God’s Extensive, Expensive Interior Décor Requirements for Homeless Refugees
First half of Chapter 15 is here.
Having gotten the furniture out of the way, God starts in on curtains. He wants ten of ’em, done up in the finest linen with the most costly blue, purple, and scarlet dyes – remember, kids, those colors were hella expensive to achieve back then. He wants each curtain to have cherubim embroidered on it. And he doesn’t want a few simple drapes, no. He’s asking for enormous, heavy panels that are 28 cubits (about 42 feet) long and 4 cubits (about 6 feet) wide. Then the curtains must be joined in two sets of 5, and 50 blue loops put on the edge of each outer curtain; God’s really particular about that. Then you’ve gotta have 50 solid-gold clasps to put through the loops. (Ex. 26:1-6)
If you want to get an idea of how fun this stuff was to shlep around the desert, go to a fabric store, find the biggest bolt of upholstery fabric you can, and carry it around the store for eight hours. Then, as you lay dying, ponder the fact that you had the benefit of air conditioning, and the Sinai did not.
And that’s not all! God also wants 11 goat-hair curtains, 30×4 cubits (45×6 feet), with 100 loops and 50 brass clasps, for an outer covering for this tabernacle of his. And then, God wants another covering of fine red rams’ skins, and yet another cover of finest leather, which the King James people apparently thought came from badgers. In addition, of course, this tabernacle tent required a frame, so God asks for one made of shittim wood, with silver sockets. I’m shocked he finally remembered he asked for offerings of silver as well as gold: I thought he’d never use it. But of course, God wants the frames, bars, and rings to be overlaid with and made from solid gold. (Ex. 26:7-30)
Not satisfied with the curtains he’s already got, God requests another set. His garish color preferences once again assert themselves, as he wants this inner “vail” to be blue, purple, and scarlet linen – with cherubim, of course. And, obviously, he wants its frame to be made from gold-covered shittim, with solid gold fasteners and silver sockets. And he wants a screen made from the same colors, five gold-slathered shittim pillars, and of course solid gold hooks, but this time, he’ll accept brass sockets. Everything – furniture and hangings – should be arranged just so, including specific cardinal directions for each bit of furniture. God apparently likes a bit of the old feng shui for his desert digs. (Ex. 26:31-37)
Having minutely detailed the tabernacle and its furniture, God goes on to specify what kind of barbecue grill he wants built. It must be square, made of shittim, with horns, and everything covered with brass. He tells Moses he wants all sorts of fancy barbecue tools, including ash pans and meat forks, which are all crucial to ensuring properly burnt offerings and a tidy clean-up afterward. He wants a brass net, and of course the whole thing has to be portable, so the nomads will have to schlep this 7.5′ x 7.5′ x 4.5′ hunk of wood and metal around on poles. Happily, God decrees it can be hollow. That must’ve been a relief. (Ex. 27:1-8)
God’s curtain obsession returns in full force. He asks for the whole area to be enveloped in curtains 7.5 feet tall and 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, with a 22.5 x 7.5 foot high entrance, and a 30 foot screen. The curtains he wants done in fine linen, but plain: it’s the screen he wants embroidered in his three favorite colors. No wonder the Israelites were in the desert so long: do you have any idea how much time it takes to hand-embroider that much fabric? And carrying it had to be an unbelievable pain in the arse: just the outer cloth walls and screen come to 525 feet of fabric! Not to mention all the brass pillars with their silver bands and hooks. God also wants all the pegs for hanging utensils to be brass. That’s pretty brassy. (Ex. 27:9-19)
God then advises that everyone should tithe pure beaten olive oil to keep the enormous lamp burning. He wants the lamp placed just outside the vail, and tended from evening to morning by Aaron and his sons, forever. (Ex. 27:20-21)
It’s about at this point that one wonders why Moses didn’t discreetly clear his throat somewhere in all that soul-crushing detail and say, “I’d just like to remind the LORD that we, not you, are going to be carrying all this shi- stuff, around a desert. And, not only does it weigh a ton, it’s going to take at least half the day to strike, and another half to erect.”
But then, he probably didn’t want to see the LORD’s eye twinkle sadistically as he answered, “Exactly. Mwah-ha-ha!”
The LORD will be discussing proper priestly attire and issuing death threats next. I’m shocked he went such a long stretch without!
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