22.10. The Tabernacle’s Enclosure (27:9-19)

(9) You shall make the enclosure of the Tabernacle: On the south side, a hundred cubits of hangings of fine twisted linen for the length of the enclosure on that side —

(10) with its twenty posts and their twenty sockets of copper, the hooks and bands of the posts to be of silver.

(11) Again a hundred cubits of hangings for its length along the north side — with its twenty posts and their twenty sockets of copper, the hooks and bands of the posts to be of silver.

(12) For the width of the enclosure, on the west side, fifty cubits of hangings, with their ten posts and their ten sockets.

(13) For the width of the enclosure on the front, or east side, fifty cubits:

(14) fifteen cubits of hangings on the one flank, with their three posts and their three sockets;

(15) fifteen cubits of hangings on the other flank, with their three posts and their three sockets;

(16) and for the gate of the enclosure, a screen of twenty cubits, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery, with their four posts and their four sockets.

(17) All the posts round the enclosure shall be banded with silver and their hooks shall be of silver; their sockets shall be of copper.

(18) The length of the enclosure shall be a hundred cubits, and the width fifty throughout; and the height five cubits — [with hangings] of fine twisted linen. The sockets shall be of copper:

(19) all the utensils of the Tabernacle, for all its service, as well as all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of copper.

(9) You shall make the enclosure of the Tabernacle: On the south side: In Hebrew, this enclosure is called chatzer, meaning, simply, “courtyard” or “court.” The Tabernacle’s courtyard was fenced in with “hangings” that hung on posts and were fastened with pegs and tension ropes.

Of fine twisted linen: The courtyard (“enclosure”), which serves as portal for entering the Tabernacle itself, expresses the idea that “purity” (tohorah) is a prerequisite for achieving holiness. The white linen hangings of the courtyard also highlight this point.

A hundred cubits … for the length … on that side: The dimensions of the courtyard are 100 × 50 cubits = 50 × 25 m (164 × 82 ft).

(10) With its twenty posts and their twenty sockets of copper: Each of these posts shall have one foot at its base.

(10) Sockets of copper, the hooks and bands of the posts to be of silver: We saw earlier that the fasteners for the planks of the Tabernacle (its bolts and rings) were made of gold, and the feet were of silver. Here, for the courtyard, the fasteners are of silver, and the feet are made of copper.

(12) For the width of the enclosure, on the west side, fifty cubits of hangings, with their ten posts and their ten sockets: This is the rear of the courtyard.

(13-16) For the width of the enclosure on the front, or east side, fifty cubits: fifteen cubits of hangings on the one flank … fifteen cubits of hangings on the other flank … and for the gate of the enclosure, a screen of twenty cubits: Thus, on the east there were two portions of hangings, each fifteen cubits wide, on either side of the central entrance. The entrance itself, twenty cubits wide, was blocked by a special screen, except that the screen was positioned not directly in line with the two hangings, but set off from it a small distance toward the inside of the courtyard, thus allowing entry to the courtyard by walking around the screen.

Of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery: The hangings that surrounded the courtyard were made of white linen, but the central screen, at the entrance, was colored, like the curtain at the entrance to the Tabernacle.

(18) The length of the enclosure shall be a hundred cubits, and the width fifty throughout: Given that we already know from the foregoing description that the courtyard was rectangular, and that its shorter dimension (on the east and the west) was fifty cubits, it is not clear why the Torah needs to add “and the width fifty throughout.” This passage is therefore understood as follows. The full length of the courtyard, one hundred cubits, was notionally divided into two widths of fifty cubits each; that is, the courtyard was conceptually divided into two equal parts, each a square of 50 × 50 cubits. The front (eastern) half of the courtyard contained the altar and its surrounding space, while the Tabernacle was located at the courtyard’s far (western) half.

And the height five cubits — [with hangings]: The height of the enclosure is half that of the Tabernacle itself (see 26:16); thus the Tabernacle is prominently visible from afar.

(19) All the utensils of the Tabernacle … all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of copper: Tension ropes tied to the pegs of the Tabernacle that were driven into the ground held its coverings tight (see 35:18). Likewise, the purpose of the courtyard’s ropes and pegs was to hold the courtyard’s posts tightly in place.

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Bible Dynamics, VOL. 2. EXODUS Copyright © by Orot Yerushalaim / P. Polonsky / English translation of the Torah by the Jewish Publication Society, New JPS Translation, 1985. With sincere gratitude for the permission to use. All Rights Reserved.

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