Friday, May 18, 2012

What was the purpose of the 50 loops and clasps (taches) in Exodus 26

This is rather interesting question and the answer to it is twofold. 

The main purpose of the 50 loops and 50 clasps for each of the two main coverings of the Tabernacle was to join both pieces of each of the coverings together. I know, this is obvious, but this is as close to the precise answer that I can get.

On the other hand, there is more to this question than meets the eye. Let's take a look:


As you can see from the image above there were two kinds of clasps - the Golden ones and the Copper ones. The Golden Clasps connected two halves of the First Covering of the Tabernacle - the Sword (cherub) woven covering.  Like so:

And the Copper Clasps were connecting the two halves of the Second Covering (goat's hair) covering of the  Tabernacle. Like so:

I've already discussed all details of these connections in my previous posts, so now I will concentrate on the correlations that can be drawn from the number of these clasps and loops.

First and foremost, it is very important to remember that the text always assumes some kind of connection between each part of the Tabernacle. In this case it means that the answer to the number of Golden claps and loops of the First Covering lies somewhere inside the Tabernacle as the gold is only used there, whereas the answer of the number of Copper clasps and loops of the Second covering lies somewhere outside of the Tabernacle as the copper is only used there.

There were total of 100 clasps (50+50), thus making total number of loops 200 (50+50+50+50). Or 50 clasps and 100 loops respectively for each of the coverings.

The total (100 clasps and 200 loops) does not seem to yield any connection. But individual number of loops and claps of each covering seem to be connected. 

For example, there were total of 50 gold-plated boards that comprised the Tabernacle frame: 20 on the north+20 on the south+6 on the west + 2*2 corner boards. This may very well correspond to these 50 golden clasps.

Same goes for the copper clasps of the Second Covering. Perhaps they are connected with the Courtyard of the Tabernacle. I.e there were 20 sheets on the north side of the Courtyard, 20 on the south and 10 on the west. If we do not count the Gate(eastern side) of the Courtyard, we will arrive at the number 50.

Unfortunately, this is all can see in these numbers for now (as far as Tabernacle goes)

Besides the Tabernacle, the number 50 is mentioned:

  1. In the story of Abraham and God discussing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:24). 
  2. 50 was the number of days of the counting of omer (Leviticus 23:15-16) 
  3. 50 was the number of the Sabbatical cycle of years. This is perhaps a significant astronomical event.(Leviticus 25:10-11). 
  4. 50 (shekels) was the value of the homer of barley (Leviticus 27:16)
  5. 50 (years) was the limit for the Levites in the service of the Tabernacle (Numbers 8:25). 
  6. 50 (shekels) was a fine for the rape of the virgin (Deuteronomy 22:29)
So as you can see, the number of clasps and loops can be connected to any of the above mentioned things. This is why more research is needed to definitively answer this question.

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