« PreviousContinue »
convey to the nation the
idea of their Ruler residing continually among them. But these were only the examples and shadows of heavenly things, and the sight of them profited not, unless the beholder looked beyond them, considering what they signified. They are expressly spoken of as being “the patterns of things in the heavens,” Heb. ix. 23: each article has been considered as having reference to some spiritual object; but too many fanciful applications have been made; the minute discussion of the subject of scriptural types requires much sobriety of judgment. Mather, Worden, and MʻLaurin have written expressly on these *subjects.
The materials for this tabernacle and its contents were provided by the people, who offered according to their respective abilities, and worked for it in various ways. So ready were they on this occasion, that Moses found it necessary to give public notice that enough was provided, and that no more articles should be brought, Exod. xxxvi. 6. The extent of these offerings will appear, when it is stated, that learned men compute that the value of the metals alone, the weight of which is recorded Exod. xxxviii. 24-29, would amount to more than £240,000 of our money. The articles given by the Egyptians to the Israelites when leaving their land, and those taken from the Amalekites, probably supplied a large portion of these offerings. The readiness of the Israelites shows, that when God the Holy Spirit puts his grace into the heart, the hands will be diligently employed in the Divine service. The chief directors of the work were Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah, and Aholiab of the tribe of Dan. It is expressly said, that they were Divinely instructed for this purpose, Exod. xxxv. 31–35. Thus, when God requires any particular services to be done, he will find out or make persons fit and able to perform them. And the women, who spun the goat's hair for this work, are said to be wisehearted, as well as the skilful jewellers and goldsmiths who executed the most difficult articles. Surely this is encouragement for all to unite in the work of God, believing that a man is accepted therein according to the ability he may possess.
A particular account of the setting up and consecrating the tabernacle is given in Exod. xl. There we read, ver. 34, that the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. This was the Shekinah, or manifestation of the Divine presence,
so called from a Hebrew word, which signifies to inhabit or dwell. God had directed, that the tabernacle or sanctuary should be made, that he might dwell among the people, Exod. xxv. 8. From various passages in Scripture, the Shekinah appears to have been as Josephus describes it, the visible form of a flame, most likely very shining and glorious. Whether or not it was constantly visible in the tabernacle and temple, there is no distinct account; but its entrance into the temple is expressly stated 1 Kings viii. 10, 11, and its departure seems to be spoken of in Ezek. x. 18, and xi. 23. The Jewish writers relate, that it never appeared in the second temple. Its absence from that temple, where the Son of God himself appeared in human flesh, is a proof that the Shekinah was a figurative or prophetical representation, that the promised Messiah should appear in due time. “ The Word was made flesh, and dwelt” (tabernacled, or shekinised,)“ among us," John i. 14. This was expressly prophesied, Mal. iii, 1, Hag. ii. 7.
Another manifestation of the Divine acceptance of their service and offerings was the descent of fire. Thus, when
Moses and Aaron offered the sin-offerings, “ there came out fire from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat: which when all the people
saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces," Lev. ix. 24. In like manner the fire descended on the offering of Solomon, 2 Chron. vii. 1; and on that of Elijah, 1 Kings xviii. 38. The acceptance of Gideon's sacrifice was also shown by miraculous fire, Judg. vi. 21.
In Numbers iv. it is related how the different parts of the tabernacle, and the articles belonging to it, were carried, during the removals of the Israelites in the wilderness. The priests, Aaron and his family, covered all the articles before the Levites were allowed to come into the tabernacle to prepare
for the removal. The coverings showed the reverence due to the holy things, and also that mysterious meanings were intended by them. That dispensation was obscure and dark, compared with the light of the gospel.
When the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, the tabernacle was set up at Gilgal, where they first encamped. It remained there about seven years, and then was removed to Shiloh, a more central situation, a few miles north of Jerusalem, Josh. iv. 19; xviii. 1. Here other tents and buildings were placed round the tabernacle, to lodge the priests, and to receive various articles connected with the services. Thus Eli's sons sent to the kitchen where the peace-offerings were boiled, 1 Sam. ii. 14, and this explains how Samuel and Eli laid down near the tabernacle, iii. 2, 3. Also David's going into the house of God, or that part of it where the priests lived, and there obtaining the shew-bread which had been taken from the holy place, 1 Sam. xxi. From this the tabernacle appears to have been fixed at Nob, some time after the death of Eli, and from thence was carried to Gibeon, 2 Chron. i. 3. It is to be remarked, that as Saul slew the priests of the Lord before the tabernacle at Nob, and ruined that place, so his sons were hanged up at Gibeon, whither the tabernacle had been removed, 1 Sam. xxii. 18, 19; 2 Sam. xxi. 9. There is no account of these removals, nor of what became of the tabernacle after the temple was built. The ark does not appear to have been replaced in it when restored by the Philistines. Another building was reared by David to receive the ark, when it was carried to Jerusalem, 2 Sam. vi. 17.
THERE is an account of the origin of the temple in 2 Sam. vii. and 1 Chron. xvii, and how David was permitted to form plans for the temple, and to collect a vast quantity of materials for building it, though not himself to build it. All the particulars respecting these preparations are related in 2 Sam. vii. 1 Chron. xvii. 2 Sam. xxiv. 1 Chron. xxi. to 2 Chron. vi. and 1 Kings i. to viii. From 1 Chron. xxvi. 28, it is clear that articles had been dedicated for this, or a similar purpose, by Samuel and even by Saul, also by Abner and Joab. Two accounts are there given, each of which contains particulars that assist in explaining the other, and when these chapters are read attentively, the reader will have a full idea of the whole proceeding.
The letter of Solomon to Hiram king of Tyre, 2 Chron. ii. 3—10, contains a summary of his reasons for building the temple—that it was intended to facilitate the offering
of the prescribed sacrifices, and to perpetuate the due performance of the Mosaic ritual. He expressly rejected the thought, that such a place could be a residence for Him, whom the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain. The prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple, 1 Kings, viii. 23—61, contains the most exalted ideas of the Supreme Being, and carefully does away any supposition which might prevail, of Jehovah's dwelling in a house made with hands, however glorious, although he vouchsafed tokens of his immediate presence there, in the midst of his people. He was equally ready to hear, “ from heaven his dwelling place,” the supplications presented to him, whether from that house or from a land of captivity.
The temple stood upon Mount Moriah, a hard lime-stone rock, nearly surrounded by precipices, on the eastern side of Jerusalem. The summit was levelled to make a space sufficient to erect it, and as the extent even then was not large enough for the building and its courts, a terrace was raised from the valley beneath, by constructing a wall, in some places several hundred feet high. Thus the temple and its courts were placed on the brow of a precipice. The engraving, on page 185, gives some idea of the vast elevation at which the temple would be seen by those in the valley beneath ; and it represents the present appearance of Mount Moriah, with the Turkish mosque, which now occupies the site of the temple. But much of the valley has been filled up, during the two thousand five hundred years which have elapsed since the building was first erected.
Of this remarkable site Lightfoot says “ This bank was once well stored with bushes and brambles, Gen. xxii. 13, and afterwards with worse briars and thorns, the Jebusites, who had it in possession till David purchased it for Divine use, and built the structure we have described. Here was then a poor threshing-floor of Ornan, the Jebusite, but afterwards the habitation of the God of Jacob; a place and fabric as sumptuous and eminent as it was possible for man, and art, and cost to make it ; the glory of the nation where it was, and the wonder of all the nations round about it; but at last as great a wonder and monument of desolation and ruin, as ever it had been of beauty and glory.”
The particulars given in the Bible, and those related by Jewish writers, show that the plan of the temple was similar to that of the tabernacle, but it was considerably larger. There were also similar utensils and articles for the sacred