Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review of the Transportation of the Copper Laver, The Altar of Burnt Offering and the Service Utensils of the Tabernacle

The Transportation Copper Laver is one of several problems that cannot be solved without properly and simultaneously analyzing all of the parts and artefacts of the Mishkan. This is where my Mishkan Calculator become an indispensable tool, that helps to solve this problem. 

If you remember, the original text does not provide any explicit directions as to how the Copper Laver was transported. Therefore, one would have to rely on implicit clues in the text, as well as the weight calculations that would confirm or reject a particular assumption.

Since the Copper Laver was considered a Holy artefact (Ex. 30:28-29) because it had been anointed with the Holy Anointing Oil, it could not have been transported independently from the rest of the parts of the Mishkan. Moreover, there are only three possibilities as to whom could transport the Laver:

  1. By Kohathites, together with the Altar of Burnt Offering
  2. By Merarites, together with all the Frame Parts of the Tabernacle.
  3. By Kohathites, together with the Vessels of the Sanctuary (Service Utensils)
I'm still pretty certain, that the Laver could not have been transported by Merarites because just like the Gershonites and by implication, they were only responsible for Framework of the Tabernacle(Num. 3:24-37). None of the stand-alone artefacts of the Mishkan are mentioned in the description of their burden.

Therefore, my first assumption was that the Copper Laver would be transported by Kohathites, together with the Altar of Burnt Offerng. My reasoning was such:
  1. The Copper Laver is almost always mentioned together with the Altar of Burnt Offering (i.e Ex. 30:18; 30:28; 31:9 e.t.c)
  2. The Copper Laver was made out the same metal as the Altar of Burnt Offering - Copper.
These reasons were satisfactory to me to make the above stated assumption, and since I could not verify the weight of the Altar of Burnt Offering (together with the Laver) at the time, I've had no other choice but to stop looking any further into this matter.

However, once I have got the calculator up and running, the results of the calculations have shown me a completely different picture...

According to my calculator and some clues from the text, the Altar of Burnt Offering would have to weigh no more than ~100kg in order for it to be light enough for the 4 men to carry for long distances. Also, from Ex. 38:29-31 we know that the total donations of Copper were 70 Talents and 2400 Shekels, or 70.8 Talents.
By implication from Ex. 38:27, we can deduce that each of the Copper Sockets of the Mishkan weighted 1 Talent of Copper. And by subtracting the total of 65 Talents(60 Courtyard Sockets+5 Tent Door Pillars Sockets), we are left with 5.8 Talents of Copper.

By implication from Ex. 38:28, we can also deduce that 2400 Shekels(0.8 Talents) of Copper were used up to make the Copper Pins(Stakes) for the Tent and for the Courtyard Pillars of the Mishkan. Once we subtract 0.8 Talents from the remaining 5.8 Talents, we are going to end up with exactly 5 Talents of Copper left to make the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver.

Now, assuming that the 1 Talent of Copper weighted ~17kg, we arrive at the total of 85kg of Copper. Also, since the long distance carrying load for a man is ~23kg, and we have 4 men carrying the Altar, we have the total carrying capacity of 23*4=92kg.

It seems to look right, save for the fact that the Altar of Burnt Offering had not been made entirely from Copper, but also contained Shittim Wood Frame and Poles. Also, the Altar was covered with several Coverings and, after the Sin of Korach, it was also supposed to be covered with the Copper Cover. All this extra weight had to be carried by the very same 4 bearers.

And this is where more or less precise approximation of the weight of the Altar comes very handy.

Once we add the weight of 5 Talents of Copper, weight of wood, fabric covers, copper cover and the Laver, the total weight of the Altar of Burnt Offering would be around ~120kg. This resulting weight is far above of what 4 bearers can carry (95kg).

Therefore, we have left with only one possibility - to move the Laver to other bearers. And the only possible and textually justified place to move the Laver is the Service Utensils bearers. Here is why:
  1. Once we remove the Copper Laver from the Altar of Burnt Offering, the total weight of the Altar drop to more or less belivable 90-100kg. This also tells us that the assumption of the weight of the Laver being 1 Copper Talent (maximum 2) is a reasonable and plausible one.
  2. Once we add the Laver to the Service Utensils bearers, their carrying load, even though doubles, still falls withing their carrying capacity of ~2*23=46kg.
  3. There is a textual basis to believe that the Copper Laver was considered as the Service Utensil (or Vessel). As Ex.40:30-32 states, the Laver was not exclusively used for the Altar service, but it was also used for the Tent of the Tabernacle service as well.
Therefore, just like the Service Utensils (Silver Chargers, Golden Incense Cups and Silver Sprinkling Bowls), the Copper Laver was utilized for service throughout the Mishkan. And therefore, it is safe to assume that the expression "Vessels of the Ministry" INCLUDE the Copper Laver. This solution seems to resolve all weight problems with these artefacts.

Here are the updated illustrations for the changes...

All Service Utensils of the Tabernacle would look like this:

Once the Service Utensils of the Tabernacle needed to be transported, they would be placed upon the Blue Cloth Covering, like so...

Wrapped with the same Blue Cloth Covering, like so:

And covered with the Covering of Tachash Skins, like so:

Resulting in this:

Just like I noted above, the Service Utensils (now including the Copper Laver and his Copper Foor), would still be transported upon a wooden Carrying Pole by two bearers, like so:

On the other hand, inside of Altar of Burnt Offering without the Laver would look like so: (Note, that there is no Laver inside the Altar now.)

This is why it is so important to take every single fact about the Tabernacle into the account, including the weight of all the parts, as this would help to properly understand and verify the design of the entire structure. 

P.S. I have updated my post about the Sin of Korach with the last image, as I see no need to make a review of the Altar all over again.

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