The tabernacle proper was made of 48 acacia wood frames, which were traditionally referred to as boards or planks, these frames were ten cubits (15ft.) long and one and a half cubits (27") wide and one cubit (18") thick. For a long time the frames were thought of as being solid boards. The idea of solid boards is " exegetically and intrinsically inadmissible" according to the Dictionary of the Bible by Grant & Rowley. They explain that Exodus 26:15-17 contains several obscure technical terms but that a better translation of verse 15 would be " and thou shalt make the frames for the dwelling of acacia wood, two uprights (ev tenons) for each frame joined together by crossrails". This view was put forward by A.R.S. Kennedy as is seen in the Hastings Dictionary of the Bible in 1902 and is now generally accepted. However, there is a continuing open discussion as to whether they were solid boards or panels or a wooden framework consisting of skeleton panels or open frames and were plated with sheets of gold (Ex.26:16).

Since acacia trees used for the wood do not grow any great size in the Sinai peninsula, no boards 27" wide would have been obtainable. The view that each side wall consisted of 20 panels or frames 15' x 27" x 9", is preferred. Each frame had two tenons (extensions beyond the bottom crossrail) at its foot to enter sockets made of silver.

The frame of the Tabernacle proper

The acacia wood frame covered with Gold and the silver socket as described by A.R.S. Kennedy

The interpretation of Exodus 26:22-25 has been and remains a problem, but the suggestion of a pair of frames fastened together at each corner of the west side or rear of the frame work. The thought is that they were sloping upward and inward from their own bases to just under the top crossrail. These frames would then form a projecting buttress to strengthen the corners and to take the folds in the curtains. However this is only possible on the assumption that the frames were a half cubit or nine inches in depth ( i.e. 6 x 1.5 = 9 cubits giving the six rear frames, plus 2 x .5 cubits depth of the sides making the 10 cubits in all ). But if the sides were a quarter of a cubit in depth (4.5"), then the eight frames that formed the rear would be like this, six frames identical in size to those on the side, being two and a half cubits wide. This leaves a 4.5" gap at each end at the rear of the tabernacle which would have been fill by a frame end on, therefore forming the buttress, sloping upward and inward as described above. Perhaps the outside sloping upright was double width there by tying off the corner.

The Tabernacle proper together with the two coverings

The Mishkan or Tabernacle proper with the two coverings (the door and the veil can also be seen)

Which ever way the rear corners fitted together there were 48 panels and the 4 posts that held the veil of the tabernacle required 100 silver sockets which formed a continuous foundation with each socket weighing one talent (Ex.38:27), making about 5 tons of silver in all. The frames were further held together by five bars on each side and the rear, passing through gold rings or staples. The middle bar extending the whole length of the side, with two bars for the top and the bottom crossrails running half way along the side. These bars were gold plated and ran along the crossrails on the outside of the construction (EX. 26:26-29). From the size of the panels we calculate the dimensions of the tabernacle as 30 x 10 cubits. This was divided in two the Holy place 20 x 10 and the holy of holies 10 x 10.

Thoughts for simple sermons :-

1 ) The tabernacle as a whole was the dwelling place of God amongst his people, the fullness of God was in Christ and Jesus was the Immanuel God with us. The tabernacle was a type of Christ.

2 ) The frame work was made of gold representing the purity of God and this frame stood in silver socket on the earth. The silver representing redemption, in fact the silver to make the bases came from the atonement money. This gives a wonderful picture of Gods purity (gold) coming into touch with the world (earth) through a redeemed people the church (silver).

3 ) Another idea about the silver sockets is that we (of the earth) can only draw near to God by the substitutionary atoning work of Christ.