Thursday, September 30, 2010

Exodus 26:17 - A closer look at the Tenons ("Hands") of the Boards of the Tent of the Mishkan

I wanted to add more information about the most likely design of the Boards of the Tent of the Tabernacle. As you remember, each Board of the Tent had special Tenons (ידות, meaning lit. - "hands") that helped to connect them together. Let's take a look at Exodus 26:17:

17 Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle.

‎17 ‏שְׁתֵּ֣י יָד֗וֹת לַקֶּ֙רֶשׁ֙ הָאֶחָ֔ד מְשֻׁלָּבֹ֔ת אִשָּׁ֖ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֑הּ כֵּ֣ן תַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל קַרְשֵׁ֥י הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃
The traditional interpretations of the word  ידות , understands that it refers to the bottom side of the Boards, and therefore to this design (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/)


However, this design has a flaw. This design does not address the problem of creating tight connection between the adjacent boards, in order to make the structure more rigid, as well as to prevent light and other elements from getting through into the Sanctuary.

If you remember, I have been following more contemporary approach (which is also supported even by some of the traditional commentators) in dealing with these "Tenons", which you can find in my previous posts.
The only thing I did not cover properly, is the actual interlocking mechanism for the Boards and its possible design. Therefore, I would like to concentrate on this and show you a couple of examples of what the "Tenons" might have been really referring to.

Here is an image of the so-called "Tongue and Groove" interlocking system for the hardwood flooring. This is basically a more modern and modified system of "tenon and mortise" and as you can see from this image, such mechanism would have been almost ideal for our purpose:

However, as you also see from this image, this particular design of the interlock lacks one major feature that we need. More specifically, it has "Tenon" only on one side of the Board, whereas our verse states that there had to be two "Tenons", one on each of the sides of the boards.

Therefore, I would like to show you the most advanced and modern system of interlock mechanism, that fits this description perfectly.

Here are couple of images that I found on this website, that shows a system of interlocking hardwood flooring using the so-called "unilin" and "valinge" locking mechanisms:

Here is a classic Unilin locking system:
 And here is the latest "Valinge" locking system:

Since the images are very self-explanatory, I would like to leave it up to you to make necessary conclusions of applicability of these designs to the "Tenons" of the Boards of the Mishkan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Exodus 26:32 & 26:37 - Playing with Pillars and the Schematic Layout of the Tent of the Tabernacle

I wanted to show you the schematic layout of the Tent of the Tabernacle. I figured that a gray scale rendering of only major parts of the Tent would allow you to better understand the design.

On this image, you can see the major parts of the Tent of the Mishkan:

And on this image, you can see the corner boards of the Tent of the Mishkan. As you can see, these two-parts corner boards were cylindrical in shape and hollow.

While I was making this rendering, I also had a chance to check out my theory about a slightly different layout of the Pillars of the Tent of the Mishkan. If you recall from Exodus 26:32 and Exodus 26:37, there were two sets of Pillars, that served as a mounting points for the respective curtains of the Tent.
32 And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.

32 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֣ה אֹתָ֗הּ עַל־אַרְבָּעָה֙ עַמּוּדֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֔ים מְצֻפִּ֣ים זָהָ֔ב וָוֵיהֶ֖ם זָהָ֑ב עַל־אַרְבָּעָ֖ה אַדְנֵי־כָֽסֶף׃
37 And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.



‎37 ‏וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ לַמָּסָ֗ךְ חֲמִשָּׁה֙ עַמּוּדֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֔ים וְצִפִּיתָ֤ אֹתָם֙ זָהָ֔ב וָוֵיהֶ֖ם זָהָ֑ב וְיָצַקְתָּ֣ לָהֶ֔ם חֲמִשָּׁ֖ה אַדְנֵ֥י נְחֹֽשֶׁת׃ ס




I have made a similar gray scale rendering of this modified design of the Tent, so that you can compare it to my current design. As you can see from the image below, in this improved design, I have increased the diameter of pillars from 0.5 cubits to 1 cubits (just like the corner boards), and also moved three middle Pillars out of five Outer Pillars 0.5 cubits inward from the center line of the Outer Pillars. (NOTE: even  though it may not be seen clearly from this rendering, even with pillars being 1 cubits in diameter, there seem to be still plenty of space left between the pillars for the priests to pass through - about 1.5 cubits)


And here you can compare a footprint of the Tent of the Mishkan of my reviewed design...
 ....with the footprint of the Tent of the Mishkan in my current design.

I'm not going to discuss in detail as to why I wanted to change the diameter of the Pillars. However, all I can say for now, it seems to me that this new design may help to resolve some of the problems with the arrangement of the elements of the Tent, improving an overall compliance to the original description. Once I will get a chance to examine this design thoroughly, I will try to discuss it in much more details.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Numbers 4:5-6 - Transportation of the Ark of the Covenant - Location of the Staves

For quite some time I wanted to post one very good image of the Ark of the Covenant during its transportation, as well as to comment on a certain details of that image. So here it is:

Israel Enters the Promised Land, as in Joshua 3:5-17, illustration from a Bible Card published between 1896 and 1913 by the Providence Lithograph Company (circa 1896-1913). 

Now, if you recall, Numbers 4:5-6 states:
5 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:

6 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.
‎5 ‏וּבָ֨א אַהֲרֹ֤ן וּבָנָיו֙ בִּנְסֹ֣עַ הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְהוֹרִ֕דוּ אֵ֖ת פָּרֹ֣כֶת הַמָּסָ֑ךְ וְכִ֨סּוּ־בָ֔הּ אֵ֖ת אֲרֹ֥ן הָעֵדֻֽת׃

‎6 ‏וְנָתְנ֣וּ עָלָ֗יו כְּסוּי֙ ע֣וֹר תַּ֔חַשׁ וּפָרְשׂ֧וּ בֶֽגֶד־כְּלִ֛יל תְּכֵ֖לֶת מִלְמָ֑עְלָה וְשָׂמ֖וּ בַּדָּֽיו׃
As you can read, even though the illustration above is very well done, it lacks the detail mentioned in the Verse 6 of this chapter. Namely, in the image above, the Staves of the Ark appear to be covered with the coverings of the Ark, instead of being on the outside, helping to support coverings of the Ark from falling off.

Same also had to be true for all other artefacts of the Mishkan, that had been carried by the means of Staves. You can read about it in the following verses: Numbers 4:8(table), Numbers 4:11(golden altar), Numbers 4:14 (altar of burnt offering).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2 Samuel 12:26-31 - The Talent of Gold, The "Saws" and The King David

There is yet one more approach one can explore in search of the correct values for the basic units of weights and measures of the Pentateuch. Even though it is least preferable one, and hardly conclusive, it is still worth checking out. Let's take a look at the Second Book of Samuel, Chapter 12:26-31:

26 And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.

27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.

28 Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.

29 And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.

30 And he took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.
31 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.
‎26 ‏וַיִּלָּ֣חֶם יוֹאָ֔ב בְּרַבַּ֖ת בְּנֵ֣י עַמּ֑וֹן וַיִּלְכֹּ֖ד אֶת־עִ֥יר הַמְּלוּכָֽה׃

‎27 ‏וַיִּשְׁלַ֥ח יוֹאָ֛ב מַלְאָכִ֖ים אֶל־דָּוִ֑ד וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ נִלְחַ֣מְתִּי בְרַבָּ֔ה גַּם־לָכַ֖דְתִּי אֶת־עִ֥יר הַמָּֽיִם׃

‎28 ‏וְעַתָּ֗ה אֱסֹף֙ אֶת־יֶ֣תֶר הָעָ֔ם וַחֲנֵ֥ה עַל־הָעִ֖יר וְלָכְדָ֑הּ פֶּן־אֶלְכֹּ֤ד אֲנִי֙ אֶת־הָעִ֔יר וְנִקְרָ֥א שְׁמִ֖י עָלֶֽיהָ׃

‎29 ‏וַיֶּאֱסֹ֥ף דָּוִ֛ד אֶת־כָּל־הָעָ֖ם וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ רַבָּ֑תָה וַיִּלָּ֥חֶם בָּ֖הּ וַֽיִּלְכְּדָֽהּ׃

‎30 ‏וַיִּקַּ֣ח אֶת־עֲטֶֽרֶת־מַלְכָּם֩ מֵעַ֨ל רֹאשׁ֜וֹ וּמִשְׁקָלָ֨הּ כִּכַּ֤ר זָהָב֙ וְאֶ֣בֶן יְקָרָ֔ה וַתְּהִ֖י עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ דָּוִ֑ד וּשְׁלַ֥ל הָעִ֛יר הוֹצִ֖יא הַרְבֵּ֥ה מְאֹֽד׃

‎31 ‏וְאֶת־הָעָ֨ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֜הּ הוֹצִ֗יא וַיָּ֣שֶׂם בַּ֠מְּגֵרָה וּבַחֲרִצֵ֨י הַבַּרְזֶ֜ל וּֽבְמַגְזְרֹ֣ת הַבַּרְזֶ֗ל וְהֶעֱבִ֤יר אוֹתָם֙ במלכן בַּמַּלְבֵּ֔ן וְכֵ֣ן יַעֲשֶׂ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל עָרֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עַמּ֑וֹן וַיָּ֧שָׁב דָּוִ֛ד וְכָל־הָעָ֖ם יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ פ
The information we are looking for is contained in the last two verses (30-31). As the text states,  after conquering the city, King David "...took their king's crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David's head."
Now, according to the widely accepted estimations, the Talent of Gold(assuming it is the original Pentateuch Talent) would have been considerably heavy (say between 15-40 kg). The question here: is it possible, that the king of Rabbah(and later - King David) could handle such a heavy crown? Well, the answer to this question is - yes.

According to this book ("Ergonomics in Developing Regions: Needs and Applications" by Patricia Anne Scott, CRC Press, 2009), and I quote:
"...They added, that the maximum head load for an Indian male on firm terrain should be 30kg."

 "...It would seem that for experienced head-loaders about 20% of body weight can be carried on the level without incurring a metabolic cost, but, thereafter, oxygen uptake increases (e.g. see Maloiy et al., 1986; Charteris et al., 1989)".
Since an approximate average weight of a human male is between 166-185 pounds (75-84 kg), we can conclude that this would translate into ~15-17kg of a head load. A pretty reasonable number, in my opinion.

Therefore, reverse calculations would produce the following numbers: Talent of Gold = ~15-17kg, Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary = 15-17kg/3000 = ~5-5.6g, and "gerah" = 5-5.6g/20 = ~0.25-0.28g or ~250-280mg. And since I have approximated the weight of one kernel of barley at 40mg, this would give an approximation of "gerah" as ~6-7 barley seeds (barleycorns). 

Once again, I have to point out that this approach does not constitutes a precise way of calculating the value of these units. However, it does provide a way to confirm of disprove calculated values of these units.

Before I wrap this up, I would like to point out to an interesting fact...

In the last verse of the 2 Samuel 12, verse 31, the expression "Saws"("מגרה", "me-gerah") seem to utilize the root "גרה" ("gerah"). This is very interesting, especially considering the fact that in the context of this verse, the expression ("מגרה", "me-gerah") confirms the notion that "gerah" is something rather small and round, such as a tooth on an actual saw, or a "pellet" on a grinding saw or a drum. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Exodus 30:13 - Can expression "gerah" be translated as "an ear" (of barley) ?

So here is another approach that I have decided to try in order to determine the weight of this unit (gerah). But first, I wanted to provide some extra information about barley as a crop.

First of all, here is a couple of useful excerpts from an article called ("A century of breeding - is genetic erossion a reality?" by A. Kolodinska Brantestam, 2005):

As you can see from this diagram from the article, barley seem to have been native to the Middle East region from the ancient times, spreading to Europe, Asia and later America(?).

There are many types of barley crop, especially nowadays (genetically modified strains), however as the article states, most common distinctions between them lies in kernel and spike structure:
Of'course, and especially with new genetically modified strains of barley crop, it is very difficult to ascertain the characteristics of specific traits of barley as they greatly vary. But since I'm using a rather "rough" calculations method anyway, I would like to continue and see what results can be obtained by measuring an arbitrary average weight of barley "ear" and applying it to our problem at hand.

According to this article ("Winter Barley Performance under different Cropping and Tillage Systems in Semiarid Aragon (NE Spain)" by D. Moret, J.L Arrúe, M.V. López and R. Gracia), an average "ear" of barley contains ~18 grains(kernels), with an average weight/kernel being ~36.15mg(~0.0361g or 36.15g/1000kernels). Here is a table from this article:

Like I said, I'm simply calculating an average weights without taking into the account environmental and genetic conditions, yet nevertheless the results are relatively reasonable.

Therefore, if we would apply these results to our problem, we would get the value of "gerah" that is equal to 0.0361g per kernel *18grains per ear = ~0.6507g. This, in turn, would produce a Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary weight of 0.6507g*20=~13.014g and Silver Talent weight of 13.014g*3000=~39042g or ~39.04kg.

On the other hand(and to double check our results), if we would take a similar data for spring barley from this article ("Effect of tillage systems, mulches and nitrogen fertilization on spring barley (Hordeum vulgare)" by Małecka and A. Blecharczyk), we would get an average of ~16.9 grains per "ear" of barley, with an average weight per kernel of ~0.0455g or ~45.5g/1000 kernels. Here is a table from the article:

 With this data, we would arrive to the value of "gerah" of approximately 16.9grains per ear * 0.0455g per kernel = ~ 0.76895g. This would give us value of Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary of 0.76895g*20=~15.379g,  and a value of a Silver Talent as 15.379g*3000=~46137g or ~46.13kg.

As you can see, these resulting values are far more reasonable than when we have assumed that "gerah" was equal to one grain of barley, or when we have assumed that "gerah" was equal to a cud pellet of rumination bolus of a cow. Unfortunately, to me these values seem to be too high; slightly above what would seem to be a reasonable and expected weight for these units. Therefore and yet again - further investigation is needed.

One interesting fact that have come out from these calculations, is the correlations from Talmudic approximation of "gerah" (which is called "ma'ah" in Talmud). According to the 1952-1961 Soncino translation of the Talmud, these units are defined as follows from this excerpt:
"SHEKEL - Coin or weight, equal to two denar or ten ma'ah (q.v.). The sacred shekel was worth twenty ma'ah or gerah (cf. Ex. XXX, t3), twice the value of the common shekel."

"MA'AH - The smallest current silver coin, weighing sixteen barleycorns, equal in value to two dupondia, a sixth of the silver denar or zuz."
As you can see, a value of "ma'ah"(which is "gerah") is defined as sixteen(16) barleycorns (grains), which is almost precisely matches number of "grains per ear" of barley that can be calculated by experimental methods. And whereas I have to note again, that the characteristics of barley can and will vary from type to type, it is still interesting to see a certain degree of consistency between the ancient sources and today's agricultural studies.

However, I must point out that Talmudic value for "gerah" must not be considered certain up until the time that the methodology and explanation can be found (or be provided) as to why it is specifically such, and not something else.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exodus 30:13 - Was Silver Shekel of The Sanctuary equal to 20 "Gerahs" or to 20 "Cuds" ?

According to Exodus 30:13, a Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary (a basic unit of measure and weight) was equal to twenty (20) "Gerahs" or "Cuds". Like I mentioned in my previous posts, it is unclear to me what exactly the expression "gerah" means. All commentators also give different accounts, interpretations and values of this elusive unit. Let's take a look:

13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.
‎13 ‏זֶ֣ה׀ יִתְּנ֗וּ כָּל־הָעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מַחֲצִ֥ית הַשֶּׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ עֶשְׂרִ֤ים גֵּרָה֙ הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל מַחֲצִ֣ית הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל תְּרוּמָ֖ה לַֽיהוָֽה׃
First and foremost, the most interesting fact of the matter is that this expression (gerah) is translated differently in different verses of the text. It does not make sense to me, especially considering the fact that even in most authoritative masoretic text (see hebrew text above) the spelling of the the expression "gerah" is IDENTICAL to other verses (say, Lev. 11:3; 11:7, Numb 18:16 e.t.c). It is as if all commentators seem to simply ignore the contextual inconsistencies that arise from this little fact - not good.

However, since I'm primarily interested in finding the correct and precise value of these units (Shekel, Gerah, Talent, e.t.c), I'm going to start with examining different possibilities.

Let's assume that expression "gerah" means and equals to an average weight of one(1) kernel of barley. This means, that one(1) Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary would be equal to twenty(20) kernels of barley, and one Silver Talent would be equal to 3000*20=60000 kernels of barley.

Here is a summary table from an article titled "Using 1,000 Kernel Weight for Calculating Seeding Rates and Harvest Losses" by Dept. of Agriculture and Rural development of the government of Alberta, Canada.

As you can see from this table a rough approximate value for the weight of 1000 grains of barley (regardless of type) would be equal  to (30+50)/2=~40g. This seems to be relatively precise approximation of 1000 grain weight of barley, as according this article not only the 1000 grain measuring system appears to be a stable parameter, but also it lists similar values (~40g/1000grains) depending on the system of estimation.

For example, on this image you can see 1000 grains of peeled barley showing total weight of ~37.4g

And here is a comparison of the very same 1000 kernels of peeled barley to several US coins (penny, nickel and dime). As you can see, one thousand seeds of barley is about a handful.

Continuing the calculations by dividing 40g of average weight  by 1000 grains we would arrive to an approximate value of 0.04g per single kernel of barley. This, in turn, would make a Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary weigh about 0.04g*20=~0.8g. Consequently, a Talent of Silver would be equal 3000*0.8g=~2400g or ~2.4kg. Unfortunately, these resulting values seems to me a bit too low.

On the other hand, if we would take a different approach and assume that the expression "gerah" means "cud", or rather a small bolus or a pellet of regurgitated food from the digestive cycle of a cow, we would get completely different numbers.

Here is an excerpt from the article called "Effect of Seasonal Herbage Allowance on Bolus Weights of Cattle", by Jerry W. Stuth and Raymond F. Angell from the Journal of Range Management (Society of Range Management, Vol 35, No. 2, March 1982).
"Herbage allowances varying from 15.4 to 3.4 kg DM/100 kg BW/day did not have a significant effect on bolus weights in mature cows grazing bahiagrass pastures during mid-summer and early winter (P less or equal 0.05). Cow size and season of the year also had no significant effect on bolus weight. Bolus weight of the cows averaged 4.4(+/-0.1)g across seasons and cows."
Due to the complexity and nuances of the subject, I'm not quite sure about relevance of the values provided in this article to our issue at hand. I'm also not quite sure about the applicability of these values to all ruminants (i.e sheep, deer) and not just cows. However, I think it would be beneficial to perform the same calculations anyway.

Therefore, if we would assume that the expression "gerah" means "cud"(or rather "bolus"/"pellet" of regurgitated food), each of which weighting ~4.4g, then the Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary would weigh 4.4g*20=~88g and the Talent of Silver would weigh 88g*3000=~264000g or ~264kg. Unfortunately, these values seem to be way too high.

To sum things up, both of the approaches presented above to calculate the precise value of Silver Shekel of the Sanctuary seem to have failed to provide believable and justifiable results. Therefore, another approach needs to be developed for the calculation of these values. It has got to be very simple! Much simpler than what I have gone through so far! But unfortunately, I cannot see it at the moment.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Leviticus 11:3 - What is "Gerah" ?!?

Do you have any idea what the expression "gerah" (גֵּרָה) means ?!? I don't!!! Let's take a look at it though...

First reference to this expression can be found in Exodus 30:13:

13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.

‎13 ‏זֶ֣ה׀ יִתְּנ֗וּ כָּל־הָעֹבֵר֙ עַל־הַפְּקֻדִ֔ים מַחֲצִ֥ית הַשֶּׁ֖קֶל בְּשֶׁ֣קֶל הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ עֶשְׂרִ֤ים גֵּרָה֙ הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל מַחֲצִ֣ית הַשֶּׁ֔קֶל תְּרוּמָ֖ה לַֽיהוָֽה׃
Seems that one(1) Silver Shekel (primary unit of measure) was equal to twenty(20) of these "gerahs". If one could figure out what this expression means, that would solve most of the problems associated with the units of measure for the Mishkan. Very critical and very important thing to do, but unfortunately it is not as easy as one would hope it would be.

But let's continue looking and see what else we can learn about this elusive "gerah" from Leviticus 11:3:

3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.


‎3 ‏כֹּ֣ל׀ מַפְרֶ֣סֶת פַּרְסָ֗ה וְשֹׁסַ֤עַת שֶׁ֙סַע֙ פְּרָסֹ֔ת מַעֲלַ֥ת גֵּרָ֖ה בַּבְּהֵמָ֑ה אֹתָ֖הּ תֹּאכֵֽלוּ׃
Ok, so now we actually know that the expression "gerah" has primary meaning of "cud"(particle(s)/ball). In animal science, "cud" is basically a ball (bolus) of regurgitated food that plays an important role in digestive cycle of the ruminants (cows, sheep, deer e.t.c). Yet again, it seems that the original text does not make too much emphasis on the "cud" itself but rather upon the process of "cud chewing" and/or "regurgitation".

Here are some videos that explain and show the process of rumination...

This first video shows the entire "bringing-up of the cud":


And this video provides basic explanation of the digestive process of ruminants using Cow as an example...


And this video illustrates the process itself, but unfortunately it is in German...


Either way, it is still very unclear to me what exactly the expression "gerah" means. Yes, it can be referring to a "kernel"(or "pellet"/ "grain") of cereal grass. Yet on the other hand, it might just as well refer to a small bolus of regurgitated food that say Cows chew upon.

I just don't know at this time how to approach this problem and this is very disappointing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exodus 16:16 - An Omer (a Sheaf) of Barley and what it looks like

The main problem with correctly reconstructing the Mishkan lies with sever lack of understanding of basic units of weights and measure, that are mentioned in the original description. I do not know of any reliable and coherent work on this subject. All available materials are either pure speculations or based on comparison between similar units from the antique.

I'm not sure how to approach this problem yet, so I figured I would begin with a brief overview of the "Omer" (literally - "a Sheaf"), first reference to which can be found in Exodus 16:16. Let's take a look:

Exodus 16:16
16 This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.

‎16 ‏זֶ֤ה הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה יְהוָ֔ה לִקְט֣וּ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ אִ֖ישׁ לְפִ֣י אָכְל֑וֹ עֹ֣מֶר לַגֻּלְגֹּ֗לֶת מִסְפַּר֙ נַפְשֹׁ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם אִ֛ישׁ לַאֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּאָהֳל֖וֹ תִּקָּֽחוּ׃


In traditional agriculture, a "Sheaf" basically is a handful of a cut stalks with ears of the specific cereal grass. But since the default cereal of the Pentateuch is Barley, it is a Sheaf of Barley that constitutes a basic unit of measure so to speak.
 
Here is a nice video that show traditional hand harvest of Barley. Cutting Barley with a Sickle and "Sheaving" can be clearly seen in this video:  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Exodus 40:38 - An improved version of my composite photograph of The Mishkan

I felt compelled to make a better rendering of the Mishkan in a photo-realistic setting. I have changed the angle of the structure in the photograph and did some adjustments and cropping, but other than that everything else remained the same as my first attempt. Enjoy!

Exodus 40:38

38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

‎38 ‏כִּי֩ עֲנַ֨ן יְהוָ֤ה עַֽל־הַמִּשְׁכָּן֙ יוֹמָ֔ם וְאֵ֕שׁ תִּהְיֶ֥ה לַ֖יְלָה בּ֑וֹ לְעֵינֵ֥י כָל־בֵּֽית־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בְּכָל־מַסְעֵיהֶֽם׃

This rendering is based on the photograph by Florian Prischl(Wikimedia Commons/2007), that shows a group of hikers in the Sinai Desert, Egypt on their way through a dry riverbed, a so-called wadi. The group followed this narrowing wadi towards the Colored Canyon.(loc. 29° 9' 24.6" N, 34° 36' 31.3" E).

Resulting image has Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, meaning that you can freely copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work if you attribute it and and share it alike!

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