22.8. The Curtains, and the Positioning of the Tabernacle’s Vessels (26:31-37)

The Tabernacle’s Interior Curtain:

(31) You shall make a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen; it shall have a design of cherubim worked into it.

(32) Hang it upon four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and having hooks of gold, [set] in four sockets of silver.

(33) Hang the curtain under the clasps, and carry the Ark of the Pact there, behind the curtain, so that the curtain shall serve you as a partition between the Holy and the Holy of Holies.

(34) Place the cover upon the Ark of the Pact in the Holy of Holies.

(35) Place the table outside the curtain, and the lampstand by the south wall of the Tabernacle opposite the table, which is to be placed by the north wall.

(36) You shall make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery.

(37) Make five posts of acacia wood for the screen and overlay them with gold — their hooks being of gold — and cast for them five sockets of copper.

(31) You shall make a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen; it shall have a design of cherubim worked into it: Cherubim separate worlds having different levels of holiness. The cherubim on the inner curtain separate the “ordinary” Holy, i.e., the general Tabernacle premises, from the Holy of Holies.

(32) Hang it upon four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and having hooks of gold, [set] in four sockets of silver: There is no flooring inside the Tabernacle; it simply stands on the bare ground. The posts for the curtain are therefore installed in a manner similar to the planks of the walls. However, the posts (unlike the wall planks) have only one foot each, not two.

(33) Hang the curtain under the clasps, and carry the Ark of the Pact there, behind the curtain, so that the curtain shall serve you as a partition between the Holy and the Holy of Holies: The Hebrew ve-hivdilah, here translated as “shall serve as a partition,” can also have the less physical, more conceptual meaning of “shall distinguish.” That is, the curtain serves to distinguish between two essential, conceptual levels of holiness.

The Holy and the Holy of Holies represent two different levels of sanctity. The lampstand and the table in the “Holy” (the outer sanctuary) are symbolic of two domains of sanctity that are inherent in everyday life – wisdom and prosperity, respectively – and God’s presence in each of those. But that “lower” level of sanctity is nourished from a higher, transcendental sanctity, the Holy of Holies – the ark, and the revelation that emanates from it.

(34) Place the cover upon the Ark of the Pact in the Holy of Holies: After this difference in the levels of holiness has been established, i.e., the distinction between the spirituality of ordinary life versus Divine revelation, only then does “ongoing revelation” become possible, as represented by the cover of the ark.

(35) Place the table outside the curtain, and the lampstand by the south wall of the Tabernacle opposite the table, which is to be placed by the north wall: The balance of the table and the lampstand, as discussed earlier, is here emphasized. The entrance to the Tabernacle (and also the Temple) was from the east, such that the table was to the right of the person entering, and the menorah to his left.

(36) You shall make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery: This is the Tabernacle’s outer curtain, positioned at the entrance to it.

(37) Make five posts of acacia wood for the screen and overlay them with gold — their hooks being of gold — and cast for them five sockets of copper: Here we have gold and copper used together, which in the Tabernacle is not typical.

Since this screen separates the Tabernacle from the courtyard (the “enclosure,” 27:9), in deference to the former its pillars are covered with gold. But the sockets, like most things in the courtyard, were designed for cleansing (that is, for preparing the visitor for entry to the actual Tabernacle), and were therefore made of copper.

License

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.

Share This Book