Sunday, February 5, 2012

Petach vs Masach vs Parochet

One very important aspect of the terminology used in the description of the Tabernacle is the difference between three Hebrew terms: Petach (Door; Opening or Portal in some translations), Masach (Portiere; or Hanging in some translations) and the Parochet (Partitions; Curtains or Veils in some translations). 

And even though I have covered details of the Parochet in this and this posts of mine, I think it would be beneficial to review this subject again and in more details (to include the Petach and the Masach) all at once.

To do this, I will begin by using the Parochet (Inner Curtain of the Tent of the Tabernacle) as an example, which as you know looked somewhat like this:

Now, take a look at this diagram:

As you can see, there were 5 Parochet (Veils) that constituted 1 so-called Masach (Portiere), which is essentially an Inner Curtain, less the Columns and other hardware.

On the other hand, the so-called Petach (Door) of the Holy of Holies room refers to the actual physical boundary where the Parochet(5 Partitions which constituted 1 Masach) were located (shown in green on the image below). 

So that you do not get confused, here are a few extra diagrams that should clarify the matter:

This first one shows that there were total of 3 Doors in the Tabernacle. One inside the Tent, one on the eastern part of the Tent and one on the eastern part of the Courtyard. 

These three Doors were comprised of 1 Masach (Curtain) each; total of 3 Masach.

And each Masach was comprised of several Parochet (Veils), namely 5 Partitions for the Inner Masach,  4 Partitions for the Outer Masach and 4 Partitions for the Court Gate Masach. Total of 13 Parochet (Veils).

So, as you can clearly see, the Parochet(Veils) was not a singular piece of fabric, but rather several pieces of fabric, and there were total of 3 sets of Parochet (Veils) in the Tabernacle. 

This fact is not only very important to properly understand the original description(i.e Exodus 26:31, Exodus 26:36, Numbers 3:26),  but it is also crucial to understanding the traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Veil. 

In both traditional interpretations the Veil is represented by a singular piece of fabric due to its origin from the Second Temple, which has nothing to do with the Tabernacle and possibly even with the First Temple.

In other words, traditional interpretations must be dismissed when studying the description of the Tabernacle, as they are not rooted in the original text, but rather in latter (and vastly different/modified) descriptions. 

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