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Verses 1-37


(1-37) The sacred tent which was to form the “House of God,” or temple, for Israel during the continuance of the people in the wilderness, and which in point of fact served them for a national sanctuary until the construction of the first temple by Solomon, is described in this chapter with a minuteness which leaves little to be desired. It is called ham-mishkân, “the dwelling,” and ha-’ohel, “the tent” (Exodus 26:36)—the former from its purpose, as being the place where God “dwelt” in a peculiar manner (Exodus 25:22); the latter from its shape and general construction, which resembled those of other tents of the period. The necessary foundation was a framework of wood. This consisted of five “pillars,” or tent-poles, in front (Exodus 26:37), graduated in height to suit the slope of the roof, and doubtless five similar ones at the back, though these are not mentioned. A ridge-pole must have connected the two central tent-poles, and over this ridge-pole the covering of the tent, which was of goats’-hair (Exodus 26:7), was no doubt strained in the ordinary way by means of cords and “pins,” or tent-pegs (Exodus 35:18). Thus an oblong square space was roofed over, which seems to have been sixty feet long by thirty broad. Within this “tent” (‘ohel) was placed the “dwelling” (mishkân). The “dwelling” was a space forty-five feet long by fifteen broad, enclosed on three sides by walls of boards (Exodus 26:18-25), and opening in front into a sort of porch formed by the projection of the “tent” beyond the “dwelling.” Towards the open air this porch was closed, wholly or partially, by a curtain (Exodus 26:36). The “dwelling” was roofed over by another “curtain,” or “hanging,” of bright colours and rich materials (Exodus 26:1-6). It was divided into two portions, called respectively “the Holy Place,” and “the Holy of Holies”—the former towards the porch, the latter away from it. These two places were separated by a “vail” hung upon four pillars (Exodus 26:31-32). Their relative size is uncertain; but it may be suspected that the Holy of Holies was the smaller of the two, and conjectured that the proportion was as one to two, the Holy of Holies being a square of fifteen feet, and the Holy Place an oblong, thirty feet long by fifteen. The whole structure was placed within an area called “the Court of the Tabernacle,” which is described in the next chapter.

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