The Boards of the Tabernacle

The Boards (Ex 26:15-16)

images/T9.gifThe framework of the central tabernacle came first, on which a series of hangings would be placed over the framework to form the completed tent. To build up this portable structure it was first necessary to make 48 upright supports each of which was ten cubits (15 feet) long by 11/2 cubits (27 inches) broad.

Exod 26:15-16 "And for the tabernacle you shall make the boards of acacia wood, standing upright. "Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the width of each board.

Note: The original Hebrew word qereshim has been found on a Canaanite tablet describing the 'throne room' of the deity El which was built of frames.

Exod 26:26-28 "And you shall make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the far side westward. The middle bar shall pass through the midst of the boards from end to end."


They were not planks but framed boards.

The tabernacle boards were not solid wooden planks but actually frames made up of two long boards, which were connected, to the top, middle and base by cross-rails. Apart from the fact that the acacia trees in Sinai do not grow large enough to provide a plank 27 inches wide, frames would have advantages over solid planks. They would be much lighter when erected. Also, the open construction would allow the inner curtain with its fine material and figures of cherubim to be seen from inside. These frames were cut down, stripped, dried, and then overlaid with pure gold. (Adorned not with their natural beauty, but with that precious gold, they were partakers of something outside of themselves, the divine gold). When these frames were placed in the upright position there were 20 along the north side and 20 along the south, whereas the rear wall had only 8 frames, two of which were used on the western corners as a kind of buttress.


Curtain material was seen through the boards.

Exod 26:22-23 "For the far side of the tabernacle, westward, you shall make six boards. And you shall also make two boards for the two back corners of the tabernacle."

The front of the tabernacle had no frames since this was the entrance, and was supported by five pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold and set in bronze bases.

Exod 26:36-37 "You shall make a screen for the door of the tabernacle, woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver. And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five sockets of bronze for them."

When an upright frame was placed on end was placed in two sockets of silver, each of which weighed about 35 kg. Each socket was so designed that an extension of one side arm of the frame could fit into it in the form of a tenon. These silver sockets then formed a continuous foundation around the three sides of the framework.

It is interesting to note that the sockets of silver were mentioned first in setting up.

They were extremely valuable (a talent of silver each, very costly) and supported the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, it was God's requirement that this precious metal should be the foundation for the structure. Since the silver foundation was buried in the earth it could not be seen by human eyes (Man is not able to see the full value of redemption).

In the new covenant Paul the apostle says that like an expert builder he was laying a foundation. Then he adds that the foundation is not a system of beliefs but a person:

1 Cor 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

It is not easy to recognize the great worth of the foundation on which the Church stands. In fact Jesus Himself indicated that most of the world would miss it.

The row of frames were held together by golden rings at the top, bottom and middle of the frame, through which supporting bars of acacia wood were inserted.

Five bars were used on each side, with the middle bar running from end to end along the entire length of one side. The other two bars used with the top rings and those for the bottom rings ran halfway along each side, and in this way the wall was made very solid.

Exod 26:26-30 "And you shall make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the far side westward. The middle bar shall pass through the midst of the boards from end to end. You shall overlay the boards with gold, make their rings of gold as holders for the bars, and overlay the bars with gold. And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain.

They were fitly bound together (the boards were not divided but fitly bound together and kept together by their bars, rings, and sockets, they were truly one).

Each of the 48 boards had two tenons at the foot. What they were exactly like nothing is mentioned. The Hebrew word for "tenons" means "hands". Possibly they were two fixtures spreading themselves out like two hands, one on each side at the bottom of each board. They were fastened within the silver sockets.

While standing in the holy place everything not visible below ground level was of silver and everything that could be seen above the ground was golden even though the framework was acacia wood overlaid with gold.

We have already noticed that frames did not enclose the front because it was the entrance. It had five pillars overlaid with gold and a curtain hung. Two thirds of the way into the building there was a similar construction on which the veil hung but here only four pillars were used and these were sunk into silver bases. This formed the internal division between the larger room which was called the Holy Place and the smaller one known as the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies.

1 Pet 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Painting of the Tabernacle in the Old Testament

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The Tabernacle of Moses in Ancient Israel


The Bronze Altar The Bronze Laver The Golden Lampstand

The Cherubim The Tabernacle of Moses in the Wilderness The Cherubim

The Golden Table of Shewbread The Golden Altar of Incense The Ark of the Covenant

"And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among (in) them" - Exodus 25:8

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The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel was a sanctuary which was given in a vision to Moses as a pattern and constructed by the children of Israel. God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

Why Study the Tabernacle?

A) 50 Chapters Mention The Tabernacle

Because at least 50 chapters (13-Ex, 18-Lev, 13-Num, 2-Deut, 4-Heb) in the Bible tell of the construction, the ritual, the priesthood, the carrying of the tabernacle, and the meaning of it all. Also many other places in Scripture speak in figurative language concerning the tabernacle. In many Bible studies this subject is overlooked and considered insignificant.


B) The Tearing of the Veil

God Himself thought so much of the importance of the type, as shown by the tearing of the veil:

Matt 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

If we don't understand the meaning in Scripture of the holy of holies and the veil we miss out on extremely significant information concerning exactly what Christ's death meant to sinful mankind.


C) The Tabernacle is a Type of Christ:

Remember what the Word says, "all Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God..." When we look at the Bible we must remember that it is completely God-breathed. When we look at each Word we must remember that every Word is specifically God-breathed. That was the view of Christ when it came to the Scriptures, that was the view of the apostles, and that must be our view. This is the very Word of God. It doesn't just contain the Word of God, or just point to religious experience, this is the Word of God.

Is it any wonder then that each and every detail and Word about the tabernacle has spiritual significance? As we look to the tabernacle structure itself and its unique pieces of redemptive furniture there is great symbolism and typology found in them. Remember, everything was a finger pointing to the Messiah. The tabernacle, as a type, designed specifically and in detail by God, would point to the character and aspects of the ministry of Christ. The more we become familiar with the tabernacle the more we become familiar with Christ and all that He means to us. What a great reason to become familiar with the Scriptures concerning the tabernacle.

Heb 10:20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

Col 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

D) It is a Representation of the True Tabernacle in Heaven:

The Lord wants us to be aware of His nature and character. Even the angels don't fully understand the nature and character of God but they learn from watching His dealings with His church (Eph 3). Things are really happening in the heavenly dimension and the Lord wants to reveal to us what took place in heaven after the resurrection of Christ. There is a real tabernacle in the heavenlies and Christ really appeared before the throne of heaven as the Lamb of God (Rev 5). There is no doubt that some of these things are a mystery but the more we draw close to God and His Word the more He draws close to us.

Heb 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.


E) The Presence Within the Holy of Holies Dwells Within the Believer in Jesus:

Jesus said I am the temple (Mishkan) of God. When the glory (Heb. Sh'chinah) would come down like a tornado or funnel right through the roof of the holy of holies and the Presence would manifest on the mercy seat between the cherubim after the blood was sprinkled, that was the mishkan. That Presence was what Jesus said dwelt within Him. And in fact Paul said about the church, "Know ye not that you are the temple (Mishkan) of God?" We, as the body of Christ, have the same Presence dwelling within us. God doesn't dwell in buildings now but within His people.

1 Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?


F) Its teaching covers in type almost all of New Testament truth.

The study of the tabernacle is so rich in meaning to the Christian and so pregnant with Messianic significance that we can spend a lifetime in the study of it and only begin to understand the riches and the depth of truth that lies within the study of the tabernacle.

Rom 15:4 "Whatever things that were written before were written for our learning."

G) Studying the Tabernacle will absolutely strengthen our faith in the Bible.

Be assured that anyone who has delved into the wonderful details of the tabernacle will confess that the Bible is more than just a book. No man could have thought of this. The Bible is the Word of God.

"all Scripture is given by inspiration of God..."



The Tabernacle

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