THE COVENANT TO MOSES, PART SIX: XI
The purpose for a center of worship was to remember and to continually reaffirm the “Covenant” by reciting the Law and the ordinances of God. The tent of the tabernacle was equipped with a “holy of holy place” where only the high priest could enter. Then there were areas with altars where designated priests could serve the consecrated its members. And there also was a courtyard where even the outsiders could worship. In a way, the tabernacle was one of the wonders of the world. And later, under Solomon, the tabernacle became “the temple” in Jerusalem.
Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet stuff; with cherubim skilfully worked shall you make them. The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall have one measure. Five curtains shall be coupled to one another; and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outmost curtain in the first set; and likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outmost curtain in the second set. Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, that the tabernacle may be on whole.
You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breath of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall have the same measure. And you shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. And you shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outmost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain which is outmost in the second set.
And you shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that is may be one whole. And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. And the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, of what remains in the length of the curtains of the tent shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and goatskins.
And you shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. Then cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together; so shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under another frame for its two tenons; and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side twenty frames, and their forty bases of silver, two bases under another frame; and for the rear of the tabernacle westward you shall make six frames. And you shall make two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear; they shall be separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring; thus shall it be with both of them; they shall form the two corners. And there shall be eight frames, with their bases of silver, sixteen bases, two bases under one frame, and two bases under another frame.
And you shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the side of the tabernacle at the rear westward. The middle bar, halfway up the frames, shall pass through from end to end. You shall overlay the frames with gold, and shall make their rings of gold, and shall make their rings of gold for holders for the bars; and you shall overlay the bars with gold. And you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it which has been shown you on the mountain.
And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen; in skilled work shall it be made, with cherubim; and you shall hang it upon four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, upon four bases of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in thither within the veil; and the veil shall separate for you the holy place from the most holy. You shall put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. And you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table; and you shall put the table on the north side.
And you shall make a screen for the door of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five bases of bronze for them (Exodus 26:1-37).
You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. And you shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and fire pans; all its utensils you shall make of bronze. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze; and upon the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net shall extend half way down the altar.
And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze; and the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles shall be upon the two sides of the altar, when it is carried. You shall make it hollow, with boards; so it has been shown you on the mountain, so shall it be made.
You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twined linen a hundred cubits long for one side; their pillars shall be twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
And likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings a hundred cubits long, their pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
And for the breadth of the court on the west side there shall be hangings for fifty cubits, with ten pillars and ten bases. The breadth of the court on the front of the east shall be fifty cubits. The hangings for the one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits, with three pillars and three bases. On the other side the hangings shall be fifteen cubits, with three pillars and three bases. For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue and purple scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework; it shall have four pillars and with them four bases. All the pillars around the court shall be filleted with silver, and their bases of bronze. The length of the court shall be a hundred cubits, the breadth fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twined linen and bases of bronze. All the utensils of the tabernacle for every use, and all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze.
And you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may be set up to burn continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute for ever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel (Exodus 27:1-21).
The instructions to install Aaron and his sons, in a perpetual priesthood, provides interesting reading. It was an enormous ritual to dress, to consecrate, and to entrust the priests with the moral and religious function of the souls of children of Israel.
Then bring near to you (to Moses) Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with an able mind, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a girdle; they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests.
They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet stuff, and fine twined linen. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet stuff, and of fine twined linen, skilfully worked. It shall have two shoulder-pieces attached to its two edges, that it may be joined together. And the skilfully woven band upon it; to gird it on, shall be of the same workmanship and materials, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet stuff, and fine twined linen. And you shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel; you shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. And you shall set the two stones upon the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance from the sons of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for remembrance. And you shall make settings of gold filigree, and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.
And you shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work; like the work of the ephod you shall make it; of gold, blue and purple and scarlet stuff, and fine twined linen shall you make it. It shall be square and double, a span its length and a span its breadth. And you shall set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle shall be the first row; the second row an emerald, a sapphire and a diamond; and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. There shall be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel; they shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes. And you shall make for the breastpiece twisted chains like cords, of pure gold; and you shall make for the breastpiece two rings of gold, and put the two rings on the two edges of the breastpiece. And you shall put the two cords of gold in the two rings at the edges of the breastpiece; the two ends of the two cords you shall attach to the two setting of filigree, and so attach it in front to the shoulder-piece of the ephod. And you shall make two rings of gold, and put them at the two ends of the breastpiece, on its inside edge next to the ephod. And you shall make two rings of gold, and attach them in front to the lower part of the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod, at its joining above the skilfully woven band of the ephod. And they shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may lie upon the skilfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece shall not come loose from the ephod. So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment upon his heart, when he goes into the holy place, to bring them to continual remembrance before the LORD. And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD; thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.
And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. It shall have in it an opening for the head, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment, that it may not be torn. On it skirts you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet stuff, around its skirts, with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, round about on the skirts of the robe. And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD, and when he comes out; lest he die.
And you shall make a plate of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ And you shall fasten it on the turban by a lace of blue; it shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take upon himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering which the people of Israel hallow as their holy gifts; it shall always be upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.
And you shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen, and you shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a girdle embroidered with needlework.
And for Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and girdles and caps; you shall make them for glory and beauty. And you shall put them upon Aaron you brother, and upon his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests; from the loins to the thighs they shall reach; and they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place; lest they bring guilt upon themselves and die. This shall be a perpetual statute for him and for his descendants after him (Exodus 28:1-43).
Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. And you shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams. You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water. And you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skilfully woven band of the ephod; and you shall set the turban on his head, and put the holy crown upon the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons, and put coats on them, and you shall gird them with girdles and bind caps on them; and the priesthood shall be theirs by a perpetual statute. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.
Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the bull, and you shall kill the bull before the LORD, at the door of the tent of meeting, and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it upon the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar. And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the appendage of the liver and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them upon the altar. But the flesh of the bull and its skin, and its dung, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
Then you shall take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the ram, and you shall slaughter the ram, and shall take its blood and throw it against the altar round about. Then you shall cut the ram into pieces, and wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and its head, and burn the whole ram upon the altar; it is a burnt offering to the LORD; it is a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the LORD.
You shall take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the ram, and you shall kill the ram, and take part of its blood and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron and upon the tips of the right ears of his sons, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron and his garments, and upon his sons and his sons’ garments with him; and he and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garment with him.
You shall also take the fat of the ram, and the fat tail, and the fat that covers the entrails, and the appendage of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination), and one loaf of bread, and one cake of bread with oil, and one wafer, out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before the LORD; and you shall put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. Then you shall take them from their hands, and burn them on the altar in addition to the burnt offering, as a pleasing odor before the LORD; it is an offering by fire to the LORD.
And you shall take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s ordination and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be your portion. And you shall consecrate the breast of the wave offering, and the thigh of the priests’ portion, which is waved, and which is offered from the ram of ordination, since it is for Aaron and for his sons. It shall be for Aaron and his sons as a perpetual due from the people of Israel, for it is the priests’ portion to be offered by the people of Israel from their peace offering; it is their offering to the LORD.
The holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, to be anointed in them and ordained in them. The son who is priest in his place shall wear them seven days, when he comes into the tent of meeting to minister in the holy place.
You shall take the ram of ordination, and boil its flesh in a holy place; and Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket, at the door of the tent of meeting. They shall eat those things with which atonement was made, to ordain and consecrate them, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. And if any of the flesh for the ordination, or of the bread, remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire; it shall not be eaten because it is holy.
Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you; through seven days shall you ordain them, and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall offer a sin offering for the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it, to consecrate it. Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar, and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy; whatever touches that altar shall become holy.
Now this is what you shall offer upon the altar: two lambs a year old day by day continually. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening; and with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a libation. And the other lamb you shall offer in the evening, and shall offer with it a cereal offering and its libation, as in the morning, for a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the LORD. It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak there to you.
There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory; I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate, to serve me as priests. And I will dwell among the people of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the LORD their God (Exodus 29:1-46).