New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Exo 26:1 Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains; of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, with cherubim. By the work of the skilful workman you shall make them-
The ark was covered in the tabernacle by the various layers of the tent detailed in Ex. 26:1-6: sea cows' skins, red rams skins, goats hair, blue, purple, scarlet and linen. These would form a kind of rainbow over the ark, and above that there was the Angel in the pillar of cloud or fire. This "pattern of things in the Heavens" replicated the visions of a throne (the ark) over-arched by a rainbow and the glory of God.

When David says in 2 Sam. 7:2 that he doesn't want Yahweh to have to dwell in "curtains", this doesn't mean that David was concerned that God's ark was under a tent, whilst he lived in a house. Rather is the reference to the ten curtains which comprised the tabernacle. David was assuming that he could change the Mosaic commandments about the tabernacle, and move God's purpose forward to something more permanent. We see here how he didn't consider the laws of Moses [of which the commands about the tabernacle were part] to be static. He saw them as open to interpretation and development. This was not a position he came to lightly, seeing he had been terribly punished for thinking he could flout the legislation about how the ark was to be transported.

 Many of the commands within the "law of Moses" were clearly only intended for the wilderness generation, indeed they could only have been obeyed by them then; and David wondered whether the entire commands about the tabernacle were in that category. Those today who claim that Mosaic legislation is eternally binding need to give this due weight. It's not just that the Mosaic law was abrogated by the Lord's death; but the whole nature of that law was that it was never intended to all be literally applied to every subsequent generation. And that meant that it was the spirit of it which was to be discerned and followed.


Exo 26:2 The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits: all the curtains shall have one measure.
Exo 26:3 Five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and the other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.
Exo 26:4 You shall make loops of blue on the edge of the one curtain from the edge in the coupling; and likewise you shall make in the edge of the curtain that is outmost in the second coupling.
Exo 26:5 You shall make fifty loops in the one curtain, and you shall make fifty loops in the edge of the curtain that is in the second coupling. The loops shall be opposite one to another.
Exo 26:6 You shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to another with the clasps: and the tabernacle shall be one-
There is great emphasis in Ex. 26 that the tabernacle was "one", joined together in such a way that taught the lesson of unity. The spiritual tabernacle, the believers, was "pitched" by the Lord- translating a Greek word which suggests 'crucifixion' (Heb. 8:2). Through the cross, the one, united tabernacle was pitched. To tear down that structure by disuniting the body is to undo the work of the cross.


Exo 26:7 You shall make curtains of goats’ hair for a covering over the tabernacle. You shall make them eleven curtains.
Exo 26:8 The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits: the eleven curtains shall have one measure.
Exo 26:9 You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shall double over the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tent.
Exo 26:10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain which is outmost in the second coupling-

The tabernacle represents God’s dwelling place. He now no longer lives in any physical structure, but in the hearts of His people, who between them comprise His new dwelling place. We can however learn lessons from the principles behind the tabernacle construction. Great emphasis was placed on how the components were all interlocking- the curtains coupled together, the boards were joined by bars etc. It is by our unity and connection with each other that God will dwell amongst us. Christianity can’t be lived in isolation- we need each other.

Exo 26:11 You shall make fifty clasps of brass, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one.
Exo 26:12 The overhanging part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle.
Exo 26:13 The cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, of that which remains in the length of the curtains of the tent, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.
Exo 26:14 You shall make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of sea cow hides above-

They were dyed red to represent how the blood of Christ is the covering for God’s people. Presumably they had picked up the sea cow hides from the shores of the Red Sea. What we pick up along life's way is to be devoted to the things of God.

Exo 26:15 You shall make the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing up.
Exo 26:16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and one and a half cubits the breadth of each board.
Exo 26:17 There shall be two tenons in each board, joined to one another: thus you shall make for all the boards of the tabernacle.
Exo 26:18 You shall make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side southward.
Exo 26:19 You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for its two tenons, and two sockets under another board for its two tenons.
Exo 26:20 For the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, twenty boards,
Exo 26:21 and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.
Exo 26:22 For the far part of the tabernacle westward you shall make six boards.
Exo 26:23 You shall make two boards for the corners of the tabernacle in the far part.
Exo 26:24 They shall be double beneath, and in the same way they shall be whole to its top to one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners.
Exo 26:25 There shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.
Exo 26:26 You shall make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle,
Exo 26:27 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 far part westward.
Exo 26:28 The middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass through from end to end.
Exo 26:29 You shall overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and you shall overlay the bars with gold.
Exo 26:30 You shall set up the tabernacle according to the way that it was shown to you on the mountain.

Exo 26:31 You shall make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cherubim. The work of the skilful workman shall it be made-
The veil represented the flesh of the Lord Jesus (Heb. 10:20), and also the fact that the way into the most holy place, representing God Himself in Heaven, was somehow barred. But when the Lord died, the veil was torn from top [by God] to bottom (Mt. 27:51), and thus the way into direct personal fellowship with God was opened (Heb. 9:8,24; 10:19). This understanding was so radical for Jewish minds. For the high priest could only nervously enter the most holy place briefly, once every year on the day of atonement. But now the believer in Christ can enter into full and permanent fellowship with God Himself. This was all achieved through the Lord's flesh being torn. The fine linen speaks of His righteousness (Rev. 19:8), the blue of His association with God in Heaven, the crimson of His blood, and the purple of His Kingship (Jn. 19:2). All this was worked into the veil, and the overall product of it was glory to God, represented by the image of cherubim superimposed upon all this. 

The veil represents Christ in His humanity (Heb. 10:20). His character was complexly woven and beautiful, with the white linen or righteousness (Rev. 19:8) running as a thread through His entire character. Weaving complex strands and patterns therefore speaks of how God worked to develop the character of Christ, and He likewise weaves in our lives too, if we are open to His working.


Exo 26:32 You shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold; their hooks shall be of gold, on four sockets of silver.
Exo 26:33 You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil: and the veil shall separate the holy place from the most holy for you-

The veil screened off the Most Holy Place, where the very presence of God was. When Christ died, this veil was torn down (Mt. 26:51), from top to bottom- indicating it was done by God and not men. Through His death, anyone who believes in Him can do continually what the High Priest could do only once per year- come right into the very presence of God Himself.

Exo 26:34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.
Exo 26:35 You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.
Exo 26:36 You shall make a screen for the door of the Tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer.
Exo 26:37 You shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold: their hooks shall be of gold; and you shall cast five sockets of brass for them.