Dimensions of the Tabernacle Courtyard, Part 1
The following is from a discussion we had with another student of the Tabernacle while on the old Bible
Students Forum, (I believe this individual had his own website covering various aspects of the
Tabernacle), nevertheless we believe it might prove useful to the brethren in their studies and discussions
on the Tabernacle for us to post our discussion once again as it covers some interesting points generally
overlooked. Unfortunately I cannot find the very first opening discussions I had with this individual, but I
believe that I have enough information here to reiterate the jest of our conversation.
The format may appear a little strange, but this was how I responded at the time as I had not yet learn
how to operate all the little helps on the forum to make things easier when conversing with another
Like I said I can’t locate my opening dialog with this individual so what you’re seeing here is my response
to an earlier post by this individual. We were discussing the size and length of the white lien curtains
which surrounded the tabernacle courtyard. This individual went by the forum name: Aleksandr, but we’ll
just call him Alek. I will post Alek’s remarks in green so as to make it easier to differentiate his remarks
We stated: The difficulty we see with your explanation is that you appear to be under the impression
that the curtains (or hangings) were individual pieces of curtains 5 X 5 cubits in length spanning the
distance between each pillar.
Alek states: They were - for two reasons: 1) it’s the only possible mathematical solution. 2) Masoretic
Text uses plural form for the hangings.
In response to your first point we disagree and will attempt to explain shortly, in response to your second
point you are correct the word “hangings” as used here is plural unfortunately you have totally
misunderstood its application here and this has lead you to your error.
There were indeed “hangings” (plural) round about the courtyard as is plainly stated. On the north and
south sides there were “hangings” 100 cubits in length each, at the west end (or rear of the enclosure)
there were “hangings” of 50 cubits in length, and on the east end (the front of the enclosure) there were
three sections of “hangings”, two curtains 15 cubits in length one on each side of the entrance curtain
itself being 20 cubits in length, thus there were a total of six sets of “hangings” (plural) in and around
The Tabernacle proper itself was likewise fitted with “hangings” two specifically, viz. the “screen” and the
The fact is all the curtains of the tabernacle which were suspended by way of hooks or fillets
(rods) were considered “hangings”.
With this in mind let us take another look at the text, Exod 27:9
“You shall also make the court of the tabernacle. For the south side there shall be hangings for
the court made of fine woven linen, one hundred cubits long for one side.”
This appears quite clear to us, the “hangings” for the south side of the courtyard were to be 100 cubits
in length, if the LORD had intended that the curtains were to be individual pieces as you have suggested
(five cubits in length each joined by the pillars) I’m sure that he would have specified so, the fact that he
did not precludes this assumption.
Once again note the LORD’s words,
“And along the width of the court on the west side (the rear, which the Lord specified was to be 50
cubits Verse 18) shall be hangings of fifty cubits, with their ten pillars and their ten sockets.”
(Exod 27: 12)
Note especially here that the overall length of 50 cubits is with the inclusion of the ten pillars, there is
no additional length to be added to the dimensions of the court by the pillars.
We stated: It should likewise be noted that the Scriptures do not actually state what precisely the
distance is between each pillar (nor do they state that there is to be 5 cubits of curtain between each
post) it is only a logical deduction by ourselves given the facts as stated. For example the statement that
the south side of the courtyard consisted of hangings 100 cubits long with 20 pillars naturally leads us to
the conclusion that if 20 divides into 100 five times then equally spacing the pillars one from another
along this 100 cubit span of curtains would result in the pillars being situated about 5 cubits apart, simple
Alek’s response: Unfortunately, not so simple. You yourself have noted it, where you have said that
there would be either 1 extra pillar or 5 extra cubits. It is called "fence posts" problem. I'm not very good
at explaining these kinds of things, but on my page in my blog there are links to articles that go in great
length describing what would be wrong with the layout you are proposing.
I’ve reviewed my notes and have yet to have found where I supposedly stated “there would be either 1
extra pillar or 5 extra cubits” perhaps you can point it out to me, or perhaps it was something stated
by another one of the various resources you have quoted, nevertheless as we have shown in our study of
the courtyard we see no problem. We will review this once again for all shortly.
We stated: When placing these pillars in the ground their individual diameter is inconsequential (precisely
why no such diameter was given), it is the distance between the centers of each pillar that is of concern.
The measurement or placement of each pillar apart from each other is determined from the center of each
post. Once again viz. for example if we were running a barbwire fence 100 feet long we would naturally
wish to set the post equally apart measured by the center of each post, the barbwire as you know would
run along the outside of the post, so too with regards to the curtains of the courtyard.
Alek’s response: Sorry, wrong again. You are forgetting about the corners. Since pillars in your design
located on the inside(?) of the hangings perimeter, at the corners, the width of the pillar (whatever that
may be) will "chew up" some of the distance, and you are going to end up with say 4.75 cubits of
hangings at the corners(depending on the width of the pillars).
As I had stated before there is no direct scriptural text stating that there was to be exactly 5 cubits of
distance between each post this is only an inference on our part based upon the facts as given.
Alek states: If you will draw me detailed diagram (I could not clearly see the one you have on your web
site), I can tell you exactly where you made a mistake.
In Reply, we should be happy to accommodate you shortly in these respects.
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