Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Mystery of The Transportation of The Laver Solved

If you have followed all of my posts back in 2010, you would know that I was unsure how the Copper Laver of the Tabernacle was transported (see this and this posts or the entire section). The main reason for this uncertainty was the weight of the resulting artifact - the Altar of Burnt Offering. This is why my last guess on this topic was that the Laver was transported together with the Sanctuary Utensils. 

This does not pose any apparent problems, except for the fact that the Utensils were small and made out of Gold and Silver, whereas the Laver was comparatively large and made out of Copper. Also the resulting weight of the Service Utensils + Laver would be almost at the maximum possible value that two people can carry upon a bar(yoke). This is why I had to leave this problem alone up until now.

Now, after examining all three witnesses of the Pentateuch in great detail (see my Interlinear Pentateuch), I was able to finally find explicit answer to the transportation of the Laver problem in the Samaritan Pentateuch, in its Numbers 4:14. Let's compare both texts (SP addition is underlined):

MT(Hebrew): 
‏וְנָתְנ֣וּ עָ֠לָיו אֶֽת־כָּל־כֵּלָ֞יו אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְֽשָׁרְת֧וּ עָלָ֣יו בָּהֶ֗ם אֶת־הַמַּחְתֹּ֤ת אֶת־הַמִּזְלָגֹת֙ וְאֶת־הַיָּעִ֣ים וְאֶת־הַמִּזְרָקֹ֔ת כֹּ֖ל כְּלֵ֣י הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ וּפָרְשׂ֣וּ עָלָ֗יו כְּס֛וּי ע֥וֹר תַּ֖חַשׁ וְשָׂמ֥וּ בַדָּֽיו׃

MT(English):
And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it.


SP (Hebrew):
ונתנו עליו את כל כליו אשר ישרתו עליו בהם את המחתות את המזלגות ואת היעים ואת המזרקות כל כלי המזבח ופרשו עליו כסוי עור תחש ושמו בדיו ולקחו בגד ארגמן וכסו את הכיור ואת כנו ונתנו אתם אל מכסה עור תחש ונתנו על המוט


SP (English):
And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, [even] the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it. And they will take a purple covering and cover the laver and his foot, and they cover it in Tachash skins, and they put it upon a bar.

As you can see from the verse of the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Laver and its Foot was first wrapped into purple cloth:

Then, it was wrapped into Tachash (Dark) Skins:

And then it was put upon the wooden bar (or a yoke) so that two people could carry it:

Therefore, the resulting procession of the artifacts looked like so:
  
As you can see from this last image, the resulting procession now has 2 more people in it - those who carry the Laver, making total procession count at 20 people.

Please also note that now the weight of the Service Utensils is very reasonable and does not posses any problems as far as its transportation is concerned. And now all Copper items are separate from the Silver and Gold ones.

I hope that this post have shown that it is very important to examine all available sources of the text as they often contain missing information that allows to reconstruct the narrative of the Pentateuch.

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