Monday, January 17, 2011

Q&A - Why was the Showbread Table on the north side of the Tabernacle ?

According to Exodus 26:35, the Table of Shewbread was to be placed on the North side.  This statement may not seem like it is answering the question, but this is simply because some things get lost in translation.

Let's take a look at Exodus 26:35 closely:

35 And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.

‎35 ‏וְשַׂמְתָּ֤ אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָן֙ מִח֣וּץ לַפָּרֹ֔כֶת וְאֶת־הַמְּנֹרָה֙ נֹ֣כַח הַשֻּׁלְחָ֔ן עַ֛ל צֶ֥לַע הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן תֵּימָ֑נָה וְהַ֨שֻּׁלְחָ֔ן תִּתֵּ֖ן עַל־צֶ֥לַע צָפֽוֹן׃

Technically speaking, the expression תִּתֵּ֖ן עַל־צֶ֥לַע צָפֽוֹן [al-ṣela‘ ṣāfwōn] literaly means "on the dark/hidden side". But why, one may ask, this is relevant here?

Here is why:

As you can see from the rendering above, the Northern Wall of the Tent of the Mishkan during the day was always covered by the shadow of the Southern Wall. This is the reason why proper translation of the the expression תִּתֵּ֖ן עַל־צֶ֥לַע צָפֽוֹן would be "on the dark side".

In other words, the Table of Shewbread was located by the Northern (dark) Wall of the Tent because this side of the Tent would signify DAY(day time), during which, of'course, the Table of Shewbread would have been used.

Therefore, the location of the Table of Shewbread to the North has symbolic meaning of the day (day time), during which people usually consume food.

You can watch this animation to see how shadow always stays on the Northern part of the Tabernacle during the day:

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