30 Mar. Exodus 40:1-21,33-36

30 Mar. Moses sets up the Holy Tent to meet with God

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘On the first day of the first month, set up the Holy Tent [the ‘Tabernacle’], which is the Meeting Tent [where Moses met with God]. Put the Ark of the [Covenant] Agreement in it and hang the curtain in front of the Ark.’”

“’Bring in the table and arrange everything on the table that should be there. Then bring in the [seven-branched] lampstand and set up its lamps. Put the gold altar for burning incense in front of the Ark of the [Covenant] Agreement, and put the curtain at the entrance to the Holy Tent.’”

“’Put the altar of burnt offerings in front of the entrance of the Holy Tent, the Meeting Tent. Put the bowl [for ritual washing] between the Meeting Tent and the altar, and put water in it. Set up the courtyard around the Holy Tent, and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.’”

“’Use the special olive oil and pour it on the Holy Tent and everything in it, in order to give the Tent and all that is in it for service to the LORD. They will be holy. Pour the special oil on the altar for burnt offerings and on all its tools. Give the altar for service to God, and it will be very holy. Then pour the special olive oil on the bowl and the base under it so that they will be given for service to God.’”

“’Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the Meeting Tent, and wash them with water. Then put the holy clothes on Aaron. Pour the special oil on him, and give him for service to God so that he may serve me as a priest.’”

“’Bring Aaron’s sons and put the inner robes on them. Pour the special oil on them in the same way you appointed their father as priest, so that they may also serve me as priests. Pouring oil on them will make them a family of priests, they and their descendants from now on.’”

“Moses did everything that the LORD commanded him. So the Holy Tent was set up on the first day of the first month during the second year after they left Egypt [i.e. twelve months after leaving Egypt].”

“When Moses set up the Holy Tent, he put the bases in place, and he put the frames on the bases. Next he put the crossbars through the rings of the frames and set up the posts. After that, Moses spread the cloth over the Holy Tent and put the covering over it, just as the LORD commanded.”

“Moses put the stone tablets that had the [Covenant] Agreement written on them into the Ark [of the Covenant]. He put the poles through the rings of the Ark and put the lid on it. Next he brought the Ark into the Tent and hung the curtain to cover the Ark, just as the LORD commanded...”

“Then Moses set up the courtyard around the Holy Tent and the altar, and he put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. So Moses finished the work..”

“Then the cloud covered the Meeting Tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Holy Tent… When the cloud rose from the Holy Tent, the Israelites would begin to travel, but as long as the cloud stayed on the Holy Tent, they did not travel. They stayed in that place until the cloud rose.”

          (Exodus 40:1-21,33-36)

 


 

In Exodus, chapters 35 to 39, the Bible records how Moses received detailed instructions on preparing the Holy Tent (the ‘Tabernacle’), the Ark of the Agreement (the ‘Ark of the Covenant’) and the priestly garments.

Chapter 40 then records how Moses followed these instructions to set up the Ark of the Agreement (the ‘Ark of the Covenant’), containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, inside the portable Tent of Meeting – the ‘Holy Tent’ or ‘Tabernacle’ – where Moses met with God (see Exodus 36:8-38). The Ark, symbolising God’s presence, was kept in the Most Holy Place (the ‘Holy of Holies’), kept hidden from all but a handful of priests by a curtain (see Exodus 37:1-9).

The priests (Aaron and his sons) were dressed in special robes (see Exodus 39:1-31) and were dedicated for service to God (made ‘holy’ or ‘set apart’) by being anointed with olive oil. They kept the lamps on the ‘menorah’ (the seven-branched lampstand) lit at all times (see Leviticus 24:1-4), and at the end of the week, they ate the twelve loaves of bread (the ‘shewbread’) which were kept inside the Holy Tent to symbolise God’s presence (see Leviticus 24:5-9).

When the Holy Tent was fully erected, and the altar for burnt offerings was set up within the screened-off courtyard surrounding the tent, the LORD’s presence was indicated by a bright shining light – the ‘Glory of the LORD’ or the ‘Shekinah’ - within the cloud covering the tent.

Whenever the cloud lifted from the tent, the Israelites set off on their journey towards Canaan, and were conscious that God was with them as they travelled – “So the cloud of the LORD was over the Holy Tent during the day, and there was a fire in the cloud at night” (Exodus 40:38).

The photo shows Moses and Joshua in the Holy Tent bowing before the Ark of the Covenant in a painting by James Tissot (c.1900) in the Jewish Museum, New York.

You can read more about the background to the Old Testament @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/22-the-world-of-the-old-testament-journeys/


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