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Top 20 Reasons to Question Rectangular Tabernacle Designs 


Thistle and Rose pattern in The Second Booke of Moses called Exodus1.  Tabernacle Curtain & Loop Nonconformance:  With a rectangular wilderness Tabernacle configuration, curtains listed in Exodus 26:1-6 and Exodus 36:8-13 are not used symmetrically or with interlocking loops (i.e., loops on open end edge would remain unused and without purpose). Few, if any, rectangular Tabernacle plans illustrate or explain how one curtain edge loop "receives" another loop.  Furthermore, spacing between loops (50 loops over the span of 28 cubits) would have left large gaps between the curtains.   Most depictions fail to show any such loops, stitching, or open gaps.   Image (http://www.toledoblade.com/)     

2.  Courtyard Curtain Noncormance:  In addition having the same loop and symmetry nonconformance problems introduced above, courtyard curtains (Exodus 26:7-13) are erroneously assumed to be installed "on top of" the tabernacle itself, as opposed to "over" the tabernacle (i.e., around it, concealing it).  Rectangular models therefore assume an extra set is created for the Tabernacle's courtyard perimeter (Exodus 27:9-18), even though the texts do not describe their fabrication.  In other words, according to original Hebrew Bible texts, curtains for the courtyard are described as being "made" once (Exodus 26), and then later integrated with other hardware to "make" the Courtyard (Exodus 27).   

3.  Curtain Fold and Overlap:  Rectangular Tabernacle designs do not consistently address the overlap between or placement of the linen (Exodus 26:1-6) and wool curtains (Exodus 7:13), given the different various interpretations.  Moreover, regardless of interpretation, no technical or relevant reasons are proposed to account for it.   

4.  Fabric Blending:  Rectangular models assume a wool fabric is laid over a linen or cotton fiber.  Blending of these two different fabric types is prohibited in Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11.

5.  "Taches" or "Button" Utility:   Rectangular Tabernacle designs generally do not ascribe purpose or utility to the 50 brass (copper) or gold buttons (Exodus 26:6, 11).

6.  Courtyard Material Quantity Nonconformance:  Most rectangular models depict square courtyard posts, which would occupy significant volume (and therefore require an abundance of material not accounted for).  If these courtyard posts are made of copper or brass as the text requires (Exodus 27:9-18, Exodus 38:9-17), there is insufficient material available (Exodus 38:29), given the size and shapes proposed.  If the posts are assumed to be made of wood, such inference would need to be justified given that such material is not specified in the text.  

Foster Bible Pictures 0071 1 The Tabernacle that the Israelites Built7.  Courtyard Post Quantity / Spacing Nonconformance:   Rectangular Tabernacle models cannot accurately account for post quantity and curtain spacing (per Exodus 27 9-18, there are 20 posts allotted for each side, north and south, which measure 100 cubits in length, with three posts spaced on a 15 cubit distnace on the courtyard permiter).  By inferring a 5 cubit post spacing, 21 posts would be required on the north and south sides (assuming a corner post would be employed), as inferred by Charles Foster and conveyed in his 1897 book, Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us.

8.  Extra Beam:  Rectangular Tabernacle arrangements often employ a single, long, spine-like beam running on top along the center of the structure (see above).  In the Hebrew, this text is  the text is merely describing an arrangement, as opposed to giving the instruction to "make" something (Exodus 26:28).  Adding the extra beam to the assembly is akin to violating the rules of the children's game known as "Simon Says", creating a new piece of hardware when "Simon didn't say!"

Shema Israel Ornate Silver Signet Ring large9.  Square "Rings":  Rectangular models assume a square frame or "corners" around the building's top.  However, in Hebrew, the word טבעת is used, which is traditionally translated as  "ring".  This word is not used to desribe objects with square corners or right angles, it is used to describe round things, e.g., a "signet ring" (Genesis 41:42).  Image:  http://www.zoara.com/jewelry/rings/right_hand

10.  Extra Parts:  Rectangular models consistently add a series of ropes, stakes, and sometimes poles, even though they are not introduced or described in the Exodus texts.  Many of these ropes and stakes that are added under presumption are thought to be used in conjunction with curtain assemblies - even though the text does not make mention of holes, loops, or other provision for such attachment (while loops for curtain-to-curtain attachment are described in detail).


1.  Poor facility watershed:  Most rectangular Tabernacle models employ flat or nearly flat roofs (nearly flat roofs are inferred from maintaining a facility height of 10 cubits per Exodus 26:16).  While some models include an elevated center spine-like beam running along the top through the east-west centerline, most are like the one depicted below, where water would pool on the roof in quantity after any time that it rained.  Moreover, runoff water from Tabernacle roof goes onto ground and not into laver. The would result in more wasted effort - especially in a wilderness where water was occasionally in short supply.    

Tent Coverings and Curtains2.  Four layer fabric roof:  Rectangular model builders assume a roof four layers thick - two leather layers above two fabric layers.  This design would likely entrain moisture between the two leather layers as a result of outer layer leakage (especially as water would pool and permiate leather), thereby creating ideal conditions for mold or mildew in between the layers.  Furthermore, the four layers of material would insulate a space in a hot desert climate that would probably require little need for insulation.  This would exascerbate the building's substandard ventilation design.  Finally, the sharp square corners would ultimately stress the leather, as well as the curtain fabrics where they bent around the top of the structure.  (Image:  http://www.biblebigpicture.com/, perhaps original by Paul Kiene?)

3.  Surface grade preparation requiremets:  The rectangular Tabernacle design is not condusive to placement upon irregular surfaces.  As a result of its design, a rectangular Exodus Tabernacle would demand a great deal of surface preparation prior to setup (a level rectangular perimeter measuring 30-04 feet long by 10 to 12 feet wide would be required to avoid misalignment, warping, and stressing of components).  Rectangular designs are usually depicted as being fitted with eye rings on the building's exterior for the purpose of building assembly and joining of the panels. Such a configuration would require careful control of surface grade (including elevation and pitch) of a large area in order to be erected.  Not only does the text make no mention of such processes, but this surface preperation is hardly practical or reasonable for a portable tent-like structure, which offers nothing more than a fabric roof for overhead protection.    

tr030 01 lg


4.  Joint stress / building stability:  Rectangular Tabernacle designs are subject to instability due to high joint stress.  As illustrated below, box-like frames (e.g., squares or rectangles as shown below on left) that is connected at corner members will maintain parallel members when loaded (resembling a rhombus or parallelogram), thereby loading and stressing the corner joint materials above desired limits.  An absence of truss members (i.e., structures incorporating triangle shapes as shown below on right) would permit excessive motion in response to loads (as rectangular models depict).  

Unstable Structures                                         Stable Structures


Most designers or artists are obligated to add ropes and stakes to compensate for the unstable rectangular designs. 

Mishkan5.  Impractical Tabernacle Wall Geometry:  Rectangular models use thick wood beams or planks, which is not consistent with "typical" building practices.  According to most interpretations (Exodus 26:16), beams would range from plywood thickness to 1/2 to 1 cubits thick (say 9 to 25 inches thick, depending upon cubit standard and Hebrew interpretation method).   Given the rectangular designs, reasons for the disproportionate thickness remain unexplained - especially in the context of a fabric and leather roof.  While some presume that board thickness is not identified in the text (thus leaving a incomplete building plan), it is also impractical to use large planks (assumed to be 1 to 1-1/2 cubits wide, or ~18 to 36 inches), as it would be difficult to control their finish, fit, and geometry (either from initial fabrication or warping thereafter).   As described above, a side-by-side parallel standing beam arrangement is not condusive to an uncontrolled surface, and long, wide, slender planks are not condusive to making tight butt joints.  Image:  By Daniel Ventura http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html.  

6.  Poor Material Utilization:  Not only would a rectangular Tabernacle wall be difficult to fabricate and erect, but use of such large beams - without any practical purpose - is wasteful, to say the least.  The wood has no load to carry, whereas the Levities maintaining the tabernacle would have a great load to carry.  Depending upon a cubit standard, wood type/density, and interpretation of Exodus 26:16, beams might weigh between 600 lbs and 3 tons each.  Assuming a total of 40 beams are employed in the house on the north and south walls, plus 6 on the west and another 9 at the entrances (of comparable size), the end result would be a building weighing between 30 and 150 tons (for the wood alone), and measuing between 200 and 1200 square feet.  The amounts to over 1 ton for every 10 square feet of space.  In comparison, a tent suitable for four persons made today might measure 50 square feet and weigh 10 pounds, which equtes to a little over 2 pounds for each 10 square feet of space.  Likewise, a round Tabernacle (built from practically the same materials) would result in a surface area nearly 20 times greater than its Retangular counterpart. tabfloor

Rectangular Tabernacle Floorplan Layout

7.  Tripping Hazards and Loss of Symmetry:  Rectangular model arrangements employ ropes and stakes (hardware not mentioned in the text) to account for assymetrical wind loading on surfaces.  These numerous stakes, installed inside and outside of the Tabernacle Courtyard, would result in numerous tripping hazards on the Tabernacle grounds.  Moreover, installed on rocky ground, it would be necessary to contend with subterranian rocks, and adjust stake location accordingly.  Not only would it be impractical to move the rocks once they were discovered during stake installation, but if removed for the sake of maintaining symmetrical stake arrnagements, the adjacent or replacement soil would lack load bearning capacity after it was disturbed.  Alternatively, relocation of stakes for the sake of subgrade obstructions would result in a loss of hardware symmetry, which in turn would result in a reduction in stability.    Trip Hazard Image: http://pixabay.com/en/trip-hazard-warning-attention-98658/

8.  Material Misappropriation and Quantity Limitations:  Precious metals such as silver are seldom employed in the capacity of an anchor, base, or slab.  The silver base joints as proposed for rectangular Tabernacle designs and identified above (Exodus 26:19) would do little to ensure a level or square foundation, would do little to restrain bending moments or ensure stability, and would do little to protect wood from contact with ground.  Aside from adding to the net monetary worth of the materials collected, the silver material would be misapproriated if used as a "base".

In any case, given maximum weight of 1 talent each (Exodus 38:27), the rectangular model would not have a sufficient quantity of silver for to employ silver slabs as so-called "bases" or "sockets" (Ex 26:19), as typically translated or interpreted (at 75 pound per talent and with a specific gravity of 10.5), each silver piece would occupy just under 200 cubic inches, barely enough to wrap around a beam measuring 1 cubit by 1-1/2 cubits, much less to restrain beam rotation and bending moments or anchor to ground beneath. 

9.  Wind loading and resistance:   Rectangular buildings are subject to assymetrical wind loading much more so than a round structure (which is subtantially more aerodynamic).  Because they offer great wind resistance, they need to be firmly anchored to endure desert winds.  This is evident from the rectangular Tabernacle model installed in Timna, Israel, which uses heavy-duty tie down straps for anchoring.

negev tabernacleModel tentWall large10. Visibility:  Covered with four layers of roofing material visibility would be poor and irregular for priests, who entered the Tabernacle each day.  While the eastern entrance would help light the interior in the morning, the priests would have trouble during the evening, with no northern, southern, or western exposure to daylight.  Furthermore, the rectangular Tabernacle models usually depict ornate "cherubim" curtains, which are oriented inwards or otherwise in the dark, so that virtually no living person can see them to appreciate them for what they are thought to be - that is, aesthetic decor.    
Image: Timnah Tabernacle Silver Bases, Tie Down Straps, and "Cherub" Curtains (www.praisegate.com).

In summary, the Betzalel Project model does not conflict with any Bible texts like those identified above, nor is it plagued by the engineering problems so obvious to the rectangular Tabernacle model.         

The Moral of the Story:  "Don't Put God in a Box!!!" 


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