Friday, March 19, 2010

Exodus 26:35 - Location of The Table of Shewbread and The Golden Lampstand within The Mishkan - Comparative Analysis

Exodus 26:35
35 And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and 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.

35 ‏וְשַׂמְתָּ֤ אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ מִח֣וּץ לַפָּרֹ֔כֶת וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָה֙ נֹ֣כַח הַשֻּׁלְחָ֔ן עַ֛ל צֶ֥לַע הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן תֵּימָ֑נָה וְהַ֨שֻּׁלְחָ֔ן תִּתֵּ֖ן עַל־צֶ֥לַע צָפֽוֹן׃
Since this verse is the only explicit reference in the entire Pentateuch pertaining to the location and the positioning of the Table and the Lampstand, we are left to figure out the exact location on our own.

As I have shown you, this was relatively easy to do, since the description is very symbolic, dense and relies heavily on logic, symmetry and linguistic clues.

Even though further research of the matter is needed, I can say with utmost certainty, that both of these artefacts of the Tent of the Mishkan (the Table and the Lampstand) were located symmetrically and logicaly within the Holy Place (the Sanctuary).

Like this...

On the other hand, most traditional sources and commentators put the Table and the Lampstand 2.5 cubits off the respective walls of the Tent, and 5 cubits closer to the Vail - like this...

Such location of these two artefacts is not only...well.. illogical and strange...but it is also contradictory to the original description given in the Pentateuch.

Several examples:

  1. The verse tell us "עַ֛ל צֶ֥לַע" , meaning literaly "on(by) the wall", or in the context of the verse, it would mean "right next to the wall"/"very close to the wall".

  2. If you recall, from Exodus 25:37, we know that the Lamps of the Lampstand were directional. Therefore, the Lampstand would have to stand to the wall as close as possible so as not to produce any shadow spots.

  3. Even though I have not had a chance to cover the Altar of Incense yet, according to the same traditional interpretation it would have to be placed closer to the Entrance Curtain, whereas Exodus 30:6 and Exodus 40:25 tells us explicitly that the Altar of Incense stood right before ("‏וְנָתַתָּ֤ה אֹתוֹ֙ לִפְנֵ֣י")the Vail.

  4. There are plenty of other minor inconsistencies that I do not even want to mention.
On the other hand, I do agree with the traditional interpretations on the position of the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies, as you have seen in my previous posts.

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