Friday, April 22, 2011

Exodus 27:4-5 - Grate of the Altar of Burnt Offering

As I have mentioned in this post, the key to reconstructing the Altar of Burnt Offering lies primarily with properly reconstructing its Copper Grate (Mesh). 

Here is another opinion on how this Grate might have looked like, from James Strong's book - "The Tabernacle of Israel in the desert". (this post)

As you can see, the Grate here is shown simply as a flat Mesh with four rings, that would be inserted into specially designed slot in the middle of the Altar (Exodus 27:5).
In my opinion, such design is not very good as the slot for the Grate would compromise the structural integrity of the Altar, not to mention that the Grate would not be secured properly and may fall out.
On the other hand, perhaps there is some truth to such design because the Grate here would be relatively light and easy to handle.
Unfortunately, I'm yet to figure out what proper design would suit the description of Exodus 27:4-5 best.

P.S. Perhaps, the Grate of the Altar of Burnt Offering looked somewhat like this:

This image of the Brazen Altar is from web site:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Contemporary Nomadic Tabernacles

I wanted to show you similar yet contemporary type of the Tabernacle, that is being used today by nomads.

I have only one such image to show you, but it is one of the closest types of Tabernacle design that is similar to what is described in the Bible.

On this image above you can see one of many camps of Gilanian Nomads in northwestern Iran.

As you can clearly see, their Tents very closely resemble that of the Biblical Tabernacle, namely there is a wooden frame, upon which there are spread cloth coverings. On top of these cloth coverings there are spread additional coverings of skins and wool to further protect the Tents from weather and elements.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Exodus 27:1-8 - A little bit about the Altar of Burnt Offering

One thing that had been bothering me more and more, is the Copper Altar of Burnt Offering. Particularly, I'm concerned if I'm understanding the description of Exodus 27:1-8 correctly.

I'm still trying to figure what exactly the text means, but meanwhile, I would like to direct your attention to this very nice image that shows some of the possible interpretations of the original text.

This illustration of the Altar of Burnt Offering is from is from an uncommon edition of Kerckelycke Historie van Neder-Landt which was a Dutch text edition of Agostino Torniello's Annales Sacri et Profani by Heribertus Rosweydus (1569, Utrecht - 1629, Antwerp), ca. 1625 by TORNIELLO, A

You can see the larger version of this image on this web site:

As you can see, and as with the most parts of the Tabernacle description, the design of the Altar of Burnt Offering can be interpreted in many different ways. My personal opinion at this moment is closer to the one that is shown in the top right drawing on that illustration, however, I'm not 100% certain that it is the correct one.

Basically, the problem is related to the design of the Grate of the Altar, its resulting overall height and presence (or absence) of the ramp to approach the Altar. And therefore, it is important to find clues on the original text that would help to identify the correct (and only) way of reconstructing the Altar.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Passover !!!

Even though Samaritans may not be an utmost authority in the Mosaic Law, they certainly observing the Passover correctly.

Watch this video and feel the connection to THE holiest Holy Day of the Hebrew nation:

Enjoy and Happy Passover !

P.S. I have noticed in this video that some parts of the lamb, namely some of the internal organs, were removed prior to cooking it. This, in my opinion, seems to be contradicting Exodus 12:9, where it says that the lamb must be cooked with all of its internal organs. And even though some of these internal organs can be disposed of (i.e uncrushed bones, skin, intestines, e.t.c), nevertheless the lamb must be cooked with it first.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with exact Samaritan Passover ritual, so I'll leave it up to you to decide if they are indeed observing Passover correctly or not.

Also, it is worth to remind that the proper way to eat Passover lamb is described in Exodus 12:11 and as it is illustrated on these images:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Importance of the Tabernacle

One very significant fact that I feel compelled to add to my "Importance of The Tabernacle" article, is the one that points out the perpetuality of the Tabernacle and its service for every generation. Let's take a look:

In Exodus 25:8, God gives an explicit command to build him the sanctuary (The Tabernacle).

Compare it to the verses of 2 Samuel 7:1-17 (particularly, 2 Samuel 7:7) and 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 (particularly 1 Chronicles 17:6).

As you can see from the aforementioned verses, The Tabernacle is the ONLY sanctuary, that is directly sanctioned by God Himself. Whereas, the Temple was only approved by God (even though with some degree of reservation) at the request of David, as David's reward for his righteousness, and was not directly sanctioned.

On the other hand, the same verses (and also 1 Kings 5:3) of the Tanakh point out that David, even though he had asked, was not allowed to build the Temple (i.e 1 Chron 17:4). Only his son, Solomon, was given such permission.

Another important conclusion that can be drawn from all the verses mentioned, is that in the original text of Pentateuch, The Tabernacle is referred to as (בית מקדש  שכן ) "The House of Sanctuary of The Presence" (i.e Exod 25:8), whereas the Temple is referred to as (בית מקדש לשמי) "The House for the Sanctuary of The Name" (2 Sam 7:13 and 1 Kings 5:3).

In other words, the Temple was considered only as the place dedicated to the Name of God, whereas the Tabernacle was an actual place where God prefer both His Name and His Presence to dwell. This is very important distinction that is usually played down (if not omitted) in the traditional interpretations.

And last, but not least, this distinction is explicitly underlined in some of the verses of the Pentateuch, such as Exodus 27:21, Leviticus 24:3, Numbers 18:23, e.t.c

So, as you can see, The Tabernacle and its Service WAS and STILL IS the responsibility of EACH generation of the Children of Israel, regardless of the existence of the Temple.

And as I have pointed out on many occasions, without the Tabernacle, existence of the Temple is pointless, if not outright heretical.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Several Samaritan Pentateuchs for Comparative Analysis

When studying Bible, it is always a good idea to compare an authoritative text of your choice (in my case it is Masoretic Text) to other existing versions.

Samaritan Pentateuch is one of such versions of the Pentateuch that deserves attention. And in order to do this, you would most definitely want to have more or less reliable copy.

Unfortunately, in case with the Samaritan Pentateuch, it is very hard to come by, not only because it is believed that Samaritan Pentateuch has variations from copy to copy, but also because it is actually written in "Samaritan Hebrew".

Nevertheless, here are couple of of such books that I would recommend for you to check out:

This first book, "The Torah: Jewish and Samaritan versions compared (Hebrew Edition)", by Mark Shoulson, is more of a reference work. However, it is useful for quick comparison and basic research.

This second book, even though is a bit out of date, is much more serious attempt at categorization of the Samaritan Pentateuch differences, and it is suited for more serious comparative studies.

There are other similar books available, but IMHO they are not as useful as the two mentioned above. And of'course, I hope that in the future, online and more comprehensive versions will become available.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Exodus 26 and 27 in Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumran, 4QPaleoExod, 2QExod and 4Q364)

One very important inquiry that I wanted to do for a long time was to compare the Masoretic Text (Leningrad Codex) to the relatively recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls.

Even as of today, it is still not an an easy task to do as most of the processed DS scrolls are yet to become available to general public and most Biblical scholars, primarily thanks to the censorship from many different religious organizations and  owners of the actual scrolls. Fortunately, the situation with access to the scrolls had been rapidly changing in the last 10 years, and since I had some time on my hands I have decided to do a basic research and see what I would have come up with.

I have examined several recent books and articles on the subject, but I wanted to particularly direct your attention to the book by David L. Washburn, called "A catalog of biblical passages in the Dead Sea scrolls" (2003), since it provides very nice summary of almost all verses that are relevant to the Tabernacle.

Of'course, please note that this book provide very basic and very "rough" comparison, so it must be by no means taken as an ultimate conclusion in the matter, especially considering that more DS scrolls and more discoveries may become available in the future. However, at this time, you may indeed consider this book as a comprehensive insight into the comparative analysis of the Masoretic text and its validity.

Anyway, here is what this book tells us about the verses of Exodus 26 and 27. This is page 32 of this book:
As you can see, the most critical verses in the description of the Tabernacle (Exod 26:11-13, Exod 26:24 and Exod 26:33) are identical to the Masoretic Text. Other verses appear to be also identical to the MT, with only minor differences that not critical to the technical description of the Tabernacle.

Also, since the Samaritan Pentateuch(Sam) is believed to be influenced by the text of DS scrolls, it is most likely that most of the verses are identical to MT as well.

Therefore, you can clearly see that the technical description of the Tabernacle had not been changed throughout the ages and had been perfectly preserved in the Masoretic Text.

And even if it will ever so happen that major deviation from the Masoretic Text ever be discovered, it will always be easy to check the validity of the text by relying upon a purely mathematical approach.

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