Appendix I. The Materials of the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle of Israel, by George de Charms, 1969
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.