The Boards and Bars of the Tabernacle

 •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 8
"And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.
" Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall he the breadth of one board. -• Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle. And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward.
" And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: " And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards.
.‘ And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.
"And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners, " And they shall be eight boards, "And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle.
" And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward.
" And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end.
" And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold."-Exod. 26:15-2915And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. 16Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. 17Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle. 18And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. 19And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. 20And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: 21And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 22And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards. 23And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. 24And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. 25And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 26And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, 27And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward. 28And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end. 29And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold. (Exodus 26:15‑29)
" And he made boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.
" The length of a board was ten cubits, and the breadth of a board one cubit and a half.
" One board had two tenons, equally distant one from another: thus did he make for all the boards of the tabernacle.
"And he made hoards for the tabernacle; twenty boards for the south side southward: "And for the other side of the tabernacle, which is toward the north corner, he made twenty boards, "And for the sides of the tabernacle westward he made six boards, " And two boards made he for the comers of the tabernacle in the two sides.
" And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring; thus he did to both of them in both the corners.
" And there were eight boards.
" And he made bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, "And live bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the sides westward, " And he made the middle bar to shoot through the boards from the one end to the other..
"And he overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings of gold to be places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold." Ex. 36:20-3420And he made boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood, standing up. 21The length of a board was ten cubits, and the breadth of a board one cubit and a half. 22One board had two tenons, equally distant one from another: thus did he make for all the boards of the tabernacle. 23And he made boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards for the south side southward: 24And forty sockets of silver he made under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. 25And for the other side of the tabernacle, which is toward the north corner, he made twenty boards, 26And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 27And for the sides of the tabernacle westward he made six boards. 28And two boards made he for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. 29And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring: thus he did to both of them in both the corners. 30And there were eight boards; and their sockets were sixteen sockets of silver, under every board two sockets. 31And he made bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, 32And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the sides westward. 33And he made the middle bar to shoot through the boards from the one end to the other. 34And he overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings of gold to be places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold. (Exodus 36:20‑34)
THE frame-work or walls of the tabernacle were made of boards of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold; each board stood ten cubits high, and a cubit and a half broad. Twenty of these, standing side by side, formed the south wall of the tabernacle; and twenty, similarly placed, formed the north side. Six were placed at the east end, where also two additional boards stood in the corners, to give increased stability to the structure. The length of the tabernacle would therefore be twenty times a cubit and a half, or thirty cubits: the breadth, six boards of a cubit and a half, or nine cubits. To this must be added the thickness of the boards north and south, which (though not specified in the directions given to Moses) may yet be gathered to have been half a cubit. This may be ascertained by the following calculation. The first set of curtains was twenty-eight cubits long; and when thrown over the golden boards, there remained a cubit on each side of them uncovered. These two uncovered cubits were completely covered by the next set of curtains, which were thirty cubits long. Ex. 26:1313And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it. (Exodus 26:13). Allowing therefore ten cubits for the height of the boards on the south side, another ten also for those on the north side, making together twenty cubits, we have ten cubits left for the width of the tabernacle. Of this, the six boards at the east end will occupy nine cubits: and allowing a half-cubit for the thickness of the boards on the south and north sides respectively, we get exactly the thirty cubits, the full measurement of the goats' hair curtains, which are specified as entirely covering up the tabernacle.
Each of the boards terminated, as to the lower extremity, in two tenons, which were inserted into mortises in two sockets of silver. The boards were also sustained in their upright position, and linked together by five bars of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold, which ran through rings or staples of gold inserted in the boards. The middle bar of the five ran the whole length of the tabernacle, uniting all the twenty boards together. The other four bars, of which two were placed above, and two below the middle bar, are not described as running all the length, but perhaps only extended half the distance, viz, fifteen cubits each. A similar number of bars coupled the boards composing the north side, and also the west end of the tabernacle. On the whole therefore there were forty-eight boards, and fifteen bars. All these were made of Shittim wood, overlaid with gold.
Each board of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold, seems to portray the Lord Jesus Himself, the Son of God, the Son of Man. The shittim-wood, incorruptible wood, being a shadow of that great truth, that He "partook of flesh and blood;" " the Seed of the Woman;" " the Second Man;" " from heaven;" yet " the Son of David," " of the fruit of his loins;" and at the same time, " the Son of the Highest;" born of the virgin, " the Man Christ Jesus;" made " in the likeness of sinful flesh;" though, unlike any other man that ever lived on earth, incorrupt and incorruptible; having a body prepared for Him by God, in order that He might die; but without taint of mortality or death in Him.
The gold also presents the other great truth, that He is " the Mighty God;" " the brightness of God's glory;" " the only-begotten of the Father;" " the Son" from everlasting, and to everlasting. Each board of the tabernacle, each bar, each pillar, reiterates again and again these great verities, on which salvation depends, on which the whole basis of Christianity rests, and on which the new creation, with all its glories, subsists, viz. the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, made of a woman, God and Man, one Christ.
The boards are like the ribs of truth, the massive frame-work; without which no dwelling-place of God could be created; no meeting-place between God and man provided. If the wood could corrupt, or if the fine gold could become dim; if the taint of mortality, or mouldering flesh, be connected, by human theory or speculation, with the glorious Emmanuel; the tabernacle of God must tremble and totter: the great truths of salvation are shaken: and a misshapen mass of ruin takes the place of the divinely-ordered palace of the Most High.
Moses was enjoined by God, again and again, to make and rear up the tabernacle with its vessels, according to the pattern showed him in the mount. He was not to speculate on the materials to be used, or the shapes or measurements. All was defined by God; and accurately did he conform to the directions he had received, and the pattern he had seen. So that " as the Lord commanded Moses" is the closing sentence of approval, as each portion successively was erected or arranged by him: and finally, God manifested His presence in the cloud without, and the glory within, as a token of His full satisfaction in the work of His servant. (Ex. 40)
A reasoning and speculative mind is inconsistent with a humble worshipping spirit. God has laid down His own definitions, His measurements and dimensions of truth. The Father alone knoweth the Son. It is our place reverently to bow, and believe what He has recorded touching the Lord Jesus. Uzzah may think that the ark of the Holiest is in danger; David having himself, contrary to God's word, fashioned a new cart to bear it. But Uzzah was not spared by God, though his motive might appear unobjectionable: and David was at the same time made to tremble, and solemnly rebuked by the sudden judgment.
One result of fashioning creeds and confessions of faith as the vehicles of truth, and not holding God's own word to be sufficient, is, that unholy hands are often stretched out, to defend or maintain these arrangements of human wisdom: and coldness and deadness of soul, and lifeless profession result, instead of the power and vigor of the truth in the souls of God's children, manifested in their life and conduct. Orthodoxy, as it is called, ever appeals to human writings and human standards, which however true, can never embrace the fullness of God's word, and which may be held the head, and subscribed to by the hand, without any living faith or power of the Holy Spirit. When will the children of God learn that His Word is sufficiently full, and sufficiently accurate?
The massive framework of the golden boards and bars formed a compact structure, over which the curtains and coverings were suspended. They were to the curtains what the poles are to a tent. They upheld and sustained the glorious display of the blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen cherubim, as also the goats' hair curtains. Thus what the Lord Jesus Himself was and is, viz: Son of God, Son of Man-that He has made manifest in His life, and above all, in His death on the cross: and His blessed work there, derives all its unspeakable value, and eternal efficacy, from HIMSELF. It is faith in HIM that is Salvation. " God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have everlasting life." " He that believeth on the Son hath life.' John 3:16,3616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
. May there not be a tendency to separate too much the work of the Lord Jesus from His person? to preach the death of the blessed Lord, without sufficiently preaching also the Lord Himself? The Apostle determined not to know anything among the Corinthians, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Cor. 2:22For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2). And his great object of pursuit, for his own personal blessing and joy, was to know Him. Phil 3:10.
The boards and bars have the same relation to the tabernacle itself, as the truth contained in the first two chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews has to the rest of the Epistle. In the first and second chapters, the great foundations of faith are laid. The Lord Jesus Christ is presented to us as the Son; the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person; the Son of the Father; God, the Creator-the Sustainer of all things; and who will change all things. He is also presented to us as the Son of Man, partaker of flesh and blood in order to die; the first-born from the dead, all things put under Him; anointed above His fellows; not ashamed to call them brethren. On these great truths respecting Christ, depend all the other great verities connected with the value of His sacrifice; the glory and power of His priesthood; the eternal salvation, the eternal redemption, and the eternal inheritance, which are obtained for us by His own blood. The Apostle also in the Epistle to the Colossians, unfolds the majesty, fullness, and glorious pre-eminence of the Lord Jesus: because the believers, to whom he wrote, were in danger from philosophical speculations, and Judaizing teachers. The completeness of their salvation; the loftiness of their standing; and the unbounded treasures of wisdom and knowledge within their reach, all resulted from the dignity, power, and glory of Him who was their Head.
We shall find that every false doctrine, which affects the faith or calling of the believer, may be traced to some misapprenension or error respecting the Lord Jesus Himself. If a bar, or board, or ring were wanting, the whole strength of the tabernacle would be weakened. It would cease to be a firm compact building, fitly framed together.
There is one verse respecting the corner-boards, which is of difficult interpretation. It runs thus in our translation: " And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle, in the two sides. And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both: they shall be for the two corners."- Ex. 26:23,2423And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. 24And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. (Exodus 26:23‑24).
And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof unto one ring. Thus he did to both of them, at both the corners."-Ex. 36:2929And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring: thus he did to both of them in both the corners. (Exodus 36:29). The latter part of this description may be translated thus: And they shall be doubled (or twinned) beneath, and together they shall be (finished or perfected) upon its head to the same ring. Thus shall it be for those two; for the two corners they shall be. Ex. 26:2424And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. (Exodus 26:24).
The word doubled is the same word, whence twin is derived.
The difficulty of this passage is, First, the meaning of the boards being doubled beneath. Secondly, the meaning of the words, upon its head. Thirdly, the same ring: or, to one ring.
The general description of the boards, (Ex. 26:15-1715And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. 16Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. 17Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle. (Exodus 26:15‑17),) and the words " Thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle," and the fact, that the corner-boards are reckoned with the other western-boards in verse 25, " they shall be eight boards," would seem to imply, that these corner-boards were the same size and shape as the others. If this be so, they must have stood in the corners of the tabernacle, at the north and south sides, at the western end, and may have been grooved (or twinned) into the other boards from beneath to the top, where a ring or staple may have bound them to the sides and end of the tabernacle. However this may have been; the object of these corner-boards was, to add strength to the whole structure, and knit the sides and end together.
Our thoughts naturally turn to the two occasions on which the Lord is spoken of in Scripture, with reference to the corner: Isa. 28:1616Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16).-" Behold, I lay in Zion, for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation."
Psa. 118:2222The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. (Psalm 118:22).-" The stone, which the builders refused, is become the head-stone of the corner."
Here we have presented to us, a corner-stone as foundation; and a corner-stone crowning the building: the beginning, and the end: the whole strength of the edifice depending on the firmness of the foundation corner-stone; and the whole compactness, and knitting-together of the building as one, depending on the headstone of the corner. God laid the foundation in the death of His Son: He completed the building in His resurrection. The walls of living stone rest securely on this Rock of Ages, and are bound everlastingly together by the top-stone. The corner-boards of the tabernacle may have some reference to these blessed truths.