Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Starting about three months ago (I don't remember exactly) I have tried to understand how the Tabernacle was built as described in Exodus 26. No matter how I try to fit the curtains more or less according to their coupling, I can't figure out how to get the tabernacle done in a way that works. Can anyone give me some hints which will help me to understand how the Tabernacle was put together? I would like some reliable information, with clear explanations.


To be clear: I started trying to create a graphical image of the tabernacle. I'm talking strictly about the tabernacle. In Exodus you get a very vague idea about its scheme. I'll try to present in a few words my understanding. I'll talk related to exodus 26 (taking in account that the information presented in chapter 36 is very similar to that from chapter 26):

1 Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.

2 The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.

3 The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.

4 And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.

5 Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another.

6 And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.

Now until here you have two choices:

  1. The curtains will be tied together on their width and they will be together 280 cubits long (28 x 10) and 4 cubits height. - that's not possible because the courtyard was 100 cubits long - see 27:9 "And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: "
  2. The curtains will be tied togheter on their length, thus they will be of 40 cubits long (4 x 10) and 28 cubits width. (that taking in account that verse 5 says: "Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second;")

There would be a third choice but I won't talk about it taking in account that from my point of view it does not fit with the verse 5.

Let's continue:

7 And thou shalt make curtains of goats' hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.

8 The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure.

9 And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle.

10 And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second.

11 And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one.

12 And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle.

13 And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.

From that verses I understand that the tabernacle length was of 38 cubits long and had a 28 cubits width if you create a rectangular parallelepiped image for it.

15 And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. [...] 18 And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. [...] 20 And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: [...]

From that part I understand that tabernacle was 10 cubits in height.

With that approach in mind, you can see that the 10 curtains of tabernacle used for its "walls" does not fit in measure (are too long or too short.) Anyway, I don't mean that the tabernacle had a rectangular parallelepiped form, but I can't figure it out how that was built. I just gave you where I'm stuck now.

Any points on that would be appreciated.

share|improve this question
1  
Hello artaxerxe and welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! Are you specifically asking about the curtains, or also the planks and hooks and stuff that go with them? Could you edit into your question the specific passages in Exodus that lead to the question? (You're welcome to use any translation you like.) Thanks! –  Gone Quiet Feb 17 '13 at 1:33
1  
@MonicaCellio (see my edit) I hope to be more specific now. If you think there would be needed some other details, just let me now:). Thanks for help. –  artaxerxe Feb 17 '13 at 19:35
    
Thanks very much for these updates! This makes it much clearer which parts you're struggling with. (I have trouble visualizing it too, by the way.) –  Gone Quiet Feb 17 '13 at 21:19
    
Do curtains have to be stretched taut? –  fumanchu Feb 20 '13 at 6:19
    
@fumanchu I don't know. That's among others, what I'm looking for. :) –  artaxerxe Feb 21 '13 at 6:18

1 Answer 1

See the Wikipedia page for Tabernacle for the jumping-off point to a large literature on this subject, including a modern model. Naḥmanides (Ramban) famously expounded on the subject, see 'Perush 'al ha-Torah' (Commentary on the Torah), Exodus 25:1 and also see the Midrash Exodus Rabbah 35a (for discussion of the planks of acacia wood).

Someone may convert this to a comment as it is a pointer to the answer, not the answer.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.