The Tabernacle

Exodus 26:1-36

The Tabernacle building itself is to be constructed out of several parts. Its walls are to consist of planks with tabs on each end. The tabs fit into silver sockets which hold every pair of adjacent planks together. Three bars, top, bottom and center, also secure the planks of each wall to each other.


The walls are to be covered with different curtains: ten curtains of linen and wool woven with a design of cherubs, eleven curtains of goat hair, a cover of red-dyed ramskin and a cover of tachash (seal) skins. The curtains are to have hooks and loops to connect them to each other and they are to be layered over the Tabernacle walls, with the eleventh goat hair curtain overhanging the entrance. Between the main chamber of the Tabernacle and the Holy of Holies, a partition is to be hung, made of the same twisted and woven wool and linen with a cherub design. The Ark is to be positioned inside the Holy of Holies, while the Table and Menorah sit in the main chamber. A screen is also to be placed at the entrance of the Tabernacle, made of gold-plated planks and covered with the same woven fabric.


The boards from which the walls are to be constructed are called Hakerashim, meaning the boards, implying specific boards known to Moses. The Israel Bible cites a Jewish tradition which maintains that Jacob planted the necessary trees on his way down to Egypt so that his descendants would have them to build the Tabernacle. The message here is two-fold: from Jacob we learn to prepare for the future, but we also learn not to give up hope. The exile is temporary and the Jews will return to their homeland.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

First God tells Moses how to build the vessels with which to serve Him in the Tabernacle, and only after does He outline the blueprint for the building in which they will be placed. This seems to be the reverse of typical behavior, where one would not buy furniture until one has a home in which to place it. Why do you think God plans His Tabernacle in reverse?

Comments ( 26 )

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  • Herman Arentsen

    It looks as if the content of the Tabernacle is more important than what it should surround – the house. So, please pay more attention to hów you are building in connection to the ‘furniture’. As all utensils are symbolic things they stand for the service to G-d, In the same way people should be prepared to serve. Not simply doing your religious things or going to church/synagogue, but your functioning in HIS service is stressed here, I think. On the other side things standing for the things “above” show that those things are more important than a house made by men to use by men. So the inside is more important than the building itself. They represent the heavenly values. This might be the reasonfor reproducing those things before the building and not vice versa.

  • AliceKilic

    This is such a powerful teaching – one that transitions so well to our daily lives. Preparation. Works of our hands done with excellence. Obedience. These are the things we can apply to our everyday lives and teach our children. They are the most important things we can teach our children and pray that they pass them on to their children. That preparation, excellent works, and obedience are the things that put us in a place physically, spiritually and emotionally to hear Him when He gently guides and directs. These teach us respect, humility, and to keep an eye toward future events – sometimes as far away as 400 years.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    Excellent comments from the classroom members. Thank you to all.

  • Jesse

    I remember seeing somewhere that the Hebrew word for “sides” for the ark is the same word used for “rib” in Genesis 2 when Adonai was making Chavah. This shows me that he starts by creating the heart first and then expands outward from there.

    • You are correct. The word for rib ‘tzelah’ is used in the story of the creation of woman (Genesis 2:21-22) and again, in our portion, to refer to the sides of the ark (eg: Exodus 26:26).

  • I was just glossing over a home magazine, and there was an article about planning a kitchen (if you’re building a new house, renovating, etc.) The article was saying how you should first chose your major appliances, the kitchen essentials, and then build your kitchen around them. Seems comparable to the layout of this week’s portion!

    • Magda

      A general comment on this parashat: For some reason this parashat reminds me of parashat Noah – the exact instructions for building the ark; type of wood, measurements – all given – nothing left to Noah’s imagination or ‘own understanding’. Noah’s ark was to be a ‘safe place’ for him and his family and they were spared because “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generation; Noah walked with God”. (Gen 6:1) With the mishkan/ tabernacle; the Creator instructs Moses and the children of Israel exactly how to build a ‘dwelling place’ and exactly how to make the utensils to be used – again nothing left to their ‘own understanding’. Ultimate purpose for Him to dwell in their midst. Again for their / our protection. He is, was and will be the ultimate ‘Carer’, drawing them/ us nearer so that we can ‘shemah’ Him. Beautiful.

  • Sherry

    I don’t usually comment. Reading all of your comments help me a lot to see your views as you read and comment here. Please don’t think I’m ignoring this reading class, as I am doing more reading and learning from all of you. Actually this portion of the Bible is coming more alive to me than it ever has.

  • Diana Brown

    It is preparation for the Lord to dwell with His People. First we build and then He will come.

  • Barbara

    Just joined today and all the comments and responses I’m reading now is helping me out a whole lot to better understand I’am so thankful I ran across this site, Thank You Lord Jesus!

  • Sherry

    Are we not the clay and Hashem the potter? Hashem kneads the clay, rolls it, cuts portions, gently but masterfully shapes with his loving hands into a usable vessel. Then the vessel is placed in the kiln where fire hardens and strengthens the clay into a vessel that is sturdy for every day use and won’t crumble into pieces. We become the vessels for His use. We are filled with the Holy Spirit for Hashem to live within to help and share His love for His children. So in the tabernacle in the wilderness are these vessels symbols of how His children can be used? Or am I way off base here?

  • Stephanie

    I find it interesting that אִשָּׁ֖ה ishah, the word for wife/woman, is used twice regarding clasping the curtains ‘together’ that the tabernacle may be one. In all of the Torah, of the many instances, I believe these are the only two times that word is used for anything but wife or woman. Not sure of all occurrences in complete Tanakh. Thoughts on significance of word choice?

    • Stephanie

      In Verses 26:5,6

        • One last one, 26:3. Those are the only 4 times in the Bible the term “Esha el Achota” is used.

          • Stephanie

            ah yes – that’s even more interesting – I missed Achota in those verses.
            And going back to the beginning of this portion, I find it interesting also that in 25:9 the root of the word for ‘pattern’ (which appears twice), is ‘banah’ going all the way back to Gen 2:22 when God ‘made’ ishah from man’s rib. And throughout the instructions for the tabernacle the phrase ‘that it may be one’ appears often – much as ish and ishah become one…

    • Sharon

      That’s awesome.

    • This is really interesting. One thing I love about this group is bringing up points that I’ve never stopped to question/pay attention to. The translation of the phrase ‘esha el akhota’ is ‘one to the other’. However, the literal translation of the words are ‘a woman to her sister’. Perhaps this is eluding to the special bond women have? Or the ability women have to ‘keep things (people/families) together’? God doesn’t chose His words lightly, so I believe there should be some significance to this phrase, though I didn’t find any comments on it from the classic commentators.

  • Sharon

    Just as obedience leads to change, I think the forming and time it took to make the vessels, because it involved all the people, lead to a more personal appreciation and desire to not only obey Hashem but to also honor Him. By the time the vessels were finished, maybe, the people would be more excited or committed to seeing His house completed. Just a thought.

    • Definitely something to this. We are more connected to things we put effort in. Being a part of the building of the Tabernacle definitely contributes to their connection. The more we give to something (time, energy, money) the more we love. In fact, one of the Hebrew words for ‘give’ (hav) is found in the word for love (ahava). That’s why we love our children so much!

  • Donna

    Mahalo Raba Aliza 🙂 Luv that thought of (which is an Absolute Truth for me) that as we obey – it’s the very action of obedience = loving God – that Pulls and Aligns and even Circumcises our hearts. And, your are SO right, it’s ALL about Hearing & obeying!!! = “Shema!!!” and as we Shema – Hear & obey (or is it obey & Hear? ;)) – that very action of agreement on our part in obedience in response to God’s Word Aligns and Blesses us SO Incredibly – ESPECIALLY when it doesn’t seem logical to the natural mind – which it usually doesn’t because our God Is Supernatural HALLELU YAH!!! In “chewing” on one of the previous Portions I also Realized that our response to Israel and her people is also a direct reflection of our relationship with and obedience to God, because He Tells us clearly to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Psalms 122:6) and to Bless Israel and the Hebrews, and even Promises an Amazing Bonus Package that as we do that there are Abundant Blessings that Will Flow to us. (Genesis 27:29)

  • Donna

    Possibly Highlighting that our first priority should be to align the inside/internal According to His Design – to put that in Order first – and that is more important than the outward body/covering/appearance?

    • I really like that idea. I think that may be the ideal, although, I do think that one who has difficulty with that, can come to God by first working on the external; sometimes he need the ‘externals’ to help bring him closer. There is an idea that our hearts are pulled after our actions. If we follow God’s commands, even without understanding or ‘feeling’ the connection, our obedience can bring us to eventually ‘align the inside.’ However, just to reiterate, I do think you are correct in saying that the priority should be to align the inside first.

    • Angela B

      Donna, I agree, the inside is most important. This brings to mind the scripture in Samuel or Kings that says that Yahweh looks at the heart, but man looks at the outside appearance. The other is in Proverbs which says that guard your heart with all due diligence. These vessels make the heart of tabernacle, it is the life of the tabernacle, and that is where Yahweh lives and hence the most important.

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