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The Gemara in the Treatise Shabat makes the following observations on the Tabernacle:—"And to the Tabernacle thou shalt make ten curtains;—the length of one curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits." 1 Draw their length to the breadth of the Tabernacle. How much was their length? Twenty-eight. Take away for the roof ten; there remain nine cubits to this side, and nine to that side. According to Rabbi Judah (who thinks that at the top the boards were thin as a finger), one cubit of the sockets only was uncovered. And according to Rabbi Nehemiah (who thinks the boards were of uniform thickness), there remains also one cubit of the boards uncovered. Now draw their breadth to the length of the Tabernacle. How broad were they? Forty. Take away thirty cubits from the roof; there remain ten. According to Rabbi Judah, the cubit of the sockets was also covered. According to Rabbi Nehemiah, the cubit of the sockets remained uncovered. "You shall make curtains of goats’ hair, the length shall be thirty cubits." 2 Draw the length to the breadth of the Tabernacle. How much was it? Thirty. Reduce ten cubits for the roof; ten remain to this side, and ten to that side. According to Rabbi Judah, it also covered the cubit of the sockets. And according to Rabbi Nehemiah, they were uncovered. Now draw their breadth to the length of the Tabernacle. How broad were they? Forty-four. Take away thirty cubits for the roof; there remain fourteen. Take away two for the doubling, as it is written, "Thou shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the Tabernacle." 3 There remain twelve cubits. According to Rabbi Judah, we understand what is written, that the half of the curtain shall trail upon the ground. But what can we do according to Rabbi Nehemiah? What is the meaning of trailing? Longer than the others. The scholars of Rabbi Ishmael have learned to what was the Tabernacle like? "To a lady who went in the market, and the ends of her dress followed her."

Aben Ezra and Ramban, repeating the old tradition, say, there were figures on every standard. On the standard of Reuben was the picture of a man. On the standard of Judah the picture of a lion. On the standard of Ephraim the picture of an ox. And on the standard of Dan the picture of an eagle. So that they were like the Cherubim which the prophet Ezekiel saw.

p. 374

The Rabbis assert that the vessels of the Tabernacle were an exact facsimile of real existences in heaven. "Rabbi José, son of Rabbi Judah, said, a fiery ark, and a fiery table, and a fiery candlestick descended from heaven. And Moses saw them, and made according to their similitude." They also think that the Ark of the Covenant is concealed in a chamber under the Temple Enclosure, and that it and all the holy vessels will be found at the coming of the Messiah. The Apocrypha, however, informs us, that Jeremiah laid the Tabernacle, and the Ark, and the Altar of Incense, in an "hollow cave, in the mountain where Moses climbed up and saw the heritage of God." And "the place shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them into mercy." 1 The sacred vessels, which were taken to Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and are now seen sculptured on the Arch of Titus, were carried off to Africa by the Vandals under Genseric. Belisarius brought them to Constantinople in A.D. 520. They were afterwards sent back to Jerusalem, and from thence they are supposed to have been carried away to Persia, when Chosroes plundered the Holy City in June 614.


373:1 Exod. xxvi. 1, 2.

373:2 Exod. xxvi. 8.

373:3 Exod. xxvi. 9.

374:1 2 Mac. ii. 4-7.

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