Tabernacle Symbols and Types

— The Mosaic Tabernacle System —

Brian Kuehmichel©
December 24, 2016



"Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount." (Heb 8:5)

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." (Heb 10:1)




Tabernacle, Courtyard and Their Contents1

Tabernacle structure image
Original designs unknown

Tabernacle: (Exo 26-30ch) It has several names or descriptive names: "the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation" (Exo 29:32; 40:2, 6, 29), "the tent of the congregation" (Exo 39:40; 40:22, 34-35) "the tabernacle of the congregation" (Exo 27:21; 28:43; 29:4, 10-11, 30, 32, 42, 44; 30:16, 18, 20, 26, 36; 31:7; 33:7; 35:21; 38:8, 30; 40:12; Lev 1:1, 3, 5; 3:2, 8; 16:16; etc.), and "the tent of the testimony" (Num 9:15). "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do." (Exo 31:1-11); "And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount." (Exo 25:40)

"... And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy." (Exo 30:22-30) [Penalties for negligence: Exo 28:43; Lev 10:1-2; Num 4:15, 20; 17:13; 2 Sam 6:6-9]

It was a place for the people to meet with God according to God's terms and be accepted by Him, that is to be considered clean, holy, righteous by way of the Tabernacle system of obligations and duties combined with ritual cleansing and sacrifices. And these in turn pointed to the need for a sufficient sacrifice to pay for sins and establish righteousness, i.e. a saviour for them like unto Moses. (Deut 18:15) This saviour came to be known as the Messiah whom Isaiah described (Isa 53:3-4) as a suffering saviour, one who "was despised, rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."

Type : Antitype The whole tabernacle system with its sacrifices and appointments pointed toward

[See: Purpose for the Tabernacle; The Basis of God's Judgment Upon All Mankind; That All Men Should Honor The Son; Messianic Prophecies; Tabernacle; image of general layout: Tabernacle & enclosure; suggested images of the various items: Tabernacle 3D Project]

The Entire Enclosure

Court / courtyard
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle courtyard image
Original design unknown

Enclosure: on the north (right side upon entering) and south side the hangings of the court were one hundred cubits of fine twined white linen* hung upon twenty wood* pillars each with upper hooks and fillets* and overlaid chapiters of silver*, all set upon twenty brass sockets*; on the west side (back or far end) were linen hangings of fifty cubits upon ten wood pillars each with upper hooks and fillets of silver, all set upon twenty brasen sockets; and the east side fifty cubits with a center gate* or entrance (twenty cubits wide). The white linen hangings on each side of the gate were fifteen cubits hung upon three wood pillars each with upper hooks and fillets of silver, all set upon three brasen sockets. The hanging for the gate of the court was decorated with needlework of blue*, purple* and scarlet* from fine twined linen twenty cubits wide and five cubits high, the same height as the hangings of the whole court. This center gate or entrance had four wood pillars, each with upper hooks and fillets and overlaid chapiters of silver, set upon four brass sockets. The wood boards* of the tabernacle structure* round about and the wood pillars of the court required anchor pins made of brass (Exo 38:20) with tether cords (Exo 35:18; 39:40; Num 3:26, 37; 4:26, 32) to keep the structure standing. (Exo 35 & 38ch) [ * See: Brass / Copper; Brass sockets; Colors; Gate of Court; Shittim wood; Silver; Silver fillets & hooks; Tabernacle tent; White linen]

Type : Antitype


Gate of court
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle gate image
Original design unknown

The east side was fifty cubits wide with a center gate or entrance (twenty cubits wide). The white linen hangings on each side of the gate were fifteen cubits long and hung upon three wood pillars each with upper hooks and fillets of silver, all set upon three brasen sockets. The center gate or entrance way had four wood pillars, each with upper hooks and fillets and overlaid chapiters of silver, set upon four brass sockets. The hanging for the gate of the court was decorated with needlework of blue, purple and scarlet from fine twined linen twenty cubits wide and five cubits high, the same height as the hangings of the whole court. (Exo 27:14-17; 38:14-19; 39:40; 40:8, 33)

Type : Antitype

Silver fillets & hooks
[Tabernacle component]

Tabernacle structure image
Original design
unknown
Type : Antitype
Brass sockets
[Tabernacle component]

Tabernacle structure image
Original design
unknown
Type : Antitype [See: Brass / Copper; Contrast: Silver sockets]

Court contents
[Tabernacle & Temple component]

Type : Antitype


Brass Altar
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle structure image
Original design unknown

Type : Antitype

Horns (of altar)
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle structure image
Original design unknown

The horns were upon the four corners of the brass altar and were overlaid with brass. These were shaped after the manner of rams horns and pointed upward from the corners of the altar. The golden altar of incense, in the first chamber or "holy" of the tabernacle, had horns upon the four corners that were overlaid with gold.

Type : Antitype Horns [Note: The symbolism is the same for both altars.]


Laver
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle structure image
Original design unknown

Type : Antitype


Tabernacle tent of the holy and most holy place

Tabernacle tent
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle structure image
Original designs unknown

The "tabernacle of the tent of the congregation" contained both the holy and most holy place. The enclosure was divided into two rooms by the inner hanging curtain (often called the second vail). The golden table of shewbread, the lampstand and the incense altar are placed in the first room (often called the holy) behind the hanging for the tabernacle door (often called the first vail). Behind the inner vail in the most holy is placed the ark of the testimony with its contents and the mercy seat with its cherubim. It is described in detail in Exo 26:1-20.

Type : Antitype


Holy place
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle structure image
Original designs unknown

"And thou shalt set the table without the (innermost or second) vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side. And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them." (Exo 26:35-37)

Type : Antitype God inhabits


Gold Table
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Tabernacle structure image
Original design unknown

This table overlaid with pure gold held the 12 shewbread loaves; the gold spoons, covers and bowls of incense for the gold altar; the gold tongs, snuffers, and snuffdishes for the gold lampstand, and blue, and purple, and scarlet cloths to do service in the holy place (Exo 25:23-30; 31:10; 35:19; 39:1, 41). The purpose of the table was to hold up for spiritual view the emblems of the incense of prayer, the oil for the light of truth, and the bread of salvation.

Type : Antitype

Shewbread
[Tabernacle & Temple service]
Tabernacle structure image
Original shape unknown

The twelve loaves of unleavened bread were replaced weekly. The one week old loaves were taken from the gold table in the "holy place" and eaten by the Priests as part of their sabbath ceremonial service. The Priests eating of this shewbread, "the bread of life," pointed to our communion and fellowship with Christ.

Type : Antitype

[See: Generally Accepted Types: Leaven and Manna]

Frankincense
[Tabernacle & Temple service]

Frankincense, a resinous sap inside a special family of trees, was used for its pleasing aroma as burned incense, for everything from deodorant and toothpaste to food and drink flavoring, for burial rituals as an embalming material, and for medicine for a wide variety of afflictions including ulcers, hypertension, nausea, fever, indigestion, chest coughs and post-childbirth recovery.

Type : Antitype

Anointing oil
[Tabernacle & Temple service]

Type : Antitype


Lampstand
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Lampstand image
Original design unknown

The gold lampstand had a main stem with three sets of branches coming out on each side making seven lamp stems. These had knops and flowers along each stem and ended with bowls in which to place the lamp oil and wick to burn for the continual light in the holy place. The lamp had necessary utensils: tongs, snuffdishes, and oil vessels. The oil was pure oil olive beaten out and twice each day it was refilled and the wicks were trimmed to cause the lamp to always burn. The trimming of the lamps was intimately tied to the gold altar and burning of incense morning and evening. (Exo 30:7-8; 2 Chr 13:11)

Type : Antitype

[For suggested images of the lampstand: Lampstands]

Lamp 0il
[Tabernacle & Temple service]

The oil for the lamp was from ripe olives bruised or beaten to make the oil seep out (called extra virgin). This is the lightest flavor oil, and then the remaining or stronger flavored olive oil is squeezed out under pressure. The lighter oil burns cleaner and stronger making more light from the seven lamps on the lampstand. This same premium oil would also be used to make the holy anointing oil when mixed with select spices. [See: Olive Oil in the Holy Anointing Oil: The Mount of Olives]

Type : Antitype


Golden altar
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Gold altar image
Original design unknown

It was set inside the tent, between the inner and the outer veils, the candlestick was placed toward the south opposite to the table on the north side of the "the holy place," the first room past or inside the first veil. The gold altar of incense was placed (in the center) before the inner veil And Aaron (and successive high priests) shall burn sweet incense upon it every morning: when he dresses the lamps, and when Aaron lights the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. The gold altar was intimately tied to the trimming and burning of the lamps on the lampstand. (Exo 30:7-8; 2 Chr 13:11) The gold table held the gold bowls of incense for twice daily use. (Exo 37:16; Num 4:7)

Type : Antitype

Incense
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
olive oil for lampstand image

Type : Antitype


First Veil
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
first veil image
Original design unknown

[See: Linen; Gate of court; Silver fillets & hooks; Blue; Purple; Scarlet; Inner Veil]

Type : Antitype


Most Holy place
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Most Holy place image
Original design unknown

For the second (or inner) room make an inner hanging vail [alt, veil], "the vail of the sanctuary," (often called the second vail, Exo 26:31-33; 36:35-36; 40:3, 21-22, 26; Lev 16:2, 15; 24:3; Num 4:5) of blue, purple, scarlet of fine twined linen of skilled work made with cherubims for the pattern. Hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, with these posts set upon the four sockets of silver.

Type : Antitype

Silver sockets
[Tabernacle component]
Ark of the Covenant in the most holy place
Original design
unknown

Type : Antitype

[See: Silver; Contrast: Brass sockets]


Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Ark of the Covenant in the most holy place
Original design unknown

Type : Antitype

Stone Tablets
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Stone tablets [click if image does not load]
Original design unknown

 

Type : Antitype

Pot of Manna
[Tabernacle & Temple component]

 

Type : Antitype


Atonement Cover
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Ark or Atonement Cover
Original design unknown

Type : Antitype

Aaron's Rod
[Tabernacle component]
Almond wood
Almond wood

Type : Antitype



Inner Veil
[Tabernacle & Temple component]
Most Holy place image
Original design unknown

This inner veil was the veil that Aaron and successive high priests passed through to sprinkle blood on and before the ark of the covenant on each successive Day of Atonement. This was the doorway to the inner sanctuary and corresponds to the veil of the temple that was rent or torn the day that Christ Jesus died upon the cross. This tearing of the veil signified that the barrier between man and God was now removed by the blood of Christ and that "whosoever will" may come into relationship with God through belief in the salvation offered by God through Christ Jesus.

Type : Antitype

Gold hooks
[Tabernacle component]

Type : Antitype

* Metals, Materials and Colors

Gold

Silver


Brass / copper


Cherubim — [See: Ark Cover, part D.]


Badger skins — especially by their regal color, suggest that those things 'covered' or hidden reflect divine purposes.


Goat's hair cloth — the fine, silky smooth, uniform quality suggests God's consistent, unchanging character.


Ram skins — suggests God plans to restore man to realtionship with Him through a blood sacrifice.


Shittim wood — suggests an everlasting quality.


White linen — Christ's sinlessness, righteousness of saints. [See: Court; and Colors in the Bible]


Blue — suggests faith in God and belief in His word, and it is a symbol of Christ's deity. The sky blue color of sapphire suggests "heavenly things:" "And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone." (Eze 1:26) The blue fringe on the border of Israelite garments reminds them about the commandments of God—that they were to be full of faith, believing His promises and obeying His word. "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them ; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." (Num 15:38-40)

Blue cloths covered the gold ark and the various gold pieces in the holy place during transport. The blue cloths represent close association with "heavenly things," including the presence and the word of God. [See: Atonement Cover] "And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof. And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: ... And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof: And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put them on a bar: And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:" (Num 4:5-7; 11-13); "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. ... And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy." (Exo 26:4, 31-33) [See: Colors in the Bible]


Purple — royalty, holiness of God. "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. ... And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made." (Exo 26:1, 31); "And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad." (Esth 8:15); "And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, ... And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him." (Mark 15:17, 20); "Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!" (John 19:5) [See: Colors in the Bible]


Scarlet — sacrifice, blood of Christ, Christ's death. "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. ... And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made." (Exo 26:1, 31); "And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work. ... And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. ... And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it." (Exo 28:6, 8, 15); "And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework." (Exo 36:37); "The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. ... And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom." (Dan 5:7, 16) [See: Colors in the Bible and Inner Veil]


Notes:

1. All images are presented as suggestions for illustration since numerous variations can be found.




See in order: Examples, Types, Shadows and More; Types and Shadows are Important; Generally Accepted Types; Purpose for the Tabernacle; Levitical Sacrifices; Levitical Installation Sacrifices; and Titles and Descriptions of Jesus Christ