Monday, May 17, 2010

Exodus 30:17-21 - The Copper Laver (Washer) of The Tabernacle - Part 1

And now, the description moves on to the last artefact of the Tabernacle - The Copper Laver (or Washer).
The description of the Laver is by far the most obscure out of all other artefacts, as its dimensions are not stated explicitly. Let's take a look:

Exodus 30:17-18
17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.

‎17 ‏וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃
‎18 ‏וְעָשִׂ֜יתָ כִּיּ֥וֹר נְחֹ֛שֶׁת וְכַנּ֥וֹ נְחֹ֖שֶׁת לְרָחְצָ֑ה וְנָתַתָּ֣ אֹת֗וֹ בֵּֽין־אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ וּבֵ֣ין הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ וְנָתַתָּ֥ שָׁ֖מָּה מָֽיִם׃

As you can see, there is not too much to go about. As of this moment, I cannot tell you where else in Pentateuch one could look to find the exact dimensions of the Laver. However, here is what is known:

First and foremost, the Laver was made out of Copper, just like the rest of the "outer" artefacts and parts of the Mishkan. However, according to Exodus 38:8, the copper that was used to make the Laver was extracted out of the "lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."

Another clue to possible dimensions of the Laver can be found in the first Book of Kings (1 Kings 7:23-26; 1 Kings 7:38) and in the second Book of Chronicles (2 Ch. 4:2-5), which discusses ten(10) auxiliary Lavers that were constructed for the service at the First Temple(Temple of Solomon) and the larger main Laver - the famous Molten Sea Of Solomon.

Let's take a brief look at 1 Kings 7:23-26, as there seems to be direct correlation between the materials and dimensions of the Molten Sea and the Copper Laver of the Mishkan, as well as the Corner Boards of the Mishkan. 
23 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

24 And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.

25 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.

26 And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.

23 ‏וַיַּ֥עַשׂ אֶת־הַיָּ֖ם מוּצָ֑ק עֶ֣שֶׂר בָּ֠אַמָּה מִשְּׂפָת֨וֹ עַד־שְׂפָת֜וֹ עָגֹ֣ל׀ סָבִ֗יב וְחָמֵ֤שׁ בָּֽאַמָּה֙ קוֹמָת֔וֹ וקוה וְקָו֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים בָּֽאַמָּ֔ה יָסֹ֥ב אֹת֖וֹ סָבִֽיב׃

‎24 ‏וּפְקָעִים֩ מִתַּ֨חַת לִשְׂפָת֤וֹ׀ סָבִיב֙ סֹבְבִ֣ים אֹת֔וֹ עֶ֚שֶׂר בָּֽאַמָּ֔ה מַקִּפִ֥ים אֶת־הַיָּ֖ם סָבִ֑יב שְׁנֵ֤י טוּרִים֙ הַפְּקָעִ֔ים יְצֻקִ֖ים בִּיצֻקָתֽוֹ׃

‎25 ‏עֹמֵ֞ד עַל־שְׁנֵ֧י עָשָׂ֣ר בָּקָ֗ר שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה פֹנִ֣ים׀ צָפ֡וֹנָה וּשְׁלֹשָׁה֩ פֹנִ֨ים׀ יָ֜מָּה וּשְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה׀ פֹּנִ֣ים נֶ֗גְבָּה וּשְׁלֹשָׁה֙ פֹּנִ֣ים מִזְרָ֔חָה וְהַיָּ֥ם עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם מִלְמָ֑עְלָה וְכָל־אֲחֹֽרֵיהֶ֖ם בָּֽיְתָה׃
‎26 ‏וְעָבְי֣וֹ טֶ֔פַח וּשְׂפָת֛וֹ כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֥ה שְׂפַת־כּ֖וֹס פֶּ֣רַח שׁוֹשָׁ֑ן אַלְפַּ֥יִם בַּ֖ת יָכִֽיל׃ פ
Here is a diagram of the actual Laver(w/o its intricate base), so that you can understand it basic dimensions.

The Solomon was of'course a very wise man. So it would be hard to image that he used some other("foreign") dimensions to build his Molten Sea. It would be more logical and prudent on his part, to simply take the original dimensions of the Laver of the Mishkan and enlarge it proportionally.
Therefore, by taking this approach and by assuming that the Laver of the Mishkan was ten(10) times as small as the Molten Sea, we would get a Copper Laver of one(1) cubit in outside diameter, 0.5 cubits in height, thickness of a ~0.0225 cubits(a figerbreadth) and an inside circumference of three(3) cubits.  It would look like this:

As the description of Exodus 30:17-18 states, there were to be a separate Copper Foot (pedestal) that would hold the Laver. Description also does not provide any explicit dimensions. However, it would be logically to assume that this Copper Foot had to be tall enough to allow comfortable use of the Laver, thus making it about a 0.5 cubits(the height of the Laver) shorter than the height of the Altar of Incense, or 1.5 cubits.
Also, if one to draw a parallel with the Molten Sea of Solomon, this Copper Foot most likely was a star shaped at the bottom - a twelve(12) pointed star. (see 1 Kings 7:25).
On the other hand, the top part of this Copper Foot most likely had a semi-spherical shape to match the Laver and also to provide the best possible mounting point.

The Laver itself was most likely solid(not hollow), as it was not large and would not consume a lot of copper. In fact, considering the dimensions that I have provided above, it would weigh around ~27kg (taking cubit as 0.45m and density of copper as 8930kg/cu. meter).
On the other hand, the Copper Laver Foot would have to be hollow inside(not solid), as it put its weight within the reasonable range. Here is a rendering of the Laver Copper Foot cross section:

And here you can see the resulting Copper Laver on top of its Copper Foot. Total height of the assembled Laver would be two(2) cubits: 1.5 cubits for the Foot and 0.5 cubits for the Laver.

And as the description in Exodus 30:18 also states, the Laver were to be filled with water. Considering the dimensions i have provided, the Laver would be able to hold approximately 21 liters(or 5.5 gallons) of Water.
Here is the resulting Copper Laver upon its Copper Foot, filled with water. Notice the height of the resulting Laver (2 cubits) and how perfect and appropriate it would be compared to the height of an average person.

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