Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aleppo Codex (some pages) and Complete Leningrad Codex Facsimile

This is something that you must definitely check out and take advantage of. On you can now download several versions of scanned originals of the masoretic text (the originals that were used to make Torah Scrolls). Here are two most notable ones that you can download, but there are other great books there as well, so please visit this web site and explore it.

Aleppo Codex Tanach Manuscript (High Resolution, 556MB, #263).
"The Aleppo Codex, known in Hebrew as Keter Aram Tzova is probably the most famous manuscript of the Tanach, written in the 9th or 10th century by the school of the great Massorete Ben Asher. This manuscript was used by the Rambam as a reference for the correct reading of the Tanach. The manuscript is kept in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This edition includes actual scanned color photos of the manuscript in high resolution. Unfortunately, most of the Pentateuch part had been lost."

Leningrad Codex Tanach Manuscript Facsimile (Complete, 713MB, #264)
"The Leningrad Codex (or Codex Leningradensis) is one of the oldest manuscripts of the complete Tanach produced according to the Tiberian mesorah. It is dated from the year 1008 according to its colophon. The manuscript is kept in the National Library of Russia in Sankt Petersburg labeled Firkovich B 19 A.This is a facsimile edition of the manuscript."
So please visit this link and take full advantage of this great resource. If you want to see only masoras, please enter "codex" in the search box of this link. Please note that these files can be very large, but such treasures worth downloading even if you have a dial-up connection.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Q&A - Why did the Kohathites carry the holy articles on their shoulders ?

I have somewhat answered this question in this post, but I wanted to elaborate a little bit more and take a look at this question from a different angle.

First of all and as I have mentioned before, the main reason for sons of Kohath had to carry the Tabernacle artefacts on their shoulders was the direct one specified in Numbers 7:9:
9 But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them was that they should bear upon their shoulders.

‎9 ‏וְלִבְנֵ֥י קְהָ֖ת לֹ֣א נָתָ֑ן כִּֽי־עֲבֹדַ֤ת הַקֹּ֙דֶשׁ֙ עֲלֵהֶ֔ם בַּכָּתֵ֖ף יִשָּֽׂאוּ׃

And of'course, this was due to the fact that the artefacts (particularly the Ark of The Covenant) were holy and deserved special treatment and care.

But what about the Kohathites themselves ? Would not this create an unfair burden upon them, compared to other carrier families (i.e Merarites or Gershonites) who enjoyed the relative comfort of bull-powered wagons?

The answer to this question can be found by analyzing the original text, primarily Numbers 4:18-20 and Genesis 49:10.

1) The name, or rather, expression קהת ("kohath") means "an obedient one", sometimes "one of whom expected much" (see Gen. 49:10).

2) Now, based on Numbers 4:18-20, Genesis 49:10 and the definition of the name "Kohath" above, we can conclude that Kohathites, as people, possessed the following qualities: they were obedient and of them were expected much.

3) This means that sons of Kohath were more obedient than any other family of the Children of Israel. And this also means that the sons of Kohath were very meticulous, very thorough and very reliable, so it was expected from them, without any reservation, to transport and care for the most holy parts of the Tabernacle.

4) In other words, physical (genetic), mental and spiritual abilities of the sons of Kohath were of such qualities that would make them the only family of the Children of Israel capable of being in close contact with the most holy parts of the Tabernacle (albeit covered) for a prolonged periods of time and under very stressful, challenging conditions.

5) Of'course, their physical abilities are most underlined by the original text, which means that they were the "humble strongmen" among the Levites, exceeding in this regard the sons of Judah (see. Gen. 49:10). 

Minor update for the Tabernacle Explorer 3D

It has come to my attention that there were some compatibility issues on some computers when starting the Tabernacle Explorer 3D, so here is a minor update that should address these issues. You can download an updated version by following the download link at the software page, here.

The only difference between the first version and this update is the start menu of the program:

The software also have been preset to the most common resolution of 1366x768, but if it does not look right on your screen, you can always select some other resolution that will work for you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Animation of one of the traditional opinions of the Tabernacle (Mishkan)

I found yet another video that shows a 3d animation of one of the traditional opinions of the design and layout of the Mishkan. This nicely executed video is based on this layout, that proposes 15 cubits(!) tall Pillars for the Courtyard, as well as rather odd arrangements of some of the artefacts and parts of the structure. The Boards and Pillars for both Tent and the Court are assumed to be ~1000kg(if not more) solid pieces of timber. 

Now I would like to ask anyone who even a bit cares about the truth: Could you give such layout any credibility whatsoever ?

Could this ugly monstrosity, that would require modern industrial equipment and a few days of intense labor to be setup, have traveled with the Children of Israel in the desert for 40 years ?

No! I don't think so!   

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hebrew Term for Veil (Parochet)

Here is a very nice summary of the terminology used to describe the Vail ("parochet") from the book called "Issues in the book of Hebrews" by Frank B. Holbrook, Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 1989.

This is, of'course, a Christian book, but I found the information presented about the Vail to be somewhat interesting and more or less accurate. This will also provide you with an alternative point of view on the subject. 

Please note, that since the copy I have is poorly formatted, the following excerpt presented as is, with only minor corrections to make the text more readable. This is from page 110 of the book:

"In every case the Hebrew term parochet, applies to the second curtain, the one that separates the holy from the Most Holy. By contrast, the first curtain throughout the ОТ is called the "door of the tabernacle. Ballenger quotes the 23 references to parochet in support (Exod 26:31,33,35;27:21; 30:6; 35:12; 36:35; 38:27; 39:34; 40:3, 21-22, 26; Lev 4:6,17; 16:2, 12,15; 21:23; 24:3; Num 4:5; 18:7; 2 Chr 3:14).

When we examine these passages, we find in almost every case the reference is clearly to the second veil. In two places, however, the meaning is open to question: (1) "But he shall not come near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries; for I am the Lord who sanctify them" (Lev 21:23); and (2) "You and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for all that concerns the altar and that is within the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood as a gift, and any one else who comes near shall be put to death" (Num 18:7).

Further, we should note that the second veil is not always designated simply as "the veil," that is, by parochet without amplification: "the veil which is before the testimony" (Exod 27:21), "the veil that is by the ark of the testimony" (Exod 30:6), "the veil of the screen" (Exod 35:12), "the veil of the screen" (Exod 39:34), "the veil of the screen" (Exod 40:21), "the veil of the sanctuary" (Lev 4:6), "the veil of the testimony" (Lev 24:3), and "the veil of the screen" (Num 4:5). "

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Exodus 26:31-33 - Detailed Inner Curtain (Vail or "Parochet") description

In my previous post, I have discussed the Outer Curtain ("masach") of the Tent of the Tabernacle. Now I would like to discuss the Inner Curtain (The Vail) of the Tent of the Tabernacle.

The primary purpose of this Vail was to separate the Tent into two rooms, as well as to serve as one of the coverings for the Ark of The Covenant.

Let's take a look at the description (Exodus 26:31-33):
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.

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׃
As you can see, when describing the Vail the expression פרכת ("parochet") is used. However, and just like with the Outer Curtain, the original text does not provide exact details about the layout of the Vail. It can be only found in Exodus 35:12, Exodus 39:44, Exodus 40:21 and particularly in Numbers 4:5.

In these verses, the Vail is called properly "vail of the covering", although the literal translation would sound more like "curtains of the portiere". Again, notice the PLURAL form of the expression "Vail". This means that the Vail was most likely a set of 5 pieces of fabric that hung from 4 Inner Pillars of the Tent, from Gold Plated Connecting Rods and were secured with Golden Hooks.

Unfortunately, this is where the difficulty lies. As the description of the Vail states, it played a crucial role in the entire layout of the Tent, as the Vail, according to Exodus 26:33, had to hung right below the so-called "clasps" of the First and Second Coverings of the Tent. Whereas I have indicated in this post that the description speaks primarily of the Copper Clasps of the Second (goat's hair) Covering, the question still remains as what to do with the Gold Clasps of the First Covering (cherub woven) Covering of the Tent.

As you can see from this image below (and above as well), ideal location for the Golden Clasps of the First Covering would have been also right below the Vail. And even though it can be easily accomplished with help of my layout, there are several possible ways to do it and this is where I'm not sure yet how to proceed.

Also, considering that the diameter of the 4 Inner Pillars of the Tent was 1 cubit, it would obviously direct the measurements of the "partitions" of the Vail as well. You can see on the image below, that 3 middle partitions of the Vail would be 1 cubit wide, whereas remaining two side partitions would be 1.5 cubits. However, if we were to calculate the area of the Vail, we would still arrive at very nice number of (1.5 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1.5) * 10 = 6 * 10 = 60 cubits^2. Just like the area of the Outer Curtain (masach), that was also equal to (1.5 + 1.5 +1.5+1.5) * 10 = 6 * 10 = 60 cubits^2.

Therefore, in order to put all parts of the Tent of The Tabernacle together, we would need to answer two questions:
  1. Where Clasps of First and Second Coverings were located with respect to the Vail?
  2. Is such division of the Vail (1.5 + 1 + 1 +1 + 1.5) feasible and correct?

I will try to present you with the answer to these questions once I have finished updating my models. However, I hope that you will be able to figure it out for yourself, since that now you know the correct terminology and correct diameter of the Pillars of the Tent.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Exodus 26:36-37 - Detailed Outer Curtain (Masach) description

Now that I've got terminology out of the way in my previous post, I would like to concentrate more on the Outer Curtain of the Tent of the Mishkan and describe its layout and size.

But first and foremost, I would like to point out that the Outer Curtain of the Tent was identical in layout to the Gate Hangings of the Court. Here are couple of images that should give you an even better idea:

Here it is lined up:

And this is another angle:

I hope that now you can see the amazing similarities between Outer Curtain of the Tent and Gate Hangings of the Court. And also, I hope that you can now also see that the Outer Curtain of the Tent was NOT actually a Curtain (singular) but the CURTAINS (plural).

Here is why:

In the description of Exodus 26:36-37 the expression מסך (masach) is used. This expression refers ONLY in general sense to the actual fabric curtain(s), perhaps analogous to the way expression "mishkan" refers to the First Covering of the Tent, even though the First Covering itself was composed of 10 separated sheets of fabric called "yeriot". 

The actual definition, or rather the description of the layout of the "masach" can be found only in four verses: Exodus 35:12, Exodus 39:34, Exodus 40:21 and Numbers 4:5. These verses contain THE most crucial piece of description, namely the word פרכת ("parochet"). THIS IS A PLURAL FORM ! This is a PLURAL form of the word פרך ("paroch"), which literally means - grounded, fractured, divided - partitioned.

To further backup this claim, you can also refer to the description of the Outer Curtain's Pillars, of which it said that they had "hooks" (vavim) [i.e Exod. 26:37 or Exod. 36:38]. At first, I myself misidentified the correct purpose of these "hooks", but now it is clear to me that they were similar in layout to the "hooks" of the Court Pillars (i.e Exod. 27:17), so that they may be used to secure the fabric between them; while at the same time provide convenient way to operate the sections of the fabric individually (i.e move one of the sections along the connecting rods, so that the priests may enter). Like so:

As to the dimensions of each fabric section of the "masach": they were 1.5 cubits long, 10 cubits tall, not sure about the thickness (probably also the same as the boards, although its debatable). There would be 4 such sections that hung between 5 Outer Pillars of the Tent. The distance between the centers of the Pillars was 2.5 cubits. The combined area of these sections of the Outer Curtain were 1.5 * 4 *10 = 6 * 10 = 60 cubits^2; very interesting numbers indeed.

I hope that now it is clear that the Outer Curtain ("masach") of the Tent of the Tabernacle was NOT one single piece of fabric, but rather 4 sections of fabric that hung between equidistantly spaced 5 Outer Pillars, and were secured to these Pillars by the means of the Gold Plated Connecting Rods ("chashukim") and Golden Hooks ("vavim").

Thus, the (Outer) Covering ("masach") was composed of Pillars and Fabric Partitions ("parochet" - plural of form of the expression "perek")

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.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Exodus 40:17 - When was the Tabernacle setup: day or night ?

While working on my Tabernacle Explorer 3D, one very interesting question arose that I feel compelled to answer: when was the Tabernacle actually setup? Was it during the day? Or was it during the night ?

Well, according to the Law of Moses, the day begins after sunset and ends right before the sunset.

Exodus 40:17 provides us only with the date when the Tabernacle was setup:
17 And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.

‎17 ‏וַיְהִ֞י בַּחֹ֧דֶשׁ הָרִאשׁ֛וֹן בַּשָּׁנָ֥ה הַשֵּׁנִ֖ית בְּאֶחָ֣ד לַחֹ֑דֶשׁ הוּקַ֖ם הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃

As you can see, we are only told that the Tabernacle was setup on the 1st of Abib, of the second year after Exodus from Egypt. But no information provided as to the time of the setup of the Tabernacle.

Did Levites start to assemble the Tabernacle right after sunset and worked through the night? Or did assembly of the Tabernacle begin at some other time of the Hebrew day?

The answer to this question can be found right in the original text, in the last verse of the Book of Exodus, in Exodus 40:38, and also in Numbers 9:15-16.

Let's take a look at 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׃

Now, let's compare it with the description provided in Exodus 40:33-34:
33 And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.

34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

‎33 ‏וַיָּ֣קֶם אֶת־הֶחָצֵ֗ר סָבִיב֙ לַמִּשְׁכָּ֣ן וְלַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ וַיִּתֵּ֕ן אֶת־מָסַ֖ךְ שַׁ֣עַר הֶחָצֵ֑ר וַיְכַ֥ל מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶת־הַמְּלָאכָֽה׃ פ

‎34 ‏וַיְכַ֥ס הֶעָנָ֖ן אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וּכְב֣וֹד יְהוָ֔ה מָלֵ֖א אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃

Now we can most definitively say that the Levites started to assemble the Tabernacle sometime after sunrise on the 1st of Abib, so most likely the Tabernacle was fully assembled several hours later, by the early morning hour. This is because the description states that the cloud[of smoke] covered the Tabernacle, not the cloud[of fire]. Thus, as the description states, so it was: the Cloud (Pillar of Smoke) covered the Tabernacle.

And by the evening of the very same day (1st of Abib), the fully assembled Tabernacle was for the very first time covered with Pillar of Fire, like so:

So, as you can see, this question is a prime example of how seemingly minute details can be extracted from the original text just by carefully reading and comparing relevant verses.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Overview of The Tabernacle Explorer 3D

I have created a couple of demo videos that should give you a better idea of what the software looks like. Also, these videos maybe helpful to those of you who unable to run my software for whatever reason.

Here is an overview:

And here is an overview of the stereoscopic mode of the software:


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