Exodus 26:37
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.
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(37) Five pillars.—The odd number is surprising, especially compared with the “four pillars” of the interior (Exodus 26:32), until we remember that a tent such as that described must have a pillar, or tent-pole, in the middle of its gable-end, and an equal number of supports on either side. It is, in fact, this fifth pillar which, together with the use of the word ’ohel, gives to the tent theory of Mr. Fergusson, now generally adopted, its solid basis.

Their hooks.—The hooks from which the hanging was to be suspended. (Comp. Exodus 26:32.)

Sockets of brass.—Rather, “of bronze.” (See Note on Exodus 25:3.)

26:31-37 A vail, or curtain, separated the holy place from the most holy place. It was hung upon pillars. This vail was for a partition between the holy place and the most holy; which forbade any to look into the holiest of all. The apostle tells what was the meaning of this vail, Heb 9:8. That the ceremonial law could not make the comers thereunto perfect, nor would the observance of it bring men to heaven; the way into the holiest of all was not made manifest, while the first tabernacle was standing. Life and immortality lay hidden till they were brought to light by the gospel; which was signified by the rending of this vail at the death of Christ, Mt 27:51. We have now boldness to enter into the holiest, in all acts of worship, by the blood of Jesus; yet such as obliges us to holy reverence. Another vail was for the outer door of the tabernacle. This vail was all the defence the tabernacle had. God takes care of his church on earth. A curtain shall be, if God please to make it so, as strong a defence to his house, as gates of brass and bars of iron. With this typical description of Christ and his church before us, what is our judgment of these matters? Do we see any glory in the person of Christ? any excellence in his character? any thing precious in his salvation? or any wisdom in the doctrine of the cross? Will our religion bear examination? and are we more careful to approve our hearts to God than our characters toward men?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.

Sockets of brass - Their bases (see Exodus 26:19) were of bronze (like the taches of the tentcloth, Exodus 26:11), not of silver, to mark the inferiority of the tent to 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.

(Compare Exodus 38:1-7.) The great altar which stood in the court immediately in front of the tabernacle was commonly called the altar of burnt-offering, because on it were burnt the whole burnt-offerings, and all those parts of the other animal sacrifices which were offered to the Lord. It was also called the brazen altar, because it was covered with bronze, in distinction from the golden altar or altar of incense Exodus 39:38-39; Exodus 40:5-6.

36. an hanging for the door of the tent—Curtains of rich and elaborate embroidery, made by the women, are suspended over the doors or entrances of the tents occupied by Eastern chiefs and princes. In a similar style of elegance was the hanging finished which was to cover the door of this tabernacle—the chosen habitation of the God and King of Israel. It appears from Ex 26:12, 22, 23, that the ark and mercy seat were placed in the west end of the tabernacle, and consequently the door or entrance fronted the east, so that the Israelites in worshipping Jehovah, turned their faces towards the west; that they might be thus figuratively taught to turn from the worship of that luminary which was the great idol of the nations, and to adore the God who made it and them [Hewlett]. No text from Poole on this verse.

And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood,.... One at each corner of the entrance into the tabernacle, and the other three at a proper distance from each other, so as to make four ways for the priests to enter in at; as there might very well be, since there was a breadth of ten cubits, or five yards or more:

and overlay them with gold; with plates of gold, for a gild would soon wear off by continual use in passing and repassing. This is to be understood not of the whole pillars, but of the chapiters, heads, tops, or knobs of them, and of their fillets or girdles; in some parts of them the wood appearing, as is plain from Exodus 36:38,

and their hooks shall be of gold; on which the hanging, covering, or vail was hung:

and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them; for the pillars to stand upon them, and were of a meaner metal than those on which the pillars for the vail before mentioned; that being the entrance into the holy of holies, where the divine Majesty dwelt, this into the holy place where the priests did their service.

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.
Verse 37. - Five pillars. The central pillar was, no doubt, as Mr. Fergusson long ago pointed out, one of two tent-poles, which supported between them a ridge-pole, over which were thrown the coverings that formed the roof of the tent. Its height was probably fifteen cubits, so as to give a due slope to the roof. The two pillars nearest to the central one probably measured ten cubits, and stood in line with the two walls of the mishkan. The outer pair would then have a height of five cubits, and support the two extremities of the goats' hair covering. Their hooks. The hooks whereby the "hanging" was attached to the pillars. Compare ver. 32. Sockets of brass - i.e., of bronze. These were probably let into the ground, like the other sockets.

Exodus 26:37For the entrance to the tent they were also to make a curtain (מסך, lit., a covering, from סכך to cover) of the same material as the inner curtain, but of work in mixed colours, i.e., not woven with figures upon it, but simply in stripes or checks. רקם מעשׂה does not mean coloured needlework, with figures or flowers embroidered with the needle upon the woven fabric (as I asserted in my Archologie, in common with the Rabbins, Gesenius, Bhr, and others); for in the only other passage in which רקם occurs, viz., Psalm 139:15, it does not mean to embroider, but to weave, and in the Arabic it signifies to make points, stripes, or lines, to work in mixed colours (see Hartmann die Hebrerinn am Putztisch iii. 138ff.). This curtain was to hang on five gilded pillars of acacia-wood with golden hooks, and for these they were to cast sockets of brass. In the account of the execution of this work in Exodus 36:38, it is still further stated, that the architect covered the heads (capitals) of the pillars and their girders (חשׁקים, see Exodus 27:10) with gold. From this it follows, that the pillars were not entirely gilded, but only the capitals, and that they were fastened together with gilded girders. These girders were either placed upon the hooks that were fastened to the tops of the pillars, or, what I think more probable, formed a kind of architrave above the pillars, in which case the covering as well as the inner curtain merely hung upon the hooks of the columns. But if the pillars were not gilded all over, we must necessarily imagine that curtain as hung upon that side of the pillars which was turned towards the holy place, so that none of the white wood was to be seen inside the holy place; and the gilding of the capitals and architrave merely served to impress upon the forefront of the tabernacle the glory of a house of God.

If we endeavour to understand the reason for building the dwelling in this manner, there can be no doubt that the design of the wooden walls was simply to give stability to the tabernacle. Acacia-wood was chosen, because the acacia was the only tree to be found in the desert of Arabia from which planks and beams could be cut, whilst the lightness an durability of this wood rendered it peculiarly suitable for a portable temple. The wooden framework was covered both within and without with hangings of drapery and other coverings, to give it the character of a tent, which is the term really applied to it in Exodus 27:21, and in most instances afterwards. The sanctuary of Jehovah in the midst of His people was to be a tent, because, so long as the people were wandering about and dwelt in tents, the dwelling of their God in the midst of them must be a tent also. The division of the dwelling into two parts corresponded to the design of the tabernacle, where Jehovah desired not to dwell alone by Himself, but to come and meet with His people (Exodus 25:22). The most holy place was the true dwelling of Jehovah, where He was enthroned in a cloud, the visible symbol of His presence, above the cherubim, upon the capporeth of the ark of the covenant. The holy place, on the other hand, was the place where His people were to appear before Him, and draw near to Him with their gifts, the fruits of their earthly vocation, and their prayers, and to rejoice before His face in the blessings of His covenant grace. By the establishment of the covenant of Jehovah with the people of Israel, the separation of man from God, of which the fall of the progenitors of our race had been the cause, was to be brought to an end; an institution was to be set up, pointing to the reunion of man and God, to true and full vital communion with Him; and by this the kingdom of God was to be founded on earth in a local and temporal form. This kingdom of God, which was founded in Israel, was to be embodied in the tabernacle, and shadowed forth in its earthly and visible form as confined within the limits of time and space. This meaning was indicated not only in the instructions to set up the dwelling according to the four quarters of the globe and heavens, with the entrance towards sunrise and the holy of holies towards the west, but also in the quadrangular form of the building, the dwelling as a whole assuming the form of an oblong of thirty cubits in length, and ten in breadth and height, whilst the most holy place was a cube of ten cubits in every direction. In the symbolism of antiquity, the square was a symbol of the universe or cosmos; and thus, too, in the symbolism of the Scriptures it is a type of the world as the scene of divine revelation, the sphere of the kingdom of God, for which the world from the very first had been intended by God, and to which, notwithstanding the fall of man, who was created lord of the earth, it was to be once more renewed and glorified. Hence the seal of the kingdom of God was impressed upon the sanctuary of God in Israel through the quadrangular form that was given to its separate rooms. And whilst the direction in which it was set up, towards the four quarters of the heavens, showed that the kingdom of God that was planted in Israel was intended to embrace the entire world, the oblong shape given to the whole building set forth the idea of the present incompleteness of the kingdom, and the cubic form of the most holy place its ideal and ultimate perfection.

(Note: The significant character of these different quadrangular forms is placed beyond all doubt, when we compare the tabernacle and Solomon's temple, which was built according to the same proportions, with the prophetic description of the temple and holy city in Ezekiel 40-48, and that of the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and 22. Just as in both the tabernacle and Solomon's temple the most holy place was in the form of a perfect cube (of 10 and 20 cubits respectively), so John saw the city of God, which came down from God out of heaven, in the form of a perfect cube. "The length, and the breadth, and the height of it were equal," viz., 12,000 furlongs on every side (Revelation 21:16), a symbolical representation of the idea, that the holy of holies in the temple will be seen in its perfected form in the heavenly Jerusalem, and God will dwell in it for ever, along with the just made perfect. This city of God is "the tabernacle of God with men;" it has no longer a temple, but the Lord God of Hosts and the Lamb are the temple of it (Revelation 21:22), and those who dwell therein see the face of God and the Lamb (Exodus 22:4). The square comes next to the cube, and the regular oblong next to this. The tabernacle was in the form of an oblong: the dwelling was 30 cubits long and 10 broad, and the court 100 cubits long and 50 bread. Solomon's temple, when regarded as a whole, was in the same form; it was 60 cubits long and 20 cubits broad, apart from the porch and side buildings. In Ezekiel's vision not only is the sanctuary a square of 500 reeds (Ezekiel 42:15-20; Ezekiel 45:2), but the inner court (Ezekiel 40:23, Ezekiel 40:27, Ezekiel 40:47), the paved space in the outer court (Ezekiel 40:19), and other parts also, are all in the form of squares. The city opposite to the temple was a square of 4500 reeds (Ezekiel 48:16), and the suburbs a square of 250 reeds on every side (Ezekiel 48:17). The idea thus symbolically expressed is, that the temple and city, and in fact the whole of the holy ground, already approximate to the form of the most holy place. Both the city and temple are still distinct from one another, although they both stand upon holy ground in the midst of the land (ch. 47 and 48); and in the temple itself the distinction between the holy place and the most holy is still maintained, although the most holy place is no longer separated by a curtain from the holy place; and in the same manner the distinction is still maintained between the temple-building and the courts, though the latter have acquired much greater importance than in Solomon's temple, and are very minutely described, whereas they are only very briefly referred to in the case of Solomon's temple. The sanctuary which Ezekiel saw, however, was only a symbol of the renewed and glorified kingdom of God, not of the perfected kingdom. This was first shown to the holy seer in Patmos, in the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, as it appeared in a perfect cubical form.)

Yet even in its temporal form, it was perfect of its kind, and therefore the component parts of the quadrangular building were regulated by the number ten, the stamp of completeness.

The splendour of the building, as the earthly reflection of the glory of the kingdom of God, was also in harmony with this explanation of its meaning. In the dwelling itself everything was either overlaid with gold or made of pure gold, with the exception of the foundations or sockets of the boards and inner pillars, for which silver was used. In the gold, with its glorious, yea, godlike splendour (Job 37:22), the glory of the dwelling-place of God was reflected; whilst the silver, as the symbol of moral purity, shadowed forth the holiness of the foundation of the house or kingdom of God. The four colours, and the figures upon the drapery and curtains of the temple, were equally significant. Whilst the four colours, like the same number of coverings, showed their general purpose as connected with the building of the kingdom of God, the brilliant white of the byssus stands prominently out among the rest of the colours as the ground of the woven fabrics, and the colour which is invariably mentioned first. The splendid white byssus represented the holiness of the building; the hyacinth, a dark blue approaching black rather than bright blue, but the true colour of the sky in southern countries, its heavenly origin and character; the purple, a dark rich red, its royal glory; whilst the crimson, a light brilliant red, the colour of blood and vigorous life, set forth the strength of imperishable life in the abode and kingdom of the holy and glorious God-King. Lastly, through the figures of cherubim woven into these fabrics the dwelling became a symbolical representation of the kingdom of glory, in which the heavenly spirits surround the throne of God, the heavenly Jerusalem with its myriads of angels, the city of the living God, to which the people of God will come when their heavenly calling is fulfilled (Hebrews 12:22-23).

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