Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Comparison of opinions on the shape of the Boards (Kerashim) of The Tent of the Mishkan

I wanted again to review and compare different opinions on the shape of the Boards of the Tent of The Tabernacle. This time, I wanted to concentrate on the resulting weight of the Shittim Wood that would be required to build the Boards of the Tent according to each opinion.

Since two out of three dimensions for the Boards of the Tent are given explicitly in the original text(Ex. 26:16), the only question remains is as to their thickness.

Let's take a look:



As you can see from the image above, there are three main opinions on the matter of the thickness of the Boards of the Tent.


  1. Opinion #1 (according to Pentateuch) relies on the modern insights and research, as well as the scientific and logical realities. Each Board of The Tent according to this opinion is approximately ~1cm thick.

  2. Opinion #2 (according to Rab. Yehuda - Talmudic Sources). This opinion relies on different traditional interpretations of the text and traditional opinion on the thickness of the boards. Each Board of The Tent according to this opinion is approximately 1 cubit thick.

  3. Opinion #3 (according to Rab. Nehemiah - Talmudic Sources). This opinion also relies on different traditional interpretations of the text and traditional opinion on the thickness of the boards. Each Board of The Tent according to this opinion is approximately 1 cubit thick on the bottom and about 1-2 cm at the top. Boards in this opinion are of a rather odd triangular prism shape.

Here is the diagram for the Opinion #1...

Here is the diagram for the Opinion #2. This image is courtesy of Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld (daf@shemayisrael.co.il @ http://www.dafyomi.co.il/shabbos/ )

This is how individual Boards of the Tent looked like, according to the Opinion #2. This image is courtesy of Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld (daf@shemayisrael.co.il @ http://www.dafyomi.co.il/shabbos/ )

And this is the diagram for the Opinion #3. This image is courtesy of Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld (daf@shemayisrael.co.il @ http://www.dafyomi.co.il/shabbos/ )
And this is a schematic drawing of the back of the Tent, according to the Opinion #3. This image is courtesy of Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld (daf@shemayisrael.co.il @ http://www.dafyomi.co.il/shabbos/ )

And here you can see the resulting Frame of the Tent of The Mishkan for each of the Opinions.
And this is an addendum to the image above, that shows the design and approximate weight of Wood, that would be required to make each Board of the Tent, as well as a total weight of all Boards of the Tent. 

Therefore, if we would take the density of Shittim Wood as 780 kg/m^3, we would get:

  1. Opinion #1: 23kg of wood for each Board, and 1151kg for all Boards of the Tent.

  2. Opinion #2: 1066kg of wood for each Board, and 51168kg for all Boards of the Tent.

  3. Opinion #3: 533kg of wood for each Board, and 25584kg for all Boards of the Tent.
Even if we would take the density of Shittim Wood as 78kg/m^3, Cubit as 0.45m and the least "heavy" traditional scenario of the Opinion #2, we would still end up with highly excessive and unmovable weight for all the Boards of the Tent. 

Therefore, relatively thin (1cm) design of the Boards of The Tabernacle(Opinion #1) is the only reasonable and mathematically sound scenario in this case.

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