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In 1921, as an educational project in the Bryn Athyn Elementary School, we undertook the task of building a model of the tabernacle of Israel. As part of the course in religious instruction we were called upon to teach the Book of Exodus. We found the Scriptural account of the tabernacle, and of its construction, far too technical and too confusing in the multitude of its details to produce a clear picture in the minds of the children. Even adults find it difficult to understand. In many respects the literal statements are obscure. How then could anyone hope to grasp the deeper meaning contained within these chapters of the Word as now revealed in the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg? It became obvious to us that a scale model of the building, in which the materials, the prescribed dimensions and modes of construction were faithfully followed, would be of permanent value, not only to children, but also to teachers and ministers, and indeed to anyone seeking Divine instruction from this portion of the Word of God. Furthermore, we were convinced that the children who took part in building such a model would find it an experience of high educational, artistic, and religious value.

With the cooperation of the principal and the faculty of the school it was arranged that the boys of the seventh and eighth grades should undertake the woodwork in their manual training class, while the girls, under the direction of the women teachers, would make the curtains and veils, and the garments of the priests and Levites.

As assistant pastor of the Bryn Athyn Church, we delivered a series of addresses at children's services devoted to a general description of the history, the construction, and the spiritual significance of the tabernacle. The offering at these services was used to finance the project. In addition, the children were asked to make an offering of gold or silver, consisting of discarded jewelry and other objects which their parents were willing to donate for this purpose. In this way all the children in the school re-enacted the offering given by the sons of Israel at the command of Moses for the construction of the tabernacle. (Exodus 25:1-9)

After having made a preliminary study, the necessary drawings and specifications were prepared and the actual work was begun. A donation of fifteen dollars was received to cover the preliminary cost of materials. Later we proceeded as rapidly as the offering at the children's services would provide the needed funds. Within a period of three years the children made the table on which the model of the tabernacle was to stand. They also made the boards and the stakes, covering them, wherever required, with gold leaf. They had to have the help of a skilled cabinetmaker for the construction of the furniture, and of an expert goldsmith to make the lampstand, the censer, and the vessels for the table of shewbread. Later, the shovels and tongs, the fire pans and ash receptacles of copper were added, as well as figures to represent the priests and Levites. These were hand-carved in wood. The first curtains and veils which were made by the children had to be supplanted by others made by the teachers. The linen material woven in the four colors blue, purple, scarlet and white, with gold cherubim inwoven on the loom was made in Stockholm, Sweden, by a company that provided altar-cloths for the Lutheran Church.

The task throughout has been fraught with difficulties which Jewish and Christian scholarship combined have failed to solve. The fact is that the Hebrew text is in many points obscure, translations vary, and interpreters are legion. Such a writer as T. O. Paine, LL.D., whose monumental work on Solomon's Temple includes a treatment of the tabernacle, has provided a valuable collection of original material which was of great assistance to us, although we were unable to accept many of his deductions. William Brown, E. E. Atwater, G. W. Colton, E. M. Epstein and others, all have afforded helpful suggestions, though the plans they adopted differ radically in many respects. The whole problem of the tabernacle construction, as prescribed in Exodus, seemed to be lost in a maze of unsupported conjecture. But the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg threw an entirely new light upon it. The Rev. Dr. E. E. lungerich, in a short article published in the Academy Journal of Education for 1916 (Vol. 15, p. 135), brought together the new interpretations suggested by Swedenborg, especially those in the Word Explained (Adversaria). These provided a reasonable solution of several questions which had vexed the scholars. Further search of Swedenborg's Writings afforded valuable suggestions in regard to modes of construction, as well as an explanation of the spiritual significance of the many details. There were still certain problems for which we could find no assured solution, and in regard to these we had to hazard suggestions of our own. Whatever errors may be discovered in the future, I think it may justly be said that the modes of construction we adopted are on the whole more historically probable, and lend themselves more readily to the illustration of the spiritual teaching given in Swedenborg's Writings, than those adopted by other scholars. Our hope is that the present work may prove to be a step in the right direction over which the scholars of the future may pass to more accurate conjectures, and to deeper perceptions of the Divine significance of the tabernacle.

We would acknowledge our indebtedness to all those who gave so willingly of their skill, their time and their energy to promote this project, especially to Mr. Wilfred Howard, the instructor in manual training; Miss Erna Sellner, Miss Venita Roschman, and Miss Elizabeth Ashby, who directed the work of the girls; Mr. Fred J. Cooper, who supervised the construction of the metal work, and identified the precious stones of the breastplate; also Mr. Thorsten Sigstedt, who carved the figures to represent the priests and Levites; and Mr. William R. Cooper, who for many years has taken care of the model, photographed its many parts and furnishings, and kept it in excellent repair.

George de Charms


If the tabernacle of Israel be regarded merely as a tent erected in the wilderness of Sinai thousands of years ago by a small and obscure tribe of people, to serve for a time as the center of their national worship, and then to crumble into dust and disappear except for the record preserved in the Scripture, why, we may well ask, would any one consider it important to study such a record?

The building is indeed architecturally unique. We find no temples that can be compared to it in the annals of any other nation.

For this reason it is regarded by historians as a strange anomaly. The account of the tabernacle has been preserved for a period of approximately thirty-five hundred years as part of the Divine Word. According to this account it differs from all other buildings ever erected in historic times in that its plan of construction was dictated from heaven. The only exception is the temple of Solomon which succeeded it. We also know that the tabernacle exerted a tremendous influence over the tribes of Israel. It served to change them from a horde of slaves into a strong nation, bound together by mutual love, by pride, and by fear. As a united people they were destined to fulfill a use to the race out of all proportion to their size, their political strength, or their international importance.

All this may stir in us a general interest in the tabernacle, but it could hardly induce any one to study the carefully prescribed details as to the dimensions of all the parts, the materials to be used, and colors to be employed in its construction, so minutely set forth in the book of Exodus. Even these specifications are not complete enough to provide for the actual building of the tabernacle. The sons of Israel must by some means have been able to understand them better than can the Biblical scholars of modern times. What value can there be, then, to the average reader, in studying them?

The answer does not lie in the mere fact that the tabernacle is symbolic. This is well known to Christian scholars, and many allegorical interpretations of its meaning are available. The answer lies rather in the fact that this symbolism has now been Divinely explained, so that men may know, not only that it is, but also what it is. In the light of this revelation, the tabernacle together with all its details is found to be of great practical value to man's understanding of religious life. It cannot be rightly understood without an accurate knowledge of the minute specifications recorded in the Scripture.

In general we are taught that the tabernacle represents the dwelling-place of God with man, and the medium of his conjunction with the Divine. It illustrates the way in which the Lord seeks to lead every human being in the path of regeneration. From it one may derive practical instruction as to how religion may exert a truly vital and saving influence over his life. This is possible because the tabernacle represents the human mind built according to Divine plan that it may serve as a "tent of meeting" where man may enquire of the Lord and receive Divine answers to guide him in the way of true happiness and peace. Surely it is important that we should learn the truth concerning that marvelous organism which is called the human mind. Here is the whole world of our conscious life. Yet it lies in large part beyond our ken and beyond the reach of scientific exploration. Its deeper mysteries can be discovered only by Divine revelation. They are contained in the account of the tabernacle as explained in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, from which they may be derived by careful study.

There we may learn that the tabernacle represents, not only the mind of man, where resides that "kingdom of God" which is "within you" as we read in the Gospels, but also the church, or the kingdom of God as an organized body of worshipers. From it counsel may be derived as to how such an ecclesiastical organization should be formed. According to what principles should it be governed in order that its worship may be vital? What will protect it against the eventual decline and fall which have come to every church body in the past? These are important and highly practical questions upon which Divine light is thrown by a study of the tabernacle.

Furthermore, just as this sacred building represents the church on earth, so also does it represent the kingdom of God in the heavens. From it we may learn the nature of life in heaven, and how it differs from life on earth. We may gain some accurate idea of how the angels live, and of what they do. We may learn how they affect the lives of men, and how in turn men exert an important influence over them.

Finally, the tabernacle represents the Human of the Lord, the temple of His body. We may learn how God descended to assume a Human from the Virgin Mary, and how that Human was glorified and at last fully united In the Infinite Divine above the heavens. The Lord Jesus Christ, during His life on earth, fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. He fulfilled the prophecy concealed in the building of the tabernacle. He came "a light into the world" and became the "Way," the "Truth" and the "Life" because He traversed the stages of progress ordained for all men who would come into heaven. So doing, He provided for the salvation of the whole human race.

The truth involved in the building of the tabernacle is infinite in scope. As now revealed it performs a miracle no less astonishing than that which is described in the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel. Not only the chapters in Exodus which contain such endless, uninteresting, and seemingly useless specifications of the tabernacle, but the entire Word of both Testaments suddenly takes on surprising new life and character. What had appeared as a "valley full of bones" upon which we looked and "lo they were very dry," becomes a place of human habitation. As the Lord, speaking in the Heavenly Doctrine, prophesied over thete "bones," there spiritually was heard "a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone." "The sinews and flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above . . . and the breath came into them and they lived and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army." (Ezekiel 37: 2, 7-10) The "bones" referred to by Ezekiel are said to mean "the whole house of Israel," that is, the entire story of Israel as given in the Old Testament. This has become dry bones because its inner meaning is not understood. The Divine truth revealed in the Writings infuses it with new life, and the description of the tabernacle becomes a source of spiritual instruction and enlightenment of surpassing value to all mankind.

This is what gives such absorbing interest to our study of the tabernacle. It is the reason why we undertook the task of making an accurate model of the original. To convey to the reader some glimpse of the wonderful truth it symbolizes is the purpose of the present volume. We have attempted to pursue only one phase of its spiritual representation, namely, that which concerns the formation of the human mind during the process of man's regeneration. To this end we have undertaken to explain the model, to illustrate it by photographic reproductions, and to make clear the important details of its construction. In order best to accomplish our main purpose we have followed the order of description given in Exodus. If we were considering only the historical aspects of the subject, this would not appear to be the most natural mode of procedure. We would then treat first of the general aspect of the building, of the court that surrounds it, and pass from this to a description of the walls, the foundation, the curtains, and how all these were used in the construction of the building. Last of all we would treat of the furniture, and of the worship that was performed by the priests and Levites. There is an important reason, however, why in the Scripture, this order is reversed. There the description starts with that which is inmost, and proceeds thence to the circumference. After mentioning the materials that were offered for the building of the tabernacle, the sacred account describes the construction of the ark, which was to be placed in the holy of holies. Then the narrative proceeds to the table of shewbread, the lampstand, and the altar of incense, and describes how they were to be situated in the holy place. Next are described the curtains and veils that belong to the holy place, and finally the altar of burnt offering, the laver, the posts, hangings and stakes of the court. This is the true order when the matter is viewed from a spiritual standpoint. All creation begins from the inmost and proceeds to the circumference because it begins from the Lord, who is the only Creator. Of this we will speak in a later chapter. Here only we would note that we have followed this essential order because we are primarily interested in the spiritual meaning involved in it. We have added a description of the priests and Levites, noting their tribal divisions, their respective garments, and the duties assigned to each. Also we shall give some account of the sacrifices offered in the tabernacle, and their spiritual representation. And finally we shall describe the camp of Israel, the order of encampment and of the march, all of which are profoundly significant.

That the text may read easily, and not become too involved for the nontechnical student, matters requiring particular analysis or tabulation have been relegated to appendices, to which suitable references are given.





A general view of the tabernacle, as its original form is reproduced in the model, gives an impression of extreme simplicity. There is nothing imposing or architecturally attractive in its design. An oblong boxlike building with a flat roof, standing within a rectangular court marked off by a fence of plain white linen is all that appears. The outer covering of the building is of white kidskin. The only touch of color is found in the linen hanging at the gate of the court, and a similar hanging at the door of the tabernacle. These alone give promise of the richness and beauty that lie concealed under a very unprepossessing exterior.

Closer examination, however, brings to light a surprising costliness of construction. If we remove the two veils we find the interior of the tabernacle gorgeously colorful. It is not impressively large, its inside measurements being 10 cubits in width, 10 cubits in height, and 30 cubits in length.1 Three of the walls are formed by means of boards set up on end, fastened together by means of rods which, passing through a gold ring in the center of each board, extend the entire length of the building. There are five of these rods on each wall, the center one being engaged with the center rod of the end wall, thus joining the three walls into a solid unit. There are forty-eight boards, twenty on each side, six on the west end, with two called "twinned boards" forming the corners. Each board is of shittim wood 11/2 cubits wide, 1/6 cubit thick, and 10 cubits long, with two tenons extending from the lower end. Each tenon passes through a block or base of silver, by which the end of the board is protected, and is then driven into the ground to hold the board firmly in place. The boards and rods are all covered with thin plates of gold, while the bases form a foundation of silver. The ceiling is of linen colored in transverse stripes of blue, purple, scarlet and white, with an inwoven pattern of cherubim in gold thread.

1 The cubit is an ancient unit of measure representing the length of the forearm from the elbow to the end of the middle finger. The standard of this measure used in different nations of antiquity was various and we have no exact knowledge as to which of these was adopted by the Israelites. We have arbitrarily chosen 18 inches as the most probable and convenient standard for our purposes. The model is constructed to a scale of 1 inch to the cubit.

At a point 10 cubits from the west end,2 there is a line of four pillars extending to the ceiling. Upon these is hung a veil of material and workmanship similar to that of the ceiling. The tabernacle is thus divided into two apartments. Each pillar is of shittim wood covered with gold. It is furnished with a capital of gold and rests upon a base of silver similar to those under the boards. Another line of pillars is placed two cubits from the east end of the building. These differ in only two particulars from those already described. There are five of them instead of four, and their bases are of copper instead of silver. On these is hung the hanging of the door, similar in every respect to the veil, except that the cherubim in this case are not inwoven but are embroidered in gold thread. The room behind the veil is the inmost sanctuary called the holy of holies. It is cubical in shape, measuring 10 cubits in its three dimensions. It is shrouded in darkness, there being no provision for light either natural or artificial. It contains but one article of furniture, namely, the ark, in which the tables of the law were kept.

2 The gate of the court and the door of the tabernacle were toward the east. This placement was the general custom with all temples prior to the Christian era. No specific statement as to the reason for this is given, but an explanation offered by Bishop W. F. Pendleton has been widely accepted. According to his theory, before the Lord's Advent, the sanctuary was placed in the west and the entrance in the east because the perception of the Divine was then in obscurity, while all religious symbolism pointed toward a tremendous enlightenment to result from the coming of the Messiah. After the Advent, when the Divine Human had been made manifest, men turned to Him in worship and placed the sanctuary in the east. The change in custom in this matter may be compared to the similar reversal with regard to the sabbath. Before the incarnation the holy day was the seventh, the last day of the week and the day on which Jehovah rested from the work of creation. After that event it was the first of the week, the day of the resurrection, which was consecrated to the worship of the Lord.

The ark was a box of shittim wood, 21/2 cubits long, 11/2 cubits broad, and 11/2 cubits deep. It was covered within and without with gold. Over it, and forming a lid held in place by a band or crown of gold, was a solid golden plate called the mercy seat. On each end of this mercy seat was a winged human figure of beaten gold. These cherubin were kneeling, looking toward one another and toward the mercy seat, their wings outstretched and touching over their heads. (Exodus 25:19, 20) At each corner of the box, just below the crown, was an orb of gold through which were passed the wooden rods with which the ark was carried. When in position, the ark was in the center of the holy of holies, its longer dimension running east and west.

The outer room of the tabernacle, between the veil and the hanging of the door, was called the holy place. Its height and width were both 10 cubits, but it was 20 cubits in length. Here were three articles of furniture, the altar of incense, placed immediately in front of the veil and equidistant from the two side walls; the table of shewbread against the north wall halfway between the two hangings; and directly opposite it against the south wall, stood the seven-branched candlestick (more properly to be called a lampstand).

The altar of incense was a hollow box of wood covered with gold, 1 cubit square and 2 cubits high. Its upper surface was flush with the top of the sides and bound round by a band or crown of gold. In the middle of the north and south sides, just under the crown, was an orb of gold through which rods were passed by which the altar was carried. The table of shewbread was of wood covered with gold, 2 cubits in length, 1 cubit in breadth, and 11/2 cubits in height. It was supported on four legs. The top was a plain gold-covered board under which, and flush with its edges, was a skirt of similar material to give strength to the legs. This was 1/4 of a cubit in width. Around the top of the table, and extending a palm-breadth or 4 inches above its upper surface, was a crown of gold; and a similar crown 1/6 of a cubit in width bound the skirt at its lower edge to the legs. The lampstand was of pure beaten gold. It consisted of a central standard rising out of a hexagonal base to the height of 41/2 cubits. From each side of the standard sprang three curved branches terminated at the same height as the standard. On each branch were three ornaments of gold, each consisting of a pomegranate resting in the hollow of a partly opened almond shell, with the petals as of a flower proceeding out of the pomegranate from its upper side. On the standard there were four similar ornaments, one under each of the branches and one between the upper branch and the top. The top of the standard and of each branch was terminated by a cup-shaped depression in which a lamp rested. The lamps were detached from the candlestick itself and could be removed. In design they were flat bowls with a handle and a covered lip through which a wick was passed to draw up the olive oil with which the lamps were supplied. The coverings of the tabernacle were four in number. The first was of linen, with alternate stripes of blue, purple, scarlet and white, and with inwoven cherubim in gold, as described above. It was made in ten strips, each measuring 4 cubits in width and 28 cubits in length. Five of these strips were sewed together to make a curtain measuring 20 by 28 cubits. The same was done with the other five. At one of the longer edges were placed fifty loops of blue. This curtain was thrown over the tops of the boards, forming the ceiling, and falling over the sides to within 1 cubit of the ground. The point of juncture where the two edges of loops came together fell 20 cubits from the east end and 10 cubits from the west end, or at the dividing line between the holy of holies and the holy place, immediately over the pillars from which the veil was suspended. The two curtains were joined by means of s-shaped hooks or taches of gold passed through the loops of blue and serving at the same time as supports for the veil. On the west side this curtain extended all the way to the ground. Over this was thrown a second covering of wool. It was made in eleven strips, each 4 cubits wide and 30 cubits long. Five strips were sewed together and six strips were sewed together, and the two curtains thus formed were joined by fifty loops of white and fifty taches or hooks of copper. It was so placed over the linen curtain that the sixth strip extended 2 cubits beyond the east end of the tabernacle, and these 2 cubits were folded under the linen curtain, forming thus the ceiling of that portion of the tabernacle which lay outside the hanging of the door. This arrangement brought the seams of the wool curtain in the middle of each strip of the linen curtain, so that at no point did they coincide; and it brought the juncture of the two unequal halves 2 cubits west of the veil. The wool curtain extended to the ground on both sides, and the last 2 cubits lay upon the ground at the west end. Over this again was a covering of rams' skins dyed red. Its dimensions are not specifically given, but it probably reached the ground on all sides, giving complete protection to the first two curtains. The final covering was of kidskins (called badgers' skins in the Scripture; see Chapter VII) and was smaller than that of rams' skins, leaving exposed to view around the bottom of the wall a strip, the width of which is not indicated. Ropes of linen fastened to pins in the tops of the boards which passed through the four coverings served to stretch the ceiling taut, while by means of cords and stakes the sides were stretched tightly down against the base of the wall.3

3. It has been objected that a flat roof of skins would not be practical as a means of shedding the water, and for this reason many scholars have thought it necessary to provide a ridge-pole. There is, however, no provision for this in the Scripture, and to attempt it, as T. O. Paine has done, necessitates radical changes in the dimensions of the curtains. We reflect that there was little rainfall in the Sinai peninsula, and we recall the fact that many of the arab tents especially the larger ones have at least a partially flat roof. It is the custom to this day to remove from them any water that may collect there by the simple method of poking them up from below with a pole. At any rate this practical difficulty is not a serious one when compared to the consequences of introducing a ridge pole and a sloping roof, by which the whole contour of the building would be changed.

This same objection to altering the prescribed and representative shape of the building prevents us from adopting the method employed by most scholars of stretching out the curtains at an angle. They must be held perpendicularly against the walls.

Turning now to the court, we note that it was rectangular in shape, measuring 100 cubits in length and 50 cubits in breadth. The tabernacle was placed in it at a point equidistant from the two sides, and with its eastern end marking the median line between the gate and the western wall.4 Its wall of white linen was supported upon sixty pillars of shittim wood, not covered with gold. They were placed 5 cubits apart, twenty on each side and ten on each end. The hanging for the gate was of linen in the four colors, embroidered in gold in some indefinite design other than cherubim (it is thought by some to have been floral or folioform in conventional pattern). It was 20 cubits long and was hung from the four central pillars of the east end. Each pillar had a capital of silver and a base of copper, and was supported by linen cords and stakes of copper, after the manner of a tent pole. In this court there were two articles of furniture, the altar of burnt offering and the laver.

4. That the eastern end of the tabernacle was 50 cubits from either end of the court is the generally accepted view of the scholars, although there is not the slightest trace of evidence, either for or against it. Nothing is said in the Scripture as to the position of the tabernacle in the court, and there is no traditional testimony on the subject known to us. This situation, however, has been adopted on theoretical grounds as most probable. It provides for a large space in front of the tabernacle where the ceremonies were performed. It makes the distance from the west wall 20 cubits, and that from each of the side walls 15 cubits, which would seem to be in accord with the requirements of symmetry. Also it renders all the measurements in relation to the court and the tabernacle to be multiples of five, and thus gives them a just basis of correspondence. No other placement that we could suggest would meet so well these three requirements.

The altar was placed in the center near the gate. It was 5 cubits square and 3 cubits high. Its four sides were made of shittim wood covered with copper. The top of the altar was formed by means of a copper grate, which was folded down at right angles to cover the upper half of the sides. From the four corners extended horns of wood covered with copper. Binding the grate to the altar was a band of copper called the compass, 1/3 of a cubit wide, and bent at right angles along its median line. It was so placed about the top of the altar that its horizontal side covered the upper edge of the boards, and its vertical side covered their outer surface to a depth of 1/6 of a cubit minus the thickness of the grate. At the four corners, just under the compass and on the two lateral sides, were orbs of copper to hold the rods with which the altar was carried. On three sides the ground was mounded up around the altar to form a gradual incline of ascent for the officiating priest. On the east side the ground was hollowed out to permit the removal of the ashes that fell down through the grate when the sacrifices were burnt.

Between the altar and the tabernacle was placed the laver. Its shape and dimensions are not given. Our conception of it is that of a large shallow bowl supported on a central standard which rises out of a saucer-like base. Water was poured into the bowl, which served as a reservoir, and was drained into the base by means of taps in the standard. The ceremonial washings were performed in the base, and possibly (according to the universal custom of the ancients) in running water as it was drawn from the taps. However, much in connection with the laver is pure speculation, as very little information is available concerning it. Without specific Scriptural warrant we have placed it a little south of the center line and halfway between the altar and the tabernacle.5

5 With reference to this there is difference of opinion. On purely correspondential grounds it is held by some that the laver should be toward the north. It is said of the molten sea, however, in Solomon's temple (which has, of course, a similar signification) that "he set it on the right side of the house eastward over against the south" (1 Kings 7:39). This has seemed to us to give the most reliable clue to the probable position of the laver.

This cursory survey of the tabernacle and its furniture reveals how astonishingly costly were the appointments of this apparently simple structure. The expense involved in the reproduction at this day of a full-sized model, faithful to all the details of material and workmanship, is estimated at not less than $1,500,000. Our own model, in which time and labor costs have virtually been eliminated, represents an expenditure of approximately $1,500. To bring it within this figure it has been necessary to substitute brass in certain places where gold is called for. The rings, for instance, through which are passed the rods connecting the boards, are of brass instead of gold, not only because the cost of the more precious metal was prohibitive, but because gold would not be sufficiently strong in so small a model to withstand the strain at these points.

If we reflect that there were in the twelve tribes a total of 603,550 fighting men (Numbers 1:46), and that this implies a congregation of not less than 2,500,000 souls, the size of the tabernacle may seem to be altogether inadequate. We must remember, however, that it was not used as a place in which the people gathered, as is the custom with Christian churches. It was merely a place in which the rites and ceremonies of worship were performed by the priests, and, aside from the officiating Levites, none were permitted to enter through the gate of the court except such as came to offer some sacrifice to the Lord. Even the Levites were not allowed to enter the holy place; and none but the high priest passed through the inner veil into the holy of holies. This he did once a year, on the great day of atonement.

In all respects we find the tabernacle ingeniously adapted to the needs of a nomadic people. Held in place by cords and stakes, it could quickly be taken down, transported from place to place, and set up again. To this service the Levites were appointed, their three families: the Merarites, the Gershonites, and the Kohathites each being assigned to special duties later to be described.

There are a few principles of construction which are here to be mentioned because of their importance. First, all the lines of the tabernacle were straight, and all its divisions were rectangular. Its pillars were not round but square. Its roof was not sloping but flat. Its sides were perpendicular. Second, it was so constructed that all its parts were visible from some point. This principle determines the construction in various respects concerning which there is divergence of view among scholars. And third, its dimensions were for the most part multiples of five. The reason why these seemingly trivial matters are of vital concern will be pointed out in the following chapters, where we shall develop the relation of the structural characteristics of the building to the Divine function assigned to it among the Israelites.


the origin of the tabernacle may be traced to the very beginning of human society. The tradition of a "golden age" that existed in pre-historic times, survives in many parts of the world, and is pictured in the folk-lore and fable of many nations. Those who lived in that primal era dwelt in tents, leading a nomadic life. They were not congregated in cities, but lived apart in families or tribes. They were extremely simple, almost like animals in some respects; but they had none of the savage characteristics that are ascribed to pre-historic men by the advocates of scientific evolution. Swedenborg describes them as being "in the order of their life." From the very beginning, he says, man was created to perceive spiritual things, that is, the things that belong to heaven, because he was destined to live in heaven after the death of the body. The period of his sojourn upon the earth was intended merely as a necessary preparation for his eternal life. For this reason he was created to love spiritual things, and to take a spontaneous delight in learning about them. Of course these primitive human beings were born into complete ignorance, just as men are at the present day. But the greatest joy of their life was to perceive, within the objects in their environment, the immediate presence of God, and His merciful providence. Children were taught by their parents. The father of the family was both the priest and the king. From him they received instruction in all things of life. In addition to this, all adults enjoyed open communication with spirits and angels, and through these God appeared to them and taught them directly, even as He did later by means of the prophets of His Word.1 They are said, indeed, to have spoken with God face to face.2

Because of their inborn nature, even from childhood their interest was centered upon spiritual things, and all the material objects of nature appeared to them as the symbols of heavenly truth and good. Mountains and plains, rivers and seas, all the forms of vegetable and animal life, spoke to them continually of God, and of His love and wisdom. No one at that time had the slightest interest in scientific knowledge. Nature was to them the "Word" of God. It was an open book, from which, as they advanced in knowledge and experience, they were imbued with heavenly wisdom.

The center of their life was the tent which was their home. Here they not only found protection from the elements, but the sense of security that comes from a perception of the immediate presence of God. Their daily life was devoted to the worship of the Deity, expressing their gratitude and thanks for every Divine blessing in all the activities of their life rather than in formal rituals. Therefore, the tent in which they lived was the place where they communed with God, and the place of His perpetual indwelling with them.3

1. A.C. 241, 2144, 2722, 3394, 3686, 8118.
2. A.E. 41216. A.C. 125.
3. A.C. 1102, 3312. C.L. 75.

We learn from the Sacred Scripture that this state of pristine innocence declined with the passage of time because men immersed themselves more and more in the delights of the body and the material world. As they did so their perception of spiritual truth was dimmed, and the world around them ceased to convey any Divine message. Holding their eyes fixed upon the earth, they no longer saw the wonders of heaven. Their communication with the angels was cut off, and they lost all knowledge of God. The symbols remained, but their significance was no longer understood. The outer appearance was mistaken for the inner reality, and the worship of the living God was turned into the worship of man-made idols.

In order that genuine faith should not perish from the earth, the Lord raised up a new church, spoken of in Genesis as being established with Noah and with his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. To this church was given a written Word, formed at first from the oral traditions preserved and passed on from one generation to another, through the gradual decline of the "Most Ancient Ghurch." To these traditions were added new revelations, imparted by means of visions and dreams to prophets, who wrote down their spiritual experiences under immediate Divine inspiration. By this means the men of the "Ancient Church" were instructed in the "science of correspondences," and acquired, by conscious effort, some slight understanding of those heavenly truths which their forefathers had perceived spontaneously, and in great abundance. Gradually they were brought back into an order receptive of influx from heaven.4 The slow process of this return, and the labor and suffering it involved, is referred to in the Scriptural story by that which was said concerning Adam when he was cast out of the garden of Eden: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:17-19)5

By means of the judgment of the Most Ancient Church which is represented by the "flood" the state of the human race was radically changed. Men on earth no longer enjoyed celestial perception. Their communication with heaven could be maintained only by means of formal worship according to correspondential rituals. These were Divinely ordained by means of the prophets and the written Word. Those who had belonged to the Most Ancient Church still lived in the spiritual world, and at the time of the "flood" they were organized by the Lord into the celestial heaven. Through this heaven the Lord could be present with the men of the Ancient Church, to teach, to lead, and to save. He appeared to the prophets as the "Angel of Jehovah" and established a truly representative church on earth. This mode of Divine government was possible, however, only so long as men were willing to listen to the teaching of the prophets, and to obey the Word given through them. In the course of time, this reliance upon Divine teaching declined. More and more men insisted upon directing their lives by their own will, and according to their own judgment. Again they turned away from the contemplation of spiritual things to the pursuit of worldly wealth and power. Religion was used to promote selfish ambitions, and to subject the simple to the domination of the learned and astute. Once more, genuine worship became idolatrous. The knowledge of correspondences was lost, and rituals became corrupt. They then could no longer form the basis of influx and inspiration from heaven.

5 A.C. 370-398.

Lest all true faith and worship perish, and the human race be cut off completely from Divine guidance, it was imperative that somewhere in the world, truly representative worship should be restored. This was the reason for the establishment of the Israelitish Church. To this end Abraham was called out of Haran, to become the founder of a nation pledged to the worship of Jehovah. Abraham was an idolater. He worshiped the god Shaddai as a tribal deity. In fact when he heard the voice of Jehovah, he thought Shaddai was speaking, because he knew no other god. Nevertheless, he followed the Divine command and journeyed to the land of Canaan. There he prospered, and the promise was given that his descendants would become a great nation, to whom this land would be given as a Divine inheritance. There follows the familiar story of Isaac, of Jacob, and of Joseph, as recorded in Genesis. Joseph was sold by his brethren into Egypt. Thither he brought his father and his brethren to dwell in the land of Goshen. In the course of time their descendants were reduced to slavery, and Moses was raised up to deliver them. When they escaped from their oppressors, they were led into the wilderness, and at last to Mount Sinai, where Jehovah appeared to Moses in the midst of a fiery cloud, before the eyes of all the people. There Jehovah gave the Ten Commandments, written on two tables of stone with the finger of God. There also Moses saw in heaven the vision of a sacred tabernacle which the sons of Israel were commanded to build, as a shrine for their worship.

Every detail of this heavenly tabernacle was representative of things heavenly, that is, of the truth concerning God and concerning His kingdom in the hearts of men. The sons of Israel, who, under the direction of Moses, built the tabernacle, and later worshiped in it, perceived nothing of its deep symbolism. Yet because it was constructed in accord with the Divine law of correspondences, it could serve as the basis of influx from heaven, and could become the true dwelling-place of God with men. When the Israelites looked upon this tent, regarding it as holy, and as the veritable abode of Deity, the angels could be present and in their thought of it could perceive the spiritual meaning of all its details. It brought back to the angels the memory of the tents in which they had dwelt during their life on earth, and together with this the joy of their worship. This their joy was then perceived vaguely by the sons of Israel as a sense of awe, and profound reverence.

This explains the secret of the tremendous power which the tabernacle worship exerted over the congregation of Israel, and over every individual within it. This is why the tabernacle could become in very truth a House of God, where Jehovah might be present with His people, and might communicate with Moses and with Aaron from behind the veil of the holy of holies.

Now, the point we would emphasize is this: as to every detail the tabernacle represented the mind of man, which is designed to be a living temple, for the eternal indwelling of God. The building is significant of the life of religion by which man's mind is re-formed, under the immediate guidance of the Lord that He may establish His abode within it. Man's regeneration is therefore the real subject of our study. The human mind is the most wonderful, and the most complex of God's creations. The mode by which it is formed into a living temple contains infinite depths of Divine wisdom. This is why the account of the tabernacle has been so meticulously preserved, and why the record of it in the Scripture is of so great importance to a genuine understanding of religion, of man's relation to God, and of the Divinely ordained way of human salvation.


God is the infinite Creator of the universe. He is the Source of all life, of all activity and motion. He is present everywhere, perpetually creating new things, and perpetually preserving in existence things created. It cannot be otherwise because He is the only Substance, the All in all things, both great and small. He governs the movements of the stars in their appointed orbits, and with absolute precision, moves with unimaginable speed the protons and electrons of which the seemingly dead atoms of matter are composed. Such a cosmic conception of the Divine Omnipresence will admit of no limitation. Wherever anything exists, there God must be. It is this that is so poetically expressed by the Psalmist in the words, "Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend into heaven Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalm 139:7-10)

We encounter an intellectual difficulty therefore in thinking of the tabernacle as a special or peculiar dwelling place of God. Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, gives expression to it: "Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded." (1 Kings 8:27) How then can a tent be a dwelling place of God?

The Hebrews certainly conceived of the tabernacle as the localized abode of deity. Indeed, the idea of God as abiding in a specific place is found in all ancient religions. There are traces in every primitive race of the belief in a supreme Being, the Ruler of all the gods, Infinite, Uncreate and Omnipresent. But at the time of Moses this Being was unknown. He was thought of as invisible, intangible, remote, and inaccessible to men. He was not a Being to be worshiped or invoked. It was the lesser divinities, of whom there were many, who took an active part in human affairs, whose favor could be secured through ritualistic observances, and whose wrath could be averted by propitiatory sacrifices. Those with whom practical religion was associated, were idols conceived as local gods, restricted in operation to some specific country or place. Each was claimed as the special protector of a particular family or nation. Each must be sought out in his own favorite haunt if communication with him were to be effectively established, and there he must be approached by the formularies dictated by age-old religious custom. Such places became sacred by virtue of some miraculous manifestation of Divine power or some supernatural appearance of the god. The place itself, by its familiar surroundings, recalled to mind the god who had made himself visible there. The rituals with which he was invoked had their origin in a representation of the deity, or of his special qualities and attributes by which his presence could be invoked as if by the association of ideas. Here we have the origin of the oracles and shrines recorded in ancient history. Perhaps it was a mountain, a tree or a grove, in which the local god had taken his abode. If there were no natural marks by which the spot where he had appeared could unmistakably be known, perhaps a pillar was erected there to his memory, or in later times a temple might be built and dedicated to him. But in any case, wherever the god had chosen to reveal himself, there was his natural abode, and this was the only place where he could properly be worshiped.

Because the Infinite God cannot be limited in space, to ascribe to Him a particular place would seem to be entirely unwarranted. For this reason, supposed appearances of God have been ascribed by Biblical scholars to the superstitious imagination of primitive peoples. They are said to have had their origin in the fact that men, unable to fathom the secret operation of natural law, ascribed supernatural powers to any object or event which seemed wonderful, strange, or awe-inspiring. Men must have passed frequently through experiences which were bewildering and terrifying, before they had acquired sufficient scientific knowledge or rational philosophy to provide a reasonable explanation for such things. It is only to be expected that they should attach to these remarkable experiences undue importance and imagine them to be Divine manifestations. Therefore this worship of local gods is supposed to have no basis in fact, but to represent merely the first groping after religious truth by people struggling up from the abysmal darkness of savagery.

However, if such a theory is accepted, it must be applied to the Jews as well as to other nations. It would discredit the whole story of the appearance of Jehovah to Moses on Mount Sinai, on the supposition that that story had been written at a much later date, based on traditions that were entirely unfounded. But if this were the case, how can the unique development of religion among the sons of Israel be explained? There is nothing in their historic background to account for it. Certainly, the exalted utterances ascribed to Moses, and later to such great prophets as Isaiah and Jeremiah, bear testimony to a concept of God and of religion far in advance of anything to be found among contemporary peoples. It is true that in many respects the sons of Israel also were idolators. They conceived of Jehovah as a local or national God who had appeared to Moses, had given him the stone tables of the Decalogue, and had made a covenant with them as His chosen people. The tables of stone were the perpetual token of this appearance, and a perpetual reminder of the covenant. The tabernacle was built to serve as a sacred repository of the Law. The only difference between this and the shrines of other nations was that the tables of the Decalogue could be moved from place to place, and still provide access to Jehovah.

That the worship performed in the tabernacle was not regarded as different in kind from that of other nations, is evident from the fact that the sons of Israel repeatedly fell into the idolatrous customs of the surrounding countries. Only by repeated punishments could they be induced to maintain the purity of their own worship.

Nevertheless it cannot be denied that the Jewish people did develop a theology incomparably superior to that of other nations. From what source was this derived, if not from Divine revelation? There is nothing inherent in the Hebrew character to account for it. As a people they were far less cultured than were the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, or the Romans. For two hundred and fifty years they had been slaves, treated with contempt, and deprived of every advantage of education. Their wanderings in the wilderness were not conducive to intellectual development. They demonstrated no outstanding creative ability, and no inventive genius. A less auspicious material out of which to build a strong and aggressive nation, can hardly be imagined. How they could produce unaided, so remarkable a building as the tabernacle, or such exalted literature as is found in the prophesies of Isaiah, is almost beyond belief.

The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, however, explain this strange phenomenon by establishing the actual appearance of Jehovah to Moses as an historic fact. They teach that religion did not arise out of superstitious imaginings of ignorant primitive people. There actually is a God, and He does reveal Himself to men. He did so from the beginning of time. He made His presence manifest in specific places, and thereby established shrines, at which His further presence could be invoked. He actually abode with men in groves, in caves, upon mountains, or at pillars and altars of stone erected by men. But how can this be understood?

God is indeed present everywhere in creation; but His presence in nature is not seen. Where He is not seen, He is, as it were absent. Where He is seen, he is said to be present in a special sense.1 Man alone can see God. Only by the human mind can He be consciously perceived, and there alone can He be worshiped. In ancient times God revealed Himself to men in visions and dreams, and these were associated with places. Such places were regarded as holy, and men returned to them in the hope that communication with God might be repeated. They invoked such a presence by prayers and rituals of worship. The memories connected with such a holy place invited Divine influx and presence. Is this not still true? Do not church buildings, dedicated to worship and hallowed by the sphere of worship oft repeated, open the mind to the perception of spiritual truth?

1 A.C. 10146, 10645. H.H. 121, 147. S.S. 78. D.P. 326.

God can reveal Himself to man only if man is willing to seek His presence. Love is the light of the mind, and only those in whom is the love of God, can see God. This is plainly taught by the Lord Himself in the Book of Revelation: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20) Only so long as men were willing to seek the Lord's presence could He reveal Himself. When they turned their hearts and their minds away from Him to the things of self and the world, He was hidden from their view. The key to His presence was man's willingness to see Him, to know Him, and to obey His will; and a state conducive to His appearance could be induced by an appropriate environment.2

2. Note the teaching of the Writings on this subject, A.C. 4580, 1925, 10208, et al. The fact is recognized in Christian ritual in the Holy Supper, recalling as it does the Lord's crucifixion and resurrection. Concerning this the Lord Himself said, "This do in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19)

This explains how Jehovah could have appeared to Moses, at the burning bush (Exodus Chapter 3) and later on Mount Sinai. But this was at a time when all men had turned away from God, and when the ancient oracles had been used to deceive the people, and induce them to believe that a god had appeared. If He were to appear to the sons of Israel, they must be inspired to seek His presence, and to become subject to His will. To this end they were led into Egypt, reduced to bondage, and held in ignorance for many generations. Only when they had been reduced into a state receptive of Divine guidance could they be delivered by miraculous power, and brought to Sinai. There they saw the fiery cloud, and heard the thunder, and were filled with awe. Although they were not capable of spiritual vision, they could then be led by the fear of punishment, and the hope of reward, to obey with meticulous care, the commands of Jehovah given through Moses. They could be brought to accept the covenant by which Jehovah promised to lead them, protect them, and give them victory over their enemies, if only they would obey His Law. When all this preparation had been made, a new, truly representative worship would be instituted among them. The tabernacle was actually seen by Moses in spiritual vision, and was built according to specifications received from heaven. The tables of the Law were placed in the holy of holies, and served as the medium of Divine communication because they testified to the appearance of Jehovah on Mount Sinai. So long then as the sons of Israel obeyed the covenant, and by their worship invited the Lord to enter, He could communicate with Moses and Aaron from behind the veil. The camp of Israel, ordered by Divine command, with the tabernacle in its center, became the "place," the natural environment, that conditioned the minds of the congregation to receive the Divine presence. For the time being, the tabernacle became in reality the dwelling place of God, the one place on earth where He was truly present with men, although even there He was not seen, but spoke out of the darkness of the holy of holies.


To the sons of Israel the tabernacle was a localized abode of Deity. It was the only place in the world where the voice of Jehovah could be heard. Only there could they be assured of Divine protection and guidance. Around it their whole national life revolved. Nevertheless, its use was temporary. When they had been settled in the land of Canaan, it was no longer needed, and in time it was abandoned. Only the Ark remained in use as the instrument of communication with Jehovah, and this was brought to Jerusalem by King David. (2 Samuel Chapter 6) In the reign of Solomon the temple was built to take the place of the tabernacle. It was a magnificent building of stone, designed to provide for the far more elaborate worship that was required by the greatly increased numbers of the Jewish people. This temple also served only for a time. It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar when the Jews were taken captive to Babylon. Another temple was built by Ezra and Nehemiah after the years of captivity, but this was destroyed by the Greek rulers of Syria. When Herod was appointed king of the Jews by the Roman emperor, he restored the temple, and worship according to the ancient rites was performed there until seventy A.D. when this last abode of God was razed to the ground by the Roman army in the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. However, its use as a national shrine had been fulfilled, and it was no longer needed. The representative of a church, of which it had been the center, was replaced, at the advent of the Lord, by a truly spiritual church, dedicated to the worship of Jesus Christ, risen and glorified. Thenceforth, God was to be seen, not in a local building, but in His Word. Especially was He to be seen in the Gospels, where the life-story of Jesus Christ was faithfully recorded by the Evangelists. There also, by the Sermon on the Mount, and by other teachings, the Lord began to unveil the inner meaning of the Old Testament Word, which had been concealed from the Jews. He revealed a new vision of God, and imparted to men a new concept of the Divine Will, on which the Christian Church was founded. He taught that the worship of God was no longer to be confined to a specific place, because He would thenceforth be present wherever His Word was known and understood, and reverently obeyed. Thus when the woman of Samaria spoke to Jesus Christ at Jacob's well saying: "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:20-24) Jesus Christ could openly declare only the broad generals of religious truth, during His life in the world. That further revelation would be necessary He plainly foretold, saying: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16:12-15)

This prophecy was fulfilled at the time of the Lord's second coming, when, through His servant Emanuel Swedenborg, the spiritual truth contained in the Word of both Testaments, was made known in great abundance. It was explained in rational terms in great detail. It is contained in some thirty-five volumes, all of which taken together are called "the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Jerusalem." On this revelation a New Christian Church is now being established. Here, in the work entitled the Arcana Coelestia we find a spiritual exposition in great detail of those chapters in the book of Exodus that describe the construction of the tabernacle.

We have pointed out that, although God is present everywhere in the universe, He can be consciously present only in the human mind. The human mind is an instrument Divinely created to become aware of God's presence, to perceive His Divine qualities of love and wisdom, that He may be loved in return, and worshiped from the heart. This is now the real tabernacle of God, the place of His indwelling with man.

However, in order that God may dwell in the human mind, it must be formed and built into a tabernacle. It is not so formed from man's birth, but during childhood, it is built out of sense impressions derived from the material world. On these all man's ideas are based. Only at adult age, after these worldly materials have been provided, can the process of constructing the tabernacle out of these materials be begun. This is because, during the years of minority, every one is dependent upon the external control and guidance of parents and teachers. He has not yet acquired the ability to think and judge for himself. His mind is patterned by others, through instruction and education. If it is to become a tabernacle for the indwelling of God with him, it must be reformed in accord with his own will and personal choice. Only by his own free election can his mind be opened to receive the Lord as his own individual God, the object of His individual love and worship.

This re-ordering of the human mind by a gradual process of regeneration, is what is specifically meant by the building of the tabernacle as described in Exodus. It can be accomplished only according to the Divine laws of life which are revealed in the Heavenly Doctrine. They are explained in connection with all the details of the account recorded by Moses.

It is important in the first place to note that the tabernacle was built of materials that were given by the sons of Israel as a free-will offering to the Lord. "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel that they bring to Me an offering: of every man that giveth willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering." (Exodus 25:1, 2) This is the first essential of a spiritual religion. It must be free. Man must sacrifice his own will in order to obey the will of God. What he must sacrifice, is not any material possession, but things of the spirit. They must be selfish loves, and self-centered goals that are contrary to the Divine will. These must be disciplined, and made subject to the love of service to others, and charity toward the neighbor. In no other way can the mind be opened to receive heavenly love and wisdom from the Lord.

But what does this have to do with the minute details of the tabernacle? Is this not recognized as true by those of every religion in the world? In spite of all their differences as to doctrine and religious life, do not all religions require of man that he live a life of use to others? Do they not all acknowledge the Ten Commandments as laws to be observed? What else does God require of any one than that which is so simply expressed by the prophet Micah: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:6-8)

The law of religion, thus stated, is very simple; but human life is very complex. This becomes evident when we attempt to understand the laws of nature, and to use them for the benefit of human society. The field of scientific knowledge is beyond all limits. Its details are so numerous, that even in a life-time of devoted research, only a very small portion of them can be mastered. Yet only so far as these details are known and understood can anyone succeed in producing succesful mechanical inventions for the service of men. The same is true of spiritual things. Men think of them as abstract formulas of theology, but in reality they are the laws of spiritual life according to which alone man can achieve true and lasting happiness. They must be learned from Divine revelation, even as natural laws must be learned from nature. That they may be learned is the whole purpose for which the Word of God has been given. They must be seen in the Word, not as abstract formulas, but as vital principles of human thought, and love, and conduct. And they must be understood in application to all the complex conditions of life with which everyone is confronted daily. This is the reason why so many books have been written to explain the Ten Commandments. Why else should the Old Testament have been given, including the five books of Moses, the historical books from Joshua to Kings, and all the Prophets? And why else should it be necessary to add all the volumes that are included in the Heavenly Doctrine? All of these Scriptures contain treasures of Divine wisdom that are necessary for the establishment of the Lord's kingdom among men, and for the salvation of the human race.

From the construction of the tabernacle, therefore, and from all its specifications, spiritual knowledge and understanding may be derived that is of surpassing value to mankind. Whether the present study can succeed in transmitting to the reader some idea of how these things may be related to the practical problems of religious life, is doubtful; but if it does so in some small degree, it will have achieved its paramount purpose.



the materials offered by the Sons of Israel for the construction of the tabernacle represent those spiritual things of which the Church or the Kingdom of God is formed in the human mind. It is significant that they were twelve in number, for everywhere in the Word the number twelve signifies all things of the Church in one complex.1

1 A.C. 575, 1925, 2089, 9863. A.E. 430.

One of the indications of how minute was the operation of the Divine Providence in providing a purely representative building is that exactly twelve different materials were employed in its construction. The gifts brought by the children of Israel at the command of Moses were gold, silver, copper, linen, wool, rams' skins, badgers' skins, shittim wood, oil, spices, onyx stones, and stones for the breastplate of Aaron. Each of these represents some spiritual constituent of the Church. But they especially represent those spiritual things which are provided by the Lord during the period of childhood and youth, before regeneration begins, as the necessary means by which it may be inaugurated. They represent remains stored in the mind, without which spiritual faith and a genuine religion in adult age would be impossible of attainment. No man could receive spiritual blessings nor enter upon the life of religion which leads to heaven after death, unless during childhood the Lord prepared the way arid secretly provided the necessary means. For this reason heavenly affections are insinuated before any one can be aware of their nature, or of their great importance. "For so He giveth His beloved in sleep." (Psalm 127:2) Indeed, regeneration is a Divine miracle which the Lord must perform individually for every man. We are born into complete ignorance; we live by means of knowledges which come from without through the senses of the body. By this gateway we have touch only with the material world. Manifest sensations of spiritual things cannot be granted during childhood. How then can any knowledge or acknowledgment of God and of heaven be imparted? It is true that children can be taught about spiritual things, but such teaching merely enters the memory and is there retained without being understood. Whatever a child may learn from others is imposed upon him without any choice of his own. Only that which he acquires for himself by his own experience, and confirms by individual reflection becomes part of his life. When one becomes adult, and for the first time begins to think for himself, he inevitably interprets what he has been taught in the light of his personal experience. He then selects and retains from earlier teaching those things that appear to him to be true, and either ignores, or rejects the rest. Because he is primarily interested at that time in achieving some worldly ambition, the truths of religion seem visionary, like the fairies, the goblins, and the sprites of childhood's fancy. They may be remembered with tolerant affection, but they appear to have no important bearing upon the serious concerns of adult life. It is to some such state as this that every man would come unless the Lord provided him with the materials out of which a living faith and worship could be built. Such materials are actual sensations, living perceptions, as real and as inherently convincing as are the sight and hearing and touch of material objects. Yet they are sensations of what is spiritual, derived not from nature nor from other people but from direct contact with the spiritual world.2

2 A.C. 561, 661, 1050, 1906, 2636, 3528, 5937.

Here is an apparent contradiction which must be explained if we would come to realize the wonder of the Lord's operation for the salvation of men. We said that children can have no understanding except that which comes from sense experience, and now we say that the Lord provides throughout childhood internal sensations from the spiritual world, and that without these it would be impossible to establish a spiritual faith in adult age. Nor is the contradiction avoided by saying that these internal sensations are not to be so called because children are unaware of their source. What can possibly be meant by this? Surely to be unconscious is to be without sensation; and to feel sensation is to be conscious. Yet it is a universal teaching of the Writings that all sensation is both natural and spiritual. Although it comes from the world of nature it affects the mind or spirit, and this affection is not only determined by the bodily senses but also, and more potently, by what we call the state of mind. That is, by the things that are felt from within. Man is actually living in two worlds. He has not only a material environment on earth, but also a spiritual environment, and he is in living touch with both of theseat all times. Nothing can be consciously sensed in the world of nature without presenting before the mind an idea, a mental picture; and at once into this mental picture there inflows from the spiritual world an affection, an emotion or desire that is not inherent in the material object, but is imposed by the spirits who are present with the man. This affection is actually a spiritual sensation although it appears to be a part of the material touch. Psychology reveals that every material sensation is qualified by a man's state of mind. The same object may be felt as delightful in one state, and as unpleasant and repulsive in another. We can have no conscious mental life that does not involve both a material sensation and a state of mind. Consciousness arises only when two forces meet, one from the material world, and the other from the spiritual world. Children, however, do not reflect upon their mental states. They naturally attribute all that they feel to the material objects from which the sensation comes. So far as they are aware, the only world is the material world, and yet without realizing it, together with bodily sensations, they are experiencing a continual touch with spiritual things and this makes a deep impression upon their mind. From this arises the delight which they feel in physical sensation. All such delights are stored up in the memory as part and parcel of their actual experience, and by means of them spiritual things later can be felt and perceived as real. These are what are called in the Writings, "remains." They are derived from angels and spirits and by means of them every one at adult age is inaugurated into the beginnings of spiritual life. Whenever there is a sphere of worship present; when the Word is read, and its stories are impressed on the mind as holy; or when the Lord's Prayer is repeated with reverence, angels draw near. A state of mind is induced which fills these external forms with the affections of heaven, with delights which the child does not understand but which he remembers, and to which he later seeks to return. All such states taken together serve to open to man a perception of things Divine and heavenly when the mind has been prepared by growth to receive it.

All these "remains" are represented by the twelve materials offered for the building of the tabernacle. The state of childhood in which they are unconsciously received and stored up is represented in the sacred story by the period of bondage in Egypt. It is a state of dependence upon parents and teachers, and therefore of obedience to external control. Strange as it may seem only by learning obedience can anyone be prepared for a state of freedom. This is because, only by obeying the law of the Lord can anyone be truly free. While they were in bondage to the Egyptians, the sons of Israel increased in numbers enormously. Although they received no material reward for their labor, they were nevertheless enriched in a way that was wholly unsuspected. By obedience to their taskmasters they were prepared to obey the commandments of Jehovah. On this their whole future as a nation depended. It was represented by the "jewels of silver and the jewels of gold" that the sons of Israel borrowed from the Egyptians on the eve of their departure for the land of Canaan. This borrowed wealth was later offered for the building of the tabernacle. So also, the "remains" of childhood constitute a fund of spiritual wealth without which a dwelling place of the Lord could not be established in the human mind.

The first gift brought as a free-will offering was gold.

It represents the delight of love to the Lord,3 insinuated, as above explained, during infancy and childhood: This love is the universal and all-embracing affection that reigns in heaven. Children cannot see the Lord and cannot know Him in any interior sense, for the knowledge of God is wisdom, and to this they have not yet attained. But in all their states of innocence angels are present who are in wisdom, and whose delight is love to the Lord, and in their presence the children feel their delight as if it were their own. Especially do they feel it in connection with all things that are holy, with the Word, with prayer, with the externals of ritual and of worship. Because children are in innocence, and because as yet the evils present with them by heredity lie dormant, the effect of these holy things is more powerful with them than it is with adults. When thinking of the Lord as their Heavenly Father, they innocently acknowledge His many blessings with a sense of childish gratitude. This is most powerful in early infancy, and becomes less constant and less effective in its appeal as they grow older. And yet the delight remains beneath all the shifting states through which they pass, and it moves the mind at adult age toward the acknowledgment of the Lord and the reception of faith in Him. This unconscious leading of the Divine is involved in the words of the Lord with reference to little children: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10)

3 A.C. 1551, 8369, 9464. W.E. 4667.

This love to the Lord instilled during childhood by means of what is holy is here meant by gold; and its quality is further described by the amount of the offering given. Every number that is mentioned in the Word expresses some quality which is to be ascribed to the object that is numbered. So here the number of talents and of shekels required as a gold offering describes the quality of that love to the Lord which is meant by the gold here mentioned. The sum of the gold offering was said to be twenty-nine talents and seven hundred and thirty shekels. (Exodus 38:24) The number twenty-nine signifies remains stored in full measure; the number seven hundred represents what is holy; and the number thirty signifies temptation.4 The whole number therefore represents the affections of love to the Lord and of charity that are insinuated during childhood, and recalled at adult age when first spiritual temptations begin. So would these numbers, when mentioned in connection with the gold of the tabernacle, be understood in heaven. Interpreted in terms of present-day values, this amount of gold would be equal in weight to 3158 pounds 4 ounces avoirdupois. Its monetary value would be approximately $1,667,556. This would require an average offering worth $2.76 from each of the 603,550 fighting men in the congregation.5

4 A.C. 2280. A.E. 1942. A.C. 716, 728, 4617, 5335.
5 3000 shekels = 1 talent = 758000 gr. = 108 Ibs. avdps = $29,085. Number of talents 29.243 (Exodus 38:24).

The second material offered was silver, and this represents the truth or the spiritual light which results from love to the Lord. For love is like a flame from which light radiates. The quality of the truth which man perceives is determined by the quality of the love that is active in his mind. Truth is but the form by which love expresses itself. It is the means by which love accomplishes its end. The truth which appears as a light radiating from the flame of love to the Lord is the truth of heaven, the law of spiritual life, especially as contained in the Divine Word. No one would be able to see this truth unless love to the Lord were insinuated during childhood. When the mind becomes mature, and when a sufficient store of knowledge and experience has been acquired, the light of spiritual truth first dawns.6 It has been present before, but it was enwrapped by ideas of space and time, and material qualities. As these are removed, especially by reading and reflection upon the teaching of the Word, the hidden truth comes into view. At first it is perceived only in faint glimmerings; but these inspire further study, which leads to the building of the tabernacle. Such is the meaning of the silver offering.

6 A.C. 1525, 1551, 4453. A.E. 176.

This opening of the spiritual mind cannot begin before adult age is reached because although knowledge can be learned from others, truth cannot. It can come only from the Lord to each one. It can be derived only from the Word. Each one must seek it there for himself.

The letter of the Word is of course learned during childhood, and its stories may then be remembered with delight. But their spiritual significance will not be seen. There are, of course, certain truths that lie open even in the letter. These are compared to the hands and face, which are bare when the rest of the body is clothed. That there is a God; that He is One; that He is wise, and merciful, and all-powerful; that He has given commandments that must be obeyed, these and many similar truths can be understood by children. From them a childish conscience can be formed. But they will be understood only in relation to external things, to physical acts, and outward behavior. Their spiritual implications will not be perceived. Nevertheless, they are the means of preparing children and young people to search for a deeper understanding, when adult age is reached. They represent what was called "the price of redemption."7 Every man among the sons of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, was required to give a bekah, or half a shekel of silver (in value about $.33) as a "ransome for his soul." (Exodus 38:26) The rich were not to give more, and the poor were not to give less. This was to be given for the service of the tabernacle. Because there were 603,550 fighting men in the congregation at the time the tabernacle was built, and because there were 3000 shekels of silver in a talent, the total amount of this metal was 100 talents and 1775 shekels. In modern money this would be worth about $195,146.54.8

7 Genesis 23:16. A.C. 2966.
8 A talent of silver was worth $1940; 1940 x 100.591 = $195,146.54.

The gold offering represented love to the Lord, and the silver offering represented a conscience of right and wrong, both of these being derived from the Word. They are Divine gifts because they are insinuated by influx from heaven. Yet they can be enriched, and made more effective through the cooperation of parents and teachers with the Lord in the education of their children.


the twelve materials offered for the construction of the tabernacle are to be divided into three groups of four each, according to their spiritual significance. In each group the first two materials mentioned in the list recorded in Exodus have reference to the internal mind, and the last two to the external. The gold and the silver, being the first in order represent respectively, the will and the understanding of the internal mind, while the brass and the linen represent the will and the understanding of the external mind.

Wherever brass is mentioned in the Sacred Scripture it is said to represent "natural good" (A.C. 9465) By this is meant the love of justice and uprightness, of honesty and fair-dealing, of honor and all the moral virtues. However, the meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated as "brass" in the Authorized Version of the Bible is not known. In Deuteronomy 8:7, 9 the same word obviously denotes copper: "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land ... a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass." Of course the native metal is meant here, and not a man-made alloy. There is no historic record to show that brass was known at the time of Moses. It is an alloy of copper and zinc. We know that bronze, the alloy of copper and tin, was used as early as 2000 b.c. because tools, weapons, and knives made of that metal have been found belonging to that era. It is probable, however that copper rather than bronze was used in the building of the tabernacle because it was more practical. This applies especially to the construction of the altar of burnt offering, copper being more resistant to heat than is bronze.

Gold was used only in the tabernacle itself, while copper was used in the court. The gold boards of the tabernacle walls could indeed be seen from the court, because they extended 2 cubits beyond the hanging of the door, forming a sort of porch at the entrance to the holy place. The bases of the pillars supporting the outer veil were of copper, although they were inside the holy place. In both cases something is represented that is intermediate between the court and the holy place. This is indicated by the fact that the court not only provided a protective space around the tent of meeting, but also afforded a way of entrance into it.

The laver was made entirely of copper, the altar of burnt offering was lined with copper, and the bases of the pillars in the court, together with their stakes, were of the same metal.

Religion is of life. It is a life according to the law of God, which is the spiritual truth of the Word. That truth must, of course be known, and in some measure understood. But faith in abstract doctrines, by itself, is not sufficient for man's salvation. It must be applied to life; that is, to the solution of the practical problems with which everyone is confronted each day of his life. Medieval ascetics sought the good life by separating themselves from the world because they regarded all earthly things as evil and fled from them into a world of prayer and religious meditation. In modern times many Christians have gone to the opposite extreme, considering that religion requires no more of man than to meet the responsibilities of every-day life here on earth. If he does this, they believe, the life after death will take care of itself. Neither of these concepts of religion is correct. The medieval church might be compared to a tabernacle divested of its outer coverings and of its surrounding court, while the Christian Church, based on what has been called "the social gospel" may be compared to the court alone, without the tent of meeting with its holy place and its holy of holies.

If it is to have saving power, religion must find expression in the performance of useful services to the neighbor. Yet these services must be performed according to true principles derived from the teaching of the Word. Every act must be governed by the dictates of a conscience based on spiritual truth, and thus on the law of God. It must be an act of obedience to Divine command rather than one of mere conformity with the demands of society. Only when this is the case does a life in accord with the laws of civil justice, and of moral probity, become a life of religion.

Both the civil and the moral law are of Divine origin. Without them society could not exist. Without them the order on which all human freedom rests could not be maintained; and without freedom of action and of thought, there could be no religion. They are provided by the Lord, therefore, as a necessary protection to the church and to the life of religion, and also as a mode of approach to the true worship of God. For this reason they represent the court of the tabernacle.

Religion must pervade all things of man's life. It must govern not only his faith and his inmost love, but also his thought, his speech, and his action in the performance of his business and his profession. By inherited nature every man tends to love himself, and to strive for worldly wealth, power, and prestige, as the most important goals to be achieved. Such worldly ambition may be purely selfish, but if it is subject to the spiritual teaching of the Word, it may be inspired by love to the Lord and by the love of use to others without thought of personal reward. Such a love of use is not innate with man. It is a gift from God. It is insinuated from heaven during infancy and childhood, and man is made consciously aware of it in adult age by means of the Word. No one can achieve it by his own power. Yet everyone can perceive it as an ideal to be attained by willing obedience to the spiritual principles of religion. The will to do this, and the determination to persist in it through every temptation, is what is represented by the copper that was offered for the construction of the tabernacle.1

1 The value of the copper offering was 70 talents 2400 shekels. (Exodus 38:29) This equals 70 8/10 talents = 7646 4/10 lbs. avoir. = 122,342 4/10 ounces = 58,724,352 grains. One grain of copper = 1/4 of a cent. Therefore the total value was $146,810.88; dividing this by 603,550 men in the congregation, we get $.243, the average contribution per man in copper. The average contribution per man in all the metals for the building of the tabernacle was $.323 + 1.41 + .243 = $1.976. The total offering in gold, silver, and copper was worth $1,192,490.07.

The linen of the court was related to the copper as the gold of the tabernacle was related to the silver, the first representing the will and the second the understanding. The curtains of the court were made of plain white linen. Only the gate was embroidered in the four sacred colors. This linen, when presented to Moses as an offering, represents the teaching of religion received in childhood with affection and unquestioning faith. It is stored in the mind in the form of knowledges, which are however understood only in a childish way. Loyal acceptance of parental teaching is the only means of introduction to a religious faith. However, any religious belief, whether true or false, may be imparted in this way to the next generation. By this means many of the religions of the world have been perpetuated for countless ages. If human errors are ever to be corrected, each individual at adult age, must approach the Word for himself, and seek direct instruction from the Lord. This is possible only if a reverence for the Word has been instilled in childhood, and a desire to investigate and discover spiritual truth by personal reading of the Word and reflection upon its teachings. This spiritual curiosity is what is meant by the gift of linen for the tabernacle.

If such a desire to learn the truth concerning spiritual tilings is not inspired during childhood and youth, religion in adult age cannot be based on spiritual understanding or insight. It becomes a traditional faith, to be observed from habit, and from training. It loses any vital relation to man's daily life. Because of this men accept it only with reservations and observe it only so far as it is convenient and helpful to their worldly success to do so. When this comes to pass the church with man has lost its soul.

It is vitally important, therefore, that religious education should inculcate a love of spiritual truth that will lead in adult age to the Word as the source of all enlightenment and wisdom. Even in childhood, whatever is learned in a sphere of holiness when there is a sense of awe and reverence is deeply impressed upon the mind. It is perceived as something wonderful, precious, and to

be valued above all other knowledges. As it is recalled at adult age it inspires one to seek instruction from the Lord. This is what protects the inner life of religion and invites the Lord to enter each individual mind, there to build a tabernacle for Himself. It provides throughout life a protecting wall, guarding from injury the inner loves and thoughts of man's internal mind.2

2 See A.C. 5319, 9231, 9469, 9596, 9744.

The four colors woven into the linen curtain that formed the gate of the court, the veils and the curtain of the tabernacle, represent the various ways in which one may approach the Word for Divine instruction. The Sacred Scripture contains infinite depths of Divine truth, and yet it is clothed in human ideas, and words that bring its general meaning within the comprehension even of little children. The insight that may be derived from it depends upon the motive, the purpose, or the end of love from which it is approached. The light of the mind is love, and the degree of the light that is seen in the Word depends upon the quality of the love that inspires the one who reads it.

There are in general four degrees of love, each being represented by one of the sacred colors. If the Word is read merely to gain intellectual knowledge, the truth that is seen is called "fine twined linen." It will reveal the literal sense with its historical implications, all of which are valuable as a background of a deeper understanding. It will store the mind with technical details on which the spiritual representation depends. It includes all scholarly research, and critical analysis of the text.

If, on the other hand, the Word is studied with an end of use to society on earth, all its teachings take on a different color in the mind. If we approach the Scripture seeking therein a Divine guide to direct us in determining questions of justice and honor in civil and moral affairs the Word shines with a new light. This is the light of charity, the light of love to the neighbor, the love of country, and of society in general. The color which this love casts over all the teachings of the Word is represented by what is called "scarlet double-dyed." This color everywhere in the Sacred Scripture represents the letter of the Word, that is, the natural understanding of the Word.3 This is meant by "the vesture dipped in blood" worn by the man on the white horse, spoken of in the Apocalypse. (Revelation 19:13; A.R. 825) It is described in the Writings as the color of mutual love. It is interesting to note how in the history of humanity, Divine revelation has been the source and origin of all human ideas and ideals of justice, of law, of moral and ethical standards.

3 See A.C. 4922, 9468; A.R. 723, 725; A.E. 1038, 1042.

If, again, the Word is approached not with a view to the external application of its teachings to human conditions, but with a thirst for knowledge concerning heaven, eternal life, the nature and attributes of God, and the laws of His operation, then does all its doctrine take on still another color. For then the eyes of the spirit are lifted up from the earth. They look beyond space and time into the eternal world, where all that exists is to us on earth abstract, intangible, and imponderable. We think of such things as purely theoretical, yet all the central problems of human life lead us back to this realm of spiritual thought, where alone their solution is to be found. We can truly understand nothing except as we look back of nature to the Source of all things and learn from the teachings of the Word concerning both the beginning and the end of life. The desire to search out this higher truth is implanted by the Lord in the human mind. It is a distinctly human love in the light of which the spiritual implications of the Scripture may be seen. The color that this love casts over all the doctrine of the Word is described as cerulean blue, the blue of the sky, which represented heaven to the ancients.4

Such abstract principles of thought, regarded as the means of attaining a deeper understanding of life are indeed essential; but above it, more important still, is the use to which that heavenly knowledge should be put. There is in the inmost of the human mind a love of use that is celestial. It is the love of heaven, the Lord's love of saving human souls. In man this becomes a love of cooperating with the Lord in the work of regeneration. When from this love we draw near to the Word, its teaching takes on that color in the mind which is here called purple.3 It is a color halfway between cerulean blue and scarlet double-dyed.6 It is a color in which the red predominates, but is tinged with blue to form a brilliant rich crimson, the royal purple of ancient times.7 When so approached the teaching of the Word becomes illuminated as to heavenly uses; not as to its external application to the civil and moral needs of men on earth, but as to its application to the eternal uses of man's spirit into which he will enter after death. These also are the spiritual uses by which he is prepared for heaven.

4 A.C. 8036, 9466, 9912; W.E. 4670.
5 A.C. 9467.
6 W.E. 4670, 4671.
7 See Appendix I.

In a human mind that is fully regenerate, all things of memory, of thought, of understanding, and of perception are woven into a perfect harmony by love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor. The Word is then perceived as to all the degrees of its internal sense. This is why the veil of linen, woven of the four sacred colors formed both the gate of the court, and the door of the tabernacle through which alone one could gain entrance to the holy place, and the holy of holies.


As has been pointed out, the first four materials mentioned in the list of those that were offered for the building of the tabernacle represent the delights of remains stored up by the Lord during infancy and childhood. There is, however, another kind of preparation necessary to the establishment of the Church with man, and this is represented by the next four materials in the list.

For the most part remains lie above the region of man's consciousness. They can be felt only when angels are present, and angelic presence is possible only when the mind is in a state of external order. When evil loves are active, the hells inflow, and the influence of the angels is withdrawn. It is most important, therefore, that external order be established and induced upon the mind by habit until it becomes as it were instinctive. This must be done by means of instruction, education, and training. So far as orderly habits of thought and life are formed, the way is opened for influx from heaven that inspires good loves, and from them instills into the mind a conscience of justice, and mercy, and reverence for the Word. These orderly habits are represented by the gifts of wool, rams' skins dyed red, badgers' skins, and shittim wood.

The first three of these were to be used as coverings to protect the tabernacle and its furniture. They were made into curtains and placed over the tabernacle on top of the linen covering. The wool curtain was placed next to the linen. Over this was spread the curtain of rams' skins, and above this the final covering of badgers' skins. All three were needed to provide an adequate protection for the holy things contained in the tabernacle. So also, orderly habits of affection and thought are needed to protect the interiors of the human mind, where spiritual faith and love abide. Every one appears before the world by his speech and action. He must be adjusted to the demands of society by learning to observe the forms of politeness, decorum, and consideration for others. Some of these forms are but gestures of the body, while others are deeper, having to do with attitudes of the mind; but all together cover over and protect man's deeper feelings from intrusion by others.

Without some measure of privacy man would have no freedom. Indeed, the power to conceal our inner thoughts and feelings is necessary at the present day for our protection, in order that we may be able to combat the hereditary tendencies to evil into which we have been born, and not be condemned on account of them before we have had an opportunity to fight against them. Without this protection regeneration would be impossible. Indeed if this protection were not given society could not exist because evils of every kind would burst forth like a destroying fire. Such external bonds, therefore, are absolutely necessary.

However, many at the present day make the mistake of supposing that these modes of behavior are the final end and goal of education. Training by means of which children learn to act instinctively according to the requirements of the civil and the moral law, is what is meant by that "adjustment of the individual to his environment" about which so much is written by modern educators. It is true, of course, that from earliest childhood every one is subjected to the pressure of public opinion. We all seek to do those things that will gain for us the approval of others, and we naturally avoid those things that bring about disapproval and punishment. We must learn to adjust ourselves to these pressures of our environment; but to make this adjustment the final end of education is a serious mistake. It does not build character, but only induces on man's behavior the external appearance of character. To do this is necessary and useful, but it will not change man's internal nature. Habits of civil and moral order do play a necessary part in the development of character, but only because they provide the external conditions under which character may be formed. They are not the end, but only the means that looks to the achievement of a higher goal.

There is truth in the motto adopted by one of the colleges of Oxford: "Manners Maketh Man." Yet all the forms of politeness and consideration for others may be observed solely to conceal inner feelings of pride, ill-will, and enmity toward others. When this is the case, the outer forms are hypocritical, and they provide the basis of influx from hell rather than from heaven.

What is specifically meant by the three curtains of the tabernacle above referred to, is not man's physical behavior so much as his attitude of mind. By observation and imitation everyone learns from others how to think, and how to act. Children derive their opinions from parents and teachers; but affections are aroused by spirits and angels. Influences from both worlds are intimately associated. They are perceived as the pressure of family customs, and of local and national traditions, all of which combine to form the growing mind. Thence arise national characteristics of thought, of speech, and of life, which are passed down from generation to generation. With the passage of time they acquire increasing sanctity, and exercise an ever greater power over the minds of men. The reason is that those who have been deeply affected by these things during their life on earth, continue to love them after death, and inflow with affection when they are observed by men. Because of this, long established traditions can become very binding, not only with children, but also with adults. Nevertheless, a man can rebel against these influences, and break their power over him. The ability to do this is essential to human freedom, and for this reason every generation tends to oppose what parents and ancestors seek to impose upon them, and to establish modes of life which they feel to be their own. It is vital to human progress that this should be so. Nevertheless, each generation exerts an influence upon the next that is quite unavoidable. External forms are temporary, and may be replaced; but there are attitudes of mind which are of permanent value. These have to do with religion, with the acknowledgment of God, with reverence for the Word, with a deep respect for law and justice. Such attitudes as these are most effectively imparted to the young when they are natural and spontaneous attitudes with parents and teachers. The most important of these mental attitudes is represented by the curtain of wool. It is an attitude of trust and confidence that arises from a deep sense of the Lord's presence, and of His protecting providence over all things of life. It is an inner sense of security that makes one willing to listen, to learn, and to obey. It is called in the Writings the "good of innocence."

In Exodus chapter 26, verse 7, this curtain is said to be made of "goats," thread from the hair of goats being implied. In the Writings (A.C. 3519) "kids" or young goats are said to represent "the innocence of the external or natural man." In the Word Explained it is said that the wool of sheep was used.1 Why this is we do not know, but the signification given is the same in both cases.

What is specifically meant by the good of innocence?2 The Lord said to the young man in the Gospel, "Why callest thou Me good; there is none good but the one God." (Matthew 19:17) Only the Lord is truly innocent. Any innocence that exists with men is derived from Him. The good of innocence is the delight of acknowledging the Lord and of exercising charity toward the neighbor, such as exists with the angels of heaven.3 It is the love of obeying the Lord's will, that is, of living according to the truth of the Word. This is what opens the mind toward heaven, that spiritual light or understanding may be received.

Natural truth derived from the facts of nature is not revealed in the Sacred Scripture, but is discovered by observation and experience. The Word of God treats throughout of what is heavenly and Divine. The Word and nature are called in the Writings "the two foundations of truth."4 Yet between these two there can be perfect accord, for there is but one truth, and in order to see this men must acquire an understanding, even of natural things, from the light of heaven. Between spiritual and natural truth there must be an intermediate which coordinates the two, and this is what is called philosophy. Man is permitted, as it were, from himself, by his own investigation and rational analysis, to discover the truth of philosophy. And yet he can so discover it only if he thinks from the Lord, from the Word, from the acknowledgment of the Lord's immediate presence and operation in nature. If, therefore, a true philosophy of life is to be built up that will bridge the seeming gap between spiritual and natural things, showing how spiritual truth, which is to us abstract, may be applied to the world as we know it from experience, then must there be impressed upon the mind from earliest childhood that attitude which here is meant by "goats," that is, the good of innocence. Indeed, it is against this attitude that all the training and education of the day is arrayed. By a natural process of adjustment one who is well educated in a school of our time absorbs an attitude of mind which is opposed to any real recognition of the Lord's immediate presence in nature, or the operation of His providence in the external affairs of life. And this is a serious stumbling block in the way of building a spiritual church in adult life. It is one of the essential reasons why there must be a new kind of education, designed to prepare the mind for the reception of spiritual truth in adult age. This is the function of a true philosophy. Philosophy forms a covering over the spiritual truths of religion, even as the wool formed a cover to protect the tabernacle. It clothes spiritual truth with forms that are tangible to man's thought, and brings it down to the plane of worldly affairs that it may be of practical use and value.

1 W.E. 4671.
2 A.C. 3519, 4769, 9470.
3 A.C. 2305, 2306, 5236, 5608, 9262.
4 S.D. 5709.

The second attitude of mind which is a necessary offering for the building of the spiritual church is represented by the "rams' skins dyed red." This may be called a habit not only of acting but also of thinking from a regard for the neighbor. Thus it is an attitude of mind affirmative to moral and ethical ideals. It is an adjustment of the thought to principles of justice and honor. All power to influence others depends upon the ability to appear just and honorable. This is the only basis of mutual confidence. The term "ram" in the original Hebrew is derived from the root meaning "power," from which we see the origin of its signification. Such an attitude may indeed have a selfish motive, and at first it does so with all men. But if a child is associated with men who are sincere, upright, honorable and just from a spiritual motive, that association will impress upon the child's mind a form of order which can be a basis of influx from heaven. Such ethical and moral principles of life form a more external covering over the mind, by which a man is seen and known. A man's philosophy of life may not be known to others, but his principles of action will in some degree be sensed as the "spirit of the man," by all who have more than a passing acquaintance with him. That which appears as his spirit to others covers over and protects those deeper things which are of the essence of his religion. And for this reason a curtain of rams' skins was laid over the curtain of wool, almost completely covering it, though at one point the wool could be seen from the court, as will be described later.

The third attitude of mind is that which is represented by the outmost covering of kids' skins. It is called in the Writings "external good itself"5 or that outward thing which obviously appears before others as the man. In its social aspect it is to be understood as the habits of decorum, politeness, etc., by which he is known, and it produces that indefinable quality that we call "presence." But in its more essential meaning it has reference to the external love of truth. This love inspires man to search out and discover facts and to demand historic or experimental proof for his beliefs. It is commonly referred to as "the scientific attitude of mind." Because the facts of experience are seemingly opposed to the truth of revelation, and indeed are actually opposed to the doctrines which are considered orthodox by the churches, this attitude of mind has been widely condemned. Yet it has been the means of setting free the minds of men from the external force of dogma, especially from the idea that they must keep their understanding under obedience to a blind faith. As a result of the conflict between science and religion, this attitude of mind has come to be associated with materialistic or atheistic thought. Such, however, is by no means necessarily the case, for both a true religion and a true philosophy will be found to be in perfect agreement with the facts of experience. There is a scientific attitude of mind which it is essential that we should acquire and should instill in our children. It is an attitude of intense curiosity which arises from a love of truth. It is an attitude which will cause everyone of adult age to insist upon testing opinions received from others in the light of his own observation and experience. This attitude applies to spiritual things as well as to natural things. It applies to truth derived from the Word, as well as to that discovered from nature. Both the Word and nature are Divine creations. Through both of them the Lord speaks directly to man. From Him must be received all the truths of which the tabernacle is formed in the mind of man.

5 A.C. 9470.

These attitudes of mind are imparted to children, not so much by obvious teaching, as by insinuation through the sphere of parents and teachers with whom they have become matters of the life; for in that sphere angels will be present and the delight of those attitudes will be felt as the child's own delight, to which he will freely return when he begins to formulate his own principles of conduct and of thought in adult age. They will then become, in the youth, materials out of which an embodiment of spiritual religion can be built by the Lord, and will serve as a protecting guard for the things of heaven and the Church.6

6 See further in Appendix I.


we have reserved a separate chapter for the interpretation of what is meant by the shittim wood because of certain problems connected with it that require rather extended consideration. Both in character and use this material appears to be quite different from the others that belong to the series of four which we have been considering. It is derived from the vegetable kingdom, while all the others are of animal origin. Its use is rather that of support than that of covering, although it is used in the tabernacle to form a protecting wall. Furthermore, while the wool, the rams' skins and the kids' skins were laid one upon the other in the order named, so that the last mentioned is the outmost covering, the shittim wood, next included in the list, is the inmost of all because the curtains were so placed that they would fall over the outside of the wall. Even when the wall is viewed from inside the tabernacle the wood itself does not appear because it is covered with gold. In addition to this, the signification given to the shittim wood in the Writings seems quite different in character from anything that is said of the other materials in this series. These are said to represent "the good of innocence" which means a willingness to learn and to obey. Here they have special reference to a regard for principles of justice, equity, and honor in the practical affairs of life.

"Shittim wood" is said to signify "the merit of the Lord's righteousness,"1 but before we undertake to explain what this means, we must consider what kind of wood is referred to. With a single exception we find the term "shittim wood" mentioned nowhere in the Sacred Scripture except in the books of Moses, and in connection with the tabernacle. The root meaning of the Hebrew word has never been discovered, and scholars differ widely in their views as to what kind of tree is meant. The only other passage in which the term occurs is Isaiah 41:19, where we read, "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar of shittah, the myrtle, and the oil tree." In the Authorized Version of the English Bible this is translated, "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree." Here the Hebrew pointing clearly indicates that a special kind of cedar is meant, and this meaning is in accord with the earliest Jewish tradition. It is recognized that "shittah" was a region, situated in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula, and it is so marked in many of the maps of the Bible lands. We have concluded, therefore, that "shittim wood" was derived from a kind of cedar that, at the time of Moses, flourished in a certain part of the Sinai peninsula.

1 A.C. 9472.

At the present day no variety of cedar is found growing in that region. It is the united opinion of biblical scholars that in all probability no such tree could grow under the conditions of soil and climate which are found there. They have taken for granted that the reference of the Scripture must be to some native tree which it would have been possible for the Israelites to find in their immediate environment at the time when the tabernacle was built. After centuries of discussion the critics have finally agreed that it must refer to the acacia, a species of scrubby locust which grows in that general locality. Considering, then, that the identification of the shittim wood with cedar is not possible, the translators of the Scripture have been divided, some remaining true to the original pointing, and others separating the two words shittah and cedar as if they represented different species. Thus in the authorized version of the Septuagint and the Vulgate the above verse is translated, "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, the myrtle, and the oil tree." Swedenborg, however, clings to the original Scripture and defines shittim wood as "a wood of the most excellent cedar."2 In this reading of the text, which is found in Hebrew manuscripts, and is accepted by such an eminent and scholarly translator as Schmidius, we concur. We believe that it will be recognized in the future by an increasing number of Bible scholars.

2 A.C. 9472.

The view that is popular at present is based on the assumption that, because there is no trace of any species of cedar now growing on the Sinai peninsula, we must conclude that none ever existed there. Yet it is well known that, due to various natural causes, the flora of any region may be radically changed by the hand of time. It is a notable fact that the famous cedars of Lebanon have almost disappeared from their historic locality. According to an eminent investigator, no more than a dozen species remained in the year 1890, and these were slowly dying. It is quite probable that fifty years from now, lacking documentary evidence, men would conclude, according to the same arguments used by scholars with reference to shittim wood, that the temple of Solomon could not have been built of cedar wood because no source of that material was available. We have had a similar experience illustrating the total disappearance of a tree, in the immediate neighborhood of Philadelphia, where the chestnut tree has become entirely extinct within our own memory as a result of the chestnut blight. We have been unable to find conclusive evidence upon the subject, but from such study as we have been able to make of the topography of Sinai, especially in certain regions toward the northern part of that peninsula, there would appear to be no inherent reason why cedar trees should not at one time have been found there. The conditions of soil and climate would appear to be in no way inimical to them. We are inclined, therefore, rather to follow the testimony which has come down to us through the Scriptures, and to assume that the shittim wood was indeed a species of cedar then growing in the general neighborhood of the Israelitish camp. To have another view would seem to involve us in many difficulties which are not met by the assumption of the scholars. There is, for instance, no other tree growing in Sinai that attains a size sufficient to provide boards of the enormous dimensions specified for the tabernacle. The critics meet this objection by supposing that the Israelites were familiar with the art of joining. There is no evidence that they possessed this knowledge, and if this were the mode by which the tabernacle boards were to be constructed, it is almost unbelievable that directions with reference to it should not have been given in the Scripture, where we find so many detailed instructions with reference to other matters. We would contend, therefore, that the shittim wood mentioned is indeed the wood of "a most excellent cedar," distinguished in species from the "cedar of Lebanon," but a tree of the same family.

This interpretation is important in view of the spiritual significance given to the shittim wood in the Writings, namely, "the Lord's merit and righteousness." It is clear from many passages in which cedars are mentioned that the signification here given has reference to the cedar tree.3 By "the Lord's merit and righteousness" is meant that attitude of mind with reference to the formation of the spiritual church which is poetically expressed by the psalmist in the words, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."4 Only an attitude of deep humility can inspire anyone to seek Divine aid, and turn to the Word for instruction and guidance. Pride and the conceit of one's own intelligence turns man away from the Word, and closes his mind against the influence of the heavens. Religion then loses its saving power, and when this happens in all parts of the world the Lord must come to re-establish the spirit of humility, and restore a living faith. This is why it is said in the Writings: "Except the Lord had come into the world, no flesh could have been saved."5

3 See Arcana Coelestia 1306 where it is given the opposite signification, 1443, 216211, 7918, 9471, 102615. Apocalypse Explained 2942, 37533, 4103.
4 Psalm 127:1.
5 A.C. 2776.

At the time of the Lord's advent, the number of those who were evil had so increased in the world of spirits that they could exercise dominion over the good, and hold them in bondage. This they did by misinterpreting the letter of the Word, by claiming Divine authority for their teachings, and by assuming every outward appearance of piety and religious fervor. The simple accepted these at face value, and therefore were deceived into believing whatever they were taught. When the Lord came, He exposed the false doctrines, and the modes of worship that were contrary to the true meaning of His Word. His teaching was gladly accepted by those who were in good, but openly rejected by all who were in evil. This brought about a judgment, separating the good from the evil, and setting them free from the binding traditions that had been imposed upon them. The good were instructed, and introduced into heaven, and the evil cast themselves into hell. Those who had been enslaved were called in the Scripture "the souls bound under the altar,"6 and "prisoners of hope."7

Through all the ages since the days of Noah and the "flood," the church had steadily declined, and had fallen into various forms of idolatry. Those who passed into the spiritual world retained the religious beliefs and modes of life to which they had been accustomed during their life on earth. They formed societies there, which are called in the Writings "imaginary heavens," because they supposed that they were in heaven. At the time of the Lord's advent these societies had increased enormously in size, and had interposed clouds of falsity and error between men on earth and the Most Ancient Heaven. Their influence was felt as the weight of tradition, and it became so powerful at last as to deprive men on earth of free choice in spiritual things. This is why we read in the Scripture of many who were "possessed of devils" and who were compelled to act under the impulse of evil spirits. They became insane, uncontrollable, and vicious, threatening injury to others, and sometimes taking their own life. This was not the land of insanity that results from some mental disease, or some injury to the brain. It was caused by a powerful influx of evil spirits. Such demonic possession was brought to an end by the Lord when He was on earth; but something akin to it is still experienced by those who habitually practice spiritism, or who become repeatedly subject to hypnotism. No one at this day, except as a result of mental disease, or some injury to the brain, can be coerced by evil spirits against his will. By performing a judgment upon the imaginary heavens, the Lord has redeemed all men from the overwhelming power of hell, and has assured them of spiritual freedom.

This the Lord did by taking upon Himself a human in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Mary was a good woman, faithful to such religion as she could understand, and prepared to receive instruction from the Lord, first through the angel of the annunciation, and later from Jesus Christ. Yet she was subject to all the tendencies to evil which had been accumulated by hereditary transmission from her ancestors. From her the Lord took on these tendencies, and by means of them He could be attacked by the hells. They were by no means part of Him, for He was without sin; but they were adjoined to Him in order that He might meet the hells in mortal conflict, and overcome them. By means of this conflict He performed the judgment in the spiritual world, by exposing the fallacies whereby the evil had deceived the simple, and had held them in subjection. He opened once more the ancient truths of the Word that had been distorted and falsified. He revealed the true nature, and the Divine attributes of God, that men and spirits might once more learn to know Him, to love Him, and to worship Him. Such was the work of Divine redemption.

Redemption was a work purely Divine. It could be performed only by One who possessed infinite love, infinite wisdom, and infinite power. These belong only to the Lord. As to His soul, Jesus Christ was God. He had life in Himself, and acted from His own power. What He did, therefore could rightly be ascribed to Him as "merit and righteousness." In this He differed from other men. No man has life in himself. He is but a vessel perpetually moved, and actuated by life inflowing from the Lord. For this reason no man can rightly claim merit for what he does. In ordinary parlance, merit belongs only to one who acts on his own responsibility. One who acts according to the command of another, or under any form of compulsion from without, deserves no merit. Because man has no life of his own, he owes all his power to the Lord, and must ascribe to Him the merit for whatever benefits accrue from his acts.8 This is the reason why the work of redemption is called "the Lord's merit and righteousness." That which He did for the race as a whole by His advent into the world, He must do individually for every one who is regenerated.

8 T.C.R. 116. A.C. 1661. L. 34.

By performing this work of redemption the Lord did not remove from men their hereditary tendency to evil. He merely restored their spiritual freedom. By means of a "last judgment" effected in the spiritual world, He reestablished the equilibrium between the power of the heavens, and the power of the hells over the minds of men. He broke the bonds by which men had been reduced to spiritual slavery, and assured to every man the ability to choose between good and evil. Since His coming all men are free, if they will, to acknowledge God, to worship Him, and to keep His Commandments. This is possible in every religion, even though the idea of God is mistaken, and His Commandments are not rightly understood. Everyone who sincerely lives according to the best he knows, can at last be taught the truth and be led to heaven. If this cannot be done during the life of the body, it can be done in the spiritual world. Such is the wonder of the Divine Providence, by which the Lord's promise is fulfilled: "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12)

Nevertheless, because the hereditary tendency to evil remains in every human heart, each one must individually be regenerated and saved. This is a Divine work. Only the Lord can accomplish it. He must fight against the hells in each one, even as He fought against them in Himself while He was on earth. Because every man is born with a natural love of evil, he cannot, without Divine help, learn to recognize the difference between good and evil. That which a man loves appears to him as good. Whatever opposes his love he regards as evil. Only from Divine Revelation can he learn what is truly good, and only as he recognizes this, and freely chooses it rather than the dictates of his own mind, can he be directed along the way that leads to heaven. The Lord makes it possible for him to do this by means of heavenly affections insinuated during infancy and childhood. If he follows the impulse of these affections, the Lord gradually removes the loves of evil from his heart, and instills heavenly loves in their place. This is a work of infinite power and wisdom which belongs to the Lord alone, and for this reason it is called "the Lord's merit and righteousness."

The acknowledgment of the Lord and of man's dependence upon Him must be instilled during childhood, for this alone can open the way to spiritual enlightenment and wisdom in adult age by leading man to seek instruction from the Word. This attitude of humility, of innocence, and willingness to be taught is the most important requisite for the building of the tabernacle. This is what is spiritually represented by the boards of shittim wood that formed the walls of the building, and supported the curtains over the holy of holies and the holy place where the sacred offices of worship were performed. Concerning these boards Dr. E. E. Iungerich wrote: "It is this living acknowledgment which causes the truths (represented by the linen curtain) to stand up as a beautiful pattern of heaven in man, and not lie flaccid on the ground as a disordered heap." (See the Journal of Education, Vol. XV, p. 147.)

This explains why the shittim wood belongs to the same series as the wool, the ramskins, and the kidskins, because it represents a fundamental attitude of mind which must be established in childhood if the church is to be built in man's mind in adult life. It also makes clear why, although it is the last to be mentioned, the shittim wood is the most important of all. This is because it represents that which is inmost of all, that on which everything else depends, and without which, all the rest would have no truly spiritual or lasting value.


The last group of four materials offered for the tabernacle was somewhat different in nature from those previously mentioned. These materials were not to be used in the actual construction of the building, but instead they were to be of service in the worship for the sake of which the building was erected. Their use is what determines their representation. They include the oil for the lamps and for anointing, the spices for anointing and for incense, the onyx stones for the shoulders of the ephod, and the twelve precious stones for the breastplate of Aaron.

After the building of the tabernacle, everything that was to be used in it for worship was anointed with olive oil mingled with certain spices. Not only the furniture and the various vessels were so anointed, but also the priests and their garments.1 This was a sign of consecration. From very ancient times, altars, pillars, and articles of worship were hallowed and set apart in this way, as the Scriptures amply attest. Anointing also was used for the inauguration into office of kings, priests, and prophets.

The oil without the spices was burned in the lamps which were kept perpetually lighted in the holy place.2  This oil was not to be extracted in the ordinary way by means of the olive press, but was to be beaten out with mortar and pestle.3 In the holy of holies there was no light, but the holy place was constantly lighted by the flames from the seven-branched lampstand, which was tended and cared for every day by the priests. These lights were extinguished only while the tabernacle was being moved; and at the end of each journey they were relighted with fire from the altar of burnt offerings. This fire was preserved at all times, even when the host was on the march.4 According to a specified recipe, spices were mingled with the oil in order to make an incense that was burned every morning and every evening in the holy place before the veil.5 From its burning arose a sweet-smelling and pungent smoke ever associated in the minds of the Israelites with worship. The same spices were not to be used in any similar combination for other purposes, and this was true also of the spices used in the anointing oil.6

Two onyx stones were given to be placed upon the shoulders of the ephod which was worn by the high priest, and on each of these stones were engraved the names of six of the twelve tribes of Israel.7

Finally, twelve precious stones called, "the stones of fillings," were given to be set in the breastplate of Aaron.8 These were the "Urim and Thummim" by means of which answers were received from Jehovah by the flashing of lights from the precious stones.

1 Exodus 30:22-30.
2 Exodus 27:20-21.
3 See A.C. 9781.
4 Leviticus 6:13.
5 Exodus 30:34-38.
6 Exodus 30:32, 38.
7 Exodus 28:9-12.
8 Exodus 28:17-21.

A full consideration of these four materials, as to their spiritual significance, belongs rather to a study of the worship with its rites and ceremonies as later instituted in the tabernacle, than to our present investigation. Yet they are mentioned here because that to which they correspond must in some sense be provided before the tabernacle is built, that is, during infancy, childhood and youth, before regeneration begins. Yet they cannot come into their real use until after this preparatory process has been completed.

This last group differs in representation from the two previous ones in that it represents neither "remains" nor "habits of thought" induced during the growing years, but rather a living increase of religious faith and love that comes in adult age as a result of actual regeneration. In the accepted Protestant view, religion is thought of as a sort of emotional experience, a sudden awakening to consciousness of man's higher nature. This experience puts him in a category different from other men, and because of it he is said to be "saved." His particular mission, then, is to help others who have not been saved, by stirring in them a similar emotional awakening. It is admitted, of course, that one who has undergone conversion in this sense may "fall from grace." He may forfeit his privilege of election unless he brings forth the fruits of faith. Yet he is supposed to have attained to some special relation to God by virtue of his conversion, and this not because of any "good works" but simply as a result of his confession and open acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as his Savior. In this there is no idea of a process of regeneration that goes forward day by day through successive steps and stages. There is no realization of the truth that men can be saved only by the daily shunning of evils as sins against God. This latter is the doctrine of the New Church and it is taught directly in the Scripture, if the meaning of these last four materials is spiritually understood. From such an understanding we are given to realize that a living religion must be constantly growing. It must advance according to the ever changing states of man's life. It is a process that is never ended, neither in this world nor in the other. By means of it man is continually perfected and drawn nearer and nearer to the Divine. If it does not progress it will die and lose all power to influence man's spiritual life. It will become a formal thing, a thing of the memory only, to which a man returns from time to time as he does to the recollections of childhood. But it will have less and less relation to the things that stir his interest, and that seem to him to be important. This being the fact, no man can be saved at once by an emotional revival. Such a revival is indeed possible and it has its place and its use. But man's character can be permanently changed only by the daily shunning of evils as sins against God. Man must persistently apply the principles of religion to the solution of the practical problems with which he is confronted in every day life.

Man's regeneration is effected therefore by continual temptations and continual victories, even as was said of the Lord when He was in the world.9 Every time a man resists and conquers in any temptation from a principle of religion an actual change takes place in the structure of his mind. Something new is built into it which receives influx from the Divine and by which he is actually withdrawn in some degree from the influence of evil spirits. By the gradual development of such vessels in the mind for the reception of influx from the Lord out of heaven, man is said to be "born again." In no other way can he be "regenerated" and thus prepared for life in heaven. By no other means can he be drawn away from the love of self and the world into which he has been born, and gifted with love to the Lord, and charity toward the neighbor. These new loves, received as the guerdon of victory in temptation are what is represented by the last four gifts offered for the tabernacle. They are impossible of attainment in any other way and therefore cannot be given in infancy and childhood. Yet something can be given without which they would be impossible of reception in later life, and this is specifically what these materials represent in this place, where they are spoken of as an offering made prior to the building of the tabernacle. Children cannot know spiritual temptation. They cannot undergo this process of regeneration. Yet they can be taught, as of themselves, to resist evil. There can be formed with them a conscience which, although it is natural in essence, can lay a foundation for a later spiritual conscience. What is here meant is not those things which children do by direct command or under external compulsion from others, but those things rather which they do, as it were, in freedom, from ideas and beliefs inculcated through instruction and education. When children act in this way as if from themselves, they appear to do exactly as an adult does in making a decision or in resisting temptation. The fact is that they are acting from others, that is, from the things which they believe because they have been taught, and not because they interiorly see or understand them for themselves. Thus they act in the sphere of others, and their action is natural and not spiritual in quality. Yet by taking such action during their growing years they are prepared to make decisions and to resist temptation later. For this reason this oil and these spices, as well as the stones, must be offered before the tabernacle is built, although their quality then is quite different from that which it will be afterward. For when they were offered, these things were not yet holy. They derived their holiness and their peculiar use from the tabernacle, and from the priesthood. This was true even of the oil, which apparently was the means of sanctifying the tabernacle itself. What was really represented by anointing with the oil of sanctification was the acknowledgment of a holiness that is inherent in the Lord and from Him is present in all things of worship. It is by means of such a living acknowledgment that man acquires the ability to see spiritual truth and to perceive the things of heaven. Thus it is the basis of enlightenment, a basis which must be continually renewed, even as the oil was replenished and kept burning day by day in the lamps. In no other way can a man be gifted as to his inner mind with spiritual light. For as soon as resistance to evil ceases, the oil fails and the light goes out. The Lord is still inflowing with His love and wisdom, but man is unable to receive it because his mind is not prepared. It is closed to the Divine influence because his active love and interest is then centered in self and the world. This is what is involved in the parable of the five foolish virgins who provided lamps but no oil, and were shut out from the marriage feast.10

9 A.C. 1690.
10 Matthew 25:1-13.

In such there is a profession of religious faith but no active life of religion, and therefore no renewal of life from within. This life of repentance must be established in potency, as a habit of thought and action, during infancy and childhood through natural temptations and the solution of childish problems. This is what prepares for a life of repentance with reference to spiritual things in adult age.

Our innermost ends of life lie so deeply hidden that they are not realized even by ourselves. It is impossible for us to analyse with assurance our deepest motives. But when by determined effort we resist evils in our external life, then does the Lord remove the love of these evils from our internal mind. To this the Lord referred when He said, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, and he is clean every whit."11 As the Lord removes evil from within, in that region which is above our conscious thought we are given the ability to perceive heavenly truth. This perception grows continually. It becomes ever more discriminating, and opens to view particulars of truth not before realized. In such new discoveries man feels delight, and a sense of accomplishment. Such a perception of new truth is represented by the odor of the spices which were mingled, not with the oil of the lamp, but with the oil of anointing. No resistance to evil for any external motive avails. Man can be saved only by thinking and acting from love to the Lord and charity, and by turning away from the evils of the love of self and the world. Such a shunning of evil is a practical dedication of our life to the Lord, a consecration to His will, accompanied by an inmost prayer that He may guide and direct our way, and thus that His will may be done on earth as it is done in heaven. This is what opens the mind to the perception of truth, not from ourselves but from the Lord. Only that which is thus learned from within is genuine truth, and this alone is called holy, for it is the Lord with us. This consecration of the mind to the Lord was represented by the anointing oil mingled with spices of a delightful odor. And because this must accompany the beginning of regeneration, anointing with perfumed oil was made the means of inaugurating the tabernacle to its use. In the minds of the Jewish people only that which was anointed became holy, and was set apart for the worship of Jehovah. Of course the oil in itself did not consecrate, but because it corresponds to love to the Lord it represented spiritual consecration, especially by the life of religion. No one who has not been enured, by custom and habit to the expression of love to the Lord during childhood, by observing from conscience the forms of worship, will be disposed to devote himself, in adult age, to the life of regeneration.

11 John 13:10.

Note that spices were an essential constituent of the anointing oil. This is because spices represent "interior truth" and the delight of perceiving it.12 A new perception of truth opens the way to the performance of a use. Use is the "good" for the sake of which truth exists. It is the "way" in which some service to the Lord or to the neighbor may be performed. It is the opposite of that "way" which leads to the achievement of some purely selfish ambition. As perceptions of truth multiply, therefore, one learns to distinguish more perfectly between good and evil. Until truth is seen, deep-seated tendencies to evil remain hidden, but in the measure that truth is perceived it brings them to light. It is of providence that this should be so, for if one should suddenly realize all the evil tendencies to which he is prone, he would shrink from conflict with them, even as the sons of Israel shrank from combat against the inhabitants of the land of Canaan when the spies, sent to explore the land, returned to report that they had seen great giants before whom they appeared as grasshoppers. Evils are revealed, therefore, only as we are given light to see them and strength to resist them. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."13

12 A.C. 9474.
13 Matthew 6:34.

Victory over temptation brings a sense of peace, and consolation; but this is followed almost at once by another state of temptation because our eyes have been opened by the truth revealed to evils which we had not before realized, and which, if we are to remain true to our faith, we must now resist and conquer. The new truths, represented by the odor of the spices in the oil of anointing, represent an interior perception which results from the rejection of evil from the internal man. This takes place subtly, in ways of which we are scarcely conscious, as is represented by the fact that the odor of the sacred spices was invisible. Our perception of truth is often so deep that we cannot express it in words, or formulate it into an idea. Truth is felt before it is seen.

From the incense, however, arises a visible cloud of smoke which represents, not the truth itself, but rather the falsities made manifest by the truth. These we must resist interiorly, that is, from a spiritual love; but we must do so in outward act and deed if we are to conquer. This resistance is what is represented by the burning of the incense. It was burned with fire taken from the altar in the outer court of the tabernacle. Love burns perpetually. It is the life force in all living organisms that causes metabolism, breaking down old forms and building up new ones. This process is continually taking place throughout the human body. It is essential to physical growth, and a corresponding process accompanies all spiritual development. Spiritual life demands a continual burning of love. By this, things that obstruct and oppose are broken down, and new things are built in their place. This breaking down and building up is an actual organic process in the mind as in the body. In the Apocalypse the smoke of incense is associated with "the prayers of the saints," and from ancient times the smokeboth from incense and from sacrificeshas been regarded as a symbol of prayers ascending to God from the hearts of men.14 This is its true representation, for prayers are seen objectively in the spiritual world as the smoke of incense. The reason for this becomes evident if we know what is meant by incense, namely, the sphere of love which results from the actual shunning of evils.

14 A.C. 10177.

All life produces a sphere, an effluvium, which surrounds an organism and extends its influence round about. This sphere is such as is the life which produces it. In man the sphere of his life is according to his love, and by it the quality of the love can be known by angels. The love that produces this sphere is a desire, a longing, and an active effort of mind and heart. When love to the Lord is thus active, it causes a sphere to go forth which is gratefully received in heaven, and is there perceived as sweet incense. This is the only living prayer. Such a prayer is always answered by the revelation of new truth that makes known the Lord's will in reference to the circumstances of our life. Such a prayer was meant by the Lord when He said, "All things whatsover ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."15 To ask in prayer, believing, is to ask in heart that the Lord's will be done. It is to ask that His love for our salvation should freely operate in us, and that all things of our own will should be put aside, believing that He will lead us in the way of everlasting life. Unless children are taught to pray in simple faith; unless they learn that prayer must be not of the lips alone, but of the heart and the life, they cannot be prepared for regeneration. For this reason it was commanded that the oil for the lamp and for anointing, and the spices for anointing and for the incense, must be brought as an offering for the building of the tabernacle.1&

15 Matthew 21:22.
16 See Appendix I.


New loves, inflowing from the Lord out of heaven, were represented by the olive oil; and new perceptions of truth were represented by the spices. These latter must be remembered if they are to be of permanent use to man. The last two materials on the list we have been considering, represent the memory. The onyx stones specifically represent the internal memory, where all the spiritual treasures of man's life are stored up and preserved for use, even to eternity. This is what is called "the book of life." The record of all man's thoughts and loves is indelibly written upon it, and retained in perfect order. The "stones of fillings" represent the external memory, from which past experiences may be recalled at will by conscious reflection. On this memory depends the ability to think, to form judgments, and to determine the direction of one's life. By recalling the teaching of the Word with affection, religious conscience is formed. This memory, therefore, is the medium by which man receives practical illustration and guidance from the Lord. If we are to understand the spiritual representation of the onyx stones and the stones of fillings, we must first acquire a correct understanding of the internal and the external memories. We must know how they are related to one another, and how they are to be used. This is illustrated by the part these stones played in the vestments of the high priest.

They were worn as part of his official vestment, being attached to the garment which is called the ephod. This was a garment without sleeves, made in two pieces that fell from the shoulders, one covering the front, and the other covering the back to a point a little below the waist. It was made of fine linen, similar in color and design to the veil, being a rainbow weave of blue, purple, scarlet, and white, with a gold design inwrought. The opening at the neck was square and large enough to allow the inner robe over which it was worn to appear. The two pieces of the ephod were joined together at the shoulders by means of gold settings in which the onyx stones were placed.1 The garment was bound close to the body by a girdle of similar multicolored material, On the two onyx stones were engraved the names of the twelve sons of Israel in the order of their birth. On the right shoulder six names: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan and Naphthali. On the left shoulder the remaining six names: Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin.2

1 Exodus 28:7.
2 Exodus 28:10.

The stones were set in gold and from each setting was hung a chain of spun gold wire, each link of the chain being made of interlacing wires. By means of this chain the shoulderpieces were joined to the upper corners of the breastplate. The breastplate itself was made of multicolored linen like the ephod. It was 1/2 cubit wide and 1 cubit long (9 by 18 inches), but it was folded in the middle so as to form a square, the fold coming at the top. Two rings were inserted in each upper corner, one in either fold. The ring in the fold nearest the body was bound by a ribbon of blue lace to a single gold ring fastened to the breastplate. The ring in the outer fold received the gold chain that bound the breastplate to the shoulderpieces. By a similar device of rings the two lower corners were bound to the ephod and the girdle. On the breastplate itself was a plate of gold on which were set twelve stones arranged in four vertical rows of three stones each. On each of these stones was engraved the name of one of the sons of Israel, in the following order:

Row 1    A Ruby, a Topaz, and a Carbuncle, said to be stones of a red color.

Row 2    A Chrysoprase, a Sapphire, and a Diamond, said to be blue from red.

Row 3A     Cyanus, an Agate, and an Amethyst, said to be blue from white.

Row 4A     Tarshish, an Onyx, and a Jasper, said to be white from blue.3

3 A.C. 9866.

A further study of these stones, their arrangement and signification, will be included in our consideration of the priestly garments in a later chapter. Here it need only be said that, according to the statement in the Word Explained, they represented the tribes in the same order as they were engraved upon the onyx stones. The first two rows contained the six names on the right shoulder, and the last two rows the names on the left shoulder. This was called the "Breastplate of Judgment." It was the means by which the Lord gave answers to the questions of the high priest, when he appeared before the veil to seek Divine guidance.

Wearing this breastplate the priest would enter the holy place. He would stand at the altar of incense, his eyes fixed upon the stones of the breastplate, and as he saw them glow with a supernatural light in a different series or order, he understood the answers to his questions. However, he did not understand the meaning of these flashing lights, but they were followed immediately either by an audible voice or a tacit perception giving in words the Divine answer, which he was then to communicate to the people. It will be noticed that the onyx stones on the shoulders were not within the line of vision of the priest thus inquiring of the Lord, though they were joined to the breastplate with a chain of fine-wrought gold. And this fact is deeply significant. Indeed, we are here given a wonderful picture of the way in which the Lord leads men, the way in which He gives them illustration, enlightenment and guidance from Himself out of heaven. This is always done by means of the Divine Word. There could be no enlightenment, accumulating and producing wisdom, if there were no memory. Only because sensations, experiences, and states of life can be retained and recalled can there be progression and development of the human mind.

Man has two memories, one external and the other internal. These two memories are entirely distinct, and the difference between them must be clearly understood. The external memory is made up of sense impressions and material ideas drawn from the world of nature. It is partly conscious, but in far larger part unconscious. Impressions that are at the time unconscious may later be consciously recalled. The conscious mind itself is made up of only those things to which we pay attention. They represent a narrow selected thread running through our life's experiences, a thread determined by our interests, that is, by our loves, for it is these that fix our attention and determine this thread. However, many things are sensed unconsciously and these, too, remain and are like a fabric into which the thread is woven. These impressions, of which we are not conscious, nonetheless exercise a marked influence upon the thread of consciousness. All things that we have been taught or that we have learned as facts are impressed upon this external memory, and this includes the knowledges both of spiritual and of natural things; for the knowledges of spiritual things as the truths of the Word and of the Church are received in the same way as all other knowledges, namely, through the senses, particularly those of hearing and of sight, and they enter by the same gate as do the images of material objects.

On the other hand, the internal memory contains every impression that comes from within through the soul or from our spiritual environment. It accompanies every external sensation; for we cannot feel anything in one world alone. All things have a double being, and they make upon the mind a double impression. Those .things which we receive unconsciously are also impressed as to the spiritual sensations that accompany them, upon the internal memory, and therefore may become conscious even when we are quite unaware of the ultimate natural basis for them. For this reason, the internal memory forms a complete and unbroken record of our life's experiences from beginning to end, so far as their spiritual content is concerned. Not one least thing is lost. Not one least thing enters that cannot be recollected in the other world if the Lord permits. So long as we live on earth, our whole mental life centers in the external memory.

This also is retained after death, but there it is active only for a short time. Later, the center of our mental activity is shifted to the internal memory, so that in that memory all our consciousness resides. The material visual images are not recalled from the external memory except as a modifying, clothing, enriching background for the ideas of our thought, so that when the external memory is no longer active we can have not a least idea of any material object or sense impression as such, unless by Divine permission we are remitted into our former state. This can be done, and is frequently described in the Writings. However, that which is in constant use in the spiritual world is the internal memory, the recollection of spiritual states of life, affections and perceptions which were on earth but vaguely sensed as something contained within the material objects. It is a universal experience by which human beings are distinguished from animals, that every sense impression affects the spirit at the same time as it affects the body. This is what makes our sensation human. And external things are valued not for what they are in themselves, but for what we call their human associations. Indeed, an object, a place, or any bodily experience may be delightful or undelightful in the extreme, not because of anything inherent in the sensation, but because of the human emotions which are associated with it. These human emotions are spiritual sensations, and these are what are retained and later recalled in the internal memory.

Therefore, when a man dies -- after a brief space during which, for purposes of transition, the external memory remains active -- he comes into a conscious perception of this internal memory with its complete record of his inner life. The spiritual things which belong to that memory become the objects of his thought. They are seen about him, making up his external environment, forming indeed that spiritual world in which he then lives. If this be understood, and if we realize what these internal sensations are, we can understand in a living and human sense many things said in the Writings about the spiritual world which otherwise would seem strange and unbelievable. It is said that all things are impressed upon the internal memory whether we have been conscious of them, whether we have reflected upon them, or not. From this fact we derive what may be called rich overtones of thought and perception, quite inexpressible but of tremendous importance in determining our attitudes and our actions. It is this that the psychologists have in some vague way discovered by experiments as lying below the conscious acts of the human mind, and curiously dominating them. Even in the internal memory there must be a thread of stronger consciousness composed of those spiritual impressions derived from the things to which we have given conscious attention in the body. This thread which is determined by our ruling love and by the form of mind with which we were gifted at birth becomes what may be called the axis of our life to eternity. It determines our place in the Grand Man. It determines our use in heaven. It determines our relation to the Lord and to angels. It gives us our individual point of view, and from its center we look upon all else, seeing clearly those things which are most nearly associated with it, and more indistinctly things at a distance from it. No two human minds can have the same love. No two can have the same center of life. No two, therefore, will draw from the world of nature a like thread of conscious experience, nor form for themselves a like thread of spiritual interest.

This fact constitutes for every individual a new creation and assures him an individual place and function in the Grand Man, forseen and provided by the Lord. And yet these individual minds, each receiving something of Divine love and wisdom that is different from the gifts imparted to others, are mutually dependent and so closely bound together in affection and in use as to form a single man in the sight of God.

We have noted that the truths of the Word and of the Church are received at first from the outer world into the external memory. If they do not there excite interest if by application to them we have not stirred spiritual affection then in the other world they will be taken away from us when the external memory becomes quiescent, for our real life will be centered elsewhere. But if we learn on earth to love these things, reflect upon them for ourselves, and weave them into the fabric of our conscious mind by applying them to life, then do they become part of our spirit. They are built into us in spiritual form and substance. They are impressed upon that internal memory in which we will live after death. The process of regeneration by which man's inner character is formed and moulded is that whereby the truth of the Word, having been inscribed upon the external memory, is drawn thence in adult life by living experience, and is engraved upon the internal memory; and this must be effected by use alone. To this enrichment of the internal memory may be attributed man's spiritual development. It is this internal memory that is represented by the onyx stones on which were inscribed the names of the twelve sons of Israel, in the order of their birth. That is, on the internal memory is impressed every spiritual state of life, every perception of Divine and heavenly things, and this

in the actual order of man's growththe order of his reformation and regeneration. This internal memory is unconscious to man while he is in the world, even as the onyx stones were outside the range of vision of the priest who wore them upon his shoulders. And yet it is the source of all power, as is represented by the shoulders upon which the stones were worn. The golden chain by which it was connected with the breastplate represents the spiritual connection, influx and operation of this internal memory into the conscious mind. On the other hand, the breastplate represents the actively thinking mind where truth stands forth to rational view. This mind is a replica of heaven so far as it is formed from the Word. For this reason the breastplate is said to represent heaven. The three horizontal rows of stones represent the three heavens, celestial, spiritual, and natural, in their order. The two vertical rows on the right side represent the celestial kingdom with its internal and external, respectively. The two rows on the left side represent the spiritual kingdom, also with its internal and its external.

The precious stones themselves represent the good and truth of the Word received into the mind by instruction and study. They derive their spiritual representation from their color. The first row of red stones represents truths of a celestial origin, truths of the inmost sense of the Word, especially concerning the Lord and things relative to His incarnation, His redemption, and His glorification. They are red in color because they are perceptions from love to the Lord. The second row of stones, blue from red, represents truths from mutual love, truths of the internal sense of the Word, having reference to the regeneration and salvation of men. They are truths of wisdom from the Divine love of saving human souls. The third row of stones, blue from white, represents truths from charity toward the neighbor. They are not so deeply perceptive, but rather rational things that we see from reason and logic according to a spiritual philosophy. They have more direct bearing upon what is worldly and temporal, and they are what are called in the Writings the internal historical sense of the Word. The last row of stones, white from blue, are the truths of faith, truths in the memory received in a state of holiness, but not yet understood. They are doctrinal statements from which a moral and ethical conscience is formed in the light of religious principles. They are seen in the literal sense of the Word, when that sense is illumined from the Sun of heaven. All of these together are what are called in the Word "the glory in the cloud," the internal understanding of truth imparted to man by means of the letter of the Word. The names of the sons of Israel engraved upon these stones represent the societies of heaven in their order, from which influx and enlightenment are received when the Word is read in a holy state; and this influx is what was represented by the flashing of the lights seen by the priest. When we reflect upon the teaching of the Word, and its imagery is brought vividly into our mind, the heavens inflow according to our state at the time, that is, according to the love which actuates us. And this influx is the source of spiritual light by which we are given to understand and perceive truth. Thus it is the means of receiving answers, of reaching conclusions, of forming judgments, which as to their internal sense are a revealing of the Lord's own teaching in the Word.

It is a notable fact that light is given in the study of the Word by comparison of passages. By this means things otherwise separated are brought together and perceived in series and in mutual relation. Compare this with what is said of the flashing of light in various series on the breastplate of Aaron. It is to be noted that the degree and the amount of truth that we see in the Word is limited: first, by the knowledge that we possess, both spiritual and natural; second, by the background of spiritual sensations that have previously been stored in the internal memory; and last, by the end and purpose which actuates our thinking. By these three things our place among spirits and our extension into the societies in the other world are fixed. As we grow in knowledge, and in spiritual experience, we acquire an increasing depth of insight and breadth of view. This we do by means of the internal memory, where a thousand particulars are stored up above our consciousness, to be drawn out and to give illustration in filling and perfecting our ideas as we advance in regeneration.

Answers were given by the "Urim and Thummim" (by which words are meant lights and perfections) when the priest entered the holy place and stood before the veil to inquire of the Lord. This represents how we receive enlightenment and instruction from the Lord by means of the Word when we read the Sacred Scripture in worship, and when, in a holy state we reflect upon its teaching with prayer for guidance. This is the way of all spiritual enlightenment, and herein lies the importance of reading the Word continually, that we may receive therefrom our daily bread. In the Word there is a compendium of all Divine wisdom and the Divinely provided means by which the Lord may speak to man and lead him in the way of life.4

4 See further in Appendix I. Also in Chapter XXI. See A.C. 27, 1900, 2469, 2473, 2474-94.



The description of the tabernacle begins, not with the building itself, but with the furniture that was to be kept in the inmost sanctuary called the holy of holies.

The Scripture does not follow, therefore, the order that would be natural in presenting the construction of a building, beginning with the foundation and passing on to the framework and roofing, the interior and exterior finishings, and at last the furniture. The process here is reversed, and this because what is described in the Word is the actual order according to which any spiritual construction must take place. No house is ever built until first there is formulated an end or purpose -- a use to which it is to be put. Arising out of this use and governed by it in all particulars comes the plan forseen by the builder and designed most perfectly to fulfill the requirements of that use. This is the spiritual law of creation according to which there must be a cause, first in the spiritual world, before an effect can be produced on earth. And it is equally true of the church with men, that it must have its origin in a spiritual vision of the Lord who is the Builder of the church. The first of the church is a vision of God in the inmost of the mind. This is what rouses a desire for religious things and for communication and conjunction with the God who has been seen.

Religion arises from a revelation of God. God must be seen as the Creator and the Preserver of the universe. Yet, He must be perceived as One who is accessible to man, and who in mercy responds to human prayer. He must be seen as One who protects, leads, and blesses all those who learn and keep His law. Spiritually, He must appear to every man, in the midst of the cloud on Mount Sinai, and His voice must be heard out of heaven. Without this experience no one would feel any need for the building of a tabernacle for the worship of the Lord. This must be an individual experience. There must be a "coming" of the Lord to every man, and until this takes place no church can be built within him. He may indeed worship externally in some sacred edifice which other men have built. He may have his place and his part in the church of his fathers, and be entirely familiar with its forms and customs. Indeed, he may have a strong affection for these things in which he has been brought up. But this is a temple erected and dedicated not to his God, but to the God of his fathers. He may admire it, he may find delight in it, and thus in a sense he may love it, but his inmost being will stand without, and the religion thus formed will not be his. If, as he progresses in life, he is to build a tabernacle of his own, a church in which he may truly live and from which he may truly think, he must have his own vision of God -- a vision that must come from within through the soul, not from without by means of others. Unless this is the case, his worship will be but an idolatrous aping of religion. The voice of confession and of prayer will echo with a hollow sound through its halls. "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." The Lord must be present within. He must come. He must be seen in the Word by the man himself. Revelation is not the sacred books, not the sayings of the prophets alone, but these illumined by the light of perception, their inner significance deeply realized. Such a vision of God brings with it the perception of the Divine law -- expressed in the form of truths which the man must understand and apply to life if he is to be conjoined in love and faith with the God whom he has seen. How shall a man live? What shall he do to be saved? On his answers to these questions depend the whole conception of what the church is, the whole plan of the tabernacle. It is the varying answers to these questions that give rise to differences of religion, to the separation of sects and churches. All men, whether they be Christian or Gentile, acknowledge that religion is a "binding back" to God, a means of communication and conjunction with Him. But with what God do they seek such conjunction? By what means is it to be effected? Every religious faith must have at its center and as its living soul some distinct vision of God, some conception of Him, and some Divine Word or revelation of His will according to which it is formed. All the structure of a church considered as a human organization is but a means of housing that vision, of protecting and making it effective. The corollary to this is that before a new church can be founded there must be given a new revelation, a renewal from within of the vision of God. The means or medium by which that vision is to be realized must be enshrined at the center of all its worship. And so it is that with the tabernacle of the Jews the construction is described as beginning immediately after the appearance of Jehovah on the Mount, immediately after the giving of the Decalogue on the tables of stone. For the tabernacle was built to perpetuate the

presence of that God who had been seen. It was built as a place where that God might abide, wherein He might be approached. For this reason the highest end or purpose which governed the building of the tabernacle was to enshrine the Law, to protect it, to surround it with holiness and to provide a means by which the Lord might speak from it, to lead and to deliver. This is the reason why the first thing which it was commanded should be built was the ark, for this was to be the repository for the tables of the Law.

The ark was a box of cedar or shittim wood, covered within and without with gold. It measured 21/2 cubits in length and 11/2 cubits in width and height. Around the upper edge was a band of pure gold called the "crown" or border, designed so as to hold the lid or propitiatory in place. At each of the four corners was a hollow golden orb through which passed the staves of gilded shittim wood by which the ark was carried. It was characteristic of the ark, in contradistinction to the other articles of furniture, that the staves were never to be removed from the orbs.1 These staves were so placed that they ran along the length of the ark near the top and under the crown. Covering the ark was a plate of pure gold called the propitiatory or mercy seat. It measured 11/2 cubits by 21/2 cubits, fitting as a lid within the crown and protecting the tables of the testimony deposited within it. Upon this mercy seat, and fastened to it at either end, was a cherub. The cherubs, though it is nowhere distinctly stated, were probably human figures representing angels. Three things were prescribed concerning them: that they were to face one another; their faces were to be toward the mercy seat; and their wings were to be spread out over the mercy seat, touching above.2

1 Exodus 25:15.
2 In addition to these specified requirements, the cherubim of the model were so made as to represent male figures expressing both strength and humility. Consult Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9.

The ark was to be placed in the holy of holies, the rods running east and west. It was to be equidistant from the two sides or walls of the tabernacle, the front of the staves extending a little beyond the line of the pillars upon which the veil was hung; this in order that while the ark itself was hidden, the fact of its presence behind the veil would be attested because the staves would push the veil slightly out of its natural position.3 The holy of holies was the inmost chamber of the tabernacle. It was a room cubical in shape, measuring ten cubits in each dimension. Three of its walls, north, south and west, were formed by the gold-covered boards while the eastern wall was made by the linen veil of four colors in which cherubs of gold were woven. The ceiling displayed a portion of the first tabernacle curtain, the material of which was similar to that of the veil. There was in this chamber no opening for light and no means of entrance except by lifting a corner of the veil. The only article of furniture in this room was the ark. All these related particulars concerning the ark and its resting place in the tabernacle are deeply significant.

3 W.E. 4688.

In the Writings the ark is given essentially the same representation as the holy of holies -- the one is a repository and the other a sanctuary for the Law. They represent the highest and most immediate dwelling place of God with man.4 That is, they represent the celestial degree of the mind which, when opened, gives perception out of the celestial heaven where love to the Lord reigns, where the angels speak face to face with God, and where they are in the fullness of wisdom and perfection of life. No man can come into this celestial heaven who has not that heaven formed in himself. He must have opened that highest plane of the mind which is capable of receiving celestial wisdom and of perceiving this exalted vision of the Lord. The characteristic of this degree of the mind is that it is above thoughtabove reason and rationality. Its consciousness is not dependent upon any process of logic, but upon what men call intuition -- a perception deeper and more certain than any reasoning. This intuition is as different from thought and reason as is the touch of ultimate sensation. Indeed, it can best be compared to the direct touch of the soul with spiritual reality, more keenly perceived than the touch of the bodily senses with matter. Between this inner touch called perception and the outer-touch called sensation thought and reason are formed. Through this inner touch man has a dictate that there is a God and that His Commandments are to be obeyed. When it is stated this truth can be seen at once by any normal human mind without need for proof.5 It is a truth that man acknowledges, as it were, instinctively, because he has been created for heaven, and his mind has been formed for the reception of the Lord. Here, in this deepest intuition, religion must find its origin, its final refuge, and the sanctuary that alone can protect it from the attacks of the hells. It must rest upon a perception of which the man is sure, not, in the last analysis, because he has been able to reason it out, but because he has felt it, has directly touched its substance with the sensation of the soul. Those who deny religious truth on the ground that it cannot be demonstrated physically are asking that spiritual substance be touched and felt by the material senses. This is impossible. Spiritual substance may be touched and sensed through the spirit, and this touch is as real as that of the body with matter. As to that which we see and feel, there is no need to reason concerning its existence, because this is self-evident. This is as true of spiritual as of natural sight and touch.

4 A.C. 9455, 9457, 9485, 9682, 10338; A.E. 700.
5 T.C.R. 9.

We speak of a rational religion, by which we mean one that, as to its great general outlines and its main supports, can be understood in the light of reason. But a religion that is not more than this is like a house built upon the sand. To be permanent it must rest at last upon a rock -- the eternal truth of inner experience that transcends any process of thinking, of logic, or of reason. He who has this inward testimony "has set to his seal that God is true."6 It is just this that is denied by modern philosophers who hold that there is no such thing as internal sensation and that the only ground of reality rests upon physical touch. Wherefore it is held that all that cannot be demonstrated by sense experience is not only unknown but unknowable, and shares in the shifting uncertainty of all man's thought. Such a philosophy reduces all religion to the plane of individual or collective opinion, to be criticized and demolished by one who, through scientific discovery and reasoning, reaches some other conclusion. Yet, because there is more than human opinion in religion, because it has its deepest springs in the universal sense or interior perception of God, it has found a permanent place with every people in every land and in every age.

6 John 3:33.

The mind by which man is able to experience this sense of the Divine is what is represented by the ark and the holy of holies. It is, indeed, the inmost dwelling place of God with man, and yet it is a place which, in the sight of the lower mind, is dark, mysterious, reaching up toward the Infinite where reason can no longer follow. If we look at it from without or from below, we behold but darkness; yet if we look upon it from within we find it not only full of light but the very source of light, the beginning of all understanding and wisdom, the starting point from which is all true reason. Religion has been called "the pragmatic expression of hope." This is often meant to discredit it. It implies that man imagines all things that he most would like to have, forms to himself a mental picture of them and then calls them his religion, believing that they must be real. Whence come these desires that are common to all men? They have no assignable origin if they are unreal and unattainable. Why was man created to long for them? To create a race of beings filled with a longing for the unattainable is an act of cruelty that cannot be ascribed to a God of love. But what shall we say if these desires of the soul are realities; if they can be fulfilled; if they are but the means of imparting to man the realization of the end and purpose for which he was created? What if they are not a hopeless mirage, but rather a first glimpse of an inner world into which man is to come after death? To postulate this origin of our inmost longings is more in accord with the facts of experience than to suppose that they are unreal. In either case the external appearance would be the same. That which a man perceives in this highest recess of the mind is the actual delight of human joy and happiness. In it is found the summation of all the deepest longings of the spirit. And the fact that this perception is common to all men is the promise of its attainability. This is the reason why the predominating color of the ark and of the sanctuary is gold. The ark was covered with gold within and without, and the walls of the holy of holies were covered with gold. For gold signifies good, and the delight of love to the Lord is as it were the natural joy for which man was created and which alone can satisfy his innate cravings. All things in that highest region of the mind are such as to impart delight and happiness to men, whence comes an inner light and a perfect peace, trust and confidence in the near presence of the Lord as the Divine and infinitely living Savior. It is the Lord there present as "The Light of the World," the only light which can dispel the clouds of doubt, make clear the Divine end and law, give purpose and reason and an understandable use to all created things. The holy of holies is therefore like the holy city, of which it is said in the Apocalypse that "It hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God doth lighten it and the Lamb is the light thereof."7 This ark of shittim wood is said in the Arcana Coelestia to represent the same as the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, to eat of which was to live forever.8 That tree is said in the Writings to represent the Lord's life present and received by man, so affecting him as to the inmost that he becomes aware of it.9 This ability to feel the Divine presence is of the mercy of the Lord and is the power by means of which He is able to move men to live a life of religion and so to be saved. For this reason it represents the mercy and righteousness of the Lord operating for man's salvation.

7 Revelation 21:23.
8 A.C. 308.
9 A.C. 105, 2187. A.R. 89, 933, 951. I. 13. T.C.R. 466. A.E. 131e. Coronis 27.

And this brings us to consider the meaning of the mercy seat or propitiatory. This plate of gold covering the ark was that through which or by means of which there was influx from the Lord. "There will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim."10 In the ark, by means of the tables of the Law or of the Word, the Lord is livingly present, and His presence there can be perceived and acknowledged by man because it can be felt in the inmost of his mind. From this highest seat the Lord can speak to guide and direct man's way in the degree that man, as of himself, shuns evil as sin. For with the removal of evil, good from the Lord inflows, but so long as evil is present, such influx is impossible, and this is why the mercy seat was called the propitiatory. It was the "mercy seat" because in the Lord's mercy it provided the means of salvation. It was called the "propitiatory" because salvation was possible only through repentance and the remission of sins. Every Christian must acknowledge God as a Divine man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He must obey the Lord's teaching and he must do so from love and faith. By this means alone is he regenerated. For this reason the mercy seat is said to represent the Divine Human or the visible God. It covered over the Law which here represents the idea of God as infinite, as invisible. This idea by itself is powerless to save. But when the invisible God is perceived as a soul within the form of God Incarnate, God becomes consciously present to man and has "all power in heaven and on earth."

10 Exodus 25:22.

On this mercy seat were the two cherubim which are said to represent the same as the angels "guarding the way of the tree of life," namely, Divine Providence preventing any approach to the Lord except from good of love and from an actual shunning of evil as sin.11 They were two in number to represent the spiritual and celestial genius among men. Those of a celestial genius being saved, as it were, from the east by the good of love, and those of a spiritual genius from the west by the good of faith. And this is the reason why they were so placed as to be in the east and west respectively. They looked toward one another to represent the conjunction and the harmony of these two things in the Lord, and to represent the marriage of good and truth in men as being the universal of religion. For it is not by good alone nor by truth alone that man can be saved, but by the two conjoined as in a marriage. This is true whatever the genius of the man, whether celestial or spiritual. The cherubim looked toward the mercy seat to represent the turning of the interiors of the mind to the Lord because the inmost end and purpose of life should be to become conjoined with Him. Their wings covered the mercy seat to represent the Divine Providence of the Lord and His protection in every state of love and faith with men. This covering by the wings also represented a veiling over of Divine truth with forms and appearances accommodated to man so that he might perceive the Lord who in Himself is invisible and ineffable. And finally it represented a lifting up or elevation of the mind by means of truth and love. This elevation is above the things of the earth into the realm of heavenly perception. The cherubim were fastened to the mercy seat because all this protection, all this veiling, and all this elevation is effected by the Lord in his Divine Human. They were of gold because such protecting and guarding is of the Divine love. And finally, they were angelic forms because all influx to men before the incarnation was through and by means of the celestial heaven, and every appearance of the Lord was by means of an angel infilled with His presence.

11 Genesis 3:24. A.C. 306.

We see in the ark with its tables of the testimony a wonderfully graphic picture of how the Lord can be present in the human soul, to become therein the first of all religion, that for which all religion exists, and by which it is formed; and for this reason it is described first in the account of the tabernacle and how it was to be builded by the sons of Israel at the command of Jehovah.


Table of Shewbread

the celestial degree of the mind, which is represented by the holy of holies, is present in potency with everyone from birth. By means of it everyone has direct contact with spiritual things. Before this degree has been opened, however, it produces no conscious spiritual sensation. By means of regeneration alone can it be opened, and so far as this takes place, man enters into the joys of the celestial heavens, which it is the inmost purpose of the Lord to impart.1

1 D.L.W. 236-241.

All men are created for heaven, and indeed for the celestial heaven, because the Lord wills to draw all men to Himself and to bless them with the fullest possible measure of happiness. Human happiness consists in conjunction with the Lord, and the more interiorly the mind is opened and formed, the closer can this conjunction be. All conscious life arises from sensation. The sensation of material things is delightful, but this delight is superficial, transient, and temporary. The direct sensation of spiritual things is far deeper and more satisfying. So far as one enjoys this internal sensation he is spiritually alive. All in the heavens enjoy spiritual life, but with those who are in the lower heavens it is relatively obscure, vague, and imperfect.

Because conscious life is sensation, the more perfect sensation can be, the greater the enjoyment of life. This may be illustrated universally in nature where the higher animals, because they have a more complex organism, are able to distinguish many more particulars of sensation, and therefore to enjoy a higher form of life. The same is true of men. Primitive peoples now living who are ignorant of science and devoid of education, are incapable of enjoying many things that come to the consciousness of those who are cultured. As it is with natural life, so also it is with spiritual life. Delight increases with the discriminating sensation of particulars. We are told in this connection that the things perceived, understood and enjoyed by the celestial angels are immeasurably greater in number and in distinctness than are those perceived by the spiritual angels.2 It is inconceivable that the Lord from His Divine Providence should not will that all men should enter into this higher, and more perfect happiness. But until the celestial degree of the mind is opened by regeneration this inmost perception does not come distinctly to our consciousness. We feel it vaguely as something within, and deeper than our conscious life. The celestial mind is in us like the holy of holies. It is an inmost sanctuary and abiding place of God with us, deeply buried, heavily veiled, surrounded by protecting walls and curtains which we are unable to penetrate. It is shrouded in what appears to us as darkness, though as the celestial mind is opened that darkness is found to be the very light of life. Such coverings are provided in the mercy of the Lord because of our hereditary evils, which would lead us to pervert and profane these holy things, to our eternal destruction. It is provided, therefore, that these things should exist within us, as it were, unrealized, and yet subtly influencing our will and our thought, imparting to us an internal dictate as to the reality of God and of eternal life. This dictate produces a strong urge to come into the possession of these eternal things. Only in the degree that we can be led, under the prompting of that urge, to shun evils as sins can light begin to shine out of the darkness. It is as if a light were kindled behind the veil, which, like a gauze, as it were, disappears, to reveal things that lie beyond. So long as the light is outside of the veil it constitutes an impenetrable wall, but when the light is within, the veil becomes transparent.

2 H.H. 34.

So long as the light is without, we live on the lower plane of the mind called the spiritual degree which is represented in the construction of the tabernacle by the holy place outside of the veil. Those who continue in this spiritual life in the world come after death into the spiritual heaven. The holy place, unlike the holy of holies, was not cubical in shape but oblong, or rather it was a parallelepipedon. In width and height it measured 10 cubits, as did the sanctuary, but its length was 20 cubits. This difference in shape is significant. The cube represents a perfect conjunction of truth and good, because width represents truth and length good, while the height represents the degrees of these. Where the length is greater than the width, there is the representation of good without truth, here called the good of ignorance. The spiritual man possesses intelligence, represented by 10 cubits in width, and this in every possible degree, represented by the 10 cubits in height; but he cannot enter into wisdom, represented by the length, unless he acknowledges his own ignorance, and permits himself to be led by the Lord. So far as he does this he approaches the state of the celestial.3

3 For the signification of twenty, see A.C. 2280, 10225.

It is to be noted that in the holy of holies there was but one article of furniture, the ark, in which the tables of stone were kept, and over which was the mercy seat with its cherubim of gold. The reason for this is that with the celestial angels the will or love, and the understanding or wisdom, are perfectly united and go forth spontaneously into vise; thus they are conjoined into a one. Will and understanding were represented by the two tables of stone, which were two and yet one, as the Lord indicated when He spoke of the two great commandments of the Law, the one being to love the Lord above all things, and the other to love the neighbor as one's self, which two make a perfect one. This same faculty of will and understanding was represented by the two cherubim, which, however, were placed facing one another, and were joined together by the gold mercy seat, toward which they looked. The ark therefore represented the perfect conjunction of love to the Lord, and charity toward the neighbor in a life of use; that is, a complete unity of will, thought, and act.

In the holy place, however, we find three separate pieces of furniture. This, because in the spiritual degree of the mind the faculties of love and wisdom are distinctly separate. The will or love is represented by the table of shewbread which was placed midway between the two veils and against the northern wall. The understanding is represented by the lampstand which was set opposite the table against the southern wall. And the life resulting from the conjunction of these two, which is the internal worship of the Lord, is represented by the altar of incense which was placed just outside the veil, and midway between the northern and the southern walls.

Here, as with the holy of holies, the sacred account begins with the description of the furniture from which the room derives its spiritual signification. For this reason we find the table of shewbread, the lampstand and the altar of incense described before any account is given of how the holy place was built. From a consideration of the table of shewbread, its construction and its use, we may derive a living idea of that in the human mind to which it corresponds.

The table is said to be 2 cubits in length, 1 cubit in breadth, and l1/2 cubits in height. Like the ark, it was made of cedar wood covered with gold. The top was a plain board of cedar, supported at the four corners by legs of the same material. These legs were strengthened by a skirt or "closure" (as it is called in the Writings), consisting of a board 41/2 inches or a palm's breadth in width, fastened under the top at its outer edge and probably mortised into the legs. Such a board was placed on each of the four sides, binding the whole firmly together. Around the top of the table, and extending a distance of a palm's breadth above it, was a "crown" of gold, fastened at its lower edge to the "closure"; while another "crown" was attached to the lower edge of the closure as an encircling band of gold. At the four corners of the table, between the two crowns, were orbs of gold through which staves were passed, by which the table might be carried. Unlike the staves of the ark these were to be removed when the table was in use, and replaced only when the tabernacle was to be dismantled in preparation for a journey. The staves ran along the length of the table. The dishes, spoons, bowls and covers to be used on the table were to be made of gold.4 The design and the specific use of these vessels is nowhere described in detail, but it is clear that they were intended to contain the flour, the oil, and the finished cakes of sanctified bread. In one passage,5 it is said that frankincense was to be placed on the bread after it was baked, and this incense also may have been kept in one of the vessels on the table. The bread to be placed on this table was called the "bread of faces" because it was to be continually before the Lord.6 It was holy bread, to be eaten only by the priests, as a sacramental act of communion with Jehovah.7

The table derived its signification from the bread which was upon it, and thus from the use to which it was put. The bread of faces represents in the highest sense the Lord as he is present in this internal degree of the mind.8 It is the Lord as the "Bread of Life," providing food for the spirit, imparting life and joy, blessing and peace, to all who receive Him there. The life here enjoyed is the same as that which is represented by the ark behind the veil, except that it is more obscure because it is accommodated to a lower degree of reception. It is, as it were, as much of that life as can pass through the veil and be consciously received by one in whom the inmost degree of the mind has not yet been opened. Here the Word of the Lord is understood as to its internal sense, and although its deepest implications are not perceived, it provides a criterion of rational judgment. It enables man to recognize the fallacies that arise from physical sensation, and distinguish them from truths.

4 Exodus 25:29.
5 Leviticus 24:7.
6 Exodus 25:30.
7 Note the fact that under certain conditions it might be used for another purpose, and the Lord's comment upon this. 1 Samuel 21:4. Matthew 12:4.
8 A.C. 9545-6.

Because, even in his fallen state man retains some remnant of celestial perception, he can recognize truth instinctively when it is presented to view. Because of this men perceive what are called "axioms," that is, things that cannot be proved but which nevertheless are known to be true from an intuitive conviction. To such an insight may be traced that "common sense" to which, in the last analysis, all opinions are submitted for judgment, as if to a final court of appeal. Whatever is contrary to common sense is judged to be insane. Yet it is possible for man to lose touch with this basic criterion of right and wrong. Every one perceives as true that which is in accord with his love. In the light of an evil love man's mental vision is distorted. He perceives what is false as if it were true, and what is true as if it were false. Such a one is spiritually insane. Only a good love can produce a sound mind. Good loves come from the Lord, and are inspired by the Word. They are secretly insinuated into the mind of every one during infancy and childhood, and as man turns to the Word in adult age, seeking Divine guidance, they are recalled and exercise a profound influence over his life. They are gifts from the Lord, but they can be consciously received only if one prays for them from the heart. They are what is meant in the Lord's prayer by "our daily bread," and what is represented in the tabernacle by the "bread of faces."

With men at this day who are in a spiritual state, the perception of spiritual truth is very general as compared with that which was enjoyed by those who lived in most ancient times. Nevertheless, it is sufficient to sustain his spiritual life. It gives assurance that his faith is genuine, and thus a sense of firm ground on which to stand. It inspires a feeling of internal peace and courage, of trust and confidence without which there could be no victory in temptation.

The Lord provides that man may sense heavenly things as real, as substantial, as eminently good and desirable, although his perception of them is dulled as by an intervening veil. The love that animates this spiritual degree of the mind is not so directly love to the Lord as it is charity toward the neighbor. It is a love that causes man to forget himself in performing a use to others without any thought of personal reward, but from a desire to obey the Lord's will. Such is the quality of that spiritual degree of the mind which is represented by the holy place in general, and by the table of shewbread in particular.

That this table was 2 cubits in length represents the self-forgetting desire of imparting good to others. That it was 1 cubit in width represents a longing for the truth that teaches how good may be done. At the same time it represents an acknowledgment of one's ignorance and incompetence, which induces a state of humility. That the table was 11/2 cubits in height represents the desire that the use one performs may be genuine, permanent and serviceable to the spirit as well as to the body. This is the essential characteristic of spiritual charity. That the table was made of cedar wood represents man's acknowledgment that his ability to love the neighbor is not his own but is given to him and constantly preserved in him by the merciful operation of the Lord. That the table was covered with gold represents that this love of the neighbor is surrounded and hallowed by a heavenly delight, an inward joy and gladness with which no external reward can be compared. This is the delight of the spiritual heaven. The "closure," which was also of cedar wood covered with gold, represents the conjunction of this love of use with the Divine truth of the Word. The two crowns represent a guard, or a protecting Divine sphere of holiness, that sets bounds lest man should approach this altar, and eat of its bread from some selfish or worldly motive which would lead to profanation. Only in the garments of their office and after ceremonial purification could the priests enter this holy place to eat the bread of faces before the Lord. The orbs of gold represented conjunction, or the marriage of love with its corresponding truth. By means of truth, love is brought into act, even as by means of the staves, when passed through the orbs, the table was carried. The staves represent the power of Divine truth from the Word when it is applied to life, and thus to use.

Such a love is not native with man. It can be formed in him, and gradually perfected only as the life of religion is cherished as an ideal and held sacred within the heart. It is that which is called in the Writings the "new will" which man receives from the Lord so far as he regenerates. From this will all spiritual faith is derived. How it produces a new understanding will be considered in connection with the representation of the lampstand. Here however, it should be explained that understanding, even if it be spiritual, is not an immediate touch with reality. It is an idea, an opinion, or a conclusion derived from experience, both spiritual and natural. It is formed from sense perception on the one hand, and a perception of the soul on the other. Physical sensation comes from man's material environment, and spiritual perception comes by way of his spiritual environment. Both of those arise outside the mind and thus outside the man himself. But that which one understands he appropriates to himself. It becomes his very own, and taken in its entirety it becomes the real world in which man lives. Everything that he has thus confirmed he regards as real. Yet it may not be real at all. Only if the love from which man thinks is good, can his ideas conform to what is really true. The love that inspires the understanding of truth is represented by the shewbread. In the spiritual degree of the mind the love of truth reigns, rather than the love of good which is characteristic of the celestial degree. From this is derived the only kind of perception that is possible to men at this day, and for this reason, religion must be based on intellectual understanding rather than upon intuitive perception as was the case in most ancient times. Nevertheless, even now there must be a remnant of that perception, without which understanding would have no assured foundation, and this is what is meant by "our daily bread."



The second article of furniture which was made for the holy place is that which is called in the Authorized Version the candlestick. It was not, in fact, a candlestick at all, for candles were not known in the time of Moses. It was rather a lampstand on which rested seven lamps, such as were used in ancient times for the burning of olive oil. It was made of pure gold, of beaten work, and was said to contain a talent of the metal, which is estimated as representing a value of approximately $29000.1

It consisted of the base, the shaft, six branches and seven lamps. The character of the base is not specifically described, and that which has been adopted in the model has been designed, in general, in accord with the illustration of the lampstand found upon the arch of Titus. In the absence of any direct instruction from the Sacred Scripture this is regarded as the most authentic historical evidence in our possession. However, certain modifications have been made in that description, which was evidently not an exact copy of the original, but was merely the artist's idea of it, possibly executed from memory.2 The form of the base that has been adopted for the model is hexagonal. It is three steps in height. Out of this base arose a central shaft to a height slightly greater than that of a man. From either side of this shaft proceeded three hollow golden tubes called "reeds," each describing an arc and terminating at the same height as the shaft in a little cuplike depression. Upon these seven branches and resting in the cups at the top were placed the lamps, each consisting of a shallow bowl of gold, with a handle at one side, and a lip at the other through which a wick was passed. These lamps were entirely separate from the stand and could be removed singly by the priest in order to be cleaned, trimmed, and replenished with oil. On each reed or branch there was a series of decorations in gold. The design of each decoration consisted of an almond-shaped bowl in which was set a pomegranate from which proceeded a flower. This design was repeated three times on each branch and four times on the central shaft. The lampstand was placed against the south wall of the holy place, opposite the table of shewbread.

1 Gold Talent = 758000 gr = 108 lbs. avdps = $29085.00. See Oxford Teacher's Bible, concordance.
2 See further concerning this in Appendix II.

As the table of shewbread represented the new will formed in the regenerating mind, so the lampstand represented the new understanding. We have noted above how fallible are the conclusions of man's unaided reason, and how on this account the traditional theories and beliefs concerning spiritual things have been largely discredited in modern thought on the plea that they are lacking any dependable foundation. Their existence and their quality must be attested by demonstrable experience before we can be sure that they are more than a figment of the imagination. They have no basis in physical sensation, and the existence of a distinct spiritual sensation, comparable to that of the bodily senses, is unknown. All men recognize that natural reason is reliable only if it is accurately based on factual evidence. It is not so well known, however, that spiritual reason is dependable only so far as it is founded upon a true understanding of the Word. Such an understanding is possible solely to those who are in love to the Lord; from this comes all spiritual enlightenment. From love to the Lord man receives direct touch with reality, an internal and spiritual sensation comparable to the touch of the physical senses with material objects. From this sensation man derives a fixed point, a bench mark, from which all reliable thinking must start. Every one is gifted with this love by means of "remains" and can become consciously aware of spiritual sensation, by means of regeneration. This has been demonstrated in a previous chapter.

By means of a materialistic philosophy men can deny the existence of any such internal sensation. In opposite ways this has been done by both the pragmatists and the idealists. Pragmatists regard physical sensation as the only basis of assured knowledge. Idealists deny the existence of matter and hold that the cause of sensation lies in the mind itself. When this idea is carried to its logical conclusion it ends in solipsism; it ends by questioning the existence of anything except one's self. Yet everyone experiences what is known as "common sense." This, in the last analysis is derived from the acknowledgment as an axiomatic truth that there is a God. The Writings state that this truth is impressed upon the human mind from creation as an inmost dictate; it is spontaneously recognized as soon as it is presented. The Word openly teaches that God is infinite, and yet, that He is Human and can reveal Himself to men. If these premises are followed to their logical conclusion, they will lead to a true interpretation of life, both natural and spiritual. Such spiritual understanding is represented by the light of the lampstand in the holy place, and every minute particular of its construction, as described in Exodus, is designed to illustrate how spiritual understanding is produced in the human mind. We can attempt no more than a very general explanation of what they mean.

It is to be noted that the lampstand represents, not that which a man understands intellectually from instruction by others, but that which he has come to understand for himself by Divine guidance from within. In this respect the representation of the candlestick is distinguished from that of the protecting curtains. These represent truths derived from others, things seen and heard, things read and learned, things inflowing from association with men and spirits. Our mind is indeed surrounded and affected by many things that we receive from others. Only from such information can an individual understanding arise. This individual understanding lies deep within man's consciousness, and he does not realize its presence except at times when he is withdrawn from the world, in a state of meditation. Nothing that is communicated from one man to another can be received and interiorly understood in the same form in which it was given. It must be digested, assimilated, and made over into a form that is characteristic of the learner's mind. After this process has taken place, then first does man see spiritual truth for himself, in his own way, immediately from the Lord. This is his light the light of the Lord in him. It is the secret of his individuality, his personality; and this individual understanding is what is represented by the lampstand.

The Divine purpose is that such an understanding should be formed in every man, in order that he may receive immediately from the Lord an individual gift of love and wisdom. By this means each one is endowed with something of eternal value which is new, different, and personal. This he can impart to others in exchange for similar gifts which they have received front the Lord.

This ability to impart to others something from the Lord which could not otherwise be received by them constitutes man's spiritual use to his neighbor. It is this use which he is intended to go on performing with increasing delight in heaven forever. The Divine, in itself, is infinite. Its qualities can be grasped only in the most minute degree by any single finite mind, even though that mind may increase in knowledge and wisdom to eternity. But by creating indefinite varieties of human minds, each receiving some distinct gift from the Divine and giving it living expression, the perception of the Divine is immensely increased and exalted. This is the purpose of that heavenly human society which is called the "Grand Man." In heaven untold myriads of angels are intimately associated in mutual services, which consist of the continual exchange of such gifts. In the performance of this use, all heavenly happiness consists.

Even in the natural world, the functions and the occupations of society are only a medium through which each one gives something of himself for the benefit of others. He gives of his skill, his understanding, and his love. Let us make here a clear distinction. The value of this new thing does not lie in the fact that it is peculiar to the man. It lies rather in the fact that it is not only individual but also true, and therefore brings something of the Lord to others which could not be imparted in any other way. It is not merely because it is his own imagined and perhaps mistaken idea, but because it is truth revealed or made manifest in a particular way through him that such a truth has surpassing value. Much is said at the present day, particularly in speaking of art and literature, concerning the importance of self-expression. Value is placed upon anything that is individual, original, different from that which others possess, but the value is measured by its originality rather than its intrinsic quality. This point of view represents a revolt from the medieval Christian concept that goodness was an absolute standard to be passively accepted, and that he who most perfectly adopted this standard became thereby the highest type of man. Yet all known standards of goodness are human, faulty, inadequate. They differ among various races and nations. They change radically with the passage of time. Who, then, shall say what good is to be sought? Does not he make the greatest contribution to posterity who presents a new and original conception of what is good? If this reasoning is correct, then supreme value is to be placed on the expression of what is different, whether or not it be true according to accepted standards. Such is the philosophy of self-expression. Its falsity lies in the supposition that man of himself can produce anything of permanent worth. On this the teaching of the Church is clear, namely: that only is of real value which, being original, at the same time has its origin in the Lord. It must be truth from the Lord, made manifest in a new form and under a new aspect. Then can it impart some-tiling of value, and if it is not this, then what it imparts is but something of the man's proprium, in which are nothing but evil and falsity. The lampstand represents man's personal understanding from the Word, through which light from the Lord shines out, first in his own mind and thence in the world of men and angels, so that by virtue of it he may become an angel, that is, a messenger, or one sent to bring something new from the Lord to men.

Every new idea of spiritual truth that is genuine must spring from a perception or internal sensation of reality. And this perception must be derived from the actual presence of the Lord, inmostly perceived and acknowledged by man. This is the reason why the table of shewbread must be constructed first before the lampstand can be made. But beginning with this perception, man, by the power of spiritual rationality, has the ability to see truly in spiritual light. He has the ability to reason correctly, and to arrive at dependable conclusions from the facts of spiritual experience. Such reasoning is under the guidance of the Lord. By it man can be led to confirm and illustrate what is true from the Lord's Word. The love to the Lord which is the guiding power in the formation of this spiritual understanding is represented by the gold of which the lampstand was made. It is not a passing love that is here meant such as may be produced by a temporary emotional response in states of worship, in times of suffering or danger, or when the successful achievement of our worldly ambitions is threatened. It is rather a deep, internal, never-ceasing desire to know the truth, because in this is seen the face of the Lord. The desire to know the Lord by means of His truth bears the mind along as a hidden current bears a ship. Love to the Lord turns the mind to the contemplation of heavenly truth and disposes it spiritually to understand. Such a love is represented by the pure gold prescribed for the making of the lampstand. Yet in its essential quality it is a love that is different with each man and each angel. In the Writings this is called man's ruling love. From this he thinks, and by its light he is led toward heaven; that is, toward the ever more perfect worship of the Lord. Thought prompted by any other love will not lead to truth. It may indeed be individual, it may be stamped by that form of mind which is peculiarly the man's own, but everything it produces will be twisted and distorted. Such thinking leads not to intelligence, but to spiritual insanity. This is necessarily so because man has no source of truth in himself; for this reason he has no means of seeing truth from himself. The Lord is the only light, and from Him must come all spiritual light to men.

All understanding must begin from generals, and advance gradually into particulars. Generals of truth are represented by the base of the lampstand. Out of this proceed the stem and the branches, with their ornaments, representing more and more particular distinctions of truth. The generals first seen, and represented by the base, are abstract doctrines or premises, from which logical deductions may be drawn. The stem and its branches represent deeper and more particular concepts of truth such as result from experience in applying the doctrine to life. This is the character of wisdom as compared with intelligence. Such wisdom is represented by the shaft, the reeds and the cups at the top of the reeds upon which the lamps were to rest. They may be compared to the arms, the hands and the fingers, by which the will and the understanding exert their power. They represent the extension of spiritual sight into the natural world where spiritual things may be seen in application to human needs, and so may become ultimately effective. It is by this application of spiritual principles to actual uses that man acquires wisdom through accumulating experience. This is represented by the lampstand with its branches holding the lamps aloft that they might fill the holy place with light.

The central shaft represents a main progression, a focusing of the thought in a specific direction prompted by the central desire or love. By this direction of the mind, men are disposed to develop the knowledge and the intelligence belonging to a specific use. Within this use there are more and more particular specializations represented by the branches. That there were six of these, three on each side, represents an extension of the understanding to see all the truths related to that central use. Some of these are nearer and some more remote according as they directly or indirectly contribute to the supreme end. Though a man may specialize, he needs to investigate all those truths by which he may attain a broad and well-rounded understanding. Yet the quality of a man's thinking, his point of view, will depend upon his individual love and use. Thus, such as is the central light of the lampstand, such will be the other lights that are upheld by the branches proceeding from the main shaft.

Gold Vessels

Finally, the development of this understanding must advance by regular steps and stages along its branches to come at last to the light at the end of each. These steps are represented by the design of the decorations, the almond bowls, pomegranates, and flowers. These in their order and series show how man may progress to genuine truth and the acquisition of wisdom. The order seems at first to be reversed. It would appear as if the almond, which is a seed, should come first, then the flower, and lastly the pomegranate or fruit. The Writings in expounding the meaning of these things speak first of the flower, then of the fruit, and lastly of the seed in the fruit. The reason will appear on closer examination. When a man perceives something as good or desirable, he seeks to acquire the truths or knowledges by which he may attain it. This perception of an end of good with its truths is represented by the almond bowl. But in attempting to work out any ideal through actual experience we are all familiar with the fact that the ideal itself is modified. Man's understanding of what is good or desirable is found to have been faulty, and only after experience does he learn wherein he has erred. This is the fruit of his experience, and is represented by the pomegranate. And when this order has been attained, at once there is opened a new vision of truth, a higher truth, broader in its application, truer to the facts of life. It is seen first as a thing of beauty giving delight to the mind, and is therefore compared to a flower. From the flower comes then a new seed, the perception of a still higher good or end, that begins another series of progression through the almond to the pomegranate, and at last to another flower. So does the mind increase in wisdom. All truth that is genuine is the result of life's experience whereby man constantly rises to new heights of understanding and perception. After a full progression, represented by the three ornaments on each branch, man comes at last to see the Lord's purpose, the Lord's end. This is the true light and is represented by the flame of the lamp. That which burns in the lamp is the oil of love; love raised, as it were, to incandescence by intensive activity until it becomes a flame. From this flame there proceeds light. The lamp which holds the oil is separate from the lampstand, although when it is in place, it appears as part of it, and indeed as a crown to the rest. Yet that the lamp should be separate is deeply significant, for the light of wisdom can never really be man's own. It is the Lord's with him. But it is given to him as his own and comes, in all appearance, as a result of his striving, as the last fruit of his life's experience. This in a sense it is, since without the striving, without the experience and the consequent progression represented by the almond, the pomegranate, and the flower in triple series, wisdom could not be given because the mind would not be prepared to receive it. Still, the fact remains that after all this has been done, we have merely prepared the mind to receive a Divine gift of intelligence and wisdom from the Lord who is the Light of the world. We have prepared the mind so that it can, as it were, catch and reflect something of that light. The light itself is not our own, although it shines forth from us, and by means of us takes on a distinct quality and use. Yet having undergone all the struggle and conflict that is necessary to attain to wisdom, if we know the truth we must acknowledge that that wisdom is not our own but is the Lord's with us. Much is here involved relative to man's intellectual development which cannot be briefly expressed. Some further particulars will be found in Appendix II. (See also Exodus 25:31-40, and A.C. 9548-9577.)


The third article of furniture in the holy place, was the altar of incense. It was made of shittim wood, covered on all sides with gold. It measured 1 cubit square and 2 cubits in height. Its sides were solid boards. The top was a single board, the edges of which were flush with the sides. Out of its four corners there arose horns of gilded wood. Around the top, binding it to the sides, was a crown of gold similar to that on the table. In this case, however, the crown did not extend above the surface of the top. The orbs of gold through which the staves were to be passed that the altar might be carried were two instead of four in number. One was placed on each of the sides called "ribs," by which (we are told) are meant the sides facing north and south respectively. This word "ribs" is never used with reference to sides facing east or west. In the case of the altar, the orbs were not placed at the corners, as is specifically commanded in other cases, but in the middle of the side immediately below the crown, in order that the altar might be balanced when carried. This arrangement would require, as a practical matter, that the orbs be free to turn in order to allow for the swinging of the altar. This is not specifically stated, but would seem to be indicated by the fact that the full force of every swing of the altar would otherwise fall upon the small base of the orb.


This altar was placed immediately outside of the veil, and midway between the two sides of the tabernacle. It was, therefore, nearest to the ark, being separated from the holy of holies only by the veil. "Thou shalt put it before the veil that is over the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, whither I will come to meet thee there."1 It was at this altar that the priest was to stand when he inquired of the Lord, and when he received answers by means of the breastplate. Thus it was here that communication and conjunction with the Lord was effected. The priest was commanded to burn the incense every morning and every evening when the lamps were dressed; wherefore it is called the "continual incense." Indeed, whenever there was any priestly ministration in the holy place, there was first a burning of incense that the tabernacle might be filled with the smoke. Once a year on the day of atonement, when the high priest passed through the veil and stood in the holy of holies, the incense was burned on this altar until not only the holy place but the holy of holies also was filled with the fragrant smoke, by which, as it were, the ministering priest might be wrapped around as by a cloud in the presence of Jehovah. The spices from which the incense was made were stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense.2 These were mixed in equal proportions and salt was added. They were then bruised or triturated in a mortar until they were reduced to a fine powder. This power was placed in the golden censer and burned with fire taken from the altar of burnt offering, where a perpetual fire was kept.

1 Exodus 30:6.
2 Stacte, means oozing out in drops. It is not known to what exactly this term refers but it was evidently some fragrant gum or resin.
Onycha (Onyx, Latin), kind of mussel.
Galbanum, a yellowish gum. Resin derived from certain Asiatic plants, mostly a species of ferula. It is known and still used for various purposes, particularly a species which is found in South America, which is used also in making varnish.

Table of Shewbread, Lampstand, Altar of Incense

The representation of this altar is derived primarily from its use, namely, the burning of incense; and its representation is illustrated in all the particulars of its construction and of its situation in the tabernacle. First, it was an altar and not a table. Altars are the most ancient representatives of worship. Long before men erected tabernacles or temples they built altars in the open air. The first altars were but heaps of earth like a miniature mountain, and indeed having the same representation. They were erected on the tops of mountains or on some high place, and this because they represented the worship of the Lord from love to Him. Later these heaps of earth were replaced by altars of stone, and at first of unhewn stone. They became, however, more and more conventionalized in form. When temples were built, the altar was made as a conventional representation of the mounds from which it had descended. Thus it was formed to represent the original idea of a heap, even though it was constructed of hewn stone, or of wood gilded, as in the present case. For this reason it was always built with solid sides rather than with supporting legs, and in this respect was different from a table. Furthermore, an altar was distinguished always by this, that a fire was burned upon it. This was true everywhere in the Ancient Church, and from it have descended all the rites of worship among pagan nations of antiquity who use altars on which fire is placed. In the case of the altar we are now considering, fire was not actually burned upon it, but the incense burning with fire taken from the brazen altar, was placed upon it in a censer, which also was swung in front of it.

From very ancient times the burning of incense was associated with the altar and was a representative of internal worship. Burnt offerings and sacrifices represented external worship. By this is meant worship expressed in gestures of the body, in rituals, songs and prayers. Public worship is especially implied. This belongs to man's life in the world and affects him in his relations with others. For this reason the offerings and sacrifices were burned in the outer court, whence they could be seen by the Israelites from their encampment. But the burning of the incense represented a worship of the internal mind, the secret prayer of the heart, the unspoken supplication, the hidden longing and desire which is at the center of a man's life. This worship is not seen of men, but is perceived in part by the celestial angels, and fully by the Lord Himself. This is the reason why the altar of incense was placed within the tabernacle, where it could be seen only by the priest, and where it was immediately before the veil and the mercy seat. Here Jehovah met with Moses and Aaron to teach and lead His people. Such internal worship is the only real worship, for this alone is spiritually effective. External worship is effective only so far as it gives outward expression to internal worship. Whatever may be the outward appearance before the world, the speech of the lips, or the gesture of the body, it is the desire of the heart to which the Lord attends; and this is the real prayer which is heard in heaven. Whatever we may seem to ask for outwardly, this is what we really want, and what lies within, often concealed even from ourselves. We sincerely ask for many things, thinking that we desire them, when yet, if we could analyse our thoughts, we would find that these things are desired only because they serve as means to attain a deeper end. We do not wish them for their own sake. The deeper wish is what gives quality to our prayer without regard to the form of its expression. The Lord has respect to suplications of the heart. When we pray for things heavenly and eternal the Lord is present. His love responds and grants our wish so far as we are prepared to receive it. The presence of the Lord imparts holiness to the external rites of worship and makes them living. When He is not present in the hearts of those who pray, holiness is lacking, and the forms of worship become meaningless gestures. To ask for Divine blessings for the sake of self, with a view to personal advantage, is the characteristic of all idolatry. It brings no conjunction of man with heaven or with the Lord. This is the reason why, in the Word throughout, idolatry is so strictly forbidden, and why such heavy penalties were imposed upon the children of Israel when they fell away from the representative worship of Jehovah to the worship of idols. A special warning is given with reference to the golden altar in the tabernacle, "Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon."3 This sin was severely punished, as related in the story of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.4 To offer strange incense is to worship from some other love than that of the Lord.

Worship of the heart conjoins the new will, represented by the table of shewbread, and the new understanding, represented by the lampstand. For this reason the altar of incense was placed in the midst, between the two. For this reason also it was square, representing the perfect conjunction of truth and good. Worship is not a sentimental emotion. It is not, as many of the Christian world suppose, a stirring of the heart to a personal love of Jesus Christ because of His sacrifice upon the cross. It is not love alone, any more than it is faith alone, that constitutes the internal worship of a saving religion. Truly to love the Lord Jesus Christ is to love those spiritual qualities of human character which He portrayed. It is to seek for the exalted goal of human life to which He pointed; to desire above all things that His kingdom should come and His will be done in our own life, that we might become worthy of Him. Such a love will not rest until it has discovered the means by which its desired end may be achieved, and that means is the truth which the Lord teaches -- the truth which He called the "way" of life. For this reason love to the Lord, if it is genuine, manifests itself in the love of truth, in the desire to know and to understand the Lord's teachings. If this is not present, then a profession of love to Him is but a name used to cover up some other love, some other desire of the heart, some other inmost longing which inevitably shows itself in the search for the kind of knowledge by which that longing can be attained. Wherefore the quality of a man's love may be seen if the kind of truth in which he is really interested be known. And we are told in the Writings that if we would know what our state is we must ask ourselves: What are the things in which we are most interested when we are alone and not influenced by external forces? To what things then do we naturally turn with delight? The conjunction of love with truth, the expression of love in a search for the truth by which the end of love may be accomplished characterizes genuine worship. This conjunction constitutes every man's religion, whether that religion be a worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the worship of some personal ambition which has become a household deity. How is this conjunction to be effected? Surely only by thoughtful reading, studying and reflection upon the Word, which contains the Divine law of life.

3 Exodus 30:9.
4 Numbers, Chap. 16.

In all living things there is an alternate expansion and contraction, a breathing in and a breathing out. This produces a continual metabolism, a building up of new tissues and a breaking down of old structures, by means of which there is growth to increasing perfection. This is true of every living organism in the human body. There is a continual taking in and giving off of material substances with every breath. The blood, revivified by the oxygen in the lungs, flows through the entire system, carrying materials by which it builds up new cells and breaks down old cells, carrying away poisons and giving them off again through the lungs. Every individual cell in the body is continually expanding and contracting expanding to draw in from the blood that which is necessary to its life, and contracting to throw off that which is injurious to its life. This continual breathing produces a sphere that is made up of finest substances which are sent forth into the atmosphere, and is impressed with the quality of life characteristic of affection from which it comes. Such a sphere of life indeed is found around every object of nature. It is known to scientists as radioactivity; also as the fragrance of a flower. Such a sphere forms the vortex of activity, in the midst of which is the living organism continually renewing its substance and keeping it in motion. Its quality is due in part to the substance of which it is composed, and in part to the kind of activity that is impressed upon it. Both the substance and the activity, being a direct product of the living organism, carry the essential quality of that organism, as it were, to a distance as far as the sphere extends. In the mind of man the process is similar except that this has to do with a spiritual organism composed of spiritual substance. There is a continual breaking down of old ideas, of old conceptions, appearances, fallacies, and a building up of new ideas, of truer and more perfect conceptions. This it is that makes for mental growth toward wisdom. The fact that this activity belongs to the spiritual world and has to do with spiritual substance does not alter the fact that it produces, nevertheless, an actual spiritual sphere which may not be touched by the bodily senses, but which affects the spirit, and can be felt by men in this world and also by spirits in the other world. Indeed, in the spiritual world such spheres are sensibly perceived both by things seen (for they produce objects which surround spirits and angels there) and also by odors. In this world we have only an abstract conception of them. We are aware, when we come into the presence of another, of a sphere that is not tangible but which either attracts or repels. Such a sphere is indeed a kind of smoke; and it was this sphere of life that in ancient times was represented by the smoke of incense. Such a sphere is, as we have seen, the actual, and indeed the inevitable expression of a man's inmost love; of his deepest longing. For it is the life that moves his whole being, causing it to expand and contract. Such a sphere is an expression of that which man loves above all else, and for which he truly prays. For this reason, incense was always associated in ancient times with prayer. Even as the prayer of the lips represents this actual prayer of the life, so also does the smoke of incense represent it, and in the spiritual world prayer is perceived as a smoke of incense ascending.

The whole end and purpose of that spiritual religion which is represented by the tabernacle of Israel is that the prayer of the heart shall be that man may come into conjunction with the Lord and into consociation with the angels. When this is the case, then is the Word of God in the holy of holies in the golden ark covered with the mercy seat with its cherubim, and protected by the veil of many colors. And then the whole mind, with all its thought, conscious and unconscious, becomes an urgent desire to live in accord with the Divine law. This active thinking, with the view to forming our character, will create a sphere of life which will ascend as the smoke of incense, causing the quality of our love to be perceived in heaven. This is the smoke of the incense which is called "the prayers of the saints."5 Such a sphere of life is according to Divine order. It is receptive of influx from the Lord. It is pliant to the touch of His hand. For it results from a willingness and a desire to do His will so that He can enter to lead us freely. And for this reason it is the means of our receiving eternal life from Him. Indeed, it is the only means, for it is by these prayers alone that the Lord can enter in to sup with us. This is the prayer that is meant when it is said in the Word, "If ye will ask anything in my name I will do it."6 If the prayer is for something that is not heavenly -- if it looks to self and the world as an end; if the resulting internal interest is for purely external and temporal blessings -- then will the sphere of life emitted be of such a character that it will close the way against the Lord's entering, against the operation of the Divine Providence, and the influence of heaven. This is the worship of idolatry that closes the gates of heaven, and makes salvation impossible.

5 Revelation 8:3.

How this internal worship is connected with external worship, and why the fire that burns the incense must be taken from the altar of burnt offering in the court of the tabernacle, will be considered when we are treating of that altar. Of those elements in the construction of the altar of incense, which are similar to those already mentioned in connection with other pieces of furniture, we need not here pause to treat. Their significance is the same, except, of course, that it must be applied to the specific subject here under discussion. As, for instance, that the altar was made of shittim wood, that it was covered with gold, that it had a crown of gold, and golden orbs through which the rods were passed. All these have a similar meaning to those already considered. Here, only a word about the four horns at the corners of the altar. These horns represented power, and this representation was derived from the horns of animals by which they exercise power.7 Horns were placed upon the altar to represent that all power is from the Lord and is imparted to man according to his worship of the Lord. In the degree that the Lord can freely enter into the mind of man, He can give him power over evils and falsities. The horns were placed at the corners where the sides facing east and west joined the sides facing north and south because this power flows forth from a perfect conjunction of good and truth. The bars or rods for carrying the altar also represented power, but that which is represented by the horns is a more internal power and at the same time a more ultimate one.

6 John 14:14.
7 A.C. 2832, 4489, 10027, 10186, 10208.


The Curtains

We have already treated of the significance of the tabernacle curtains in Chapters VI and VII, where we spoke of the materials of which they were made. Here we shall treat of their construction, their use, and their signification as curtains.

The covers of the tabernacle were four in number. The first in the order in which they were placed upon the tabernacle was called the "habitacle." It was made of linen with interwoven colors white, blue, purple, scarlet and gold.1 It was made in strips 4 cubits wide and 28 cubits long. There were ten of these, five being sewed together, and the other five also sewed together, to form two curtains measuring 20 by 28 cubits. Along one 28-cubit edge of each of these were placed fifty loops of blue by means of which the two parts were to be joined together. The joining was effected by S-shaped hooks of gold, called taches.2

1 Exodus 26:1-6.
2. That these taches were S-shaped is not stated in the Word, but it is a conclusion based on the fact that they served not only to join together the two curtains, but also to hang the veil. (See Exodus 26:31.)

Since this curtain was laid over the tabernacle in such a way that one 28-cubit edge was even with the eastern end of the wall, the joining edge fell 20 cubits to the west, at the point where the veil was to be hung as a division between the holy place and the holy of holies. The curtain continued to the west and fell down over the western wall of the tabernacle, almost, but not quite, reaching the ground. Along the sides outside the wall the curtain reached to within 11/6 cubits of the ground. The only part of this curtain which remained in view after the tabernacle was fully erected was that which formed the ceiling over the holy place and the holy of holies.

The four colors -- white, blue, purple, and scarlet -- were woven in narrow stripes forming a rainbow effect, while the gold was inwoven in an all-over pattern of cherubim. No indication is given as to the form of these cherubim, that is, whether they were human figures or some conventional design. It is probable that they were conventionalized forms suggesting the cherubim mentioned in Ezekiel, the essential part being outstretched wings. The reason for this conclusion is drawn from their signification, which is the protection of the Divine Providence, always represented in the Word by wings.3 It is to be noted that the cherubim were not embroidered, but were actually woven into the fabric on the loom, like a damask.

3 A.C. 306, 8764, 9597. A.R. 245, 561. A.E. 283.

As already stated in the chapters cited, the curtains of the tabernacle in general represented the intellectual mind. This linen curtain being the inmost represents particularly the inmost of the intellectual mind. It is formed of the truths of religion drawn from the letter of the Word. The four colors represent these truths as they appear in different states of life: White represents truths learned from the love of knowing as a part of instruction and education; such truths are known as facts to be believed and acknowledged, but they are not yet understood as applied to the uses of life.4 Blue represents truths interiorly understood because they are learned from the love of spiritual understanding which is never satisfied with a mere recognition of a fact, but always seeks to acquire an intelligent grasp of its cause and its relation to other facts.5 Purple represents truths learned from a heavenly love of use, that is, from a desire to be of eternal service to others, especially as regards their spiritual life; such truths are principles and laws of spiritual life formulated from the teaching of the Word, that they may actually show how to perform a use." Scarlet represents truth seen in relation to civil and moral life, from the love of justice, honor, and uprightness in the conduct of the external uses of the world; this is the ultimate means by which regeneration is to be effected.7 The cherubim of gold represent the presence of the Lord with man in this knowledge from the Word, the Divine love ordering and organizing all things of the mind and thus giving man enlightenment and illustration. This is the Divine proceeding called the Holy Spirit, which inflows through the heavens with a protecting sphere. These cherubim are to the intellectual mind what the golden cherubim above the mercy seat were to the celestial degree of the mind.8

4 A.R. 234.
5 A.C. 9870.
6 A.C. 9467.
7 A.C. 4922, 9468.
8 For a further explanation of these colors, see Chapter VI and Appendix I.


That these curtains should be made in strips is also deeply significant. The truths here represented are thosewhich are implanted in the internal memory through love, that same memory which is represented by the onyx stones worn on the shoulders of the high priest. There is this difference, however: these stones represent that memory active in any given state, its activity changing with the questions or problems that arise, and modifying the answers received through the Urim and Thummin. This curtain represents the whole mass of such truths stored up in the unconscious mind, and present as a source of knowledge and a background from which active thought at any given moment draws its material. No truths can be drawn up into this internal memory so as to become part of the man's actual mental equipment except such as are joined to good, that is, such as are sought from some end of love and brought into action. This is what is represented by the 4 cubits in width and 28 cubits in length. The number 4 signifies conjunction, and 28made up of 4 multiplied by 7represents conjunction even to fullness or holiness.9 That there were ten of these curtains, all made to the same measurements, represents that every possible state of life which enters into this internal mind and affects it, derives its quality from the conjunction of truth with good. By means of such states man's spiritual character is formed.10

9 A.C. 9103, 9493, 9600.
10 A.E. 67516.

It is to be noted that no more than a third part of these curtains could be seen. The rest were hidden by the boards of the walls. This also is significant, for so it is with the human mind. There is a portion of that which is so retained in the memory that it may be recalled at will. There is much more which lies stored up too deeply to be so recalled. That part of the curtain which is hidden represents that large share of our knowledge which lies buried in the unconscious, profoundly affecting all our thought, although we are unaware of its operation, modifying and giving quality to everything which comes to our consciousness.

There is also a difference between that portion of the curtain which forms the ceiling of the holy place and that which forms the ceiling of the holy of holies. The former represents truths which we clearly and rationally understand, and from which are drawn the active principles of our thought. But the latter represents truths which we realize must be so, and which we acknowledge because we see the need and the use of them, but which are too deep to be fully grasped. Such, for instance, are many of the truths given in the Word concerning the Lord's glorification, the resurrection of His body, the mode by which He governs the entire universe, as it were, at a glance and with complete knowledge of all its parts. This knowledge is, as the Psalmist says: "too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."11 We know that it must be true, although we cannot understand how it is true. Such truths become clear only to those who enter into the celestial heaven, which is represented by the holy of holies; and yet those in the spiritual and natural heavens, and even men on earth, acknowledge them from love and believe them without fully grasping their significance. These truths, drawn from the Word by the intellectual mind through reading, and reflection, are the media of communication between men on earth and the angels of heaven. When they come into active thought, they open the gate to influx from the spiritual heaven. To the angels of this heaven, the understanding of these truths is the delight of their life. They inspire men with the love of understanding, and thus impart to them illustration and enlightenment. Indeed, specific truths from the Word bring influx from specific societies of that heaven. All the truths of the Church taken together give communication with all the societies of heaven. There is no other direct medium of communication and influx. For this reason the spiritual mind of man, where heavenly truths are loved and cherished may be compared to a canopy of heavenly influences, guarding and directing his spiritual life. This degree of man's mind can be opened and formed only by the secret operation of the Lord. This is what is meant in the 40th chapter of Isaiah where it is said of the Lord: "It is He that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." (v. 22) And in Zechariah 12:1 "Jehovah that stretcheth out the heavens and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him."

11 Psalm 139:6.

Note that this curtain, although it covered the holy of holies as well as the holy place, represents, in its entirety, the spiritual heaven; for this surrounds the celestial heaven. There is no approach to the latter except through the former. It protects it, guards it, and, as it were, holds it in its bosom, as here the holy of holies, with its precious ark, was enclosed on all sides by the curtain we are considering. This representation of the spiritual heaven exists in spite of the fact that a certain portion of the curtain could be seen only from behind the veil. The deepest truths of the spiritual heaven can be fully understood only by celestial angels.

Over this there was now thrown a second curtain made of goats' wool, or as is said in one passage in the Word Explained, of sheeps' wool.12 It was entirely white, and it was similar in construction to the curtain of linen, being made in strips which were sewed together. These strips, however, were 4 cubits in width and 30 cubits in length, instead of 28, and there were eleven such strips instead of ten. Six of them were joined together, and five were joined together to form two curtainsthe one 24 by 30 cubits, and the other 20 by 30 cubits. Along one of the 30-cubit edges of each curtain there were placed fifty loops, not of blue, but of white; and these were fastened together by fifty hooks, not of gold, but of copper.13 The curtain formed of six strips was placed on the eastern end of the tabernacle ceiling, while that having five strips fell over the western end. The strip at the extreme east was doubled throughout its entire length, being folded under the linen curtain, covering it underneath as far back as the door of the tabernacle, so that nothing of the linen curtain might be seen from the court. As the result of this doubling, the seams of this woolen curtain fell in the middle of each strip in the linen curtain, thus preventing any moisture from penetrating. Therefore the point of juncture between the two parts of the woolen curtain fell 2 cubits west of the inner veil. Because these strips were 2 cubits longer than those of the linen curtain, they fell on either side of the tabernacle wall to a point that covered the linen curtain completely.

12 See Appendix I.
13 Exodus 26:7-14.

As we have noted in speaking of the materials, this second curtain represents, not the perfect spiritual truths of religion derived from the Word, but the truths of philosophy drawn by enlightened reason from the testimony of experience. They are of intermediate character, forming a bridge, as it were, between science and religion. By them we are able to pass over from the material ideas which have been received through the senses to the spiritual concepts of the internal mind. Without this bridge of philosophy no communication or conjunction could be effected between the internal mind and the external. The truths of philosophy can be rightly understood only in the light of spiritual principles. But philosophy looks primarily to the application of truth from the facts of nature. We arrive at such truth by seeking to understand the Divine Providence as it is manifested in the obvious laws and activities of the material universe. The origin of the world, the creation of all things, the perpetuation of organic life, the Lord's Divine end and purpose in creation as revealed in the history of the rocks, the planets, and the stars, as well as in the orderly evolution of vegetable, animal, and human life, all these are subjects of philosophic inquiry. They lie beyond the realm of immediate observation. For their solution they require a process of reasoning which may be either true or false. If it is true, it will be derived of necessity from spiritual insight. It will begin in the acknowledgment of the Lord, of heaven, of the spiritual sun, of the existence of the relation between the two worlds, and of many other fundamental truths which in themselves are spiritual. But this understanding will bring spiritual light to bear upon natural experience, and will offer a satisfactory solution for the problems posed by natural phenomena. Such truth is more general, more obscure, more fallible than are the pure truths of the Word; yet it is essential to every advance in spiritual understanding, for it provides illustrations, examples, analogies, that bring the truth of heaven into more perfect focus before the mind's eye. This is illustrated by Swedenborg's preparation for his mission. When we think of a spiritual truth and seek to understand it rationally, we must clothe it with some such philosophic conception as may form a tangible body through which the spiritual can be seen. Wherefore this truth of philosophy is Divinely provided as a covering for the truth of heaven and as a further accommodation of all such truth to the needs and requirements of man. So also the woolen curtain formed a protective covering over the curtain of linen. When we are inside the holy place, that is, when we are in spiritual enlightenment, we see truth directly from the Word, and we perceive no need for philosophy because our interest is focussed upon purely spiritual things. But when we are in a natural state we may be said to stand in the court of the tabernacle. Then we can think of spiritual things only in terms of philosophical ideas. This is illustrated by the fact that the woolen curtain was folded under the linen curtain as far back as the door of the tabernacle, thus concealing it from the view of anyone standing in the court.

Because philosophy serves as an introduction to spiritual understanding the woolen curtain was visible only where it formed the ceiling of a sort of vestibule at the east end of the tabernacle. The strips of the woolen curtain were 30 cubits in length. The number 30 signifies the beginning of a new state, and by means of philosophy man acquires a new understanding of truth.14 This understanding is of no value, however, unless it is applied to life, and for this reason each strip was 4 cubits in breadth because the number 4 signifies the conjunction of truth with good through the performance of a use. It is also significant that the two parts of this curtain were of unequal length. One was composed of five strips and the other of six. Five and six are components of thirty, and have a similar representation.

14 A.C. 1342, 2276, 5335.

It is evident that the tabernacle would not have been protected from the elements by these two curtains alone. They are of materials too fine to resist the rain and wind. So also the human mind could not operate in the outer world if it had only spiritual and philosophic truth. More ultimate and effective coverings are necessary, even as over the surface of the body there is not a single skin, but a four-fold covering, each with its own specific use, the outer ones alone being hard and resistent enough to afford adequate protection.

So we find a third and a fourth curtain prescribed for the tabernacle. The third covering is said to be made of rams' skins dyed red. No dimensions are given for it in the Scripture, but it is probable that it was the largest of all the curtains and covered over the white curtain completely, except for the portion seen at the entrance, as described above. The rams' skins were sewed together in a manner still in use among primitive peoples, and this has been represented in the tabernacle model by the joining of irregular pieces of leather, too large indeed to be in proportion, but yet sufficient to give some correct idea of how the curtain was made. If this curtain of ramskin had been smaller than the outmost one of kid-skin it would have been completely hidden. It must have been longer in order to provide that a portion of it might be visible along the outside of the wall just above the ground. The reason for this is noted.15 Because of the many seams formed by the joining of the skins, such a curtain alone would not be impervious to water; but because it was covered with the fourth curtain this difficulty was overcome.

The last curtain was made of skins which, in the Authorized Version of the Bible, are called "badger skins." On this material we have already spoken and have given the reasons why it is to be translated "kid skins."16 This curtain is made like the one of rams' skins. Its dimensions are not given. We have made it of such a size that when it is in place about a cubit's breadth of the red curtain may be seen around its lower edge. These last two curtains represent respectively the truths of civil and moral life, and the truths of social decorum -- politeness and refinement. These form the outer covering of the mind, whereby a man appears before the world. Also, they represent the principles of practical life in business and social contacts. The outmost curtain represents the scientific facts stored in the memory, and continually increased in number by experience. These form the basis of all man's thinking.

This curtain was fastened to the ground at the base of the wall by copper pegs and linen cords that stretched it taut. Other linen cords extended from pegs at the top of the boards. These passed through all the curtains, after the manner of a tent pole. From these pegs, linen cords extended to copper pegs driven into the ground some distance from the base of the wall, and by this means the kidskin curtain that formed the outer roof of the tabernacle, was tightly stretched. The number of pegs and cords is not mentioned, nor are we told just where they were to be placed; but the fact that they were used for this purpose is clearly indicated.17

15 Every part of the tabernacle must be visible from some point, because its spiritual power was derived from the image of it impressed upon the minds of the Israelites. On this the influx depended.
16 See Appendix I and Chapter VII.
17 Exodus 35:18.

From all that is here said, it is evident how minutely the particulars recorded in the Word concerning the tabernacle spiritually represent the proper structure and formation of the human mind.18

18 See Exodus 26:14 and 36:19. Also A.C. 9471, 9631, 9632, and Appendix I.


Boards, Pillars, and Bases

Having spoken of the curtains, we come now to consider the walls by which these curtains were supported. These walls were made of boards of cedar wood covered with gold. They were forty-eight in number, each board measuring 10 cubits long and 11/2 cubits wide. Their third dimension is not specified, but after careful study it was found that only if the boards were 1/6 of a cubit thick could the required dimensions of the tabernacle be satisfied. Translated into more familiar terms we would say that each board was 15 feet long, 2 feet 3 inches wide, and 3 inches thick.

Projecting from one end of each board were two tenons called "hands" in the original.1 As to the length or shape of these we are given no information. They were simply driven into the ground to hold each board steady when it was in position.

1 Exodus 26:16, 17.

Each tenon passed through a socket or base of silver, which rested on the ground, preventing the end of the board from sinking into the soil under the weight and pressure of the tent.2 There were two such bases for each board and four for the pillars that supported the veil, making one hundred bases in all. It is specified that each base should contain one talent of silver, a talent weighing 961/2 lbs., and representing approximately $194 in our money.3

2 It is to be noted that the silver bases extended about 1/2 cubit, or 9 inches, inside of the wall, except in the case of the corner boards, whose bases necessarily extended outside the wall. This is nowhere mentioned but is found necessary to the construction, as will appear from the illustration elsewhere in this volume.
3 Exodus 38:27. See Oxford Teacher's Bible Concordance.

The north and south walls contained twenty boards and forty bases, each board being 11/2 cubits in width. The total length of the wall thus formed was 30 cubits, which was the prescribed measure for the inside length of the tabernacle. For the west wall there remained eight boards. Their combined width would be 12 cubits but the inside width of the tabernacle is said to be 10 cubits. The discrepancy is accounted for by what are called the "twinned boards" which were to form the two west corners of the wall. Since no special measurements are given for these corner boards, we presume that they were the same size as the others, and this is implied in what is said of the boards in Exodus. The six boards together make a total of 9 cubits, leaving 1/2 cubit on each side to be filled in by a corner board. These boards, we are told, faced all four quarters. The interpretation is that they were split into two parts which were then joined together at right angles. The question as to how to make these boards so that they will exactly fill the half-cubit space remaining to complete the width of the tabernacle has been widely discussed by biblical scholars. Dr. E. E. Iungerich discovered what appears to be an entirely satisfactory solution of the problem, of which he gives a mathematical analysis.4 Simply stated the solution lies in so cutting each corner board that one part will measure 5/6 of a cubit and the other part 2/3 of a cubit in width; when these two are placed together at right angles in such a way that the two legs are equal, and when one of the legs is placed overlapping the end board of the side wall, the other will exactly fill the space in the west wall.

4 See Appendix III.

The boards of each wall were bound together by means of rods which were passed through rings of gold. There were five rings specified for each board, and five rods for each wall. The rods, like the boards, were made of cedar wood covered withi gold. The rings and the rods were placed on the inside surface of the wall. If they had been on the outside, as is the suggestion of many scholars, they would have been completely covered by the curtains. The central rod was longer than the others and is said to extend from end to end.5 By this we understand that this rod locked witli the center rod of the west wall binding the two walls together, while the other four rods were not so fastened. This construction made the wall firm and solid when the curtains had been stretched over it by cords and stakes, yet it could easily be taken apart to be carried from place to place. In connection with the moving of it, a statement which has puzzled the scholars, and which we are not prepared to solve, is to the effect that the boards were carried on four ox carts, together with all the bases of silver, the pillars of the court and of the tabernacle, and the cords and stakes. How so tremendous a load could be placed on four ox carts such as were used in ancient times it is difficult to understand from a practical point of view.6

5 Exodus 26:28.
6 Exodus 26:26-30. Numbers 7:8.

We may ask, what was the special human representation of the golden walls with their silver foundations. Their use was to support the curtains, and so to form a protecting space within, where the furniture might be placed, and where the priests might minister before the Lord. This raising up and stretching out was the means of providing not only protection, but freedom of action and movement within. Here was protection from external pressures either from the elements or from human observation and interference. Thus by these walls, there was established a condition of equilibrium which is the secret of their representation.

The walls represent that in man which establishes and preserves his mental equilibrium, that is, a perpetual balance of opposing forces, by virtue of which he has free will and liberty both of thought and action. Man, since he has no life in himself but is a mere vessel receptive of life from God, is incapable of the least of will, thought, or action. He must be moved. And in order that he may be moved, there must be forces which play upon him. If there were a single force, or if all were in a single direction, then would he be borne irresistibly along as on the current of a river. But the Lord provides that there should be many forces and that they shall so react upon each other as to form a balance in the midst of which man is held. This is a balance between the forces of the world, entering through the senses of the body, and the forces of heaven, entering through the soul. Because he is held between equal forces man is free to tip the scales in this way or in that, by yielding to one force and resisting the other. By his own will he is continually upsetting the balance, as a result of which he loses something of his freedom and becomes a creature of that impulse which he has allowed to take possession of his mind. So long as man lives in the world, the Lord continually restores that balance, maintains the equilibrium, and so protects man's freedom.7 When, however, man by his life in the world has repeatedly tipped the scales on one side, and has deliberately chosen to be ruled by one set of forces rather than by the other, he passes into the other world where he can no longer change that fundamental choice. The Lord then operates to preserve his freedom in that choice, and if the man has chosen the forces of heaven, he then comes into the stream of the Divine order, so that he can be led by the Lord freely from within according to his own love and delight. Because the forces that direct him from within are according to his own love, he does not perceive them as outside of himself. He feels as if they were his own. Thus he seems to lead himself, and to be free. In this freedom the happiness of heaven consists. However, if a man has chosen the forces of the world, then he can be led only from without. His will is against the Lord's leading from within. He finds himself in opposition to the order of heaven. The Lord operating from without exerts a force that is felt as outside the man himself. It is felt as a compulsion, as a restriction that brings him into slavery. He has made himself the servant of sin, and he can never be free; and this eternal bondage is the unhappiness of hell.

7 A.C. 5982, 6477, 6657, 8209. H.H. 592. D.P. 23. T.C.R. 475.

There is no power in heaven or on earth except that of the Lord Himself which can maintain this balance of forces whereby man is given freedom to think, to will, and to act as if of himself. The Lord must establish that balance with every individual, and He must continually re-establish it, operating from His infinite wisdom to counterbalance every choice which man makes, by an opposing influence that keeps him free. And in order to do this with individuals the Lord must maintain a perfect balance in the Grand Man itself, between the combined forces of hell on the one hand, and the combined forces of heaven on the other; that is, a balance between those forces as they impinge upon the minds of men by influx, inspiration, infestation, and temptation.

It was to re-establish this balance for all men -- which, because of the increase of evil in the world of spirits, was in danger of being destroyed -- that the Lord came on earth. He fought against the hells, overcame them, and by His own power re-formed them into an organization which He could eternally control. At the same time He re-ordered the heavens that through them He might operate continually for the preservation of human freedom. Wherefore He said to His disciples, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth."8 This power the Lord has taken to Himself by virtue of His conquest over the hells; and because He did this by His own power, it is called "His merit and righteousness." The Lord alone has merit and He alone has righteousness because He alone can act from His own power. Man can act only from the power of the Lord and therefore he has no merit or righteousness of his own.

8 Matthew 28:18.

All this we must have in mind in order to understand what is meant by the boards of the tabernacle. They were made of cedar, or shittim wood, by which is represented the Lord's merit and righteousness. They represent, therefore, the Lord's presence with man, sustaining his life, maintaining his equilibrium, ever guarding and protecting his freedom that he may have power to will, to think and to act as of himself. Like these boards, the Lord holds back the forces that press in on all sides, by providing that man may withdraw from the world through personal reflection and contemplation. He can be alone with God and therefore free to will, to think, to choose his course and direct his life without compelling interference. This ever-present Divine power is not seen. It is hidden, secret, wholly unconscious to man. If this were not so, man would not be free. He would be conscious that his freedom was given to him every moment and this fact would render him no longer free. To be free, man must seem to have power in himself to resist the forces that play upon him, and to hold them at bay.

To represent the fact that the Lord's presence is secret and wholly unrealized, the boards of the tabernacle were covered on both sides with gold. The Lord can lead man only if man responds to His leading with love. Man's responsive love to the Lord is represented by the gold. Of this love man is fully aware, and it seems to be his own. In thinking and acting according to it he feels that he is free. But the truth is that the Lord secretly inspires this love. Man, from his inherited nature, is altogether incapable of it. But the Lord insinuates it during infancy and childhood by influx out of heaven.

The appearance is, therefore, that man's love to the Lord produces and sustains his spiritual life; but this is no more true than it is that the gold plates on the boards held up the curtains of the tabernacle. Only the boards of shittim wood had power to do this. So also, only the Lord, present secretly within, has power to establish and sustain the life of religion with man. Man derives his knowledge of the Lord's presence from the Word. But the perpetual acknowledgment from the heart of the Lord's underlying power is the only thing that can protect man from confirming the appearance that he has life and power in himself. To do this is to deny God and worship self. Therefore, there must always be two things with man: the appearance that he lives and acts from himself; and the acknowledgment that he is led in all things by the Lord alone. These two are represented by the boards covered with gold.

The bases of silver represent the fundamental religious and philosophical concepts on which this acknowledgment of the Lord's over-ruling power must rest. We mean by this the truth that there is a God; the truth that He is Life itself, and that man is only a vessel that perpetually receives inflowing life from God. These and many other truths like them are basic conceptions without which we can have no understanding of the universe in which we live. Without them we can find no first cause, no final end, no reason for being, or goal toward which to progress. Without them we cannot think spiritually at all, nor can we think rationally concerning even natural things. These truths form the basis and foundation of all our mental activities. They give us ground on which to stand -- a starting point from which to think. They are fundamental to spiritual sanity; and when we start from them there follows, as an inevitable consequence, the acknowledgment that the Lord is inmostly present with us; that He is supporting our life; that He is giving us freedom and protection every moment -- and this, even though we do not perceive His presence, but seem to be dependent upon our own prudence, wisdom, and power of will. So do the gold-covered boards rest upon the silver foundations, and, as it were, arise out of them.

The rods by which these boards were held together, when passed through the golden rings, represent other truths which bind the mental structure into a unit. The truths which spring from this acknowledgment of the Lord's presence, and of His immediate leading, are those that give strength and endurance in temptation. Such truths as this: that all good is from the Lord, but also all evil is from hell, and thus that it is not to be appropriated by man to himself, but is something which he can, with the Lord's help, shun and put away. Evil spirits seek to persuade man that he is wholly evil, and that the evil is part of him, and so bring him into states of despair, the result of which is nonresistance to evil. On the other hand, such truths as those just mentioned give hope, courage, and trust in the providence of the Lord, which enable man to face the problems of life squarely and to strive manfully against the tendencies to evil in himself.

These are the truths which a man consciously perceives and acknowledges and from which he thinks. Thus they are relatively few. This idea is involved in the number five, and is the reason why the rods were five in number. But they are also sufficient for his needs from day to day, giving him power to resist temptation in every state of life. Those on the south represent such power in a state of clear light and manifest perception -- when the mind is exalted into the state of heaven. Those on the north represent the same in a state of obscurity and doubt when he does not see clearly the way ahead, but is still able to cling to his faith and continue his resistance. Those on the west, or toward the sea, have the same representation in states when his love of spiritual things is cool, and when he is consequently flooded with external or natural perplexities arising from the outward circumstances of his life in the world. Here, also, he is enabled to see enough of the truth to hold fast that which he has, "that no man take his crown." (Revelation 3:11)

As these truths derive their real power immediately from the Lord so the rods derive their ability to bind together the walls of the tabernacle from the rings of gold which are fastened into the wood of the boards. It is love to the Lord, within the man himself -- a love of which he is conscious and which seems to be his own -- that alone can give man power, as of himself, to resist evil and remain steadfast in the life of his religion.9

9 A.C. 9634-9668.


There were two kinds of protective covers in the tabernacle: the curtains and the veils. The curtains were primarily for protection, forming walls and ceiling; the veils were also for entrance and exit.

There were three of these, marking the three divisions of the tabernacle. The inmost divided between the holy of holies and the holy place. This was specifically called the veil, and is always the one referred to by that term if there is no qualification. The middle one divided between the holy place and the court. It is called the "door of the tent." It was hung upon pillars two cubits within the east end of the wall, so that it was protected by a sort of porch or vestibule.1 The outmost veil divided between the court and the camp of Israel. It was called the "gate of the court."

1 This is not stated, but it is a conclusion arising out of the folding under of the woolen curtain to a depth of two cubits.

All three of these veils were made of linen woven in the four colors: blue, purple, scarlet, and white. They were varied in the degree of their excellence and their workmanship. They differed from the linen curtain of the tabernacle in that the color white is mentioned last instead of first, and this is significant of their correspondence. They were not made as was the linen curtain, in strips sewed together, but were apparently in one piece, 10 cubits square, according to the inside measurements of the tabernacle itself. This applies to the first two veils, the gate of the court being 5 cubits high and 20 cubits in length. The veil proper was hung from four pillars of shittim wood covered with gold, 10 cubits high with a cap or fillet of gold, a golden hook at the top, and a base of silver similar to those used for the boards of the wall. These pillars were placed 10 cubits from the west wall. The distance between them allowed the ark to pass through. The veil was fastened also to the S-shaped hooks of gold which joined the two halves of the linen curtain. This veil is said to be "the work of a thinker," as was the linen curtain, having the design of golden cherubim inwoven like a tapestry.2

The hanging for the door of the tent was of the same dimensions as the veil itself. However, it was not fastened to the covering of the ceiling. It was supported on 5 pillars so placed that the ark might pass between them. These pillars also were covered with gold, but their bases were of copper. This hanging differed from the veil in that the cherubim were not inwoven on the loom, but were embroidered upon it in gold thread.3

2 Exodus 26:31, 32; 36:35, 36.
3 Exodus 26:36, 37; 36:37, 38.

The hanging for the gate of the court was placed in the center of the east wall of the court. There were assigned to it 4 pillars, which it was specified should be 5 cubits apart. Of course 4 pillars, 5 cubits apart, would cover a space of only 15 cubits. A hanging of 20 cubits requires five pillars so placed. But only four were counted as belonging to the gate of the court, while one was counted as belonging to the wing of the wall. (See Chapter XVIII.) This enumeration is part of the general problem we will speak of in another chapter. These court pillars are 5 cubits high, made of shittim wood, not covered with gold. Their fillets and hooks are of silver and their bases of copper. The gate of the court, like the hanging for the door, was the work of an embroiderer, but the design of the embroidery is nowhere mentioned. Scholars generally consider it to have been folioform.

Each veil served as a door or gate of entrance and exit, and also as a protecting wall. Doors and gates may be opened or they may be closed. They may be opened to some, and closed against others. Thus they are both a means of defense or protection, and a means of approach or conjunction. Such doors may be interior or exterior. To the outer door of a house or to the outer gate of a palace any stranger may come, but through it only friends are admitted. Only such friends, then, come to the inner door where they may or may not be admitted. Only well-known friends are invited within. Past the doors leading into the inmost rooms of the house, only members and very intimate friends of the family are permitted to go.

This gives some idea of entrance into the human mind through successive gates and doors. These are loves which act as sieves to select what shall enter and what shall not. In man, in addition to the three here mentioned there is an outmost gate. It is the gate of the senses. The organs of sense can perceive unaided only a few of the objects and the forces of the material world. Nevertheless they admit into the memory many things that are as strangers to man's higher faculties. These five senses may be compared to the entrance of the camp of Israel, the gates of which are frequently mentioned in the Word. The whole nation of Israel represented the outmost or external mind, and this is where sense impressions are stored in the memory. But out of this memory a man calls forth such things as he is interested in more deeply. These he examines more closely, that he may understand them and adapt them to serve the ends he has in view. This selection is made by means of the imagination, wherein a man pictures to himself any goal toward which he would strive. He not only admits here certain sense impressions and rejects others, but those which are admitted are put together in a new order that they may form an ideal. Such selection is made according to the love that is active, and the interest such a love arouses. The things here admitted are like friends. They are welcomed, protected, and preserved for future use. But they are natural or worldly ambitions, the pleasures of the body, or the delights of the external mind.

Man has a higher imagination which may be compared to the court of the tabernacle. Here spiritual ends take form by means of abstract thought and analytical reason. By means of this higher mental activity man seeks to visualize, not the outer form, but the inner essence of things. His attention is focussed upon the discovery, and the enjoyment of things that give delight to the spirit. These are more enduring, and far more satisfying than the pleasures of the body. These also must be reordered and prepared for use. This inner mind is what is represented by the holy place. In a similar way, out of these more abstract visualizations there can arise still higher concepts which are not described as thought, but rather as perceptions. They are called celestial. They arise from a touch and realization of the soul of things, which gives, as it were, in a flash, in a single complex, a panoramic view of all their qualities and attributes. A single perception involves more than can be expressed in a thousand thoughts or a million imaginations.

These are the steps or degrees in the human mind leading up from earth to heaven like the ladder of Jacob, of which he said, "This is the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."4 That man may ascend this ladder is the Divine end in his creation. He is born sensual, and at first he can be aware only of physical touch with material things. By growth and education he becomes natural, using the imaginative faculty to picture before his mind worldly pleasures as goals to be sought. By regeneration he becomes spiritual, living for higher ends that are abstracted from things of the world. These are delights of the spirit that may be increased to eternity. To visualize these delights and to understand how they may be enjoyed is the function of the truly rational mind. If man is regenerated to the celestial degree he can be blessed with an inmost perception yielding a happiness far surpassing all the rest.

4 Genesis 28:17.

Each degree or plane of the mind is surrounded by a protecting wall, and there is access to it only through a gate or door. Until this door is opened, that plane of the mind remains unformed in the man. He remains unconscious of its existence, and if it is never opened, he continues in this unconsciousness forever. A man's development, both spiritual and natural, may be arrested at any stage. He may become natural, or spiritual, or celestial, and the degree of his ascent determines his life and the quality of his happiness in the spiritual world. Heaven is, after all, the mind of the racial man, and with this every man has communication as the successive degrees of his mind are opened and formed. The natural heaven consists of those with whom the natural degree of the mind has been opened. The spiritual heaven consists of those with whom an interior degree has been opened, and the celestial heavens consist of those with whom the inmost degree has been opened. Wherefore the Lord says, "The kingdom of God is within you."5 The gates or doors to those heavens are in every man the gates or doors to his own inner mind and consciousness.6

Here, then, we have the human and living representation of the veils of the tabernacle. But what is it that constitutes these doors of the mind? By what means can there be effected a deeper and deeper introduction into the conscious realization of truth? How can man attain a successively more intimate touch with the spirit, and the soul of the Lord's creation? What is it that keeps one man out and allows another to enter, so that one becomes wiser, more perceptive than another, and at last lives upon a different plane of human consciousness? What is it that sifts, selects, and chooses out of a lower degree those things that are to be admitted into a higher degree of the mind?

The Lord refers to these veils when He says: "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me."7 The Lord comes to the door of a man's mind and knocks upon it by means of the Word." In the Word the Lord speaks to men. What He says contains infinite depths of wisdom. By it He reveals the true nature of God, and because God is the Creator and Preserver of the universe, He reveals the Divine end or purpose for which all things were made. To understand this purpose is to see in all things the presence of God, and His merciful providence. This is the real reason why the Word is called a Divine revelation. It reveals the uses that give eternal joy and happiness to the angels. At this day the Word is the only means provided by which men may learn the truth concerning heaven and the life after death. This truth lies at the heart of all material tilings. It is the only source of human intelligence and wisdom. A man may develop his mental faculties, his knowledge, his understanding, and his reason, purely from worldly experience. But this merely perfects the outmost plane or degree of his mind. It does not introduce him more deeply into the secrets of the universe. Only by means of the Word can man even begin to progress toward the perception of interior things. This is the reason why the Lord says again, "I am the door. By Me if any man enter in, he shall go in and out and find pasture."9 And elsewhere, "He that climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."10 The Word is the door. It is the door that admits some and docs not admit others. There is a password required at that door without which none is allowed to enter. That password is not a formula of religious faith. It is not a dogma stamped on the memory by learning or repetition. It is a tiling of the life. It is a state of mind that results from the sincere effort to shun evils as sins and at the same time to learn of God the way of life.

5 Luke 17:21.
6 A.C. 2356, 8989; H.H. 4, 28.
7 Revelation 3:20.
8 S.S. 46, 97.
9 John 10:9.
10 John 10:1.

This effort produces an attitude that opens the inner thought to the Word, rouses interest in the Divine commandments, and stirs in the heart a desire to understand the deeper meaning of the Sacred Scripture. This kindles a light within that opens the mind to the perception and consciousness of higher things. He who draws near to the letter of the Word, believing in his heart that the Lord is present there, and asking for His help and guidance, will find there ways opening to his mind new vistas of spiritual understanding. By means of the Word the Lord knocks upon the door of man's mind, ever ready to enter and sup with him, if only man responds with affection.

Men have been taught to regard the Word as holy, but they understand very little of its meaning. It is to them as a book that is sealed. Its obscurity, its seeming contradictions, its apparent irrelevance to the practical problems of natural life, seem to turn men's minds away from it. It is like the gate of the court upon which the children of Israel looked from without, and through which they were forbidden to pass. Why, we ask ourselves, was not the Word written plainly, so that he who runs might read? Then surely all would enter into the many treasures there concealed. They would indeed enter in, but only "to steal, to kill, and to destroy"; because before regeneration, the loves which are active in men's minds are not of heaven but of the world. A change of heart is needed. There must be an elevation of love to the Lord before anyone can safely be introduced into the church, or into heaven. Nor can anyone truly love the Lord who does not shun evils as sins against Him. The shunning of evil is possible only by means of victory in temptation. This was represented by the fact that the sons of Israel were not admitted into the court of the tabernacle except when they came with a repentant heart to offer a sacrifice of atonement for sin. Even then they were allowed to enter only as far as the altar of burnt offering, and to remain no longer than was necessary for the priest to offer the sacrifice.

Such is the general law of man's progression toward interior things; but there are three degrees of love to the Lord, and three corresponding degrees of resistance to evil. Each degree opens the door to a higher plane of spiritual life.

The general difference in representation between the veils and the curtains of the tabernacle would seem to be based on their use. The curtains were for protection, while the veils were for entrance. The curtains therefore must represent truths both held in the memory and established in actual life; while the veils would represent new truths constantly being learned from the Word in states of worship, and of reflection. By means of the first, man's religious conscience is formed as a perpetual warning against evil, and an ever-present guard in times of stress. On the other hand, by the second, man is introduced to new perceptions of truth. This difference in use is suggested by the order in which the colors are mentioned. Whenever the curtains are spoken of they are said to be of "blue, purple, scarlet, and white"; but the veils are described as "white, blue, purple, and scarlet." "Blue," when mentioned first, represents the spiritual love of truth, and "white" the intelligence thence derived. When "white" is mentioned first it represents enlightenment from the Lord through the Word, and when "scarlet" is mentioned last, it represents the wisdom of life which results only from a life according to the teaching of the Word.


The Laver

By the court of the tabernacle is meant the rectangular space round about the tabernacle itself. It measured 100 cubits in its east and west dimension, and 50 cubits in its north and south dimension. It was surrounded by a wall or fence of white linen, 5 cubits high, and supported upon pillars of shittim wood of similar height. The total number of pillars is not given. Except for their height no mention is made of their appearance; nor are we told how far apart they were placed.

There have been various interpretations as to how this curtain was supported, but we believe the most probable solution is that, given by Dr. Iungerich in his article on the tabernacle (Journal of Education for 1916, p. 135). The specifications given in Exodus require that there shall be 20 pillars along the south and north walls, and 10 pillars along the east and west walls. If we divide the 100 cubits into a spacing of 20 pillars, there would be but 19 spaces between the pillars, and each of these would have a fractional measure of 5.26 cubits. If we interpret the erection in this way, it would mean that the corner pillars would be counted for both the sides and the end walls, which is improbable; and there would be no basis of correspondence involved in the spacing. If, however, the pillars are placed five cubits apart on centers, and sixty pillars in all are used, they will be found to enclose a space of the required measurements. This involves, however, that the corner pillars be counted as belonging to one side only, and provides for twenty spaces on each of the long sides and ten spaces on each of the short sides. Referring to the plan on pages 12-13, this arrangement will become clear. We have there numbered the pillars that belong to each side, and beginning at the southeast corner and numbering around, we find that sixty pillars are required in all. If we begin counting at the southeast corner, the first twenty pillars reading west will be counted as belonging to the south wall, the twenty-first pillar will be counted as the first of the west wall, which will then contain ten pillars exclusive of that at the northwest corner. This will be counted as the first of the north wall. So also the northeast corner pillar will be counted as belonging to the east wall. The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh pillars of the east wall will be considered as belonging to the gate of the court, while the eighth, ninth and tenth will belong to the southeast wing of the wall.1

1. T. O. Paine, in his work on the Temple, considers this arrangement, and rejects it as false. But his reasons do not seem sufficiently weighty to outbalance the importance of having the pillars 5 cubits apart for correspondential reasons.

We have made the pillars square rather than round because of the general correspondence. All parts of the tabernacle, excepting the laver and the lampstand, were rectilinear in form, because the tabernacle is in "the ultimates of nature."2 We have arbitrarily assigned to these pillars the thickness of 1/4 of a cubit or 41/2 inches. Each pillar was provided with a tenon which extended into the ground, as was the case with the boards of the tabernacle wall, and also with a base of copper, which was a band protecting the bottom of the pillar from contact with the ground. Each pillar was furnished also with what is called a "fillet" of silver. The term "fillet" has been interpreted by Paine and other scholars as a rod joining two adjacent pillars at the top, in order that the wall might thus be strengthened and the curtain supported throughout its entire length. This interpretation is derived from the original meaning of the Hebrew word here used, the root of which signifies "to join together." But there are many difficulties in the way of this interpretation. The fillets are said to be of silver. But the amount of silver required to make rods extending around the entire court and thus to make a line 300 cubits in length would be prohibitive. To avoid this objection, Paine supposes that these rods were made of shittim wood covered with silver, a supposition that is nowhere suggested by the text. We think it more probable that by "fillet" is meant a cap of silver protecting the top of the pillar and extending a short distance down its sides. Through the fillet was passed a hook, also of silver, upon which the curtain was hung. The pillars were supported by cords and stakes, after the manner of a tent, the stakes being of copper and the cords of linen.3 Unlike the pillars of the tabernacle itself, those of the court were not gilded. Apparently the hanging for the court was made in one piece throughout the entire length of each side, except on the east end. Here the hanging was divided into two wings each 15 cubits in length, and joined in the center by the gate of the court, which was 20 cubits in length. The situation of the tabernacle itself in the court was spoken of in Chapter I.4

2 See W.E. 4726, 4739. Just what is here meant is not altogether clear. But it is evident from the description that the predominant form of the tabernacle and its parts was rectilinear. We have thought that this was because it describes the spiritual church and the mode of redemption for fallen man. Thus the Divine truth had to take on representative forms from the ultimates of nature, as was done by the Lord when He came on earth in a material body.
3 Exodus 27:19.

In the court there were two articles of furniture, the altar of burnt offering, and the laver. They were situated between the east wall of the court and the east end of the tabernacle, and probably divided that space into three equal parts. The altar was midway between the north and south walls, as would seem to be implied in the statement, "Thou shalt set the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tent of the congregation."5 That this was true also of the laver might be concluded from the succeeding paragraph: "Thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar."6 But there is a tradition among the Jews that the laver was placed a little toward the south. This is borne out by what is said of the molten sea in the temple of Solomon. "And he set the sea on the right side of the house, eastward over against the south."7

The laver was a vessel of copper designed to hold the water which was to be used for the ceremonial washing of the priests. "And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat, when they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar they washed, as the Lord commanded Moses."8 The laver consisted of two parts, the vessel itself and its foot or base, both of copper.9 Its size and its shape are nowhere indicated, but some hint of this can be gathered from what was said of the molten sea. This was to be round, its upper edge "wrought like the brim of a cup with flowers of lilies."10 It was to measure 10 cubits or 15 feet in diameter, and 5 cubits or 71/2 feet in height. It was ornately decorated and set upon twelve oxen, three facing each quarter.11

4 Sec Footnote 1 on page 15.
5 Exodus 40:6.
6 Exodus 40:7.
7 I Kings 7:39.
8 Exodus 40:31, 32.
9 Exodus 30:18.
10 I Kings 7:26.
11 I Kings 7:23-26.

At the time of Solomon the temple services had increased enormously in number, and a much larger laver was then required. The one used for the tabernacle must have been considerably smaller in view of the fact that it had to be transported from place to place. It was probably simpler in design and execution. Yet it must have presented the general appearance of a cup or vase, and we have adopted a simple form of vase such as was characteristic of the Egyptian art of the period. We have arbitrarily ascribed to it a diameter of 41/2 cubits, and a height of 31/2 cubits, as representing the probable proportion in comparison with the other articles of furniture in the tabernacle. What is called the foot or base formed a lower basin, which received the water from the laver itself for the actual ablutions of the priests. It would not have been practical that the washings should have been done in the laver for two reasons: first, because of its height, and second, because the water would thereby become polluted. There may be an indication of this in Exodus 30:18: "Thou shalt also make a laver of copper, and his foot of copper to wash withal. And thou shalt put water therein." How the water was emptied from the laver into the base below is not known. But in connection with the molten sea there is a tradition of spouts or spigots, which we have adopted here as probable. Nor is there any indication as to how the water was placed in the laver. It was probably poured in by pitchers and other vessels carried by the Levites. There must also have been a means of draining the water out of the base, but concerning this there is no Scriptural indication.

There is an interesting question in connection with the material of which the laver was made. Exodus 38:8 is translated in the Authorized Version of the Bible: "And he made the laver of copper, and the foot of it of copper, of the looking glasses of the women assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." With this translation all the ancient versions, so far as we have been able to discover, agree, including that of Schmidius, which was the one used and most closely followed by Swedenborg. He always used that version except when there was some spiritual reason for not doing so. In many cases Swedenborg's own translation is much better, from the standpoint of the internal sense, than that of Schmidius. It is significant, therefore, that Swedenborg, in the face of all tradition and against the judgment of all translators, here changes the reading, leaving out entirely the idea of mirrors. "And he made the laver of copper and its foot of copper in the sight of those ministering, who ministered at the door of the tent of meeting."12 This might be accepted as a more literal translation of the original Hebrew, although the word for sight is mentioned in the lexicons as having also the meaning of mirrors. Believing that Swedenborg would not have made this change without reason, we have adopted his reading in preference to that which is traditional. The only conceivable reason why the laver should have been made of mirrors would have been to preserve their highly polished surfaces so that they would still have served as mirrors after they had been incorporated into the laver. This, however, would have required that the vessel should not be round but rather polygonal in shape. Such a form is highly improbable in view of what is said about the shape of the molten sea. It is probable therefore that the laver was simply made of polished copper.

12. A.C. (insitu.).

As has been previously indicated, the court represented the natural heaven.13 This is the same as saying that it represents the natural degree of the mind, as was explained in the last chapter. The natural degree is characterized by a simple faith and loyal obedience to a truth which, however, is not interiorly understood. It consists of generals which are seen without discerning insight. One who thinks from such generals must of necessity be guided, to a considerable extent, by the judgment of others. For this reason, those who belong to the natural heaven, or those in whom only the natural degree of the mind has been opened, are relatively as disciples and servants when compared to the higher angels. This is said with reference to spiritual things, for it is on the plane of this natural mind that we live almost entirely at this day. Even if we are regenerating, and thus are entering more and more deeply into an understanding of spiritual tilings, still that inner mind where these things come distinctly to view is covered over by curtains and veils, and can be entered only in certain states of spiritual exaltation. Our thought, even when we regard heavenly things, is clothed in worldly ideas, in conceptions of time and place, and person, which have been derived from the bodily senses. Save for momentary flashes of insight, it is only through these coverings that we can see eternal truth, until after death, when we come into direct contact with a deeper reality.

13 A.C. 9741.

Copper Vessels

Those with whom the higher degrees of the mind have not been opened in this world will never be free from their dependence upon worldly ideas. This is true even of those who dwell in the natural heaven.

The natural mind itself is both internal and external. The internal natural is called in the Writings, the "interior mind," to distinguish it from the true internal, which is the spiritual-rational. The outmost mind has to do with speech and action, and with everything that belongs to the material world. It is represented by the camp of Israel round about the tabernacle. The interior mind has to do with the imagination, with desire, passion, ambition, and thus man's motives and intentions. This is what is represented specifically by the court. Here are gathered from the outer memory those things which can serve or promote some purpose of the will or the accomplishment of some end. It is from the affections of this mind that speech and action derive all their quality. For this reason the process of regeneration by means of conflict against evil takes place here. Evil cannot enter into the holy place, and still less into the holy of holies. These two higher degrees of the mind are inviolate. They can be opened or they can be closed but they cannot be desecrated. At least, such desecration is guarded against by all the forces of the Divine Providence, lest the holy things of the church and of heaven be profaned.

The Lord permits a man to enter into the holy place, that is, to open the spiritual degree of his mind, only if he can be given strength to remain in it to the end of life. With the evil, the internal degrees of the mind are not opened, and therefore they are ignorant of spiritual truth and good. In the interior natural mind, however, evils and goods are together, and here the evils must be separated from the goods by a conflict in which one or the other finally conquers. Both are indeed present, but they are not mingled. If the man is internally good, then he receives into that mind only what he thinks, or believes, to be good. And if he should be mistaken, whenever he sees that he has admitted what is evil or false, he will reject it, and so can be perfected and prepared for heaven. If, however, the man is evil, then good is retained in this mind only as a cloak to hide his evil. When it is no longer necessary to do this, he will at once reject that good and confirm its opposite.

With all men in the world, and with all in the world of spirits after death, both good and evil are together in this interior mind, and the process of regeneration is the conflict for mastery between them. The battle must be from spiritual conscience, formed according to the truths of religion on the one hand, or from the hereditary loves of self and the world on the other. This battle determines the quality of the man. On its issue hangs his eternal destiny. Here is to be enacted what we call the life of religion. And yet this mind has no judgment of its own. It is called the "animus," and it is governed and controlled by passions. The power of developing this mind, and the power of controlling it, arise from the presence of the internal, the spiritual, and the truly rational mind; and this is the case even when that mind is not opened. For this reason, even evil men can become keenly intelligent in natural things, and can control their passions and desires for ulterior motives -- being in this respect superior to the beasts. Such control, however, is under the influence of hell. That the control may be under the influence of heaven, there must be some opening of the internal mind, however slight. There must be some understanding of spiritual truth, however general, and some perception of heavenly good, however obscure. Then only can there be influx out of heaven, that the heart may be touched by a spiritual love that empowers man to overcome the forces of evil. Given the beginning of such a spiritual conscience, although one remain, as to active thought, in the realm of natural things, still there can be resistance to evil; that is, resistance to that which is believed to be evil, and as a result of this the interior mind can be purified through temptation, that the man may at last be led to heaven. Nevertheless, because he has no insight or discernment of his own, such a man can easily be deceived and made to believe what is false. He is therefore dependent upon others for leadership. Even in heaven he will depend upon the angels of the higher heavens for instruction and guidance. He will, however, be in the love of obedience, and will enjoy heavenly happiness in the ultimate performance of uses. So far as the internal mind is opened the conflict with evil becomes more acute. For, as one understands spiritual truth more deeply, it reveals the presence of evils which before had not been seen. Spiritual truth penetrates the mask of external appearances behind which evil thoughts and intentions had been concealed. It casts a revealing light upon the ideas that fill the interior natural mind, and enables man to correct the errors that have been harbored there. This purification of the mind is represented both by the laver and by the altar of burnt offering. It is represented by the laver as to the understanding, and by the altar of burnt offering as to the will. The water placed in the laver represents the truth of conscience. The brass or copper of which it was made represents the natural good, the sincere purpose and intent from which that truth is acknowledged and obeyed. And washing at the laver represents the removal of evils and falsities through actual temptation combats. Especially was this washing to be done by the priests in preparation for entrance into the holy place, or for ministrations at the altar. For the mind is to be cleansed from selfish and worldly or unworthy motives as it draws near to the Lord to seek from Him direction and guidance in the affairs of life. Without such resistance to evil in the heart there can be no true worship: Wherefore the Lord said, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."14

The curtains round about the court are said to represent truth from a celestial origin,15 by which is meant the truth of religion, or truth that is believed because of a simple faith in the Lord's Word.

14 Matthew 5:8.
15 A.C. 9744.

The pillars are said to represent the truths of heaven, and of the church, which give support.16 Because they were made of shittim wood, they represent also the Lord's righteousness, concerning which we spoke in an earlier chapter. That the height of the pillars should be five cubits represents the degree of good and truth which may be perceived by this natural mind, and this is said to be sufficient; that is, sufficient for all the requirements of human life on earth.17 The same would seem to us to be involved in the spacing of the pillars five cubits apart round about the court. The tent-pins of copper, with their cords, represent things that conjoin and strengthen. These are external forms of worship and customs of religious life which support the things of the church and provide an orderly mode for their expression.18 As to the use of the court we shall speak in connection with the representation of the Levites.

16 A.C. 9747.
17 A.C. 9773.
18 A.C. 9777.


The center of Jewish worship was the altar of burnt offering. Upon this a fire was continually burning, and sacrifices were offered many times a day. The ark in the sanctuary, with the tables of the Law, was indeed the remote symbol of the presence of Jehovah; but the brazen altar was the active medium of approach and communication with Him. Of the sacrifices and their intimate association with the individual and national life of the Jews, we shall speak in a subsequent chapter. It is necessary, here, only to refer to them as connected with the altar of burnt offering, which was in a sense at least, the most important article of furniture in the tabernacle.

This altar was situated nearest to the people, being placed immediately inside the gate of the court, probably one-third of the distance between the gate and the east end of the tabernacle. Here, although separated from direct contact with the people by the wall of the court, and protected by every tradition of holiness, it could be seen by the congregation, who, from their tent doors in the encampment, might look over the wall and see the priests performing the daily sacrifices. This sight was daily impressed upon the minds of the whole people, who saw the smoke ascending from the altar as if carrying up their supplications to God.

Altar of Burnt Offering

These sacrifices were most intimately interwoven with the life of the people. Every national danger or catastrophe was accompanied by a suitable sacrifice, to express the pleading of the whole congregation for the intervention of Jehovah on their behalf. Every national victory was marked by a sacrifice of thanksgiving. There was no personal or individual experience, no loss or crime, no occasion of rejoicing, as in the birth of a child or in any unexpected good fortune, which did not call for an appropriate sacrifice, either of expiation or of glorification. The conscious intercession of Jehovah on their behalf, protecting, forgiving, warning, and condemning -- was daily called to their minds by these sacrificial rites. In the efficacy of these sacrifices the people had implicit trust. It is difficult for us now to realize how all-pervading was the influence of these religious rites upon the emotional life of the Jews. But certain it is that the spiritual power by which they were molded into a nation, and by which their destinies were directed in a peculiar sense from within, was exercised by means of the altar and its perpetual fire.

The description of this altar, found in Exodus 27:1-8, and 38:1-7, is such that it has given rise to many and varied interpretations as to the way in which it was made. It was made of shittim wood, joined in the form of a hollow square, each side measuring five cubits. The boards of which it was constructed were one cubit and a half in width, according to the same measurements as those of the tabernacle wall. We have assigned to them the same thickness, one-sixth of a cubit, there being no direct statement on this point. The sides of the altar were formed by two boards joined together, one above the other. They were covered on the outside by a plate of copper. Later an additional covering was provided, made from the flattened censers of the two hundred and fifty men who, with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, rebelled against Moses, and burnt strange incense before the Lord.1 No representation of this has been attempted in the model.

1 Numbers 16:36-40.

Over the boards and extending across the top of the hollow square formed by them was placed a grate "of network of copper." How this was constructed, and the manner in which it was placed upon the altar, have been the subject of wide dispute. It is said in Exodus 27:4, 5: "Thou shalt make for it a grate of network of copper, and upon the net shalt thou make four copper rings, in the four corners thereof, and thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar, beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar." Some interpret this as meaning that the grate was passed through the sides between the boards and thus formed a division halfway down the inside of the altar. Others contend that it was made in the form of a square basket fitting inside the altar, and covering the upper half of the boards on the inside, the grate extending, as before, across the middle line. In both cases the grate would be seen only from above. Its situation, one cubit and a half below the top of the altar, would make it difficult for the priest to burn sacrifices upon it. Also the upper half of the side of the altar would conceal the sacrifices from view. It would appear also that according to this arrangement the inside of the altar where the boards are exposed would be subjected to the effects of the fire. There is direct indication given in the Arcana Coelestia 9727 that the grate was not so placed, but extended round about the outside of the altar, where it would be seen. In this passage the representation depends upon this situation. We hold, therefore, with Dr. E. E. Iungerich in his opinion that the grate was extended across the top of the boards, and was bent down on the outside of the altar on all four sides, reaching to the middle.

There is also a great difference of opinion as to what is meant by the "compass" since it is said of the grate, "Thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath." By some, this compass is supposed to have been a sort of platform of copper extending from the median line of the sides in a horizontal position, and forming thus a sort of step on which the priest might stand while ministering at the altar. This does not seem to allow for the provision that the grate should be placed under it, nor does it seem to be a feasible position in which to place a step, for it would be 27 inches above the ground. We understand that by the "compass" is meant a strip of copper about one-third of a cubit in width, bent at right angles along its median line, and so placed around the top of the altar, above the grate, that it would serve to bind the grate firmly to the altar, rivets being passed through the compass and the grate and into the tops of the boards. This interpretation gives a definite reason, and an understandable use for what is called the compass, and places it in a position that meets every requirement of the text.

On the north and south sides of the altar at the corners, just below the compass, were placed the orbs through which the staves were passed that the altar might be carried. These orbs were welded or riveted to the grate, and probably were also fastened through the boards, because the entire weight of the structure had to be borne by them in carrying.

Another fact that has given rise to much speculation is the prescribed height of the altar which was too great to allow for the convenient operation of the priest in performing the sacrifices if he were standing at the level of the ground. To meet this practical difficulty, some have provided steps, and a sort of platform by which the priest might ascend, although these are nowhere described or indicated in the Scripture. Others, as we pointed out, considered that the "compass" was intended to form a step. That there was some means of ascending to the altar is indicated in many passages, for it is said of the officiating priest that he "ascended" to the altar and "came down" from offering sacrifices thereon. In the altars subsequently used in the temple of Solomon, the temple of the restoration, and the temple of Herod, the prescribed height of the altar was many times as great as was that of the tabernacle altar, and some mode of ascent was obviously necessary; yet steps are nowhere mentioned. There is, indeed, a law stated in Exodus 20:26 which forbids the priest to "ascend by steps to the altar." As to the larger altars, no Scriptural indication is given as to the mode of ascent; but in connection with the altar of Herod's temple, Josephus describes an inclined plane built of unhewn stones. We think it altogether probable that if there had been steps they would have been prescribed, and the mode of their construction indicated. It is more likely that when the altar was set up, a gradual ascent to it was formed by mounding the earth against its sides to the depth of a foot or more, giving the appearance of a low hill with the altar at the top. Recalling what is said in connection with the altar of incense, about the worship of ancient peoples upon hills and mountains, and the subsequent representation of this by setting altars upon high places, there would seem to be good reason to suppose that the ascent to the altar of burnt offering was a conventionalized representation of a hill.

This mounding of earth, however, was on three sides only -- the north, the south, and the west. On the eastern side, instead of a mound there was a depression which allowed for the removal of the ashes that accumulated under the altar. For this removal long-handled shovels were provided. The ashes which fell through the grate with the burning of the sacrifices were sacred, and their removal was part of the priestly service. It was commanded that they should be piled between the altar and the gate of the court. Later they were put into copper pans by the priests to be carried outside the camp and deposited in "a clean place."2 At which side of the altar the priest stood while offering the sacrifices, is nowhere indicated. There is, however, a tradition that he stood at the side facing the south, and this is strengthened by the testimony of Josephus who places the inclined plane of stones toward the south of the altar in Herod's temple.

2 Leviticus 1:11, 16.

The fire of this altar, in addition to being kept burning continually, was the only source from which fire might legitimately be obtained for the lighting of the lamps and for the burning of incense. This is because this fire represented love to the Lord, from which all true worship must be performed.



We cannot, for lack of space, enter into an explanation of all the details of this altar. The reader is referred to the teaching of the Arcana Coelestia 9713-9739, for more particular study. The altar itself is there said to represent the Lord, and indeed His presence in the exterior mind, represented by the court. As stated in the last chapter, it is related to the laver as the will is related to the understanding, and the fire continually burning upon it represents love to the Lord which should always be the governing affection of the mind. Love is the very fire of life whence comes spiritual heat and light, or affection and understanding. Worship in its essence is the activity of the love that is man's very life. The quality of the love determines the quality of man's worship. Whatever one loves supremely is his God. This is the highest good toward which he is continually striving, and for the attainment of which all lesser things are to be sacrificed. This is true no matter what a man's creed or professed religion may be. Every man is judged by the Lord according to his inmost love. In the Writings this is called his "ruling love" because it governs and qualifies all his thought, speech and action. According to this love his character is formed.

The altar of burnt offering was dedicated to the worship of Jehovah as the one God, the source of all good and of every blessing. Every hope for the future of the nation rested upon His promise to come as the Messiah to redeem and save His people. This promise was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born into the world. For Christians He became the sole object of worship. He is indeed Jehovah made visible in a Divinely Human form, and in Him the true nature of God is revealed as never before. He is now the sole object of worship, and the only source of salvation.

To the Jews, God was invisible; yet He was present to lead them and teach them from behind the veil of the tabernacle. Their only hope of salvation was to worship HIM ALONE, and to them the idolatrous worship of other nations in the land of Canaan was a deadly sin, against which they were most urgently warned.

The worship of Jehovah from love was represented by the perpetual fire on the altar of burnt offering. To be true to that worship was to keep the covenant that had been established between the sons of Israel and their God. On this depended the favor and the protection of Jehovah. When the people fell away from this worship and adopted the religious customs of the surrounding nations they forfeited the promised blessings of heaven, and came under the influence of the hells. This brought dire punishments upon them, and at last the complete destruction of their national life. Spiritually, this is the inevitable consequence when the church turns from the worship of the Lord to the loves of self and the world.

Curiously enough, in the internal sense, the fire of the altar creates its own grate. The grate is said to represent the "sensuous" by which is meant, not the five senses of the body, but the conscious life of the imagination.3 We have already referred to the fact that man is aware only of that to which he pays attention. This is but a thin thread selected from the mass of sense impressions that impinge upon the mind every waking moment. Which of these shall be impressed upon the memory and pictured in the imagination, depends upon the love that dominates the mind. Perhaps a term more expressive of what is here meant by the "sensuous" might be the word sensibility. Two men in the same environment will give evidence of widely different sensibilities according to their natural disposition and developed interests. Certain things will be deeply impressed upon the mind of one that will wholly escape the attention of the other. The conscious world in which a man lives is made up of those things to which he actually pays attention and of which, in consequence, he becomes distinctly aware. These he absorbs into his mental environment, and from them his ideas, thoughts, and emotions are formed. Inmostly, the ruling love determines the quality of this awareness by selecting certain things from the environment, and rejecting others.

3 A.C. 9726.

This selective process is what is represented by the "grate of network of copper," on which every sacrifice was burned. That burning is the actual activity of life to which man is impelled by his love. All that is not in accord with the love is disregarded, and that which is in accord is, as it were, metamorphosed, changed in form, and adapted to promote the end man has in view. The picture formed in the imagination, therefore, is always an ideal. It is never in exact accord with the objects of nature from which it is derived.

The point of interest here is that whenever a sacrifice was burned, a residue of ashes fell through the grate. As above noted these ashes were ceremoniously removed by the priests and deposited outside the camp "in a clean place." By these ashes are meant things that are retained in the unconscious mind, and that continue secretly to influence thought and feeling long after they have been completely forgotten. They include everything that has become habitual, spontaneous, and what is called "second nature." A child learns the letters of the alphabet, and by that means acquires the tools of reading and of writing; but after the letters have been learned he pays little or no attention to them. One must laboriously practice scales and finger-exercises in the process of learning to play a musical instrument; but when this technique has been mastered, his fingers respond without conscious effort to the dictates of the will. When any learning has been fully acquired, the mind is set free to enjoy the fruits of his labors. This is a miracle of the Divine Providence. Without it man would remain in perpetual slavery to technical details. The miracle is that these bonds are removed from the conscious mind, and yet are fully retained for future use, as is so graphically represented by the fact that the ashes from the altar of burnt offerings were ceremonially removed by the priests from the camp of Israel, and were deposited "in a clean place."

This removal happens spiritually with everyone; and if the life's love is good, it produces habits that continually perfect man's ability to perform uses, and from them to derive ever increasing happiness. If however, man's life's love is evil, the habits which are formed will be contrary to the order of heaven. They will confirm the delight of self-love and the love of the world. They will cause man to strive for personal ambitions, regardless of the welfare of the neighbor. The Lord must, for the merciful protection of the innocent, prevent him from attaining these ambitions. This is the reason why, in the last analysis, the evil can know nothing but frustration, and in this the punishment of the hells consists.



High Priest, Priest, Levite

Because the tabernacle, by its three divisions, represented the three degrees of the heavens, the uses performed in it by the priests represented the functions and the offices of the angels. Inmostly considered, all heavenly uses consist in cooperating with the Lord in His Divine work of human salvation. This belongs to the Lord alone, but in performing it He acts, not only immediately from Himself, but also mediately through both angels and men. This He does in order that they may be blessed with the delight of use which is the very joy of heaven. All human uses contribute in some degree to the salvation of souls, but the work of the priesthood does so in a very special sense. This is because it consists in teaching the truth of the Word, and in leading thereby to the good of spiritual life. It is therefore most closely related to the uses of the angels, all of which have this same end in view. Nevertheless, there are in heaven innumerable functions, offices, and occupations. In fact, the variety of uses there is incalculably greater than it is among men on earth. This is because the interiors of the human mind, to the perfection of which all heavenly uses minister, are far more complex than are the externals of the body and the natural mind which provide the basis for all the uses of earthly society. There are in heaven uses which correspond to every profession, business, occupation, and trade known to men. All of these, more or less remotely, contribute to the formation of character, and thus to man's preparation for heaven. Although for the most part, the way they affect the inner spirit of man is not realized by those on earth, it is clearly perceived by the angels. Nothing can be done by the body that does not affect the mind, and for this reason there is a direct correspondence between uses on earth, and those in heaven. For this reason the functions of the angels appear outwardly altogether similar to those of men. In the work of the priesthood however, the inner purpose of all use and its contribution to man's spiritual life openly appears, and is consciously recognized as the end in view. It is concerned directly with worship and spiritual instruction. Among the Jews it consisted in conducting the sacred rites of the tabernacle whereby there was communication with Jehovah.

Because there are three degrees of the human mind, and three corresponding degrees of the heavens, there were established three degrees in the Jewish priesthood. The tribe of Levi was first consecrated to the service of Jehovah, and then the family to which Moses and Aaron belonged was set apart from the other Levites. Aaron was anointed to be high priest, and his sons were ordained to serve as priests under him. The functions of these three priestly degrees represented specifically the uses of the three heavens in their order.

In very ancient times, however, there was no organized priesthood. Instead the priesthood resided in the head of each family or tribe, and was passed down by hereditary succession to every firstborn son. Only as the church declined did the need arise for an organized priesthood. At the time of Moses this had existed in various forms among many nations for countless generations. Among the sons of Israel, however, the more primitive mode had been perpetuated throughout the period of the patriarchs and during the years of captivity in Egypt. Before they came to dwell in the land of Goshen, they were but a single family, and had no need of a separate priesthood. Nevertheless a highly organized priesthood had been established among their ancestors, especially with Eber and his immediate descendants, when animal sacrifices were adopted as the primary means of approach to God. At first these rituals were correspondential, and served as an acceptable instrument of mediation; but gradually men yielded more and more to the loves of self and the world, and their interest in spiritual things waned. Religion was used increasingly for unworthy purposes, and the priesthood became corrupt. Abominable practices were introduced into their worship, and these became the basis for influx from the hells. This came to pass, not only among the ancestors of the Jews, but with all the nations of the ancient world. Everywhere the true worship of Jehovah had been turned into some debased form of idolatry. It was imperative, therefore, that a genuinely representative form of worship should be raised up among the sons of Israel, lest all communication between heaven and earth should be lost.

According to a very ancient law, every firstborn male was to be sanctified to the Lord. This was to be done in recognition of the truth that all life is a Divine gift, and every blessing must be ascribed to God. However, the rite of sanctification among idolatrous nations degenerated into rites of sacrification. Human sacrifice became well-nigh universal, and a strong tendency to adopt it was inherited by the Hebrew people. This practice was so abominable, however, in the sight of heaven, that it could not be permitted. In place of it two less objectionable rites were instituted, namely, the sacrifice of animals, and the sanctification of the firstborn. With the sons of Israel, however, it was commanded that the entire tribe of Levi should be set apart for the use of the priesthood, and by this act all the firstborn of Israel would be redeemed.

At the time of the Exodus there were 22,000 male Levites from one month old and upward.1 In the eleven other tribes, there were 22,273 firstborn males one month old and upward. It was decreed, therefore, that the 22,000 Levites should be substituted for 22,000 of the firstborn of Israel, while the 273 additional males were to be redeemed with silver by the payment of five shekels apiece for the service of the tabernacle.2 It was commanded, however, that only those who were between the ages of thirty and fifty years could enter into the active service of the priesthood.3 The number of these was 8580,4 and was divided among the three families descended from Levi as follows: Gershonites 2630,5 Kohathites 2750,6 and Merarites 3200.7

1 Numbers 3:39.
2 Numbers 3:40-51.
3 Numbers 4:1-4.
4 Numbers 5:48.
5 Numbers 5:40.
6 Numbers 5:36.
7 Numbers 5:44.

The sanctification of the tribe of Levi involved that they were to receive no inheritance, as did the other tribes, for it is said "the Lord was their inheritance."8

When they came into the land of Canaan, they were to be scattered among the people in every tribe, where they were to be supported upon the bounty of those with whom they lived. In return, they were to act as leaders and teachers. They might not be called upon to fight in the wars, but they were to perform the service of the tabernacle, and later that of the temple, which service was called "warfare."9 This name was given to it because it represented the conflict of the Lord and the angels against the hells in and for man throughout the process of his regeneration.

The priesthood proper abode with Aaron and his sons. Moses and Aaron were brothers. They were Levites, descended from the house of Kohath,10 and they were called and appointed by the Lord to deliver the people from Egyptian bondage. Together they represented the law Divine, or the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord. This is of two kinds; that which proceeds immediately by means of revelation or the Word, and that which proceeds mediately through the ministration of angels who give illustration and inspiration to men. Moses represented the first of these, which in itself is above the perception of either angels or men. Aaron, however, represented truth proceeding mediately from the Lord, thus truth tempered and accommodated to human reception.11 Such is the Divine truth in and with the celestial angels. No truth from the Lord can be received by men on earth, except as it is tempered by a transflux through the heavens, and thus is adapted to the spiritual sight of the human mind. This is the reason why it is said of Moses that he could not carry the Word of Jehovah to the people, for he complained that he was "slow of speech and of a slow tongue." The Lord therefore said unto him, "Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well . . . even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God."12 Aaron therefore represented the celestial heaven, through which the Lord in-flowed to reveal the Word before the time of His advent. Since that time He has been present with men immediately in His glorified Divine Human; yet even now He also inflows through the heavens, and this influx is specifically represented by the intermediation of Aaron as high priest. The government established with the sons of Israel was a theocracy, and the high priest was the supreme governor because he was the spokesman for Jehovah.13 Because the answers he received when he inquired of the Lord came through the celestial heaven, represented by the holy of holies, that inmost sanctuary was associated with the ministry of Aaron. No one was allowed behind the veil except the high priest and even he was permitted to enter there only once a year on the great day of atonement, when he sprinkled upon the ark and the mercy seat the blood of the sacrifice as an expiation for the sins of the whole congregation.14

8 Deuteronomy 10:9.
9 A.C. 5335.
10 See Appendix VI.
11 A.C. 6998.
12 Exodus 4:10-17. A.C. 6998-7010.
13 A.C. 4677.
14 Leviticus 16

Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleasar, and Ithamar. These sons represented Divine truth accommodated to the spiritual degree of the mind. Such is the truth received by the angels of the spiritual heaven who have no such interior perception as is enjoyed by those who are celestial. They are in the light of intelligence, which is distinguished from the light of wisdom in that it is not received directly from the sun of heaven in which is the Lord, but indirectly as if reflected from another object. It is therefore compared to the light of the moon. Nevertheless their intelligence far exceeds that of men on earth, whom they can serve as spiritual leaders, teachers, and protectors. The sons of Aaron, therefore, were inaugurated as priests under him. They were not allowed to enter the holy of holies, but prepared the bread of faces, tended the lamps, and burned incense in the holy place.

The rest of the tribe of Levi, or those among them who were without blemish, were inaugurated into the third, or lowest degree of the priesthood. Only between the ages of thirty and fifty years were they allowed to enter into active service. They were frequently distinguished from Aaron's sons by the expression "priests and Levites." In many passages of the Scripture, however, the Levites also are called priests.

The service of the Levites was connected with the court. They were not permitted to offer sacrifices, nor were they allowed to enter within the door of the tabernacle except for the purpose of removing the furniture and the sacrificial vessels after these had been covered by the priests. But they were to care for all the parts and furnishings of the tabernacle, and were to assist the priests in preparing for the sacrificial rites. They were to lake down the tabernacle, and set it up. They were to transport its parts and its furnishings from place to place. They were to act as servants to the priests, preparing sacrificial bread and wine, cleaning the vessels, and otherwise rendering subordinate services. While they were excluded from the performance of any priestly act of mediation, later when the conquest of the holy land had been accomplished, they came to act as judges and as instructors to the people, keeping alive among them the knowledge of the Mosaic law and inspiring reverence for it.15

In general the work of the Levites represented the ministry of the natural angels. The natural heaven represents the "animus" or the lowest degree of the human mind, where worldly ambitions arise, and where man's thoughts are controlled by his emotions. This mind must be governed by the rational and perceptive faculties of the higher degrees. It is of service to them by storing up knowledges and sense experiences on which all rational understanding must be based. A more particular consideration of the Levites and their service will be found in a later chapter.

15 Deuteronomy 17:8-12; 33:10.


the garments which were worn by Aaron, and after him by the high priest, were eight in number. They comprised the ephod, the epaulets or shoulderpieces, the girdle, the breastplate, the robe, the checkered or lace tunic called a coat, the linen breeches, and the mitre.

The ephod was a sort of cassock made of linen, with stripes of blue, purple, scarlet, and white, and with gold inwoven after the manner of the veil. Each piece was rectangular in shape with a square opening for the neck. They hung down from the shoulders to a point below the waist in front and in back. They were fastened together by the epaulets upon the shoulders. The ephod was the most holy of all the garments, and was used in many passages to represent them all. It was called most holy because it was the ultimate or outmost garment. The word "ephod" is derived from the Hebrew root meaning "to gird or put on," concerning which it is said in A.C. 9824 that it means to enclose all interior things. The gold which was inwoven is said to have been beaten and made into wire threads.1 For the spiritual signification of the ephod see below.2

1 Exodus 28:1-9, 39:1-5.
2 A.C. 9823, 9824.

The two epaulets or shoulderpieces (described in Exodus 28:9-14 and 39:6-7), were formed of single onyx stones set in gold. Each was engraved with six of the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth, the first six names being worn on the right shoulder arid the last six on the left. The shoulderpieces of the ephod were joined to the gold setting in which these stones were placed. Also from each setting there passed a chain of gold wires twisted like a cord, the other end of the chain being fastened to a gold ring in the upper corner of the breastplate. The onyx stones with the names engraved upon them are said to signify the interior memory,3 wherein all the goods and truths of the church, represented by the names of the sons of Israel, were to be preserved to eternity.4 In A.C. 9855 it is said that by this means there was a conservation of the good and truth of the spiritual kingdom. The chains of gold by which the stones were joined to the breastplate represent the coherence of good throughout the whole spiritual kingdom.5

The girdle or belt is described by Josephus as it was worn by the high priest in his day. He says it was four fingers broad, was wound several times around the body, and after being tied, the ends hung down as far as the ankles. When the priest was performing the sacrificial rites, these ends were thrown over the left shoulder that they might not interfere with his movements. This girdle was made of linen, in colors of blue, purple, scarlet, and white. It was embroidered with gold after the manner of the door of the tent but the design is not indicated.6

3 A.C. 9841.
4 A.C. 9849.
5 A.C. 9852.
6 Exodus 28:39, 39:29.

It is said to represent a "general bond, that all things may look to one end."7

The breastplate8 was made of linen in the sacred colors with gold inwoven, as in the case of the ephod. It was in the form of a rectangle, measuring two spans in length and one in width, and was folded from the top so that it formed a double square. Upon the outer fold were fastened twelve stones set in gold in three horizontal rows of four stones each. In the first row on the right side, reading from the top to the bottom, were a ruby, a topaz, and a carbuncle; in the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; in the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst; and in the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. On each of these stones was engraved the name of one of the sons of Israel, and it is indicated in the Word Explained that they were in the order of their birth, so that the first six names inscribed on the stones at the right side of the breastplate would coincide with the names engraved upon the right shoulderpiece, while the last six names on the stones at the left side would coincide with those on the left shoulderpiece. This is at variance with the usual interpretation of the Scripture, but the reasons for it are well presented by Dr. E. E. Iungerich in the Journal of Education, vol. 16, pp. 115-128. The underfold of the breastplate was fastened at its four corners to four rings in the ephod by a blue ribbon. The breastplate represents the letter of the Word from which answers may be received by anyone who reads it in a state of illustration. For this reason it is called the "breastplate of judgment." When the high priest inquired of the Lord, answers to his questions were given by flashes of light from the precious stones set in it. Therefore it was called "Urim and Thummim." These two words are derived from Hebrew roots meaning respectively "lights and perfections." "Urim" represents Divine truth proceeding as light from the sun of heaven; and "Thummim" represents the resulting illustration received by man.9

7 A.C. 9828.
8 Exodus 28:15-29.

The two rows of stones which were placed on the right side of the breastplate represent influx, and thence illustration from the celestial kingdom of the heavens, while the two rows on the left side represent a similar influx from the spiritual kingdom.10

The robe was made of linen woven without a seam and dyed cerulean blue.11 The opening at the neck is said to be like "the hole of an habergeon," or a coat of mail. It was heavily bound about to prevent it from tearing. The garment extended to the calf of the leg, and was ornamented around the hem by alternate pomegranates and bells. The pomegranates were made of linen (blue, purple and scarlet) while the bells were of gold. The garment was sleeveless, with long slits in the sides for the arms. This vestment represented Divine truth in an internal form, and was intermediate between the ephod and the under tunic or coat.12 It was said to be the "work of a weaver," by which was represented, truth from a celestial origin.13 The pomegranates around the border represented the most ultimate things of the understanding, called "scientifics."14 The bells of gold represented external things of doctrine and worship; and the fact that these were placed alternately between the pomegranates represented that they must be according to the scientifics of the church.15

9 A.C. 9905.
10 A.C. 9873.
11 Exodus 28:31-35.
12 A.C. 9825.
13 A.C. 9915.
14 A.C. 9918.
15 A.C. 9921.

Beneath the robe of blue was worn a white linen coat or undergarment, provided with sleeves. It is called in the Writings a "checkered" tunic, and is interpreted by Dr. Iungerich as being of lace or open work through which the flesh might appear.1" This also was seamless and may be compared to the undergarment worn by the Lord at the time of His crucifixion, for which the soldiers cast lots. It is said to represent Divine truth proceeding from the Divine celestial.17

Under the tunic were to be worn the white linen breeches, extending from the loins to the thighs. They are said to represent the external of conjugial love.18

The mitre was a turban made of a long strip of white linen which was wound closely about the head. On top of this and over the forehead, was worn a plate of gold engraved with the words: "HOLINESS TO THE LORD." At either end of this gold plate were narrow slits through which was passed a ribbon of blue. This was bound about the head that the plate of gold might thus be fastened upon the mitre. The mitre is said to represent intelligence and wisdom,19 while the plate of gold represents enlightenment from the love of Divine good.20 The words "HOLINESS TO THE LORD" engraved upon it represent the Divine Human in continual remembrance,21 and the ribbon of blue by which it was bound to the mitre represents the influx of the truth of celestial love.22

16 Exodus 28:31-35; 39:22-26.
17 A.C. 9942. Exodus 28:39; 39:27.
18 AC. 9959. Exodus 28:42; 39:28.
19 A.C. 9827.
20 A.C. 9930.
21 A.C. 9932.
22 A.C. 9933. Exodus 28:36-38; 39:30-31.

All these garments were worn by the high priest in the ordinary execution of his offices outside the veil, but they were divided into two general classes called "garments for glory and for beauty."28 The garments for glory included the linen breeches, the checkered tunic, the mitre, and the girdle; while those for beauty were the outer garments, the robe of blue, the ephod, the epaulets, and the breastplate. These latter were laid aside by the high priest when on the day of atonement he entered within the veil.24

23 Exodus 28:2.
24 Leviticus 16:2, 4.

When he entered the holy of holies, the high priest wore garments similar to those worn by the other priests. The only difference was that the mitre worn by the priests was not adorned with a plate of gold, and that it was called a "bonnet." So many details are involved in the representation of the garments of Aaron that we cannot explain them here. The student wishing to explore them more deeply is referred to the Arcana Coelestia where they are considered at length. Dr. Iungerich draws an interesting comparison between the garments of the high priest and the various parts of the tabernacle. It is obvious that they must be closely related. He also points out that in the Arcana Coelestia the undergarments are given the higher signification, and the outer ones the lower, while in the Word Explained the order is reversed. There is, however no contradiction here. Both Moses and Aaron had a double representation. On the one hand they represented the Lord, and on the other they represented the Jewish people. When they represented the Lord the inmost garment would have the highest signification, and the outmost garment would have the lowest; but when they represented the people this order would be reversed. A few words should be added to explain the flashing of lights from the stones of the breastplate, and the part they played in communicating answers from Jehovah. This was a spiritual phenomenon. There was no light in the holy place except that which came from the lampstand. This could not have been reflected by the precious stones because when the high priest was burning incense at the altar before the veil, the lampstand was behind him and the breastplate was in shadow. The flashes of light were perceptions of truth which, in the spiritual world are seen as light. Nor did Aaron understand the meaning of the lights, without at the same time hearing a voice that spoke the Divine message.23 There have been many attempts by scholars to explain the meaning of the "Urim and Thummim" but no purely natural explanation has proved satisfactory. There must have been communication with the spiritual world, as in the visions of the prophets. They also saw lights, and heard voices. Is there not something similar involved in the experience of every one who is given flashes of insight while reading the Word?

25 A.C. 3858, 3862, 6335. S.S. 44. De Verbo 20. See also Appendix IV, where the stones of the breastplate are treated of and their spiritual signification is given.


something has already been said in Chapter XX concerning the origin of animal sacrifices, and why they were adopted by the sons of Israel at the time of Moses. They had been the traditional mode of worship among the Hebrews for many generations. Eber, from whom Terah, the father of Abram, descended, was the leader of a religious revival in the decadent Ancient Church. He instituted animal sacrifices in accord with the law of correspondences which had been largely ignored and perverted as the church became more and more corrupt. This revival might be compared to the Protestant reformation in the Christian Church, by which the direct access to the Word was restored to the people. The Hebrew Church, therefore, was at first a truly representative church.1 In the course of time, however, the central idea back of animal sacrifices, became that of appeasing the wrath of God. Any personal loss called for the sacrifice of some treasured possession. In times of extreme tribal danger or catastrophe, a sacrifice must be offered that would be felt as a keen loss by all the people. It is easy to understand how, based on this idea, the custom of human sacrifice would arise, and in fact it became widespread throughout the ancient world. This abominable practice was totally evil. It was inspired by cruelty, and it roused the lowest passions that degrade human character. Yet it exercised a powerful influence over the minds of men, and this increased with the passage of time. In order to check the growth of so infernal a custom, and turn the development of man's worship into less virulent channels, it was provided that animal sacrifices should be permitted. These, although far from ideal, could nevertheless be representative, and could serve as a means of communication between earth and heaven. They could express man's acknowledgment of the Lord as a Divine protector, and as the source of every blessing. They could picture to the angels the rejection of all self-merit, and the recognition of man's complete dependence upon Him.

1 A.C. 1238, 1241, 2180, 4433.

Such was the representation of the sacrifices offered in the tabernacle, when they were performed strictly according to the laws prescribed by Moses. The different kinds of animals and birds, and the particular rituals prescribed for each kind, all represented particular affections and thoughts which were ascribed to the Lord. The animals themselves, their death, the blood, and the sensual states of the priests who performed the rites, and of all the people who witnessed them, none of these appeared before the minds of the angels. They saw only the external state of holiness, the willingness to obey the commands of Jehovah, that had been induced upon both the priests and the people by the awesome appearance of God upon Mount Sinai. As they were Divinely ordered by Jehovah, every least detail of the sacrifices was correspondential. Holiness arose, not from the things themselves, but from this ordering. It is the same with all Divine revelation. The Word of the Lord can be expressed to men only in terms that they can understand. These terms must be taken from their memory, and from their past experience. But if it is ordered by the Lord Himself from the love of saving human souls, it becomes translucent with heavenly light, and through it genuine truths may be perceived. This may be illustrated by the writing of history. Different scholars must use the same facts, but each one orders them according to his own interpretation of the events they describe. What comes to view, therefore, is the mind of the writer, the love, the purpose, and the intelligence, from which he wrote. It is the same with the Lord, and that is the reason why the Sacred Scripture, although it relates historic events and describes human situations, nevertheless reveals the very mind of God to one who is enlightened. This is what distinguishes the Word from all the writings of men and makes it holy.

Applying this principle to the description of the sacrifices offered by the sons of Israel, we can begin to understand how, to the angels, they would present an idea of genuine worship in which there was no suggestion of death or cruelty. The angels saw only the love of God in the hearts of the worshipers, their utter dependence on Him, and their willingness to obey His every command. In spite of the fact that men had lost all spiritual insight and understanding, such willing obedience could serve as a medium of communication between heaven and earth, but only because every detail of the worship was ordered by the Lord according to the Divine law of correspondence.

Among other nations worship had become corrupt. It was being used by the priesthood for purposes of personal gain and worldly ambition. Magical practices had been introduced as a means of playing upon the credulity of the people. The masses were held under submission to the ruling classes by fear and superstition. The evil passions of men were ascribed to God, and worship was debased by immoral rites that were abhorrent in the sight of heaven. The state of the Jews was such that animal sacrifices had to be permitted, because they had for so long become so powerfully associated with worship. With the coming of Moses, all abominable practices were eliminated, and every detail was so ordered as to be representative of things Divine and heavenly. Sacrifices were to be offered only to Jehovah. They were to be offered only in the tabernacle, and later in the temple at Jerusalem. Human sacrifice was strictly forbidden and was replaced by the sacrifice of animals and by the sanctification of the firstborn, as represented by the inauguration of the tribe of Levi into the priesthood. Everything was Divinely ordered in such a way as to invite influx from heaven. This was vitally important, because in no other way could a connection between heaven and earth be preserved until the time of the Lord's advent into the world to establish a truly spiritual church.

Every detail connected with the sacrifices as prescribed in the law of Moses is recorded in the Word because its spiritual significance is important to all who would understand more deeply the process of man's regeneration. Here we can do no more than present a very brief outline of the subject.

There were three different categories of sacrifice called respectively; burnt offerings, sacrifices, and meat offerings. The burnt offering was a holocaust. An animal was slain, its blood was poured out at the base of the altar, and the entire carcass, with the exception of the skin, was consumed by the fire on the altar. The animal might be either of the flock or of the herd, a young ram or kid, a young bullock or calf, or, in certain cases a young pigeon or a turtle dove. Only an animal without blemish could be used, and it was usually between eight days and one year old. The leading idea in this sacrifice was that of complete ascription to the Lord and of absolute renunciation by man, of whatever spiritual things were represented by the prescribed animal. If one of the flock was offered the implantation of good and truth in the internal man was represented. If an animal of the herd was offered the implantation of good and truth in the external man was represented. Such implantation takes place when man applies to life the good and truth of the church, and acknowledges them as gifts from the Lord. Then is the Lord present to move man's will and enlighten his understanding. Because of this representation, the burnt offering was used especially on festival occasions, for consecration, for cleansing, and at any time when a rededication to the Lord was required. Daily burnt offering was made every morning and every evening to represent the continual dedication of the whole people to the worship of the Lord in every state of life. In addition, such a holocaust was offered on the Sabbath, at the time of the new moon, at the passover, at the feast of tabernacles, at the feast of trumpets, etc. Each of these occasions marked representatively the end of one state and the beginning of another when there should be a renewal of the covenant, and a rededication to the Lord.

Sacrifices differed from burnt offerings in that only a portion of the animal was consumed upon the altar, while usually a part of it was used as food by the priests. There were three general kinds of sacrifices, each to be offered in atonement for an appropriate sin, or expressing a particular affection. These three were the sin offering, the trespass offering, and the peace offering. In all of these the leading idea was purification or the expiation of sin. In the sin offering, the animal must be of the first year and without blemish. The kind of animal sacrificed differed according to the degree of the person who brought the offering. A private individual, who had committed some sin for which he sought forgiveness, was commanded to bring a female kid or lamb. If, however, the offender were an officer or a ruler of the people, then he must bring a male kid. A priest was required to bring a bullock. In the first two cases the blood was sprinkled on the horns of the altar and was poured out at its base. In the case of the priest, the blood was sprinkled also in the holy place, on the horns of the altar of incense, and seven times toward the veil. In all three instances the fat only was burnt upon the altar, while the flesh, in the case of a private person, was to be eaten by the priest who offered the sacrifice, and this must be done within the court. If the sin of a priest were to be atoned, or a transgression of the whole congregation, the flesh might not be eaten, nor burned upon the altar, but instead was to be taken outside the camp and burned in a clean place. This also was to be done with any of the flesh which the priests had left over until the morrow. Neither the blood nor the fat was ever to be eaten. The blood was holy because it was regarded as the life and represented that which is the Lord's. The fat was holy because it represented the good of love inflowing from the Lord, which good is not to be claimed by man for himself. Sacrifices of expiation were offered when any law or rule of worship was broken, or when any sin involving the covenant between God and man had been committed.

The trespass offering differed from the sin offering in that it was required in atonement for some sin against the neighbor, especially if the right of property had been violated. In this case the animal sacrificed was always a ram, usually of the first year; but if the crime were not a serious one, the sacrifice of an older animal might be permitted. The blood was sprinkled, not upon the horns of the altar, but on the two diagonally opposite corners of the altar, so that it would touch all the four sides. Here there was no distinction of persons. In every case there was required, in addition to the sacrifice, restitution by the return to the injured party, not only of that which had been taken away, but one fifth in addition. The trespass offering was indeed required of a Nazarite who had broken his vow; but here, because no restitution was possible, he was merely required to begin counting again the days of his separation.

Peace offerings were not made for the atonement of a sin committed, but to express thanks to God for some favor received, to fulfill a vow or as a testimonial of good faith when a favor was asked. An animal, either of the herd or of the flock and either male or female, could be used. Part of the flesh, in addition to the fat, was to be burned on the altar. Two portions of the animal only were to be eaten, namely, the breast and the shoulder (some scholars hold that the right hind leg is meant). The breast was to be waved with a horizontal motion before the altar, and the shoulder was to be heaved with a vertical motion. They were then eaten by the priest, not in the court but at home, and might be shared by the family. This was regarded as a ceremonial feast that brought about communion with God.

The third general class of offerings is called the meat offering. It usually accompanied both of the other two, though it might also be offered separately. The term "meat" was used, not in the sense of flesh, but as referring to food of any kind. Such offerings consisted of wheat prepared in different ways. There were always three ingredients, wheat, olive oil, and salt. Leaven was strictly prohibited. The differences prescribed had to do with the kind of wheat, the way in which it was mixed with the oil, and the way in which it was cooked. In certain offerings the wheat was used in the whole grain, roasted in the ear. In other cases it was first ground into fine flour. Either the whole wheat or the flour might be made into cakes which were called the bread of unleavened things, cakes mixed with oil, or cakes anointed with oil, according to the way in which the ingredients were mixed. The cakes, also could be differently prepared, being cooked in an oven, in a pan, or in a cooking pot. Specific kinds ot meat offerings were commanded to be used with sacrifices according to the kind of animal that was offered. A small portion of the cakes were to be burned upon the altar, together with frankincense, while the remainder were eaten by the priests. Usually a libation of wine was made at the same time. These meat offerings were of far more ancient origin than the animal sacrifices. They were in accord with Divine order, as the sacrifices were not. They were expressive not of atonement for sin, but of conjunction with the Lord. For this reason they were retained in a different form after animal sacrifices had been abrogated. In the Christian Church the Holy Supper was instituted, and into it were gathered all the representatives that had been associated with the burnt offerings and sacrifices of the Jewish Church.2

2. For a table of the sacrifices, see Appendix V.

Space will not permit a particular explanation of these various rites. For this the reader must be referred to the many numbers in the Writings that treat of them. But if we think of these sacrifices as the angels do -- transferring the thought from the animals and birds and earthly harvest, to the perceptions of heavenly affection and spiritual truth that are represented by them, we may see how evils and falsities are to be removed from the human heart and mind, and how goods and truths may be implanted and appropriated in their place. Thus they describe the way in which one's character may gradually be changed by the process of regeneration. According to this view, everything that is repulsive and revolting in the outer form of the sacrifices falls away, and there remains only the thought of the Lord's presence and operation for man's salvation. When they are understood in this way a vast treasure of spiritual wisdom is discovered which has been concealed within these ancient provisions of the Mosaic Law as they are preserved for us in the Old Testament.



We have pointed out in Chapter XX that the priesthood among the sons of Israel was divided into three degrees or orders, represented by Aaron, the sons of Aaron, and the tribe of Levi. It was also noted that the first two orders represented the celestial and the spiritual heavens respectively, the duties of the priests being a correspondential representation of the uses performed by the angels of those heavens. It was also true that the third degree, or the Levites, represented the lowest or natural heaven. Their work was associated with the court of the tabernacle, which represented that heaven, and their duties depicted the spiritual services to man of the natural angels, a service which has to do with the memory and the imaginative faculty.

Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The eldest son of Kohath was Amram, who was the father of Moses and Aaron. Thus through him descended the priesthood proper. The brothers of Amram with their descendants, and the sons of Kohath and Merari, constituted what is known as the Levites.1 Each of these branches of the tribe of Levi was assigned a special charge in connection with the service of the tabernacle.

1 See Appendix VI.

To the Gershonites was intrusted the care of the curtains of the tabernacle, the hangings for the door of the tabernacle and for the gate of the court, the linen curtains that formed the walls of the court, and the cords and stakes used to hold it in position. They are said in the Word Explained to represent "All those things which are insinuated into the intellectual mind from the exteriors; for man is formed from the external things which are insinuated into the mind, and thus constitute its natural part, which things remain when man has been reformed."2

2 Vol. 4, n. 6620.

The reason for this signification may be illustrated by their name, the position of their encampment, and the charge intrusted to them. The name Gershon means "stranger." External things which come into the mind from the outer world, as mental pictures of material objects belong to the world of nature. Yet they are essential to the reception of spiritual life by man. They are of service to man's life on earth, but are left behind at death. Possessing the qualities of space and matter, they do not belong in the spiritual world. Thought from material ideas holds the mind in spiritual darkness and obscurity, which cannot be entirely dispelled until after the death of the body. When one enters the spiritual world he is released from his dependence upon the physical senses, and therefore can think apart from space and time. The angels have no material ideas. They do not know what material things are. All their thought is focussed upon things spiritual and celestial. Ideas that are derived from the senses of the body do indeed remain for a time after death, but they are gradually removed as the external memory becomes quiescent, and man is introduced into the life of his interiors. This takes place in the world of spirits; but when one enters into heaven all ideas of space, time, and matter are left behind. They are like strangers who have no place in the Lord's heavenly kingdom. Nevertheless, the objects that surround the angels are altogether similar in appearance to the things of earth. They are similar in form but entirely different in quality. For the most part, men on earth perceive in the objects in their environment, only the properties of matter, size, color, texture, etc. It is possible for them, of course, to think abstractly, but only as the result of conscious reflection. In the imagination they may picture an ideal, a goal, an end to be achieved. By this means they can discover how various things are related to one another, and how they may be used to serve some human purpose. This is the secret of all invention. But at best what they see are uses for the benefit of earthly society. Only from revelation can they attain to any concept of spiritual uses. The angels on the other hand, perceive these spiritual uses in all things of their world. They see them spontaneously and without effort. The external form of the objects about them serve merely as a medium through which spiritual things become visible and tangible to them.

All things in the material world have been created to be of service to the spirit of man as well as to his body. From Divine revelation man can derive some vague and general idea of these spiritual uses, but only in states of reflection. Such insight comes only by inspiration out of heaven, and opening the minds of men to spiritual ideas is the chief function of the angels in the natural heaven. This is specifically represented by the work assigned to the Gershonites. For this reason they were given charge of the tabernacle curtains which were represented by veilings, or accommodations of spiritual truth to human perception.

Natural angels are present with man in his imagination. Their delight is to order the material ideas in his memory in such a way as to reveal their use, and especially their spiritual use. If we reflect upon our mental processes, we may realize that imaginative pictures are continually passing through our minds, and they convey to us a meaning that transcends their external form altogether. Everything in the imagination is symbolic of something that we love, and for this reason is called an "ideal." Often objects in the imagination assume a significance out of all proportion to their intrinsic value. They may be revered and held as precious because they represent what is holy. They may be valued as a token of friendship without reference to their monetary worth. These are but illustrations of how material objects may take on new meaning and be regarded merely as the clothing of what is spiritual.

We are told that the natural angels take great delight in dramatic representations.3 They picture in this way heavenly truths that are perceived by the wiser angels in the higher heavens. Such pictures are formed by combining in various ways the ideas of the memory drawn from physical experience. Because this is what is represented by the use assigned to the Gershonites, it was commanded that they should be encamped on the west side of the tabernacle. Of the four quarters, the west represents the memory, or the storehouse of sensations.

3 A.C. 4442, 4528, 5658, 9457.

The Kohathites were the most closely related to the priesthood itself because Aaron and his sons were descendants of Kohath. The name means "assembly" or gathering together. The camp of the Kohathites was situated on the south side of the tabernacle. They were given charge of the furniture: the ark, the table of shewbread, the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the sacred vessels that were used for priestly administration in the holy place. They also had charge of the altar of burnt offering, with its instruments and its censers, and of the laver. All of these are said to represent "those things in the mind which come from above, namely through the soul, and thus immediately from the Lord."4

4 W.E. 6753.

There are, of necessity, two elements in the imaginative process, one active and the other passive. The passive element consists of the sensual images derived from the world; but if these are to be ordered and brought into such relation that they may assume a spiritual significance, there must be an active force by which this is done. All the power to organize, to build, and to form a spiritual body of thought from the things of earth is derived from above through the soul, and it is perceived by man as an affection or love. When things of earth are put into an order which accords with the Divine plan they cease to be a source of darkness or shade and become translucent, reflecting the light of heaven. This is illustrated in the field of art, where it is the arrangement and combination of lights and colors which alone reveal upon the canvas the soul of the artist, and produce a corresponding affection in the minds of those who see the picture. Because by means of such arrangement of visual images, light from heaven is enabled to penetrate even into the natural mind of man, the Kohathites were encamped toward the south, for the south in the spiritual world represents understanding and enlightenment. The furniture of the tabernacle represented the conscious presence of the Lord and the reception of heavenly truth and good from Him. These were the real things for the protection of which the tabernacle had been erected. Through them there was communication with the angels and conjunction with God.

The tabernacle furniture represented the spiritual itself that is active within natural forms. Those things from above which are active in the natural mind are especially delights and heavenly affections perceived in states of worship or of enlightenment, and stored up as "remains." They stand in opposition to the delights of the body and the world, and establish an equilibrium by which man is given the power to choose what is eternal in preference to that which is temporal. By this alone is man enabled to regenerate. Such delights are felt even in the natural mind. They are felt long before the spiritual mind can be opened. The deepest delights are felt indeed in earliest infancy, in a state of innocence when celestial angels can be present. Later, during childhood, spiritual delights are insinuated by the presence of spiritual angels, and finally in youth, natural delights, perceived as civil, moral, and ethical ideals, are insinuated by the presence of natural angels. These delights, which are insinuated into the minds of everyone during infancy and childhood, are called "remains" because they are reserved in the interiors, and can be recalled at adult age when the process of regeneration first begins. The natural angels are instrumental in bringing them to conscious perception, and by so doing they cooperate with the Lord in His Divine work of human salvation. This is what is meant by the ministry of the Kohathites. By means of this, man's religious conscience is formed. Conscience is nothing but a love of what one believes to be true and right. It is a fear that things which are precious may be lost. In essence it is the love of obeying the Lord's will. This is the love that first opens the mind to the reception of spiritual good and truth, and it is the love that is characteristic of those who are in the natural heaven, and who are represented by the Kohathites.

The third son of Levi was Merari. The name is derived from a root meaning "bitter," and it suggests at once the waters of Marah which became bitter, concerning which we are told in the Writings that the bitterness of temptation is meant.5 The Merarites were encamped toward the north, and they were given charge of the boards, bases, pillars, stakes and cords of the tabernacle, and the pillars and bases of the court. Their representation is said to be "those things in the intellectual mind which are called fallacies, and which come from the fallacies of the senses, as, for example, that a man thinks that he lives a proprial life, and that he can act from himself, etc., etc."6

5 Exodus 15:23; A.C. 8349-50.
6 W.E. 6756.

Here again we find the significance illustrated graphically by the facts which are related concerning this branch of the Levites. The fallacies and mere appearances of the senses bring the mind into doubts and temptations during the process of man's regeneration. Thus these fallacies are the cause of all spiritual suffering and bitterness. Yet they are the necessary means without which man would be unable to acquire spiritual life as if by his own effort. If the truth of heaven were continually self-evident it could not be discovered. If doubts never arose there would be no sense of achievement in the development of spiritual understanding. The things of heaven would then appear obviously as Divine gifts received gratis. They would never seem to be man's own, and he could not feel in them the delight of possession. The greatest fallacy of all is the appearance that man lives from himself. Yet this is the very human, the image of God into which man is created. Without it he would be a lifeless automaton, a puppet. He would have no power of choice, no personal judgment, and no responsibility. He would be deprived of all the joy and happiness of life. Wherefore the Lord protects and preserves this appearance in man by all the power of His Divine Providence.

Nevertheless, the sense of self-life is only an appearance. It is not the truth, for God alone has, or can have, life in Himself. If therefore this appearance is confirmed to the denial of the truth, it becomes the source of all evil. It cuts man off from all communication with God, making him completely self-centered, confident in his own intelligence, and in his own power to direct his life. The Lord, therefore, without depriving man of the appearance that he lives from himself secretly insinuates the love of God and the spirit of charity through the influence of the angels. This subtle influence is represented by the service of the Merarites. They were given charge of the boards and pillars of the tabernacle. Because these were made of shittim wood they represented the Lord's merit and righteousness, or the acknowledgment by man that the Lord alone has life and power in Himself. Such an acknowledgment is turned in heaven into a complete trust in providence, and a sense of security under the protection of the Lord. This is first insinuated in infancy as a perfect reliance upon one's mother as upon one who is all-loving and all-wise. Later it develops into a sense of reverence for the Word, and willingness to be taught and led by the Lord through His Word. But there is nothing more difficult for man to do than to acknowledge that he has no life and no power of his own. The appearance is that, by this acknowledgment he would be deprived of everything that makes life worth living. It brings with it, therefore, severe suffering which is perceived as the bitterness of temptation. After victory in this temptation, however, the suffering is turned into the joy of reliance upon the merciful care and providence of the Lord from which arises the very peace and happiness of heaven. To inspire such an acknowledgment is the special function of the natural angels, represented by the Merarites who had charge of the boards and pillars of the tabernacle. These, being made of shittim wood, represented, as we have said, the Lord's merit and righteousness.

The fallacies of the body and the world remain with the natural angels far more than with those of the higher heavens. These fallacies are present with them because they are not deeply learned. Like children, they are satisfied to rest in the appearances of things. Yet they do not confirm these appearances, knowing from the higher angels that a deeper truth is contained within them. They are not impelled to investigate this deeper truth, but they accept it because they are taught that it is so. They receive the teaching gladly and believe it unquestioningly, though they do not see its truth in the light of their own minds. These natural angels operate with men into the appearances and fallacies in their minds, and influence them against the confirmation of these appearances, and in favor of acknowledging that higher truths lie concealed within them. Thus they temper the doubts and the temptations that arise, and keep man in a state of humility that he may be teachable from the Word, even though he himself cannot perceive interior truth. This state of ignorance in which there is innocence and willingness to be led, is represented by the north, the side on which the Merarites were encamped.

It remains further to describe the order of encampment about the tabernacle and its general signification. As we have previously pointed out, the predominant form of the tabernacle was rectilinear. This form extended itself to the whole camp, which was a square with the tabernacle at the center of it. As may be seen from the accompanying chart (on page ....), the camp of Israel began 2000 cubits, or 3000 feet from the walls of the court. This space was reserved for the Levites, who had special charge of the tabernacle, and who represented more interior things.

As was just pointed out, the Gershonites occupied the space to the west, the Kohathites to the south, and the Merarites to the north. The ground to the east, to the distance of 2000 cubits, was reserved for Moses, for Aaron, and for the sons of Aaron and their families. The reason for this position of the priests is obvious. Although it is not specifically stated, it is probable that Moses and Aaron were encamped nearest to the tabernacle, arid immediately in front of the gate of the court. Beyond the space reserved for the Levites the other tribes of Israel were encamped. These were twelve in number, because Ephraim and Manasseh were substituted for Joseph, and thus the number twelve was maintained although the Levites had been withdrawn and dedicated to the service of the Lord. The entire congregation was divided into four camps, each consisting of three tribes under the leadership of one of them. Thus on the east was the camp of Judah, consisting of the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The tribe of Judah was situated at the southeast corner. Issachar was next, with Zebulun to the north. The signification of this camp was derived from .the tribe of Judah, which represents love to the Lord -- Issachar and Zebulun being subordinate in the series. On the south side was the camp of Reuben, consisting of the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. It is probable that Reuben was encamped toward the east, Simeon in the middle, and Gad toward the west, though this is nowhere specifically indicated. This is a reasonable conclusion because Reuben was the leader, and therefore would be toward the east. The representation of this camp is derived from the name Reuben which signifies faith or sight, and this also is the reason why it was situated toward the south. On the west side was the camp of Ephraim, which consisted of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. It is probable that Ephraim was toward the south, Manasseh in the middle, and Benjamin toward the north. Ephraim represents the "intellectual" or the intelligence of truth, which is derived on the one hand from spiritual enlightenment, and on the other from sense-experience. He was therefore naturally placed in the southwest corner, the south representing spiritual light or enlightenment, and the west or the sea, scientifics from sense-experience. On the north was the camp of Dan, consisting of the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. It is probable that Dan was on the west,

Asher in the middle, and Naphtali toward the east, for Dan represents acknowledgment in a state of ignorance. He is the last of the tribes, and for this reason his inheritance was at the boundaries of the land. It became a double inheritance, part of it being on the sea coast at Joppa, which was the port of entry, and the other part at the extreme north at a point called Dan Laish, near the foot of the Lebanon range. Dan represented the ultimates of truth by which there is introduction into heaven and the church. In the one case, the ultimates are represented as they exist with those who have grown up in the church, and have received her teachings in the form of scientifics. The acknowledgment of this teaching is the means of entrance into the church at adult age, and it is represented by the port of entry. In the second case, there are represented the ultimates of truth with the Gentiles, who are in ignorance of the teachings of the church, yet who are in a state of humility and are willing to learn. Such a state is represented by the entrance into the land from the north.

Each camp was under the standard of its leading tribe, and when the congregation was on the march, was distinguished by that standard, which was carried at the head of the procession. Thus, those on the east went forward under the standard of Judah, those on the south under the standard of Reuben, etc.

We cannot attempt a detailed exposition of the order of encampment here given. Suffice it to say that the encampment represented the mind of a regenerate man, or of one who is in love to the Lord, and in spiritual charity. The twelve tribes of Israel represented the truth and good of the church in a complex. The order of encampment was symbolic of all the societies of heaven in their relation to one another. This arrangement was the basis for influx, because it presented a continual picture of heavenly order before the sight of the angels, who perceived it in the minds of the Israelites. This was the ground of that influx into the mind of Balaam the prophet, which made it impossible for him, when he was called by Balak to curse the sons of Israel, to do aught but bless them. Therefore, when he looked upon the tents of the Israelites in their order, he was inspired to say, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob. Thy tabernacles, O Israel. As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord has planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters."7

7 Numbers 24:5, 6. See the whole story in Numbers 22-24.


The construction of the tabernacle, and the order according to which the congregation of Israel was encamped, represented as to every detail the heavens as they are Divinely ordered by the Lord. They also pictured the mind of man as it is ordered by regeneration.

This representation was altered, but by no means destroyed when the tabernacle was taken down to be removed to another place. This removal was effected according to an order that is minutely described in the Sacred Scripture, and is deeply significant.

It may be remembered that as long as the tabernacle remained in one place a pillar of cloud rose above it by day, and a pillar of fire by night. When, however, the time arrived for the congregation to undertake a journey, the pillar of cloud and fire was removed from its position over the holy of holies. At once when this happened, trumpets were sounded, and everyone was called upon to prepare for departure. The sons of Israel struck their tents, packed their goods, and formed themselves into the prescribed order of procession. The priests and Levites meanwhile, prepared the tabernacle for removal.

This was done in the following order: First Aaron and the priests entered into the holy place, unfastened the veil from its supports, and threw it back over the ark and the cherubim. They then folded it tightly around the ark, and bound it securely with linen cords. Over the veil they then placed a covering of kidskin, and over this one of blue linen.

The furniture in the holy place was next prepared for removal from the tabernacle. The golden vessels, the plates and coverings from the table of shewbread, with all the bowls and instruments that were used in connection with this table, were arranged on top of it, being thus enclosed by the crown, which, it will be remembered, extended about a palm's breadth above the surface of the table. The rods for carrying it were then placed in the orbs, and over the whole was thrown a cloth of scarlet linen, surmounted by a final covering of kidskin, the whole being tightly bound about with cords. This binding is not mentioned, but would be necessary in order that the covers might be held securely in place.

The lights in the lampstand having been extinguished and the lamps removed, the stand itself was covered with a cloth of blue linen, and over this a covering of kidskin. In the folds of these coverings were placed the lamps, the snuffers, and any other instruments used in connection with the care of the lampstand. The whole was again bound about with cords. It is said that the lampstand was placed upon a rod, by which is meant, either that it was bound by ropes to a rod, or more probably, that it was placed upon a sort of platform between two rods, and carried upon the shoulders. This at least is the mode depicted on the arch of Titus, as that by which it was carried in triumphal procession through the streets of Rome.

Next, the altar of incense, the golden censer and other instruments used in connection with it having been placed on top of it, was similarly protected, first with a cloth of blue linen, and then with a cover of kidskin, its rods by which it was carried having been placed in the orbs.

Finally, other sacred vessels, dishes, and accessories of the holy place were wrapped first in blue linen and then in kidskin.

Then the altar of burnt offering was prepared for the journey. Pieces of burning wood were placed in fire-pans, to be carried in the procession. The fire was never allowed to go out. If it should be extinguished in one pan, it was lighted again from the fire in other pans. After the ashes had been removed, the altar was covered, first with a purple cloth and then with kidskin; the rods were then put in the orbs.

Nothing is said as to the covering of the laver, nor as to how it was carried. It is probable, however, that the mode of its conveyance was similar to that employed for the lampstand.1

1 See Numbers 4, and Appendix VII.

All this was done by the priests before the Levites were allowed to enter the holy place, because the sacred vessels and furniture were to be seen only by the priests. The Kohathites then entered under the direction of Eleazar, and carried out the furniture to a place whence they might take their prescribed position in the procession.2

2 It may be noted that the order commanded when the tabernacle was to be set up was the reverse of this -- the Kohathites carrying the furniture still in its appointed coverings, and setting it in place and leaving it there for the priests to uncover after the door of the tabernacle had been hung.

It will be noted that each piece of furniture was thus provided with a kind of miniature tabernacle of its own. When prepared for a journey the things which had been together in a common tent were separated. The coordination of their respective uses was not restored until the journey was over, and they were placed again in the tabernacle.

When the furniture had been removed, the Gershonites, under the direction of Ithamar, took down the four coverings of the tabernacle and folded them, together with the door of the tent, the gate of the court, the linen hanging of the court, and the stakes and cords of the tabernacle. These they placed upon two ox carts provided for that purpose.

This having been done, the Merarites, also directed by Ithamar, took down the boards and pillars, both of the tabernacle and of the court, packing them, together with the bases, cords and stakes of the court, upon four ox carts. It has been a matter of wide controversy as to how so heavy a load could possibly be conveyed upon so few carts. We have no solution to offer, but the number is clearly correspondential.

As to the signification of this removal of the tabernacle and of the coverings used for the various pieces of furniture, we can say only a word. The life of regeneration is one of alternation between attention to the needs of the body and the world, and a conscious turning of the mind toward the contemplation of things spiritual and eternal. These two different states are represented in the Scripture by the six days of labor and the Sabbath rest. The state of worship and of spiritual reflection was represented by the tabernacle when it was in place and prepared for priestly ministrations. Then there was communication with Jehovah and consequent enlightenment. But such a state cannot be perpetually maintained. The needs of the world are too insistent to be ignored for long.

Their imperative demands call one back to the daily struggle for physical survival, and to the pursuit of one's natural ambitions. The light of spiritual daytime is succeeded by the shades of evening and of night. Yet it is during the period of labor and conflict that genuine progress is made in the life of regeneration, and this was represented by the journeys of the sons of Israel.

During states of worship man receives new insights, and pictures in the imagination new spiritual goals to be achieved; but only when the truth so seen is actually applied to life can it reform the mind, and rebuild man's character. Then temptations arise whereby evils may be met and overcome. At such times one's attention is not focussed upon learning new truth, but upon the task of assimilating the truth he already knows. Although the mind is not in illustration, the memory of what was previously perceived remains, and forms the conscience according to which man acts. By the daily life of religion, spiritual progress is made. This, in time leads to the realization of the need for a deeper understanding, and thus for renewed contact with the Divine source of all truth.

When one is actively engaged in the affairs of his business or profession, the faculties of the internal mind are, as it were, in disarray, even as when the tabernacle was taken down and all its parts and contents were packed for a journey. Yet the perceptions of that mind are protected and preserved for future use, even as the parts of the tabernacle were enshrouded in representative coverings and guarded from injury or loss. These coverings represent the memory of spiritual things, recalled with affection and treasured for their surpassing value. They also represent habits of reverence and of order,

spontaneously observed. In states of spiritual obscurity it is essential that one should, from obedience, persevere in the external forms of worship and of religious life, even when the delight in them is not felt. Internal states rest upon external order as upon a foundation, and this was specifically represented by the coverings of kidskin that were placed over articles to be carried in procession. The ark was the only exception to this rule, its outer covering being of blue linen. This indicated a general sense of the Lord's presence, and a deep concern to obey His will, which is the soul and life of all religion. The Lord's presence must be acknowledged even when it is not inwardly perceived. Next to the ark was the veil, which represents the Word. The daily habit of reading the Word is represented by the kidskin covering over the veil; but this can be maintained if there still remains a remnant of the love of spiritual truth represented by the blue linen. At such times, when one reads the Word, there must not be any insistence upon immediate enlightenment. One must rest satisfied with the generals of truth that are already known, and must "wait for the Lord" with the trust and confidence that He will provide whatever insight is necessary for the "daily bread" that will sustain spiritual life. This explains why the covering of blue linen over the ark served as a banner at the head of the procession to lead the congregation on its journey. Here a word must be added as to the order of the procession. In the forefront was the ark, borne by the Kohathites. It was probably followed immediately by Moses, Aaron, and the priests, although this is not stated in the Word. Next came the army of Judah, consisting of the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. They were followed by the Gershonites with the two ox carts bearing the curtains of the tabernacle, its hangings, and its cords. Then came the Merarites with their four ox carts on which were the boards, the bases and the pillars of the tabernacle, and the pillars, cords, and stakes of the court. Next came the army of Reuben, including the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, all of whom had been encamped toward the south. They were followed by the Kohathites bearing the furniture of the holy place and of the court, and the implements associated with them. Then came the army of Ephraim, consisting of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, who had been camped to the west. And finally, the army of Dan, consisting of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, who had been encamped to the north.3

3 See table in Appendix VIII. Also Numbers Chapter 10.

It should be noted that this order of march preserved each camp intact and in the order of encampment, while the Levites were placed between the armies in order that the sacred objects they carried might be protected against the possibility of some enemy attack. All this represented the way in which man's mind must be disposed during periods of spiritual obscurity when he is journeying through the wilderness of temptation. The details of this representation are too numerous for explication here, and indeed, no specific revelation of them has been made in the Writings, although interesting suggestions are to be found there by which it would be possible for a student to deduce the correspondences involved, and apply them to states of regeneration in man. For nothing is mentioned in the Word that has not a deep human significance, and nothing is there involved which may not now be elucidated by the teaching of the Writings if sufficient study be given, and enlightenment be granted by the Lord.


Gold (Zahav) The Hebrew word meaning "brightness, shining." It represents internal good; A.C. 9464. Love, charity, goodness, holiness from purity, all purity from love and thus from God Messiah; W.E. 4667.

Silver (Keseph) From a root meaning "to desire greatly, to long for." Represents internal truth in general; A.C. 9464. Truth from whiteness which answers to light. Truth is born of affection; W.E. 4668.

Blue (Techeleth) From a root meaning "to peel or shell." A color obtained in ancient times from a mussel (helix janthina). Cerulean purple, and any material dyed of this color (hyacinthinum). Celestial love of truth. The color of the sky, and thus truth from a celestial origin. The 'good of love to the Lord in the inmost heaven, as it is presented to view in the form of truth in the spiritual heaven; A.C. 9466. Sky-blue color, the color of the sky when serene in which appears white clouds. Clarity of the intellectual mind; W.E. 4670. (Note that no green was used in the tabernacle.)

Purple (Argaman) From the root meaning "to weave." Suggests conjunction. The royal purple of ancient times. This was of a crimson color, halfway between scarlet and blue; W.E. 4670. Note that the color cannot be obtained by mixing pigments in equal quantities. It has been obtained in two ways: first, by rapidly revolving a disc half of scarlet, and half of cerulean blue. Second, by extremely fine lines, one red and one blue in juxtaposition, viewed from a distance; thus by a mingling of light. "Purpura" is translated "crimson"; A.C. 9467. Represents the celestial love of good. A red color signifies good because it comes from fire. (Ibid) Purple is a red or rosy color mingled with cerulean; W.E. 4670.

Scarlet (Sheni) From a root meaning "to repeat, change, alter." A color obtained from the coccus or cochineal. Represents mutual love, celestial truth, or the good of mutual love, the external of the celestial kingdom. Flame made scarlet from the shining whiteness of the light in the spiritual heaven. This color was used for the covering of the shewbread. See Numbers 4:8, A.C. 9468. Extremely red, as compared with crimson; W.E. 4670.

White (Shesh) Used to denominate linen undyed and bleached in the sun, whence the color white; also means "six." Represents truth derived from good of a celestial origin; truth in the natural man, because of whiteness and softness of the linen; A.C. 9469.

Brass (Nechosheth) Evidently means native copper. See Deuteronomy 8:9 and references given in the text. Represents external good or natural good. The good of the external man; A.C. 9465. The spiritual commingling with the natural, the heavenly with the worldly, as in the natural mind. Not so pure or so precious as gold and silver. Its color is relatively muddy. W.E. 4669.

Goats (hair) (Ez) From a root meaning "to strengthen, to be powerful, mighty." Goat hair is the common material for making tents among the Arabs of this day, though the hair of the black goat is usually employed. "She-goats" signify the good of innocence with the external or natural man. Wool signifies the truth of that good. Wherefore it is not said "goats' wool" but only "goats"; A.C. 9470. Comparison is made in the same number with other passages of the Word in which wool is mentioned, but presumably the wool of sheep. The latter is said to represent "external good." Compared with linen, the wool represents "celestial truth" which relatively is good. But since the curtain made of this material was outside the one of many colors, it must have a lower signification. The wool of sheep; Ezekiel 44:15, 17, 18. The ultimate or outmost of innocence which is the innocence of ignorance, such as is with the Gentiles; A.C. 3519. The goods of the sensuous man; A.C. 9341. The exterior good of the spiritual church; A.C. 9960. Wool is good in ultimates as snow is truth in ultimates; A.R. 47. Wool upon lambs and sheep has a signification similar to that of hair upon man, and these animals signify good; A.E. 67.

"She-goats" (capra) signify the charity of faith; A.C. 3995. The external of heaven which is from the truths which are from external celestial good; A.C. 9615. Purifications of the internal man by burnt offerings from rams, kids, and she-goats, that of the inmost internal man by sacrifices from lambs; A.C. 9990. She-goats are of a middle kind. The curtain is said to have been made of "goats," which most students consider to be goat's wool. The Arcana Coelestia and the Ward Explained speak of the term "goats wool," which from T.C.R. 72 and 335 appears to be an anomaly. But the matter is definitely settled in one passage in the Word Explained by a declaration that it is sheep's wool that is meant, "the wool of she-goats," that not elsewhere than from sheep and their wool the garments (curtains?) were to be made; W.E. 4671. Note: Consult article by Rev. E. E. Iungerich in the Journal of Education, Vol. 15, p. 144. No reason is given for this remarkable statement and the signification seems to be based on the signification of "she-goats" as given everywhere in the Arcana Coelestia, yet this coincides with the signification given for the wool of sheep. We think it was probable that wool of white goats was used, for the white color is here essential.

Rams' skins (Ayil) From the root meaning "to be first," and "to be strong." (Aram) to be made red. External truths. They are from good; A.C. 9471. Compared with Esau and a hairy man; W.E. 4672.

Badgers' skins (Tackash) Meaning "a dark red-colored object." The animal to which this refers has not heretofore been known, and scholars are divided in their conjectures about it. Many animals have been suggested, none of which would seem to meet the requirements of the text or of the spiritual sense. In the Word Explained 4672, we are told that rams are "the males of sheep," while "tackash are the males of goats." The translation "badger" was adopted in the Authorized Version for want of anything better. The skins of this animal are said to cpver things more holy than the skins of rams; A.C. 9471, yet the order in which they are mentioned in the Word indicates that the badgers' skins were above the rams' skins, and indeed this is clearly stated in Exodus 36:19. The meaning here must be more holy because more ultimate and thus more inclusive, for it covers all the holy things of the tabernacle, being the outmost curtain.

Shittim wood (Shittah) Commonly supposed to be the acacia wood, the acacia being a scrubby variety of locust found growing on the Sinai peninsula. The reasons why it is to be understood as a variety of cedar are given in the text. (See also Isaiah 41:19.) Represents the good of merit which is of the Lord alone; A.C. 9472. Mercy; A.C. 9528. That good which supports heaven; A.C. 9534-5. The good of love of the Divine Human; A.C. 9733. Divine love; A.C. 10178. Genuine truth; A.E. 294. Rational truth; A.E. 72024. See also A.C. 9486, 9491, 9496, 9528, 9662, 9674, 9689, 9715. These significations in the Writings everywhere rest upon the idea of cedar.

Oil (Shemen) Means "oil, ointment, fatness." From a root meaning "to be fat" or "to make fat." Here the oil of olive represents the internal good which is in mutual love and charity. Every good must have an internal from which it is. The Lord is the inmost in all good; A.C. 9473. Faith and the flame of love; W.E. 4674. In the supreme sense God Messiah is a flame because He is love, thus He it is who gives, nourishes and enkindles faith. Oil of olive was used for anointing and for the lamps; A.C. 886.

Spices for anointing (Basam) Means "spice." All spices which are sweet-scented represent truths which are from good; A.C. 5621. Internal truths which are of knowledge. Inaugurating good. Oil was mingled with spices to represent what is grateful; A.C. 9474. The aromatic of the oil of anointing represents what is internal of perception, and that of incense represents what is grateful of external perception. The one is celestial and the other spiritual. Aromatics of the celestial class, from which the oil of anointing was prepared, are: noble myrrh, aromatic cinnamon, aromatic calamos, and cassia; A.C. 10255. In the internal sense odor is what sooths the animus, in the superior sense, good pleasure; W.E. 4674.

Spices for incense (Sammim) Means "spices." The reference is specifically to the following: stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense; Exodus 30:34. Represents perception from the Lord through the Word. "Stacte" represents the affection of sensuous truth. "Onycha" the affection of interior truth. "Galbanum" the affection of more interior truth; "things fragrant," affection from spiritual good. "Frankincense" inmost truth which is spiritual good; A.C. 10289. Sweetness in Divine worship in the old church. They will not be in the New Church for these types have now ceased, because the veil is rent in the temple; W.E. 4674.

Onyx stones (Shoham) This is said to mean the "leek-green beryl." Represents the truth of faith from love; A.C. 110. The two onyx stones on the shoulders represented the same as the twelve stones on the breastplate; but in a lesser degree; A.C. 3858. Spiritual truths or the truths of faith in general; A.C. 9476. The interior memory which is from truths of faith; A.C. 9841. The conservation of good and truth in the spiritual kingdom; A.C. 9855. A stone of flesh-color, pellucid, thus signifying charity or a life from love; W.E. 4675. Stones to be set in the ephod called "stones for filling"; A.C. 9476. Represent the good of faith. Ibid. "Stones of impletions," that is, stones tinctured with such a color that they represent Divine mysteries concerning God Messiah; W.E. 4675.


The description of the lampstand given in Exodus is quite inadequate to provide material for its exact reproduction, and it has been necessary to interpret what is said there in the light of some knowledge of ancient craftsmanship and with reference to probable implications of the text. No dimensions are given for it. The only clue to them is involved in the amount of gold which it was said was used in its construction. This is said to be a talent, which weighs 108 pounds. The illustration found on the arch of Titus would appear to be about the height of a man and this may well indicate the approximate size. It was not made of solid gold. The fact that the branches are called "reeds" would seem to indicate that they were tubular. And for this reason we have made the model of gold tubing with a base that is hollow. The fact that it was said to have been made of pure gold and of beaten work does not necessarily imply that it was solid, the beaten work possibly having special reference to the fashion of the ornaments. When made of tubing as has been done in the model, of a size that corresponds to the scale of the whole tabernacle model, we find that the amount of gold required is in proportion.

There is no means of determining exactly the thickness of the gold as used in the original lampstand. But since it was not solid, the relative weight would be proportional to the square of the surface. The model's being to a scale of 1/18, we find that, if the original lampstand weighed 108 Ibs., the weight of the model should be 1/3 lb., as follows:

S : s = 12 : (1/18)2 108 lbs. : s = 12 : (1/18)2

s = 108 / 182 = 1/3 lb.

Thus the model should weigh 51/3 oz. The model as made weighs 5 oz. without the lamps. This is as close to the probable size as we can approximate, judging from the limited data available. The model is made of 1/18" gold tubing. It is 41/2" (6'41/2") in height. It is 33/4" from outside lamp to outside lamp (4'10"). The hexagonal base measures 21/4" (3'41/2") from angle to angle. The three branches divide the central stem between the base and the central lamp into four equal parts. The base itself with its three steps being 11/2" (2'3") in height. The illustration given on the arch of Titus could not possibly have been an exact reproduction, for it does not, in many particulars, fill the requirements of the Scripture and its construction would not permit of its holding lamps. It was evidently made some time after the triumphal procession was held in which the captured lamp-stand was carried through the streets of Rome, and it represents an artistic representation of the lampstand according to the ideas of the artist. It would appear to have been of heavier construction than would be indicated by our model, heavier indeed than the amount of gold prescribed would permit. The base as shown in this illustration is hexagonal with but two steps. We have placed three steps in our model, partly for reasons of proportion and partly because of the probable correspondence to the three degrees of the mind. For this, however, there is no Scriptural sanction. The decorations placed upon the branches and the staff are of special importance because of their correspondence. They are described in Exodus 25:13. Each decoration was composed of three parts, a "bowl," a "knop" and a "flower."

The word for bowl is (Gavia) in the Hebrew. It comes from a verb root signifying "to be high" and it means a cup or goblet, being used to designate the cup or bell of a flower.

The word for knop is (Kaphtor), coming from a root which signifies a round or spherical knob. The term is also applied to the pomegranate, probably because of the shape of this fruit.

The word for flower is (Perach), derived from a root signifying to "sprout, flourish, blossom," and meaning a "young shoot or flower."

The bowl was almond-shaped, representing the shell of an almond nut opened up, with a pomegranate in it, and the petals of a flower extending from the pomegranate. All together formed a single ornament, three of which were on each branch and four on the central stem. The bowls are said to represent scientifics from good, from the signification of "cup," as being scientifics that are from the good of charity. For scientifics from good are vessels into which truth is poured as wine into a cup. And from the signification of almonds as being the good of life, it corresponds to the truths of interior natural good; A.C. 9557. In A.C. 9551 it is said that the cups represented spiritual things in the natural because they were placed upon the branches of the lampstand which are like the arms and hands of the body, representing a descent into the natural. In A.C. 9552 the "pomegranates" are also said to represent scientifics from good, particularly that of the sensuous man. And in A.C. 9553 the "flowers" are said to signify scientifics of truth. Thus we have in each of these ornaments three degrees of scientifics represented, interior good, external good, and truth respectively. The implication of these in connection with the signification of the lampstand will be seen from what is related in the text.


Dr. E. E. Iungerich's solution (Journal of Education, Vol. 15, p. 143.) It is a simple problem in mathematics: Let x and y be the two parts into which the board is to be cut. Then:

x + y = 11/2 or 9/6 cubits

x = 9/6 - y

Since the board is 1/6 cubit in thickness, then, if the two legs are to be of equal length when placed together x = y - 1/6 . Substituting, we have

y  1/6 = 9/6 y


x = 4/6 or 2/3


ROW I. The celestial love of good.

1. Ruby -- The truth of celestial good, which is the good of the highest heaven.

Reuben -- Truth of faith. Even the celestial love of good begins from truth, and indeed the truth of faith which is relatively external. But from celestial good that truth is pellucid, and shines with the flaming light of the sun of heaven.

2. Topaz -- The derivation of the word is uncertain, and the exact stone referred to is unknown. Its signification is derived from its color, which here is red. There is a red topaz. The good of celestial love. Being in the middle, this stone has the significance of this row par excellence.

Simeon -- Faith in the will. Obedience. Inmostly providence.

3. Carbuncle -- Derived from a word which means flashing as from fire. Resplendence from good.

Levi -- Charity. Mutual love. In the supreme sense Divine love and mercy. The priesthood.

ROW II. The celestial love of truth.

1. Chrysoprase -- Translated emerald. Original word is ( ). The derivation of the word is unknown, and the kind of stone referred to is uncertain. It was, at any rate, of a blue color, and represented the celestial love of truth.

Judah -- The celestial of faith; name derived from root meaning "to confess." In the supreme sense, the Lord and the Divine of His love; in the internal sense, the Word and the celestial kingdom; in the external sense, the doctrine from the Word which is of the celestial church.

2. Sapphire -- Divine truth translucent in the ultimate of order. Translucence from the truths of celestial love. The external of the celestial kingdom. It has the representation of this row par excellence.

Dan -- Acknowledgment. Named from judging. In highest sense, righteousness and mercy; in the internal sense, what is holy of faith; in the external sense, the good of life. Those who are in the first heaven, but celestial.

3. Diamond -- Truth of celestial love. Translucent from an internal blueness. "The reception of life in the highest degree may be compared to the influx of light into a diamond." T.C.R. 34e.

Naphtali -- Named from strugglings. Temptation in winch man overcomes. This is the medium of conjunction of the internal man with the external. The state of man after temptations is signified, which is one of enlightenment from celestial truth. Interior perception of uses.

ROW III. The spiritual love of good.

1. Cyamis -- Called a ligure in the Word Explained. Also translated opal and jacinth. The original word is ( ), of unknown derivation. Cyanite is a semi-precious stone of a blue or a green color. Ligure and jacinth are supposed to be two names for the same stone, which is of a hyacinthine color, or a dark purple. It seems probable, and is in accord with the majority opinion of authorities, that the opal was the stone referred to. Blue from white. The spiritual love of good.

Gad -- The good of faith. Good works from the truth of faith.

2. Agate or turquoise -- What stone is meant is not known. It was of a color blue from white. Spiritual love of good.

Asher -- Signifies blessedness. The delight of the affections corresponding to the happiness of eternal life. Mutual love, the love of use.

3. Amethyst -- Said to be a blue stone. Spiritual love of good.

Issachar -- Conjugial love. Named from "hire." The conjunction of good and truth. Recompense from works.

ROW IV. The spiritual love of truth.

1. Tarshish, chrysolite, thalassius -- Translated beryl. Truth from spiritual good and power thence. Shining white from blue.

Zebulon -- From to cohabit. Conjunction of the goods of the natural man with the truths therein. Conjugial love. Those in the affirmative of truth.

2. Shoham, sardonyx, and sardius -- the onyx stone. The truths of faith from love.

Joseph -- Celestial of the spiritual. The spiritual man. The spiritual kingdom par excellence.

3. Jasper -- The truth of faith and the derivative intelligence. All things of doctrine from the Word in order, and translucent from the internal sense.

Benjamin -- Spiritual of the celestial. New truth.












1. Male ram or kid.

1st year


Implantation of truth

and good in the

internal man

2. Male bullock.

1st year


Implantation of truth

and good in the

external man

3. Turtle dove or









1. Sin offering

To expiate a sin

against God

a. For a private


Female kid or lamb

1st year

Blood sprinkled on

horns of altar. Flesh

eaten by priests in

the court

Expiation by the

good of innocence

from the Lord

b. For a ruler

Male kid. 1st year

(Same as above)

Expiation by the

good of the rational

or the spiritual man


c. For a priest

Bullock. 1st year

Blood sprinkled on

altar of incense, on

horns of brazen altar,

and 7 times toward

the veil. Flesh burned outside the camp.

Expiation by the

good of the natural






d. For the whole

congregation. (On

the day of atonement)

Bullock and goat

Blood sprinkled on

the mercy seat, and

as in c

Expiation by the

good of the natural

2. Trespass offering

To expiate a sin

against the neighbor

Ram. 1st year


Blood sprinkled on

diagonal opposite

corners of altar.

Restitution of equal

value, plus 1/5

Expiation by the

good of innocence.

Internal repentance

3. Peace offerings

Worship from free

will or from the

good of love

a. Thank offerings

Thanks for a

gratuitous favor

Animals of herd

or flock, male or female

Blood sprinkled as

in trespass offering.

Thanks for a favor

received in response

Part of flesh burned,

and the rest eaten at

b. Votive offerings

to prayer. Fulfilling

a vow

home. Waved and


c. Free-will offerings

Confidence and trust.

Offered when a favor

is asked




1. Bread of

unleavened things

Fine flour, olive oil

salt. Frankincense

, Baked in oven pan,

or cooking pot. Small

portion burned on

2. Cakes mixed

with oil

altar with frankincense.

The rest eaten by

the priests. Libation

Retained in the

holy supper

3. Cakes anointed

with oil

of wine



1 Numbers 4.

(Outer covering mentioned first)






















1. Veil -- The nearest and inmost appearances of rational good and truth in which are the angels of the third heaven. A.C. 25763.

2. Blue linen (Hyacinthine)  -- Truth from a celestial origin. S.S. 46e. The celestial love of truth. The good of external innocence. A.C. 9912. The blue thread in the fringe of the garments of the sons of Israel (Numbers 15:38-9). The love of truth held perpetually in the memory. A.E. 5764.

3. Scarlet linen -- The external sense of the Word and what is doctrinal thence. Also employed in connection with the recollection of things. A.C. 94683,7.

4. Purple linen -- The good of the Word, and especially the knowledge thereof. A.C. 92313, A.E. 1184.

5. Kidskins -- Outward goods by which interior things are preserved. A.C. 9471. Exterior coverings. A.E. 10425.


1. The Levites bearing the ark of the covenant.

2. The Army of Judah, consisting of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon.

3. The Gershonites, plus two wagons drawn by four oxen bearing the curtains of the tabernacle, the hanging of the door and of the gate, the hangings of the court with their cords.

4. The Merarites, plus four wagons drawn by eight oxen bearing the boards, bases, pillars of the tabernacle and of the court with their stakes and cords.

5. The Army of Reuben, consisting of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad.

6. The Kohathites, bearing on their shoulders the furniture of the holy place and of the court, together with their sacred vessels and implements.

7. The Army of Ephraim, consisting of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

8. The Army of Dan, consisting of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.

1 Numbers Chapter 10.


de Verbo
H. H.

Arcana Coelestia
Apocalypse Explained
Apocalypse Revealed
Conjugial Love
Divine Love and Wisdom
Divine Providence
(Concerning the Word)
Heaven and Hell
Doctrine of the Lord
Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture
Word Explained



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