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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 26

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-37

Let's turn now in our Bibles to Exodus chapter twenty-six. Now when we got into the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Exodus, we began with the construction of the tabernacle. First of all, God informed him concerning the furnishings that were to be in the tabernacle. So in chapter twenty-nine it is described for Moses how that the ark of the covenant is to be built; it's dimensions, the mercy seat which was the lid on the ark of the covenant with the two carved cherubim. Then the furnishing for the outer holy place of the temple were to be a lamp stand with seven lamps, the table which was to have twelve loaves of bread kept on it, and then the altar of incense.

Now as we get into chapter twenty-six, get into the construction of the tabernacle itself. First of all, the Lord gives instructions to the curtains that are to be over the top. Now the tabernacle is really a tent, and thus, you've got to picture it in your mind sort of as a tent. First of all, He describes the curtains that go over the top of this tent, the bottom curtain, and there are three layers of curtains actually. The bottom curtain is to be made of linen.

They are to take ten curtains of fine twined linen, blue, purple, scarlet: with cherubims with cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain [shall be] twenty-eight cubits, [or forty-two feet] and the breadth would be four cubits: [or six feet] and all of the curtains are to be the same measurement. Then they're to take five of the curtains and couple them together; so that five would be sewed together ( Exodus 26:1-3 ).

Which makes now a curtain of thirty feet by forty-two feet. So you have two, then, large curtains of linen.

Now the interior part has got all these neat little embroideries, cherubims and fancy needlework, so that as you go into the tabernacle and you look up, you see all of these cherubim that have been woven into the fabric of this linen.

Remember this is a model of heaven. Heaven is filled with angels. So the idea of going into the tabernacle, and the consciousness of the presence of the angels of God that are there in heaven, so the cherubim all sewn in fine needlework in this linen curtain. Then the curtains were to have these golden rings sewed on them.

The loops of blue on the edge of one curtain at the selvedge; a coupling like you shall make [They were to make these loops and then these golden taches.] Fifty loops and then these golden taches: and they were to be tacked together at this loop ( Exodus 26:4-5 ).

So that you ultimately end up with one curtain that can be taken apart and folded into the two. Get the idea? It is actually, they are to be two large curtains, thirty feet by forty-two feet, yet they are to be-they should have these fifty loops, and then golden taches by which the loops are held together, so that when they put it over the top of the tabernacle it makes one large curtain.

But the tabernacle is to be a portable building. It's to move whenever they move. So the thing all has to be made so that it is portable, so it can be taken down and carried away and just one curtain sixty by forty-two would be much too large to try to move. So it's clipped together in the middle, so that they can take it apart and then move on with it when God indicated that it was time to move. Everything was portable.

You remember when they made the ark, they had the gold rings on it, and then these pieces of acacia wood overlaid with gold that went through the rings. They weren't to touch it, but the porters could just pick up the staves and they carried the ark between them.

The same was true on the table of shewbread and all. It was all made so it was portable. They could move it from place to place. So it really is a well-designed portable building that was the tent, the tabernacle, the place, and it means "the place of meeting". It was where the people were to meet God.

Now somehow along the line in history we've gotten in a wrong concept that the church is God's house. The church is not God's house. God doesn't dwell in buildings made by men's hands. When Solomon built the temple, he recognized, "Hey we're not building a house really for God", for he said, "the heavens of heaven cannot contain God." So it is a place of meeting. It's the place where I can come and meet God.

Now we could meet God anywhere. God'll meet you wherever you want to meet Him. God will meet you on the beach, God will meet you on the freeway, you name it, God can meet you anywhere. But when we want to gather together to meet together, to fellowship, to have a place of meeting in a corporate sense, then the building comes in handy. If we lived in Hawaii, we could meet the Lord under the Banyan trees, and that's great. But here is a place where we gather to meet God. We don't think of this as God's house at all, tomorrow it's just an empty building, tonight it's the church. The place where the church meets, you're the church. So this becomes a place where the church gathers to meet together in a corporate sense with God.

Now the tabernacle was the place of meeting where people would meet God, but you see they didn't have Jesus Christ. Thus, they couldn't just meet God anywhere because God is a holy God, and if you meet God you might just fry because of your sin and His holiness. So in the Old Testament period, you wouldn't dare meet God.

Thus, in order to meet God, they had a place and then they had a ritual by which you could meet God, but not yourself directly. You would come to the priest and the priest would go before God for you; then the priest would come back to you for God, but you just wouldn't meet God directly yourself in the Old Testament. So they called it the place of meeting where the people could come to the priest, offer their sacrifice, and the priest would go before God for them. This was that place, the tabernacle. This lasted actually all the way up through the reign of David. They still, at David's time, had a tabernacle. It wasn't until Solomon built the temple that the tabernacle was finally done away with.

So the first curtain over the top of the tabernacle was linen, and basically sixty feet by forty-two feet.

Now the next curtain was of goat's hair ( Exodus 26:7 ),

Now the first one is really for the ornament on the inside with the fancy needlework. Now the next one is sort of as a protection of sort. The second curtain over the first was of goat's hair.

and there were to be eleven of these [So it was to be a little bit bigger than the first, it's to drape down a little further over the linen one.] And again the length of one would be thirty cubits [Or forty-five feet instead of forty-two.] and six feet wide, but then they were to sew six of them together and five of them together again, making the loops and the taches whereby they were to be tacked together. [Now these taches, though on the goat skins were to be made of brass] ( Exodus 26:7-11 ).

Now with the goatskins, the fact that they had to use these goatskins or goat hair indicated the death of the animal. Wherever you have the death of the animal, you're thinking now in the terms of sacrifice and the judgment for sin. That's wherever anything has to do with judgment your metal becomes brass, but brass is the metal that is symbolic of judgment. So wherever there was animals, and the death of animals and so forth, brass was used because that's a sign of the judgment against sin.

So this second curtain over the top a little bit bigger than the first. It is forty-five feet by sixty-two. It's to hang over both ends and down the sides and to cover completely over the linen curtain. This is more of a protective covering.

Then the third covering was of [badger's or] ram's skin dyed red, a covering above the badger's skins ( Exodus 26:14 ).

Now this is for waterproof, this is the outer covering and it's the waterproof. So there are actually three coverings over the tabernacle, and thus as I say, it makes quite a tent.

Now there were to be these boards fifteen feet high and twenty-seven feet wide of acacia wood, and they were to be overlaid with gold. Then they were to make these silver sockets and these boards were to be sort of tongue and groove, fitting together, fitting in the silver sockets in the bottom. Then with the rings in the sides so that they could set the boards up and then run a stave through the ring so that the boards would stand upright.

So the boards were-of course, the tabernacle itself was to be forty-five feet long and fifteen feet wide. These boards, of course-the entrance at the front of it, and they describe how they are to make the entrance. But these boards are set in sockets of silver, side by side. Then over the top of it would be the hanging linen curtain, the hanging goat hair curtain, or goatskin, then over the top of that the waterproofing, the badger's skin over the top of that. These big twenty-seven inch wide boards, they're twenty-seven inches wide and they are fifteen feet high, with these rings so that when they set them up they could run the sticks through. Thus it could stand upright, and the curtains then going over the top.

He describes how they are to set them in this shape, rectangular shape of forty-five feet by fifteen feet. The tabernacle itself had two rooms in it. The outer room is thirty by fifteen, and then the Holy of Holies is a fifteen foot cube, or fifteen feet high, and fifteen feet wide, fifteen feet long. So it's actually a cube in the Holy of Holies.

So as you would enter into the Holy of Holies, of course there was no light in there, except for what was called the Shekinah, which was just an incandescent type of light, a glow that just filled the room. It was the light of the glory of the presence of God there in the Holy of Holies. No one was allowed in there except the high priest.

Now he describes how they are to make these silver sockets and set the bars on the outside. In verse twenty-six,

Thou shalt make bars of acacia wood; and the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, Five bars for the board on the side, on the two sides westward. [and so forth] And then the bar in the middle that would reach from end to end ( Exodus 26:26-28 ).

So that they could run them through these golden or through these rings and pull the thing up.

Now separating the rooms on the inside was to be a veil. Now there are sources in history, whether or not they are accurate, we do not know, but when they made the veil in the temple to separate the Holy of Holies, there are some records that state that the veil in the temple itself was eighteen inches thick woven together. Just really a heavy, heavy, thick veil in the temple.

That is the veil that was rent, torn from the top to the bottom when Jesus was crucified. Of course symbolic of the fact that God, through Jesus Christ has opened the door for all man to come freely unto Him, access to God no longer limited to just the high priest. Access to God now open to every one of us because of the rent veil of the temple.

But here it describes the veil that they are to make for this Holy of Holies, the inner veil.

Thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims that shall be made: [So again the cherubims woven into it.] And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of acacia wood that are overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, and the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang the veil under the taches, that you may bring thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy [place] and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy [place]. And thou shalt set the table outside the veil, the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side. And thou shalt make a hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks [shall be of gold]: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them ( Exodus 26:31-37 ).

Because there they would come in with the blood of the sacrifices, and thus, the brass sockets for those particular gold overlaid acacia staves. So I trust that you're getting sort of a mental picture of this. It's a tent, golden boards forming the walls around it so that when you walk into the tabernacle itself you would have to go through this first veil. You would enter into this room that is fifteen feet high, and as you looked up you would see the linen with the cherubims and so forth that are woven into the material. Over on your right side you would see the table of shewbread and on your left side you would see the lamp stands, and in front of you would be another curtain with cherubims and all woven in it. If you would go past the second curtain, in there you would see a golden box that is sitting with a golden lid on top and carved on the top of that golden lid would be these cherubims with outstretched wings. Thus, you get an idea of what the tabernacle looked like on the inside. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 26". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-26.html. 2014.
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