Thursday, March 11, 2010

Exodus 26:33 - The Clasps and Partitioning of the Tent of The Tabernacle - Part 4

One other little detail that nevertheless is of paramount importance to understanding the partitioning of the Tent of the Tabernacle is - the use of the expressions "The Tabernacle" and "The Tent"

Here is a little excerpt from an article called "THE USE OF MISKAN AND 'OHEL MO'ED IN EXODUS 25-40" by RALPH E. HENDRIX.

Four terminological units occur within the basic literary structure of Exod 25-40. This terminological "axis" has generally been overlooked by scholars, resulting in an insensitivity to the discrete and separate connotations of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed.

By tracing the terms along the terminological axis through the literary structure, this study has suggested that miskan is used in constructional contexts, primarily associated with commands to manufacture and assemble the Dwelling Place of YHWH, but secondarily in its generic sense as simply "dwelling place." The phrase 'ohel mo'ed appears in literary contexts where the cultic function of the habitation is the concern.

This relationship between the context and the precise term that is used suggests intentionality: i.e., particular terms are used in particular contexts. Specifically, what is suggested by the usage is that the biblical writer wished to associate miskan with construction contexts and 'ohel mo'ed with liturgical, cult-functional contexts. When writing about the command to construct a dwelling and to establish the cult, the writer could easily use the discrete terms separately.

The writer dealt first with one subject (construction), and used an appropriately "constructional" name for the structure.

In dealing with the second subject (cult-function), the writer used a totally distinct, but equally appropriate expression. We must realize that the writer was distinguishing dual, yet discrete, aspects of a single physical reality.

When describing the assembly process, these discrete denominatives are used in close association, but not necessarily synonymously. Even though the two terms occur at times in a single paragraph or sentence, it is always with discrete connotations. This is evident in the two terminological units where miskan and 'ohel mo'ed occur separately, and it is discernibly consistent in the latter two terminological units, where, in tightly-worded texts, the terms are in close association.

Thus, in all contexts within Exod 25-40 the biblical writer has masterfully controlled the use of miskan and 'ohel mo'ed in order to clarify the dual nature of YHWH's habitation. That habitation was to be understood as a transient dwelling place, such as was consistent with the dwelling places of nomadic peoples; therefore the choice of miskan.

But yet, that habitation also had the continuing function of fostering the cultic relationship, and this aspect was best expressed by the choice of 'ohel mo'ed. 

You can find this article here. There are many other interesting and related articles there as well.

And here is diagram that I have created to illustrate the logic behind such use of these expressions:

Now, lets' re-read the Exodus 26:9 and Exodus 26:12-13:

Exodus 26:9

9 And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tent.
‎9 ‏וְחִבַּרְתָּ֞ אֶת־חֲמֵ֤שׁ הַיְרִיעֹת֙ לְבָ֔ד וְאֶת־שֵׁ֥שׁ הַיְרִיעֹ֖ת לְבָ֑ד וְכָפַלְתָּ֙ אֶת־הַיְרִיעָ֣ה הַשִּׁשִּׁ֔ית אֶל־מ֖וּל פְּנֵ֥י הָאֹֽהֶל׃
Eleven(11) pieces of the Second Covering, when joined together, would be 44 cubits long and 30 cubits wide.

Since the Ex. 26:9 states that eleventh piece was "doubled to the forefront of the tent" (NOT TABERNACLE), we can clearly see now that this verse tells us "to fold the sixth piece in half toward the top of the very same Second Covering"

Like this! Not UNDER and NOT toward the east side of the wooden framework(as it has not been defined yet by the description)...

But it had to be folded in half toward its top...

Creating a piece that was 2 cubits long, 30 cubits wide, twice the thickness of the covering.

Resulting in the Second Covering of 42 cubits long and 30 cubits wide...

Now, lets' take a look at the Exodus 26:12-13:

12 And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle.
‎12 ‏וְסֶ֙רַח֙ הָעֹדֵ֔ף בִּירִיעֹ֖ת הָאֹ֑הֶל חֲצִ֤י הַיְרִיעָה֙ הָעֹדֶ֔פֶת תִּסְרַ֕ח עַ֖ל אֲחֹרֵ֥י הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃

13 And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.
13 ‏וְהָאַמָּ֨ה מִזֶּ֜ה וְהָאַמָּ֤ה מִזֶּה֙ בָּעֹדֵ֔ף בְּאֹ֖רֶךְ יְרִיעֹ֣ת הָאֹ֑הֶל יִהְיֶ֨ה סָר֜וּחַ עַל־צִדֵּ֧י הַמִּשְׁכָּ֛ן מִזֶּ֥ה וּמִזֶּ֖ה לְכַסֹּתֽוֹ׃

As you can see, if we center both Coverings one over another, the Second Covering will be longer by one(1) cubit on the sides, and by two(2) cubits in front and in the back.

But as one of the pieces of the Second Covering was doubled(effectively making the covering shorter by two cubits), the resulting overlay of the coverings would look like this...

As you can see, the Second Covering was extending over the First Covering only on the sides and in the back.

In the Front (the eastern side) there was no surplus of fabric whatsoever, and this is the reason why the front side(the eastern side) is not mentioned in the verses of Exodus 26:12-13.

Resulting in this on the South side of the Tabernacle...

And this, on the North side of the Tabernacle...

And here is a cross-section view of the West side(the back side) of the Tabernacle

The Clasps of the Coverings were Two(2) cubits apart...

The Bronze Clasps of the Second Covering were closer to the back side(west side) of the Tabernacle. Whereas the Golden Clasps were closer to the front side(the east side) of the Tabernacle.

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