Exodus 24-27: The Tabernacle

In these chapters the instructions and specifications for the tabernacle are given.


Photocredit: Mary Pratto
This section of Exodus brings us to the first time Moses spends 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain with God. In these passages God details how He expects His tabernacle to be constructed. The tabernacle was the place God came to dwell amongst the Israelites, and thus had to be made to His standard.

A Sacrifice

Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 of the elders are told to worship in the distance from God; only Moses was permitted near God. Moses writes the words of God (from Expansion of the Law)[3] and builds an altar. Here, the Israelites sacrifice burnt offerings unto God. When they accept God's Word, Moses sprinkle the blood on the sacrifice on them as confirmation.

Beckoned by the LORD

The group that God commanded to worship Him from a distance, along with the nobles then saw God (or His feet rather), and under His feet, they see paved sapphire stone. Note the reason they only see His feet is because they are bowed down to worship Him (and if they had looked up toward His face they would have died). God then commands Moses to come closer, stating that He will give Moses the stone tables, law, and commandments. Moses ascends the mountain with Joshua. In Exodus 24:13 Joshua is referred to as Moses' minister, but in Exodus 33:11, he is also referred to as Moses' servant. God already knew Joshua would lead the Israelites one day; this is perhaps why he was allowed to go with Moses when even Aaron was not.

Instructions for the Tabernacle

In chapters 25 through 27, God tells Moses how He expects the tabernacle to be built. Each piece of the the tabernacle is specified by size, material, and purpose. In total, the tabernacle comprised of the Ark of the Testimony, Mercy Seat (which acted as a lid to the Ark of the Testimony), table, candlestick, curtains, boards, coverings, bars, and vail. The bars were to be placed over the boards. Also, rings were placed in the four corners of the Ark of the Covenant and table, in which matching staves would allow them to carry it. Shittim wood, the type of wood most tabernacle objects were made of, refers to Acacia wood[2]. All of the materials used to build the altar (gold, skins, silver, linen, etc) were to be given to God as an offering of the heart. In the table below, the measurements are given in the Biblical cubits; 1 cubit is 18 inches[1].

Item Length (cubits) Width (cubits) Height (cubits) Base Material Overlay Material Details
Ark of the Testimony 2.5 1.5 1.5 Shittim Wood Gold The ark would be placed in the holy room
Mercy Seat 2.5 1.5 - Gold - 2 cherubim made of gold were to be on each end, wings stretched to cover the Mercy Seat, and facing each other. The Mercy Seat would reside in the holy room.
Table 2.0 1.o 1.5 Shittim Wood Gold Dishes and utensils for the table were to be made of gold. Shewbread was to be on the table before God, always. The table was to be placed in the outer room.
Candlestick - - - Gold - 6 branches, with 3 on each side. 4 bowls shaped like almonds, each with a knop and a flower. Tongs and other necessary tools were also to be of gold. "7 lamps are to be made thereof." The candlestick was placed in the outer room
10 Curtains 28 4 - Fine linen - Made of fine linen with the following colors: purple, scarlet, and blue. Cherubim were to be added to the curtains as well. The curtains were to be coupled in groups of 5 and connected with 50 gold taches through blue loops sewn to the one edge of each group.
11 Curtains 30 4 - Goat's hair - These curtains were to be divided into a group of 5 and a group of 6. The 6th curtain would be in the forefront of the tabernacle. These groups were to be connected with 50 brass taches.
Boards 10 1.5 - Shittim Wood Gold 20 boards were to be made for the north and south side of the tabernacle each. 2 sockets (made of silver) were to be made for each board. An additional 6 boards were to be made for the west side and two for the corners.
Coverings - - - Ram's Skins/ Badgers' Skins - The coverings were to cover the tent. One was to be made of the ram's skins (which was dyed red) and the other of the badgers' skins.
Bars - - - Shittim Wood Overlay Material 5 bars were to be made for each of the 3 "walled" sides. Rings from the board were supposed to hold the bars.
Vail - - - Fine linen - Made of blue, purple and scarlet. It was to hand from the 4 pillars from gold hooks. The vail was to separate man from the holy space, creating an outer room and a holy room. It was to have cherubim on it.
Altar 5 5 3 Shittim Wood Brass All tools needed for the altar were to be made of brass. The altar was to have 2 staves made (overlain with brass) for carrying.
Court 100 50 5 - - Curtains of fine linen 100 cubits long were to be made for the north and south sides. There were to be 20 pillars having brass sockets and silver hooks on each side. The west was to have 10 pillars and curtains 50 cubits in length. 3 Pillars were to be on each side of the gate with a curtain of 15 cubits. The vessels of the court were to be made of brass
Oil - - - - - Olive oil was to be brought for the lamp so that it could always burn.


  1. Cubit Conversion. 2015
  2. Masterman, E.W.G. "Shittim Wood". 2015
  3. Exodus 24:4

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