(Compare Exodus 26:1-6, more strictly so-called, its tent Exodus 26:7-13, and its covering Exodus 26:14 (Compare Exodus 35:11; Exodus 39:33-34; Exodus 40:19, Exodus 40:34; Numbers 3:25, etc.). These parts are very clearly distinguished in the Hebrew, but they are confounded in many places of the English Version (see Exodus 26:7, Exodus 26:9, etc.). The tabernacle itself was to consist of curtains of fine linen woven with colored figures of cherubim, and a structure of boards which was to contain the holy place and the most holy place; the tent was to be a true tent of goats‘ hair cloth to contain and shelter the tabernacle: the covering was to be of red rams‘ skins and “tachash” skins Exodus 25:5, and was spread over the goats‘ hair tent as an additional protection against the weather. On the external form of the tabernacle and the arrangement of its parts, see cuts at the end of the chapter.
The tabernacle - The משׁכן mı̂shkân i. e. the dwelling-place; the definite article regularly accompanies the Hebrew word when the dwelling-place of Yahweh is denoted. But in this place the word is not used in its full sense as denoting the dwelling-place of Yahweh: it denotes only the tabernacle-cloth Exodus 26:6. The word is, in fact, employed with three distinct ranges of meaning,
With ten curtains - Rather, of ten breadths. Five of these breadths were united so as to form what, in common usage, we should call a large curtain Exodus 26:3. The two curtains thus formed were coupled together by the loops and taches to make the entire tabernacle-cloth Exodus 26:6.
Of cunning work - More properly, of the work of the skilled weaver. The colored figures of cherubim (see Exodus 25:4, Exodus 25:18) were to be worked in the loom, as in the manufacture of tapestry and carpets (see Exodus 26:36 note). On the different kinds of workmen employed on the textile fabrics, see Exodus 35:35.
Each curtain formed of five breadths (see Exodus 26:1), was 42 feet in length and 30 feet in breadth, taking the cubit at 18 inches.
The meaning appears to be, “And thou shalt make loops of blue on the edge of the one breadth (which is) on the side (of the one curtain) at the coupling; and the same shalt thou do in the edge of the outside breadth of the other (curtain) at the coupling.” The “coupling” is the uniting together of the two curtains: (“selvedge” is the translation of a word signifying extremity or end).
The words “in the edge,” etc. mean, “on the edge of the breadth that is at the coupling in the second (curtain).”
Taches of gold - Each “tache,” or clasp, was to unite two opposite loops.
Couple the curtains - i. e. couple the two outside breadths mentioned in Exodus 26:4.
A covering upon the tabernacle - A tent over the tabernacle. The Hebrew word here used, is the regular one for a tent of skins or cloth of any sort.
tabernacle - tent, not tabernacle. The passage might be rendered, “thou shalt equally divide the sixth breadth at the front of the tent.” In this way, half a breadth would overhang at the front and half at the back.
Or: “And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the outside breadth of the one (curtain) at the coupling, and fifty loops on the edge of the outside breadth of the other (curtain) at the coupling.”
Couple the tent together - Not “covering,” as in the margin. By “the tent” is here meant the tent-cloth alone.
The measure of the entire tabernacle-cloth was about 60 ft. by 42; that of the tent-cloth was about 67 ft. by 45. When the latter was placed over the former, it spread beyond it at the back and front about 3 ft. (the “half-curtain,” Exodus 26:9, Exodus 26:12) and at the sides 18 inches.
The board would therefore be about 15 ft. long, and 27 in. broad.
The entire length of the structure was about 45 ft. in the clear, and its width about 15 ft.
The south side southward - Or, the south side on the right. As the entrance of the tabernacle was at its east end, the south side, to a person entering it, would be on the left hand: but we learn from Josephus that it was usual, in speaking of the temple, to identify the south with the right hand and the north with the left hand, the entrance being regarded as the face of the structure and the west end as its back.
Sockets - More literally, bases, or foundations. Each base weighed a talent, that is, about 94 lbs. (see Exodus 38:27), and must have been a massive block. The bases formed a continuous foundation for the walls of boards, presenting a succession of sockets or mortices (each base having a single socket), into which the tenons were to fit. They served not only for ornament but also for the protection of the lower ends of the boards from the decay which would have resulted from contact with the ground.
The sides of the tabernacle westward - Rather, the back of the tabernacle toward the west. See Exodus 26:18.
In the two sides - Rather, at the back.
The corner boards appear to have been of such width, and so placed, as to add 18 in. to the width of the structure, making up with the six boards of full width Exodus 26:22 about 15 ft. in the clear (see Exodus 26:18). The “ring” was so formed as to receive two bars meeting “beneath” and “above” at a right angle.
For the two sides westward - For the back toward the west. Compare Exodus 26:22,
In the midst of the boards - If we suppose the boards to have been of ordinary thickness Exodus 26:16, the bar was visible and passed through an entire row of rings. In any case, it served to hold the whole wall together.
Vail - Literally, separation (see Exodus 35:12 note).
Taches - Not the same as the hooks of the preceding verse, but the clasps of the tabernacle-cloth (see Exodus 26:6).
The door of the tent - The entrance to the tent, closed by the “hanging” or curtain Exodus 27:16.
Wrought with needlework. - The work of the embroiderer. The entrance curtain of the tent and that of the court Exodus 27:16 were to be of the same materials, but embroidered with the needle, not made in figures in the loom (see Exodus 26:1; Exodus 35:35).
Rice pillars - These, it should be observed, belonged to the entrance of the tent, not, in their architectural relation, to the entrance of the tabernacle.
We are indebted to Mr. Fergusson for what may be regarded as a satisfactory reconstruction of the sanctuary in all its main particulars. He holds that what sheltered the Mishkan was actually a tent of ordinary form, such as common sense and practical experience would suggest as best suited for the purpose.
According to this view the five pillars at the entrance of the tent Exodus 26:37 were graduated as they would naturally be at the entrance of any large tent of the best form, the tallest one being in the middle to support one end of a ridge-pole.
Such a ridge-pole, which must have been sixty feet in length, would have required support, and this might have been afforded by a plain pole in the middle of the structure. Over this framing of wood-work the tent-cloth of goats‘ hair was strained with its cords and tent-pins in the usual way. (See cut.)
Above the tent-cloth of goats‘ hair was spread the covering of red rams‘ skins.
The five pillars, to reach across the front of the tent, must have stood five cubits (about 7 1/2 ft.) apart. Their heads were united by connecting rods (“fillets” Exodus 27:10) overlaid with gold Exodus 36:38. The spaces at the sides and back may have been wholly or in part covered in for the use of the officiating priests, like the small apartments which in after times skirted three sides of the temple. It was probably here that those portions of the sacrifices were eaten which were not to be carried out of the sacred precincts Leviticus 6:16, Leviticus 6:26. We may also infer that priests lodged in them. Compare 1 Samuel 3:2-3.
In the earthly ark Moses was required to place the tables of stone. These were called the tables of the testimony; and the ark was called the ark of the testimony, because they contained God's testimony in the Ten Commandments. SR 154.1Read in context »
In the earthly ark Moses was required to place the tables of stone. These were called the tables of the testimony, and the ark was called the ark of the testimony, because they contained God's testimony in the ten commandments. The tabernacle was composed of two apartments, separated by a curtain, or vail. 4aSG 8.1
All the furniture of the tabernacle was made of solid gold, or plated with gold. The curtains of the tabernacle were of a variety of colors, most beautifully arranged, and in these curtains were wrought, with threads of gold and silver, cherubims, which were to represent the angelic host, who are connected with the work of the heavenly sanctuary, and who are ministering angels to the saints upon the earth. 4aSG 8.2
Within the second vail was placed the ark of the testimony, and the beautiful and rich curtain was drawn before the sacred ark. This curtain did not reach to the top of the building. The glory of God, which was above the mercy-seat, could be seen from both apartments, but in a much less degree from the first apartment. Directly before the ark, but separated by the curtain, was the golden altar of incense. The fire upon this altar was kindled by the Lord himself, and was sacredly cherished by feeding it with holy incense, which filled the sanctuary with its fragrant cloud, day and night. Its fragrance extended for miles around the tabernacle. When the priest offered the incense before the Lord, he looked to the mercy-seat. Although he could not see it, he knew it was there, and as the incense arose like a cloud, the glory of the Lord descended upon the mercy-seat, and filled the most holy place, and was visible in the holy place, and the glory often so filled both apartments that the priest was unable to officiate, and was obliged to stand at the door of the tabernacle. The priest in the holy place, directing his prayer by faith to the mercy-seat, which he could not see, represents the people of God directing their prayers to Christ before the mercy-seat in the heavenly sanctuary. They cannot behold their Mediator with the natural eye, but with the eye of faith they see Christ before the mercy-seat, and direct their prayers to him, and with assurance claim the benefits of his mediation. 4aSG 8.3Read in context »
In the offering of incense the priest was brought more directly into the presence of God than in any other act of the daily ministration. As the inner veil of the sanctuary did not extend to the top of the building, the glory of God, which was manifested above the mercy seat, was partially visible from the first apartment. When the priest offered incense before the Lord, he looked toward the ark; and as the cloud of incense arose, the divine glory descended upon the mercy seat and filled the most holy place, and often so filled both apartments that the priest was obliged to retire to the door of the tabernacle. As in that typical service the priest looked by faith to the mercy seat which he could not see, so the people of God are now to direct their prayers to Christ, their great High Priest, who, unseen by human vision, is pleading in their behalf in the sanctuary above. PP 353.1
The incense, ascending with the prayers of Israel, represents the merits and intercession of Christ, His perfect righteousness, which through faith is imputed to His people, and which can alone make the worship of sinful beings acceptable to God. Before the veil of the most holy place was an altar of perpetual intercession, before the holy, an altar of continual atonement. By blood and by incense God was to be approached—symbols pointing to the great Mediator, through whom sinners may approach Jehovah, and through whom alone mercy and salvation can be granted to the repentant, believing soul. PP 353.2
As the priests morning and evening entered the holy place at the time of incense, the daily sacrifice was ready to be offered upon the altar in the court without. This was a time of intense interest to the worshipers who assembled at the tabernacle. Before entering into the presence of God through the ministration of the priest, they were to engage in earnest searching of heart and confession of sin. They united in silent prayer, with their faces toward the holy place. Thus their petitions ascended with the cloud of incense, while faith laid hold upon the merits of the promised Saviour prefigured by the atoning sacrifice. The hours appointed for the morning and the evening sacrifice were regarded as sacred, and they came to be observed as the set time for worship throughout the Jewish nation. And when in later times the Jews were scattered as captives in distant lands, they still at the appointed hour turned their faces toward Jerusalem and offered up their petitions to the God of Israel. In this custom Christians have an example for morning and evening prayer. While God condemns a mere round of ceremonies, without the spirit of worship, He looks with great pleasure upon those who love Him, bowing morning and evening to seek pardon for sins committed and to present their requests for needed blessings. PP 353.3Read in context »
In the first apartment, or holy place, were the table of showbread, the candlestick, or lampstand, and the altar of incense. The table of showbread stood on the north. With its ornamental crown, it was overlaid with pure gold. On this table the priests were each Sabbath to place twelve cakes, arranged in two piles, and sprinkled with frankincense. The loaves that were removed, being accounted holy, were to be eaten by the priests. On the south was the seven-branched candlestick, with its seven lamps. Its branches were ornamented with exquisitely wrought flowers, resembling lilies, and the whole was made from one solid piece of gold. There being no windows in the tabernacle, the lamps were never all extinguished at one time, but shed their light by day and by night. Just before the veil separating the holy place from the most holy and the immediate presence of God, stood the golden altar of incense. Upon this altar the priest was to burn incense every morning and evening; its horns were touched with the blood of the sin offering, and it was sprinkled with blood upon the great Day of Atonement. The fire upon this altar was kindled by God Himself and was sacredly cherished. Day and night the holy incense diffused its fragrance throughout the sacred apartments, and without, far around the tabernacle. PP 348.1
Beyond the inner veil was the holy of holies, where centered the symbolic service of atonement and intercession, and which formed the connecting link between heaven and earth. In this apartment was the ark, a chest of acacia wood, overlaid within and without with gold, and having a crown of gold about the top. It was made as a depository for the tables of stone, upon which God Himself had inscribed the Ten Commandments. Hence it was called the ark of God's testament, or the ark of the covenant, since the Ten Commandments were the basis of the covenant made between God and Israel. PP 348.2
The cover of the sacred chest was called the mercy seat. This was wrought of one solid piece of gold, and was surmounted by golden cherubim, one standing on each end. One wing of each angel was stretched forth on high, while the other was folded over the body (see Ezekiel 1:11) in token of reverence and humility. The position of the cherubim, with their faces turned toward each other, and looking reverently downward toward the ark, represented the reverence with which the heavenly host regard the law of God and their interest in the plan of redemption. PP 348.3Read in context »
In the holy place was the candlestick, on the south, with its seven lamps giving light to the sanctuary both by day and by night; on the north stood the table of shewbread; and before the veil separating the holy from the most holy was the golden altar of incense, from which the cloud of fragrance, with the prayers of Israel, was daily ascending before God. GC 412.1
In the most holy place stood the ark, a chest of precious wood overlaid with gold, the depository of the two tables of stone upon which God had inscribed the law of Ten Commandments. Above the ark, and forming the cover to the sacred chest, was the mercy seat, a magnificent piece of workmanship, surmounted by two cherubim, one at each end, and all wrought of solid gold. In this apartment the divine presence was manifested in the cloud of glory between the cherubim. GC 412.2
After the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan, the tabernacle was replaced by the temple of Solomon, which, though a permanent structure and upon a larger scale, observed the same proportions, and was similarly furnished. In this form the sanctuary existed—except while it lay in ruins in Daniel's time—until its destruction by the Romans, in A.D. 70. GC 412.3
This is the only sanctuary that ever existed on the earth, of which the Bible gives any information. This was declared by Paul to be the sanctuary of the first covenant. But has the new covenant no sanctuary? GC 412.4Read in context »