Reflections for 9-18: Rituals and Rules

1. There is a larger court of the Tabernacle that surrounds the entire structure.  Within it is an altar where people would perform sacrifices to God and a basin where Moses, Aaron and the other priests would wash themselves before entering the Tent of Meeting which is inside the larger Court of the Tabernacle. When God is present in the Tent of Meeting Moses cannot enter the Tent of Meeting.  Within the Tent of Meeting there is a Holy Place (which the priests must wash themselves before entering) with a table and a lampstand for a menorah.  Screened off from this part of the Tent is the Holy of Holies where the Ark resides.

There are three zones where different items are to be placed.  This parallels the three zones God divides the universe into in the first three days of Creation, and the next three days resemble the things which are placed in each section. The Ark is in the Holy of Holies which is where God resides just as God is “throned” on the seventh day.  Moreover, when the people do the work that God instructs Moses recognizes that the work is good and blesses it just as God acknowledges that creation is good in Genesis.

3. At the end of the first worship service God comes forth and with His fire consumed the offerings. This fulfills the purpose of the altar to act as a meeting place between God and the people in Exodus 29:43 and confirms that God’s presence is within the Tent of Meeting. In Lev 10:1-5 God’s presence also comes forth as a consuming fire, but this time the ritual is a failure because Abihu and Nadab do not conduct the ritual with approved fire. This emphasizes the importance of following particular patterns set by God.  It would probably be a priestly concern to demonstrate that the elements of the rituals are very significant and deviation from them is deviation from God’s desires.

7. God’s role as supreme over the universe is emphasized by the Sabbath which is why it is the last and first command by God and Moses respectively. It frames the rules about the construction of the Tabernacle and therefore shows its preeminence as well as linking it to the idea of the Tabernacle.  As has already been established the Tabernacle relates to the ordering of the universe in the 7 days of creation with God’s enthronement being on the 7th day and the final most sacred part of the Tabernacle –the Ark of the Covenant.  This unifies the two concepts and emphasizes God’s rule over all things and over the Israelites.


One thought on “Reflections for 9-18: Rituals and Rules

  1. I really like your explanation of how the Tabernacle is ordered and its relation to Creation. I know for me, understanding the significance of how the Tabernacle is structured and its significance as a parallel to the Creation story can be difficult or elusive, but you put it in very direct, easy to understand, but still deeply thoughtful words.


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