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we will now engage in a homely prosaic exercise, which is not without a simple dignity, as there is a well of water (cp. Jn. iv. 10) wherever an angel has touched this earth of ours.
NOTE (3).—What became of the Exodus fabric? The last conspicuous appearance of it on the Record is in 1 Chron. xxi. 29: where we read, that there was in David's time at Gibeon, “the mishkan—Tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness." That this is not only a Dwelling of the form prescribed in the wilderness, but the identical material fabric erected there, is plain enough in the statement of the Chronicler. And our assurance is niade doubly sure by our knowledge (1 Chron. xvi. I), that there was in existence at that time another Tabernacle, which David had caused to be made, and had brought, with great solemnity of joy, to Jerusalem, and solemnly installed there, as the Dwelling of “the ark of God” (1 Sa. iv.). There is a further accession of corroboration involved in the circumstance, that the Chronicler (in xxi. 30), so to speak, apologizes for David's not going to Gibeon, to sacrifice before the Tabernacle there, and inquire of the Lord :-he was prevented by constraint of circumstances. In the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, we read of an old moon appearing with a new moon in its arms. For us here that means, not, vaguely, the temple at Jerusalem superseding the Tabernacle there—which indeed had not taken place at the time in our view ;-but, the Jerusalem Tabernacle superseding the Gibeon Tabernacle. This latter, though visibly “fallen into the sere and yellow leaf,” yet was not altogether antiquated, as a moon that lingers doleful after sunrise, —"superfluous lags the veteran on the stage." And the reverence shown to it, as to fallen majesty, even in that apology for David, is incidental corroboration of the express intimation, that this was the identical material fabric of Exodus.
But there are dogmatic-sceptical men, who disbelieve because they ought not. Accordingly, the statement of this learned and pious Chronicler, the responsible and reverent recorder of the sacred annals of God's visible kingdom, regarding a plain matter of fact, the truth about which could be known with perfect ease by him and every one else, has been made occasion of a question that means, that the Gibeon Tabernacle perhaps was not the one, “which Moses made in the wilderness.” And under the form of discussing that perverse question, we shall once more be led over a ground of introduction to Exodus, which will thus become yet more distinctly clear in character to us approaching, as a painting in Italian ink is, through oft-repeated applications of the colouring matter, made to stand out in clear distinctness as a statue in marble or in bronze.
1. Though 1 Chron. xxi. 29 is all but the last that we hear of the Mosaic fabric, it is not nearly the last that we see of it. We see it reproduced and stereotyped in Solomon's temple; of which, again, through a successor, the very image of some portions have been transmitted by the Romans in their Arch of Titus ;—who, however, though they came to Mount Zion, had not their understandings exercised to distinguish the distinctive things in that sacred ancient symbolism. That temple, which for our purpose is sufficiently extant in the Old Testament Book of Kings, affords two grounds of inference regarding the ancient Tabernacle ; one, general ; and one, special.
(1.) The general ground is constituted by the emphasis laid on the circumstance of permanence of this Dwelling in its place, solidly fixed in stone and cedar, along with the manifestly strong feeling that the nation has of the very great importance of the matter of a suitable dwelling for Jehovah-God. This feeling shows that surely there must have been some dwelling of the Lord among them before ; while the peculiar emphasis laid on the permanent stability of the Temple is a presumptive proof, that the previously existing dwelling was moveable in its fabric, like “a tent.” These things are sufficiently evidenced by Israel's general history at the period ; for instance, in the life and songs of David, regarded as a typical sample of true Israelitish second nature, But we now deal with them as if they had been new to us, on this one ground of the Tabernacle fabric.
(2.) The more special ground of inference has been recently placed in a clear light of solid ascertainment, by architectural measurement and calculation (Fergusson). First, it is noted that, as we saw, the main lines of the Exodus fabric are uniformly multiples of 5 cubits. And second, it is found that the corresponding main lines in the temple fabric are exactly double the length of those lines in the Tabernacle. And here the aforesaid dogmatico-sceptical nature inspires a suggestion, that it is antecedently improbable that a nation should, in building a temple, make a replica of a thereby antiquated tabernacle. To which it may be answered, that there is nothing in the nature of things, nor in the constitution of man, to make it likely that a nation shall deliberately depart from the form of an old house of God in the structure of a new one; but that there is much to incline men naturally to cling to the old form (morphê, which is the essential soul express, above, p. 84), of that which has hitherto been the earthly home of the souls of them and their fathers. And Dr. Perowne, Dean of Peterborough (in Contemporary Review of this year–1888), who has been investigating the matter (Baconically) on the ground of facts, is, ike Mr. Gillies, rewarded for his faithful discipleship (scientia interpres natura) by a curious demonstration, in his own Peterborough Cathedral, of that natural Platonism of the human religious affections.
Not many months ago, in course of repairs or reconstruction of that Dwelling, they came to know the plan of the original Saxon church, which had stood on that site, and is to some extent incorporated in the new building. And the curiously interesting fact is, that this proud Norman (?) has not only appropriated the material-annexed the estate-of its homely predecessor, but assumed its very form-as the Normans came to be English ; in form the Cathedral is the Church ; only, in the Cathedral the dimensions are twice the length of corresponding lines (analogues) in the Church ! This is a surprisingly and delightfully pertinent illustration of that antecedent probability, whose abode is in the nature of man, But the Jerusalem Temple shows that law, "whose seat (saith Hooker) is in the bosom of God ;"—that “idea" of a Dwelling, which is in the mind of the eternal Architect (Ex. xxv. 9). And, irrespectively of supernatural dictation, the Temple shows us that, whatever may be the antecedent probability in the general case, in this particular case it is improbable in the last degree, so as to be morally impossible, that the Temple structure should not have been in conscious and deliberate replication of the Exodus Tabernacle. Two faces, two blades of grass, are exactly the same: only, the main lines of the one are exactly double the length of the corresponding lines in the other. Is this by accident? Credat Judæus.
2. At Josh. xviii. 1, we see the Mosaic fabric placed at Shiloh, to which it is brought by ua and his Israel, here too with great solemnity, when the conquest of Canaan is so far accomplished, that thc heart of heathenish opposition is now broken, -"the land was subdued before them.” After that we find it still at Shiloh (1 Sa. iv.), in highest honour, until the great catastrophe which occasioned the death of Eli. And here we resume our search with the question,– Was this Shiloh Tabernacle of Eli's time the Gibeon Tabernacle of David's time ? That it was so, was no doubt the opinion of the wise Chronicler. He of course had the best means of knowing about the matters of fact that were extant in his own day. But what he says about the Gibeon Tabernacle, in connexion with a memorably terrible crisis in the reign of David, must have been, regarding that Tabernacle, the general opinion among Israelites of David's time. And this again would go to show that the builders of the Temple, in their exact replication of the Exodus Tabernacle, must have regarded that Tabernacle, not as an ideal thing like Daniel's reconstruction, but a real historical building, by Moses, according to specifications of the Architect of the Universe. The nation's general opinion, as to that matter of fact, is really important evidence, regarding the very heart and soul of the nation's own corporate life-history.
Now, let us look at some individuals in the period, between that Gibeon Tabernacle and the Shiloh Tabernacle of Eli's time. We know that after Eli's death, it was removed from Shiloh ; and that it never recovered the "glory” it had lost in the removal of the ark of God from within it. During the period after that, in which it was more or less a wanderer, the lives of Eli and David are connected through Samuel, the personal friend of both. These three men were successively the chief magistrates of the nation. They all had the deepest interest in the national religion, of which the Tabernacle was the rallying point and visible symbol. Officially they were the three Messiahs—"anointeds "—respectively High Priest, Prophet, and King, of Jehovah's people. In their time, there was only one Tabernacle in existence until that crisis in the reign of David. That there should have been any mistake, while they were alive, in the identification (implied in 1 Chron. xxi. 29) of Eli's Tabernacle with the Gibeon Tabernacle, is a mere impossibility. Why should any mistake be dreamed about?
Let us now look at the period between Eli and Joshua. The force of the reasoning on the ground of the general political history of Israel, which led us to give credence to its tradition of the entrance into Canaan from the wilderness, is now multiplied tenfold. We have seen that David's Israel must have believed that the Gibeon Tabernacle was the Exodus fabric ;-a belief which must have reached them through Samuel and his Israel from Eli and his, We now ask, Is it conceivable that Eli and his Israel should have made a mistake in identifying their Shiloh Tabernacle with the Shiloh Tabernacle of Joshua and his Israel (which of course was the exodus fabric) ?
Impossible :- :-1, Joshua and his Israel manifestly regarded the location of Jehovah's Dwelling at Shiloh as a matter of most high and sacred national importance. Shiloh, which in the period of the Judges was the heart of the nation's strength and safety, was by that location made a religious capital, like the Jerusalem of the kings. There the High Priest resided, the only permanent representative of the national unity. And the Tabernacle, home of the ark of the covenant, was what made that spot "holy ground." It was the sacred banner of the national mustering, the sign and seal of Israel's covenanted unity as a nation, the palladium of the beloved holy nation's life. So,
2. In Eli's time, the place is holy. Jehovah has His dwelling there. Mid terrible personal disasters, it is the desecration of that sanctity (1 Sa. iv.) that breaks the nation's heart in the bosom of a true Israelitess. Now Eli himself is nearer to Joshua's day than Samuel is, to the extent of nearly the whole of a century of life (Eli's). He must have been almost within speaking distance of the children of those who took part in the original placing of the Tabernacle here at Shiloh. As the chief magistrate for forty years, he must be familiar with everything that is deemed of any public national importance. As hereditary High Priest-the only one whose name we know since Eleazar, he has a living traditional connexion with the Tabernacle, such as must make its history familiar to him as if he had personally been the high priest ever since Aaron's time. It may be added that though, after his time, the Tabernacle, parted from the ark, was to some extent a wanderer like Noah's dove, there is no trace of its having ever once moved from Shiloh between Eli's time and Joshua's. The storms of the period would make Israel's heart all the more to be centred on that one fixed thing, as a Pharos light in stormy darkness.
We note the following proofs.-1. As to the materials. This fine linen, with blue, purple, and scarlet-such as were sacredly treasured in ancient princely homes of the Phæacians--is little likely to have been so copiously in the huts of rough-spun fighting farmers and shepherds in the Canaan of the Judges. It is doubtful whether in the Judges' period any native of Canaan ever saw the animal that here is called a “badger.” The timber, of Shittim wood, is not Palestinian but Sinaitic. 2. As to cost. The careful estimates, we saw, run up towards £250,000. Solomon, for his temple building, had the revenues of a highly prosperous nation (1 Ki. iv.) in a reign of peace; along with the hoardings of David's career of'conquest, in which, magnificent though he was in hero-kingliness, he could be a very miser (Ps. cxxxii.) for the future building of a Palace for Jehovah. And at the exodus Israel was laden with the Egyptian wealth of a great ancient civilisation ;-wealth which, as we may see between the lines of the civil law of Sinai (Ex. xxi.-xxiii.), the individual owners, precariously nomadic in condition, might not well know how to place in safe deposit (unless they could have it somehow in heaven). We need not wonder if, with hearts overflowing in the first love of “espousals,” the means of building came pouring in superabundantly ; so that the builders had to cry, Halt !—the only strike on that account recorded in the industrial history of the peoples. But Israel was poor enough (on its wilderness sustentation, see above, pp. 47, etc.), though not "scattered" yet “peeled,” when beginning to battle for a settlement in Canaan. And the collectors would have had a difficult task- of making bricks without straw—who should endeavour to wring that vast amount from the savings of a sparse population, of men who, when they were not slaves (1 Sa. iv. 9), had to fight for a bare living with Philistines and wild beasts. 3. The skill. David's fingers were divinely taught to war; but it was through handling bow and arrow. And it was not through handling sword and spear, and plough and ox-goad, that his warriors could learn to do the fine and delicate gold and silver smith's work, not to mention embroidering and weaving, of Bezaleel and Aholiab. Even in the later time of peace, for the comparatively rough work of the Temple building, skilled artisans had to be sent for to Tyre. The hands which did the tabernacle work, of needle and loom and graving-tool, had an education of centuries in a land of sumptuous furniture and subtle textile fabrication.
The very form of the Tabernacle points to the same conclusion. It was a general's tent; or, the moveable dwelling of the military chief of a nomadic people. It was thus nobly appropriate to the circumstances of Israel's wilderness wandering, which was a campaigning, under one who had begun to achieve the name of, “Jehovah of the Armies ” (The Lord of Hosts). The form could thereafter be translated into cedar and stone,- -" borrowed ” for Palestinian use by a people that had "spoiled” the Egyptians, and have made themselves the head masters of the arts of every land. And then “the sweet singer of Israel” could weave the material of associations thus arising into Songs of Zion, appropriate for the militation of the true life in all ages and all nations. No doubt it is abstractly conceivable, that the wilderness imagery should have been simply imported into Canaan on account of its intrinsic fitness for the purpose to which it was in fact applied. But that sort of literary commerce-with heathenism (cp. Ex. xxiii., xxxiv.)—was wholly out of keeping with the character of the people and the times and the nature of the things. The rational view is, that the wilderness life of song and story in Canaan is the remembered life of an historical experience in Sinai.
This is corroborated by what we can see of the relative aspect of Israel in the Judges' period. In Eli's time, there is no look of the nation's having been recently engaged in a work so memorable as building a new Dwelling of Jehovah. On the contrary, from that time there is seen to go down to David's, the tradition through the nation's heart, that the only Tabernacle in existence is the one "which Moses made in the wilderness.” In Eli's day, plainly there cannot have been so much as a thought of new Tabernacle building as having taken place for generations before. But—we saw--two or three generations back from Eli bring us into sight of Joshua, and then,-corroborative evidence, circumstantial, cumulative, - Joshua and his Israel, solemnly locating the wilderness Tabernacle at Shiloh, present no appearance of imagining that it will soon have to be rebuilt. They look as if expecting it to last on through generations beyond reckoning. And well they may : in that climate, and with the materials of this fabric. There are fabrics now existing in good preservation, most delicate in material and form and even colour, which were made in Egypt long before Israel was born at the exodus.
Why should there not have been a tabernacle “inade by Moses in the wilderness”? Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests. Would this redeemed people, enthusiastically national covenanters with God, leave their God and Redeemer without a dwelling? And if the Lord had any house in Canaan before David's new Tabernacle, superseded by the Temple, what was it,