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Verses 1-14

The curtains 26:1-14

The extent to which these curtains were visible from inside the tabernacle is not clear in the text and has been the subject of debate by commentators. They were of four colors that some writers have interpreted as having symbolic significance on the basis of other biblical references to and uses of these colors. The colors were white (holiness), blue (heavenly origin and character), purple (royal glory), and crimson (blood and vigorous life). Blue was also the color of garments that people of high social standing wore (1 Samuel 18:4; 1 Samuel 24:4).

"Woven into the fabric of the curtains were images of cherubim, apparently intended to recall the theme of ’paradise lost’ by alluding to the cherubim which guarded the ’Tree of Life’ in Genesis 3:24." [Note: Sailhamer, The Pentateuch . . ., p. 303.]

Some interpreters have seen in the goats’ skins separation from evil. The later prophets in Israel who dressed in goatskins called the people to holiness and separation from evil. Some have felt the rams’ skins dyed red taught the Israelites the importance of devotion to God since God specified the use of rams in some offerings of worship. A slightly different interpretation follows.

"Within the sanctuary, moving from the inside out, the curtains of fine linen were visible only to the priests who served in the presence of him who is purity and righteousness itself. The curtains of goats’ hair were reminders of the daily sin offering that was a kid from the goats (Numbers 28:15) and of our cleansing from sin (Leviticus 16). The covering of rams’ skins also recalled the sacrifice used in consecrating the priesthood (Leviticus 8); and it was deliberately dyed red, showing that the priesthood was set apart by blood. Finally, the protective coating of the sea cows’ [NIV; porpoise or dolphin, NASB; badger, AV, NKJV; goat, RSV] hides marked a protective separation between the dwelling place of God and the world." [Note: Kaiser, "Exodus," p. 459.]

The total area covered by these tapestries was 45 feet long by 15 feet wide by 15 feet high. The most holy place was a 15-foot cube and the holy place was 30 by 15 by 15 feet. Thus the tabernacle structure was only about one and a half modern parking spaces wide and a little more than two parking spaces long.

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