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The Tabernacle Erected and Its Equipment Installed


The L ord spoke to Moses: 2On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. 3You shall put in it the ark of the covenant, and you shall screen the ark with the curtain. 4You shall bring in the table, and arrange its setting; and you shall bring in the lampstand, and set up its lamps. 5You shall put the golden altar for incense before the ark of the covenant, and set up the screen for the entrance of the tabernacle. 6You shall set the altar of burnt offering before the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, 7and place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 8You shall set up the court all around, and hang up the screen for the gate of the court. 9Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture, so that it shall become holy. 10You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar shall be most holy. 11You shall also anoint the basin with its stand, and consecrate it. 12Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, 13and put on Aaron the sacred vestments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, so that he may serve me as priest. 14You shall bring his sons also and put tunics on them, 15and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests: and their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout all generations to come.

16 Moses did everything just as the L ord had commanded him. 17In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was set up. 18Moses set up the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars; 19and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it; as the L ord had commanded Moses. 20He took the covenant and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above the ark; 21and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the curtain for screening, and screened the ark of the covenant; as the L ord had commanded Moses. 22He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the curtain, 23and set the bread in order on it before the L ord; as the L ord had commanded Moses. 24He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle, 25and set up the lamps before the L ord; as the L ord had commanded Moses. 26He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the curtain, 27and offered fragrant incense on it; as the L ord had commanded Moses. 28He also put in place the screen for the entrance of the tabernacle. 29He set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering as the L ord had commanded Moses. 30He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, 31with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. 32When they went into the tent of meeting, and when they approached the altar, they washed; as the L ord had commanded Moses. 33He set up the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and put up the screen at the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.

The Cloud and the Glory

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the L ord filled the tabernacle. 35Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled upon it, and the glory of the L ord filled the tabernacle. 36Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey; 37but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the L ord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.

12. And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons I have already expounded all that might seem to be profitable with respect to the garments and the mode of anointing; only let; my readers remember that the priest, 398398     “Aaron, ayant este cree auparavant Sacrificateur.” — Fr. who had been before appointed, is now at length inaugurated, in order that he may begin the discharge of his office. At the same time, let them also bear in mind that this oil was consecrated by God. Hence it appears how foolishly the Popish bishops, as it were, ape Moses, when, in imitation of him, they sprinkle their priests and altars and other rubbish with stinking oil, since it is abundantly clear that this ceremony of anointing, belonging as it did to the ancient shadows of the Law, ceased at the coming of Christ. What Augustine 399399     Quaest. in Leviticus 84. Edit. Bened. tom. 3, p. 524. reminds us of is also worthy of observation, that Moses, who is commissioned to anoint the others, was never consecrated himself by any visible symbol, in order that we may understand that outward signs are not to be estimated by the dignity of the minister, but only by the ordinance of God; and again, that invisible grace has profited some without visible sacraments, whilst visible sanctification may be imparted, but cannot profit, without invisible.

17. And it came to pass in the first month In all the arrangements, which are here described, it must be especially noted, that Moses obeyed God in such a manner as not to vary in the most trifling point from the form prescribed to him. He therefore so frequently enforces the fact, that he did as God had commanded him; and not without reason, for there is nothing to which men are more prone than to mix up their inventions with God’s commands, as if they would be wiser than He is. In order then that the people might know that there was nothing of human invention in all the legal service, Moses so carefully insists on this point, and so often testifes to his obedience. But if so great the Prophet dared to attempt nothing of himself in trifling matters, how great is the audacity and arrogance of those men who arbitrarily invent innumerable figments, whereby God may be worshipped! Let us, however, learn from this passage to embrace with reverence whatever has proceeded from God, whilst we reject whatever men advance of themselves.

34. Then a cloud covered the tent The holiness of the tabernacle was proved by this signal or pledge, for the people assuredly knew that it had not been set up in vain, but that the promise given before was actually fulfilled, and that it was chosen to be the dwelling-place of God, who would be the Leader and Keeper of His people. For it was not a natural thing that the cloud should settle over the sanctuary in which the Ark of the Covenant was deposited; and much less so that by day a cloud should be seen and a fire by night, especially when this did not occur once only, but when they succeeded each other in perpetual alternation. It is fitly said, that when the tabernacle was covered by the cloud, it was at, the same time filled with the glory of God; for this was a magnificent distinction, that an earthly edifice should be rendered illustrious by a more than heavenly ornament, as if God’s majesty were visibly presented to them.

Whereas before Moses had been concealed and separated from the people by the cloud, its density is now said to have prevented even him from entering; thus, then, ought their reverence and admiration of the place to have been increased, when the greatness of its glory was a hinderance to their holy Prophet. It is probable that by his example not only the rest of the multitude, but all the Levites also, were admonished that they should not endeavor to penetrate further than they were allowed. For, after the possession of the priesthood was transmitted to his brother, he, as well as his descendants, was excluded from that sacred dignity.

38. For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle. Moses more distinctly explains what he had said generally respecting the cloud, viz., that by night a fiery column appeared, because the cloud would not have been visible amidst the darkness. A second explanation is also added, that this did not happen once or twice only, but “in all their journeys;” so that they were never without a sight of the cloud, which might be a witness of God’s presence, whether, being settled on the tabernacle, it commanded them to rest, or, by its ascension, gave them the sign for removing the camp. Now, the equability of this proceeding, in all the variety of times and marches, did not a little conduce to certainty; for, if the cloud had daily accomplished the same course, this very regularity would have obscured the power’ of God; but when for a whole year it did not move, and then frequently proceeded to a new place, and now by its. guidance pointed out a longer journey, now a shorter one, by this very diversity the paternal care of God, who was never unmindful of His people, more conspicuously manifested itself.

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