Thursday, June 9, 2011

Exodus 26:31-37 - What is "parochet" and "masach": an overview

When I only started my blog, on my front page I used to have the following quote by Dr. Ephraim Epstein(The Monist, Vol. 21, 1911, "The Construction of The Tabernacle") : 
"Even rationalism does not shield a learned man against the warping influences of traditionalism, and its disregard for the sacredness of the text prevents him too from seeking and finding the simple truth."

I was pretty successful in keeping to this noteworthy advice, except until now. I felt victim to the traditionalism in my attempt to reconstruct the so-called "masach" (Outer Curtain of The Tabernacle) and most likely also the "parochet" (the Inner Curtain, or - the Vail).

In my next few posts, which are also going to be part of my update to my models, I will describe in detail mistake that I've made, as well as to show the correct way of dealing with these parts of the Tabernacle.

For now, I would like to offer you a brief overview of the "parochet" and the "masach", so that we can get the terminology out of the way.

Let's review the Exodus 26:31-37:

31 And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:

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.

33 And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.

34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.

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.

36 And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.

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.
‎31 ‏וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ פָרֹ֗כֶת תְּכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֣שׁ מָשְׁזָ֑ר מַעֲשֵׂ֥ה חֹשֵׁ֛ב יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֖הּ כְּרֻבִֽים׃

‎32 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֣ה אֹתָ֗הּ עַל־אַרְבָּעָה֙ עַמּוּדֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֔ים מְצֻפִּ֣ים זָהָ֔ב וָוֵיהֶ֖ם זָהָ֑ב עַל־אַרְבָּעָ֖ה אַדְנֵי־כָֽסֶף׃

‎33 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֣ה אֶת־הַפָּרֹכֶת֮ תַּ֣חַת הַקְּרָסִים֒ וְהֵבֵאתָ֥ שָׁ֙מָּה֙ מִבֵּ֣ית לַפָּרֹ֔כֶת אֵ֖ת אֲר֣וֹן הָעֵד֑וּת וְהִבְדִּילָ֤ה הַפָּרֹ֙כֶת֙ לָכֶ֔ם בֵּ֣ין הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ וּבֵ֖ין קֹ֥דֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִֽׁים׃

‎34 ‏וְנָתַתָּ֙ אֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֔רֶת עַ֖ל אֲר֣וֹן הָעֵדֻ֑ת בְּקֹ֖דֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִֽׁים׃

‎35 ‏וְשַׂמְתָּ֤ אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ מִח֣וּץ לַפָּרֹ֔כֶת וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָה֙ נֹ֣כַח הַשֻּׁלְחָ֔ן עַ֛ל צֶ֥לַע הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן תֵּימָ֑נָה וְהַ֨שֻּׁלְחָ֔ן תִּתֵּ֖ן עַל־צֶ֥לַע צָפֽוֹן׃

‎36 ‏וְעָשִׂ֤יתָ מָסָךְ֙ לְפֶ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל תְּכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֣שׁ מָשְׁזָ֑ר מַעֲשֵׂ֖ה רֹקֵֽם׃

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


As you can see from these verses we are introduced with several terms:
  1. The Inner Vail, "parochet" (פרכת)
  2. The Outer Curtain, "masach" (מסך)
However, these verses provide very little extra information about these parts, so we must look elsewhere:
  1. The Inner Vail, "parochet", is properly called "Vail of the Covering" or "parochet ha-masach" (פרכתה מסך) in Exod. 35:12, Exod. 39:34, Exod. 40:21, and especially Numbers 4:5
  2. The Outer Curtain, "masach", is properly called "Covering of the Portal of the Tent" or "masach le-fetah ha-ohel" (מסך לפתח האהל) in Exod. 26:36, Exod. 35:15 and Exod. 36:37.
  3. The expression "masach" is also used to describe the Hangings of the Gate of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle in Exod 27:16, Exod. 35:17, Exod.40:8, Exod. 40:33, Numb. 3:26 and Numb 4:26
In my blog sections about the "masach" and its 5 pillars, I have ended up with the following design for the "masach" (Outer Curtain):
What you see on this image is closer to the traditional interpretations of the text, that turned out to be flawed due to careless use of the terminology provided in the original text.

After I have reviewed the description of the "masach", it is very clear to me now that the proper design of the "masach" would look somewhat like so:

As you can see, the major change that I have implemented is the location and separation of the Outer Curtain. Now the Outer Curtain is located between Five Outer Pillars of the Tent. And it is not really a Curtain( singular) but rather Curtains (plural), each of which being 1.5 cubits wide and 10 cubits tall, just like the Boards of the Tabernacle, and similar in layout to the Gate Curtains of the the Courtyard (see this post).

In my next post I will provide detailed reasoning for such change and interpretation.

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