The Word Made Fresh
1“My sanctuary will have ten panels made of fine linen using blue, purple, and crimson yarn to knit cherubim into the drapery. 2Each panel must measure forty-two feet by six feet. 3Join them together in two lengths of five panels each. 4Make loops of blue yarn on the edge of the end panel in each set, 5fifty such loops on each. 6Join the two panels together with fifty gold clasps.
7“Make the tent’s roof of goats’ hair to cover the sanctuary; eleven sections. 8Make each section forty-five feet by six feet. 9Join five sections together, then join the remaining six together. The sixth section is to be doubled over at the front of the tent. 10Attach fifty loops to the outermost section in each set. 11Then make fifty bronze clasps for the fifty loops and join the tent together. 12The remaining half section shall hang over the back of the tent. 13Of the three feet that remains in the length of the sections, eighteen inches should hang over the drapes on each side. 14Then make a covering for the whole tent out of tanned rams’ skins and over that a covering of fine leather.
15“Make frames for the sanctuary from acacia wood. 16Each frame should be fifteen feet long and twenty-seven inches wide. 17Make two pegs to fit each pair of frames together. 18Make twenty frames for the south side of the sanctuary, 19and make forty silver bases to place under the twenty frames on the south side, 20and also for the north side 21along with its forty silver bases. 22Make six frames for the end of the sanctuary on the western side. 23Make two frames, one for each corner of the western end. 24They should be joined only at the top to secure the two corners. 25Altogether at the western end there will be eight frames with sixteen bases.
26“Make five braces of acacia wood to support the frames on each side 27and the western, or rear, end. 28The braces should be halfway up the frames from end to end. 29The frames and the braces are to be gold plated, and the rings to hold the braces are to be fashioned of gold as well.
30“Once all is ready, put up the sanctuary tent according to the plan you were shown on the mountain.
31“Finally, make a curtain of fine linen with blue, purple, and crimson yarn with cherubim knitted into it. 32Hang it on four posts of gold-plated acacia wood fixed with gold hooks and resting on silver bases. 33Hang the curtain under the hooks. Then bring in the chest of the covenant and place it behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the holy area and the most holy area. 34Put the lid on the chest after it is placed in the most holy area. 35Then place the table just outside the curtain, and the lampstand is to be placed on the south side opposite the table on the north side.
36“Make another curtain of fine linen for the tent’s entrance, with blue, purple, and crimson embroidery. 37Make five gold-plated posts of acacia wood with golden hooks, and mount them on five bronze bases.”
1-6: Finally, we come to the construction of the tabernacle itself. The instructions are given in detail, and yet it is nearly impossible to imagine exactly what the finished structure looks like or even how large it is. Here the outer wall of linen curtains is described.
7-10: The “roof” of goats’ hair is described next.
11-14: The panels of goats’ hair are joined together with bronze couplings to overhang the rear and sides of the tent; this is to make it easier to disassemble it when it is to be moved. The whole structure is then covered with rams’ skins and leather.
15-25: The frames for the walls come next. Even with the dimensions given it is still impossible to determine the size of the finished structure, depending on whether the frames are to be erected side-by-side or overlapping in some way.
26-30: Bars are then made to interlock the outer panels, and all the acacia wood is to be overlaid with gold. This is going to be a heavy assembly for them to carry across the Sinai peninsula!
31-35: An interior space, to create the “most holy” place within the “holy place” (the tent itself), is made by hanging yarn curtains. The ark is to be placed within the most holy place and the lid, the mercy seat, is to be put on top of it. The table (for the bread of the presence) and the lamp stand are set within the tabernacle but outside the most holy place.
36-37: The front of the tabernacle is covered with another curtain made of linen and yarn supported by acacia wood stands covered with gold. I am beginning to picture a rather ostentatious and gaudy-looking structure of linen and animal skins held together with shiny golden frames standing on barren ground in the wilderness of Sinai.
The design of their place of worship is also intended to set them apart from other people and religions they will encounter. Think of ways our worship spaces are organized; most Christian churches have much in common, but some aspects of the worship space can also identify a congregation as Catholic or Protestant or Orthodox, and even distinguish to some extent between different Protestant branches of the faith.