Exodus 26
Benson Commentary
Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.
Exodus 26:1. Thou shalt make the tabernacle — The word המשׁכן hammishchan, which we translate tabernacle, means a place to dwell in. And this was not only to be a sign of God’s presence with, and protection of his people, but his habitation or dwelling-place among them: the place where he would, in a peculiar manner, manifest his presence, display his glory, accept their oblations, prayers, praises, and other services, and by the intervention of Moses and Aaron first, and afterward of the high-priest for the time being, would communicate to them his mind and will. “It was a type,” says Mr. Brown, “1st, Of Christ’s person, Hebrews 8:2. 2d, Of the gospel church; the habitation of God by the Spirit, Ephesians 2:20-22; 2 Corinthians 6:16. 3d, Of every Christian, in whose heart God dwells, 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19. 4th, Of the new covenant and heavenly state, Isaiah 66:1. And according to these different significations may the furniture thereof be understood in different views.”

With ten curtains — These curtains formed the principal covering of the sanctuary, and are called the tabernacle or dwelling-place of God. They were made of the finest linen, dyed with the richest colours, spun and woven in the most curious manner, and beautifully embroidered all over with cherubim, the emblematic representations of angels. This last circumstance was not only intended to signify that the angels joined in the worship of the God of Israel; but also that they attend continually upon him in his holy habitation as “his ministers to do his pleasure,” Psalm 103:21; that they encamp around his church, Psalm 34:7; and are always in waiting, so to speak, and ready to minister to the heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14. For, as there were cherubim over the mercy- seat, so there were also round the tabernacle. It must be observed, likewise, that there were to be two hangings, five breadths in each, sewed together, and the two hangings coupled together, with golden clasps, or tacks, so that it might all be one tabernacle. Thus the churches of Christ, though they are many, yet are one, being fitly joined together in holy love, and by the unity of the Spirit, so growing into one holy temple in the Lord. This tabernacle was very straight and narrow, but at the preaching of the gospel the church is bid to enlarge the place of her tent, and to stretch forth her curtains, Isaiah 54:2.

The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.
The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.
And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.
Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another.
And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.
And thou shalt make curtains of goats' hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.
The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure.
And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle.
And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second.
And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one.
And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle.
And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.
And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers' skins.
Exodus 26:14. Badgers’ skins — So we translate it: but it seems rather to have been some strong sort of leather, but very fine, for we read of the best sort of shoes made of it, Ezekiel 16:10. This was the fourth covering of the tabernacle. The first was of linen, the second of goats’ hair, and the third of rams’ skins.

And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.
Exodus 26:15. Very particular directions are here given about the boards of the tabernacle, which were to bear up the curtains. These had tenons which fell into the mortises that were made for them in silver bases. The boards were coupled together with gold rings at top and bottom, and kept firm with bars that ran through golden staples in every board. Thus every thing in the tabernacle was very splendid, agreeable to that infant state of the church, when such things were proper to possess the minds of the worshippers with a reverence of the divine glory. In allusion to this, the new Jerusalem is said to be of pure gold, Revelation 21:18. But the builders of the gospel church said, silver and gold have we none; and yet the glory of their building far exceeded that of the tabernacle. St. Paul, probably, alludes to this tabernacle, with its pillars and sockets, when he terms the church the pillar and ground (εδραιωμα, seat rather) of the truth, 1 Timothy 3:15. As beauty and strength were united in the tabernacle, so they are in the church of Christ: “beauty, which renders it the admiration of angels; and strength, which defies all the malice of devils.”

Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board.
Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle.
And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward.
And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons.
And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards:
And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.
And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards.
And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.
And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners.
And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.
And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle,
And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward.
And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end.
And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold.
And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount.
And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:
Exodus 26:31-33. Thou shalt make a veil — The whole fabric in the inside was to be divided into two rooms by a large and thick veil or curtain of the finest wrought stuff, with variety of colours, and cherubs, and other figures. It was to be hung upon golden hooks at the top, and by reason of its thickness and weight to rest against four overlaid, or gilded pillars, mortised into so many silver pedestals. The lesser of these rooms, thus parted from the other so as none could look into it, was to be called the most holy place, or place of extraordinary worship, to be entered by the high-priest alone, and that but once a year. This is often considered in the New Testament as a figure of heaven, into which Christ is entered as our forerunner, and whither our hope extends, Hebrews 6:19-20; Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:19. But it also signified that under that dispensation divine grace was veiled, whereas now we behold it with open face. The apostle tells us, this veil intimated that the ceremonial law could not make the comers thereunto perfect. The way into the holiest was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing; life and immortality lay concealed till they were brought to light by the gospel, which was therefore signified by the rending of this veil at the death of Christ. We have now boldness to enter into the holiest in all acts of devotion by the blood of Jesus; yet such as obliges us to a holy reverence, and a humble sense of our distance. Another veil was for the outer door of the tabernacle. Through this the priests went in every day to minister in the holy place, but not the people, Hebrews 9:6. This veil was all the defence the tabernacle had against thieves and robbers, who might easily have broken through, for it could be neither locked nor barred, and the abundance of wealth in it, one would think, might have been a temptation. But by leaving it thus exposed, 1st, The priests and Levites would be so much the more obliged to keep a strict watch upon it: and, 2d, God would show his care of his church on earth, though it be weak and defenceless, and continually exposed. A curtain shall be (if God please to make it so) as strong a defence as gates of brass and bars of iron.

And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.
And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.
And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.
And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.
And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.
Exodus 26:36. Make a hanging for the door of the tent — It is plain from the former part of this description, (Exodus 26:12-23,) that the ark and mercy-seat were in the west end of the tabernacle, that is, the door or entrance fronted the east: so that the Israelites, in worshipping Jehovah, turned their faces toward the west, where the ark was; it being thus contrived, says Theodoret, that the sun might pay a kind of symbolical adoration to Jehovah, by darting his first rays into the sanctuary, and that the Israelites might be thus figuratively, taught to turn from the worship of that luminary, the great idol of the nations, and to adore the God who made him. Before the entrance then of the first tabernacle, or the holy place, was the curtain here spoken of to be hung, which may be called the first veil, as that mentioned Exodus 26:31, which divided the holy place from the most holy, is called the second veil, Hebrews 9:2-3.

And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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