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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 26

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verses 1-37

(Compare Exodus 36:8-33.) The tabernacle was to comprise three main parts, the tabernacle Exodus 26:1-6, more strictly so-called, its tent Exodus 26:7-13, and its covering Exodus 26:14 (Compare Exodus 35:11; Exodus 39:33-34; Exodus 40:19, Exodus 40:34; Numbers 3:25, etc.). These parts are very clearly distinguished in the Hebrew, but they are confounded in many places of the English Version (see Exodus 26:7, Exodus 26:9, etc.). The tabernacle itself was to consist of curtains of fine linen woven with colored figures of cherubim, and a structure of boards which was to contain the holy place and the most holy place; the tent was to be a true tent of goats’ hair cloth to contain and shelter the tabernacle: the covering was to be of red rams’ skins and “tachash” skins Exodus 25:5, and was spread over the goats’ hair tent as an additional protection against the weather. On the external form of the tabernacle and the arrangement of its parts, see cuts at the end of the chapter.

Exodus 26:1

The tabernacle - The משׁכן mı̂shkân, i. e. the dwelling-place; the definite article regularly accompanies the Hebrew word when the dwelling-place of Yahweh is denoted. But in this place the word is not used in its full sense as denoting the dwelling-place of Yahweh: it denotes only the tabernacle-cloth Exodus 26:6. The word is, in fact, employed with three distinct ranges of meaning,

(1) in its strict sense, comprising the cloth of the tabernacle with its woodwork (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 26:30; Exodus 36:13; Exodus 40:18, etc.);

(2) in a narrower sense, for the tabernacle-cloth only (Exodus 26:1, Exodus 26:6; Exodus 35:11; Exodus 39:33-34, etc.);

(3) in a wider sense, for the tabernacle with its tent and covering (Exodus 27:19; Exodus 35:18, etc.).

With ten curtains - Rather, of ten breadths. Five of these breadths were united so as to form what, in common usage, we should call a large curtain Exodus 26:3. The two curtains thus formed were coupled together by the loops and taches to make the entire tabernacle-cloth Exodus 26:6.

Of cunning work - More properly, of the work of the skilled weaver. The colored figures of cherubim (see Exodus 25:4, Exodus 25:18) were to be worked in the loom, as in the manufacture of tapestry and carpets (see Exodus 26:36 note). On the different kinds of workmen employed on the textile fabrics, see Exodus 35:35.

Exodus 26:3

Each curtain formed of five breadths (see Exodus 26:1), was 42 feet in length and 30 feet in breadth, taking the cubit at 18 inches.

Exodus 26:4

The meaning appears to be, “And thou shalt make loops of blue on the edge of the one breadth (which is) on the side (of the one curtain) at the coupling; and the same shalt thou do in the edge of the outside breadth of the other (curtain) at the coupling.” The “coupling” is the uniting together of the two curtains: (“selvedge” is the translation of a word signifying extremity or end).

Exodus 26:5

The words “in the edge,” etc. mean, “on the edge of the breadth that is at the coupling in the second (curtain).”

Exodus 26:6

Taches of gold - Each “tache,” or clasp, was to unite two opposite loops.

Couple the curtains - i. e. couple the two outside breadths mentioned in Exodus 26:4.

Exodus 26:7

A covering upon the tabernacle - A tent over the tabernacle. The Hebrew word here used, is the regular one for a tent of skins or cloth of any sort.

Exodus 26:9

tabernacle - tent, not tabernacle. The passage might be rendered, “thou shalt equally divide the sixth breadth at the front of the tent.” In this way, half a breadth would overhang at the front and half at the back.

Exodus 26:10

Or: “And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the outside breadth of the one (curtain) at the coupling, and fifty loops on the edge of the outside breadth of the other (curtain) at the coupling.”

Exodus 26:11

In the tent, clasps of bronze were used to unite the loops of the two curtains; in the tabernacle, clasps of gold, compare Exodus 26:6, Exodus 26:37.

Couple the tent together - Not “covering,” as in the margin. By “the tent” is here meant the tent-cloth alone.

Exodus 26:13

The measure of the entire tabernacle-cloth was about 60 ft. by 42; that of the tent-cloth was about 67 ft. by 45. When the latter was placed over the former, it spread beyond it at the back and front about 3 ft. (the “half-curtain,” Exodus 26:9, Exodus 26:12) and at the sides 18 inches.

Exodus 26:16

The board would therefore be about 15 ft. long, and 27 in. broad.

Exodus 26:18

The entire length of the structure was about 45 ft. in the clear, and its width about 15 ft.

The south side southward - Or, the south side on the right. As the entrance of the tabernacle was at its east end, the south side, to a person entering it, would be on the left hand: but we learn from Josephus that it was usual, in speaking of the temple, to identify the south with the right hand and the north with the left hand, the entrance being regarded as the face of the structure and the west end as its back.

Exodus 26:19

Sockets - More literally, bases, or foundations. Each base weighed a talent, that is, about 94 lbs. (see Exodus 38:27), and must have been a massive block. The bases formed a continuous foundation for the walls of boards, presenting a succession of sockets or mortices (each base having a single socket), into which the tenons were to fit. They served not only for ornament but also for the protection of the lower ends of the boards from the decay which would have resulted from contact with the ground.

Exodus 26:22

The sides of the tabernacle westward - Rather, the back of the tabernacle toward the west. See Exodus 26:18.

Exodus 26:23

In the two sides - Rather, at the back.

Exodus 26:24

The corner boards appear to have been of such width, and so placed, as to add 18 in. to the width of the structure, making up with the six boards of full width Exodus 26:22 about 15 ft. in the clear (see Exodus 26:18). The “ring” was so formed as to receive two bars meeting “beneath” and “above” at a right angle.

Exodus 26:27

For the two sides westward - For the back toward the west. Compare Exodus 26:22,

Exodus 26:28

In the midst of the boards - If we suppose the boards to have been of ordinary thickness Exodus 26:16, the bar was visible and passed through an entire row of rings. In any case, it served to hold the whole wall together.

Exodus 26:31

Vail - Literally, separation (see Exodus 35:12 note).

Exodus 26:33

Taches - Not the same as the hooks of the preceding verse, but the clasps of the tabernacle-cloth (see Exodus 26:6).

Exodus 26:34-35

See Exodus 25:10-16, Exodus 25:23, Exodus 25:31.

Exodus 26:36

The door of the tent - The entrance to the tent, closed by the “hanging” or curtain Exodus 27:16.

Wrought with needlework. - The work of the embroiderer. The entrance curtain of the tent and that of the court Exodus 27:16 were to be of the same materials, but embroidered with the needle, not made in figures in the loom (see Exodus 26:1; Exodus 35:35).

Exodus 26:37

Rice pillars - These, it should be observed, belonged to the entrance of the tent, not, in their architectural relation, to the entrance of the tabernacle.

Sockets of brass - Their bases (see Exodus 26:19) were of bronze (like the taches of the tentcloth, Exodus 26:11), not of silver, to mark the inferiority of the tent to the tabernacle.

We are indebted to Mr. Fergusson for what may be regarded as a satisfactory reconstruction of the sanctuary in all its main particulars. He holds that what sheltered the Mishkan was actually a tent of ordinary form, such as common sense and practical experience would suggest as best suited for the purpose.

According to this view the five pillars at the entrance of the tent Exodus 26:37 were graduated as they would naturally be at the entrance of any large tent of the best form, the tallest one being in the middle to support one end of a ridge-pole.

Such a ridge-pole, which must have been sixty feet in length, would have required support, and this might have been afforded by a plain pole in the middle of the structure. Over this framing of wood-work the tent-cloth of goats’ hair was strained with its cords and tent-pins in the usual way. (See cut.)

Above the tent-cloth of goats’ hair was spread the covering of red rams’ skins.

The five pillars, to reach across the front of the tent, must have stood five cubits (about 7 1/2 ft.) apart. Their heads were united by connecting rods (“fillets” Exodus 27:10) overlaid with gold Exodus 36:38. The spaces at the sides and back may have been wholly or in part covered in for the use of the officiating priests, like the small apartments which in after times skirted three sides of the temple. It was probably here that those portions of the sacrifices were eaten which were not to be carried out of the sacred precincts Leviticus 6:16, Leviticus 6:26. We may also infer that priests lodged in them. Compare 1 Samuel 3:2-3.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 26". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-26.html. 1870.
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