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to end, at five cubits from the ground; while the other four bars, either went half the length of the sides and end, two of them making a whole length, through gold rings at the bottom, and the other two a whole length through gold rings at the top; or else they were of the whole length of the sides and end, like the middle bars ; two of them passing through gold rings that were fastened to the top of the boards, inside and out; and the other two passing through gold rings at the bottom of the boards, inside and out. In this manner were the boards of the tabernacle set up. They comprehended a space
of thirty cubits in length, and ten in height, but the width is not certain: for the six boards at the west end, of a cubit and a-half each, reached only nine cubits; whereas the common opinion is, that it was ten, and some even think that it was twelve. It is easy to see, however, that each of these opinions must depend entirely on the supposed thickness of the two boards that were added to the corners. Perhaps the following observations may reconcile the difference. We have already seen, that there were six boards of a cubit and ahalf each at the west end, which extended therefore to nine cubits. Let us suppose that the other two boards, which are mentioned for the corners, were also a cubit and a-half broad each, this would reach other three cubits, making the outside of the tabernacle twelve cubits as some have stated it. But it is natural to think, that the two boards at the corners, although not broader, would be thicker than the rest, being the connecting boards of the sides with the end. In place, therefore, of supposing them four fingers thick, like the rest, let us suppose them to have been double that thickness. This would give them sufficient strength to receive the bars
* Ex. xxvi. 28, 29; xxxvi, 33, 34
which fastened the boards of the sides and the end of the tabernacle, and leave half a cubit within, at each side, to make up the cubit that was wanting. Thus the six boards, that are mentioned in Scripture, would extend nine cubits, and the two half cubits, which we have supposed, would make up the ten cubits that are commonly assigned as the width of the inside of the tabernacle.
It is added, that the whole of the boards were overlaid with gold, by which I understand, that both their sides, inside and out, were completely covered with thiu plates of that precious metal." What a magnificent appearance, therefore, would these boards of the tabernacle present! A space of thirty cubits long, ten high, and ten wide within, or twelve on the out side, surrounded by boards of shittim wood completely overlaid with gold, and standing on ninety-six massy sockets of silver, of a talent, or one hundred and twenty-five pounds troy each, which would form a wedge, as Lightfoot thinks, of thirteen and a-half inches high and half a cubit square, and at five shillings an ounce, would be worth £375 sterling; making thereby the whole weight of the ninety-six talents to have been one hundred and twenty thousand pounds troy, and their value, in our money, to have been no less than £36,000 sterling. But these formed only a part of the magnificence of that wonderful tent ; for we must next consider its beautiful covering. This was composed of ten curtains of fine twined linen of white, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, with cherubim of cunning work; each curtain twenty-eight cubits long, and four cubits broad, making two hundred and eighty cubits of curtain in all. These were joined in the follow
a Ex, xxvi. 29; Xxxvi. 34.
b Gleanings from Exodus, 933.
ing way: -1st. Five of them were joined together, curtain to curtain, by fifty loops of blue at each of the selvedges, fastened by fifty taches or pins of gold; and, 2dly. The other five were joined together, curtain to curtain, in the same way. These curtains being joined together by the selvedges, or sides, the loops of blue must have been placed at the distance of about twelve inches and a-quarter from each other, allowing the cubit to have been nearly twenty-one inches and three quarters : for these multiplied by twenty-eight, the number of cubits in a curtain, and divided by fifty, give twelve and a-quarter inches as the distance of the loops from each other along the side of the curtain. But the question is, how these twice five curtains, when coupled together, were laid on the tabernacle? Whether they were laid along the roof and sides, from east to west, and joined in the middle of the roof in that direction; or thrown across, from south to north, and joined in that way? We shall best understand this by seeing which of the ways will suit. Let us suppose them, then, in the first place, to have extended from east to west, and to have been joined together along the roof in that direction. The boards to be covered were ten cúbits high on each side, and' ten cubits over the roof, making thirty cubits from ground to ground.' But the ten curtains, when joined side to side, and laid from east to west, would make forty cubits; for each curtain was four cubits broad. Here then we have a waste of ten cubits, or five cubits on each side, more than were necessary to reach from ground to ground. And, as there would be a waste on the two sides, so there would be a want at either end : for the south and north sides, joined to half of the west end, would be each thirty-five cubits, viz.
thirty cubits as the length of each side of the tabernacle, and five cubits as half the width of the end, whereas the length of the curtains was only twenty-eight cubits. It is evident, then, that the two pieces of curtain, containing five curtains each, could not be joined along the middle of the roof, from east to west : they must, therefore, have been thrown across, from north to south; and even then, although there would be abundance as to length, from east to west, they would want a cubit from the sockets on either side, on the north and south : for we saw that the boards and roof reached thirty cubits across, from ground to ground, whereas the curtains were only twentyeight cubits in length; but this may have been intended to prevent them from rotting at the foot, by damp from the ground. Indeed, the whole of the difficulty lies in the ten curtains being joined together into two pieces of five curtains each: for, that there was enough of curtain to cover the whole tabernacle, even including the entrance, will be obvious from the following calculation :
The ten curtains of twenty-eight cubits each make two hundred and eighty cubits; and these multiplied by
; their breadth, which was four cubits, make one thousand one hundred and twenty superficial cubits of curtain to cover the tabernacle. But the south side of the tabernacle was thirty cubits long, by ten cubits high, consequently its superficial measure was
300 cubits. The north side was the same measure 300 The roof was the same measure
300 And the west end was ten cubits high
by ten or twelve broad, say twelve; } 120
Making the whole equal to
1,020 superficial cubits; and leaving one hundred cubits either for the door of entrance, which was ten cubits broad by ten cubits high ; or, which was more probable, to make the
curtains hang more full around the tabernacle: for there is a distinct hanging mentioned for the door of the tabernacle, and of the same materials as the rest, to be hung on the five pillars formerly mentioned; but, as its dimensions are not stated, it must have been sufficient to cover the entrance, which was ten cubits broad by ten cubits high, or one hundred superficial cubits."
Thus have we attended to the inner and most beautiful covering of the tabernacle; let us next attend to the curtains of goats' hair which were intended to defend it from the weather: these were eleven in number, .each thirty cubits long, and four cubits broad : and were enjoined to be made into two pieces; the one of five curtains by themselves, and the other of six curtains by themselves : but how they were spread over the tabernacle is the difficulty. The following seems to be the most probable. Suppose the piece of six curtains to have been destined for the east end of the tabernacle, it would lie thus :-Four of the curtains, being each four cubits wide and thirty cubits long, would, when sewed together, and thrown across the tabernacle, cover sixteen cubits of the length of the roof and sides, reaching down to the sockets of the foundation; while the other two curtains, that were sewed to them, would serve as a double covering to the door, or entrance, as enjoined in Exod. xxvi. 9; because it was not defended by boards, like the sides and other end. Thus have we seen how the piece of six curtains was probably disposed of. Let us next see how the piece of five curtains was applied. As the tabernacle was thirty cubits long, and only sixteen of these, together with the door, were covered by the piece of six curtains, it would require three and a half cur
b Ex, xxvi. 7,8. xxxvi. 14, 15. .
• Ex. xxvi. 36, 37 ; xxxvi. 37, 38. • Ex, xxvi. 9; xxxvi, 16.