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Bible: What Does Exodus 25-26 Teach Us About the Tabernacle?

Updated on September 9, 2016

The Ark of the Covenant

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The Ark, the Mercy Seat, the Table of Showbread, and the Lampstand

Chapters 25-31 constitute Yahweh’s instructions to Moses regarding proper worship in Israel.

First, God commands that willing Israelites bring different offerings for the new sanctuary (vv. 1-2): precious metals (v. 3), colorful fabrics, skins, acacia wood (vv. 4-5), oil and spices (v. 6), and onyx stones for the high priest’s garments (v. 7).

This new sanctuary (the sacred place for God to dwell among His people) Israel must make according to the LORD’s specifications (vv. 8-9).

The sanctuary’s first piece of furniture is an ark (a boxlike structure); its dimensions are roughly three and three-quarters feet long by two and one-quarter feet wide by two and one-quarter feet tall (v. 10; the cubit is @ 18 inches).

The ark has a golden overlay, inside and out, and a golden molding (v. 11).

In order for Israel to transport the ark safely, workers must first slide gilded poles through the golden rings on each of the ark’s corners (vv. 12-15).

Moses will put the Testimony (the stone tablets; see 31:18) inside the ark (v. 16; cf. v. 21).

Tabernacle Furniture


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Showbread: A Type


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The Propitiation, the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand

Next, artisans will make a mercy seat (propitiation, cf. Rom. 3:25) four feet long and two and one-quarter feet wide (v. 17).

They will hammer out two cherubim figures at the seat’s two ends, fashioning them so that they are of one piece with the propitiation (vv. 18-19).

While facing the seat, the cherubim will also be facing each other and cover the propitiation with their extended wings (v. 20).

The mercy seat will sit atop the ark, from which location Yahweh will speak with Moses about everything concerning Israel (vv. 21-22).

The next piece of furniture is the table of showbread:a structure three feet long by one and one-half feet wide by two and one-quarter feet high (v. 23).

As they did with the ark, artisans will also overlay this table with gold as well as make a golden molding for its frame (vv. 24-25).

Near the molding for the frame, they will make golden rings through which the golden carrying poles will pass (vv. 26-28).

Workers will also make various golden receptacles for pouring (v. 29).

The table must always have showbread on it; the showbread will always be “before Me” (v. 30).

[Everything is golden, or overlaid with the metal, signifying purity; the showbread typifies Christ, the Bread of life].

Piece #3, the golden lampstand, reminds NT readers of Christ, the Light of the world.

The lampstand with all of its aspects is a unit (v. 31).

Its six branches are split, three on one side and three on the other (v. 32), with each branch having three bowls with an ornamental knob and a flower (v. 33).

The lampstand itself has four bowls with their knobs and flowers (v. 34); each pair of branches has a knob under it (v. 35).

Everything is of one piece, hammered together and made of gold (v. 36).

Seven lamps will shine forward (v. 37); even accessories are made of gold (v. 38).

Artisans must use one talent of gold for the whole lampstand and its utensils, and they must make everything in conformity to the divine pattern (vv. 39-40; cf. Heb. 8:5).

The Tabernacle

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The Construction of the Tabernacle

Exodus 26

Now the LORD gives Moses specifications for the construction of the tabernacle (vv. 1-37).

This “tent” consists of ten curtains, colorfully woven and designed, each measuring twenty-eight cubits long by four cubits wide (about forty-two feet long by six feet wide) [vv. 1-2].

The designers couple five curtains to one another, and do likewise to the other five (v. 3).

Loops of blue yarn on the edge of the curtains they clasp to one another “to make one tabernacle” (vv. 4-6).

[Moses weaves the idea of strength through unity throughout this description].

Artisans make eleven goats’ hair curtains, each measuring thirty cubits long by four cubits wide (about forty-five feet long by six feet wide), to serve as “a tent over the tabernacle” framework (vv. 7-8].

They couple the five curtains with loops and clasps, as they do the other five; however, they double over an eleventh at the forefront of the tent (vv. 9-11).

A half curtain remains, making it hang over the back (v. 12).

The extra cubit of material hangs over both sides (v. 13).

Extra ram and badger skins cover the tent (v. 14).

Each board of acacia wood for the tabernacle stands fifteen feet tall by two and one-quarter feet wide (vv. 15-16).

Two tenons (NKJV; lit. hands; margin, “projections”) join each board to its neighbor (v. 17).

The south and north sides each have twenty boards with two sockets under each for its two tenons (vv. 18-21).

On the west, the workers will make only six boards; coupled by rings at the top and at the bottom are two boards for the back corners, making a total of eight boards and sixteen sockets (vv. 22-25).

They will make fifteen “bars” for the boards, five a side, with the middle bar passing through the midst of the boards from end to end (vv. 26-28).

Everything—boards, bars, and rings—they will overlay with gold (v. 29), and they will raise the tabernacle according to the divine pattern (v. 30; cf. 25:40).

The Holy Place

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The Holy Place and the Holy of Holies

Having the same composition as the curtains (v. 31; cf. 26:1), the veil is hung “upon the four pillars of acacia wood” with golden hooks from the clasps (v. 32).

The veil hides the ark of the Testimony from the people, dividing the holy place from the Most Holy (v. 33; cf. Heb. 10:19-20).

The mercy seat sits atop the ark (v. 34); the table of showbread stands outside the veil, and the lampstand is opposite the table on the south (v. 35).

A screen woven from the same fabric as the veil covers the door of the tabernacle, and they hang it on five golden pillars of acacia wood (vv. 36-37).

[Studying an accurate model of the tabernacle and its furnishings would greatly enhance one’s understanding of and appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of this structure].

© 2013 glynch1

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