The Bible Slam: Exodus Chapter 40

This chapter goes on an on about arranging candlesticks, filling bowls with water and other mundane activities associated with setting up the tabernacle.   Then, the "glory of the Lord" fills the tabernacle like a cloud and Moses isn't able to go inside when the cloud is there.   At night, the cloud takes on the appearance of fire so that all of the people of Israel can see it.

The Israelites' journeys are dictated by this cloud.   When it is settled in the tabernacle, they stay put.   When it rises, they travel.

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Discussion Points.

Given the sheer size and weight of what the Israelites had to lug around, no wonder it took them 40 years to travel to Canaan, which most people of the time accomplished in 10 or 11 days. Using the New International Version as a translation, the weight of the tabernacle (not counting the ark and other structures) was 11 tons:

  • 1.00 tons of gold;
  • 3.75 tons of silver;
  • 2.50 tons of bronze; and
  • 3.75 tons of silver in the bases for the sanctuary.

The assertion that escaped slaves possessed this volume of precious metals in the first place is incredible.   Nomadic desert dwellers having the workshops and craftsmanship to create the artwork described in Exodus is equally incredulous.

Just a few chapters ago, in Exodus 33, we are told that God refuses to go in the midst of the "stiff necked" people of Israel because he's so mad at them that he'd consume them.   Yet, in this chapter, God apparently changes his mind, since he's hanging out with them at the tabernacle.

Also in Exodus 33, Moses has a tent that he calls the tabernacle and when the "God cloud" appears there, he goes and talks with Yahweh.   By Exodus 40 (King James, Skeptics), we learn that he cannot go into the tabernacle when the cloud is there.

We are also told in Exodus 33 that the people of Israel may not wear jewelry or fine clothes as penance for their worshiping a golden calf; yet, Aaron, who orchestrated the golden calf adventure, is named a high priest of Yahweh and wears fancy clothes and precious gems.

Finally, the ark of the covenant that is described in detail in Exodus was most likely an Egyptian object.   Perhaps the writers of the Old Testament were hoping that they would convince people that they, not the Egyptians, were the actual designers by writing detail after detail after detail about its construction. However, history shows that it is improbable that the Israelites were able to construct such an ark.

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