Kennedy, A. R. S. "Tabernacle." A Dictionary of the Bible. Ed. J. Hastings.

Vol. 4. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902. 653-68.

Public Domain. 

[This outdated article assumes JEDP theory unfortunately and flat out denies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.

viii. The furniture of the Holy Place--(a) the Table of Show-

bread or Presence-Table; (b) the golden Lampstand;

(c) the Altar of Incense.

ix.   The furniture of the Most Holy Place--the Ark and

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),



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

Israel as these are conceived and formulated in the priestly sources. To criticise

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


654a                Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

article ARK (vol. i. p. 1496) attention was called to the sudden introduction of 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

of Canaan (see HIGH PLACE, SANCTUARY). In this position it was pitched, not

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

guardian of the ark, as the boy Samuel slept in the sanctuary at Shiloh (1 S

3:3ff. ).

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 SHILOH. The picture of this temple (lkAyhe) with its door and

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

the Comm. in loc.).  So, too, Ps 78:60, which speaks of the sanctuary at Shiloh as

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

until we read of the tent pitched for it by David in his new capital on Mt. Zion

(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

represented as saying, ‘since the day that I brought up the children of Israel out of

Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent ('ohel) and in a tabernacle

(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. [Eng. tr.] 43f.).

654c               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

race, and by incidental references from the period of religious decadence in Israel,

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).



--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 Oxford

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.

iii. p. 568). To these sources have to be added the description of the temple of

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.).



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.

655b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

meet or hold tryst with Moses and with Israel. As this meeting is mainly for the

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

of witness,' Rev 15:5 AV 'tabernacle of the testimony'). In Wis 9:8, Sir 24:10 we

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'

(see § ix.). As to the older Eng. VSS, finally, those of Hereford and Purvey follow

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.



SANCTUARY.--Nature and gradation of the materials employed in its

construction.--In Ezekiel's great picture of the ideal Israel of the Restoration (Ezk

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


655d               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


* 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

community of Israel, once again restored to His favour. That this is the point of

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

summoned to meet J" in the cloud that rested on the top of Mt. Sinai, soon after

the arrival there of the children of Israel (Ex 24:16ff.). The command is given to

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

(31:1-11=35:30-36:1; 38:22f.).

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).

656b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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.



SANCTUARY. --The Court of the Dwelling (Ex 27:9-19 [Pg] 38:9-20 [Ps]; cf.

Josephus, Ant. III. vi. 2).--Once again we must start from Ezekiel. For the

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,

measure, number


657a                Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

genealogies, his chronology, his theory of the religious development of Israel,



       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,'

39:40 etc.).



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

657c               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

of ten.


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

usually supposed.

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





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.).

658b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible



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

temple (1 K 83; see Wellh. Proleg. [Eng. tr.] 44; Stade, ZATW iii. 157 = Akad.

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-

ence. The temple of Solomon had ten lavers of elaborate construction (see

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

659a                Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

frequently identified with the dugong, a seal-like mammal found in the Red Sea

(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

Fergusson's art. 'Temple' in Smith's DB ; the Speaker's Commentary, i. 374 ff.;

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.


659c               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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 ( 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.).

660b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

sections in 1 K 6 f. (see TEMPLE), and other considerations, all make it very

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

added to.

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

the corresponding parts of the temples of Solomon and Ezekiel (see TEMPLE).

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

indicate a part of the wall of Jerusalem akin to, yet distinct from, hn.APi 'a corner,'

apparently there-


   *  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.

661b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

662b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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),

precisely as the Kiswa or covering of the Kaaba at Mecca is secured by metal

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'

(v. 2).

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

priestly writers.

Our understanding of this section is materially assisted by the representation of the

table of Herod's temple, which may still be seen on the Arch of Titus at Rome.

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.

663a                Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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.

p. 431a).

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

place (26:35).

       (b) The golden Lampstand (Ex 25:31-40 = 37:17-24 [Gr. 38:13-17] ; cf. Jos.

Ant. III. vi. 7, BJ vii. v. 5) --Of the whole furniture of the tabernacle, the article to

which, since Wyclif's time, our Eng. versions have given the misleading

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

three opposite

663c               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible





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

side of the Holy Place. To see that the lamps were supplied with the finest produce

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

of Shiloh (1 S 3:3). From Lv 24:18f (note v.8)--of which Ex 2720f is perhaps a

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).

664b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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.

p. 810 ; INCENSE, vol. ii. p. 467 f.; TEMPLE).

(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

(see SHEWBREAD, TEMPLE) has disclosed the fact that an incense altar found a

place neither in the real temple of Solomon nor in the ideal temple of Ezekiel. The

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).

On the other hand, the extreme scepticism of Wellhausen (Proleg., Eng. tr. 67) and

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

the Holy Place, in front of 'the veil that is by the ark of the testimony' (v.8). Aaron

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

in the famous passage He 9:4, that the incense altar stood in the Most Holy Place,

'which had a golden altar’


* Differently expressed from Pg.

665a                Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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).



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 [Eng. tr.], p. 124ff.

            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. ARKi.) attention was briefly called to the three sets of

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,

Samuel, 33; 'Ark' in Encyc. Bibl. i. 800 f.; Meinhold, Die Lade  Jahves, 2 ff.

665c               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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.



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

a month or a year,' the children of Israel remained encamped and journeyed not

(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

666b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

said in our opening section--with which the art. ARK must be compared--as to

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

civilization and arts of Canaan, when skilled artists in metal were required, they

had to be hired by Solomon from Phoenicia. Again, the situation of P's taber-

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

removal to the temple of Solomon. But in no genuine passage of the history of that

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

conception of Israel's past had displaced every other, find the tabernacle of

the priestly writers in the older sources, or supply it where they think it ought to

have been (cf. 2 Ch 16:39 with 1 K 3:2ff). See, further, Wellh. Proleg. (Eng. tr.)

39 ff., and recent works cited, in the Literature at the end of this article.



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

667a                Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

which the ideal relation between J" and Israel may be restored and maintained.

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

tents of the tribe of Levi, the court, and the Holy Place--into which priests alone

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).

The perfect cube of the Most Holy Place is universally regarded as the deliberate

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".

667c               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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

realities. Once and again the terminology of St. Paul betrays the influence of the

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).


668b               Hastings: A Dictionary of the Bible


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 'Temple' (the latter especially) in Smith's DB. The

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,

characterize Keil's full treatment in vol. I. of his Archeology (Eng. tr.). See also

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

significance,' etc.



            A. R. S. KENNEDY.

            Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (vol. 4) (1902)