Sunday, June 20, 2010

Numbers 7:1-9 - Transportation of The Parts of the Mishkan - Part 3: The Burden of the Sons of Merari

As Numbers 7:1-7 told us, there were total of six(6) Covered Wagons and twelve(12) Bulls, that donated by the Chiefs of all Tribes of Israelites for the transport of the Mishkan Parts. Two(2) of the Wagons and four(4) of the Bulls were allocated to the family of Gershon, to transport the Tabernacle fabrics.  Like so:

The remaining four(4) Wagons and eight(8) of the Bulls were allocated to the family of Merari to transport the rest of the parts of the Tabernacle. Let's take a look:

Numbers 7:8
8 And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according unto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.


‎8 ‏וְאֵ֣ת׀ אַרְבַּ֣ע הָעֲגָלֹ֗ת וְאֵת֙ שְׁמֹנַ֣ת הַבָּקָ֔ר נָתַ֖ן לִבְנֵ֣י מְרָרִ֑י כְּפִי֙ עֲבֹ֣דָתָ֔ם בְּיַד֙ אִֽיתָמָ֔ר בֶּֽן־אַהֲרֹ֖ן הַכֹּהֵֽן׃

As you can see from the image below, once the all of the fabrics (and their misc. parts) were placed upon the Wagons, the remaining four Wagons would be brought inside the Courtyard are of the Mishkan, like so:

The Wagons would be positioned probably somewhere in the center of the Courtyard, so as to allow convenient access, like so:

These four Wagons would be opened, so that the disassembly of the remains of the Mishkan could begin.

The burden of Merarites is explicitly defined in Numbers 4:29-33. Let's take a look:
29 As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;

30 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.

31 And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,

32 And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.

33 This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
‎29 ‏בְּנֵ֖י מְרָרִ֑י לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֥ם לְבֵית־אֲבֹתָ֖ם תִּפְקֹ֥ד אֹתָֽם׃

‎30 ‏מִבֶּן֩ שְׁלֹשִׁ֨ים שָׁנָ֜ה וָמַ֗עְלָה וְעַ֛ד בֶּן־חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה תִּפְקְדֵ֑ם כָּל־הַבָּא֙ לַצָּבָ֔א לַעֲבֹ֕ד אֶת־עֲבֹדַ֖ת אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃

‎31 ‏וְזֹאת֙ מִשְׁמֶ֣רֶת מַשָּׂאָ֔ם לְכָל־עֲבֹדָתָ֖ם בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד קַרְשֵׁי֙ הַמִּשְׁכָּ֔ן וּבְרִיחָ֖יו וְעַמּוּדָ֥יו וַאֲדָנָֽיו׃

‎32 ‏וְעַמּוּדֵי֩ הֶחָצֵ֨ר סָבִ֜יב וְאַדְנֵיהֶ֗ם וִֽיתֵדֹתָם֙ וּמֵ֣יתְרֵיהֶ֔ם לְכָל־כְּלֵיהֶ֔ם וּלְכֹ֖ל עֲבֹדָתָ֑ם וּבְשֵׁמֹ֣ת תִּפְקְד֔וּ אֶת־כְּלֵ֖י מִשְׁמֶ֥רֶת מַשָּׂאָֽם׃

‎33 ‏זֹ֣את עֲבֹדַ֗ת מִשְׁפְּחֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י מְרָרִ֔י לְכָל־עֲבֹדָתָ֖ם בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד בְּיַד֙ אִֽיתָמָ֔ר בֶּֽן־אַהֲרֹ֖ן הַכֹּהֵֽן׃


As you can read from the description, Merarites were responsible for:


  1. 48 Gold-plated Boards of the Tent of the Mishkan

  2. 15 Gold-plated Bars of the Tent of the Mishkan

  3. 9 Gold-plated Pillars of the Tent of the Mishkan

  4. 4 Silver and 5 Copper Sockets for the Gold-plated Pillars of the Tent of the Mishkan

  5. 60 Wooden Pillars of the Courtyard of the Mishkan

  6. 60 Copper Sockets of the Pillars of the Courtyard of the Mishkan

  7. Set of Ropes and Copper Stakes that were used to secure the Pillars in place.

  8. All other miscellaneous parts, such as Silver and Golden Connecting Rods, Silver and Golden Caps for the Pillars, e.t.c.
Also, as Numbers 4:42-44 specifies, there were total of  3200 Merarites, between 30 and 50 years of age, that were eligible to handle the parts listed above:
42 And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, throughout their families, by the house of their fathers,

43 From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that entereth into the service, for the work in the tabernacle of the congregation,

44 Even those that were numbered of them after their families, were three thousand and two hundred.

‎42 ‏וּפְקוּדֵ֕י מִשְׁפְּחֹ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י מְרָרִ֑י לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לְבֵ֥ית אֲבֹתָֽם׃

‎43 ‏מִבֶּ֨ן שְׁלֹשִׁ֤ים שָׁנָה֙ וָמַ֔עְלָה וְעַ֖ד בֶּן־חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים שָׁנָ֑ה כָּל־הַבָּא֙ לַצָּבָ֔א לַעֲבֹדָ֖ה בְּאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃

‎44 ‏וַיִּהְי֥וּ פְקֻדֵיהֶ֖ם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֑ם שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת אֲלָפִ֖ים וּמָאתָֽיִם׃

Anyway, the disassembly of the remaining structure would begin with Five(5) Outer Pillars of the Tent of the Mishkan. Merarites would probably use some arbitrary ladders to get to the top of the Tent, like so:

They would remove the five(5) Outer Pillars, their five(5) Copper Sockets, their five(5) Golden Caps and their four 2.5 cubit long gold-plated Connecting Rods, and they split all of these parts between the four Wagons, like so:

Here is a close-up look at two of the Wagons: notice how halves of the Pillars could be placed one upon another, so as to save the precious space.

Next, they would begin to disassemble the North-East part of the Northern Wall of the Tent, by taking out 3 out of 5 Staves out of the Rings in the Boards of the Tent. Since this is an important step, that is related to the length of the Wagons, I would like to take a more detailed look at it:

The three removed Staves were such: one was 30 cubits long, and two Staves were most likely 19 cubits long. These Staves would be placed into only two of the Wagons, to balance the load as you can see further...

And whereas I'm not completely sure about the length of the shorter Staves, the longer Stave had to be 30 cubits long(as per. Ex. 26:28 it had to be 1.5cubitsx20=30cubits). And since we also know that the Wagons were Covered(or enclosed) and all of the parts of the Mishkan had to fit inside of the Wagons, without protruding or hanging outside(and/or on the side), we can most definitely say that the length of the Wagons had to be at least 30 cubits(at least the length of the longest of the Staves) in order to accommodate them. Here is the rendering of one of the Wagon, that shows how such long Stave would fit inside of it, like so:

The remaining parts of the North-Eastern section of the wall of the Tent(13 Boards and 26 Silver Sockets) were spread among the Wagons, like so:

Resulting in this distribution of parts inside the Wagons:

Next, the South-East section of the South Wall of the Tent would have been disassembled, and its parts spread among the Wagons. It has consisted of 13 Boards, 26 Silver Sockets and 3 Bars(1x30 and 2x19 cubits bars).

Here is an overview of the Wagons with all of these parts placed inside...

Next, the Merarites would remove the four(4) Inner Pillars of the Tent, their four(4) Silver Sockets, their four(4) Golden Caps and their five(5) 2 cubits long Gold-plated Connecting Rods.

These parts would be spread between the Wagons, resulting in this:

Next, the remaining section of the Northern Wall of the Tent would have been removed, which consisted of 7 Boards, 2 of the remaining Bars(10 cubits each), and 14 Silver Sockets.

The resulting content of the Wagons would look like this:

Next, the North West Corner Board and its Sockets would have been disassembled and placed inside the Wagons.

Here is the resulting content of the Wagons, with the halves of corner board and two of its Silver Sockets inside: 

Next, Merarites would disassemble the Western Wall of the Tent, which consisted of 6 Boards, 5 Bars(1x9 cubits and 4x4cubits Bars) and 12 Silver Sockets:

These parts would be spread between the Wagons, resulting in this:

Next, they would disassemble the South West corner board of the Tent and its Sockets, and place in inside the Wagons:

The content of the Wagons, with two halves of the corner-board and its two Silver Sockets would look like this:

Finally, the remaining section of the Southern Wall of the Tent(the South West section) would have been disassembled. Its parts - 7 Boards, 14 Silver Sockets and two Bars(2x10 cubits Bars) - were spread between the Wagons, resulting in this:

And on this image you can see all of the parts of the Tent of the Mishkan inside four Wagons.

The only thing that was left to do now, is to dissemble the frame of the Courtyard of the Mishkan. The Merarites would begin this task with the removal of the sixty(60) Silver-plated Connecting Rods, that connected the Pillars one to another.

Since 60 is divisible by 4, it would be safe to assume that each of the Four(4) Wagons contained fifteen(15) of these Silver-plated Connecting Rods, each being 5 cubits long. Here is a close-up rendering, so that you can see these Rods better:

Next, the Merarites would remove the sixty(60) Silver Caps that were on top of the Courtyard Pillars, and also the Ropes that connected Caps to the Copper Stakes. 

Each Wagon would have to carry 60/4=15 Silver Caps. And, if we assume that each Pillar was secured by two pieces of Rope, 120/4=30 pieces of rope per wagon, each Rope being ~6-7 cubits long.

Here is the close-up rendering of two of the Wagons, so that you can see the Caps and the Ropes better:

Next, they would disassemble and remove the sixty(60) Pillars of the Courtyard of the Mishkan and place them upon the Wagons, 60/4=15 Pillars per Wagon like so:

Since the Pillars consisted of two equal semi-cylindrical parts, they could have been stacked one upon another, helping to save space. Here is the close-up rendering of two of the Wagons with disassembled Pillars stacked up inside:

And the last parts of the Mishkan to be removed were the sixty(60) Copper Sockets that held the Courtyard Pillars.

Also 60/4=15 Copper Sockets per Wagon, they would be placed bellow the Silver Caps of the Courtyard Pillars to help to use the available space efficiently.

The resulting content of the Wagons, with ALL of the parts of the Mishkan inside, would look like this:

And here is a close-up view of the content of one of the four Wagons. As you can see, the size of the Wagon appears to be very reasonable in lieu of the parts of the Mishkan that had to be placed in it.
The weight of all the parts in each of the Wagons was the same, and was approximately 1-1.5 metric tons, which is a reasonable value considering the weight that the draft animals(two Bulls) can pull.

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