Contents Calendar Find Reference
Navigating the Bible
Exodus Chapter 25
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

The Offering Described
25:1 God spoke to Moses, saying:
25:2 Speak to the Israelites and have them bring Me an offering. Take My offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give.
25:3 The offering that you take from them shall consist of the following: Gold, silver, copper,
25:4 sky-blue [wool], dark red [wool], [wool dyed with] crimson worm, linen, goats' wool,
25:5 reddened rams' skins, blue-processed skins, acacia wood,
25:6 oil for the lamp, spices for the anointing oil, and the sweet-smelling incense,
25:7 and sardonyxes and other precious stones for the ephod and breastplate.
25:8 They shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.
25:9 You must make the tabernacle and all its furnishings following the plan that I am showing you.

The Ark
25:10 Make an ark of acacia wood, 2 and a half cubits long, 1 and a half cubits wide, and 1 and a half cubits high.
25:11 Cover it with a layer of pure gold on the inside and outside, and make a gold rim all around its top.
25:12 Cast four gold rings for [the ark], and place them on its four corners, two rings on one side, and two on the other side.
25:13 Make two carrying poles of acacia wood and cover them with a layer of gold.
25:14 Place the poles in the rings on the sides of the ark, so that the ark can be carried with them.
25:15 The poles must remain in the ark's rings and not be removed.
25:16 It is in this ark that you will place the testimony that I will give you.
25:17 Make a golden cover for the ark, 2 and a half cubits long and 1 and half cubits wide.
25:18 Make two golden cherubs, hammering them out from the two ends of the cover.
25:19 One cherub shall be on the end, and one on the other. Make the cherubs from [the same piece of gold] as the cover itself, on its two ends.
25:20 The cherubs shall spread their wings upward so that their wings shield the cover. The cherubs shall face one another, but their faces shall [also be inclined downward] toward the cover.
25:21 Place the cover on top of the ark [after] you place into the ark the testimony that I will give you.
25:22 I will commune with you there, speaking to you from above the ark-cover, from between the two cherubs that are on the Ark of Testimony. [In this manner] I will give you instructions for the Israelites.

The Table
25:23 Make a table of acacia wood, 2 cubits long, one cubit wide, and 1 and a half cubits high.
25:24 Cover it with a layer of pure gold, and make a gold rim all around it.
25:25 Make a frame a handbreadth wide all around the table, and on the frame all around, the golden rim shall be placed.
25:26 Make four gold rings for [the table], and place the rings on the four corners of its four legs.
25:27 The rings shall be adjacent to the frame, [and] they shall be receptacles for the poles with which the table is carried.
25:28 The poles shall be made of acacia wood and covered with a layer of gold. They will be used to carry the table.
25:29 For [the table] make bread forms,incense bowls, and side frames, as well as the half tubes that will serve as dividers [between the loaves of bread]. All these shall be made of pure gold.
25:30 It is on this table that showbread shall be placed before Me at all times.

The Menorah Lamp
25:31 Make a menorah out of pure gold. The menorah shall be formed by hammering it. Its base, stem, and [decorative] cups, spheres and flowers must be hammered out of a [single piece of gold].
25:32 Six branches shall extend from its sides, three branches on one side of the menorah, and three branches on the other side.
25:33 There shall be three embossed cups, as well as a sphere and a flower on each and every one of the branches. All six branches extending from the menorah's [stem] must be the same in this respect.
25:34 The [shaft of the] menorah shall havefour embossed cups along with its spheres and flowers.
25:35 A sphere shall serve as a base for each pair of branches extending from [the shaft]. This shall be true for all six branches extending from the [stem of] the menorah.
25:36 The spheres and branches shall be an integral part of [the menorah]. They shall all be hammered out of a single piece of pure gold.
25:37 Make seven lamps on [the menorah]. Its lamps shall be lit so that they shine [primarily] toward its center.
25:38 [The menorah's] wick tongs and ash scoops shall [also] be made out of pure gold.
25:39 [The menorah], including all its parts, shall be made of a talent of pure gold.
25:40 Carefully observe the pattern that you will be shown on the mountain and make [the menorah] in that manner.


God spoke to Moses...
  Some say that this was said to Moses during the 40 days on the mountain (Tanna DeBei Eliahu Rabbah 17; Lekach Tov on Exodus 35:1; Ibn Ezra; Baaley Tosafoth; Zohar 2:194a, 224a). According to others, it was said after the Golden Calf, when Moses went up for the second set of tablets (Exodus 34:29; Seder Olam Rabbah 6 from Exodus 34:32; Tanchuma 8; Rashi on Exodus 31:18, 33:11). See notes on Exodus 25:16, 26:30.

  Terumah in Hebrew, literally, something that is uplifted or elevated (to a higher status).

  Or, 'bronze.' The Septuagint thus translates the word as xalkos which can denote copper or bronze, and the MeAm Lo'ez, also, translates it as alambre which is Spanish for copper or bronze. There is some indication that the Hebrew word nechosheth used here indicates pure unalloyed copper (Deuteronomy 8:9; Radak on 1 Kings 7:45). Others, however, state that the Temple vessels were made of brass, which has the same color as gold (Ezra 8:27, Ibn Ezra ad loc.; Radak, s.v. Tzahav; Rambam on Middoth 2:3), and the Talmud clearly states that the vessels made by Moses consisted of this material (Arkhin 10b). Josephus writes that the brass altar looked like gold (Antiquities 3:6:8, see Exodus 27:2). Perhaps it was an alloy of copper and silver or gold.

sky blue
  (Saadia; Yad, Tzitzith 2:1; Josephus 3:6:4). Tekheleth in Hebrew. According to others, it was greenish blue or aquamarine (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; cf. Yerushalmi, Berakhoth 1:5), deep blue, the color of the evening sky (Menachem, quoted in Rashi on Numbers 15:38), azure or ultramarine (Radak, Sherashim), or hyacinth blue (Septuagint; cf. Arukh s.v. Teynun). The Talmud states that it resembled indigo (Menachoth 42b).

This blue dye was taken from an animal known as the chilazon (Tosefta, Menachoth 9:6). It is a boneless invertebrate (Yerushalmi, Shabbath 1:3), having a shell that grows with it (Devarim Rabbah 7:11). It is thus identified with a snail of the purpura family (Ravya on Berakhoth 3b; Mossef HeArukh, s.v. Purpura). The Septuagint also occasionally translates tekheleth as oloporphoros, which indicates that it was made from the pure dye of the purpura (see note, this verse, 'dark red.'

There were some who identified the chilazon with the common cuttlefish, Sephia officinalis (Eyn Tekheleth, p. 29), but most evidence contradicts this.

It is known that the ancient Tyrians were skilled in making this sky-blue dye (2 Chronicles 2:6; cf. Ezekiel 27:16), and that the snails from which it was made were found on the coast of northern Israel and Phoenecia (Targum Yonathan on Deuteronomy 33:19; Shabbath 26a; Strabo 16:757). This indicates that it was the famed Tyrian blue. Around the ancient Tyrian dyeworks, shells of Murex trunculus and Murex brandaris are found. These dyes were also made in Greece and Italy, (Ezekiel 27:7, Targum ad loc.; cf. Iliad 4:141; Aristotle, History of Animals 5:15), and remains of these ancient dyeworks have been found in Athens and Pompeii. The shells found there were the Purpura haemastoma and Murex brandaris (cf. Pliny 9:61).

Some have identified the chilazon with Janthina pallia or Janthina bicolor, deep water snails which produce a light violet-blue (hyacinth) dye (Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac HaLevi Herzog; The Dying of Purple in Ancient Israel, Unpublished, 1919). In ancient times, animals such as these were renowned for their dyes (Pliny 9:60,61).

The dye is removed from a cyst near the head of the snail, preferably while the animal is still alive (Shabbath 75a; Aristotle, History of Animals 5:15). It is boiled with alum as a clarifyer (Menachoth 42b, Rashi ad loc.; cf. Rashi, Avodah Zarah 33b) to produce the dye. The wool is then grounded with alkanat root or aloe wood in order for it to take the dye well (Yad, Tzitzith 2:2; Pliny 9:63).

Only a few drops of dye could be obtained from each snail (Pliny 9:61), and according to one modern researcher, over 8000 snails would be needed to make a single cubic centimeter of the dye. This explains its high cost and its restriction to royalty. See note on Numbers 15:38.

  (Yevamoth 4b; Rashi). Nothing other than wool or linen could be used for the priestly vestments (Kelayim 9:1). Some say that the verse here is speaking of dyed silk (Abarbanel; cf. Ibn Ezra), but this goes against Talmudic tradition (Bachya; Sedey Chemed, Chanukah 14, 8:52).

dark red
  (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; Pesikta Rabathai 20:3, 86a). Argaman in Hebrew. Others state that it is similar to lake, a purplish red dye extracted from lac (Radak, Sherashim; Rambam on Kelayim 9:1; cf.Yad, Kley HaMikdash 8:13). Although the Septuagint translates argaman as porphura or porphoreus, which means purple, in ancient times, 'purple' denoted a deep crimson, most notably the dye obtained from the purpura snail. Ancient sources indicate that it was close to the color of fresh blood (Iliad 4:141).

Talmudic sources state that argaman was obtained from a living creature (Yerushalmi, Kelayim 9:1), and other sources indicate that it was an aquatic creature (I Maccabees 4:23; Abarbanel on Exodus 25:10). Like tekheleth it was obtained from Tyre (2 Chronicles 2:6, cf. Ezekiel 27:16) as well as Greece or Italy (Ezekiel 27:7, Targum ad loc.).

This dye was therefore most probably derived from a species of the murex or purpura snail. The Septuagint translation, porphura, also denotes the purpura snail. Ancient sources indicate that snails caught in the north yielded a blue dye, while those from the south yielded a reddish dye (Aristotle, History of Animals 5:15). Argaman was most probably obtained from the 'red purpura,' Purpura haemastoma, known to the ancients as the buccinum (Pliny 9:61; see Reshith Limudim 1:6).

In ancient times, material dyed with this color was extremely valuable (cf. Shabbath 90a; Kelim 27:12), and it was weighed as carefully as gold (Kelim 29:4).

The Hebrew word argaman is obscure, but it is thought to be related to ragman, Sanskrit for red. Others say that it is related to the root arag, meaning 'to weave' (BeMidbar Rabbah 4:17, 12:4). Some therefore say that it consisted of two types of thread or three colors woven together (Raavad, Kley HaMikdash 8:13). Some say that it is an irridescent dye, having greenish overtones (Zohar 2:139a; Tikkuney Zohar 70, 127b, top, 124a, top; Maaseh Choshev 3:2).

crimson worm
  (Saadia; Radak, Sherashim; Ramban on Parah 3:10; Septuagint). Tolaath shani in Hebrew. Some sources indicate that it was close to orange (Pesikta Rabathai 20:3, Radal ad loc. 36) or pink (Zohar 2:139a as quoted in Maaseh Choshev 3:2).

The dye is produced by a mountain worm (Tosefta, Menachoth 9:16) that looks like a red pea (Rashi on Isaiah 1:18; Yad, Parah Adumah 3:2). This is the Kermes biblicus, known as kermez in Arabic (cf. Saadia; Ralbag translates it as grana, Spanish for conchineal), the conchineal insect, or shield louse, that lives on oak trees in the Holy Land (cf. Pliny 21:22). There are two species, Kermes nahalali and Kermes greeni. In the early spring, when the females are filled with red eggs and become pea-shaped, the red dye can be squeezed out of them (MeAm Lo'ez). See Leviticus 14:4-6, Numbers 19:6.

  Shesh in Hebrew, literally, 'six,' indicating a six ply linen thread (Yoma 71b). For this purpose, Egyptian linen, which was particularly silk-like, was used (Saadia; Ibn Ezra).

goats' wool
  Like angora (Saadia; Rashi; Abarbanel) or mohair (MeAm Lo'ez, tiptik in Turkish). Or, 'goats' hair' (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra).

  Dyed red (Saadia; Rashi). Or, according to others, reddened by some process while the animal is still alive (cf. Tosefta, Shabbath 91:13; Yerushalmi, Shabbath 7:2).

blue processed skins
  (Rabbi Yehudah, Yerushalmi, Shabbath 2:3; Arukh s.v. Teynun; Koheleth Rabbah 1:9; Josephus 3:6:1, 3:6:4; Septuagint; Aquilla). Tachash in Hebrew. Others have 'black leather' (Saadia; Ibn Janach), that is, leather worked in such a manner as to come out dark and waterproof (Avraham ben HaRambam). In ancient Egyptian, tachash also denotes a kind of specially worked leather. See Ezekiel 16:10.

Other sources identify tachash as a species of animal. Some say that it is the ermine (Rabbi Nechemia, Yerushalmi, loc. cit.; Arukh, s.v. glaksinon. The word galy axeinon denotes the ermine, a member of the weasel family imported by the Axenoi (see Jastrow). Others state that it is a member of the badger family (Rashi on Ezekiel 16:10).

Others say that it is a colorful one-horned animal known as a keresh (Yerushalmi, loc. cit., Shabbath 28b; Tanchuma 6; Rashi; cf. Chullin 59b). Some say that this is a species of wild ram (Ralbag), possibly an antelope, okape or giraffe. Some see the one-horned creature as the narwhal (Mondon monoceros) which has its left tooth developed into a single long horn-like appendage. This animal, which can grow to be over 16 feet long, is occasionally found on the southern Sinai shores.

In Arabic, tukhush denotes the sea cow or dugong (Dugong hempirchi) an aquatic mammal which is found on the shores of the Sinai. Some thus say that the tachash is a type of seal, since its skins were used for the tabernacle's roof, and sealskins were often used for this purpose (cf. Pliny 2:56).

  (Saadia, shant in Arabic). Shittim in Hebrew, shittah in the singular (Isaiah 41:19). The shittah is probably Acacia albida, a tall tree with a thick trunk, now growing only in Migdal Tzavo'aya. The wood is very light and hard (cf. Abarbanel; Chizzkuni) and it does not absorb moisture. The Talmud states that it is a member of the cedar family (Rosh HaShanah 28a; Ralbag Radak s.v. Shut). The Septuagint translates it as 'decay-proof wood' (cf. Josephus 3:6:1; Philo, Questions and Answers 53), and this is supported by Talmudic tradition (Yoma 72a, Rashi ad loc. from Exodus 26:15).

oil for the lamp
  See Exodus 27:20.

anointing oil
  See Exodus 30:23-33.

  See Exodus 30:34-38.

  See Exodus 28:20. Also see Genesis 2:12.

precious stones
  Perfectly formed (Ramban). Or, 'stones meant to be set' (Rashi; Rashbam; cf. Abarbanel).

  See Exodus 28:6-12.

  See Exodus 28:15-30.

  Aron in Hebrew. See Exodus 37:1-9. A simple box without legs (Rashi). Others, however, state that it had legs (Ibn Ezra on Exodus 25:12) or a lower rim (cf. Yoma 72b).

2 and a half cubits...
  The dimensions of the ark were thus 3' 9' x 2' 3' x 2' 3'. According to others, the cubits here were only of 5 handbreadths, and the ark's dimensions were 3' 1.5' x 1' 10.5' x 1' 10.5'.

Some say that the walls of the ark were a handbreadth (3 inches) thick (Yoma 72b, Rabbenu Chananel ad. loc.; Abarbanel; Maaseh Choshev 8:2). According to others, it was one half handbreadth (1.5 inches) or a fingerbreadth (0.75 inches) thick (Bava Bathra 14a; Bareitha Melekheth HaMishkan 6).

  Some say that this was like a thin box of gold around the wooden box (Yoma 72b; Ralbag). According to others, the box was gilded with gold leaf (Yerushalmi, Shekalim 6:1. See note on Exodus 30:3.

  Or 'crown,' zer in Hebrew. According to the first opinion above (see note, this verse, 'layer'), the outer gold box extended a little more than a handbreadth above the wooden core of the ark, so as to protrude slightly above the cover when it was placed on the ark (Yoma 72b; Rashi; Midrash Agadah). Others say that this implies that the edges of the wooden core should also be covered (Chizzkuni).

Some say that the purpose of this rim was to hold the ark-cover (Rashi; Ralbag). Josephus (3:6:5), however, states that the cover was held on with hinges.

  Some say that the rings were cast separately, and then attached to the ark (Ralbag; Abarbanel; cf. Exodus 37:13). According to others, the rings were cast together with the outer shell or welded onto it (Rashbam). Some say that the carrying poles actually went through the walls of the ark, and that these rings were like re-inforcements (Josephus 3:6:5; cf. Bava Bathra 14a).

  (Targum; Radak, Sherashim). Some say that the rings were at the very top of the ark (Rashi). According to others, they were 2 and one third handbreadths (7 inches) from the top of the ark (Shabbath 92a, Rashi ad loc.). Still others state that the rings were at the very bottom of the ark (Ramban; Bachya). According to those who maintain that the ark had legs, the rings were on its feet (Ibn Ezra; Abarbanel).

two rings...
  Thus, the ark had only four rings, one on each corner (Rashi; Rashbam; Lekach Tov; Ralbag; Abarbanel). Others maintain that the ark had eight rings, two on each corner, and translate the verse, 'place [the first four rings] on [the ark's] four corners, and then place [another] two rings on one side, and two on the other' (Tosafoth, Yoma 72a, s.v. Kethiv). According to one opinion, the rings on the corners were to move the ark by hand, while the second set of rings for the poles were on the ark's sides, and not on its corners (Rosh: Tur). Others maintain that each ring affixed to the ark held a second movable ring through which the poles were placed, translating the verse, 'Weld four rings onto the four corners of the ark, and [place in these rings] two rings on one side, and two rings on the other' (Bekhor Shor; Chizzkuni; Or HaChaim). According to the opinion that the ark had legs, the verse would be translated 'place [the first four rings] on [the ark's] four feet, and [place] two rings on one side [of the ark itself], and two rings on the other side,' indicating that the first set of rings was on the ark's feet, and the second set on its sides (Ibn Ezra).

in the rings...
  The poles were parallel to the shorter ends of the ark, so that there were 2 and a half cubits between the two poles (Menachoth 98a,b; Rashi; Rashbam; Ramban). However, other sources indicate that the poles went along the length of the ark (Josephus 3:6:5).

  Some say that this denotes the Tablets of the Ten Commandments (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; cf. 1 Kings 8:9). Others say that it also includes the entire Torah (Rashi; Abarbanel; Tzeror HaMor; Introduction to Yad). This point is debated in the Talmud (Bava Bathra 14a). The dispute is related to the dispute as to when the commandment was given (see note, this verse, 'I will give you').

I will give you
  If the command was given while Moses was on the mountain, then 'testimonies' can denote the tablets, which were yet to be given. However, if the command was given after Moses came down with the tablets (see note on Exodus 25:1), then 'testimony' must denote the Torah that was yet to be given.

  (Saadia; Rashi; Rashbam). Kapporeth in Hebrew. The Septuagint translates it as ilastryion, which denotes reconciliation, propitiation, appeasement and atonement (Kapparah; cf. Tanchuma 10; Tzeror HaMor). Philo translates it as 'throne of mercy' or 'mercy seat' (Questions and Answers 60; cf. Tanchuma, VaYakhel 7).

2 and a half cubits...
  3' 9' x 2' 3', like the dimensions of the ark (Exodus 25:10). The Talmud states that the ark cover was one handbreadth (3 inches) thick (Sukkah 5a). It can easily be calculated that if it were solid gold, it would weigh (without the cherubs), some 2500 pounds, or 17 talents (see note on Exodus 25:39). Some sources thus state that the ark cover was considerably thinner (Tur), since we find that the ark had to be light enough to be carried easily (Baaley Tosafoth on Exodus 25:11). One source states that the ark-cover weighed one talent (150 pounds), just like the menorah (Exodus 25:39; Saadia Gaon, quoted in Ibn Ezra on Exodus 38:24). The ark cover would therefore have been around 3/16 inch thick, or, if the cherubs are taken into account, more likely around 1/8 inch thick. It may have been made like an inverted open box, so that its sides were one handbreadth thick on the outside.

  Paralleling God's two names, the Tetragrammaton and Elohim (Paneach Raza; Midrash Tadshe 2). See Exodus 25:20.

  See note on Genesis 3:24. The cherubs were creatures like birds (Or HaAfelah; Rashbam; Chizzkuni; Philo, De Vide Mose 2:99) with wings (Exodus 25:20) and faces like human infants (Chagigah 13b; Ralbag). Some say that one was male and the other was female (Rashi on 1 Chronicles 3:10; Bachya, from Yoma 54a; cf. Zohar 3:59a). See Ezekiel 10:7-15.

  Lengthwise (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra) at the very edges of the cover (Haamek Davar).

from the same piece...
  (Saadia; Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Rashi on Exodus 25:18).

  Parallel to their heads (Rashi; Rashbam), as if they were taking off (Ralbag).

shield the cover
  Their wings were 10 handbreadths (30 inches) over the ark-cover (Sukkah 5b). This was the height of the cherubs (Rashi ad loc.).

face one another
  Directly. Others say that they faced toward the east, toward the opening of the Holy of Holies, with their heads inclined toward each other (Bava Bathra 99a). Others say that their bodies faced toward the east, but their heads faced each other (Chokhmath HaMishkan; Maaseh Choshev 8:5). They faced each other so that they would not appear to be gods (Moreh Nevukhim 3:45).

inclined downward...
  (Baaley Tosafoth; Ibn Ezra). Or, 'The cherubs shall face one another, with their faces toward the middle of the ark-cover' (Rashbam).

  (Saadia; Rashi; Ibn Ezra; Ralbag; Abarbanel). Or, 'because you will place the the ark' (Ramban; cf. Yerushalmi, Shekalim 6:1). Others, 'Place the cover....and then you will be able to place the testimony' (Chizzkuni).

  (Ibn Janach; cf. Targum). Or, 'I will meet with you at set times' (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim).

  See Exodus 37:10-16.

2 cubits...
  Its dimensions were thus 36' x 18' x 27'. According to others, it was 30' x 15' x 22.5' (Menachoth 96a; Bareitha 8). The height included the legs and the thickness of the table's upper board (Rashi; Ibn Ezra; cf. Pesachim 109b). The top of the table consisted of a perfectly flat slab of wood (Menachoth 96b), that was not attached to the legs (Pesachim 109a). The legs were described as resembling those the Dorians use on their beds (Josephus 3:6:6).

Cover it...
  Some say that the table was covered with gold only on the outside (Paaneach Raza on Exodus 25:11). Others, however, maintain that it was gilded on all sides (Abarbanel; cf. Tosafoth Chagigah 26b, s.v. Kaan).

gold rim
  See Exodus 25:11. Or 'crown' (cf. Rashi).

  This frame held the table's legs together, and the top board of the table was placed upon it (Tosefta, Menachoth 11:3; Menachoth 96b; Ralbag; Radak s.v. Zer). Others maintain that this was a wooden rim around the top of the table upon which the crown was placed (Ibid.; Chizzkuni). According to this opinion, the frame was to the sides of the table, so that the entire top was exposed (Menacoth 96b). Some say that this frame was held in place by the crown around the top of the table board (Abarbanel), but this seems to go against the Talmud. According to some, the rim was directly on the edge of the table, protruding above the flat surface and attached to the legs (Josephus 3:6:6).

and on the frame...
  Since the table only had a single golden rim, and not two (Rashi; cf. Yoma 72b). According to the opinion that the frame was below the table top, the rim ran around the frame, and extended somewhat above the table top, possibly to hold it in place (Ralbag; Maaseh Choshev 7:2). According to those who maintain that the frame was above the table top, the crown was on the frame (Chizzkuni). There are, however, some who maintain that there were two rims, one on the table top to hold the frame, and another on the frame itself (Abarbanel).

gold rings
  These were also cast (Exodus 37:13). Some say that these were half rings, with one end in the legs and the other in the frame (Josephus 3:6:6). Others say that each fixed ring had a movable ring attached to it to hold the poles, just like the ark (Or HaChaim).

adjacent to
  But not in the frame (Lekach Tov; Abarbanel). Some say that they were directly below the frame (Rashbam). According to others, the rings were completely or partly in the frame itself (Ralbag; cf. Josephus 3:6:6).

  See Exodus 37:10-12. Numbers 4:6, 1 Chronicles 28:17.

bread forms
  (Menachoth) 97a; Rashi). These were used to form the showbread (Exodus 25:30). There were three sets of bread forms, one for the dough, one for baking, and one to place the bread in after it was baked so that it would not be damaged (Menachoth 94a; Yad, Temidin 5:8). Some say that all these were made of gold (Ibid.), while others say that the forms for baking were made of iron (Rashi). However, some say that no iron was used in the tabernacle (Ibn Ezra on Exodus 25:3; cf. Exodus 27:19, Deuteronomy 27:5). Regarding the shape of the bread, see Exodus 25:30.

The Hebrew word ka'aroth used here literally means plates. Some say that plates were actually placed on the table, as if to set it for a meal (Philo, Questions and Answers 72).

incense bowls
  Menachoth 97a; Rashi). For the frankincense (Leviticus 24:7). Some say that these were like small boxes (Saadia). There is a question as to whether they were placed in the center of the table between the loaves, or on top of the loaves (Menachoth 96a; see note on Exodus 25:30).

The word kappoth used here often is used to denote spoons. Philo (loc. cit.). writes that they were part of the table setting.

side frames
  (Menachoth 97a). Kesavoth in Hebrew. Some say that the function of these was to support the breads from the side, so that the loaves would not crumble (Tosafoth, Menachoth 94b, s.v. Hayinu; Or HaAfelah; Yad, Temidin 5:9), or to prevent them from falling when the table was lifted (Menachoth 96b). They were needed, since there were twelve loaves, six in each stack (Leviticus 24:5,6). According to this opinion, the loaves were stacked directly one on top of the other.

Others maintain that the weight of the loaves was borne by the half tubes between them, and that the half tubes were held by these frames (Rashi, Menachoth 94b, s.v. Hayinu; Rabbenu Gershom ibid.). Still others maintain that the lower five loaves were stacked on top of each other, but that the top ones were supported by the frames (Rashi, Sifra, Emor 18:4).

Some say that these frames were shaped like a rod with branches protruding on both sides (Raavad on Sifra, Emor 18:4; Ralbag). They may thus be the 'forks' mentioned in 1 Chronicles 28:17 (Rashbam; cf. Ibn Ezra). Others say that they were Y-shaped (Rambam on Menachoth 11:6, Kapach edition; cf. Rashi loc. cit.). According to others, they were like flat plates, the width of the loaves, with grooves or indentations to hold the half tubes (Tosafoth, Menachoth 94b, s.v. Hayinu; Rashash ad loc.; Maaseh Choshev 7:3).

Some say that these frames rested on the ground, while others maintain that they rested on the table top (Menachoth 94b).

According to some, the kesavoth here were not the side frames, but the half tubes (see note, this verse, 'half tubes').

There is also an opinion that there were no side supports at all, but that the breads were held in place by the frame (Rabbi Yosi, Menachoth 96b, cf. Tosafoth ad loc.). This may agree with the Septuagint, which translates the kesoth or kesavoth (Exodus 37:16) as spondeon, denoting libation cups (cf. Ibn Janach; also see Philo, Questions and Answers 72). Others say that they were pans to hold water to knead the bread (Chizzkuni).

half tubes
  (Menachoth 97a; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:14). Menakiyoth in Hebrew, cf. Jeremiah 52:19. These were placed between the breads to allow air to circulate between them, and possibly to support them (Menachoth 96a; see note, this verse, 'side frames'). There were 28 such half tubes in all, 14 for each side, so that 3 were placed between each loaf, except for the two upper ones, where only 2 were placed between them (Menachoth 97a; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:14).

Some reverse these two and maintain that the kesoth were the half tubes and the menakiyoth were the frames (Rashi; Radak, s.v. Nasakh; cf. Tosafoth, Menachoth 96b, s.v. Lo).

The Septuagint translates menakioth as kuathoi, Greek for the cups used for drawing wine out of the krator or bowl, (cf. Philo loc. cit.). Others state that they were ladles or spoons (Saadia; Ibn Janach), measuring cups (Ramban), or implements to clean the ovens (Chizzkuni).

serve as dividers
  (Rashbam; Rashi; cf. Numbers 4:7). Or, 'to cover the bread' if it refers to the frames which were gold plates concealing the bread (cf. Exodus 37:16). If the above utensils were cups and bowls, this is then translated 'with which they are poured' (Septuagint; cf. Ibn Ezra).

  Lechem ha-panim in Hebrew, literally, 'bread of the face.' See Leviticus 24:5-8.

The loaves were rectangular, a cubit long, and 5 handbreadths wide (18' x 15'). They thus covered the entire table, leaving two handbreadths (6') in the middle for the pans of frankincense (Leviticus 24:7). (Menachoth 96a; Yad, Temidin 5:9). According to others, the loaves covered the entire table, and the frankincense was placed on top of the stack (Menachoth 96a) .

Each loaf was made of 2/10 ephah of flour (Leviticus 24:5;). It was rolled into a loaf 5 handbreadths wide and 10 handbreadths long (15' x 30'). Before it was baked (Melekheth Sh'lomoh on Menachoth 11:5), the sides were bent up 2 handbreadths (6') on each side. This would give the bread its final square shape where its base was 5 x 6 handbreadths (Menachoth 96a). The loaves would have the shape of a box with both ends removed (Menachoth 96b). According to others, their shape was more like that of a boat (Ibid.).

In order to strengthen the walls of the loaves, pieces of dough 7 fingerbreadths (5 1/4') by one handbreadth (3') were placed on the corners (Rashi, Menachoth 96a, s.v. VeKarno-theha; Tifereth Yisrael, Chomer BaKodesh 2:51).

The loaves themselves were like unperforated matzah (Pesachim 37a; Josephus 3:10:7) around a half inch thick. [This is a simple calculation. The volume of the loaf was 2 tenths of an ephah, and since an ephah is 3 saah, the volume was 0.6 saah. The Talmud notes that 3 cubic cubits is equal to 40 saah (Eruvin 4b); and, since there are 6 handbreadths to a cubit, 1 saah is 16.2 cubic handbreadths. Since the volume of each loaf was 0.6 saah, it was 9.72 cubic handbreadths. Then, since the loaf was 5 x 10 handbreadths in size, its area was 50 square handbreadths. Dividing by this, the thickness of each loaf comes out to be 0.194 handbreadth or 0.58 inch] (Ralbag; Tifereth Yisrael loc. cit.).

  A seven branched lamp. See Exodus 37:17-24, Numbers 8:4.

  Some say that this was like a triangular box with three legs (Rashi; Baaley Tosafoth). In his commentary on the Mishnah, however, Maimonides draws the base as being like a hemisphere with three legs (Menachoth 3:7, see Kapach edition). Other ancient drawings show the menorah as having three legs extending directly from its base (cf. Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:2; Bareitha 9; Ralbag). Josephus (3:6:7), however, does not mention any legs.

Above the base there was a flower (from Numbers 8:4). The base and the flower together took up 3 handbreadths (9') (Menachoth 28b).

  Like 'Alexandrian goblets' (Menachoth 28b). Wide with a narrow bottom, like the top of a champagne goblet (Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:9; Rashi has medirness in French, a wine goblet). Some sources state that the cups were to catch any dripping oil (Chizzkuni). Other sources, however, state that they were solid (Rambam on Menachoth 3:7), or merely impressed into the stem (Rashbam on Exodus 25:32). Some sources appear to indicate that the cups were inverted, with the wide side downward (Ralbag; Picture in Rambam loc. cit.; see Kapach's note).

  Kaphtorim in Hebrew, see Amos 9:1, Zephaniah 2:14. Some say that they were egg-shaped (Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:9; cf. Arukh s.v. Tapuach).

  Like the flowers on a column (Menachoth 28b). These were like bowls with the edges bent outward (Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:9).

  Some say that they were hollow (Ibn Ezra). However, the majority maintain that they were solid (Abarbanel). Some maintain that this is implied by the word 'hammered' (mikshah) (Evven HaAzel, Beth HaBechirah 3:4), but this is impossible, since the trumpets were mikshah (Numbers 10:2).

Some say that the branches were curved and extended on both sides like semicircles (Ibn Ezra on Exodus 25:37, 27:21; Chokhmath HaMishkan 4b; Maaseh Choshev 7:7), and most ancient pictures have it in this form. Others, however, say that the branches were straight and extended diagonally upward, making the menorah look like a Y (Rashi; Avraham ben HaRambam; Rambam on Menachoth 3:7, picture in original manuscript, reproduced in Kapach edition).

  (Targum; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:2). Rashi states that this is niello, a word used also in English to denote an art of decorating metal with incised designs and black antiquing. Others say that it is a kind of beaten work (Ibn Ezra, from Proverbs 8:34). Others say that the Hebrew word me-shukad-im comes from the word shaked, as almond. It can thus mean almond-shaped (Saadia), decorated with almonds (Rashbam), or engraved like almonds (Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach). Others say that the metal is beaten in such a way that the surface appears like a pattern of tiny almonds (Rambam on Menachoth 3:7).

four embossed cups
  (Saadia; cf. Yoma 52b). One of these was below the branches, and three were above, paralleling the cups on the branches (Menachoth 28b; Rashi).

spheres and flowers
  Above the cups (Menachoth 28b).

as a base
  Since the branches extended out of the sphere (Menachoth 28b). Literally, 'under the branches.'

The form of the menorah was then (Menachoth 28b); 3 hb. - 9' - base and flower (Exodus 25:31) 2 hb. - 6' - smooth 1 hb. - 3' - cup, sphere and flower 2 hb. - 3' - smooth 1 hb. - 3' - sphere with two branches 1 hb. - 3' - smooth 1 hb. - 3' - sphere with two branches 1 hb. - 3' - smooth 1 hb. - 3' - sphere with two branches 2 hb. - 6' - smooth 3 hb. - 9' - three cups, sphere, flower, lamp The entire menorah was thus 18 handbreadths (4' 6') tall (see Rashi on Exodus 25:35; Maaseh Choshev 7:9).

  Bowls or cups to hold oil (Rashi). Each of these cups held 1/2 log (6.8 ounces or 200 c.c.) of oil (Menachoth 88b; Yad, Temidim 3:11). If the cups were hemispherical in shape, they would be 3.6 inches (9.14 cm.) in diameter. These cups were an integral part of the menorah (Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:6), but there are some who dispute this, and maintain that they were removable (Menachoth 88b).

toward its center
  Some say that this means that the wicks should face the center shaft (Rashi on Numbers 8:2; Rashbam; Ralbag). Others maintain that the lamps themselves were tilted toward the center (Menachoth 98b; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:8. This may mean that the side of the lamps toward the center slanted inward (Yehudah HaChasid).

wick tongs
  Malkachaim in Hebrew, tongs or tweezers to insert and adjust the wicks (Rashi; Rashbam; Ralbag). Others say that they were 'wick holders,' built into the menorah, possibly as plates over the oil holders (Ramban).

ash scoops
  Machtoth in Hebrew, small scoops to remove the ashes from the cups each day (Rashi; Rashbam; Ralbag). Others say that these were 'ash catchers', small pans around each lamp to catch sparks and ashes, built into the menorah (Ramban).

all its parts
  Literally, 'all its utensils.' However, the tongs and scoops were not included in the talent (Menachoth 88b; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 3:6).

  Kikar in Hebrew. A talent is equal to 3000 shekels (see Exodus 38:26, Rashi ad loc.; Rashi here) or 150 pounds (68.4 kg.). It can therefore easily be calculated that the diameter of the stem and branches of the menorah was around 1-1/8 inches (3 cm.).

[The weight of the menorah was 68.4 kg., and since the specific gravity of gold is 19.2, the volume of the menorah was 3562 cc. The combined length of the stem and all seven branches can be calculated to be around 200 inches (500 cm.). Therefore, the cross section of the branches was 7 square centimeters, and their diameter was 3 cm.]

Copyright © 2000 World ORT
Notice: This computer program is protected by copyright law and international treaties. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this program, or any portion of it, may result in severe civil and criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.