The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

The Tabernacle of the Hebrews

Taken from The Baptist Children’s Magazine, 1852, Joseph Foulkes Winks,  Ed.

We should feel both surprise and regret if any of our young readers, who are able to read these pages, had never read in the Bible about this very remarkable place of divine worship. We believe that nearly all of them have done so, but if only one of them has not, we hope he will at once, for we assure him he will be very much interested.

We shall, however, to help those who have read about it to remember, and to induce any who have not to lose no time in doing so, give all our young readers a brief description of it. But a few words about what took place before the Tabernacle was erected will be necessary.

When Moses, by the power and under the protection of JEHOVAH, had led the Hebrews from a land of slavery into the wild and rocky regions of Arabia, he was divinely directed how to manage them. For having been slaves in Egypt, they were what we might call a half-barbarous race—ignorant, and often impatient. God, by his servant, undertook to instruct and rule them.

After giving them the Great Law at Sinai, other laws and rules were given to teach them lessons of order and purity; and thus they were taught to reverence the holiness of God, and their duty to each other as the children of one Father.

Moses was then directed to make a large tent, or tabernacle, which was to stand in the centre of their encampments, and thus form a central point to which they might all look, and to which they might all gather at stated times.

This Tabernacle was a moveable fabric, so contrived as to be taken to pieces and put together again at pleasure, for the convenience of carrying it from place to place, during the forty years migration of the Israelites in the wilderness. Though sometimes called a "tent," probably because it was a moveable building having no proper roof, but merely covered with canopies of cloth and skin, it was nevertheless constructed with extraordinary magnificence, and at a prodigious expense, that it might be in some measure suitable to the dignity of JEHOVAH the monarch of Israel, who took up his resi­dence in it as his palace, and corresponding also to the value of those spiritual and eternal blessings of which it was designed to be a type or emblem.

The value of the gold and silver alone, appropriated to the service of this holy house, and of which we have an account (Exodus 38:24, 25) amounted, according to Dr. Cumberland's reduction of Jewish talents and shekels to sterling coin, to more than one hundred and eighty-two thousand five hundred and sixty-eight pounds. If to this we add the vast quantity of brass, or copper, that was used about this fabric for its court and furniture; the rich wood of which the boards of the tabernacle, as well as the pillars which surrounded the court, and other utensils, were made; the rich embroidered curtains and canopies which covered the Tabernacle, divided the parts of it, and surrounded the courts; and if to these we add the jewels that were set in the high priest's ephod and breast-plate, and which consequently constituted a part of the furniture of the Tabernacle; the value of the whole materials, exclusive of the workmanship, must amount to an immense sum. It was raised partly by voluntary contributions and donations, and partly by a poll-tax of half a shekel per head for every male above the age of twenty; even this tax alone produced 235,359 7s. 6d. sterling.

The Tabernacle was thirty cubits long, ten broad, and ten in height; which, reduced to English measure, according to Dr. Cumberland—who supposes it the Egyptian cubit, nearly equal to twenty-two inches—was fifty-five feet long, eighteen broad, and eighteen high. The boards and the bars were all overlaid with gold; and their rings for the staves, and their hasps at top, were all of the same metal. The foundation on which they stood was also very costly and magnificent. It consisted of solid blocks of silver, two under each board; they were each about sixteen inches long, and of a suitable breadth and thickness; each weighing a talent, or about an hundred weight. Of these there were about an hundred in number, ninety-six of which were laid for the foundation of the Tabernacle under the forty-eight boards; and the other four were the bases of the columns that supported the veil or curtain which divided the inside of the Tabernacle into two rooms.

The Tabernacle, thus fitted and reared, had four different coverings, or curtains, or carpets, thrown one over the other, which hung down the side near to the silver foundation. The first and lowest carpet was made of fine linen, richly embroidered with figures of cherubim, in shades of blue, purple, and scarlet. It is reasonable to suppose, that the right side of this carpet was undermost, and so it formed a beautiful ceiling in the inside of the Tabernacle. This carpet consisted of ten breadths, which were joined together with blue loops and clasps of gold. The next carpet, which lay over the embroidered one, was made of a sort of mohair; the breadths of these were joined together with clasps of brass.

The third carpet was made of rams’ skins dyed red; and the uppermost of all, which was to fence the rest from the weather, was made of tachash or badger's skins.

The inside of the Tabernacle was divided into two rooms, by means of a veil or curtain, hung upon four pillars, mentioned before. This veil was made of the richest stuff, both for matter and workmanship, and adorned with cherubim and other ornaments, curiously embroidered upon it.

The room beyond the veil, which was called the holy of holies, was exactly square, being ten cubits each way; and the first room, called the sanctuary, was twice as long as it was broad.

Round the Tabernacle there was a spacious area, or court, of an hundred cubits long and fifty broad, surrounded with pillars, set in bases of brass, and filleted with silver, at the distance of five cubits from one another. There were twenty pillars on each side, and ten at each end of the court. These pillars had silver hooks, on which the hangings were fastened, that formed the enclosure of the court. These hangings were of fine twined linen. The entrance into this court was at the east end, facing the Tabernacle; where richer hangings, for the space of twenty cubits, were supported by four of the pillars; and these were not fastened like the rest of the hangings, but made either to draw or lift up.

In the sanctuary, or first apartment, there was the altar of incense, the golden candlestick, and the table of shewbread. Passing through the veil which separated the holy from the most holy place, we find "in the holiest of all, "the ark of the testimony, or covenant, and its lid or cover, called "the mercy seat," with the two cherubims of glory fixed above it, and forming a -kind of throne for the Shechinah, or bright cloud, the visible emblem of the Divine presence.

Here, in this holy place, did the Most High take up his abode from time to time, to receive the offerings of his people by the hands of the high priest, who alone was permitted to enter it, and that but once a year, and never without blood,—that is, never without having first offered up an animal by shedding its blood, and taking some of the blood with him when he went into the holy place, to make atonement before the Lord, for his own sins and the sins of the people. And having done this, he would come forth dressed in his splendid robes, and lifting up both his hands, bless the assembled thousands in the name of the Lord.

Now go and read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and learn that it was thus JESUS, our great High Priest, who entered into the holy of holies in heaven for us, taking with him his own blood, and there he presents it before the throne. God smells a sweet savour, and accepts it; and the day is coming when he will return, dressed in the coronation robes of his Imperial Majesty, to bless his faithful followers with eternal life.

A more splendid scene was perhaps never beheld, than the thousands of the Hebrews presented when in their encampments in the order of their tribes. The position of each tribe—as, that of Reuben, Simeon, Judah, and the rest were all fixed; every tribe or family knowing its own place. In the midst of all these tents stood the Tabernacle, the dwelling place of God their King. Well might Balaam, when he lifted up his eyes from the top of the rock, and "saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes," exclaim, with wondering admiration, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!  As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes, which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters." (Numbers 24:5, 6)