Thursday, September 30, 2010

Exodus 26:17 - A closer look at the Tenons ("Hands") of the Boards of the Tent of the Mishkan

I wanted to add more information about the most likely design of the Boards of the Tent of the Tabernacle. As you remember, each Board of the Tent had special Tenons (ידות, meaning lit. - "hands") that helped to connect them together. Let's take a look at Exodus 26:17:

17 Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle.

‎17 ‏שְׁתֵּ֣י יָד֗וֹת לַקֶּ֙רֶשׁ֙ הָאֶחָ֔ד מְשֻׁלָּבֹ֔ת אִשָּׁ֖ה אֶל־אֲחֹתָ֑הּ כֵּ֣ן תַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה לְכֹ֖ל קַרְשֵׁ֥י הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃
The traditional interpretations of the word  ידות , understands that it refers to the bottom side of the Boards, and therefore to this design (image is courtesy of Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld ( @

However, this design has a flaw. This design does not address the problem of creating tight connection between the adjacent boards, in order to make the structure more rigid, as well as to prevent light and other elements from getting through into the Sanctuary.

If you remember, I have been following more contemporary approach (which is also supported even by some of the traditional commentators) in dealing with these "Tenons", which you can find in my previous posts.
The only thing I did not cover properly, is the actual interlocking mechanism for the Boards and its possible design. Therefore, I would like to concentrate on this and show you a couple of examples of what the "Tenons" might have been really referring to.

Here is an image of the so-called "Tongue and Groove" interlocking system for the hardwood flooring. This is basically a more modern and modified system of "tenon and mortise" and as you can see from this image, such mechanism would have been almost ideal for our purpose:

However, as you also see from this image, this particular design of the interlock lacks one major feature that we need. More specifically, it has "Tenon" only on one side of the Board, whereas our verse states that there had to be two "Tenons", one on each of the sides of the boards.

Therefore, I would like to show you the most advanced and modern system of interlock mechanism, that fits this description perfectly.

Here are couple of images that I found on this website, that shows a system of interlocking hardwood flooring using the so-called "unilin" and "valinge" locking mechanisms:

Here is a classic Unilin locking system:
 And here is the latest "Valinge" locking system:

Since the images are very self-explanatory, I would like to leave it up to you to make necessary conclusions of applicability of these designs to the "Tenons" of the Boards of the Mishkan.

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