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The chief implements of the Holy or Sanctuary were three in number—the Shew-bread Table, the Candlestick, and the Altar of Incense.
1. The Table was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, one cubit and a half high, two cubits long, and one broad. The top was encircled at the border with a golden wreath or crown. Four golden rings were fastened in the four corners of the feet, probably immediately under the border or enclosure, and two staves of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, were put into the rings, for the transport of the Table in the journeys of the Hebrews. Twelve unleavened cakes, in two equal rows, were placed upon this Table as a permanent cereal offering for the twelve tribes of Israel. On each row pure frankincense was burnt, as a symbol that the shew-bread was offered to God and sacred to Him. Every Sabbath they were taken from the Table and eaten by the priests, but at once replaced by new ones. The vessels belonging to the Table were all of gold—the dishes for the cakes, the bowls for the frankincense, the cans and cups for the wine used at the libations which were most probably connected with the burning of the incense.
2. Opposite the Table, and occupying the southern or south-western part of the Sanctuary, stood the Candlestick. It was made of pure gold, and consisted of seven arms; for it rested on a base from which rose a shaft that divided itself into three branches on each side. On each of the arms burnt a lamp filled with pure olive oil, six from evening till morning, but one from evening to evening. The arms themselves were ornamented with calyxes of almond flowers, pomegranates, and blossoms of the lily or some other flower. To the candelabrum belonged, as necessary utensils, golden snuffers and fireshovels.
3. Between the Shew-bread Table and the Candlestick,
and before the curtain that separated the Sanctuary from the Holy of Holies, stood the Altar of Incense. It was square, made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, ornamented round the top with a golden wreath, and furnished with horns, on which the High-priest put the blood of atonement. On this altar no sacrifice of any kind was offered, but the priest burnt every morning and every evening a peculiar frankincense most carefully prepared.
When the High-priest passed from the Sanctuary, through the costly curtain, into the sacred and mysterious Holy of Holies, he found there the Ark, or the Ark of the Covenant or of the Testimony. It consisted of three distinct parts.
1. The Ark itself, having the form of an oblong chest, was made of acacia wood, plated with fine gold from within and from without. Round it was
a border encircling it like a crown. It stood on four feet, each of which was provided with a ring, and through these rings were passed the two gilded staves of acacia wood, by which the Ark was carried. Into it were placed the two tablets of the Law, and nothing more; but before it an urn filled with manna, and the blooming staff of Aaron (see infra).
2. On the Ark was the Mercy-seat, made of pure gold, and thus marked as distinct from the Ark. It was one of the most important parts of the Tabernacle, and the place where the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the most solemn occasions of the year.
3. On the Mercy-seat, and forming one whole with it, were two golden figures of the Cherubim, with their wings expanded, and their faces turned to each other and looking down upon the Mercy-seat. All that we infer with respect to their shape is, that they were probably not very large, winged, and of the human form.
They were intended to serve as symbols for the Presence of God which filled the Holy of Holies; and the Highpriest, as he entered the sanctified spot with awe and reverence, glanced from the type of the one infinite heavenly Being to the Ark wherein lay the words of the Lord as He had revealed them to His prophet Moses.
The glory of God was alone to illumine the Holy of Holies ; neither the rays of the sun nor the light of lamps was allowed to penetrate into the mysterious dwellingplace of the Lord.
42. THE GARMENTS OF THE PRIESTS.
[Exod. XXVIII. XXIX.]
After God had described to Moses the holy edifice and all its parts, He gave him His directions concerning the priests who were to perform the sacred offices in that Sanctuary. Israel had been chosen as a holy people from among all other nations; now the Levites were chosen from among the other tribes as specially consecrated; they constituted more particularly the kingdom of priests.' But among the Levites the family of Aaron was singled out to do God's service; Aaron himself was appointed the first High-priest, the spiritual king, the man who interceded between God and His people.
Now, the very garments were to denote the sacredness and reveal the spiritual mission of the priests. They were symbolical, and therefore minutely prescribed.
The vestments of the common priests consisted of the tessellated tunic, the drawers, the girdle, and the turban.
1. The Tunic was a long close robe without folds, of white linen, with sleeves, covering the whole body down to the feet. It was woven in an entire piece, and formed one whole, with an aperture for the neck. It is described
as tessellated, because the forms of squares were interwoven in it. The white colour was a symbol of purity, the fine linen pointed to sanctity, the interwoven squares were understood as an emblem of completeness.
2. Over this tunic was tied the Girdle, made of fine linen with blue, red, and crimson, and embroidered with figures like the curtain of the Court and the Sanctuary. It was very long and broad, and was tied several times round the waist, while the end hung loosely down to the ankles; but whenever the priest was engaged in active ministrations, he threw the end over his left shoulder, in order not to be impeded in his work. Although the girdle formed an indispensable part of the oriental dress, it is more especially the symbol of readiness, of office, and of appointment to fixed duties; and it had this meaning in the priestly attire.
3. The Drawers are thus described by Josephus: “They are a girdle composed of fine twined linen; the feet are inserted into them in the manner of breeches; but above half of them is cut off, and they end at the thighs, and are there tied fast.'
4. The head of the common priest was covered by the Turban; it was made of thick folds of linen, doubled round many times and firmly sewn together; and it was fastened to the head by means of ribbons, to prevent its falling off. This turban, which was never to be removed, was to remind the priest that the head, the seat of reflection and wisdom, was especially consecrated, that he should hallow his thoughts, and direct all his ideas to purity and truth.
The High-priests shared these garments with the common priests ; but they had, besides, distinguishing vestments and ornaments which proclaimed their office to be one of higher importance and holiness.
1. The High-priest wore on his mitre a plate of gold,
sometimes called a crown, reaching probably only from one temple to the other, and fastened to the turban by a thin ribbon. On this glittering ornament the significant words · Holiness to the Lord' (nav nop) were inscribed. They declared that the wearer was entirely devoted to the service of God, and that his mission was to elevate and sanctify the chosen people. The plate was, like the diadem, the emblem of royalty; for the High-priest was the anointed chief of the kingdom of priests, the spiritual representative of the Israelites, the visible connecting link between God and His people.
2. But the most characteristic garment of the Highpriest was the Ephod, which he wore above the tunic. It was made of the finest texture, the work of the skilful weaver,' not only of blue and red, crimson and fine twined linen, but also of gold threads, which again symbolised the sovereignty of the High-priest as spiritual king; it was without sleeves, and consisted of two parts called shoulder-pieces,' one of which covered the back, the other the breast and the upper part of the body. Where they were united on the shoulders, two onyx-stones set in gold were fixed. On these onyx-stones “the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were to be engraved, six on each stone according to their age; and the High-priest was to wear these stones as “stones of memorial” for the children of Israel when he stood before God. The significance of this arrangement is self-evident. The Highpriest represented Israel before God; the stones were, therefore, for the people who saw them and their names engraved on them, a memorial that the High-priest officiated in their name; that he interceded in their favour; that he strove to expiate their sins and to reconcile them with their Creator, from whom they had swerved by their transgressions. The stones with the names on them were, therefore, for every individual an earnest admonition to