Building the Tabernacle Part 1 - March 2016 Yavoh
The book of Shemot (Names), commonly called Exodus, tells the story of the Exodus of the children of Israel, skipping a few generations after the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It focuses on the story of Moses and how he came to be called by the LORD to help deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt. Remarkable events are detailed for us, from Moses at the burning bush learning God’s Name, to the ten different judgments that fell upon Pharaoh and Egypt. The Passover story is shown to us with the “cloud by day/fire by night” leading them, and the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. Not to diminish any of the previous subjects in the least, the children of Israel find themselves at the base of Mount Sinai, and God comes down to the mountain, speaks to them, and gives Moses the Tablets and the Torah. Then the book shifts to the final topic of gathering materials and building the Tabernacle so the LORD can dwell with them in the camp.
This year, during the month of February, those who follow the annual Torah cycle found themselves immersed for several Sabbaths in the subject of the Tabernacle and its construction. Let’s step back for a moment and consider why Moses gave so much of the book of Exodus to its final topic. By way of comparison, the story of Moses at the burning bush until he arrives in Egypt covers five chapters. The death of the firstborn, leaving Egypt, and crossing the Red Sea covers ten chapters. Then God gives the Ten Commandments and the Torah in nine chapters, totaling the first 24 chapters. One wouldn’t think listing collected materials and detailing the furnishings and coverings for the Tabernacle would come anywhere near the importance of the redemption out of Egypt and the miraculous works that God performed there, let alone His speaking the Ten Commandments and giving the Torah. We would be mistaken, however, to diminish any part of the Tabernacle information. Moses uses the remaining 16 chapters to explain how the Tabernacle was built. Why does Moses make the Tabernacle the dominant topic in the book of Exodus?
Let’s answer that question and understand why we must understand the Tabernacle—what it is made of, how it is assembled, and the various elements that constitute the sanctuary of the LORD, all the way to the garments of the High Priest. The Tabernacle is patterned after the temple of God in heaven. This same Tabernacle has been constructed in the heart of every believer of Yeshua the Messiah. The commandments of the LORD are written on the tablets of our heart. Those tablets are resting in the Ark of the Covenant with God’s Mercy Seat over them. The very presence of our Messiah—the True Bread from Heaven—is at the Table of Showbread while the Holy Spirit illuminates us by the light of the Menorah. Our prayers go up before God as a sweet fragrance like the incense on the Golden Altar before the Veil. The only persons who can enter this very holy place are the presence of Almighty God (the persons of our Heavenly Father, the Messiah as our High Priest, the Spirit of the LORD) and ourselves. No one else is permitted. The Laver and the Fire Altar sitting outside the sanctuary enable us to approach God in repentance and to daily offer our gifts to God. The Altar is always lit, and the benefit of the Lamb of God sacrifice remains just as the Temple altar has the evening and morning sacrifice every day.
If we are to go forward with the Redemption that the Lamb of God has given to us, we must learn to dwell with God and walk out our salvation daily with Him. If we want to understand how God can dwell with us in our hearts, how we are to approach Him, and how to worship Him, we must understand the Tabernacle and its pattern. Failing to understand the Tabernacle and its construction limits us in approaching the Lord and maturing in the faith.
The Apostle Paul said it this way:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
With that priority of understanding, let us consider the process of construction that Moses describes to us. The Tabernacle is constructed from the inside out. Normally, a structure has a foundation, then walls, and then a roof. The contents are not put in until the basic structure is in place. But this is not the case with the Tabernacle. First the materials are gathered, then the furnishings are made (the Ark, the Table, and the Menorah). What are we to understand about our faith here?
Our faith in God is built the same way. Every disciple begins with God’s presence in him, then the temple of God is built around the Lord’s presence in him. We literally work outward in building our spiritual life in God. The Apostle Paul referred to this directly.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; Philippians 2:12
The phrase “work out” is speaking of something within you that comes out of you and becomes visible. Paul gives us another expression of being built, comparing us to a plant that grows from its roots.
Therefore as you have received Messiah Yeshua the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7
Consider this thought also: The Tabernacle does not focus on a foundation as a building that has a foundation. The Tabernacle is mobile. Its foundation is based on the Lord and His presence. The same is true of us. We have no foundation here on the earth; our foundation in the faith is built on the Rock of the presence of God.
Now let us focus on the details that Moses supplies in the book of Exodus.
The Materials of the Tabernacle
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution. This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze, blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair, rams’ skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece. Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. Exodus 25:1-9
Gold, silver, and brass are well understood. Having lived in Egypt, the children of Israel had skills in smelting metals and molding them into objects. But we should make mention of brass a little bit more. Brass is formed by combining copper and zinc. Both of these elements were in the regions where Israel traveled. The reference to blue, purple, and scarlet could have been heavy canvas-like fabrics woven from hemp or cotton dyed to those colors. Egyptian cotton is a major product of Egypt even to this day. But more than likely, the material of dyed blue, purple, and scarlet was wool yarn (the hair from their sheep). (Other Bible versions guess the word should be thread or yarn because the word is not in the original text.) Fine linen was a product of flax fibers. Flax was a plant grown extensively in Egypt; the children of Israel were very familiar with using these fibers to make fine linen. They also had goats and goat’s hair was the primary material to make tents and large coverings. The wool was worked into yarn and goat hair was spun into a thread and then woven into the covering material. The skin of goats and badgers is self-explanatory with the exception of the badger or “porpoise,” (depending on which version one reads) which was an “unclean” animal. Apparently, God did not have a problem with the skin of the animals being used for another purpose even if they were not clean animals for purposes of food.
Now we come to the subject of acacia wood. Although the KJV lists it as shittim wood, most biblical scholars believe this to be a variety of acacia wood. Acacia trees grow extensively in the Middle East and the wilderness areas. Acacia is also a very strong wood, but the growth of the plant does not lend itself to long or straight pieces. Making a box out of acacia would have required a mosaic of pieces formed and glued together. But it would have been virtually impossible to make the staves (the poles) used to carry the Ark and the Table. They needed to be long and narrow with the strength of a single piece of wood. Some scholars think that “shittim” wood was instead cedar. Cedar was used in the Temple to make the structural parts. Cedar was even used in some temple rituals. Cedar grows in long and straight grains, making excellent planks and very stable poles and rafters. Have you ever heard of a cedar chest or cedar beams?
The oil for lighting was olive oil, but not just any olive oil. According to the sages, the olives for that purpose had to come from the very top of the olive tree where they would have absorbed the most sunlight and pressed only once (the first press of the olive). This oil is known today as “cold pressed” extra virgin oil. This was the fuel for the Menorah and the oil for anointing. By the way, there are up to four or five other presses of the olive, including for food, to keep the skin soft, for fuel, and even for soap.
The pressing and crushing of the olive reminds us of the Messiah when He suffered for us. He is the Anointed One: He anoints us, He is food for us, and He cleans us up.
The variety of spices for the anointing oil and the incense included frankincense and cinnamon, and other ingredients. Only the priests had the actual recipes and were permitted to blend the items. This recipe was not to be replicated and used for other purposes.
They also collected gem stones used in the breastplate for the High Priest. These stones represented the tribes of the children of Israel being brought before the LORD by the High Priest.
You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, the work of a skillful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen you shall make it. It shall be square and folded double, a span in length and a span in width. "You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz and emerald; and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes. You shall make on the breastpiece chains of twisted cordage work in pure gold. You shall make on the breastpiece two rings of gold, and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breastpiece. You shall put the two cords of gold on the two rings at the ends of the breastpiece. You shall put the other two ends of the two cords on the two filigree settings, and put them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, at the front of it. You shall make two rings of gold and shall place them on the two ends of the breastpiece, on the edge of it, which is toward the inner side of the ephod. You shall make two rings of gold and put them on the bottom of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, on the front of it close to the place where it is joined, above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. They shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it will be on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece will not come loose from the ephod. Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. Exodus 28:15-29
According to the sages, each gem stone was specifically assigned to a tribe with the name of the tribe etched (engraved) in the stone. Here is a list of the tribes, the Hebrew names for the stones, what type of gemstone may have been used, and the likely color for each stone used in the breastplate.
Reuben, Odem, (Jasper or Ruby) red
Simeon, Pit’dah, (Topaz or Emerald) green
Levi, Barekes, (agate) white, black, and red
Judah, Nefech, (malachite or turquoise) sky blue
Issachar, Sapir, (lapis lazuli or sapphire) midnight blue
Zebulun, Yahalom, (zircon or diamond) white
Dan, Leshem, (amber or jacinth) midnight blue
Naphtali, Shevo, (agate or obsidian) black and white mixed
Gad, Achlamah, (amethyst or agate) blush
Asher, Tarshish, (Aquamarine or topaz) blue
Joseph, Shoham, (onyx) deep black
Benjamin, Yashfeh, (Opal or elements of other stones embedded together) multi-colored
There is another list of precious stones given to us in Scripture concerning the walls of the New Jerusalem that is similar. This list is translated from the Greek instead of the Hebrew, but you will notice the many similarities.
The material of the wall of it was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. Revelation 21:18-20
The Scripture often equates the saints to precious stones. In the breastplate, the tribes were symbolized; the walls of the future home of the saints (New Jerusalem) are also equated with them. There is an even more powerful picture that speaks to our redemption. Every gemstone begins as gravel and dirt. The gemstone must go through a transition of being cleaned, shaped, and polished to bring out the beauty that was always there. The same can be said of all saints. We too must be cleaned and polished for the true value in ourselves to come forth. The LORD sees us with this great value and considers all of us to be precious in His sight, no matter where we are in the cleaning and polishing process.
Next, Moses described the construction of three very important furnishings: the Ark, the Table of Showbread, and the Menorah. According to the sages of Israel, these particular items were shown to Moses in a 3D format of “Living Fire” (the very substance of God that Moses could see and understand).
The Ark (the Aron haBrit)
"They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. "You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it. "You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it. "You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. "You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. "The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it. "You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you. "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. "You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. "Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. "The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. "There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel. Exodus 25:10-22
The Ark (the Aron haBrit) was actually three boxes. It was a box of wood with a box of gold on the outside and a box of gold on the inside. Each of the three boxes had four walls and a bottom. For purposes of measurements common to us, most scholars equate a cubit to approximately 18 inches. A cubit was the measurement from the point of the elbow to the tip of your fingers; therefore, the consensus of most scholars is that the Ark was 60 inches long, 36 inches wide, and 36 inches tall. The thickness of the walls was 2 inches and the bottom was 4 inches. The gold inside and out was not gold plating. Instead, a complete new gold box was made to fit inside and outside of the wooden box. Then a gold plate sat on top of the upper edges of the three boxes around the upper perimeter sealing the three boxes together as shown in the illustration.
The outer gold box added to the overall dimensions of the Ark, causing its height to be 44 inches high. This extra gold at the top of the box was formed into a diadem, an ornate crown shape all along the top rim of the Ark. It is unknown exactly what it looked like but may have appeared as gold filigree and would have been very decorative.
Two gold rings were also installed on two of the outer sides of the outer gold box. As you faced the Ark, you would see the rings left and right on either side with a total of four rings (two on each side). These rings were placed approximately one-third of the way down the box from the top (approximately 13 inches). The carrying poles would be inserted into the rings and the Ark could be carried by the priests holding the poles. When the Ark was resting with its poles in place you would have seen something strange. According to tradition, the poles were pushed forward to protrude forward of the front of the Ark rather than centered on either side of the box. The centered position of the poles was only during transport. The resting position had the poles pushed forward. If you entered the first chamber of the Tabernacle called the “Holy Place,” you would have seen the Veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where the Ark was, and you would have seen two protruding points in the Veil about knee high. This was an indicator of the Ark’s presence and its location behind the Veil. See the illustration provided. The Holy of Holies was a space of 20 cubits by 20 cubits (30 feet by 30 feet). The poles of the Ark were 10 cubits (18 feet long). With the Ark centered in the space and the poles pushed forward, this is how the Ark would have rested with the poles slightly protruding into the Veil. A description of this is mentioned in 1 Kings 8:8.
When the Ark was being transported (carried) by the priests, each of the priests walked facing the Ark at all times. Therefore, the front priests walked backwards while carrying the Ark. This was in respect of God’s presence. You could only turn your back to the Ark if a veil was in place shielding you from the Ark. The High Priest on Yom Kippur also maintained this posture when entering and departing the Holy of Holies where the Ark stood. He could not turn his back to the Ark. This same custom remains today in approaching and departing from the Kotel (the Wailing Wall). One must keep one’s face toward the Wall when leaving the Wall for several paces before turning and walking away from the Kotel.
As mentioned before, the poles or staves were probably made of cedar wood (even though modern translators say acacia wood), which is a strong, long grain wood excellent for making beams and poles. Cedar also has incredible natural properties for preservation, it is not prone to rotting due to heat and moisture as many woods are. It is also believed that the poles had knobs at either end. These knobs would have maintained the poles in the rings, not allowing the poles to slide out. It is very possible that the final overlaid gold work on these knobs was not completed until they had been first installed in the rings. The poles were never removed from the rings.
Consider this interesting piece of trivia: There were two Arks constructed. One was made by Moses which held the Tablets prior to the actual construction of the Ark in the Tabernacle.
At that time the LORD said to me, “Cut out for yourself two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to Me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood for yourself. I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered, and you shall put them in the ark. So I made an ark of acacia wood and cut out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and went up on the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. He wrote on the tablets, like the former writing, the Ten Commandments which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me. Deuteronomy 10:1-5
This Ark is believed to have held the broken tablets as a result of the sin of the golden calf. According to tradition, the temporary Ark made by Moses was also carried into battle and it was said that a fire would come out of the Ark when Israel was battling her enemies. It is believed that the actual energy of this weapon came out of the end of the poles. The second Ark was constructed by Bezalel and installed in the Tabernacle. This second Ark held the intact second set of tablets, the broken pieces of the first set of tablets underneath, and the Scroll written by Moses and given to Joshua and the priests at the crossing of the Jordan. A jar of manna and Aaron’s rod were also kept with the Ark. No one knows what happened to the first Ark of Moses. It is never mentioned again. Only one Ark is mentioned after the Temple was built in Jerusalem.
The Mercy Seat above the lid of the Ark was also made to sit atop the box. The Lid of the Ark was two and a half cubits (four and a half feet) long and one and a half cubits (two feet three inches) wide. It was a handbreadth thick and fit snugly over the top of the two inner boxes on the gold plate covering the two inner boxes. The edge of the outer box held the lid in place. On either end of the lid there also was gold material that was formed into two cherubim angels. They were not made separate from the lid and then installed on the lid. Scripture says the cherubim were one part with the Mercy Seat. This was not a minor work to form this; it was a very serious undertaking and speaks to the craftsmanship ability of the those assigned to the task.
According to tradition, the cherubim were formed to appear almost as children, one male and one female, facing each other with their heads slightly turned down. The cherubim were approximately forty inches high above the lid. If a pair of their wings was pointing upward, then they would have been even higher.
The position, number, and shape of the wings is a matter of some controversy. Most depictions of the Ark, those given by Jewish sources, such as the Temple Institute, present two wings lifted up and then bending over to form a covering over the lid. Their depiction of the cherubim is with two wings each (one pair for each angel). The passage in Exodus does not tell us how many wings to make, just that the wings were to be designed to be spread upward, covering the mercy seat. However, cherubim as defined later in Ezekiel chapter 1 describes them as having four wings (two pairs). Ezekiel’s vision of the throne of God presents God’s presence as above the cherubim as a fiery chariot called the Merkavah. If this understanding is correct, then the cherubim would have had two wings covering the lid and two other wings upward. The actual Hebrew language instructing the construction of the cherubim calls for two wings covering the lid AND two wings upward (See the illustration below). This configuration would have formed the Mercy Seat in the wings of the cherubim rather than sitting on the lid of the Ark enclosed by the covering wings.
It was understood that the LORD’s presence was between the wings and sitting atop of the lid. When Moses would go to the Tent of Meeting and speak with the LORD, it was said that the voice of God originated from the Mercy Seat while Moses was standing before the Ark separated by the Veil.
As a side note, Seraphim were angels elevated above the God's Throne in Heaven with six wings each. In Isaiah chapter 6, the Prophet Isaiah describes them to us in his comparable vision of God’s throne.
The Table (the Shulchan)
"You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high. "You shall overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it. "You shall make for it a rim of a handbreadth around it; and you shall make a gold border for the rim around it. "You shall make four gold rings for it and put rings on the four corners which are on its four feet. "The rings shall be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table. "You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that with them the table may be carried. "You shall make its dishes and its pans and its jars and its bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. "You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times. Exodus 25:23-30
The Table of Showbread (Shulchan) was similar in construction to the Ark. It was made of wood and then overlaid from top to bottom (including its legs) with gold. It had an ornate crown rim just like the box of the Ark. What is not pictured many times was how the entire apparatus held the twelve loaves of bread on the table. Each loaf had a gold pan. According to Jewish tradition, the two stacks of six loaves and their pans were supported by a set of tubes that provided a shelf for each loaf of bread. Plus, there was a set of two gold spoons that held frankincense with the loaves.
Like the Ark, the Shulchan also had a set of four rings with poles to carry the table. But unlike the Ark with rings on its sides, the rings and poles on the Table were mounted and installed along the front and back.
How the actual bread loaves that were baked and placed on the table in their dishes were then arrayed in two stacks is a subject of some mystery. Another way of saying showbread is to say, “the bread of faces.” Some scholars offer an alternative and say it means “the bread of surfaces.” Those who say “faces” say that in the baking process one edge of the loaf was formed into the profile of a face (see above). Those who said “surfaces” think the bakers formed the loaf by folding a long rectangular lump of dough into a unique ‘U” shape for baking. These loaves were arrayed on the Table and its supports up to a height of 40 inches above the table. The spoons were mostly likely set on the top of the two stacks of bread or on the table surface between the two stacks. According to many Jewish sources, the bread was placed fresh each Sabbath day and the previous week’s bread was removed and eaten by the priests. The miracle was that the bread was as fresh when they ate it as on the day it was first placed.
In the days of David before he was king, David was given this bread while he was escaping from the tantrums of King Saul. David was not a priest, yet the priests of his day gave it to him, which speaks to the role of David and the Messiah. The Messiah is the Son of David, and He has the right to consume the showbread as our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The Lampstand (the Menorah)
Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side. Three cups shall be shaped like almond blossoms in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bulb and a flower--so for six branches going out from the lampstand; and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers. A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand. Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold. Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it. Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold. It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils. See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain. Exodus 25:31-40
The making of the Menorah for the Tabernacle was even more complicated than the construction of the Ark and the Shulchan. It was fashioned from a single solid piece of gold that was beaten into its shape with six branches and a stem in the center. The basic shape of the Menorah is also a controversial topic. Some say that the branches originated out from the stem on the sides and then curved upward forming a row of lights. This is the traditional image of the Menorah we most often see. However, some argue that the branches actually were straight, angling upward to form a row of lights. See illustrations. The base was believed to be a box with sufficient size and weight to keep the Menorah from toppling over.
The stem and the branches were also adorned with a set of goblets, knobs, and flowers. Each of these items was also adorned on its sides with the oval shape of an almond. The stem and the branches each had an array of these items leading to the cup at the top to hold the oil and its wick as a light.
The Temple Menorah that was in Jerusalem definitely had curved branches and a double hexagon base as depicted on the Arch of Titus as it was carried off by the Romans.
Only the priests were permitted to light the Menorah and trim its wicks. We have already discussed the oil, but the wicks were formed from the soiled and discarded priestly linen garments used in the altar service.
The priests would trim the wicks inward toward the center from each side. The center light was called the “western lamp” as it would face toward the west. There is a Messianic legend that says the western lamp would not stay lit during the days of Yeshua. They would light it in the evening and it would go out on its own. Some have said that “the true Light of the World” was with them in those days.
Back to our Menorah: there were also tongs and scoops made to service the Menorah (to clean each cup and prepare it with new fuel and wick).
Today, goldsmiths are perplexed as to how the Menorah and all of its elements were formed from a single solid piece of gold. Adding to this mystery, some rabbis argue that its formation was by God’s hand, with the single piece of gold melted into its basic shape first and then detailed by the hammer work of the artisans.
The Menorah stood five feet high. A set of steps was used by the priests when they serviced the lamps. (People tended to be shorter back then!)
Whenever you walked into the Holy Place (the first chamber) of the Tabernacle you would have seen the Menorah on your left facing the Shulchan. The Shulchan would have been on your right, and behind the Veil beyond them would have been the Ark. There is also another piece of furniture that would be seen in this first chamber that will be described in next month's article.
Let’s step back for a moment and consider God’s instructions for building the Tabernacle before we go further. If you were to plan to build a house, you probably would lay out a floor plan for the rooms and depicting the entrances and exits of the structure. Then you would show some elevation diagrams showing the front, sides, and back of the structure. Only after the complete design was done would you place furnishings or consider the décor. However, the opposite is true of the Tabernacle and God’s pattern for it. If we are to understand what God had really done here, we need to see His priorities in the construction.
The Ark is one of the most powerful, visible symbols given in Scripture for our Heavenly Father, Almighty God. The Father sits on the Mercy Seat and renders His righteous judgments. The Shulchan is also one of the most powerful symbols for the Messiah. He is the “true bread from Heaven” and serves us like Joseph did his brethren. Joseph’s title in Egypt was the “bread man of life.” Even further, the Messiah is likened to the manna that was given to the children of Israel—and they did not know what it was. The Messiah is the King of Israel and the Redeemer and was sent to preserve us and provide for us. The Menorah is one of the most powerful symbols of the Holy Spirit. Aside from the obvious comparisons of oil and light, the Menorah guides us into the presence of God and shows us the path. Altogether, the Ark/Aron haBrit, Shulchan, and the Menorah show us the Unity of God and how three parts are unified into One. The Tabernacle plan begins with these three furnishings to show that the most important part of the Tabernacle is God’s presence. The same is true of the Tabernacle built in our hearts. The presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is all there. When you step into the Tabernacle and come before His Mercy seat separated by the Veil, you are surrounded by the presence of God – the Father is before you, the Son is to the right, and the Holy Spirit is to your left. The Son paid the price to remove your sins and the Holy Spirit led you to the Father.
In Part 2 of this article, we will examine the details of the remainder of the Tabernacle, including the construction of the chambers, the golden altar, the brazen altar, the veils, the curtains, and the priestly garments. We will examine even further the process of the construction and how it relates to our “working out our salvation.”