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William Shepard

The Building of the Tabernacle

The people rejoiced at what Moses told them, and they brought him silver, and gold, and brass, and woods of all kinds, in order that he might build the tabernacle. When all these things were brought together, Moses appointed architects, and he gave them the plans of the building, which he had drawn from directions given by God Himself.

The tabernacle was a large tent, where the worship of God was conducted by the priests. It could be taken down and put up again like the other tents, for the Israelites had to carry it about with them in all their wanderings. The tabernacle when it was set up was sixty feet long and twenty feet broad. It was divided into two rooms. Into the first room the priests were admitted to perform the sacrifices, but the second no one could enter except the high-priest, and he was allowed to enter only once a year, on the day when a great feast, called the Feast of the Atonement, was celebrated. The first room was called the Holy Place; the second was called the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies was placed the ark of the covenant. This was a chest, or box, made of a precious wood called shittim-wood, and covered all over with pure gold. On its top were the figures of two angels made of gold. Inside the ark were placed the tables of stone upon which God had written the Ten Commandments. The tabernacle stood in a large court, which was surrounded by a wall made of poles and curtains. To this court all the people were admitted. At the entrance was the large altar upon which animals that had been killed were burned as sacrifices, and between this altar and the entrance to the tabernacle was the laver, or fountain, made of brass, where the priests washed their hands and feet while they were about the service of God.

The tribe of Levi was set apart to furnish the priests for all the Israelites, and no man could be a priest who was not a Levite; that is, a member of the tribe of Levi. This was the tribe to which Moses and Aaron belonged. Aaron was appointed high-priest, for God had so commanded. And Moses caused beautiful garments to be made for him, which he was to wear when he performed his sacred duties.