:36f). In the first of the accretions to
the older document (30. 31), however, we find instructions for the anointing of
‘the tent of meeting' and all the furniture of the sanctuary with the 'holy anoint-
ing oil' (30:26ff), with which also the priests are to be anointed. When we pass to
the still later stratum (35-40; see above, § iii.), we find a record of the carrying out
of the preceding instructions to the last detail, followed by the erecting of 'the
dwelling of the tent of meeting' (40:1ff) on the first day of the first month of the
second year, that is, a year less fourteen days from the first anniversary of the
Exodus (40:1, 17, cf. 12:2, 8). A comparison with 19:1 shows that according to P's
chronology a period of at least nine months is allowed for the construction of the
sanctuary and its furniture. Some of the questions raised by 40:18, 19 as to the
manner in which the curtains `were spread over the dwelling' have been discussed
by anticipation in § vii. (c) ; it must suffice now to add that after the court and the
tabernacle proper had been set up, and all the furniture in its place, the whole, we
must assume, was duly anointed by Moses himself in accordance with the
instructions of the preceding verses (40:9ff), although this fact is not mentioned
until we reach a later portion of the narrative (Lv 8:10ff, Nu 7:1). This
consecration of the sanctuary naturally implies that it is now ready for the purpose
for which it was erected. Accordingly 'the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and
the glory of J" filled the dwelling' (40:34ff). J" had now taken possession of the
holy abode which had been prepared for Him. With the new year, as was most
fitting, the new order of things began.
xi. THE TABERNACLE ON THE MARCH (Nu 2:17 325-38 41ff, etc.).
--The cloud which rested on the dwelling by day and appeared as a pillar of fire by
night accompanied the Hebrews 'throughout all their journeys' in the wilderness.
When 'the cloud was taken up from over the dwelling' (Ex 40:37, Nu 9:17) this
was the signal for the tents to be struck and another stage of the march begun;
while, 'as long as the cloud abode upon the dwelling, whether it were two days or
month or a year,' the children of
(Nu 9:18ff). The charge of the tabernacle and of all that pertained thereto was
committed to the official guardians, the priests and Levites (Nu 3:5ff). When the
signal for the march was given by a blast from the silver trumpets (10:1ff), the
priests entered the dwelling, and, taking down the veil at the entrance to the Most
Holy Place, wrapped it round the ark (4:5ff). This, as the most sacred of all the
contents of the tabernacle, received three coverings in all, the others but two. Full
and precise instructions follow for the wrapping up of the rest of the furniture (47-
14). This accomplished, the priests hand over their precious burden to the first of
the Levitical guilds, the sons of Kohath, for transport by means of the bearing-
poles with which each article is provided (v.15f.). The second guild, the sons of
Gershon, have in charge the tapestry curtains of the dwelling, the hair curtains of
the tent, the two outer coverings, the veil, and the screen (3:25ff; 4:24ff). For
the conveyance of these, two covered waggons and four oxen are provided by the
heads of the tribes (7:3-7). The remaining division of the Levites, the sons of
Merari, receives in charge the frames and bars of the dwelling, together with the
pillars and bases of the dwelling and of the court, with four waggons and eight
oxen for their transport (ib.).*
* The fondness of the priestly writers for proportion (2 :1) has again led to strange
results, for, even with the colossal ‘boards’ of previous writers reduced to frames
see § vii. (b)) the loads of the Merarites were out of all proportion to those of
the Gershonites. Nu 7, however, is now recognized as one the latest sections of the
Everything being now in readiness, the march began. The Levites, according
to Nu 2:17,--and as the symmetry of the camp requires,--marched in the middle
of the line, with two divisions of three tribes each before them and two behind.
This, however, does not accord with Nu 10:17ff, according to which the
sons of Gershon and Merari marched after the first division of three tribes, and had
the tabernacle set up before the arrival of the Kohathites with the sacred furniture
between the second and third divisions.
xii. THE HISTORICITY OF P'S TABERNACLE.--After what has been
in our opening section--with which the art.
the nature, location, and ultimate disappearance of the Mosaic tent of meeting, it is
almost superfluous to inquire into the historical reality of the costly and elaborate
sanctuary which, according to P, Moses erected in the wilderness of Sinai. The
attitude of modern OT scholarship to the priestly legislation, as now formulate in
the priestly (see §§ i. and iv. above), and in particular to those sections of it which
deal with the sanctuary and its worship, is patent on every page of this Dictionary,
and is opposed to the historicity of P's tabernacle. It is now recognized that the
highly organized community of the priestly writers, rich not only in the precious
metals and the most costly Phoenician dyes, but in men of rare artistic skill, is not
the unorganized body of Hebrew serfs and nomads that meets us in the oldest
sources of the Pentateuch. Even after centuries spent in contact with the
and arts of
to be hired by Solomon from
nacle, its highly organized ministry, its complex ritual, are utterly at variance with
the situation and simple appointments of the Elohistic tent of meeting (see § i.).
With regard, further, to the details of the description, as studied in the fore-
going sections, we have repeatedly had to call attention to the obscurities,
omissions, and minor inconsistencies of the text, which compel the student to the
conviction that he is dealing not with the description of an actual structure, but
with an architectural programme, dominated by certain leading conceptions. The
most convincing, however, of the arguments against the actual existence of P's
tabernacle, is the silence of the pre-exilic historical writers regarding it. There is
absolutely no place for it in the picture which their writings disclose of the early
religion of the Hebrews. The tabernacle of P has no raison d'etre apart from the
Kennedy: Tabernacle 666c
ark, the history of which is known with fair completeness from the conquest to its
long period is there so much as a hint of the tabernacle, with its array of
ministering priests and Levites. Only the Chronicler (1 Ch 16:39; 21:29 etc.),
psalm-writers, editors, and authors of marginal glosses, writing at a time when P's
the priestly writers in the older sources, or supply it where they think it ought to
been (cf. 2 Ch 16:39 with 1 K 3:2ff). See, further, Wellh.
39 ff., and recent works cited, in the Literature at the end of this article.
xiii. THE RULING IDEAS AND RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
TABERNACLE.--If, then, the tabernacle of the foregoing sections had no
historical existence, is its study, on that account, a waste of time and labour? By
no means. On the contrary, the tabernacle as conceived by the priestly writers
is the embodiment of a sublime idea with which are associated many other ideas
and truths of the most vital moment for the history of religion. In
pthis place it is impossible to do more than indicate in summary form some of
these vital religious truths to which reference has been made. We have
already (§ iv.) expressed the conviction that the only standpoint from which to
approach the study of the true significance of the tabernacle, as designed by the
author of Ex 25-29, is that laid down by this author himself. Following the lead of
Ezekiel, his chief aim, and the aim of the priestly writers who expanded the
original sketch, is to show to future generations the necessary conditions under
the ideal relation between J" and
This ideal is expressed by Ezekiel and by P as a dwelling of J" in the midst of His
covenant people (reff. in § iv.). The methods, however, by which these two
kindred spirits sought to impress this ideal upon their contemporaries are
diametrically opposed. Ezekiel projects his ideal forward into the Messianic
future; throws his backwards to the golden age of Moses. Both sketches are none
the less ideals, whose realization for prophet and priest alike was still in the womb
of the future. Both writers follow closely the arrangements of the pre-exilic
temple, P, however, striving to unite these with existing traditions of the Mosaic
tent of meeting. It is the recognition of these facts that makes it possible to say
that 'a Christian apologist can afford to admit that the elaborate description of the
tabernacle is to be regarded as a product of religious idealism, working upon a
historical basis' (Ottley, Aspects of the Old Test. 226).
The problem that presented itself to the mind of P was this: Under what
conditions may the Divine promise of Ezk 37:27 ('my dwelling shall be
with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people') be realized? This
we take to be the supreme idea of the priestly code, the realization of the presence
of God in the midst of His people (Ex 25:8; 29:48). This thought, as we have
seen, is expressed in the characteristic designation 'the dwelling,' given by P to the
most essential part of the sanctuary which is to be the concrete embodiment of the
The Divine dwelling must be in accordance with the Divine character.
Now, in the period from Deuteronomy to the close of the Exile, the two aspects of
the Divine character which the inspired teachers of the time place in the forefront
of their teaching an the unity and the holiness of J". Each of these attributes has its
necessary correlate. The unity of J" requires the unity or centralization of His
worship, which is the keynote of Deuteronomy. The holiness of J" demands the
holiness of His people, which is the recognized keynote of the Law of Holiness
(Lv 19 ff.). The crowning result of the discipline of the Exile may be summed up
in the simple formula ' one God, one sanctuary,' a thought which dominates the
priestly code from end to end. That there should be but one sanctuary in the
wilderness, a symbol of the unity of J", is therefore for P a thing of course,
requiring neither justification nor enforcement.
With regard to the other pair of correlates, a holy God and a holy people,
the whole ceremonial system of the priestly code expends itself in the effort to
give expression to this twofold thought. The centre of this system is the tabernacle
and its priesthood, and every effort is made to render the former a visible
embodiment of the holiness of the God who is to be worshipped in its court. We
have seen (§ iv.) the precautions taken by Ezekiel to guard his new sanctuary from
Kennedy: Tabernacle 667b
profanation ; the same thought is prominent in H (Law of Holiness), and is
impressively exhibited in the arrangement of the desert camp in P. Between the
tents of the twelve tribes and the throne of J" there intervene the cordon of the
of the tribe of Levi, the court, and the
may enter,-all so many protecting sheaths, to borrow a figure from plant-life, of
the Most Holy Place, where J" dwells enthroned in ineffable majesty and
almost unapproachable holiness.* Once a year only may the high priest, as the
people's representative, approach within its precincts, bearing the blood of
atonement. Not only, therefore, is the one tabernacle the symbol of JX"s unity, it is
also an eloquent witness to the truth: 'Ye shall be holy, for I, J", your God am
holy' (Lv 19:2). Yet these precautions are, after all, intended not to exclude but to
safeguard the right of approach of J"s people to His presence. The tabernacle was
still the 'tent of meeting,' the place at which, with due precautions, men might
approach J", and in which J" condescended to draw near to men. It is thus a
witness to the further truth that man is called to enjoy a real, albeit still restricted,
communion and converse with God.
One other attribute of the Divine nature receives characteristic expression
in the arrangements of P's sanctuary. This is the perfection and harmony of the
character of J". Symmetry, harmony, and proportion are the three essentials of the
aesthetic in architecture ; and in so far as the aesthetic sense in man, by which the
Creator has qualified him for the enjoyment of the beauty and harmony of the
universe, is a part of the Divine image (Gn 1:26f) in each of us, these qualities are
reflexions of the harmony and perfection of the Divine nature. The symmetry of
the desert sanctuary has already been abundantly emphasized. The harmony of its
design is shown in the balance of all its parts, and in the careful gradation of the
materials employed. The three varieties of curtains (§ iv.) and the three metals
correspond to the three ascending degrees of sanctity which mark the court, the
Holy Place, and the Most Holy respectively. In the dwelling itself we advance
from the silver of the bases through the furniture of wood, thinly sheathed with
gold, to the only mass of solid gold, the propitiatory, the seat of the deity. As
regards the proportions, finally, which are so characteristic of the tabernacle, we
find here just those ratios which are still considered 'the most pleasing' in the
domain of architectural art, viz. those 'of an exact cube or two cubes placed side
by side . . and the ratio of the base, perpendicular and hypotenuse of a right-angled
triangle, e.g. 3, 4, 5 and their multiples' (see art. 'Architecture' in Encyc. Brit.9).
perfect cube of the
attempt to express the perfection of JX"s character and dwelling-place, the
harmony and equipoise of all His attributes. The similar thought, the perfection of
the New Jerusalem, 'in which no truth will be exaggerated or distorted,' is
expressed by the fact that ' the length and breadth and height of it are equal' (Rev
* For 'the fundamental sense of unapproaehableness which is never absent from
the notion of J"'s holiness,' see Hoaurss, vol. ii. P. 397".
The 'symbolism of numbers' in the measurements of the tabernacle, of
which so much has been written, is too firmly established to admit of question (for
general principles see art. NUMBER). The sacred numbers 3, 4, 7, 10, their parts
(1 1/2, 2, 21, 5) and multiples (6, 9, 12, 20, 28, 30, 42, 48, 50, 60, 100), dominate
every detail of the fabric and its furniture.† In all this we must recognize an ear-
nest striving to give concrete expression--in a manner, it is true, which our
Western thought finds it difficult to appreciate--to the sacred harmonies and
perfection of the character of the Deity for whose ' dwelling' the sanctuary is
† The curious student will easily detect these measurements
and numbers in the previous sections.
Kennedy: Tabernacle 668a
On the other hand, that the author of Ex 25-29 intended to give expression
to ideas beyond the sphere of X's relation to His covenant people, or even within
that sphere to invest every detail of material, colour, ornament, etc., with a
symbolical significance, we do not believe. Following in the wake of Plilo (op.
cit.) and Josephus (Ant. III. vii. 7), the Fathers, and after them many writers down
to our own day, among whom Bahr stands preeminent, have sought to read a
whole philosophy of the universe into the tabernacle. Now it is designed to unfold
the relations of heaven and earth and sea, now of body, soul, and spirit, and many
wonderful things besides. Happily, the taste for these fanciful speculations has
died out and is not likely to revive.
Quite apart from the authors of such far-fetched symbolisms stand several
of the NT writers, who see in the tabernacle the foreshadowing of spiritual
Once and again the terminology of
tabernacle (e.g. the laver of regeneration, Tit 3:6 RVm). For the author of the
Fourth Gospel the tabernacle on which rested the Divine gory in the cloud pre-
figured the incarnate Word who 'tabernacled (e]skh<nwsen) among us, and we
beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father' (Jn 1:14). In
the Epistle to the Hebrews, again, the tabernacle, its furniture, and ministering
priesthood supply the unknown author with an essential part of his argument. With
'singular pathos,' to borrow Bishop Westcott's apt expression, he lingers over
his description of the sacred tent and all its arrangements. Yet, like the whole
Levitical ceremonial, it was but the shadow of the heavenly substance (8:5), a
'parable for the time present' of 'the greater and more perfect tabernacle' (9:11)
which is heaven. Into this tabernacle Jesus Christ has entered, our great High
Priest, by whom the restricted access of the former dispensation is done
away, and through whom ' a new and living way' has been opened of free access
into the 'true' Holy of Holies (9:24), even the immediate presence of God. Last of
all, in the Book of Revelation we have the final consummation of the kingdom of
God portrayed under the figure of the tabernacle: Behold, the tabernacle of God is
with men, and he shall tabernacle (skhnw<sei) with them, and they shall be his
people, and God himself shall be with them' (Rev 21:3--for v.16 see above)--in
which the final word of revelation takes up and repeats the sublime ideal of
Ezekiel and the priestly writers. 'In this representation of the New Jerusalem
culminates the typology of the OT sanctuary' (Keil).
LITERATURE.--Works on the tabernacle are legion, but there is no
monograph from the standpoint of the foregoing article. The student must start
from a careful study of the text of Exodus and of the more recent commentaries,
such as Dillmann-Ryssel, Strack, Holzinger, Baentsch. The commentary in the
International critical series by the writer of this article is in preparation. The
critical problems are treated by Popper, Der bibl. Bericht uber die Stiftshutte,
1862; Graf, Die geschichtl. Bucher d. AT, 618., 1866; Kuenen, Hexateuch;
Wellhausen, Prolegomena; and more recent writers (see § ii. above). In
addition to the relevant sections in the Archeologies of Ewald, Haneberg, Keil,
Benzinger, Nowack (vol. ii.), the articles should be consulted in the Bible
Dictionaries of Winer, Riehm, and PRE2 (by Riggenbach), all under 'Stiftshutte';
artt. 'Tabernacle' and '
more important monographs are by Neumann, Die Stiftshutte, 1861; Riggenbach,
Die Mosaische Stiftshulte 2, 1867; Schick, Stiflehutte unit Tempel, 1898; and (in
English) Brown, The Tabernacle6, 1899. The most exhaustive treatment of the
tabernacle, its arrangements and its significance, is Bahr's Symbolik d.
Mosaischen Cultus, 2 vole. 1837-39 (Bd. 1. 2nd ed. 1874), full of fanciful ideas.
On somewhat different lines is Friederich, Symbolik d. Mos. Stiftehutte,1841.
sound criticisms of both, and an attempt to reduce the symbolism to saner limits,
Keil's full treatment in vol. I. of his Archeology (
Westcott, Epistle to the Hebrews, 1889, Essay on' The general significance of the
Tabernacle,' p. 233 ff.; Ottley, Aspects of the OT, esp. p. 281 ff., 'The symbolical
A. R. S. KENNEDY.