Exodus 25
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chapters 25–31

We come now to the long section of P, which contains the instructions stated to have been given by God to Moses on the mount for the construction and equipment of a sanctuary, and for the vestments and consecration of a priesthood. These instructions fall into two parts: (1) chs. 25–29; (2) chs. 30–31. The instructions contained in chs. 25–29 relate to (a) the vessels of the sanctuary, viz. the ark, the table of Presence-bread, and the candlestick,—named naturally first, as being of primary interest and importance (ch. 25); (b) the curtains, and wooden framework supporting them, to contain and guard the sacred vessels (ch. 26); (c) the court round the Sanctuary, and the Altar of Burnt offering, standing in it (ch. 27); (d) the vestments (ch. 28) and the consecration (ch. 29) of the priests who are to serve in the sanctuary (Exodus 29:1-37); (e) the daily burnt-offering, the maintenance of which is a primary duty of the priesthood (Exodus 29:38-42), followed by what is apparently the final close of the whole body of instructions, Exodus 29:43-46, in which Jehovah promises that He will bless the sanctuary thus established with His presence. Chs. 30–31 relate to (a) the Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10); (b) the monetary contributions for the maintenance of public service (Exodus 30:11-16); (c) the Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:17-21); (d) the holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30:22-33); (e) the Incense (Exodus 30:34-38); (f) the nomination of two skilled artificers, Bezal’el and Oholiab, to make the sanctuary and its appurtenances Exodus 31:1-11); (g) the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17).

The principal names of what we—adopting a rendering based upon Jerome’s tabernaculum (i.e. ‘tent’)—commonly call the ‘Tabernacle’ are the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 27:21), the Tent where God ‘met’ and talked with Moses; the Tent; the Tent of the Witness or Testimony, i.e. (see on Exodus 25:16) the Tent containing the Ark, in which were deposited the two tables of the Decalogue; the Dwelling (Exodus 25:9 al.), the Dwelling of Jehovah (Numbers 16:9 al.), or the Dwelling of the Testimony (Exodus 38:21 al.); and the Sanctuary (see on Exodus 25:8). The first two these designations are found in both JE and P; the others are used exclusively by P. If the passages in which E and J speak of the ‘Tent of Meeting’ or the ‘Tent’—viz. Exodus 33:7-11, Numbers 11:16 f., 24, 26, Exodus 12:5; Exodus 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:14 f.—are read carefully, it will be found that the representation which they give of it differs in several respects very materially from that given by P. In E the Tent of Meeting is outside the camp (Exodus 33:7, Numbers 11:26 f., cf. v. 30, Exodus 12:4 : on Numbers 14:44, see p. 428); it is guarded by one attendant, Joshua, who never leaves it Exodus 33:11; cf. Numbers 11:28); though it had probably some decoration (cf. on Exodus 33:6), it was obviously a much simpler, less ornate structure than that described by P; Moses used to go out to it, and enter into it speak with God, and the pillar of cloud then descended, and stood at the entrance of the Tent, and Jehovah spoke to him from it (Exodus 33:8-11; cf. Numbers 11:17; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5; Numbers 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:14 f.); on the march also, the ark precedes the host, to seek out a camping-place for it (Numbers 10:33). In P, on the contrary, the Tent of Meeting is in the centre of the camp, with the Levites around it on the west, south, and north, and Aaron and his sons on the east, and the other tribes, three on each side, outside them (Numbers 2; Numbers 3:23; Numbers 3:29; Numbers 3:35; Numbers 3:38); it is served by Aaron and his sons, and a large body of Levites (in Numbers 4:48, 8580); it is a highly decorated, costly structure (chs. 25–27); the cloud (which is not in P spoken of as a ‘pillar’), instead of descending from time to time, as occasion requires, to the entrance of the Tent, that Jehovah may speak with Moses, rests upon the Tent always, when the camp is stationary (Exodus 40:35-38, Numbers 9:15-23), and Jehovah, instead of speaking to Moses at its ‘entrance,’ speaks to him from between the cherubim above the ark (Exodus 25:22, Numbers 7:89); on the march, also, the ark, borne, covered up, by the Kohathites, with the other sacred vessels, is in the centre of the long procession of Israelites, six tribes preceding it, and six following it (Numbers 2:17; Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:5 ff; Numbers 10:21). Lastly in P the Tent of Meeting is the centre of an elaborate sacrificial and ceremonial system (Leviticus 1-27, &c.), such as is nowhere mentioned in connexion with the Tent of Meeting of J and E, and, in view of the subsequent history (Judg., Sam.), not historically probable,—at least on anything like the same scale. Unquestionably (cf. p. 359) both representations have common features: in both, in particular, the Tent is the place where God speaks with Moses, and communicates to him His will; nor need it be doubted, though it is no stated in so many words, that the Tent of JE, like that of P, sheltere the ark (though a much simpler ark than P’s): but there are also wide differences between them. Here it will be sufficient to have noted these differences: in explanation of them see p. 430 ff.

The Tabernacle, with its various appurtenances, is described to having been made by Bezal’el and Oholiab, and other skilled workmen acting under them, in accordance with detailed specifications given by God to Moses (chs. 25–31), and a ‘pattern,’ or model, shewn Moses in the mount (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40, Exodus 26:30, Exodus 27:8). It is designed as a ‘dwelling’ (Exodus 25:8-9) in which God may permanently dwell among His people (Exodus 29:45); and after it has been erected and consecrated, He gives manifest tokens of His presence in it, He fills it with His glory (Exodus 40:34-38), He habitually speaks in it with Moses (Exodus 25:22), and He gives him many of His instructions from it (Leviticus 1:1, Numbers 1:1). It is also the centre at which all sacrifices are to be offered (Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 3:2, &c.).

In its general principle the ‘Tabernacle’ of P is a portable Temple (so Jos. Ant. iii. 6. 1 μεταφερόμενος καὶ συμπερινοστῶν ναός). On the one hand, it is a tent, and is repeatedly so called, formed of tent-hangings, or curtains, held in their places by cords and tent-pins, of oblong shape, and with a flat upper surface (without a ridge pole), like the tents of Bedawin at the present day (see ill. in Smith, DB. iii. 1467; Judges in SBOT. (Engl. vol.), p. 63; Doughty, i. 226; or (best) Benzinger, Bilderatlas zur Bibelkunde, 1905, No. 287, or Arch.2 89), and divided into two compartments, in this respect also (Kn. on Exodus 26:37) resembling the tents of Bedawin, in which a separate compartment is formed by a curtain for the women (Burckh. Bed. i. 39 f.; EB. iv. 4972); on the other hand, the Tabernacle has also the form of a temple of a type very common in antiquity, and in fact represented by Solomon’s temple, consisting of an oblong rectangular structure, with pillars on its front, standing in a large court, and divided into two parts, the hall (in Greek πρόναος, ‘fore-shrine’; in Solomon’s temple, the hêkâl, 1 Kings 6:3; 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:17, &c. [in EVV. rendered badly ‘temple,’ suggesting the whole building]), corresponding to the Holy Place, and the shrine (ναός Hdt. i. 183, or ἄδυτον, the ‘part not to be entered,’ Lat. cella; Heb. debîr, the ‘hindmost part,’ 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:16, &c. [in EVV., through a false etymology, the ‘oracle’]), corresponding to the Most Holy Place,—both without windows, and the latter containing, if there was one, the image of the deity to whom the temple was sacred, and usually entered only by the priests. The ‘Tabernacle’ was however primarily and essentially a tent; it was the tapestry curtains alone which formed the real ‘Dwelling’ of Jehovah (see on Exodus 26:1); the ‘boards,’ or framework, were merely intended to give the tent greater stability and security than ordinary tent-poles would do. An altar, a priesthood, with regulations determining who might hold it, and prescribing the sacrifices and other religious offices to be maintained, often also an ark containing some sacred object, a table on which food was laid out for the deity, lavers for ceremonial ablutions, &c., were likewise, in one form or other, the necessary elements in an ancient Temple establishment. The Tabernacle of P was an elaborate and ornate structure. Metals more or less precious, and woven materials more or less ornamented, and more or less richly coloured, were employed; the general distinction observed being that the nearer an object was to the Presence of Jehovah in the Holy of holies, the costlier and more beautiful it was, the commoner materials, such as bronze and ordinary woven stuff, being reserved for the objects further off (cf. on Exodus 25:3). In the same way, the high priest had a specially gorgeous and splendid attire, while that of the ordinary priests was much plainer.

In their dimensions, both the ‘Tabernacle’ and the court display great symmetry. The ruling numbers are 3, 4, 7, 10, their parts (1½, 2, 2½, 5), and their multiples (6, 9, 12, 20, 28, 30, 42, 48, 50, 60, 100). If, without indulging in fantastic extravagances, we may discern a symbolism in numbers, we may perhaps see in three a symbol of the divine, in four—suggesting the four quarters of the earth—the totality of what is human, in seven and twelve numbers which, deriving their original significance from astronomy, came to be regarded as symbols of completeness, and in ten and its multiples numbers specially suggestive of symmetry and perfection. In the prominence given to the numbers mentioned, we may perhaps recognize an effort ‘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 destined’ Kennedy, DB. iv. 667b). The Holy place Isaiah 20 cubits (30 ft.) long, 10 cubits (15 ft.) high and broad, and the Holy of holies a perfect cube of 10 cubits (exactly half the dimensions of the Holy of holies in Solomon’s temple); and these ratios, a perfect cube, or two cubes placed side by side, are, we are told (Enc. Brit.9 Architecture, cited ibid.), still considered the most pleasing in architectural art; while the perfect cube, forming the Holy of holies, may be intended to represent symbolically the ‘perfection of Jehovah’s character and dwelling place, the harmony and equipoise of all His attributes.’ Comp. how, in Revelation 21:16, the ideal perfection of the New Jerusalem is expressed in the fact that ‘the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.’

The ‘Tabernacle,’ moreover, symbolizes directly, and gives visible expression to, various theological and religious truths. It must, however, be clearly understood that in the text itself no symbolism or significance whatever is attributed either to the Tabernacle or to any of its appurtenances; so that, if we go beyond what is suggested directly by the names or uses of the Tabernacle, or its parts, we are in danger of falling into what is arbitrary or baseless. Bearing this in our minds, we may however observe that by one of its principal names, the mishkân, or ‘Dwelling’ (see on Exodus 25:9), the Tabernacle expresses in a sensible form the truth of God’s presence in the midst of His people; by another of its principal names, the ‘Tent of Meeting’ (Exodus 27:21), it gives expression to the truth that God is not only present with His people, but that He reveals Himself to them; by its third name, the ‘Tent (or Dwelling) of the Witness or Testimony,’ it reminded the Israelite that in the Decalogue, inscribed on the Tables in the Ark, it contained an ever-present witness to the claims of God and the duty of man. These three, especially the first, are the fundamental ideas symbolized by the Tabernacle. But there are also other ideas. Thus the gold, and costly, beautifully worked fabrics, which decorated, especially, the Holy of holies, and were also conspicuous in the gorgeous vestments of the high priest, give expression to the thought that the Dwelling, and the most responsible ministers of God, should be decked, or apparelled, with becoming splendour and dignity. The Bronze Altar, standing midway between the entrance to the court and the Tent, emphasized the importance of sacrifice in general under the old Dispensation (see further on Leviticus 1-5.), and taught the truth that ‘apart from shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22); while the burnt-offering, offered daily upon it on behalf of the community, gave expression to the spirit of worship which Israel as a whole should ever be actuated, and symbolized its constant sense of the devotion due from it to its divine Lord. The Laver, standing probably directly in front of the entrance to the Tent, in which the priests washed their hands and feet before their ministrations, secured the ceremonial purity, which was an emblem of the moral purity, that should belong to those who are the ministers of God. The Presence-bread—whatever it may have denoted originally (see on Exodus 25:30)—is an expression of thankfulness, and an acknowledgement that man’s daily bread,—is a like all other ‘blessings of this life,’—divine gift. The symbolism of the Candlestick is less obvious: none is suggested by the text; and any that may be proposed is in danger of being far-fetched, or of being read into the description as an afterthought: but—whether this was its original intention, or not—the candlestick may perhaps be most easily regarded as symbolizing the people of Israel, shining with the light of divine truth (cf. the figure of ‘light’ in Isaiah 51:4, Matthew 5:16 f., Php 2:15; and Revelation 1:12; Revelation 1:20, where the seven golden candlesticks seen in vision are said to denote the seven churches). The interpretation of Zechariah 4:1-4; Zechariah 4:11-13 is too uncertain to be used in explaining the symbolism of the candlestick in the Tabernacle (see the Century Bible, p. 203 f.): moreover, the candlestick there is differently constructed, and the lamps are differently supplied with oil. The Altar of Incense symbolized a higher form of devotion than the altar of burnt-offering: the smoke of incense was finer and choicer than that of animal victims; and it symbolized the devotion not of action, but of aspiration and prayer (cf. Psalm 141:2, Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3 f.): the blood of the sin-offering was also applied to the altar of incense, when it was offered for the high priest or the community (Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18 : see also Exodus 30:10). The ark itself, sacred though it is, does not in P enshrine or symbolize the divine Presence: it contains the Decalogue, which is the ‘witness’ to God’s claims and man’s duty: but the Presence is symbolized by the golden cherubim upon it—which are regularly the emblems of the nearness of deity (see on Exodus 25:18-20)—‘from between’ which, and above the ark, Jehovah speaks with Moses. And the cherubim rest upon the golden mercy-seat, or ‘propitiatory,’ symbolizing, with special emphasis and clearness, the mercifulness of God (Exodus 34:6 f.), and His readiness to forgive sin which has been repented of, and duly purged away (p. 332) by a propitiatory rite. The purification of the altar of burnt-offering (see on Exodus 29:36 f.), and the anointing of the Tabernacle and its vessels after their completion (Exodus 30:26-29), signified that objects designed for sacred purposes must be properly consecrated before being actually used in the service of Jehovah. And the ascending degrees of sanctity, attaching to the court, the Holy place, and the Holy of holies, marked both by the materials of which they were constructed, and by the fact that while the people generally might enter the court, only the priests could enter the Holy place, and only the high priest, and he only once a year, and that ‘not without blood,’ the Holy of holies, safeguarded, in an impressive and significant manner, the holiness of God; and shewed that, though the way to Him was open, it was open only under restrictions (Heb Exo 9:8), and especially that the Presence of God Himself could be approached only by those who were, in a special sense, ‘holy’ (cf. Lev Exo 19:2), and who carried with them the blood of atonement. According to the historical view of the Old Testament, these truths and principles do not date from Moses’ time, but were acquired gradually as the result of divinely guided meditation and reflection upon sacred things: but the question the actual date at which they were acquired does not affect their reality and value.

The symbolical meanings attached to the Tabernacle and its vessels, vestments of the high priest, &c., by Josephus and Philo (see Westcott, Hebrews, p. 238 f.), are cleverly drawn out, and testify to the reverence and regard with which the Tabernacle was viewed, but are too remote to possess probability.

In the NT. the Tabernacle is explained symbolically from a different point of view. In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is represented as constructed so as to reproduce a heavenly archetype—not a mere architect’s model, such as Exodus 25:9 would naturally suggest, but—a real and eternal heavenly original, the genuine ‘tent,’ pitched by God, not man (Exodus 8:2),—‘a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, and not of this creation,’ i.e. not of this visible order of things (Exodus 9:11),—whether by this is meant heaven itself, or an ideal celestial temple in heaven,—of which the earthly tabernacle is merely a secondary representation, a copy (ὑπόδειγμα, Exodus 8:5, Exodus 9:23 : cf. Wis 9:8) and shadow (Exodus 8:5), or counterpart (ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν). And into this heavenly Temple, the archetype of the earthly tabernacle, Christ, the ideal and perfect High Priest, entered, like the Jewish high priest, only not with the blood of animal victims, but with His own blood, to appear before God, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Exodus 9:12; Exodus 9:23-26; cf. on Leviticus 16). Thus while Josephus and Philo regarded the Tabernacle as a microcosm, or ‘epitome of that which is presented on a larger scale in the world of finite being’ (Westcott, p. 240), the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews regards it as the temporal and material counterpart of an eternal and invisible temple in heaven. The Tabernacle further corresponds to Christ’s humanity. God ‘dwelt’ in the midst of His people in the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 25:9) of a tent; and the Word, when He took flesh, ‘dwelt as in a tent or tabernacle’ (ἐσκήνωσεν) among us, and manifested His ‘glory’ to the world (John 1:14). And entrance into (the presence of God, which was all but closed under the older Dispensation, is now opened, by the blood of Jesus, ‘through a new and living way, which he hath dedicated for us, through the veil, that is to say, through his flesh’ (Hebrews 10:20); on which A. B. Davidson (ad loc.) remarks, ‘This beautiful allegorizing of the veil cannot of course be made part of a consistent and complete typology. It is not meant for this. But as the veil stood locally before the holiest in the Mosaic Tabernacle, the way into which lay through it, so Christ’s life in the flesh stood between Him and His entrance before God, and His flesh had to be rent ere He could enter.’

There is no question that the Tent of Meeting, as described by J and E, is historical; but there are strong reasons for holding that the Tent of Meeting, as described by P, represents an ideal, and had no historical reality. See on this question p. 426 ff.

The execution of the directions given in chs. 25–31 is narrated in chs. 35–40, and (Exodus 29:1-37) Leviticus 8,—mostly in the same words, with merely the future tenses changed into pasts, but with a few cases of abridgment, omission, and transposition. In the notes on 25–31 the passages in 35–40 which correspond are noted at the beginning of each paragraph by ‘cf.’

The general structure and character of the Tabernacle are perfectly clear: but great difficulty and uncertainty attach to some of the details. It is impossible within the limits of the present commentary to discuss the doubtful or disputed points. The following notes are indebted frequently to Kennedy’s full and illuminative art. Tabernacle in DB.; a statement and criticism of divergent views upon the principal doubtful points will be found in Benzinger’s ably written art. Tabernacle in EB.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
1–9. Contribution of materials for a sanctuary (cf. Exodus 35:20-29). All liberally-minded Israelites are invited to contribute the materials necessary for the construction and equipment of a sanctuary—its fabric, its sacred vessels, and (ch. 28) the vestments of its priests. The materials are to include metals, textile fabrics, skins, wood, oil, spices, and precious stones. The sanctuary, when completed, is to form an abode in which Jehovah may dwell in the midst of His people (v. 8).

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
2. offering] better, contribution. The Heb. tărûmâh (from hçrîm, to lift or take off) denotes properly what is ‘taken off’ from a larger mass, and so separated from it for sacred purposes (LXX. often ἀφαίρεμα, ‘something taken off’; Targ. אפרשותא, ‘something separated’). RVm. heave-offering (also sometimes in the text, as Numbers 18:8; Numbers 18:11) is due to the mistaken idea that the term implies a rite of elevation: see against this, Oehler, Theol. of OT. § 133, or Di. on Leviticus 7:32. Těrûmâh is used in particular (1) of gifts taken from the produce of the soil (as tithe, firstfruits, and firstlings), Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:11; Deuteronomy 12:17, Numbers 15:19-21; Numbers 18:11 (see vv. 12, 13), Nehemiah 10:37; Nehemiah 10:39; (2) of contributions of money, spoil, &c., offered for sacred purposes, as here, v. 3, Exodus 30:13-15, Exodus 35:5; Exodus 35:21; Exodus 35:24, Exodus 36:3; Exodus 36:6, Numbers 31:29, Ezra 8:25; and in Ezek. of the land reserved for the priests and Levites (Ezekiel 45:1; Ezekiel 45:6-7, &c.—here rendered ‘oblation’); (3) in connexion with sacrifices, only of portions ‘taken off’ the rest, and forming the priest’s due, especially of the so-called ‘heave-’ thigh (comp. on Exodus 29:27). See more fully the writer’s note on Deuteronomy 12:6, or DB. Offer, Offering, 5. The term is a distinctive one, and differs entirely in both meaning and application from minḥâh and ḳorbân, both of which are also in RV. often rendered ‘offering,’ ‘oblation’: see DB. l.c. The reader who wishes to distinguish accurately the uses of these three terms is advised to ascertain, with the help of the Englishman’s Heb. Concordance to the OT., their occurrences, and to place a mark against each on the margin—ת׳ (t.), מ׳ (m.), or ק׳ (ḳ.), as the case may be.

whose heart maketh him willing] or liberal, ready: cf. Exodus 35:5, Exodus 21, 22, 29; also the cognate verb, in the reflexive conj., Jdg 5:2; Jdg 5:9 (of volunteering in a campaign), and 16 times in Chr., Ezr., Neh., esp. in the chronicler’s representations of the offerings made willingly for both the first and the second Temples (1 Chronicles 29:5-6; 1 Chronicles 29:9; 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Chronicles 29:17; Ezra 1:6; Ezra 2:68; Ezra 3:5).

And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
3. The metals. Gold, silver, and copper are specified, the gold being prescribed, in accordance with a significant gradation, for those vessels and parts of the sanctuary which were nearest to Jehovah, the silver and the copper for those which were further off and less important. Of gold there was a superior kind, called pure (lit. clean) gold, i.e. gold more carefully freed from silver or alloy than ordinary gold. ‘Pure gold’ is thus prescribed for the gilding of the ark, and for the mercy-seat (vv. 11, 17); for the gilding of the table of Presence-bread, and for its vessels (vv. 24, 29); for the candlestick and its utensils (vv. 31, 36 ff.); for the gilding of the altar of incense (Exodus 30:3); and for the chains for the sacred pouch, and the plate on the mitre, in the high priest’s dress (Exodus 28:14; Exodus 28:22; Exodus 28:36). Ordinary gold is prescribed for the rim and rings, and for the gilding of the staves, of the Ark, table of Presence-bread, and incense altar (Exodus 25:11-13; Exodus 24, 25, 26, 28; Exodus 30:3-5); for the cherubim on the mercy-seat (Exodus 25:18); for the clasps of the curtains (Exodus 26:6); for the gilding of the frames and of the bars outside, and of the pillars for the veil and for the screen (Exodus 26:29; Exodus 26:32; Exodus 26:37); for the rings outside the frames for the bars (Exodus 26:29); for the hooks attaching the veil and the screen to their pillars (Exodus 26:32; Exodus 26:37); and for the gold thread, rosettes, rings for the sacred pouch, and bells, in the high priest’s dress (Exodus 28:6; Exodus 28:8; Exodus 28:15; Exodus 11, 13, 20; Exodus 23, 26, 27; Exodus 33). Silver is prescribed for the sockets of the frames, and of the pillars for the veil (Exodus 26:19; Exodus 26:25; Exodus 26:32); and for the hooks and fillets of the pillars of the court (Exodus 27:10-11; Exodus 27:17); and copper for the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 27:2-4; Exodus 27:6); the sockets and pins of the court (Exodus 27:10 f., 17–19); and the laver (Exodus 30:18).

brass] bronze, or copper (Genesis 4:22 RVm.), which, indeed, was the meaning of ‘brass’ in old English: in Holland’s Pliny, for instance, mention is made of ‘mines of brass’ (cf. Deuteronomy 8:9). The alloy of copper and zinc which we call ‘brass’ was not known to the ancients. ‘Bronze,’ i.e. copper hardened by tin, was much used anciently for weapons and other implements, before iron came into general use.

And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,
4. Materials spun or woven.

blue] more exactly, purple-blue (LXX. ὑάκινθος, ὑακίνθινος, ‘dark blue’), or violet (Esther 1:6 AV.), i.e. yarn or stump so coloured by means of a dye obtained from a shell-fish, found adhering to rocks in the Medit. Sea (cf. Ezekiel 27:7), and said to be the Helix Ianthina (Ges. Thes. 1503; DB. i. 457a). Both this and the next named stuff were highly prized in antiquity, on account of their costliness and brilliancy. Violet is mostly mentioned in connexion with the Tent of meeting: but see also Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 23:7; Ezekiel 27:7; Ezekiel 27:24, Esther 1:6; Esther 8:15, Sir 6:30.

purple] more exactly, purple-red (LXX. πορφύρα), a dye extracted from a small gland in the throat of two other species of shell-fish, the Murex brandaris and Murex trunculus, found on the coasts of Phoenicia (cf. Verg. ‘Tyrioque ardebat murice laena’). Robes of this colour were particularly distinctive of wealth and royalty: comp. Jdg 8:26, Ezekiel 23:6, Song of Solomon 3:10, 1Ma 4:23; 1Ma 10:20, Mark 15:17, Luke 16:19; and the frequent mention of purpura, purpureus by Latin authors in connexion with royalty.

scarlet] lit. ‘worm of shânî,’ i.e. probably (comp. the Arab, sanâ, to shine) ‘of brilliancy’ (cf. Pliny, H.N. xxxiii. 40 ‘cocci nitor’). The ‘worm’ is the cochineal insect, which resembles a berry, and is found attached to the leaves and twigs of the Syrian Holm-oak (whence its technical name of coccus ilicis): the colouring matter is obtained from the dried body of the female. (Our word ‘crimson’ comes from ḳirmiz, the Arabic name of the same insect.) See further NHB. 319, EB. i. 956, DB. iv. 416b. For allusions to this colour (outside the following chapters), see Isaiah 1:18, Jeremiah 4:30, 2 Samuel 1:24, Proverbs 31:1.

fine linen] Heb. shçsh, prob. of Egypt, origin (cf. Ezekiel 27:7; and Copt. shens = byssus): linen was much worn in Egypt by men of rank; see Erman, Index, or DB. s.v.; and cf. Genesis 41:42. LXX. βύσσος, βύσσινος, from bûẓ, the later Heb. syn. of shçsh (found exclusively in Chr., Est., as 1 Chronicles 15:27). The marg. cotton is less probable: see EB. iii. 2800. There was a superior quality of fine linen, called ‘fine twined linen’ (Exodus 26:1; Exodus 26:31; Exodus 26:36, Exodus 27:9; Exodus 27:16; Exodus 27:18, Exodus 28:6; Exodus 28:8; Exodus 28:15, Exodus 39:28-29): this was made from yarn of which each thread was composed of many delicate strands. The Egyptians excelled in work of this kind: Amâsis (b.c. 564–526) was said to have sent to Rhodes a corslet of which each thread consisted of 360 separate strands (Hdt. iii. 47, cited by Kn.; cf. Wilkinson-Birch, ii. 166 f.).

goats’ hair] This was spun by women into yarn (Exodus 35:26): the fabric woven from it formed the ‘tent,’ or first covering, over the curtains constituting the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 26:7). See also Exo 1 Samuel 19:13.

And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,
5. Skins and wood.

rams’ skins dyed red] These formed the second covering over the certains (Exodus 26:14).

sealskins] Heb. ‘skins of tĕḥâshim,’ a word of uncertain meaning. In Arab. tuḥas or duḥas means a dolphin, which makes it probable that the dugong (Malay duyong, a sea-cow) is meant, an animal in general appearance not unlike a dolphin, though with a larger and blunter nose (see ill. in Toy’s Ezekiel, in SBOT., p. 124), species of which are common in the Red Sea; their thick and hard skins supply the Bedawin of the Sin. Peninsula with material for sandals (NHB. 44 f.; EB. i. 450 f.). An alternative view has been propounded lately, which may also be right, that taḥash is a loan-word from the Egypt. tḥs, ‘leather’ (Bondi, Aegyptiaca, 1 ff., with a full discussion of different views). The third or outermost covering over the curtains forming the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 26:14, &c.), wrappings for the sacred vessels on transport (Numbers 4:6 ff.), and women’s sandals (Ezekiel 16:10), are mentioned as made of taḥash skins. AV. badgers, though some such animal is advocated in the Talm., lacks philological foundation, and has no probability. It is doubtful also whether either seals or porpoises (RV. and RVm.) are sufficiently common in either the Red Sea or the Medit. to be the animals intended.

acacia] Heb. shiṭṭim [for shinṭim], shewn to be acacia, from sanṭ, the Arab. name of that tree. Several species of acacia are found in Palestine, the Sin. Peninsula, and the Arabian desert (EB. s.v. Shittah tree): the Acacia seyâl flourishes in dry wâdys, and grows freely in the Peninsula, and along the W. shore of the Dead Sea: it is a gnarled and thorny tree, some 15–25 feet in height: and its wood is hard, close-grained, and durable (cf. the rend. of LXX. ξύλα ἄσεπτα). According to Doughty (Arab. Des. ii. 678, cited in EB. l.c.), another species is used for shipbuilding on the Arabian coast of the Red Sea. The wood of the tree is mentioned only in the Pent., in connexion with the Tent of Meeting: the tree itself is mentioned also in Isaiah 41:19. See further NHB. 390 ff., DB. Shiṭṭah tree, the illustration above, p. 181; and the note on Joel 3:18 in the Camb. Bible.

Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
6. Oil and spices. For the reason of the verse being assigned to P3[199], see pp. 296, 328: cf. pp. 378 f., and xi f.

[199] Secondary strata of P (see p. xii top; pp. 328f., 378).

oil for the light] See on Exodus 27:20.

spices for the anointing oil] Exodus 30:22 ff.

and for the incense of fragrant powders] Exodus 30:34 ff.

Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
7. Precious stones.

onyx] Heb. shôham, a precious stone highly valued in OT. times (cf. Genesis 2:12, Ezekiel 28:13, Job 28:16, 1 Chronicles 29:1). There is, how ever, some uncertainty what the shôham was, though it is generally supposed to be either the onyx (LXX. in Job; Vulg.) or (RVm.) the beryl (LXX. in Ex.; Targ., Pesh.): see further on Exodus 28:20. For the use made of these stones, see Exodus 28:17; Exodus 28:20.

stones to be set] Cf. 1 Chronicles 29:2; and see on Exodus 28:17; Exodus 28:20.

for the ephod, and for the pouch] Exodus 28:6 ff., Exodus 28:13 ff.

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
8. sanctuary] about 12 times in H and P (as Leviticus 19:30; Leviticus 12:4); often in Ezek., of the Temple (as Ezekiel 5:11, Ezekiel 8:6, Ezekiel 44:1; Ezekiel 44:5, &c.), and occasionally besides (as ch. Exodus 15:17, Jeremiah 17:12, Psalm 73:17).

that I may dwell in their midst] Cf. Exodus 29:45 f., Numbers 5:3 : also Ezekiel 43:7; Ezekiel 43:9, Zechariah 2:10-11; Zechariah 8:3; and, in the ideal consummation, Revelation 21:3. This is the essential aim and object of the Tent of Meeting as conceived by P. Cf. the next note but one. The verb is the one from which Shekinah, ‘that which dwelleth,’ the post-Bibl. term for the Presence or Manifestation of Jehovah, is derived: see the Jewish Encycl. or DB. s.v. It is very common in the Targums: thus Deuteronomy 1:42 is in Onk. ‘for my Shekinah is not among you.’ For the idea of Jehovah’s being, or ‘dwelling,’ ‘in the midst’ (בתוך) of His people see also Leviticus 15:31; Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 22:32; Leviticus 26:11-12, Numbers 16:3; Numbers 18:20; Numbers 35:34 (all P or H).

According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
9. The sanctuary is to be constructed in accordance with a model shewn to Moses in the mount (v. 40, Exodus 26:30, Exodus 27:8; Numbers 8:4). Gudea, king of Lagash (c. 3000 b.c.), was shewn in a dream, by the goddess Nina, the complete model of a temple which he was to erect in her honour: gold, precious stones, cedar, and other materials for the purpose were collected by him from the most distant countries (Rogers, Hist. of Bab. and Ass. i. 369 f.; Maspero, i. 610 f.).

the tabernacle] the Dwelling, Heb. mishkân, cognate with the verb rendered ‘dwell’ in v. 8. In AV. the word ‘tabernacle’ (derived from the tabernaculum of the Vulg., and therefore meaning properly simply a ‘tent’), through a confusion originating with the LXX. (who in the Pent. rendered both words by σκηνή), was used indiscriminately for ’ôhel (‘tent’) and mishkân (‘dwelling’): in RV. the distinction has been preserved by rendering ’ôhel ‘tent,’ and mishkân ‘tabernacle.’ This is undoubtedly a great improvement: the retention of ‘tabernacle’ for mishkân has, however, the disadvantage of obliterating the connexion between mishkân, ‘dwelling,’ and the cognate verb shâkan, to ‘dwell.’ Dwelling would have been the better rend. for mishkân throughout.

As regards mishkân, it is to be observed that it is used in P in both in narrower and a wider sense. In its narrower, and stricter sense, it is used of the tapestry curtains with their supporting frames, which constituted the ‘Dwelling’ par excellence (see Exodus 26:1; Exodus 26:6; Exodus 26:15; and cf. Exodus 40:2; Exodus 40:6, Numbers 3:25); but in its wider sense it is extended so as to be a general term for the entire fabric of the sanctuary, including the ‘tent’ and other coverings (Exodus 26:7; Exodus 26:14) over the ‘Dwelling’ (so here, Numbers 16:9; Numbers 17:13, and elsewhere). Mishkân, in one or other of these technical senses, occurs about 100 times in P; and is used similarly a few times to Chr. (as 1 Chronicles 6:32; 1 Chronicles 16:39): otherwise the word is rare, and mostly poetical. The commonest expression (about 130 times) for the sanctuary as a whole is, however, the ‘Tent of Meeting’ (see on Exodus 27:21).

furniture] The wide term explained on Exodus 22:7, and including here all articles, vessels, utensils, &c., belonging to the sanctuary.

10–22 (cf. Exodus 37:1-9). The Ark, the most sacred and important of the articles contained in the sanctuary. The ark, as described by P, is an oblong chest of acacia wood, overlaid within and without with gold, about 3 ft. 9 in. long, 2 ft. 3 in. wide, and 2 ft. 3 in. deep; each of sides is finished with a rim, or moulding, of solid gold; and for its transport it is provided with two poles of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, which pass through four rings, attached to its four feet. Distinct from the ark, but resting upon it, is the ‘mercy-seat,’ or ‘propitiatory,’ a slab of solid gold, of the same length and breadth as the ark (its thickness is not stated): and near the ends of this, soldered securely into it, and facing each other, with their wings spread out over the mercy-seat, stand two small emblematic figures, the cherubim, made of beaten gold. Inside the ark are the two tables upon which the Decalogue is inscribed. From between the cherubim above the mercy-seat Jehovah ‘meets’ Moses, and speaks with him (Exodus 25:22, Exodus 30:6, Numbers 7:89).

And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
10. an ark] The Heb. word (’ârôn: not the word used of Moses ‘ark,’ Exodus 2:3) signifies a box or chest: it is used in Genesis 50:26 of a mummy case, and in 2 Kings 12:9-10, of a coffer for the collection of money. The cubit may be reckoned approximately at 18 inches1[200].

[200] The dimensions of the restored Temple, pictured by Ezek., are given (Ezekiel 40:5; Ezekiel 43:13) in cubits measuring ‘a cubit and an handbreadth’ (=a cubit +1/6); and this fact, taken in conjunction with 2 Chronicles 3:3 [read former for first], has led to the conclusion that the cubit in use when the Temple was built was longer than the common cubit of Ez.’s day by 1/6th. The shorter cubit is estimated at 17.6–7 inches, and the longer at 20.5–6 inches (see DB. iv. 906b ff.; or EB. iv. 5292 f.). Which cubit is referred to by P is uncertain: but for the purpose of forming a general idea of the Tabernacle, as conceived by him, the difference is immaterial. It is remarkable that in Egypt also two cubits were in use, of almost exactly the same lengths, the ‘short cubit (= 17.68 in.) of 6 handbreadths, and the ‘royal’ cubit of 7 handbreadths (DB iv. 907b).

And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
11. pure gold] See on v. 3.

a crown] Heb. zçr, the Syr. zîr means a collar or necklace. What is meant is prob. an ornamental moulding, running in relief round the ark—whether at the top of its four sides, or in the middle, is not stated—and worked perhaps in the shape of a bead or rope (LXX. κυμάτια στρεπτά: cf. the description in Pseudo-Aristeas (ed. Wendland, § 58 (cited DB. iv. 663a); or in Swete, Introd. to OT. in Greek, p. 530) of the zçr or the Table of Presence-bread, made for the Temple of Leontopolis, τὴν ἀναγλυφὴν ἔχοντα σχοινίδων ἔκτυπον). The table of Presence-bread, and the altar of incense, had similar decorations (vv. 24 f., Exodus 30:3 f.). ‘Crown’ comes through the Vulg. corona (Exodus 25:11, Exodus 30:3) from LXX. στεφάνη (Exodus 25:24, Exodus 30:3); but it does not suggest a very clear idea of what is intended. If the zçr ran round the top of the ark, it may have projected upwards and outwards a little, so that the mercy-seat might rest within it.

And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
12. in] on, i.e. fasten them on to.

feet] short supports for the ark. Not the word used in v. 26.

on the one side, &c.] It is not stated whether the longer or the shorter sides are meant. The former are commonly thought of: but if the writer thought that the Divine throne should always face in the direction in which it was borne (v. 14), the latter will have been intended (DB. iv. 665b; cf. 1 Kings 8:8). ‘Rib’(marg.) fig. for side occurs also v. 14, Exodus 26:20; Exodus 26:26-27; Exodus 26:35, Exodus 27:7, 2 Samuel 16:13 al.

And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
13–15. Poles of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, to be made for the transport of the ark. Cf. 1 Kings 8:7 f. Similar poles are provided for carrying the table of Presence-bread, vv. 27 f., the altar of burnt-offering, Exodus 26:6 f., and the altar of incense, Exodus 30:4 f. The word (bad), except in these connexions, is rare. Egyptian shrines, and sacred ‘arks,’ were carried in procession similarly: see Wilk.-B. iii., Plate opp. p. 355, E; EB. i. 307; Erman, p. 276.

And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
16. the testimony] i.e. the attestation, or (cf. the cognate verb in Psalm 50:7 ‘testify,’ Jeremiah 11:7 ‘protest’) affirmation, averment, viz. of God’s will, and man’s duty, expressed in the Decalogue. In Dt. (Deuteronomy 4:45, Deuteronomy 6:17; Deuteronomy 6:20), and Deuteronomic writers (as 1 Kings 2:3), and writers influenced by them (as Psalm 119:2; Psalm 119:14), the same—or almost the same—word is used, in the plural, of Divine commandments in general, as averments of God’s will; in P, in the singular, it occurs 36 times, for the Decalogue in particular, both absolutely, as here, v. 21, Exodus 16:34, Leviticus 16:13 al., and in the expressions, the ark, tables, Dwelling (RV. tabernacle: see on v. 9), tent, and veil, of the testimony (v. 22, Exodus 26:33, Exodus 31:18, Exodus 38:21, Leviticus 24:3, Numbers 1:50; Numbers 17:7, &c.). Cf. p. 193. ‘Testimony’ may also denote the law in general (Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:88).

And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
17. a mercy-seat] or, if the word could be revived, a propitiatory. This was a slab of gold, of the same length and breadth as the ark, and laid upon its top. The term mercy-seat was used first by Tindale (1530), being adopted by him from Luther’s Gnadenstuhl (1523). The Heb. is kappôreth, formed from kipper, to make propitiation (see on Exodus 30:10), and meaning properly a propitiating thing, or means of propitiation (LXX. mostly ἱλαστήριον [so in Philo, EB. iii. 3032, and Hebrews 9:5]; Vulg. propitiatorium, whence Wyclif’s rend. the ‘propitiatory’). It is true, the blood was the actual means of propitiation in the Lev. system (Leviticus 17:11); but the term may have been applied to the ‘mercy-seat’ on account of its being the means of bringing the blood as near as possible to Jehovah on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:14 f.). Covering (RVm.), or cover, though adopted by many modern scholars (cf. LXX. here [not elsewhere] ἱλαστήριον ἐπίθεμα, a ‘propitiatory cover or lid’), is a questionable rend.: for though kafara means to cover or conceal in Arabic, kâphar in Heb., if ‘cover’ is its primary meaning (which is very doubtful: see on Exodus 30:10), means to ‘cover’ not in a literal sense, but always in a metaph. sense (by a gift, offering, or rite). See further on the word (and also on its Greek rend. ἱλαστήριον, both in LXX. and in Romans 3:25) Deissmann’s full and interesting art. Mercy-seat in EB.

The special sanctity of the kappôreth was due naturally to the fact that Jehovah was regarded as speaking, or appearing, immediately above it (v. 22, Leviticus 16:2, Numbers 7:89); and so it is spoken of poetically as His footstool (Psalm 99:5; Psalm 132:7, 1 Chronicles 28:2). Outside P it is mentioned by name only in 1 Chronicles 28:11.

17–22. The mercy-seat and the two cherubim upon it.

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
18. of beaten work] like the lampstand (v. 31), and the two silver trumpets (Numbers 10:2). RVm. is not probable. LXX. here τορευτὸς (in Nu. ἐλατός), Vulg. ductilis, perductilis, i.e. drawn or beaten out.

18–20. The cherubim. The cherubim were composite emblematic figures, always implying the nearness of the deity, and appearing distinctively in the OT. (1) as bearers of the deity, (2) as guardians of a sacred spot. Thus (1) in Psalm 18:10 Jehovah rides on a cherub in the thunderstorm; in Psalm 80:1 and elsewhere, He is described, with allusion to the cherubim in the Temple, as ‘sitting upon’ them; and in the vision of Ezekiel (Exodus 1:5 ff., cf. Exodus 10:1 ff.) four cherubim bear the ‘firmament,’ which supports Jehovah’s throne: in Ezekiel 1:6-10 it is said that each had four faces (of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle), fourth wings, the hands of a man, and the feet of calves. Figures of cherubim were also carved as ornaments upon the walls and doors of the Temple (1 Kings 6:29; 1 Kings 6:32; 1 Kings 6:35), and on the bases of the ten lavers (1 Kings 7:29): in Exodus 26:31 they are to be worked into the veil in front of the Most holy place, and in Ezekiel 41:18-20; Ezekiel 41:25 cherubim with two faces, one that of a man, the other that of a lion, are to be carved on the walls and doors of the restored Temple. (2) As guardians of a sacred spot, cherubim appear in Genesis 3:24, and in the remarkable picture of the glory of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:13-17 [read, after LXX., in v. 14 ‘With the cherub I set thee, thou wast in the holy mountain of God,’ and v. 16 end ‘and the cherubis destroyed thee from the midst,’ &c.; see Davidson’s notes in the Camb. Bible]. In origin, the cherub doubtless a mythological conception; Psalm 18:10 would suggest that it arose in a personification of the thunder-cloud, within which the Hebrews believed Jehovah to be borne along (see on Exodus 9:23 a). Composite figures of different kinds were, however, common in the art of many of Israel’s neighbours,—Egyptians, Phoenicians, Hittites, Babylonians, and Assyrians,—from one or other of whom they also found their way into early Greek art1[201]; and it is highly probable that elements from some of these quarters were also combined in the Hebrew idea of a cherub2[202]. See further Cherub in DB., EB.,; and DB. v. 644.

[201] Comp. the illustrations of winged human figures, including one with an eagle’s head, in Ball’s Light from the East, pp. 28–33; and the gold-guarding γρῦπες (eagle-headed lions), told of by the Greeks (Aesch. P. V. 803 f.; Hdt. iii. 116, iv. 13, 27), derived, as Furtwängler thinks, from Hittite art; also the winged animals on the bronze stands from Larnaka, figured in Burney’s Notes on the Heb. text of Kings, opp. to p. 91. The etymology of cherub is not known; nor has the word been found hitherto [1910] in any Bab. or Ass. inscription (see KAT.3 p. 632, n. 5).

[202] See Furtwängler’s very full art. Gryps in Roscher’s Mythologisches Lexicon.

And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
19. of one piece with] Heb. out of: the same idiom, vv. 31, 35, Exodus 27:2, Exodus 28:8, Exodus 30:2. The meaning is, the cherubim were not to be removable, they were to be so securely soldered to the mercy-seat as to form a whole with it.

And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
20. shall spread out] Heb. shall be spreading out, describing their permanent condition: the idiom, as Genesis 1:6, and frequently.

with their faces, &c.] These cherubim, unlike those of Ezek. (see above), are pictured therefore as having only one face each. The cherubim in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:23-28), it is to be noted, differed materially from those here described. Solomon’s cherubim were colossal figures, each ten cubits (15 ft.) high; they were not of gold, but of olive wood, overlaid with gold; they were not upon the ark, nor did they face each other; they stood, one on each side of the ark, facing the entrance to the Holy of holies, and their four outstretched wings, each 5 cubits (7½ ft.) long, extended across from one wall of the Holy of holies to the other.

And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
21. Cf. Exodus 40:20.

And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
22. And there I will meet with thee] An explanation (cf. Exodus 30:6; Exodus 30:36; also, with the people as the object, Exodus 29:42-43, Numbers 17:4) of the term ‘Tent of Meeting’ (see on Exodus 27:21), as signifying the appointed place where Jehovah met Moses for the purpose of speaking with him. Not the word used in Exodus 3:18, Exodus 5:3, which means to ‘meet by chance.’

commune] an archaism for converse, occurring 28 times in AV., and 22 times in RV. (e.g. Genesis 18:33; Genesis 34:6; Genesis 34:8; Genesis 34:20). The Heb. is the ordinary word for speak.

from above, &c.] Cf. Numbers 7:89.

23–30 (cf. Exodus 37:10-16). The table of Presence-bread. This was a table of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, 2 cubits (3 ft.) long, one cubit (1½ ft.) broad, and 1½ cubits (2 ft. 3 in.) high. The top,—to judge from that of the Table represented on the Arch of Titus,—was some 6 in. thick; and the sides and ends of this were each decorated with a solid gold moulding running round it, giving them the appearance of panels sunk into the table (see the left end of the top as represented in the fig.). The legs, according to Josephus, were square in the upper, and rounded in the lower half, terminating in claws: they were connected by cross-stays, or frames, about 3 in. broad, probably about half-way down (see fragments of these frames in the fig.), which also had golden mouldings upon them. On the four legs, close by the cross-stays, were four rings, through which poles of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, were passed, when the table had to be moved. For the service of the table, various dishes and other vessels were provided, all made of gold.

Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.
24. a crown] rather, a beaded or spiral moulding, as explained on v. 11. The moulding appears (see the fig.) to have run all round the edge of each end and side, producing the appearance of four sunk panels: cf. Jos. Ant. iii. 6. 6 ‘and it is hollowed out on each side, hollowing out as it were the surface (of the side) for four finger-breadths, a spiral (moulding) running round both the upper and the lower part of the body (of the table).’

And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.
25. a border] a frame (Heb. enclosure), about 3 in. broad, running round the Table, either (as in modern tables) immediately below the top, or (to judge from what seem to be the remains of a ‘frame’ in the fig.) about half-way down the legs,—in either case helping to hold the legs firm in their places. This frame was also decorated with a moulding of gold, running round it.

The Table of Presence-bread, with incense-cups, and two silver trumpets (Numbers 10:2), as depicted on the Arch of Titus.

Reduced from Reland’s De spoliis Templi (1716), p. 70.

And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.
26. on (or at) the four corners of the four feet] The word for ‘feet’ is the one which ordinarily denotes the foot of a man or animal. The legs, it is probable, terminated in claws.

Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.
27. The rings were close by the points at which the ‘frame’ (v. 25) met the legs, and where probably the legs began to be rounded, and to assume the character of ‘feet.’

And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.
28. The staves, or poles, were to be like those for the ark, v. 13.

And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.
29. dishes] also Exodus 37:16, Numbers 4:7; Numbers , 14 times in Numbers 7 (‘charger,’ each weighing 130 shekels=c. 67 oz., and filled with fine flour mingled with oil). The root in Arab, signifies to be deep. A deep and large gold dish, or other similar vessel, must be thought of, in which the large oblong cakes were either brought to the Table, or laid out upon it.

spoons] cups for the frankincense, which was placed upon the loaves, and burnt (Leviticus 24:7) at the end of the week on the altar of burnt-offering: LXX. θυίσκαι (‘incense-cups’), as 1Ma 1:22. Also Exodus 37:16, Numbers 4:7; Numbers 4:16 times in Numbers 7 (each 10 shekels=5 oz. in weight, and filled with incense); and of the incense-cups in the Temple, 1 Kings 7:50 al. Cf. Jos. Ant. iii. 6. 6 ‘and above the loaves were placed two golden cups (φιάλαι) full of incense’; and the cups upon the Table on the Arch of Titus.

flagons … and chalices (Speaker’s Comm.; LXX. κύαθοι)] viz. for the wine, which, though this is not stated explicitly in the OT., apparently entered into the ritual of the Presence-bread. The flagons (also Exodus 37:16, Numbers 4:7, 1 Chronicles 28:17†) would be for keeping the wine in; the ‘chalices’ (Exodus 37:16, Numbers 4:7, Jeremiah 52:19†) for making the libations with,—we may suppose that, like other libations, they were poured out at the base of the Bronze altar (cf. Exodus 29:40; Sir 50:15).

And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.
30. shewbread] This rend. is first found in Tindale’s version of Hebrews 9:2 (1526), being derived by him apparently from Luther’s Schaubrot (1522). Though, however, a possible paraphrase of the expression used by Jerome (see below), it does not correctly represent the expression used here, which is undoubtedly Presence-bread (RVm.), i.e. bread set out in Jehovah’s presence, and designed originally as His food. The custom of presenting food on a table as an oblation to a god was widely diffused among ancient peoples: it will be sufficient to instance the lectisternia of the Romans, the similar custom abundantly attested for Assyria, even with the use of 12 loaves (EB. iv. 4116; KAT.3[203] 600), the tables which the idolatrous Israelites laid out for Gad, the god of fortune (Isaiah 65:11), Bar 4:30, and the story of Bel and the Dragon. The gods were supposed to require food and drink; and reverence towards them naturally took the form of supplying their needs. These were the ideas out of which no doubt the Heb. institution originated; but in the light of the higher religion of Israel the ‘continual bread’ (Numbers 4:7) acquired, we may be sure, a higher significance, and was regarded as a standing acknowledgement on the part of (Leviticus 24:8 RVm.) the children of Israel that Jehovah was the giver of their daily bread. See further on the Presence-bread (which is here mentioned only incidentally) the notes on Leviticus 24:5-9; Kennedy in DB. iv. 495 ff., 663; Jewish Encycl. art. Showbread; Edersheim, The Temple and its ministry, p. Exo 155 f. (with quotations from the Mishna). The antiquity of the institution is attested by the familiar incident, 1 Samuel 21:4-6.

[203] Die Keilinschriften und das A T., 1903, by H. Zimmern (pp. 345–653) and H. Winckler (pp. 1–342).

The post-exilic name of the Presence-bread—derived from the fact that the twelve large flat oblong cakes of which it consisted were arranged on the table in two piles (Leviticus 24:6)—was Bread set out (lit. Bread of arrangement), 1 Chronicles 9:32; 1 Chronicles 23:29 al. (cf. on Exodus 40:4). This was rendered by LXX. οἱ ἄρτοι τῆς προθέσεως, ‘the loaves of setting before’ (viz. before God: cf. προτίθημι, to ‘set before,’ of a meal), whence the NT. expression ὁ ἄρτος τῆς προθέσεως, Matthew 12:4 al. (for ἡ πρ. τῶν ἄρτων Hebrews 9:2, see 2 Chronicles 13:11 LXX.). Jerome’s panes propositionis is simply a lit. translation of the LXX. rend.; and this, understood as ‘loaves of exhibition,’ no doubt suggested to Luther his Schaubrot, whence our shewbread.

31–40 (cf. Exodus 37:17-24). The golden candlestick or lampstand. This consisted of a central stem, resting on feet, with three branches turned upwards and outwards on each side, the stem and branches being ornamented by the gold, at suitable distances, being beaten into the shape of the calyx and corolla of the almond-flower. The whole was of pure beaten gold, a talent (96 lb.) of the metal being employed in its construction. There were seven lamps, corresponding to the central stem and the six branches, which it was the duty of the priests to take off and trim daily, and to replace in the evening (Exo Exodus 27:21, Exodus 30:8).

And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
31. candlestick] Lampstand would be a more accurate rendering; but no doubt ‘candlestick’ (though the expression involves an anachronism) is generally understood here in the same sense.

its base] Heb. its thigh (or loins), which seems to include rather more than the ‘base,’ viz. the part of the central stem below the lowest pair of branches, as well as the actual base, probably some kind of tripod, into which it must ultimately have expanded.

The Golden Lampstand, as reconstructed by Prof. A. R. S. Kennedy.

From Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, iv. (1902), p. 663.

shaft] lit. reed.

its cups, (namely,) its knops, and its flowers] As v. 33 shews, the ‘cup is the whole opened flower, its component parts being the ‘knop’ and the ‘flower,’ or, in technical language, the calyx and the corolla, i.e. (roughly) the outer and inner leaves of the entire flower. ‘Knop’ is an old word meaning knob, or bud.

of one piece with it] See on v. 19.

And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
33. There were three of these cups, shaped like almond-flowers, in each of the six branches.

And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
34, 35. There were also four similar cups in the candlestick itself, i.e. in its central shaft. Vv. 34, 35 are commonly understood to mean that there were four cups altogether in the central shaft, one towards the top, and the other three so placed that the ‘knop’ was just below the points where the three pairs of branches diverged from the central shaft; but (observe ‘and’ at the beginning of v. 35) Kennedy (p. 664a) may be right in supposing the meaning to be that there were to be four ‘knops and flowers’ combined on the upper and lower parts of the shaft, and three ‘knops’ alone under the points where the three pairs of branches diverged from it.

And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
35. of one piece with it (thrice)] i.e. with the candlestick.

Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
37. the lamps] probably of the type called Phoenician, of which numerous specimens, made in terra cotta, have been found at Gezer, and other places excavated recently in Palestine: they are in shape like a shell or saucer, round or oval, open or covered in, as the case may be, and with the rim on one side pinched together, so as to form an orifice for the wick (see illustr. in DB. iii. 24).

light] fix on (cf. marg.), viz. every evening (Exodus 30:8). The Heb. is lit, bring up, i.e., as we should say, fix on (so Exodus 27:20; Exodus 30:8; Exodus 40:4; Exodus 40:25, Leviticus 24:2, Numbers 8:2-3†): the Rabb. interpretation ‘light’ is destitute of the smallest probability (for to ‘make the lamp go up’ is not the same thing as to ‘make the flame go up’).

over against it] in front of it, or straight forward, as the same expression is rendered in Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12; Ezekiel 10:22; cf. Numbers 8:2-3. The candlestick was to stand at the S. side of the Holy place; and the lamps were to be so adjusted that their wick-mouths turned northwards, and they lighted the space in front of the candlestick. ‘Over against’ is an old English expression meaning opposite to: but it is so little used now that it fails to convey a clear idea to the average reader.

And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
38. tongs] so Exodus 37:23, Numbers 4:9, 1 Kings 7:49 b (=2 Chronicles 4:21 a), Isaiah 6:6†. In Isaiah 6:6 we should still say ‘tongs’ (the Heb. is lit. the two takers), but not in the other cases. Probably in all cases something of the nature of tweezers for drawing up the wick is meant (like the forcipes figured in Smith’s Dict. of Class. Antiq.3. i. 872): ‘snuffers,’ which in the case of a lamp we should naturally think of, represents a different Heb. word (1 Kings 7:50 al.).

snuffdishes] so Exodus 37:23, Numbers 4:9. The same word (lit. (fire-) catcher) is also used for what we should denote by the separate terms fire-pan (Exodus 27:3 al.), and censer (Numbers 16:6 al.).

Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
39. a talent] probably (DB. iv. 903b, 906a) 673, 500 grs. = c. 96 lb. avoirdupois,—worth, at the present value of gold, c. £5460.

And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
40. Cf. v. 9: also Numbers 8:4; and Acts 7:44.

In Solomon’s Temple there were ten golden candlesticks, five standing on each side of the Holy place, in front of the adyton (1 Kings 7:49; cf. Jeremiah 52:19): in the post-exilic Temple there was only a single candlestick (1Ma 1:21; 1Ma 4:49). It is this which was taken from the Herodian Temple by the Romans, and is represented on the famous Arch of Titus. In the Temple at Shiloh there was only a single lamp (1 Samuel 3:3).

The Ark

It is impossible to give here a history of the Ark; but a few words may be permitted, respecting the religious ideas associated with it, and opinions as to its possible origin.

The oldest name of the ark was the ‘ark of Jehovah,’ Joshua 3:13 &c. (or ‘of God,’ 1 Samuel 3:3 &c.), or, less frequently, ‘the ark’ alone (Numbers 10:35 al.): the Deut. expression (see p. 193) is ‘the ark of the covenant’ (with or without ‘of Jehovah’ added): P’s characteristic expression is the ‘ark of the testimony’ (13 times: see on Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:22). Both these latter terms are used with allusion to the tables inscribed with the Decalogue, which,—as in our extant sources (see however on Exodus 34:3) we first learn from Deuteronomy 10:2; Deuteronomy 10:5,—were contained in it. In itself the ‘ark’ is similar in principle to the sacred chests in which many other ancient nations, as the Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, kept images, or other sacred objects, and sometimes also carried them in processions. Now it is noticeable that in nearly all the pre-Deuteronomic references, the ark—which in these passages ‘must be thought of as a simple chest, very different from the gold-covered shrine of P, with its’ massive golden ‘mercy-seat, and over-arching cherubim’ (Kennedy)—appears as much more than a mere receptacle of two inscribed stones; it is, in fact, in a very special sense, a symbol and pledge of Jehovah’s presence; and it is even spoken of as if He were actually present in it, so that wherever the ark was, Jehovah was there with it. Especially in war is it thus regarded as the material vehicle or accompaniment of Jehovah’s presence. In the ancient verses preserved in Numbers 10:35 f.—originally, to judge from the terms used, the prayer with which the Ark was sent forth to battle, and the welcome with which its return was greeted,—‘Arise, O Jehovah, and let thine enemies be scattered, Let them that hate thee flee before thee,’ and ‘Return, O Jehovah, to the myriads of Israel’s clans,’ Jehovah is addressed as though He were present in the ark, and moved with it. The case is similar in 1 Samuel 4:3, where the Hebrew sheikhs say, ‘Let us fetch the ark of Jehovah … from Shiloh, that it may come … and save us,’ and when it arrives, the Philistines exclaim (v. 7), ‘God is come into the camp’; and in Exodus 6:19, where, after the ark has been brought back, and some of the men of Bethshemesh are smitten, the others exclaim, ‘Who is able to stand before Jehovah this holy God?’ So in 2 Samuel 6:5 ff. David and the Israelites, accompanying the ark with dancing and music, are described as playing ‘before Jehovah’ (vv. 5, 21); and in Joshua 7:6-9 the Israelites fall down before the ark and pray to Him. It is also evidently as the pledge of Jehovah’s presence and effectual help, that in 2 Samuel 11:11 the ark is taken with the host on a campaign, and that in 2 Samuel 15:24 f. Zadok takes it with David, when he leaves Jerusalem (though the king magnanimously sends it back): in Numbers 14:44, on the contrary, its absence from the host (which is tantamount to Jehovah’s absence, v. 42) is the cause of defeat. Other ancient nations took images of their gods into battle (2 Samuel 5:21 : Rel. Sem. 37, citing Polyb. vii. 9, Diod. xx. 65 [the Carthaginians’ ‘sacred tent’]): the Israelites had a custom which was the same in principle; but their palladium was the image-less ark.

These passages, which shew that in early Israel the ark was, in a very real sense, identified with the presence of Jehovah, are not adequately explained if the only purpose of the ark was to form a receptacle for the two tables of stone. How the former conception of the ark arose, the extant narratives do not state: they describe the ark as made purely to receive the tables of stone; and in P Jehovah speaks not from the ark itself, but from between the cherubim upon it. We are therefore reduced to conjecture. When we remember that Jacob speaks of the stone at Bethel as being itself the ‘house,’ or abode, of God (Genesis 28:22), one supposition that suggests itself is that in very remote times the ark may have sheltered a sacred stone, regarded by the primitive Israelites as the abode of a deity (so Benz. Arch.1 369 [2312 a very different view]; Bä.; in greater detail, Cheyne, EB. i. 307 f.), but ‘transformed’ ultimately, ‘in reverent Hebrew thought “into a perfect written embodiment of the fundamental demands of Israel’s righteous God” ’ (McNeile, p. 163, without, however, definitely accepting this view). Such conjectures are not illegitimate: for our accounts of the beginnings of Israel’s religion, it must be borne in mind, are both imperfect in themselves, and spring from a time when higher and more spiritual ideas were current than had once been the case. Another view, which admits of being more easily accommodated to Exodus 33:1-7, is that the ark contained a stone, or stones, taken from the sacred ‘mount of God,’ Horeb, which was regarded as an assurance of the protecting presence of Jehovah (whose abode was on Sinai, Exodus 19:4) after they left it (Moore, EB. i. 2155): and there are independent reasons for thinking (see on Exodus 33:6) that the ark was originally conceived as supplying some kind of visible substitute for Jehovah’s personal presence. Or, thirdly, Kennedy may be right (Samuel, in the Century Bible, p. 324) in seeing in the ark an embodiment of that ‘Presence of Jehovah,’ which it is promised shall accompany Israel to Canaan (Exodus 33:14), as, not indeed Jehovah Himself, but His sufficient representative (cf. DB. i. 150 f.).

It is common to all these theories to regard the ark as not originally intended to receive the tables of the Decalogue: it is not probable, it is argued, that laws of fundamental importance, intended to be observed by all, should be placed where they could not be seen. The question cannot be here pursued further; and it must suffice to refer the reader, for fuller discussion, to Kennedy, DB. i. s.v., and Samuel, p. 321 ff.; Kautzsch, DB. v. 628 f., and McNeile, p. 161 ff. Jehovah’s presence, it is clear, was regarded as in some way ‘objectively attached to the ark’: but the historical origin of this idea our extant data do not enable us certainly to determine. And this is why we are driven to conjecture. It may only be worth while to add that in Jeremiah 3:16 the time is looked forward to, by the spiritually-minded prophet, when no such material symbol of Jehovah’s presence will be needed; and the ark, having served its purpose through many centuries, will be neither ‘remembered, nor missed (RVm.), nor made again.’

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