Ark of the CovenantTableMenoraAltar

  • Issue: July 1985
  • Designer: A. Berg
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 116 - 119
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

The tabernacle and its utensils

"And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in the midst of them. According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the dwelling, and the pattern of all the vessels thereof, even so shall ye make it." (Exodus: 25.8-9)

For 500 years the Tabernacle served as the centre for the Jewish people's worship of God. It followed them on their journeyings through the wilderness; came with them into the Promised Land and served them until Solomon built his Temple. It combined logic and purpose, beauty and splendour, and holiness - all blended into a single whole.

The Tabernacle was divided into two sections. Two-thirds were devoted to the "Holy" (i.e. the Tent of Meeting) and one-third to the "Holy of Holies". At a distance of 10 cubits from the western wall was the veil which separated the "Holy" on the eastern side, which contained the table, from the "Holy of Holies" on the western side, which contained the Ark of the Covenant.

This series of four stamps illustrates four of the Tabernacle's utensils as reconstructed by Mr. Moshe Levine of Tel Aviv, the author of "The Tabernacle - its Structure and Utensils" (1969).

The Ark of the Covenant

"And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof." (Exodus:25.10).

The Ark of the Testimony - the Ark of the Covenant - was in the form of an open box constructed of acacia wood overlaid with gold both inside and outside. Bezalel ben Un, builder of the Tabernacle, made three boxes, one inside the other - the outer and inner boxes were of gold, the middle one of wood. "It is a symbol of the "Crown of the Tora" (Rashi, on Exodus: 25.11).

The cover of the Ark, with its two cherubim, was all pure gold moulded of a single piece. The cherubim stand facing each other at each end of the cover "and their faces turned one to another" (Exodus: 25.20).

To the side of the Ark were two wooden bars overlaid with gold, held by four rings, for carrying the Ark.

The Table

"And thou shalt make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof and a cubit and a half the height thereof, and thou shalt overlay it with pure gold" (Exodus: 25.23-24).

The table stood in the Tent of Meeting. It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. On the table lay the showbread from one Sabbath to the next. The bread was placed upon the table in rows, or sets.

Each set consisted of six loaves, one above the other - each resting in a curved receptacle of its own so as to preserve its freshness. A border of gold went all around, more than two spans in height - "A border of gold - a symbol of the royal crown" (Rashi on Exodus 25.24).

The Candlestick (Menora)

"And thou shalt make a candelabrum of pure gold; of beaten work shall the candelabrum be made" (Exodus 25.31).

The Menora had seven branches. Its height was 18 spans; its width, from the lamp on the extreme left to that on the extreme right, was 12 spans (a span is one-sixth of a cubit). It was hammered out of one piece from its base to its branches, cups and flowers, and only the receptacles for the oil were wrought separately.

The Menora consisted of:

The wicks inside the six lamps of the branches turned towards the lamp at the top of the shaft. The Menora stood in the eastern section of the "Holy" - the Tent of Meeting.

The Altar of Incense

"And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon; of acacia wood shalt thou make it. A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; four-square shall it be . . . and thou shalt overlay it with pure gold the top thereof and the sides thereof round about, and the, horns thereof . . . and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold rourtd about." (Exodus: 30.1-3).

The Altar of Incense stood inside the Tent of Meeting, ten cubits from the entrance. "The altar has three names - the "Altar of Incense"; the "Golden Altar" and the "Inner Altar".

The two rings that held the staves for carrying the altar were attached to two alternate corners.

"A crown of gold - an emblem of the crown of priesthood" (Rashi on Exodus 30.3).

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Festival stamps 5746 (1985)