Thursday, January 17, 2013

Exodus 25:23-30 The Table (and the bread of the Presence)

"Make a table of acacia wood
--two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high.
Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it.
Also make around it a rim a handbreath wide and put a gold molding on the rim.
Make four gold rings for the table
and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are.
The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table.
Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them.
And make its plates and dishes of pure gold,
as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings.
Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times."
Exodus 25:23-30 (NIV)
It may seem strange that such detail is given regarding a table which is part of the tabernacle furnishings.  However, this table had a significant purpose.
Upon this table were placed twelve loaves of bread,
which represented the twelve tribes of Israel.
This bread was both a perpetual offering to the LORD
and an acknowledgement that it was only by God's hand
that such supplies were available.
The table was made in a similar manner to the ark of the covenant -- acacia wood with a pure gold overlay.  Like the ark, gold rings held gold-covered acacia poles which were used to carry the object.  Dishes, plates, pitchers, and bowls used in connection with this table were made of pure gold.
The bread, which was known as 'the bread of the Presence' (Exodus 25:30), was to be continually set out before the LORD.

Leviticus 24:5-9 (NIV) gives us more details regarding these matters:
"Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread,
using two tenths of an ephah for each loaf.
Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the LORD.
Along each row put some pure incense as a memorial portion
to represent the bread and to be an offering made to the LORD by fire.
This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly,
Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant.
It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place,
because it is a most holy part of their regular share
 of the offerings made to the LORD by fire."
Here is where we learn that there were twelve loaves of bread set out, and that a memorial offering of incense was burned in place of the loaves.  The loaves were put out each Sabbath, and the previous ones were given to Aaron and his sons as part of their share of the tabernacle offerings.  Because the bread had been set apart as holy to the LORD, these priests had to eat it in a holy place. 

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