Thursday, February 17, 2011

Numbers 4:7 - The Table of The Faces and The Bread of The Faces: The Table of Shewbread

It has occurred to me that I have put very little emphasis on the exact terminology that is used to describe the Table of Shewbread in the original text. Let's take a look at verses of Numbers 4:7 and Exodus 25:30:

Numbers 4:7
7 And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:

‎7 ‏וְעַ֣ל׀ שֻׁלְחַ֣ן הַפָּנִ֗ים יִפְרְשׂוּ֮ בֶּ֣גֶד תְּכֵלֶת֒ וְנָתְנ֣וּ עָ֠לָיו אֶת־הַקְּעָרֹ֤ת וְאֶת־הַכַּפֹּת֙ וְאֶת־הַמְּנַקִּיֹּ֔ת וְאֵ֖ת קְשׂ֣וֹת הַנָּ֑סֶךְ וְלֶ֥חֶם הַתָּמִ֖יד עָלָ֥יו יִהְיֶֽה׃


Exodus 25:30
30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

‎30 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֧ עַֽל־הַשֻּׁלְחָ֛ן לֶ֥חֶם פָּנִ֖ים לְפָנַ֥י תָּמִֽיד׃ פ
As you can see from the verses above, the primary expressions being used to describe the Table of Shewbread are:
  1. Table of the Faces (šuləḥan hapānîm)
  2. Bread of the Faces (leḥem pānîm ) 
The only question is - whos' Faces? Is it the Faces of God? Or is it the Faces of Israel?

Well, the answer to this question (as I pointed out many times in my previous posts) can be found in Leviticus 24:5-9, particularly in Leviticus 24:8. Let's take a look:

According to the Leviticus 24:5-7, there were twelve (12) loafs upon the Table, set in two rows, like so:

But the following verse, Leviticus 24:8, provides us with an answer to our question by stating the following:
8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.

‎8 ‏בְּי֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֜ת בְּי֣וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֗ת יַֽעַרְכֶ֛נּוּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה תָּמִ֑יד מֵאֵ֥ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בְּרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃
Therefore, each loaf of bread, like the one you see below, represented each Tribe of the Children of Israel. Twelve (12) loafs of Bread represented Twelve (12) Tribes of Israel, or in allegorical language - Twelve (12) Faces of God.

The Thirteenth (13th) Tribe - The Tribe of Levi (the priests) was not represented by a loaf of bread, but rather had one of their "representatives" present personally "before faces of God" so to speak, in the form of the High Priest (Aaron) serving in the Tabernacle. 

And just like the Leviticus 24:8-9 specifies, every day of rest (Sabbath) each Tribe would donate one such special loaf of bread so that the old bread could be replaced, totaling at 12 loafs from the 12 Tribes. 

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