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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Exodus 26

Verse 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.

Thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains. Leading, as the Israelites did, a wandering life in the Sinaitic wilderness, none but a moveable sanctuary would have suited their circumstances; and accordingly the whole account of the tabernacle conveys an impression that, in form as well as in the materials of which it was constructed, it resembled the tents of nomadic people, only it was distinguished by a superior style of sumptuous decoration, such as fitted it to be [ hamishkaan (H4908)] the dwelling-place of its august inhabitant.

In describing the framework of this wonderful tabernacle, the sacred historian naturally assigned the foremost place to the hangings or curtains which are the real characteristics of such a kind of habitation; and the first in the series he mentions is the lower or inner curtain, which was a splendid piece of tapestry, embroidered with cherubic figures in various colours of blue, purple, and kermes (scarlet) wool (Hebrews 9:19) upon a white ground of byssus.

Fine twined linen, [ sheesh (H8337) maashªzaar (H7806)] - byssus twisted (see the note at Exodus 25:4), two, three, or more threads being twisted together. To make the yarn more suitable for twining, it was customary to beat it with clubs, to boil the thread in water, and then to wring it carefully. This process was considered useful, both rendering the yarn better adapted for twisting and weaving, and in improving the whiteness of the cloth (Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and Books of Moses,' p. 139; Osburn's 'Egypt's Testimony,' p.

190).

Cunning work, [ ma`ªseeh (H4639) chosheeb (H2803)] - the work of a damask weaver; because the yarn was coloured before being put into the loom-an art that was practiced at an early period among the Egyptians. This lower or inner covering was composed of ten curtains, each of which was 28 cubits long and 4 cubits broad (i:e., 15 yards in length and a little more than 2 in breadth), forming, when joined together, one continuous curtain of 280 cubits in extent. The different pieces were tacked together in the following manner:-Five were coupled curtain to curtain, by fifty loops at each of the selvedges, fastened to an equal number of taches or hooks of gold, supposed, in shape as well as in use, to be the same as hooks-and-eyes. The other five pieces of curtain were united by similar means.

One to another, [ 'ishaah (H802) 'el (H413) 'ªchotaah (H269)] - a woman to her sister [Septuagint, hee hetera ek tees heteras].

Verses 2-3

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Loops - [ lul'ot (H3924); Septuagint, angkulai].

Upon the edge, [ `al (H5921) sªpat (H8193)] on the lip; metaphorically, border, margin. It appears from this description that ten curtains were made of equal dimensions, and afterward sewed together into great curtains, each comprising five of the smaller ones-that at the extremities of these two large curtains were attached fifty loops of blue (blue silk-old English Bibles), corresponding to the same number of golden taches or hooks; and that when coupled by these fastenings it became one tabernacle.

Verses 5-6

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. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verses 7-14

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

Thou shalt make curtains of goat's hair. This after being spun (Exodus 35:26) was woven into a coarse kind of stuff resembling camlet, and used in the East as a material of common tents. It differed somewhat from the former in dimensions, no less than in general quality and appearance. There were to be eleven pieces of this coarse cloth made, each 30 cubits long and 4 cubits broad, which were to be formed into two large curtains-one of five and the other of six parts; and these, when united by loops and taches of brass, were to be placed over the splendid curtain of the tabernacle, being so disposed that, as they were one more in number than the former, and, moreover, were 30 cubits long, while the linen curtains under them were only 28, the hair-cloth covering would extend considerably lower on each side, and be large enough to conceal the richer curtains, and protect them from the influences of the weather. The extra or sixth curtain was to hang down in a doubled form in 'the fore-front,' which was the entrance at the east end of the tabernacle. The design of making those curtains separated, and attachable by fastenings, was to facilitate the work of removal, transport, and re-erection.

Verse 14. A covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers' skins - (see the note at Exodus 25:1-40.) These additional coverings were for the more effectual defense of the tabernacle from external injuries, especially from rain; because if the roof, which was flat, had been covered only with curtains of cloth, it would have been pervious to every shower, and hence, the necessity for those superincumbent coverings, the smooth, leather surface of which rain could not penetrate. But they were not intended to serve the purpose of tarpaulings merely-they contributed to the beauty and splendour of the tabernacle, the one being one entire sheet of red, the other, as many suppose, of azure or sky-blue skin.

Verses 15-30

And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.

Boards ... of shittim wood standing up. These boards, made of acacia wood (see the note at Exodus 25:15), covered with gold, were to be formed each ten cubits in length, and a cubit and a half in breadth [Nothing is said as to thickness, which Lightfoot ('Gleanings from Exodus') declares, on the authority of rabbinical tradition, to have been nine inches.] Neither the acacia Seyal nor the acacia Nilotica could have furnished single planks for boards of the prescribed dimensions, though, as has been suggested, the acacia Serissa of Cairo might have done so, supposing it to have formerly grown in the desert of Sinai. But it is not absolutely necessary to suppose that each [ qeresh (H7175)] board consisted of a single plank, since the word is used collectively (Ezekiel 27:6) for the deck of a ship (Gesenius).

Every board was to be cut or fashioned at the extremity into the form of two tenons [ yadowt (H3027), hands], by which it might take hold of, and be fastened into silver sockets [ 'adneey (H134) kecep (H3701), bases, pedestals], on which it was to stand erect. Twenty boards were placed on the north side, twenty on the south, and six on the west, with two "for the corners of the tabernacle;" five bars [ bªriychim (H1280), cross bars] of the same materials, passed along each side of the tabernacle through rings attached to each board, held them compactly together; but the central bar extended over all the boards.

'The arrangement,' says Mr. Rhind ('Tabernacle in the Wilderness,' p. 22), 'of the boards of the western side, or, as our version has it, of the sides of the tabernacle westward, is of considerable difficulty; because if we imagine an extreme obtuse angle to account for the language, the sides westward, there would be an impossibility to run the center golden bar through all; and this the text (Exodus 26:28) demands should be done.'

If the 'Bishop's Bible' gives the correct rendering of the passage, there is no difficulty as to this part of the question - i:e., the sides. The language is thus-`And on the side of the tabernacle toward the west shalt thou make six boards; also two boards shalt thou make in the corners of the tabernacle on the two sides; also, they shall be joined beneath, and likewise they shall be joined above to a ring; thus shall it be for them two-they shall be for two corners, so they shall be eight boards, having sockets of silver, even sixteen sockets-that is, two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.'

If this is the correct rendering of the passage, then the difficulty is removed. And as the measurement of the curtains fully demonstrates that the width of the tabernacle was but 10 cubits, it is manifest that the two boards which formed the corners must have been divided into two equal parts perpendicularly, and then joined together; because this would just provide for the width, which may be thus proved-The six boards, of course, would be 9 cubits; then a half cubit of each of the half boards would reach to the extremity of the north and south sides, while the extra quarter of a cubit on each side would project beyond, sufficient to have coupled to them the other half of the two boards, and so the two corners would be doubled firm and sure. Such was the framework of the tabernacle.

From its name, as well as from its general appearance and arrangements, it was a tent; but from the description given in the preceding verses, the boards that formed its walls, the five cross bars that strengthened them, and the middle bar that "reached from end to end," giving it solidity and compactness, it was evidently a more substantial fabric than a light and fragile tent, the boards and bars being introduced probably on account of the weight of its various coverings, as well as for the protection of its precious furniture.

Verses 31-33

And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:

A veil ... This veil, which was embroidered in the same way as the inner covering on the roof of the tabernacle, was suspended on four pillars of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, placed two cubits and a half distant from the other; and they stood on sockets of silver, instead of sockets of brass. It formed a division of the tabernacle into the holy and the most holy place-the former containing three notable objects-namely, the candlestick and the table on the north side of the altar of incense; while the latter was distinguished by possessing the ark, the mercy-seat, and cherubim.

Verses 34-35

And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 36

And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.

An hanging for the door of the tent. Curtains of rich and elaborate embroidery, made by the female inmates, are suspended over the doors or entrances of the tents occupied by Eastern chiefs and princes. In a similar style of elegance was the hanging finished which was to cover the door of this tabernacle-the chosen habitation of the God and King of Israel. It appears from Exodus 26:12; Exodus 26:22-23, that the ark and mercyseat were placed in the west end of the tabernacle, and consequently the door or entrance fronted the east, so as the Israelites in worshipping Yahweh turned their faces toward the west, that they might be thus figuratively taught to turn from the worship of that luminary which was the great idol of the nations, and to adore the God who made it and them.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/exodus-26.html. 1871-8.