Exo 25.17 tells us that they were to make a “Kapporet” of pure gold, 2.5 cubits long and 1.5 cubits wide. Kapporet is translated as “mercy seat” but it comes from the same word as “kippur” and it basically means a “covering.” The top was a covering for the Ark. Yom Kippur is translated as “atonement” but that is not an accurate translation. English has a hard time translating it. The kapporet is linked to “atonement” and the top of the Ark is a covering. So, Yom Kippur means “Day of Covering.”
The Ark had the two tablets with the ten commandments so it was also called the “Ark of the Testimony” or ‘Aron Edut.” The kapporet is where we will have the two keruvim at the two ends of it. The two keruvim were made of gold and their wings were spread upward, with their faces looking “to his brother” in literal Hebrew and were facing down (Exo 25.18-20). Exo 25.21-22 tells us that God will speak and meet with Moses and the High Priest there, from above the kapporet, between the two keruvim which were upon the Aron Edut. Because of that, in 1 Kings 6.19 the Holy of Holies is called the “inner sanctuary” in the NASB and “the oracle” in the KJV is called the “Devir” in Hebrew because the Lord would speak from there.
The two keruvim not only alludes to Gan Eden (Garden of Eden, but they speak of the two witnesses of the Torah and the Prophets that speak to us (Isa 8.20; Luke 16.31, 24.27; Rom 3.21). John 20.12 tells us that after the resurrection, two angels were seen sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, of where Yeshua was lying on the slab, very similar to the kapporet. The “covering” and the atonement was complete. We could go on further about the Ark but we are going to move on to the Shulchan Lechem ha Pannim, or the “Table of the Bread of the Faces.”
Most translations render this as the “Table of Showbread.” There will be twelve loaves of bread that will sit on this table that are continuously before the “faces” or presence of the Lord. These loaves were approximately twelve inches long and four inches thick, and arranged on the table in two rows of six loaves. These loaves were placed on the table without a plate or cloth. The whole mass of bread would be two feet long, two feet high and one foot wide (“The Tabernacle of Israel” by James Strong, p. 61). According to Exo 25.23, the table was two cubits long (3.2 feet), one cubit wide (19.2 inches), and 1.5 cubits high (2.4 feet). Lev 24.5-9 gives us some additional information. No other substance was to be set on the table except pure frankincense. It was put on each row in small receptacles or censors.
They were also to make dishes, pans, jars and bowls for the preparation of the bread. Where are they going to make the bread? This bread is going to have a kedusha upon it. It can’t be made outside of an area that does not have the same kedusha as the inner Azarah (court). As a result, a tent will need to be joined to the outer curtain of the Mishkan where this bread could be prepared, opening up to the inner Azarah (Mishnah, Menachot 11.2). It doesn’t tell us that in this passage from the Mishnah, but you had to have an understanding of kedusha and how it works. The bread was to be exchanged with the new bread every Sabbath. The bread has to be on the table at all times. As a result, when the bread was changed, one row was taken off and the new row put on exactly at the same time, always having twelve loaves on the table, no more and no less.
This ceremony is covered in the Mishnah tractate Menachot 11.7, where it says, “In the Porch at the entering of the House (Temple) were two tables, one of marble and the other of gold. On the table of marble they laid the Showbread when it was brought in and on the table of gold they laid the Showbread when it was brought out, since what is holy (kedusha) must be raised in honor and not brought down (in kedusha). And within was a table of gold whereon the Showbread lay continually. Four priests entered in, two having the two rows of Showbread in their hands and the two dishes of frankincense; and four went before them, two to take away the two rows and two to take away the two dishes. They that brought them in stood at the north side with their faces to the south; and they that took them away stood at the south side with their faces to the north. These drew the old loaves away and the others laid the new ones down, and always one handbreadth of the one overlay one handbreadth of the other, for it is written, ‘Before me continually.’ R. Jose says: Although these first took away the old loaves and then the others laid the new loaves down, even this fulfills the rule of ‘continually.’ They went out and laid them (the old bread) on the table of gold that was on the Porch. They burnt the dishes of frankincense and the loaves were shared among the priests. If the Day of Atonement fell on a sabbath the loaves were shared out at evening. If it fell on a Friday the he-goat of the Day of Atonement was consumed at evening. The Babylonians used to eat it raw since they were not squeamish.”
In Part 47 we will pick up in Exo 25.31-40 with the lampstand called the Menorah.