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south ; and six on the west ; an additional board being placed at each western corner. The planks were covered with plates of gold, their ends were fixed by mortices and tenons, in blocks of silver, weighing about one hundred pounds weight, two to each board ; bars covered with gold extended along each side, to unite the whole firmly together. The eastern end was left for the entrance, and was closed by a curtain of worked linen cloth, hanging from silver rods, which rested upon five columns covered with gold. The roof, some think, was a frame of wood resting upon the upright planks, and over this were four coverings of different materials made
up in several curtains, joined together by loops and couplings. Others consider that the coverings formed the only roofing. The undermost was of fine twined linen : it hung down to about two feet from the earth, and had figures of the cherubim wrought upon it with blue, purple, and scarlet. The next covering was of goats' hair, woven into a sort of cloth; the third was a covering of rams' skins dyed red; the fourth of what is called in our translation badgers' skins ; but what animal is meant is not certain. The three outer coverings reached to the ground. The tabernacle was divided into two unequal parts; the first occupied about two-thirds of the length, or nearly 35 feet.
This was called the Holy Place, or the First Tabernacle, Heb. ix. 2. The inner apartment was only half the length ; it was separated from the outer by a wrought curtain or veil
, and was called the Most Holy Place. The height of each apartment was the length of the planks, or 18 feet.
About the middle of the outer court was the altar for burntofferings. It was a sort of coffer or chest, made of shittim wood, nearly five feet and a half in height, and nine feet in length and breadth. It rested on four short feet of brass, which were hollow, and through which the blood of the victim flowed out. The sides were covered with brass; the inner space, it is supposed, was filled with earth, on which the fire was kindled upon a grate of brass; see Exod. xxxviii. 1-7. The four corners of the altar projected upwards, so as to resemble horns, 1 Kings ii. 28; Psa. cxviii. 27. To these the victims were bound; and criminals, as in the cases of Joab and Adonijah caught hold of them. These horns, however, were not considered as protecting a heinous criminal. At the four corners rings, through which were put the poles used for carrying the altar. On the south side was an ascent to the altar, Lev. ix. 22, made of earth heaped up.
There were various articles for the use of the altar, as
pots or urns to take away the ashes, shovels, basins, fleshhooks and fire-pans: all these were made of brass; see Exod. xxxviii. 1-7. The fire upon this altar was miraculously kindled, and was kept perpetually burning, Lev. ix. 24; vi. 12, 13. This fire is considered to have been emblematical of the wrath of God against sin, Heb. xii. 29; Isa. xxxiii. 14. The Spirit of God also is compared to fire, Matt. iii. 11; Isa. iv. 4; and his influences are a sacred fire that never goes out.
The Divine word and ordinances also are likened to fire, Jer. xxiii. 29; and we read of fiery trials and afflictions, 1 Pet. iv. 12.
Between the altar and the tabernacle was placed a laver, or large basin, with an ornamented stand or foot, in which the priests washed their hands and feet, when about to perform their duties. It was made of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle, Exod. xxxviii. 8. This description has puzzled many modern readers; but it means that the laver was formed of the brazen mirrors used by the women. At that time, glass was not in use, and it would not be suitable for making such a large basin. And in ancient times the women had small plates, or flat pieces of metal, very highly polished, which showed the face nearly as well as our present looking-glasses. These they usually carried about with them. The Greek version adds, that the women here mentioned were fasting at the doors of the tabernacle, on the day when it was first set up.
The tabernacle had no windows, but there was a large candlestick or candelabra, represented in the view of the interior of the tabernacle, page 173, the main pillar of which was five feet high, according to Jewish writers. It had six branches; and at the end of each, and at the top of the main stem, was a lamp. All the seven lights were kept constantly burning in the night; but, according to Josephus, only three in the daytime; and, from Exod. xxx. 8, it appears that a part, if not the whole, were lighted in the evening. In the morning, a priest put the lamps in order, with the gold snuffers made for that purpose, and removed the snuff and dregs in a golden vessel. He then filled the lamps with the purest olive oil, such as ran easily from the fruit when bruised, without being pressed. The candlestick, with the articles belonging to it, weighed a talent, or 125 pounds, and was made of pure gold, very beautifully wrought with buds and flowers, and various ornaments.
In the holy place, also, was a table of shittim wood, about three feet and a half in length, 20 inches broad, and 30 in height, covered with plates of gold, and ornamented with a border of wrought gold. There was an ornamented cornice or border round about, to keep the frame-work steady; also golden rings for the staves to carry it. Upon this table were placed twelve unleavened loaves, each containing about ten pints of fine flour, which were changed for fresh loaves every week. These loaves, called the shewbread, were arranged in two piles, sprinkled with frankincense and salt. The name given in the original, literally means “bread of the face,” because it was placed before the face or presence of Jehovah. Also, it is called, the bread arranged in order, and the perpetual bread; see Lev. xxiv. 6,7 ; 1 Chron. xxiii. 29. Wine was placed upon the table in bowls or cups, called vials; and there were dishes, and spoons, and covers, all of gold.
A small altar for incense was placed near the veil which divided the apartments. This was made of shittim wood, 21 inches in length and breadth, and three feet and a half in height. It was ornamented and plated with gold; hence it was called the golden altar, to distinguish it from the brazen altar in the outer court. It had an ornamented border, and rings for the staves by which it was carried. On this altar incense was burned every morning and evening. The incense was a compound of drugs, mentioned Exod. xxx. 34–38, and when burned, made a sweet perfume. No other perfume might be used in the sanctuary, nor was this composition to be used for any common purposes. The incense was typical of Christ's intercession, and of prayer: thus the golden altar was a type of Christ in regard to his intercession, see Rev. viii. 3; as the altar of burnt-offering was a type of Christ in regard to the other part of his priestly office, his oblation or satisfaction.
The inner apartment called the Holy of Holies, did not contain many articles. There was deposited the ark of the covenant, a chest of shittim wood, rather more than 30 inches in breadth, the same in depth, and three feet and a half in length. It was covered with the purest gold, with an ornamented border on the top; on each side were two gold rings for the staves by which it was carried, and which remained in them. The ends of these staves were drawn out so far as to touch the veil which separated the apartments.
The lid of the ark was of pure gold, orna
mented with two figures of cherubim, so placed that their faces turned towards each other, and leaned downwards the ark. Their form cannot now be ascertained, but it is supposed to have been something like the representation here given. The wings were spread to form a sort of seat, hence the lid was called the mercy-seat, and might be considered as a throne, on which the Shekinah, or Divine
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT—AARON'S ROD BUDDING. presence, rested, while the ark itself formed, as it
the footstool. There was nothing in the ark but the tables of stone on which the ten commandments were engraven. By the ark stood a vase of gold, which contained some manna, also the rod of Aaron which budded, and a copy of the books of Moses containing the law. Or, the manna and the rod may have been in the ark when placed by Moses in the tabernacle; but these articles do not appear to have been therein when it was placed in the temple. Perhaps they had been taken away while the ark was in the hands of the Philistines, or at some other time during the period of confusion and disorder recorded in the books of Judges and 1 Samuel. Either of these views explains the apparent difference between Heb. ix. 4, and 2 Chron. v. 10.
Thus the tabernacle gave the idea of a noble residence, and the various articles in it may be considered as the requisite articles of furniture; and the whole was intended to