BIBLE STUDY SERIES #155, 156 and 157

6 November, 1994

THE MENORAH - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been tracing the Great Plan of The Almighty God for the restitution of His Creation into a more perfect accord with His ultimate purposes. The story is revealed as we follow the Scriptural account. Moses had acted as the human intermediary during this process, and after the miraculous emergence across the Red Sea into the Wilderness of Sinai, the people of Israel had, at Mount Sinai, been offered the glorious responsibility of becoming God's "peculiar people", that is to say His selected nation, which was to serve in the peculiar position of a national wife to Himself.

We have seen how the offer was made, and the Ten Commandments, the Law aspect of the contract of marriage specified and accepted. Then the purging of the sins of the people was, in symbolic form, subsequently accomplished at the foot of the mount through the substitutionary animal sacrifice in which half of the blood represented the lives of the people being given to God as it was poured upon the altar, and then the other half of the blood was sprinkled upon the people, in symbol representing that they thus received new life from The Almighty God. This service looked towards the supreme, true sacrifice for the effective removal of sin's penalty from them through the sacrifice made by Christ upon the Cross of Calvary.

Moses then receives the description of the form which worship is to take within the Nation of Israel. A tent of meeting, or "tabernacle" is to be constructed, within which various articles of extremely significant furniture are to appear. We have reviewed the form of The Ark of The Covenant within the Holy of Holies, together with the symbolism therein encapsulated, and also of the Table of Shewbread, on recent programmes. Today, I want to move ahead to the next verses in Exodus 25 which deal with the Menorah, lampstand or "Candlestick" (AV), which was to stand outside the veil that hangs before Holy of Holies. It was to shed its light within the Holy Place, and we will read its description in today's passage, Exodus 25:31-40. I shall, as is my custom, add some explanatory comments.

31. And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33. Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all of it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
37. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
38. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
39. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
40. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

The New Bible Commentary (Revised) has only a short note on this article which simply states "The lampstand... was of pure gold, and consisted of three branches ending in flower-shaped lampholders on each side of the main stem which also supported a lampholder. Again the significance of this is not made plain, but it is obviously connected with light-bearing and witness through worship."

The New Bible Commentary gives this more detailed note: "For the whole of this intricate description see RV. The representation of it on the Arch of Titus shows that it was made with a central stem (called 'the candlestick' in verse 34) with three branches at each side of it all curving up to the same height, thus forming seven lamps in one line (32). The lamps themselves were in the form of an open lily holding a bowl. Each stem was embellished with ornaments consisting of an almond blossom, a knob (knop, like the chapiter of a column) and a lily flower, the side stems having three of these ornaments and the centre one four (33-35). The ornaments were not affixed externally but of one piece with the whole (36). The tongs were to trim the wick, and the snuffdishes to hold the pieces trimmed off (38)."

Of "Their pattern", in verse 40, it continues "see verse 9. If Moses had a vision of these objects and of the tabernacle, he would know just how these measurements were to be fitted together."

Keil and Delitzsch have a more detailed description. Their commentary adds some further remarks. It says that "From the sides of the candlestick, i.e. of the upright stem in the middle, there were to be six branches, three on either side.- Vers.33-34. On each of these branches (the repetition of the same words expresses the distributive sense) there were to be 'three cups in the form of an almond flower, (with) knob and flower,' and on the shaft of the candlestick, or central stem, 'four cups in the form of almond-flowers, its knobs and its flowers.'" Explaining that the branches emerged out of, or immediately above the four knobs on the main stem, they continue: "On this stem a calix and a knob and blossom were introduced four separate times, and in such a manner that there was a knob wherever the side pipes branched off from the main stem, evidently immediately below the branches; and the fourth knob, we may suppose, was higher up between the top branches and the end of the stem. As there were thus four calices with a knob and blossom in the main stem, so again there were three in each of the branches, which were no doubt placed at equal distances from one another. With regard to the relative position of the calix, the knob, and the blossom, we may suppose that the spherical knob was underneath the calix, and that the blossom sprang from the upper edge of the latter, as if bursting out of it." They proceed to express the view that the Hebrew indicates that the lamps were "to give light upon the opposite side of its front." As the candlestick was placed on the south side of the Holy place, this indicates that its branches were to be so oriented that the lamps were aligned from east to west, making the casting of its light across to the table of shewbread on the north side more effective, rather than being arrayed to face the person entering the Holy Place.

They continue: "The lamps were the receptacles for the wick and oil, which were placed on the top of the arms, and could be taken down to be cleaned. The hole from which the wick projected was not made in the middle, but at the edge, so that the light was thrown upon one side.- Ver.38. The other things belonging to the candlestick were... tongs (Isa. vi.6), i.e. snuffers, and... snuff-dishes, i.e. dishes to receive the snuff when taken from the wicks; elsewhere the word signifies an ash-pan, or vessel used for taking away the coal from the fire."

Keil and Delitzsch comment on the amount of gold assigned for the candlestick, being a "talent of pure gold" which must have been of considerable value at any time in history. They take the amount to equal "822,000 Parisian grains." They indicate that nowhere in the Bible are we given the dimensions of this object, but its size is indicated by the amount of gold used in its creation.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica, item "Menorah", explains that, while the measurement does not appear in the Bible, "the Talmud stated that its height was eighteen handbreadths, which are three short cubits."

The "talent" in use may be estimated if we consult the New Bible Dictionary, item "Weights and Measures." It indicates, from a comparison of the 30 talents of gold which Hezekiah paid as tribute in II Kings 18:14 with the corresponding amount recorded by Sennacherib, that a similar talent weight was in use in Assyria, and it was probably the 'light' talent, which generally ranged about 29.76 to 30.27 Kg., so in general terms, it was about 30 Kg.. But other Babylonian weights show that a 'heavy' or double standard talent was also in use. Examples range from 58.68 to 59.82 Kg., or about 60 Kg. A talent is said to contain 3000 shekels or 6000 half-shekels, as seen in Exodus 38:25-27 where 603,550 men paid a 'bekah', or half-shekel each, which totalled 100 talents and 1,775 shekels. Thus, depending on the talent used, the lampstand might weigh from 30 Kg. (66 lbs.) to 60 Kg. (130 lbs.).

When we seek an illustration of the Menorah, we usually bring to mind the carved representation of it in the Triumphal Arch of Titus, but the Encyclopaedia Judaica indicates a problem in accepting the base of this candlestick as authentic because, by various indictions of evidence, while ancient menorah stood upon three legs, frequently shaped as lions' paws, that shown in the Arch of Titus is suported by a double octagon base with panels. Various authorities have discussed the possibly doubtful authenticity of this arrangement.

As our time has gone, and as I intend to speak further about this beautiful source of tabernacle illumination on the next programme, I shall close with a simple reminder that Revelation 1 contains a most beautiful sequel, indicating that Jesus Christ is among the seven lamps of the Menorah. Surely the vision there recorded indicates the inner meaning of the Menorah of which we speak. We shall have more to say of this on our next programme.

13 November, 1994

THE MENORAH - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In the present series of Bible Studies, we have been tracing the Great Plan of The Almighty God for the restoration of His Creation to a more perfect accord with His ultimate purposes. The story, as we have been tracing it over the past several years, began with God's call to Abram, an event which formed a significant departure from the previous sequence of events recorded in holy writ.

Thus far, we have been examining the recorded events essentially from the Call of Abram, and onward through the events of his life, those of his son Isaac, and of his grandson Jacob, (who was re-named "Israel", a word variously explained in meanings such as "prince with God", "ruling with God", or "ruled by God").

We saw how the descendants of Israel went down into Egypt, to expand in numbers to a point which Pharaoh considered a threat to his authority and in consequence to suffer bondage for a period which God had pre-ordained, and of which Abraham had been previously informed. At the time appointed, Israel was swept out of Egypt having great wealth, not by force of arms, but by the providence of The Almighty God Himself, in accordance with His promises.

We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that there is great significance for people of our own time to be found in this study, if we realise two things. First, we believe that, in the main, the present-day Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples are the actual, literal descendants of those ancient tribes of Israel and that the Prophetic Word of The Almighty is to be trusted as being certain of fulfilment. It has been dismissed in the past because church leaders persisted in trying to apply inappropriate prophecies to the wrong groups of people, with a resulting loss of confidence in the whole process of Biblical interpretation.

Second, we believe that coming events form one pattern with the Biblical events which occurred in ancient times, and that today's events are even now rushing to a conclusion quite distinct from that which the vast majority of people now realise or are willing to believe, for, to those with the correct key to the designation of the present-day descendants of ancient peoples, events are showing a remarkable coincidence with prophecy.

Recently, our studies have been progressing through the Book of Exodus, and we had reached chapter 25, in which furnishings of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness are being described, and some symbolic significance attached to each descriptive item. On our last programme, we made a review of the Menorah, that beautiful fixture of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness which was placed as a source of constant illumination near the south wall of the tent of meeting.

We had read of the physical dimensions and noted something of the curious design of this seven-lamped, branching candlestick, or lampstand. Perhaps it would be easiest if I once again reviewed the verses, Exodus 25:31-40, which give us this information before I proceed to some comments regarding its symbolic purpose.

31. And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33. Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all of it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
37. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
38. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
39. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
40. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

We ought to note the significance of those "bowls like almonds", those "knops" or knobs, and those "flowers." It seems that these hold slightly different meanings depending upon what the whole lampstand actually signifies. Where something in the Tabernacle furniture is made of "shittim" (acacia) wood covered with gold, we see therein the combined characteristics of Jesus in His humanity and His divinity. However the Menorah was of "pure gold", beated out of one solid ingot of a whole talent in weight. Thus, we may tread carefully if we impute a human aspect to this remarkable stand. Perhaps it will help us to see the reality therein if we read another scripture: some verses found in The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John. Revelation 1:10-16 states:

10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Surely the vision here recorded indicates the inner meaning of the Menorah of which we speak. The central theme of the lampstand, at any rate would seem to represent Christ Himself, and the seven lamps may well be the seven spirits of God for, in Revelation 3:1, we read of Christ: "These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars." Isaiah named those seven spirits in Isaiah 11:1-2 as we read: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." These are all aspects of the One Holy Spirit as the Menorah was of one piece of gold.

The seven spirits listed by Isaiah are upon the Branch, and what better Old Testament Tabernacle furnishing might there be to symbolise the then-future advent of Christ than the association of a branching lampstand made of beaten gold, and bearing floral emblems of life? Christ was beaten in Pilate's Hall, Crucified and raised again to life on the third day.

The Holy Spirit is symbolised in the oil, which was also beaten from olives. The light thus provided pre-figured Christ in the description of John 1:4-5, and 9, and Jesus' own claim recorded in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Surely it is in this context that we might tread softly to speak of the seven lamps as Christ did in Revelation 1:20: "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches."

Keil and Delitzsch note that by the power of the Spirit of God, "Israel, in covenant with the Lord, was to let its light shine, the light of its knowledge of God and spiritual illumination, before all nations of the earth. In its seven arms the stamp of the covenant relationship was impressed upon the candlestick; and the almond-blossom with which it was ornamented represented the seasonable offering of the flowers and fruits of the Spirit, the almond-tree deriving its name... from the fact that it is the earliest of all the trees in both its blossom and its fruit." A. Widdison, in his Outline of Lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness adds that almond is thus a symbol of resurrection.

Pastor A. Gaglardi, in Volume I of "The Path Of The Just" notes the curious fact that if we add together the number of bowls, knops and flowers on the main stem and those on the branches on one side, they number 39, equating to the number of books in the Old Testament, and the remaining ones on the branches on the other side number 27, the number of the books in the New Testament. Such symbolism is surely not accidental.

Mentioning the reference to a candlestick seen by the Prophet Zechariah (chapter 4) which is fed oil from two olive trees, Keil and Delitzsch state that these are "the representatives of the kingdom and priesthood, the divinely appointed organs through which the Spirit of God was communicated to the covenant nation." Mark 4:21 quotes Christ's question: "Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?" A. Widdison notes that the hiding of our light under a bushel and bed reminds us of Lot and David. He also notes that "Belshazzar read his doom by the light from the Golden Lampstand, removed by his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, from the House of God in Jerusalem. Prostituted to an improper use by the impious king it but revealed his doom."

The menorah must have been most ornate and shed a beautiful reflected glitter of light from its many floral contours as it stood against the darkness of the Tabernacle interior. Thus, symbolically, do those within the Holy Place find the beauty of Christ which is not seen by the world at large beyond the sanctuary. May we, this week, find the beauty of Christ illuminating our own lives as we seek Him. We shall continue our studies on other aspects of The Tabernacle on our next programme.

20 November, 1994

TABERNACLE CURTAINS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

This series of Bible Studies is designed to take us towards an understanding of God's Great Plan. We have watched as God called Abram, and of that Patriarch The Almighty brought forth a line of chosen descent, and from that line of descent He formed the Nation of Israel as an instrument for His High Purpose. It was to be used in developing the earthly extension of the Kingdom of God.

In Egypt, the Twelve Tribes which made up the nation grew to a point at which Pharaoh was disturbed, and bondage was imposed. By God's power and through the service of Moses, the Exodus took them into the Wilderness of Sinai where, at Mount Sinai, the nation became, in a sense, the wife of God by the Giving of The Law, an exchange of vows and a cleansing act of sacrifice. Indeed, elsewhere in Scripture, we know that the nation was said by God to be His wife (Jeremiah 3:8 and 14, Hosea 2:7-8).

Now we find Moses receiving the instructions regarding the future focus of meeting between The Almighty God and the representatives of the nation. It was to be the portable centre of worship called the Tabernacle and along with this instruction there was also given the description and design of the exquisite symbolic furniture which was to be positioned within it. That furniture was, by its symbolic design, to present and memorialise certain eternal truths regarding God's Great Plan of Redemption and Salvation.

On our last few programmes we have examined in particular the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat covering, the Table of Shewbread, and the Menorah Lampstand, in regard to their physical construction and also in regard to their symbolic description of Jesus Christ and His relationship with His people.

In doing this, we had read to the end of Exodus 25, and now, with today's study, taken from a passage starting with Exodus 26:1, we begin giving our attention to the Tabernacle curtains and attachments. As is my usual custom, I shall be inserting the occasional comments as we read this Scripture.

1. Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.

I want to devote our next programme to a more detailed commentary concerning the choice of those colours and their importance as a means of tracking the descendants of Israel. For today, I wish to confine my remarks to the more general significance of the dimensions and that which was to be portrayed thereon, after we read a few more verses which describe these.

2. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure.
3. The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.
4. And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.
5. Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another.
6. And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.

The word "taches", used by the AV translators is given the meanings "hoops", or "loops" in Young's Concordance. I shall have further to add regarding this word in a few moments. However, we ought, at once, to take careful note of one particular thing in this description. It is that we will find throughout the whole Tabernacle that its measurements have reference to the number five or its multiples, and that these peculiar measurements appear so frequently that there must be an intentional significance attached thereto. As Dr. Bullinger has shown in his book, "Number in Scripture", that number, five, is the number which symbolises God's Grace.

The purple and the gold attachments which closed the curtains to one another indicated the presence of royalty therein.

7. And thou shalt make curtains of goats' hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make.
8. The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure.
9. And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle.
10. And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second.
11. And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one.
12. And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle.
13. And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.

The New Bible Dictionary, under the entry "Taches", states "(Heb. qerasim). Hooks or clasps (so the RV; LXX krikoi is inexact), used in the tabernacle (Ex. xxvi. 6, 11, 33, etc.). Fifty gold taches coupled the linen curtains, and fifty copper ones the goats'-hair curtains."

14. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers' skins.

The New Bible Dictionary contains a useful four-page note under the entry "Tabernacle", and in it we find that "The term tabernacle, in its stricter sense, refers to ten linen curtains with figures of cherubim woven into the blue, purple, and scarlet tapestry work... They each measured 28 cubits by 4, and were sewn along their length into two sets of five. Along one side of each set fifty loops of blue stuff were sewn and fifty gold clasps (AV 'taches'...) passing through these loops joined the two sets together... The tabernacle was covered by eleven goats' hair curtains, called in strict terminology the tent... These curtains each measured 30 cubits by 4. They were sewn together along their length into two sets, one of five and the other of six, and then coupled together in the same way as the tabernacle; only here the clasps were copper and the loops presumably of goats' hair. Over the tent went two weatherproof coverings, one of rams' skins dyed red, the other of the skin of an animal which was probably the dugong (AV 'badger', RV 'seal'... )."

The New Bible Commentary increases our understanding with this note: "The tabernacle was to be a portable structure 45 ft. long, 15 ft. wide and 25 ft. high..." (15 ft. would be correct; "25" is doubtless a typographical error), "...formed by a framework of upright boards along three of its sides and pillars at the open front, roofed over with fabric and skin coverings...

The first covering (1-6) was formed of two sets of fine linen curtains, each curtain being twenty-eight cubits long by four broad (a cubit is one and a half feet). Each set of five were permanently joined together forming two large curtains, which could be joined, when in position, by fifty loops along the edge of each and held together by gold clasps (6), taken apart when travelling. The curtains were probably stretched across the top of the framework of the tabernacle, thus making a flat roof. The twenty-eight cubits would then cover the ten across the width of the structure and hang over the boards for nine cubits each side, leaving one cubit of the boards bare near the ground. The ten curtains of four cubits' width would cover the length of the structure, thirty cubits, and the boards of the west end, ten cubits. They were made of fine linen woven with twisted threads in three colours, and interwoven by skilful craftsmen with a pattern of cherubim (1)."

The portrayal of cherubims upon the curtains, according to the comments of Keil and Delitzsch, was to signify that "the dwelling became a symbolical representation of the kingdom of glory, in which the heavenly spirits surround the throne of God, the heavenly Jerusalem with its myriads of angels, the city of the living God, to which the people of God will come when their heavenly calling is fulfilled." They explain that the tapestry itself was worked in ten sections of cloth composed of byssus yarn, hyacinth, purple, and scarlet. The colours were clear white, dark blue, and dark and fiery red. The Hebrew term used for the working of this material indicates that either artistic figures or gold threads... are worked into the cloth.

The Companion Bible conveys a note in Appendix 10 regarding the number five in Scripture. It says: "Denotes Divine grace. It is 4 + 1. It is God adding His gifts and blessing to the works of His hands. The Heb. Ha'aretz (the earth), by "Gematria" (i.e. the addition of the numerical value of the letters together) is a multiple of four, while Hashamayim (the heavens) is a multiple of five. The Gematria of... (charis), the Greek for Grace, is also a multiple of five. It is the leading factor in the Tabernacle measurements."

Dr. Bullinger's book "Number In Scripture" contains more extensive information on the subject for those interested in pursuing the matter further.

As our time has run out for today, may I simply leave this thought with you? God designed every aspect of the glorious Tabernacle, a shadow of better things to come, in order to teach His people in prophetic symbolism of the glorious Redemption and Salvation to be wrought by Jesus Christ. He, so to speak, "tabernacles among us" also, as we follow His leading and guidance in our own lives, moving on our own path towards the Promised Land of The Kingdom of God.

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