Thursday, May 27, 2010

Exodus 37:10-16 - A Brief Review of The Table of Shewbread

The Exodus 37:10-16 repeats the minute details and dimensions of the Ark Of The Covenant that could be found in earlier chapters of the Pentateuch (Ex. 25:23-30). The only differences between these two descriptions are the minor changes in the text, that provide extra details, and the addressee of the description (Bezallel, not Moses). Let's take a look:

Exodus 37:10-16
10 And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof:

‎10 ‏וַיַּ֥עַשׂ אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָ֖ן עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֑ים אַמָּתַ֤יִם אָרְכּוֹ֙ וְאַמָּ֣ה רָחְבּ֔וֹ וְאַמָּ֥ה וָחֵ֖צִי קֹמָתֽוֹ׃

The Table itself consisted only of the two parts: its flat top and the four cylindrical legs. Dimensions of the Table were 2x1x1.5 cubits.

11 And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about.

11 ‏וַיְצַ֥ף אֹת֖וֹ זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר וַיַּ֥עַשׂ ל֛וֹ זֵ֥ר זָהָ֖ב סָבִֽיב׃ 
Bezaleel overlaid the Table of Shewbread with pure gold. I'm not sure about the thickness of overlay(probably not more than 1mm), as I have not done the proper calculations yet. However, the overlay was of the same type and thickness as the golden overlays of the rest of the gold plated parts and artefacts of the Mishkan.

Just like the some other artefacts of the Mishkan, the top flat part of the table was encompassed by a decorative Crown(or border/molding) of pure solid gold. This Golden Crown had a functional purpose as well: namely - to prevent utensils of the Table(and the Sewbread of'course) from falling off the Table. This Crown was relatively thin(probably no more than 1mm), probably 6-7 cm in height and rectangular in shape.

Here is how the Table looked like, once the Golden Crown was put upon its top.

12 Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about.

‎12 ‏וַיַּ֨עַשׂ ל֥וֹ מִסְגֶּ֛רֶת טֹ֖פַח סָבִ֑יב וַיַּ֧עַשׂ זֵר־זָהָ֛ב לְמִסְגַּרְתּ֖וֹ סָבִֽיב׃
Below the top of the Table, a special Border(or rather enclosure) was fashioned.  

In my initial overview of the Table I figured that it was suppose to be hollow, and only served as a structural aid in the table design.

However, I have come to realization that there is a good chance that it was not hollow, but rather indeed a some form of an "enclosure", that was used as an extra storage space for the Table utensils.  But could it be so? Here is the rendering of both possible designs of this element of the Table - The Border ("מסגרת")

I'm going to assume again, that this Border was also made out of Shittim wood, since there is no reference in the description to the material that was supposed to be used. Although it is possible that is had been made out of solid gold.

The Border was overlayed with gold, just like the rest of the Table.

Result would look like this....

However, the Border has also featured a Crown of solid pure gold. It was probably smaller and thinner than the main Golden Crown of the Table of Shewbread. It would look probably like so...

This smaller crown was mounted upon the Border, resulting in this:

And once the Border with its Golden Crown was mounted upon the Table, the result would look somewhat like this. Please note, that the Table had a total of two(2) Golden Crowns.

As the description in Exodus 37:12 states, the Border was a handbreadth(~10cm) tall, not counting the height of its Crown.

13 And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof.

‎13 ‏וַיִּצֹ֣ק ל֔וֹ אַרְבַּ֖ע טַבְּעֹ֣ת זָהָ֑ב וַיִּתֵּן֙ אֶת־הַטַּבָּעֹ֔ת עַ֚ל אַרְבַּ֣ע הַפֵּאֹ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֖ר לְאַרְבַּ֥ע רַגְלָֽיו׃

Just like most of the artefacts of the Mishkan, the Table had four(4) Golden Rings made for it, so that the carrying poles by which the Table was carried could be mounted. These Rings to those of the Ark of The Covenant, yet they were thick enough to handle the weight of the Table. I have not had a chance to do the calculations yet, but it appears that these Rings were tube-shaped, ~ 5cm in outside diameter, ~3-4 cm in inside diameter and ~4-5 cm in length.

I will try to calculate a more precise dimensions of these Rings in my next posts, but for now here is the rendering of these four Rings:

These Four(4) Golden Rings were mounted upon four legs of the Table, in such a manner so as to allow the carrying poles to be inserted along its width(smaller sides).

And here is a close-up rendering of the Table with its Border, Crowns and its Rings. As the Exodus 37:14 states:

14 Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table.

‎14 ‏לְעֻמַּת֙ הַמִּסְגֶּ֔רֶת הָי֖וּ הַטַּבָּעֹ֑ת בָּתִּים֙ לַבַּדִּ֔ים לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָֽן׃

This means, that most likely the rings were mounted along the center of the Border, at the middle of its height. Thus, this would effectively put the Rings one(1) cubit off the ground. And the Border center was also one(1) cubits off the ground.

15 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table.

‎15 ‏וַיַּ֤עַשׂ אֶת־הַבַּדִּים֙ עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֔ים וַיְצַ֥ף אֹתָ֖ם זָהָ֑ב לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָֽן׃

Just like for most other artefacts of the Mishkan, Bezaleel made two(2) relatively long wooden poles to serve as the Tables' Carrying Staves during its transport. These Staves were made out of Shittim Wood, like so...

The Staves were also overlayed with Gold, resulting in Golden Plated Staves for the Table that were probably 7-8 cubits long, 3-4cm in diameter(a hand grip diameter). Here is the rendering of the overlayed Staves: 

Once the Staves were inserted into the Tables' Rings, the result would be this:

16 And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.
16 ‏וַיַּ֜עַשׂ אֶֽת־הַכֵּלִ֣ים׀ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־הַשֻּׁלְחָ֗ן אֶת־קְעָרֹתָ֤יו וְאֶת־כַּפֹּתָיו֙ וְאֵת֙ מְנַקִּיֹּתָ֔יו וְאֶת־הַקְּשָׂוֹ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֻסַּ֖ךְ בָּהֵ֑ן זָהָ֖ב טָהֽוֹר׃ פ 
In order to perform the Priestly Service at the Table, a special set of Golden Utensils had been made as well.
On this image you can see all of them (from top to bottom): 12 Golden Plates for the Shewbread, set of Golden Spoons and Forks, Wine Graphines, Wine Cups.

Once the Golden Utensils were arranged upon the Table, the result would look like this...
Please note, that with an updated Border design, some of the Utensils could have been put and kept under the top of the Table.

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