Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exodus 27:9-10 - The layout of the South Side of the Courtyard of The Mishkan

Now that I have covered all the parts of the Courtyard, let's re-read the Exodus 27:9-10 so that we can move forward:

Exodus 27:9-10
9 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:

10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.

‎9 ‏וְעָשִׂ֕יתָ אֵ֖ת חֲצַ֣ר הַמִּשְׁכָּ֑ן לִפְאַ֣ת נֶֽגֶב־תֵּ֠ימָנָה קְלָעִ֨ים לֶחָצֵ֜ר שֵׁ֣שׁ מָשְׁזָ֗ר מֵאָ֤ה בָֽאַמָּה֙ אֹ֔רֶךְ לַפֵּאָ֖ה הָאֶחָֽת׃

‎10 ‏וְעַמֻּדָ֣יו עֶשְׂרִ֔ים וְאַדְנֵיהֶ֥ם עֶשְׂרִ֖ים נְחֹ֑שֶׁת וָוֵ֧י הָעַמֻּדִ֛ים וַחֲשֻׁקֵיהֶ֖ם כָּֽסֶף׃

The description (and the construction) of the Courtyard of the Tabernacle begins with the South Side, with the South West Corner Pillar. Please note, that each side of the Courtyard included only one(1) corner Pillar - this is a very important detail.

As the description states, on the South Side of the Courtyard there were one hundred(100) cubits of fabric(linen) and twenty(20) Pillars. To be more specific, on the South Side of the Courtyard there were 20 sheets of linen, each being five(5) by five (5) cubits each, totaling 100 cubits. And 20 Pillars, each being 5 cubits tall and 1 cubits in diameter(or width).
Thus, the total length of the South Side of the Courtyard was (20sheets of linen*5cubits long)+20pillars*1cubit long=100+20=120 cubits long. (NOT 100 cubits long!!!) 

As I have mentioned above, the most critical detail about the description of the Courtyard is the proper counting of the Pillars. Even some of the well known traditional commentators  have addressed this problem(see Rashi and Mizrachi).
In order to make all details of the description fit, the counting and the construction of the Courtyard MUST begin at one of the corner Pillars. Otherwise you can easily get confused and make a mistake.
And even though it does not really matter at which corner you start counting, due to the references in traditional commentaries and due to some of my own thoughts, the best place to start would be the South West Corner of the Courtyard, at the South West Corner Pillar.

If you'd like, you can peak ahead a little bit, and check out the article that describes the difficulties with the traditional understanding of the dimensions and the layout of the Courtyard of The Mishkan. You can also check out my link bar, as there are some other articles on the subject as well.

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