The Tabernacle its construction and furnishings”, Part 38
The Construction or Erecting of the Tabernacle
Under the direction of Itamar whom the Lord degreed was to be placed in charge over the construction
of the tabernacle (Num 4:28, 33) it is conceivable that the sons of Merari employed the usage of
scaffolding boards in order to traverse the ceiling expanse of the tabernacle thereby better facilitating
the erection of the up-right frames, this of course would require some type of device to aid in lifting
these frames as their enormous size and possible weight would render them quite difficult to handle,
remember the “pulley” had yet to had been invented at this time.
It is assumed that the device used employed leverage in some manner or fashion, a device or
mechanism possibly similar to that of the “Shaduf ” (an Arabic word) used by the Egyptians which
employed a counterweight placed at the end of a pole and then suspended at its fulcrum point it
pivoted up and down and was affective for raising water from one level to another. It's possible a
contraption of a somewhat similar design could have equally been applied in the lifting of the up-right
frames of the Tabernacle.
In this particular illustration you may have also noted that the workmen had placed boards temporarily
over the silver sockets while the work progress this was to assure a proper footing while erecting the
frames and likewise to prevent any debris from falling into the sockets.
When the sons of Merari had finished erecting the tabernacle’s upright frames the next thing to do
would have been to have slid the remaining ten gold covered “bars” or “poles” if you prefer (Exod 26:
26-29) through the rings attached to the sides of the up-right frames this on both the north and the
south sides of the tabernacle, as you recall from one of our earlier post (Part number 18) we had
explained why the five gold covered bars at the west end (or rear) of the tabernacle had to be inserted
first prior to the erecting of the two out-side rear corner frames.
How was this accomplished you might ask especially seeing as these poles were quite lengthy, (the
exact measurements for them are not given in the Scriptures, but we do know that the two center
poles on both the north and south sides ran from end to end making them at the very least 45 feet
long) the problem however is that the rings through which the top two poles were inserted were at least
11 feet high not easily assessable from the ground. The solution provided by Sister Marie Lundquist’
in her model of the Tabernacle (which can be seen on the Bible Students Library) was the used of
scaffolding this we believe to be a very sound and reasonable solution to the problem.
Now following the work of placing the up-right frames into position according to this particular example
as to how the tabernacle was erected (and there are likely several) the sons of Merari would completely
board out the ceiling of the tabernacle temporarily until the curtains were erected by the sons of
Understand that whilst this whole process of erecting the tabernacle proper was going on
another group of the sons of Merari were likewise engaged in setting up the perimeter of the
courtyard with its post, sockets, pegs, and cords (Num 4:32).
Our next picture is an illustration of the sons of Gershon preparing to unload the various curtains
pertaining to the tabernacle, this duty was theirs as assigned by the Lord under the direction once again
of Ithamar (Ithamar was the equivalent of what we now days refer to as the field superintendent on the
job, having complete oversight over all the various stages of the work including not only its
construction from start to finish but also in its disassembly when necessary along with its preparation
The sons of Gershon were allotted two covered carts and four oxen for this task, the leaders of Israel
having presented as an offering six covered carts and twelve oxen in all (Num 7:2, 3) the other four
being allotted to the sons of Merari for their use in transporting all the boards, post, sockets, pegs, and
cords associated with their work. The sons of Kohath however did not receive any carts or oxen in
their work as it was their responsibility to carry the “Holy Things” the various articles of
furnishings upon their shoulders (Num 7:9).
It seems logical to assume that the embroidered linen curtains including the entrance curtains for both
the courtyard and the tabernacle along with the Second Vail curtain were most likely additionally
wrapped in coverings of seal skins when in transport in order to protect them especially from the
elements, however upon further thought I would have to say that this most likely would have applied to
all the curtains especially the white linen curtains as they would be most prone to damage (dirt and
etc.) which would mar both their appearance and their significance.
As we had stated before it would have appeared to have been quite a task for the Levites to have lifted
the curtains their full length (anywhere from 30 to 60 plus feet) up 15 feet and then attempt to span
another 15 feet across a structure without a roof, but here we would like to present one possible
solution to this task which we believe to be feasible.
The first step in this particular process of covering the tabernacle structure would be to first unload the
seal skin curtains from the cart (the black curtains in the picture although they were not actually black
in reality), and then to spread them out their full length up close alongside the tabernacle structure.
Following this they would be partially unfolded just enough to allow adequate room for the linen
curtains to be drawn out their full length over them (the seal skin curtains serving as protection for the
linen curtains from the ground or surface area).
With this accomplished they are now prepared to lift or pull the linen curtains up and over the
structure. This would be accomplished by means of ropes tided to possible sewn in rings sewn along
the seams of the curtain similar to those most likely sewn into the courtyard curtains. The sons of
Gershon after having ascended the structure would then draw up the curtains up and across the ceiling
and then down the other side.
In Sister Marie Lundquist’ model she purposes that first the curtains were partially unfolded one at a
time upon the ground (most likely with the seal’ skin curtains laid out first as we had suggested
providing a bases upon which each subsequent curtain could be laid and unfolded in preparation to its
being drawn over the tabernacle) following this several of the men would take poles in hand while
others lifted the partially unfolded curtain upon their poles which they would then in turn use to lift the
curtains up and slowly walk the curtain up to the front entrance of the tabernacle from there men
standing on scaffolding placed on each side of the structure would grab hold and carry along the
curtain until it reached the other end letting loose that which was designed to fall over the rear of the
structure. Then the men on both sides would unfold the remainder of the curtain which was designed
to drape over the north and south sides of the structure. The scaffolding placed alongside each side of
the structure would then be withdrawn so as to permit the curtain to fall freely to both sides, of course
first before this could be accomplished the two sections of curtains (in regards to the linen curtain and
the goats skin curtain) had to have their “golden clasps” attached before access to the ceiling was
This whole procedure would be repeated until all four of the curtains were placed over the tabernacle.
This whole process seems quite feasible with the only problem that I could see being as to how the top
“clasps” spanning the ceiling were put into place. One possible solution to this would have been to have
left several of the scaffolding boards as we had suggested in our presentation up spanning across the
mid section of the structure where the two joining curtains would be connected by the clasps, this
would have provided support for an individual to traverse the ceiling while connecting the clasps at the
top of the structure.
Understand that I had already drawn my illustrations prior to being able to review thoroughly
Sister Marie’s design, had I done so I most likely would had followed along with her design as
I have found it to be quite feasible save in a few minor areas, nevertheless let us continue with
what we have.
As said following the placement of the linen curtains over the tabernacle structure the “golden clasps”
which connected the two sections of curtains would then be attached (Exod 36:13) joining the two
sections together as one. This might be the appropriate time to point out this most important
fact which often times is overlooked by the brethren, and that is that what you see here, i.e. the
tabernacle structure with its elaborately embroidered linen coverings draped over is in fact what is
actually considered THE “Tabernacle”, that is to say what comes next, the next covering which
consisted of the goat skin curtains is actually considered as THE “tent” which was placed over THE
“Tabernacle” (Exod 36:14) and over this “tent” was placed THE two “coverings” one of which
consisted of rams skins dyed red and the other of seal skins (Exod 36:19) neither of which should
be considered as curtains as there were no divisions to these “coverings”.
Note also in this particular illustration that the sons of Gershon are seen drawing out the goat’s skin
curtains in preparation to their being draped over THE Tabernacle. You will likewise note the addition
of an extra piece of seals skin laid upon the ground, this is to accommodate the added length of the
goats skin covering, remember there was an added section which was folded over at the top front of
the tabernacle (Exod 26:7-9 See Part 26 of this study on the Tabernacles construction).
The Goats Skin curtains then were most likely placed in position over the tabernacle in a similar fashion
as that which was explained in the Lundquist’ model with either ladders or scaffolding being employed
to aid in draping the curtain along until they had covered the whole structure. These coverings
consisting of two sections could be installed separately one being lifted and put into place coming from
the rear of the structure and the other from the front. Once this was accomplished the “copper clasps”
which were used to join the two sections of curtains together would be put into place, likewise the front
part of the goats skin curtain which overhung the front entrance would be folded back and doubled
over the entrance as was specified in the Lord’s instructions.
In this illustration the sons of Merari are seen removing the scaffolding boards which were left beneath
the first two coverings while they were being erected. It will also be noted that the sons of Gershon
have already laid out the ram’s skin covering dyed red in preparation for its placement over the first
The work which followed next is dependent upon ones perception as to how the final two coverings, the
rams skin dyed red and the seal’ skins looked when they were erected OVER the tabernacle as
coverings, that is were they simply draped over or were they “pitch” in the middle as is typically seen in
a tent. If they were merely draped over the tabernacle as is commonly depicted then the same method
which was used to raise the goat’s skin covering would seem adequate enough, however if on the other
hand one is inclined to believe that the typical design seems a bit faulty and believes that the final two
coverings were more likely erected in the likeness of a pitched tent, i.e. with the addition of poles,
ropes and pins such as is depicted at the front of the Tabernacle Shadows Book then a different
method must be found. We will not go into all that here although we will in our next post examine
some of the various designs suggested by the brethren in the attempt to find the one which addresses
all sides of the issues and most importantly appears to have Scriptural support.
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