29.8. Creating the Tabernacle and Its Vessels (36:8 – 38:20)
The Coverings of the Tabernacle (36:8-19)
(8) Then all the skilled among those engaged in the work made the tabernacle of ten strips of cloth, which they made of fine twisted linen, blue, purple, and crimson yarns; into these they worked a design of cherubim.
(9) The length of each cloth was twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each cloth was four cubits, all cloths having the same measurements.
(10) They joined five of the cloths to one another, and they joined the other five cloths to one another.
(11) They made loops of blue wool on the edge of the outermost cloth of the one set, and did the same on the edge of the outermost cloth of the other set:
(12) they made fifty loops on the one cloth, and they made fifty loops on the edge of the end cloth of the other set, the loops being opposite one another.
(13) And they made fifty gold clasps and coupled the units to one another with the clasps, so that the tabernacle became one whole.
(14) They made cloths of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; they made the cloths eleven in number.
(15) The length of each cloth was thirty cubits, and the width of each cloth was four cubits, the eleven cloths having the same measurements.
(16) They joined five of the cloths by themselves, and the other six cloths by themselves.
(17) They made fifty loops on the edge of the outermost cloth of the one set, and they made fifty loops on the edge of the end cloth of the other set.
(18) They made fifty copper clasps to couple the tent together so that it might become one whole.
(19) And they made a covering of tanned ram skins for the tent, and a covering of dolphin skins above.
(8-10) Then all the skilled among those engaged in the work made the tabernacle of ten strips of cloth … They joined five of the cloths to one another, and they joined the other five cloths to one another: The text goes here from the plural “made all the wise in heart” to the only “he sewed.” Many wise in heart create details for the Tabernacle, but only Bezalel can combine these details.
The Planks (36:20-34)
(20) They made the planks for the Tabernacle of acacia wood, upright.
(21) The length of each plank was ten cubits, the width of each plank a cubit and a half.
(22) Each plank had two tenons, parallel to each other; they did the same with all the planks of the Tabernacle.
(23) Of the planks of the Tabernacle, they made twenty planks for the south side,
(24) making forty silver sockets under the twenty planks, two sockets under one plank for its two tenons and two sockets under each following plank for its two tenons;
(25) and for the other side wall of the Tabernacle, the north side, twenty planks,
(26) with their forty silver sockets, two sockets under one plank and two sockets under each following plank.
(27) And for the rear of the Tabernacle, to the west, they made six planks;
(28) and they made two planks for the corners of the Tabernacle at the rear.
(29) They matched at the bottom, but terminated as one at the top into one ring; they did so with both of them at the two corners.
(30) Thus there were eight planks with their sockets of silver: sixteen sockets, two under each plank.
(31) They made bars of acacia wood, five for the planks of the one side wall of the Tabernacle,
(32) five bars for the planks of the other side wall of the Tabernacle, and five bars for the planks of the wall of the Tabernacle at the rear, to the west;
(33) they made the center bar to run, halfway up the planks, from end to end.
(34) They overlaid the planks with gold, and made their rings of gold, as holders for the bars; and they overlaid the bars with gold.
The Curtain (36:35-38)
(35) They made the curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, working into it a design of cherubim.
(36) They made for it four posts of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold, with their hooks of gold; and they cast for them four silver sockets.
(37) They made the screen for the entrance of the Tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery;
(38) and five posts for it with their hooks. They overlaid their tops and their bands with gold; but the five sockets were of copper.
The Ark (37:1-9)
(1) Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.
(2) He overlaid it with pure gold, inside and out; and he made a gold molding for it round about.
(3) He cast four gold rings for it, for its four feet: two rings on one of its side walls and two rings on the other.
(4) He made poles of acacia wood, overlaid them with gold,
(5) and inserted the poles into the rings on the side walls of the ark for carrying the ark.
(6) He made a cover of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.
(7) He made two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered work, at the two ends of the cover:
(8) one cherub at one end and the other cherub at the other end; he made the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at its two ends.
(9) The cherubim had their wings spread out above, shielding the cover with their wings. They faced each other; the faces of the cherubim were turned toward the cover.
The Table (37:10-16)
(10) He made the table of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high;
(11) he overlaid it with pure gold and made a gold molding around it.
(12) He made a rim of a hand’s breadth around it and made a gold molding for its rim round about.
(13) He cast four gold rings for it and attached the rings to the four corners at its four legs.
(14) The rings were next to the rim, as holders for the poles to carry the table.
(15) He made the poles of acacia wood for carrying the table, and overlaid them with gold.
(16) The utensils that were to be upon the table — its bowls, ladles, jugs, and jars with which to offer libations — he made of pure gold.
The Menorah (37:17-24)
(17) He made the lampstand of pure gold. He made the lampstand — its base and its shaft — of hammered work; its cups, calyxes, and petals were of one piece with it.
(18) Six branches issued from its sides: three branches from one side of the lampstand, and three branches from the other side of the lampstand.
(19) There were three cups shaped like almond-blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on one branch; and there were three cups shaped like almond-blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on the next branch; so for all six branches issuing from the lampstand.
(20) On the lampstand itself there were four cups shaped like almond-blossoms, each with calyx and petals:
(21) a calyx, of one piece with it, under a pair of branches; and a calyx, of one piece with it, under the second pair of branches; and a calyx, of one piece with it, under the last pair of branches; so for all six branches issuing from it.
(22) Their calyxes and their stems were of one piece with it, the whole of it a single hammered piece of pure gold.
(23) He made its seven lamps, its tongs, and its fire pans of pure gold.
(24) He made it and all its furnishings out of a talent of pure gold.
The Altar of Incense and the Anointing Oil (37:25-29)
(25) He made the incense altar of acacia wood, a cubit long and a cubit wide — square — and two cubits high; its horns were of one piece with it.
(26) He overlaid it with pure gold: its top, its sides round about, and its horns; and he made a gold molding for it round about.
(27) He made two gold rings for it under its molding, on its two walls — on opposite sides — as holders for the poles with which to carry it.
(28) He made the poles of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold.
(29) He prepared the sacred anointing oil and the pure aromatic incense, expertly blended.
(25) He made the incense altar: The description of the incense, a component of Aaron’s Temple (correction of evil), appears here among the elements of Moses’ Temple (meeting with the Almighty for Divine revelation). This suggests that in the process of its actual realization, both aspects of the Temple must be integrated. A meeting with the Almighty is impossible unless there is first a correction of evil.
The Altar of the Burnt Offering and the Laver (38:1-8)
(1) He made the altar for burnt offering of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide — square — and three cubits high.
(2) He made horns for it on its four corners, the horns being of one piece with it; and he overlaid it with copper.
(3) He made all the utensils of the altar — the pails, the scrapers, the basins, the flesh hooks, and the fire pans; he made all these utensils of copper.
(4) He made for the altar a grating of meshwork in copper, extending below, under its ledge, to its middle.
(5) He cast four rings, at the four corners of the copper grating, as holders for the poles.
(6) He made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with copper;
(7) and he inserted the poles into the rings on the side walls of the altar, to carry it by them. He made it hollow, of boards.
(8) He made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.
(8) He made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting: The Midrash describes what happened as follows:
The Israelite women possessed mirrors of copper into which they would look when they adorned themselves. Even these they did not hesitate to bring as a contribution to the Tabernacle. Now, Moses was about to reject those mirrors, since they were made to pander to vanity and passions, and were thus not appropriate to be accepted as gifts to the Tabernacle. Or so Moses believed.
But the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “Accept them; these are dearer to Me than all the other contributions, because through them the women reared huge hosts in Egypt, and thereby preserved the Jewish nation!”
For when the Jewish men in Egypt were exhausted from their crushing labors, their wives would bring them food and drink, and induce them to eat. Then they would take the mirrors, and each would gaze at herself in her mirror, and adorn herself, and incite her husband’s desire for her. They would then have relations, and she would become pregnant, and give birth, and so did the Jewish nation not perish.
The laver of the Tabernacle was made from these same mirrors.
Thus, the essence of the laver is in the purification of natural passions, including sexual passions, in order to redirect one’s energies to holiness – to bear children, and to correct the world.
The Courtyard (38:9-20)
(9) He made the enclosure: On the south side, a hundred cubits of hangings of fine twisted linen for the enclosure —
(10) with their twenty posts and their twenty sockets of copper, the hooks and bands of the posts being silver.
(11) On the north side, a hundred cubits — with their twenty posts and their twenty sockets of copper, the hooks and bands of the posts being silver.
(12) On the west side, fifty cubits of hangings — with their ten posts and their ten sockets, the hooks and bands of the posts being silver.
(13) And on the front side, to the east, fifty cubits:
(14) fifteen cubits of hangings on the one flank, with their three posts and their three sockets,
(15) and fifteen cubits of hangings on the other flank — on each side of the gate of the enclosure — with their three posts and their three sockets.
(16) All the hangings around the enclosure were of fine twisted linen.
(17) The sockets for the posts were of copper, the hooks and bands of the posts were of silver, the overlay of their tops was of silver; all the posts of the enclosure were banded with silver. —
(18) The screen of the gate of the enclosure, done in embroidery, was of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen. It was twenty cubits long. Its height — or width — was five cubits, like that of the hangings of the enclosure.
(19) The posts were four; their four sockets were of copper, their hooks of silver; and the overlay of their tops was of silver, as were also their bands. —
(20) All the pegs of the Tabernacle and of the enclosure round about were of copper.