The Size of the Courtyard in the Tabernacle

27:9-15, 18-19 and 38:9-13 and 20

    DIG: Why did the Tabernacle have curtains made of white linen surrounding it? What about the physical layout enhanced the worship of the LORD?

    REFLECT: What is you primary incentive to be holy? Does being holy also mean being stuck-up? How can you avoid that tag and still be the holy person God wants you to be?

    The white linen that surrounded the courtyard of the Tabernacle served as a constant reminder to the sinning Israelites that God’s dwelling place was holy. Sin separates the sinner from the LORD. But in His love, God provided a gate and an altar; therefore, He was often reminding His people to live apart from the godless world around them. The key words of Leviticus are: Be holy because I, ADONAI your God, am holy (Leviticus 19:2).513

    The courtyard of the Tabernacle measured 100 cubits by 50 cubits, the long sides running north and south. The gate of the Tabernacle faced east. Based on an 18-inch cubit it was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, or about fifty yards long and twenty five yards wide (see diagram below). The courtyard was composed of white linen curtains, just like the gate, the covering of the Sanctuary, the inner veil and outer veil. They were five cubits high and hung on acacia wood posts that stood in bronze bases. The white linen curtains were hung from the wood posts like sails of a ship hanging from the mast. The posts were about seven and a half feet apart, and the curtains were kept tight by bronze tent pegs.514 Because the metals used in the construction of the Tabernacle are listed in descending order of value, the further away you went from the Most Holy Place, the less valuable the metal used. Thus, the courtyard was mostly constructed of bronze, which spoke of judgment.

    Next, they made the courtyard. The south side was a hundred cubits long, or about 150 feet, and had curtains of finely twisted linen, with twenty acacia wood posts and twenty bronze bases, and with silver hooks and bands on the posts (27:9-10, 38:9-10). The height of the sixty posts in the courtyard were exactly the same, they were seven and a half feet tall.

    The designs of the north and south sides of the courtyard were identical. They were about 150 feet long (or half the length of a football field) and had twenty acacia wood posts and twenty bronze bases, with silver hooks and bands on the posts (27:11, 38:11). The exact same wording is repeated in the description of each; that is a Hebrew way of emphasizing the concept of sameness.515

    The west end of the courtyard was fifty cubits wide, or about 75 feet, and had curtains, with ten vertical acacia wood posts and ten bronze bases, with silver hooks and bands on horizontal posts (27:12, 38:12). The Word of God does not tell us what the horizontal posts were made of. The bases of bronze and the hooks and bands of silver are alone mentioned. But we can conclude they were made of acacia wood for two reasons. First, we are told that the post tops were overlaid with a silver cap (38:17); and secondly, when the gold, silver and bronze for the Tabernacle are listed, no mention is made of any of these three metals being used to form the posts of the courtyard.516

    The east end of the Tabernacle is treated differently because it contains a gate, the only entrance to the structure. On the east end, toward the sunrise, the courtyard was also about 75 feet wide (27:13, 38:13). The term the east end is a Hebrew idiom that literally means, eastward to the place of sunrise. Curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on one side of the gate, with three acacia wood posts and three bronze bases, and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three acacia wood posts and three bronze bases (27:14-15). In the middle of the eastern side was the gate, or a curtain thirty feet long. On either side of the gate were more curtains, each 22 and one half feet long.

    The courtyard was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with curtains of finely twisted linen five cubits high, or seven and a half feet tall, with bronze bases (27:18). All the other articles used in the service of the Tabernacle, including all the tent pegs of the surrounding courtyard, were made of bronze (27:19, 38:20). The word peg is also translated nail in Judges 4:21-22 (KJV), and stake in Isaiah 33:20 and 54:2 (KJV). The peg, nail and strake are all symbols Jesus. In Isaiah 22:22, a near historical prophecy, God is speaking of Eliakim His servant that he would lead the nation. ADONAI said: I will place on his shoulders the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father. After His death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, Jesus applied this scripture to Himself, saying: To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open (Revelation 3:7). So Jesus Himself is the peg in a firm place, to whom that far-reaching prophecy refers.517

    The size of the courtyard was determined by the length and width of the fine linen hangings. The posts, from which the hangings were suspended, stood within the courtyard. Therefore, anyone who approached the Tabernacle without entering the gate could not know upon what the curtain hung. He would see the white linen, but would not be aware that it hung from hooks and bands of silver on horizontal posts.518 As a result, the whole arrangement of the courtyard, and in particular the placement of the bronze altar and basin, point most clearly to sinful man’s approach to God.519


< previous page
next page >

Genesis | Exodus | Isaiah | Ruth | Esther | Jeremiah
Life of David | Jonah | Jude | Life of Christ | Hebrews | Revelation
News & Updates | Links & Resources | Testimonials | About Us | Statement of Faith
Home | Español | Our FAQ

The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2019