Hebrews 8:2
A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
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(2) Of the sanctuary.—The word here rendered “minister” (see Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:14) is very commonly used in the LXX. for the officiating priest. It is difficult, however, to decide on the meaning of the words here joined with it—whether they denote holy things or holy place; if the latter, what is the distinction between this holy place and “the true tabernacle”? The ordinary usage of the Epistle would suggest “holy place,” and perhaps the occurrence of both expressions in Hebrews 9:11-12 (where there is no doubt as to the translation) is sufficient to remove any hesitation here. The “sanctuary,” therefore, will probably be the heavenly counterpart of the Holiest Place; the “true (or, real) Tabernacle,” the counterpart of the sacred Tent of Moses, containing both the Holy Place and the Holiest of all (Hebrews 9:2-4). It is not certain that in this place we need go beyond this point, though in Hebrews 9:12 the more developed thought may require a closer interpretation. The Holy of Holies is the place of God’s immediate presence; the Tabernacle, that of God’s appointed service. The latter is expressly mentioned here because special reference is to be made to its typical representation upon earth; this is shown by the following words, which point to Exodus 33:7. The word rendered “true” (which occurs again in Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:22) is full of interest, denoting that which is contrasted with everything shadowy or imperfect or merely typical; it is a word especially characteristic of the Gospel of St. John. (See Note on John 1:9.)

Hebrews 8:2. A minister Λειτουργος, a public minister, who, having entered within the veil, now ministers, or executes, the remaining part of his office in his human nature, representing the merit of his own sacrifice, as the high-priest represented the blood of those sacrifices once a year; of the sanctuary — The place of God’s glorious presence, typified by the holy of holies of the Jewish tabernacle and temple, where were the mercy-seat and ark, the symbols of God’s presence with his church; and of the true tabernacle — The third heaven, called the true tabernacle or habitation of God, to distinguish it from the Mosaic tabernacle, which was only its representation or shadow, by means of the inhabitation of the glory of the Lord, which heavenly tabernacle the Lord pitched — Or fixed; and not man — That is, a tabernacle infinitely superior to any which human hands could be concerned in rearing, and proportionable to the boundless wisdom, power, and magnificence of God. In this most holy place our great High-Priest ever lives, happy in his own blessedness and glory, and having the whole administration of things sacred between God and the church committed to him.8:1-6 The substance, or summary, of what had been declared was, that Christians had such a High Priest as they needed. He took upon himself human nature, appeared on earth, and there gave himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of his people. We must not dare to approach God, or to present any thing to him, but in and through Christ, depending upon his merits and mediation; for we are accepted only in the Beloved. In all obedience and worship, we should keep close to God's word, which is the only and perfect standard. Christ is the substance and end of the law of righteousness. But the covenant here referred to, was that made with Israel as a nation, securing temporal benefits to them. The promises of all spiritual blessings, and of eternal life, revealed in the gospel, and made sure through Christ, are of infinitely greater value. Let us bless God that we have a High Priest that suits our helpless condition.A minister of the sanctuary - Margin, "or holy things." Greek τῶν ἁγίων tōn hagiōn. The Greek may either mean "the sanctuary" - denoting the Holy of Holies; or "holy things." The word "sanctuary" - קדשׁ qodesh - was given to the tabernacle or temple as a "holy place," and the plural form which is used here - τὰ ἅγια ta hagia - was given to the most holy place by way of eminence - the full form of the name being - קדשׁ qodesh קדשׁ קדּשׁים qodesh qodâshiym, or, ἅγια ἅγιων hagia hagiōn - "hagia hagion," (Jahn's Arche. section 328), or as it is used here simply as τὰ ἅγια ta hagia. The connection seems to require us to understand it of the "most holy place," and not of holy things. The idea is, that the Lord Jesus the Great High Priest, has entered into the Holy of Holies in heaven, of which that in the tabernacle was an emblem. For a description of the Most Holy place in the temple, see the notes on Matthew 21:12.

And of the true tabernacle - The "real" tabernacle in heaven, of which that among the Hebrews was but the type. The word "tabernacle" - σκηνὴ skēnē - means properly a "booth, hut, or tent," and was applied to the "tent" which Moses was directed to build as the place for the worship of God. That tabernacle, as the temple was afterward, was regarded as the special abode of God on earth. Here the reference is to heaven, as the dwelling place of God, of which that tabernacle was the emblem or symbol. It is called the "true tabernacle," as it is the real dwelling of God, of which the one made by Moses was but the "emblem." It is not moveable and perishable like that made by man, but is unchanging and eternal.

Which the Lord pitched, and not man - The word "pitched" is adapted to express the setting up of a "tent." When it is said that "the Lord pitched the true tabernacle," that is, the permanent dwelling in heaven; the meaning is, that heaven has been prepared by God himself, and that whatever is necessary to constitute that an appropriate abode for the divine majesty has been done by him. To that glorious dwelling the Redeemer has been received, and there he performs the office of high priest in behalf of man. In what way he does this, the apostle specifies in the remainder of this chapter, and in Hebrews 9-10:

2. minister—The Greek term implies priestly ministry in the temple.

the sanctuary—Greek, "the holy places"; the Holy of Holies. Here the heavenly sanctuary is meant.

the true—the archetypal and antitypical, as contrasted with the typical and symbolical (Heb 9:24). Greek "alethinos" (used here) is opposed to that which does not fulfil its idea, as for instance, a type; "alethes," to that which is untrue and unreal, as a lie. The measure of alethes is reality; that of alethinos, ideality. In alethes the idea corresponds to the thing; in alethinos, the thing to the idea [Kalmis in Alford].

tabernacle—(Heb 9:11). His body. Through His glorified body as the tabernacle, Christ passes into the heavenly "Holy of Holies," the immediate immaterial presence of God, where He intercedes for us. This tabernacle in which God dwells, is where God in Christ meets us who are "members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." This tabernacle answers to the heavenly Jerusalem, where God's visible presence is to be manifested to His perfected saints and angels, who are united in Christ the Head; in contradistinction to His personal invisible presence in the Holy of Holies unapproachable save to Christ. Joh 1:14, "Word … dwelt among us," Greek, "tabernacled."

pitched—Greek, "fixed" firmly.

not man—as Moses (Heb 8:5).

A minister; this is spoken of the High Priest sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and relates to that work of his whereby he was constituted leitourgov which, according to Suidas, is compounded of two words, para to lhion vel lhiton ergon, public work; so as it might be rendered administrator, and notes any public officer from the highest to the lowest. The Spirit of God in the New Testament hath applied it to the highest and subordinate ministry; in this verse to Christ himself in his exalted state, and so notes a ruler, as he was now God’s published, settled King, the Lord Administrator of all things in his kingdom, agreeably to what he foretold, Psalm 2:6,7 110:1; compare Acts 13:33. And here properly it notes him in all his offices, his royal, sacerdotal, and prophetical ministry in the heavens and earth, administering and governing all things in them.

Of the sanctuary: the things about which his administration is concerned are twn agiwn, of holies. Some refer this to persons, as noting saints, of whom he is the Ruler and Governor, Revelation 15:3; others, to things, graces and endowments bestowed by him upon his: but most properly here, in the neuter gender, it notes the place, the sanctuary in heaven, the holy of holiest, where he is administering and governing all, though it may be applied to all of these. For heaven is the place, the sanctuary, wherein saints the persons for whom, and all holy endowments the matter about which, he administers, do descend. But the holy house, or sanctuary, is the proper import of it; and so, though expressed in the plural number, to all the holy parts of its types, the temple and tabernacle.

And of the true tabernacle: some, because of the connection of this to the former word,

sanctuary, would have it import the same thing, even heaven; but the Spirit distinguisheth these from each other, Hebrews 9:1,2. Some would understand it of the body of Christ, but here not so properly and agreeably to what the Spirit is speaking of. But by tabernacle, here, is meant Christ mystical, the true temple, church, and habitation of God on earth. For as Christ was the body and truth by all the shadows and types of the tabernacle, Colossians 2:17, so not all one way. Some of the types were single, and terminated on his person, as priesthood, sacrifice, altar, shew-bread, incense, ark of the covenant, &c. Other types were aggregate, and compounded of many things, as tent, sanctuary, and tabernacle here; parallel to this, there must be a truth in Christ complex, that is, Christ the church, so framed and pitched a house by God, that he may dwell in it. The apostle so interprets it, 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 2 Corinthians 6:16; compare Ephesians 2:20,21 1 Peter 2:4,5. Christ in person is its foundation; saints are the several living materials, of which the house and tabernacle is made; their dispositions, graces, and endowments, the ornaments of it; the laws, rules, orders, ordinances, are the cement, the cords and stakes that join them together; and the glory of God fills it, as it did the tabernacle and temple, Haggai 2:7,9 Re 21:23. It is styled, the true tabernacle of God, because of it the literal tabernacle was but an imperfect shadow and type; in this God dwells truly and personally, therefore to be entered into by the Hebrews; the old one, the type, being abolished and vanished by the appearance of this the truth. For now was that word fulfilled, Jeremiah 3:16; the days were come that men should mention no more the ark of the covenant of the Lord; so no more the tabernacle of the witness; but the truth of God in Christ should be acknowledged by them. The reason of this interpretation is evident. A tabernacle is God’s habitation; the Christian church is such, it answers in all parts, and bears its proportion to the complex type, and cannot fully be matched by any other things: it is congruous to Christ’s session in glory; for thence he doth, as the honourable and glorious Administrator of God’s church, order and manage all on it according to his will, having settled in his true tabernacle a ministry, Ephesians 4:8-13, covenant, as below, Hebrews 8:6-13, service, Hebrews 8:3,5, and privileges, far exceeding its type: all which this grand officer, as the only royal High Priest and Head of his church, Prophet of his people, orders by his Spirit, the only Vicar he useth in it. Of this true tabernacle, church, or house of God, the sovereign, independent, omnipotent, infinitely wise and holy, the eternal Lord, was the author; and such is his work as no other can question it, can add to or alter it, can reach it, so proportioned is it to its Framer.

Which the Lord pitched; ephzen he framed and prepared every piece that constituteth this tabernacle himself, as the materials of the first were wrought by his pattern and order. He compacted and joined all the parts of it together, to make it his tabernacle; and especially reared, pitched, and firmly constituted this his own habitation. This he doth for ever so pitch, as hell and earth, with all their arts and force, can never remove it. Matthew 16:16,18. It is his rest for ever, here he will dwell, for he hath desired it, and will make it glorious, Hebrews 12:26-28 Psalm 132:14 Isaiah 11:10 Revelation 21:1-27.

And not man; this is denied because man is weak, sinful, and mortal, no such hands intermeddle with the work of God’s tabernacle, for his work would be like him, weak, faulty, and perishing, which could not long survive its author. A minister of the sanctuary,.... The heavenly one, so called, in allusion to the holy of holies, the type of it; and because it is truly an holy place; and which Christ sanctifies and prepares for his people by his presence and intercession: or "of the Holy Ones", or "saints"; who are sanctified or set apart by God, the Father, to whom Christ is made sanctification, and who are made holy by the Spirit of God; to these Christ is a minister; he was so in his prophetic office, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and in his priestly office, to all the chosen ones, when on earth, offering himself a sacrifice for them, and now he is a minister to them in heaven, interceding for them; and in his kingly office, governing, protecting, and defending them: or "of holy things"; to his people, such as the gifts of his Spirit, grace, and all supplies of it, and at last glory; and for them, presenting their sacrifices of prayer and praise to God, which become acceptable to him through his powerful mediation:

and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man; by which is meant, not heaven, the same with the sanctuary, for this would be an unnecessary tautology, and an explanation of a word by another more obscure; nor is there any reason why it should be added, "which the Lord pitched, and not man"; since everyone must believe that heaven is made by God alone; but rather the church of Christ, which is sometimes called a tabernacle, and is a true one, of which the tabernacle of Moses was a type, and is of God's building, and where Christ ministers, being the high priest over the house of God; though it is best to interpret it of the human nature of Christ, in which he tabernacled among men, and which was typified by the tabernacle of Moses, and therefore is called the "true" one, in distinction from that; for as there God dwelt, and his glory was seen, and he granted his presence to his people, and the sacrifices were brought and offered up there, and to this the people looked when at a distance, and this appeared very coarse without, but within full of holy things; so in Christ's human nature the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily; here the glory of God is seen, even in the face of Jesus; and through him God vouchsafes communion with his people; and by him the sacrifices of prayer and praise are offered up; and to him do the saints look for the acceptance of them; and though in the days of his flesh he looked very mean and despicable, yet was full of grace and truth, and of all the gifts of the Spirit: and the human nature of Christ was not of man; it was not propagated by human generation, but was produced through the power of the Holy Ghost; and in this tabernacle Christ ministered when on earth, and now ministers in heaven.

{2} A minister of the {a} sanctuary, {3} and of the {b} true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

(2) They of Levi were high priests in an earthly sanctuary, but Christ is in the heavenly.

(a) Of heaven.

(3) They of Levi exercised their priesthood in a frail tabernacle, but Christ bears about with him another tabernacle, that is, his body, which God himself made everlasting, as shall later be declared in Heb 9:11.

(b) Of his body.

Hebrews 8:2. Declaration of the capacity in which Christ has sat down at the right hand of God: as a sacrificing priest of the true sanctuary and tabernacle, which the Lord erected, not a man. Hebrews 8:2 is to be joined without any comma to Hebrews 8:1. For only the qualification of the ἐκάθισεν κ.τ.λ., Hebrews 8:1, which is first added by means of Hebrews 8:2,—not merely the fact of the καθίσαι in itself, since this had already been often mentioned in the epistle,—contains the new main feature which the author aims at bringing into prominence.

τῶν ἁγίων] is not masculine (Oecumenius: ἀρχιερεύς φησι τῶν ἡγιασμένων παρʼ αὐτοῦ ἀνθρώπων· ἡμῶν γάρ ἐστιν ἀρχιερεύς, Primasius, Cajetan, Schulz, Paulus, Stengel) but neuter; it denotes, however, neither the holy things (Luther, Hunnius, Balduin), nor that which is required for the priestly service (Seb. Schmidt, Braun, Rambach, Ewald), nor “such holy things as stand in essential relation to the σκηνὴ ἀληθινή” (Kurtz), but the sanctuary (according to Erasmus, Jac. Cappellus, Böhme, Stuart, Bloomfield, Bisping, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 513; Alford, Maier, and others, specially: the Most Holy Place), in which (or: in regard to which) the priestly service is performed. Comp. Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:24-25, Hebrews 10:19, Hebrews 13:11.

Synonymous with τῶν ἁγίων is the τῆς σκηνῆς, added by way of elucidation; and from the adjective of the latter, τῆς ἀληθινῆς, we have also to supply in thought the corresponding adjective τῶν ἀληθινῶν (comp. Hebrews 9:24) to the foregoing τῶν ἁίγων. For even the earthly high priest was a τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργός; only a τῶν ἁγίων τῶν ἀγηθινῶν λειτουργός he was not.

λειτουργός] Comp. λειτουργεῖν, Hebrews 10:11, and λειτουργία, Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; Php 2:17; Luke 1:23. With the classic writers, λειτουργός denotes the bearer of any public office, or office of the State. In the general sense of a “servant” it stands Hebrews 1:7; Romans 13:6; Php 2:25. But already with the LXX. (Nehemiah 10:39; cf. Sir 7:30, al.) it is spoken specially of him who discharges priestly service. In accordance therewith it has here, too (comp. Hebrews 8:3), as well as Romans 15:16, the signification: sacrificing priest.

τῆς ἀληθινῆς] The σκηνή is called true, not in opposition to the false, but as the archetype[85] existing in heaven in contrast with the earthly image of the same (Hebrews 8:5), which latter, as is always the case with the copy in relation to the original, could be only something imperfect.

ἣν ἔπηξεν] Comp. Exodus 33:7.

Ὁ ΚΎΡΙΟς] is here God, as elsewhere in our epistle only in the O. T. citations.

ὁ κύριος, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος] Comp. ΣΚΗΝῆς Οὐ ΧΕΙΡΟΠΟΙΉΤΟΥ, Hebrews 9:11; Οὐ ΧΕΙΡΟΠΟΊΗΤΑ ἍΓΙΑ, Hebrews 9:24.

[85] Comp. Wis 9:8 : εἶπας οἰκοδομῆσαι ναὸνκαὶθυσιαστήριον, μίμημα σκηνῆς ἁγίας, ἣν προητοίμασας ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς.Hebrews 8:2. τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργὸς … “a minister of the [true] holy place and of the true abernacle which the Lord pitched, not man”. τῶν ἁγίων not = τῶν ἡγιασμένων as Œcumenius translates, but as in Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 13:11 = ἅγια ἁγίων of Hebrews 9:3. In Hebrews 9:2-3, the outer part of the tabernacle is called ἅγια, the inner ἅγια ἁγίων, but Hebrews 8:8 is conclusive proof that ἅγια without addition was used for the holiest place. λειτουργὸς cf. note on Hebrews 1:14. καὶ τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀληθινῆς, the ideal, antitypal tabernacle; ἀληθ. used as in the fourth gospel in contrast not to what is false, but to what is symbolical. It is to be taken with ἁγίων as well as with σκηνῆς. Cf. Bleek; and see Hebrews 9:11, τῆς μείζονος καὶ τελειοτέρας σκηνῆς οὐ χειροποιήτου, which is the equivalent of the clause added here, ἣν ἔπηξεν ὁ Κύριος, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος. See also Mark 14:58 and the striking words of Wis 9:8. In a different sense in Numbers 24:6, ὡσεὶ σκηναὶ ἃς ἔπηξε Κύριος. According to the fifth verse, man pitched a tabernacle which was a shadow of the true, and the very words in which was uttered the command so to do, might have reminded the people that there was a symbolic and a true tabernacle.2. a minister] From this word leitourgos (derived from λεώς “people,” and ἔργον, “work”) comes our “liturgy.”

of the sanctuary] This (and not “of holy things,” or “of the saints”) is the only tenable rendering of the word in this Epistle.

and] The “and” does not introduce something new; it merely furnishes a more definite explanation of the previous word.

of the true tabernacle] Rather, “of the genuine tabernacle” (alethinçs not alethous). The word alethinos means “genuine,” and in this Epistle “ideal” “archetypal.” It is the antithesis not to what is spurious, but to what is material, secondary, and transient. The Alexandrian Jews, as well as the Christian scholars of Alexandria, had adopted from Plato the doctrine of Ideas, which they regarded as divine and eternal archetypes of which material and earthly things were but the imperfect copies. They found their chief support for this introduction of Platonic views into the interpretation of the Bible in Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30 (quoted in Hebrews 8:5). Accordingly they regarded the Mosaic tabernacle as a mere sketch, copy, or outline of the Divine Idea or Pattern. The Idea is the perfected Reality of its material shadow. They extended this conception much farther:

“What if earth

Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein

Each to the other like, more than on earth is thought?”

The “genuine tabernacle” is the Heavenly Ideal (Hebrews 9:24) shewn to Moses. To interpret it of “the glorified body of Christ” by a mere verbal comparison of John 2:19, is to adopt the all-but-universal method of perverting the meaning of Scripture by the artificial elaborations and inferential afterthoughts of a scholastic theology.

pitched] Lit. “fixed.”

and not man] Omit “and.” Not a man, as Moses was. Comp. Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 9:24.Hebrews 8:2. Τῶν ἁγίων, of the holy things) the sanctuary, so called absolutely, the true, not made with hands, ch. Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 10:19.—λειτουργὸς) namely, ὤν: so λειτουργία, Hebrews 8:6. We may say in Latin, but in a very solemn sense, officialis, officium.—τῆς σκηνῆς, of the tabernacle) ch. Hebrews 9:11, note.—τῆς ἀληθινῆς, of the true) ch. Hebrews 9:24.—ἔπηξεν, pitched, fixed) firmly.—οὐκ ἄνθρωπος, not man) as Moses, Hebrews 8:5.Verse 2. - A minister of the sanctuary (τῶν ἁγίων, neuter, as in Hebrews 9:12, equivalent to "the holy places;" cf. Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:19), and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. The sphere of Christ's priestly ministration (λειτουργὸς λειτουργεῖν, λειτουργία, being the recognized words in the LXX. and Josephus for denoting sacerdotal functions, - hence Liturgy) is thus in the first place pointed to as being a heavenly one, symbolized only by the earthly sanctuary. But what is the true tabernacle, in which Christ ministers? Are we to suppose that an actual prototype of the earthly tabernacle is regarded as existing locally beyond the sky? No; it is only implied that there are, in the suprasensuous sphere, facts and relations which are symbolized and made level to our comprehension by local imagery. Still, there may be conceived as present to the writer's mind an ideal picture of a heavenly temple, such as was seen in vision by prophets, and served to aid their conception of realities beyond their ken. Thus in Psalm 29, where the thunderstorm is described, the LORD is conceived, in the introductory and concluding verses, as enthroned above it in his heavenly temple, sitting there a King for ever, and worshipped by the "sons of God." Thus in 1 Kings 22:19 Michaiah sees in vision "the Loud sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him, on his right hand and on his left." In Isaiah 6. this throne is seen as the distinct counterpart of the mercy-seat in the earthly temple, with the winged forms above it, and the "house" filled with the smoke of incense, and live coals upon the altar. Ezekiel's still more remarkable visions (Hebrews 1, 10, 11.) are in like manner enlargements of the idea of the Shechinah in the holy of holies (cf. also Psalm 11:4; Micah 1:2; Hebrews 2:20). Then the visions of St. John in the Revelation have the same basis; there is still seen a glorious counterpart above of the temple below; though now with new accessories, expressive of accomplished redemption. But that St. John's visions are meant only as imagery representing the incomprehensible is evident throughout, and especially from the ideal description of the holy city in Revelation 21, in which ver. 22 is peculiarly significant: "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." In the same way is to be understood the "true tabernacle." If, as we may suppose, the writer had before his mind the prophetic visions of such a heavenly temple, he entertains them only as imaging spiritual facts and relations in the regions of eternity. "Which the Lord pitched," etc., may have reference to Isaiah 42:5, Ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ πήξας αὐτὸν, LXX. A minister (λειτουργὸς)

Sat down as a minister. From an old adjective λεῖτος or λέΐτος (found only in this compound), belonging to the people, and ἔργον work. Hence, originally, the service of the state in a public office. In lxx and N.T. λειτουργὸς minister, λειτουργεῖν to minister, and λειτουργία ministry are used both of priestly service to God and of service to men. Λειτουργία in lxx rarely of the service of the priests, often of the Levites. See 1 Kings 1:4; 1 Kings 19:21; 2 Kings 4:43; 2 Kings 6:15. Λειτουργοὺς Hebrews 1:7, in the general sense of servants of God.

Of the sanctuary (τῶν ἁγίων)

The heavenly sanctuary. Τὰ ἅγια the most holy place, Hebrews 9:8, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:25; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 13:11. Comp. ἅγια ἀγίων holy of holies, Hebrews 9:3. Ἅγια holy places generally, but with special reference to the innermost sanctuary, Hebrews 9:24.

The true tabernacle (τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀλυθινῆς)

Explanatory of τῶν ἁγίων. The form of expression is emphatic: the tabernacle, the genuine one, as compared with the tabernacle in the wilderness. For ἀλιθινός real, genuine, see on John 1:9. Σκηνή a tent. For different shades of meaning, comp. Matthew 17:4; Luke 16:9; Acts 7:43. In this epistle always of the tabernacle in the wilderness.

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