Copyright © 1992 by
A LITERARY STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-401
RALPH E. HENDRIX
The first two studies on Exod 25-40 dealt primarily with the
etymology and use of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed within the passage,
and so provided an overarching, "terminological" structure.2 This
final article provides a structural overview which takes its cue from
the literary, topical, and grammatical dimensions within the
The structure of the Masoretic text of Exod 25-40 shows
several dimensions.3 To correctly describe the complex, multi-
dimensional structure of the passage, clear terminology is essential.
In this study, the term "axis" is used to describe that dimensional
plane along which the text divides itself. This structural axis (or
form of the text as determined by internal parameters) may be seen
in terms of structural size (sub-structural components within larger
structures). "Literary structure" is determined by the order of these
1The author here wishes to express appreciation to J. Bjornar Storfjell, Richard
M. Davidson, and Randall W. Younker, members of the faculty of the Seventh-day
overseeing the preparation of this, and related, studies.
2Ralph E. Hendrix, "Miskan and 'ohel mo'ed: Etymology, Lexical Definitions,
and Extra-biblical Usage," AUSS 29 (1991): 213-224; Idem, "The Use of Miskan and
'ohel mo'ed in Exod 25-40," AUSS 30 (1992): 3-13.
3John H. Stek,
"The Bee and the Mountain Goat: A Literary
Tribute to Gleason Archer, ed. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and Ronald Youngblood
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 59. Here Stek compares these dimensions to a
"hologram" rather than a "photograph." Also, see S. Bar-Efrat, "Some Observations
on the Analysis of Structure in Biblical Narrative," VT 130 (1980): 170, where he
discusses "structural patterns" which belong to various "structural levels."
124 RALPH E. HENDRIX:
components within the text. One stratum or level within a structure
of the text is called an "element."
Literary structures may be delimited both by "numbers" of
elements (in this case, six- or nine-element groups) or by "type" of
elements (physical items, verbal ideas, etc.). A large, overarching
literary form ("maxi-structure") may encompass smaller sub-
structures ("midi-" and "mini-structures"). A "terminological"
structure takes its form from the use-pattern of a certain term or
phrase (as in the case of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed). A "topical"
structure receives its form from the recurrence of a common theme
or topic or subject.4 A "grammatical" structure reflects patterning
at the level of grammar. In short, literary axes concern the overall
form of the text and may include variations such as lists, parallels,
inverse parallels (chiasms)5 gathered in such a way as to augment
the surface meaning of the text.
In practice, structure is not as difficult to recognize as it may
be to describe. For example, the structure of Exod 32:1-33:6 is a six-
element inverted-parallel structure, thematically focusing on its
central structural element.6 As shown below, Exod 40:1-8 is a
simple list of nine elements which is parallel to Exod 40:17-33
(which has the same nine elements in the same order).
The previous analysis of the use of miskan and ohel mo'ed in
Exod 25-40 provided a concrete example of a "terminological"
structure. Table 1 of that study7 displays the existence of four
terminological units which occur within the basic literary structure
of the passage. This terminological axis, missed by many scholars,
has resulted in insensitivity to the discrete and separate
connotations of miskan and 'ohel moed. Miskan is used in contexts
describing the physical construction, primarily associated with
manufacture and assemble the
YHWH, but secondarily in its generic sense simply as "dwelling
place." The phrase 'ohel mo'ed appears where the concern is the
cultic function of the habitation. The house of YHWH must,
4Bar-Efrat, 157, 168-169, cf. his “1evel of conceptual content" with our
"topical" structure, and his "verbal level" with our "terminological" structure.
5Bar-Efrat, 170, lists "parallel" (AA1), "ring" (AxA1), "chiastic" (ABB1A1), and
"concentric" (ABxB1A1) patterns.
6Ralph E. Hendrix, "A Literary Structural Analysis of the Golden-Calf Episode
in Exodus 32:1-33:6," AUSS 28 (1990): 211-217.
7Hendrix, "Use," 7.
STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 125
therefore, be understood as a transient dwelling place,
corresponding to the dwelling places of nomadic peoples (and so
the choice of miskan), yet its continual function of fostering the
cultic relationship (best expressed by the choice of 'ohel mo'ed) must
also be acknowledged. All of this is evident from the terminological
structure of Exod 25-40.
The structural analysis which follows is not exhaustive. It is
meant to point a direction and to encourage further sensitivity to
literary structure as an aid to understanding the biblical text.
2. Overview of the Literary Structure
A Structural Summary. The terminological maxi-structure
formed by the succession of occurrences of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed
forms an important literary dimension in Exod 25-40. This was
presented in the second study, mentioned above. As I shall present
below, this large, overarching, four-part maxi-structure encom-
passes two sub-structures (Exod 25:1-31:18 and Exod 35:1-36:7).
Further, each of these two main sub-structures is also sub-divided.
Exod 25:1-31:18 includes six midi-structures: the second (Exod
27:20-21) and fifth (Exod 30:1-10) of which are transitional passages,
and the first (Exod 25 1-27:19), third (Exod 28:1-43), fourth (Exod
29:1-46), and sixth (Exod 30:11-31:18) of which are divided into four
sub-structures of six major elements each. Taken together, the
passage consists of alternately-sized structures: LARGE-small-
LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE (Table 1). Next come four
supportive, interlocutory narratives (the Golden-Calf episode, Exod
32:1-33:6; the episode of Moses' Tent, Exod 33:7-11; the Theophany,
Exod 33:12-23; and the Giving of the Second Tables, Exod 34:1-35)
as presented in Table 2. Exod 35:1-40:38 has four smaller midi-
structures, which alternate with four nine-element midi-structures:
small-LARGE-small-LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE-small (Exod 35:1
-36:7, 36:8-38:20, 38:21-31, 39:1-43, 40:1-8, 40:9-16, 40:17-33, and
40:34-38) as shown in Table 3. Taken together, these three tables
present the overarching literary structure of Exod 25-40. These
midi-structures are, themselves, composed of even smaller sub-
structures: topical, grammatical, and terminological.
126 RALPH E. HENDRIX:
3. Instructions for Making the Miskan: Exod 25:1-31:18
The first midi-structure includes instructions to make the holy
precinct for YHWH. The literary structure is composed of six
sections which will be considered individually.
Exod 25:1-27:19. This section includes three introductory
statements: YHWH speaks to Moses (25:1) saying, bring offerings
(25:2-7), and make a miskan (25:8-9). These are followed by six
and the Courtyard (27:19). The concern of this passage is the design
of the dwelling place: its size, pattern, and materials. The name for
the physical structure described here is exclusively miskan. The
phrase 'ohel mo'ed does not occur in this section. Here first appears
a connection between the idea of "construction" and the term
Exod 27:20-21. This next section deals with how the Dwelling
Place is to be used. These verses mark the transition from a
"construction" context to a "function" context: Exod 27:19 instructs
that the tent pegs for the courtyard be made of bronze, but Exod
gives instructions on how the sons of
olive oil for the lamp so it can burn continually before YHWH.
These are clearly two different types of activities. At precisely this
transition in context, comes a transition from miskan to 'ohel mo'ed.
Both topically (construction versus function) and terminologically
(miskan versus 'ohel mo'ed), Exod 27:20 begins a new literary sub-
structure, characterized by three elements: Command (to bring oil,
Exod 27:20), Explanation (of its cultic function, Exod 27:21a), and
Duration (lasting ordinance, Exod 27:21b).
Exod 28:1-43. In this passage come the commands to gather the
priests (28:1) and to make garments (28:2-5). A consideration of six
more topical elements follows: Ephod (28:6-14), Breastpiece (28:15-
30), Robe (28:31-35), Turban (28:36-38), Tunic and small garments
(28:39-41), and Undergarments (28:42-43). Each topical element
further includes the Command to make it, and an Explanation of
its function within the cult. The literary structure of this section is
similar to that of Exod 25:1-27:19, considered above: Said-Bring-
Make-Six Elements / / Bring-Make-Six Elements.
Exod 28:1-43 emphasizes the function of each item. The Ephod
was to act as a memorial (28:12). The Breastpiece, with its Urim
and Thummim, was to be Aaron's means of making decisions
STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 127
(28:29-30). The Robe, with its bells, was to preserve Aaron's life
(28:35). The Turban and plate enabled Aaron to bear the guilt of
the sacred gifts (28:38). The Tunic and small garments were to
bring the priests "dignity and honor" (28:40). The Undergarments
were to be worn by the priesthood as they ministered so that they
would not "incur guilt and die" (28:43). The subject matter clearly
concerns the cultic function of the topical elements, rather than
simply manufacturing instructions. In this cult-functional context,
the dwelling place is called only 'ohel mo'ed, thereby linking the
cult-function with the phrase 'ohel mo'ed.
What is particularly interesting, from the perspective of
analyzing the literary structure of Exod 25-40, is that a comparison
of Exod 25:1-27:19 and Exod.28:1-43 reveals the interrelation of two
different structural dimensions: terminological and topical. The
terminological structure (miskan in the first section and 'ohel mo'ed
in the second) meshes with the topical structure found in both
(Bring-Make-Six Elements). Since the first, six-element section is
strictly a miskan section, and the latter is exclusively an 'ohel mo'ed
passage, the intentional use of two different denominatives within
a single literary structure is apparent.
Exod 29:1-46. Still within the 'ohel mo'ed terminological
structure (the phrase occurs seven times), this section considers the
consecration of cultic objects. Two preliminary instructions,
consecrating (make holy) the priests (29:1a) and bringing the priests
and sacrifices (29:1b-4), are followed by six elements: Dressing the
priests (29:5-9), the Bull (sin) Offering (29:10-14), the Ram (burnt)
Offering (29:15-18), the Ordination Ram (Wave) Offering (29:19-24),
the Ordination Ceremony (29:25-37), and the "Daily" Offering
(29:38-41). All of this action is to take place either in the 'ohel mo'ed
or at the entrance to the 'ohel mo'ed (further cementing the
association of cult-function and 'ohel mo'ed). Once again, six
elements are introduced with commands to "make" and "bring"
(although in inverted order from that in the preceding sections).
Exod 29:42-46 acts as an Epilogue.
Exod 30:1-10. This section is another short transitional passage,
similar to Exod 27:20-21. Two commands (to "make," Exod 30:1-5,
and to "place," Exod 30:6, the incense altar), are followed by an
explanation of the altar's use (Exod 30:7-10b) and a statement
regarding its duration (generations to come, Exod 30:10c). Hence,
we find the same basic elements in both this transitional section
(Exod 30:1-10) and the previous one (Exod 27:20-21), namely:
128 RALPH E. HENDRIX:
Command(s), Explanation, and Duration. This similarity occurs in
the linguistic dimension as well, with both sections including the
root: drt in reference to perpetuity. This second transitional section
serves, as did the first, to link two larger sections. Thus, the two
transitional sections are similar in three ways: topically,
linguistically, and functionally.
Exod 30:11-31:18. This section includes the now familiar six-
elements: Atonement Money (30:11-16), [
Anointing Oil (30:22-33), Incense (30:34-38), Craftsmen (31:1-11),
and the Sabbath(s) (31:12-17). Following, comes an Epilogue (31:18).
Each of the six elements begins with a similar phrase: "YHWH
spoke (dbr) to Moses saying ('mr)" (Elements 1, 2, 3, 5), "YHWH said
('mr) to Moses" (Element 4) or "YHWH said ('mr) to Moses saying
('mr)" (Element 6). The repeated use of the roots dbr and/or ('mr)
provides internal grammatical structure.
Summary of Exod 25:1-31:18. The literary structure of this
passage is based on four sections, each composed of six elements.
The first two and last two are divided by smaller, transitional
sections, providing a LARGE-small-LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE
pattern. The transitional sections are characterized by Command(s)-
Explanation-Duration elements. The first two large sections have
introductory Bring-Make elements, while the third has a Make-
Bring sequence. The last two large sections have Epilogues. The
first section uses the term miskan, while the latter five sections use
'ohel mo'ed. Noteworthy is that these structures co-exist along
different dimensional axes.
4. Interlocutory Narratives
Four narratives appear next in the literary structure of Exod
25-40. The Golden Calf episode (Exod 32:1-33:6), the episode of
Moses' Tent (Exod 33:7-11), the Theophany (Exod 33:12-23), and the
Giving of the Second Pair of Tables (Exod 34:1-35) divide the
previous midi-structure (characterized by six-element topical
structures) from the closing midi-structure which will be seen to
have nine-element structures.
Rather than being interruptions in the flow of the miskan/'ohel
four narratives serve to focus the reader's attention on YHWH's
uninterrupted desire to dwell among the people. The first and last
narratives exemplify the basis of YHWH's relationship with the
people: law/grace. The middle two narratives manifest the purpose
STRUTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 129
of the miskan/'ohel mo'ed to allow YHWH to live amid the people
(by Moses' representation in his tent and then by direct
The Golden Calf Episode: Exod 32:1-33:6. This narrative has been
treated previously,8 and will not be presented in detail here. The
passage is structurally divided as follows: A (32:1-6) people
act/ Aaron reacts, B (32:7-10) YHWH's two utterances, C (32:11-14)
Moses intercedes, D (32:15-20) Moses goes down the mountain, E
(32:21-25) Moses investigates judgment F (32:26a) opportunity for
repentance, E1 (32:26b-29) Moses executes judgment D1 (32:30)
Moses goes up the mountain, C1 (32:31-32) Moses intercedes, B1
(32:33-33:3) YHWH's two utterances (inverted from previous order),
A1 (33:4-6) YHWH acts/people react. The central structural
element F, is a call for repentance and illustrates that the narrative
is about a more fundamental human issue than anger, idolatry, or
law: it is about the opportunity for repentance.9
The Episode of Moses' Tent: Exod 33:7-11. There is considerable
disagreement over the relation of the 'ohel mo'ed mentioned here
with the 'ohel mo'ed mentioned elsewhere in Exodus.10 Theological
and historical issues arising from the passage should be considered
in another forum. Whatever the interpretation of the passage, its
structure is linear. It is divided on the basis of its action: Moses
took an 'ohel (33:7a), pitched it outside of camp (33:7b), called it the
'ohel mo'ed (33:7c). All the people who were inquiring of YHWH
went to the 'ohel mo'ed (33:7d). When Moses went to the 'ohel, the
8See note 6.
9Brevard S. Childs sees that "the canonical function of Ex. 32-34 is to place the
(Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture [
10Jack P. Lewis, "Mo'ed," Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird
Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980),
O. Lewis, "The
J. Coert Rylaarsdam,
"Introduction to the Book of Exodus," IB (
1:845; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (
trans. D. M.
G. Stalker (
W. Johnstone, Exodus, Old Testament Guides (Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1990);
Terence E. Fretheim, Exodus, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and
Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991); Nahum M. Sarna, The JPS Torah
Commentary: Exodus (New York: Jewish Publication Society, 1991).
130 RALPH E. HENDRIX:
people arose (33:8a); each person stood at his own 'ohel (33:8b); they
watched Moses enter the 'ohel (33:8c). When Moses went to the
'ohel, the Cloud Pillar came (33:9a); it stayed at the entrance of the
'ohel (33:9b); it spoke with Moses (33:9c). All the people saw the
Cloud stand at the entrance of the 'ohel (33:10a); all stood (33:10b);
all worshipped at the entrance of their own 'ohel (33:10c). YHWH
spoke with Moses face-to-face (33:11a). He (Moses) returned to
camp (33:11b); Joshua did not leave the ‘ohel (33:11c). This forms a
certain pattern in terms of who performs the action: Moses-Moses-
Moses- People-People- People-Moses-Cloud-Cloud-Cloud-People-
People-People-YHWH-Resolution (Moses, Joshua). The parallel of
Moses/ /Cloud Pillar, of People/ /People, and of Moses/ /YHWH
The content is undoubtedly one of cult-function and it is not
surprising that 'ohel or 'ohel mo'ed occurring eleven times in the five
verses. Moses acts in the priestly role as representative of the
people. YHWH is present in the "Pillar of Cloud" which "stayed"
or "stood" at the entrance to the tent (precisely where the cultic
ministry took place; cf. esp. Exod 29:1-46 and Lev 8). This context
of close intimacy between YHWH and the people is paralleled in
the next interlocutory narrative.
The Theophany: Exod 33:12-23. Here Moses glimpses the "faces"
of YHWH. This straightforward dialogue parallels the previous
section (and perhaps compliments Exod 34:5-9), indicating that the
central two interlocutory narratives emphasize YHWH's insistent
longing to dwell amid the people; His desired immanence. Based
on the verb wayy'omer (and he "said"), the structure of the narrative
is: A (33:12-13) Moses said, B (32:14) [YHWH] said, A1 (33:15-16)
[Moses] said, B1 (33:17) YHWH said, A2(33:18) [Moses] said, B2
(33:19) [YHWH] said, B3 (33:20) [YHWH] said, and B4 (33:21)
The Giving of the Second Pair of Tables: Exod 34:1-35. This last
interlocutory narrative concerns the events surrounding the giving
of a second set of tablets including A (34:1-3) YHWH's command
to Moses, B (34:4) Moses' response: made tablets, A1 (34:5-7) the
theophany, B1 (34:8-9) Moses' response: worshipped, A2 (34:10-26)
the specifics of YHWH's Covenant, B2 (34:27) YHWH's command
to Moses to write the covenant, and an Epilogue (34:28). The
passage provides historically and theologically important
information which precedes the resumption of the process of
establishing the miskan/'ohel mo'ed.
STRUCTRURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 131
In the overall literary structural framework of Exod 25-40,
these interlocutory narratives form the center, between a pattern of
six-element structures and a pattern of nine-element structures.
These four interlocutory narratives also thematically form a
structure: A-B-B1-A1. The "A" elements both deal with a
tablets/covenant context; while the "B" elements both deal with the
immanence of YHWH. Therefore, the central focus of the literary
structure of Exod 25-40 appears to be the co-elements: Exod 33:7-11
and 33:12-23, both of which emphasize the immanence of YHWH
among the people.
5. Making and Assembling the Components: Exod 35:1-40:38:
The final chapters of the segment analyzed provide the second
maxi-structure of Exod 25-40. It is composed of a linkage of midi-
structures in a manner similar to that found in the first maxi-
structure (Exod 25-31). Notably different is the number of topical
elements which make up each sub-structure. Here, the number of
elements is nine, rather than six as found in the first. There are
four nine-element sections which alternate with smaller structures
in a small-LARGE-small-LARGE-LARGE-small-LARGE-small
Exod 35:1-36:7. These verses form an introduction to the task
of actually making the components of the Dwelling Place/Tent of
Meeting which were already described in Exod 25-31. Exod 35:4-9
very closely parallels Exod 24:2-7, both enumerate the specific
offerings of raw material in some detail. The Sabbath reminder of
Exod 35:1-3 is generally equivalent to Exod 31:12-17, though the
Exod 35 section has a more specific focus. Exod 35:30-36:1 parallels
Exod 31:1-11 regarding the craftsmen Bezalel and Oholiab.
Overall structure is given by the term siwwah, "commanded."
This appears as "YHWH commanded" at the beginning of Element
A (Exod 35:1-4a) and Element B (Exod 35:4b-19) and at the end of
Element B1 (Exod 35:20-29) and Element A1 (Exod 35:30-36:1). The
verb, placed at the beginning two elements and the end of the
other two, provides the passage's inverted parallel literary structure
(chiasm). Verses 2-7 provide an epilogic response to call for
Miskan appears three times in this passage (35:11, 15, 18) and
'ohel mo'ed appears once (35:21). Although both words appear,
miskan occurs much more often than 'ohel mo'ed, and so begins the
132 RALPH E. HENDRIX:
third terminological literary structure, a "miskan-dominant"
section.11 Here for the first time both terms occur in the same
literary unit, which marks the transition between the second
terminological literary structure ('ohel mo'ed-only) and the third
terminological literary structure (miskan-dominant).
The first element, A (Exod 35:1-4a), deals with the Sabbath and
specifically with a prohibition against lighting fires. This
prohibition is remarkable in the context of the construction of
YHWH's dwelling, especially since fire is essential for smelting ore
and working with gold, silver, and bronze. Later, in the epilogue
of this passage, the Israelites respond with more offerings than
needed. Perhaps such a prohibition was necessary as a restraint
against those, who in their overzealousness, were tempted to work
seven days a week. According to the literary structure of this
passage, this prohibition is parallel to the element detailing the
provision of workmen (A1): Bezalel, Oholiab, and their helpers, as
if to indicate that there is no need to break the Sabbath, as YHWH
has provided enough workers.
The appeal for raw material offerings in vv. 4b-19 (Element B)
has its parallel in the bringing of those offerings by the people in
vv. 20-29 (Element B1). Exod 36:2-7 provides an epilogue regarding
the abundance of offerings which resulted from the plea. The
literary structure of Exod 35:1-36:7, therefore, exhibits four elements
in an inverted parallel pattern provided by siwwah: A-B-A1-B1,
followed by the Epilogue.
Exod 36:8-38:20. The narrative moves directly to the account of
making the components of the Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting.
Again, this section parallels the previous "command" section (Exod
25:8-27:19). Terminologically, this passage continues the miskan-
dominant structure of the preceding section.
The call to construct the miskan in Exod 25:8, with its resulting
six elements (
Burnt Offering, and Courtyard), is augmented here with three
additional elements: Altar of Incense (seen in the transitional
passage, Exod 30:1-10, esp. vv. 1-5); the Anointing Oil and Incense
(from Exod 27:20-21; 30:34-38); and
Exod 30:17-21). The passage contains a list of nine elements, the
first of four such nine-element lists which characterize the literary
structure of the latter portion of Exod 25-40.
11See Hendrix, "Use," p. 8.
STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 133
The order of the elements is the same in both the "command"
and "execution" passages, except for the rearrangement of the
miskan-element, from the fourth place into the first place, and the
addition of three new elements. The overall terminology of the
passages is also very similar, almost as if in the course of the
narrative, the author were purposely drawing attention to the
minute and detailed fulfillment of YHWH's design orders.
Exod 38:21-31. Now follows the second, short passage within
the Exod 35:1-40:33 midi-structure. It is an account of the gold,
silver, and bronze used in the manufacturing process. The passage
continues the miskan-dominant terminological structure of the
preceding sections. Its topical structure consists of an introduction
(38:21), a discussion of the workers (38:22-23), and a tally of the
amount of raw materials used in the manufacturing process (38:24-31).
Exod 39:1-43. Here is the second, nine-element passage.
Terminologically, it continues the miskan-dominant section while
the verb siwwah ("commanded") provides the literary structure.
Each of nine elements ends with YHWH commanded, providing little
room for error in recognizing its inherent structure. This second
passage in the "execution" section parallels Exod 28:1-43, the second
passage in the "command" section. It incorporates five of the six
elements of the preceding passage and inverts the preceding order
of elements four and five.
In contrast to Exod 36:8-38:20, the total number of nine
elements in this passage is made up of emphasized events as well
as physical objects. The nine elements are: an Introduction (39:1),
Ephod made (39:2-5), Stones assembled (39:6-7), Breastpiece made
(39:8-21), Robes made (39:22-26), Tunic made (39:27-29), Plate made
(39:30-31), the Miskan presented (39:32-42), and the Miskan
inspected (39:43). As this is a combination of physical objects and
literary statements, it is the use of the verb siwwah which insures
recognition of each structural element. The inclusion of nine
elements within the literary structure appears to be intentional,
bringing this section into balance with the other sections in the
Exod 40:1-8. This forms the third, nine-element passage which
follows the general order of Exod 25:1-19 and 36:8-38:20. These nine
include an Introduction (40:1), the Miskan
(40:3), Table (40:4a), Lampstand (40:4b), Incense Altar (40:5), Altar
Burnt Offering (40:6), [
(40:8). The miskan element in Exod 40:2 is rearranged from the
134 RALPH E. HENDRIX:
order of Exod 25:1-19, just as it was in Exod 36:8-38:20. The
anointing oil/incense element of Exod 36:8-38:20 is not present here;
an element of introduction is added. Still, the major elements of the
Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting are included and generally retain
their order of appearance as in parallel passages. Terminologically,
miskan and 'ohel mo'ed appear both alone and grammatically linked.
Thus, a new terminological sub-structure is introduced, the "mixed
miskan-'ohel mo'ed" section.
Exod 40:9-16. This short passage continues the section that
mixes the terms miskan-'ohel mo'ed. Its five-element linear structure
concerns the Anointing of the Miskan (40:9), the Altar of Burnt
(40:10), the [
an Epilogue (40:16).
Exod 40:17-33. This passage rounds out the group of four sub-
structures, each with nine elements. It is a virtual rehearsal of the
elements included in the commands to assemble the Dwelling
Place/Tent of Meeting given in Exod 40:1-8. The elements include
Introduction (40:17), the Miskan (40:18-19),
(40:22-23), Lampstand (40:24-25), Golden Altar (40:26-28), Altar of
Offering (40:29), [
(40:33). Terminologically, this passage continues the mixed miskan-
'ohel mo'ed structure found in the immediately preceding passages.
Exod 40:34-38. One final passage remains for consideration.
This provides an epilogue to the accounts of Exod 25:1-40:33. A
straightforward, linear structure (A-B-A1-B1-A2-B2) is apparent.
Exod 40: 34a, 35a, and 36-37 (the "A" elements) concern the Cloud;
Exod 40:34b, 35b, and 38 (the "B" elements) concern the immanence
of YHWH (Glory, cloud-by-day, fire-by-night). The passage closes
out the mixed miskanan-'ohel mo'ed terminological structure of the
preceding three sections, and completes the description of the
construction of YHWH's
Exod 25-40 has at least three maxi-structural axes: literary,
topical, and terminological. It has at least one subsidiary, mini-
structural axis: grammatical. Its structural integrity, particularly
that integrity demanded by the presence of overarching maxi-
structures, has given strong argument for approaching the biblical
text in its canonical form.
As considered in a previous study, in Exod 25-40 the terms
miskan and 'ohel mo'ed provide a four-section terminological
STRUCTURAL OVERVIEW OF EXOD 25-40 135
structure. In these sections the term(s) used to name the physical
construction were variously miskan, 'ohel mo'ed, miskan-dominant,
and mixed miskan-'ohel mo'ed. Within this terminological structure,
coexisted topical structures (generally presented in lists of six or
nine elements) and literary sub-structures such as parallelism,
inverted parallelism, and linear lists. In their co-existence, none of
the literary structures negated the others, but rather complemented
them along axes within differing literary dimensions.
Exod 25:1-31:18 exhibits six literary midi-structures: four with
topical structures of six elements each, and two small literary midi-
structures each with three parallel elements. These basic elements
show a pattern: 6-3-6-6-3-6. This topical structure provides
continuity over the transition between two of the miskan/ 'ohel mo'ed
terminological structures. The term variation within the literary
maxi-structure minimizes the likelihood of an intentional source
seam between literary structures. The overarching literary structure
argues strongly in favor of a unified literary product. The six midi-
concern the design of the physical
Tent of Meeting.
Exod 32:1-34:35 incorporates four interlocutory narratives: the
Golden Calf Episode (Exod 32:1-33:6), the episode of Moses' Tent
(Exod 33:7-11), the Theophany (Exod 33:12-23), and the Giving of
the Second Set of Tablets (Exod 34:1-35). These range in structure
from complex, inverted parallelism (Golden Calf) to simple, linear
narrative (the others).
Exod 35 begins the second, major maxi-structure of the Exod
25-40 complex. In Exod 35:1-40:38, there are eight midi-structures:
four of which are very short, transitional, structures, and four of
which exhibit a nine-element topical form. In terms of numbers of
elements, these eight midi-structures follow a 5-9-3-9-9-5-9-3
pattern. The first four structures are miskan-dominant; the latter
four are mixed miskan-'ohel mo'ed. The first four structures consider
the making of the Dwelling Place/Tent of Meeting; the latter four
concern its assembly. Exod 33:7-11/ /Exod 33:12-21 provide the
thematic focus for Exod 25-40, namely, the immanence/indwelling
among the people of
Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod
25:1-27:19 27:20-21 28:1-43 29:1-46 30:1-10 30:11-31:18
miskan 'ohel mo'ed 'ohel mo'ed 'ohel mo'ed 'ohel mo'ed
Lord Said Command --- --- Command ---
Bring --- Bring Make Command ---
Make Explanation Make Bring Explanation ---
--- Duration --- --- Duration ---
2 Table 2 Breastpiece 2 Bull 2 Washbasin
3 Lampstand 3 Robe 3 Ram 3 Oil
4 Dwelling 4 Turban 4 Ord. Ram 4 Incense
5 Altar 5 Tunic 5 Ceremony 5 Craftsmen
6 Courtyard 6 Garments 6 Daily 6 Sabbath(s)
TABLE 1: LITERARY STRUCTURE OF EXODUS 25-31
Golden Calf Moses' Tent Theophany Second Tablets
Exod Exod Exod Exod
32:1-33:6 33:7-11 33:12-23 34:1-35
A Act/React A Moses took A Moses said A Y's command
B Spoke/Said A [Moses] pitched it B [YHWH] said B Moses's response
C Moses intercedes A [Moses] called it A1 [Moses] said A1 Y's Theophany
D Moses goes down B people went B1 YHWH said B1 Moses's response
E Investigation B people arose A2 [Moses] said A2 Y's Covenant
F Repentance offered B [people] stood B2 [YHWH] said A3 Y's command
E1 Execution A Moses enterred A3 [YHWH] said Epilogue
D1 Moses goes up C Cloud Pillar came A3 YHWH said
Cl Moses intercedes C Cloud Pillar stayed
Bl Said/Spoke C Cloud Pillar spoke
A1 Act/React B [people] saw
B [people] stood
B [people] worship'd
C YHWH spoke
TABLE 2: LITERARY STRUCTURE OF EXODUS 32-34
Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod Exod
35:1- 36:8- 38:21-31 39:1-43 40:1-8 40:9-16 40:17-33 40:34-38
miskan- miskan- miskan- miskan- Mixed- Mixed- Mixed- Mixed-
dominant dominant dominant dominant terms terms terms terms
A Sabbath 1 miskan 1 Intro. 1 Intro. 1 Intro. 1 miskan 1 Intro. 1 Coming
B Offering 2 Ark 2 Workers 2 Ephod 2 miskan 2 Altar 2 miskan 2 Function
B1 Offering 3 Table 3 Amounts 3 Stones 3
A1 Work 4 Lamp 4 Breast 4 Table 4 Priests 4 Table
Epilogue 5 Incense 5 Robe 5 Lamp Epilogue 5 Lamp
6 Oil 6 Tunic 6 Incense 6 Incense
7 Burnt 7 Plate 7 Burnt 7 Burnt
8 Basin 8 Present 8 Basin 8 Basin
9 Court 9 Inspect 9 Court 9 Court
TABLE 3: LITERARY STRUCTURE OF EXODUS 35-40.
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