Holy Vessels: The Ark, Table and Lamp

Exodus 25:1-40

The portion begins with a call for contributions to the building effort. God gives a specific list of materials needed for His Tabernacle. He then goes on to describe three of the primary vessels which will be set up inside the Tabernacle: the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Show Bread and the Lamp, called the Menorah.


The Ark is to be built from three layers, a wooden box with both outer and inner gold boxes. It will be topped with a crown of gold. The cover for the Ark will also be of gold, and topped with two cherub figures. Into this, the two tablets will be placed, and from here God will conduct His meetings with Moses.


The Table is also to be made of wood and covered in gold, surrounded by a gold crown molding. It is to have shelves on which to place the show-bread, as well as utensils of gold for the service. Both the Table and the Ark are to have rings in which gold-plated wooden poles will be placed for the purpose of transporting the vessels. The poles of the Ark are never to be removed from their housings.


The Lamp, or Menorah, is to have seven branches, each with knobs, cups and flowers in their design. Three arms are to branch out from the central one on each side. It is to be hammered out of a single block of gold, and its accompanying utensils are also to be made of pure gold. To be certain, God shows Moses what the Menorah is meant to look like in a vision on the mountain.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think that of these three vessels, God shows Moses a vision of the Menorah in particular?

Comments ( 12 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Damian Sco

    It stands out to me that blue is a color besides scarlet and purple that those in the Vatican never use. I believe it is because ,unlike these colors of the Sanctuary, those of the Vatican are not from the One true God. It also occurs to me that the structure of the Candlestick is dependent on the One in the middle which serves to light the others, just as we, on the seventh day, rest and keep it Holy to show we are dependent on Hashem rather than our own efforts. To truly see the Light that Hashem wishes us to light our paths with it must come from Him and not us.

  • I think that HaShem wanted to lead Moshe further into HIS secrets. Moshe was the one that spoke daily with The HOLY ONE, so he should have more knowledge about THE ONE. It was made of one piece of gold. This points to ADONAI ECHAD(G-d is ONE), there is no other beside HIM. This also symbolizes the undividebility of Torah.The surface of the cup was grooved like an almondflower.Before even her leaves show up the almond is flowering.spreading a fine perfume. The name of the tree is Shaqed (hebr.) It means : according to the word-sound: The Watching.( Compare Yirmiyahu 1:11) So it is clear that this Menorha symbolizes the presence of the HOLY ONE, watching over His People. That’s reason that it could only be filled with the purest oil that existed. There are far more components that are worth to be mentioned. (too much actually !) ADONAI is the highest and best ONE you can serve in life.

  • Like Aliza said before (if I remember correctly), the vision of the Menorah is talked about in this portion as being shown to Moshe, but it is also true that Moshe had been shown the pattern of the Tabernacle which most likely included all these things, while at the mountain. However, like Sharon argues, the Menorah was much more detailed and yet Moshe had only seen its vision once at the mountain.

  • I really like the comments here. Such great ideas. I definitely agree with Sharon that the Menorah was much more complicated and intricate, and so from a practical perspective, it would mean that more guidance was needed in crafting it. Something Kenneth said also sparked an idea. Perhaps the Table, with the bread on it, represents food (physical sustenance) and the Lamp represents light (the spiritual realm). Both are crucial to our existence. However, we don’t need ‘too much’ guidance in figuring out how to sustain ourselves physically. It’s the spiritual realm that needs much more guidance-we need Hashem to explicitly show us the way.

    • Diana Brown

      Yes I agree that it only took Moses to teach the people how to take God’s Words to the world. If all of us spend our time only seeking God’s Face, we are too heavenly minded to be much earthly good.
      I think it is good to study as a community and then seek the Lord’s Direction individually so His Words will not only fill our hearts and minds but reach out to others through our hands and feet.
      Ultimately, isn’t the message of the Menorah this… His Words matter so much to repair ourself and the world? Moses was special to me because he did not see the Glory of God and keep it to himself. That is why Moses, not Aaron, was given the pattern of the Menorah.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    These vessels and the Tabernacle proper are a pattern of greater things. Certainly the vessels of the 1st & 2nd temples are similar but of a grander scale and import. I surmise that the grandness and import of the 3rd temple will far exceed that of the earlier temples.
    In basic meaning, I see the Ark of the Covenant hidden from Israel and only accessed by the High Priest only upon certain occasion. The Lord communicates in some fashion to the priest via some means between the cherubs and above the cover. Also the priest has the stones of the breastplate and the Urim and Thummin. This is a very restricted access called the Most Holy.
    In the Holy are the Table of Showbread and the Menorah. This area was accessible by the Priests – thus a restricted area as there were very few priests at any given time.
    These may represent food and light (special strength and understanding) for the priests had a special responsibility of passing down the word of the Lord.

  • Deborah

    Could it also be that he wanted Moshe to see and know as well as tell the people that the nation was to be a light to all nations…and a symbol of the day of rest commanded by HaShem? Just thinking aloud…

    • Diana Brown

      Yes I would agree with that. Moses was the prophet the people listened to because they knew he met with the Lord God. After the blood covenant at Mount Sinai and the table fellowship with the priests and the Lord, the message of the Menorah had to be given to Moses to be delivered to the people.

  • Diana Brown

    I think the Menorah given to Moses in a vision on the Mountain shows God’s Pattern for us by His Spirit to commune with Him. The Law and the Table of Show Bread is to be remembered by us and present before Him always. He wants more than that. He wants to fill our minds and change our hearts so we can truly love Him with our hearts.

  • Sharon

    I personally am very drawn to the menorah, I actually wear one instead of a Star of David. Could it be that Hashem had to give Moses a vision of it because unlike the Ark and Table, the Menorah was much more detailed and had to be formed out of a single component, gold. The artisan who crafted the Menorah was hand picked and given the talent to do so.
    Just my thinking.

  • Donna

    Hmm I am sure I am missing something in the translation, but in v. 40 it sounds to me like God Showed Moses a vision of all of the vessels? But, a guess as to why the Menorah needed a Picture is that it is the least straight-forward and least like a box. I have just recently Heard that it was representative of The Tree of Life – probably got that from a Rabbi Tuly email 🙂 and for some reason the Burning bush keeps coming to mind??? I do have to add that I am SO Very Grateful that the God of the universe loves us SO much that He Was and still Is Willing to be put in a box (or a building) to be with us even if we just visit Him on weekends and special occasions – that would be our terms not His – He Passionately Longs To Commune with us Face to face as He Demonstrated in Exodus 20.

    • I think that according to the simple reading of the verse, it can definitely be understood that Moses was shown the Ark, Table and Menorah. However, since we are told that he was shown the image here, after the Menorah, and not at the end of the entire Tabernacle command, or at least at the end of all the vessels, one can understand the plural term of the word ‘their pattern’ to refer to the Menorah and its tools specifically.

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