The Tabernacle – The Lampstand

Exo 25:31-40 Exo 27:20-21 Exo 37:17-24

A. Its construction

hammered gold

six branches, three on either side, with a central shaft

each branch decorated with three complete almond blossoms, the central stem similarly decorated with an almond blossom under each branch plus an additional blossom

along with the accessories using up a total of 75 pounds of pure gold

The size of the lampstand is not given in the Bible description of it, we are therefore left to conjecture. Jewish tradition assigns it a height of about five feet and width of about three and a half feet. However Herod had a seven branched lampstand made for the Temple which was intended to resemble the lampstand of the tabernacle. This is shown in relief on the Arch of Titus in Rome where it was taken as a trophy of war after A.D.70. The measurements on the arch are two and three quarter feet high by two feet wide; but the figures on the arch are not life-size and together with the proportions of the table of shewbread on the same sculpture it may be assumed the tradition is correct.

The Arch of Titus is a Pentelic marble triumphal arch with a single arched opening, located on the Via Sacra (the main street of ancient Rome, leading from the top of the Capitoline Hill, through some of the most important religious sites of the Forum (where it is the widest street), to the Colosseum) just to the south-east of the Forum in Rome. It was constructed by the emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus (born AD 41, emperor 79-81), commemorating the capture and sack of Jerusalem in 70, which effectively terminated the Jewish War begun in 66 (although the Romans did not achieve complete victory until the fall of Masada in 73).

The Arch of Titus provides the only contemporary depiction of sacred articles from the Temple in Jerusalem. The menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted, as well as what might be the Table of Showbread.

Due to the depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the desecration of the Temple, many Jews refuse to walk underneath the arch to this very day. A notable exception occurred in 1948 at the founding of Israel, when a large contingent from the Roman Jewish community walked through the arch in the opposite direction from the original Ancient Roman triumphal march.[4]

The depiction of the menorah (seven-branched lampstand) from the Temple in Jerusalem on the arch, was used for the coat of arms of Israel.

According to 2 Chr 4:7, 20-21 Solomon had ten lampstands arranged in two groups of five constructed for the first temple.

B. Its accessories


probably similar shape to the typical pottery enclosed dish with an opening for the wick

snuffers (wick trimmers)

to trim the burnt ends of the wicks before lighting


to receive the trimmings from the seven wicks

C. Its usage Exo 27:20-21; Exo 30:7-8; Lev 24:3-4

to provide light for the Holy Place from evening until morning

tended by Aaron and his sons

cleaned and filled (maintained) in the morning

lighted in the evening

fueled by pure beaten olive oil

beating in contrast to pressing produces a higher quality oil, white in color

D. Its significance see Zec 4:2-12 Rev 1:12-20

Kiel & Delitzsch, John Gill, John Calvin, Matthew Henry

1. the flame

the light of the knowledge of God

the light of the Gospel

2. the oil

representing the Holy Spirit

used throughout the Old Testament – anointing with oil to symbolize the conveyance of God’s Spirit

essential for a true Gospel light to shine

essential for functioning eyes to perceive the light of the Gospel

3. the lampstand of the tabernacle

the nation of Israel

Just as the nation represented by the twelve loaves lived before the face of God, so they were to take his light into the darkness of the world.

By the power of this Spirit, Israel, in covenant with the Lord was to let its light shine, the light of its knowledge of God and spiritual illumination, before all the nations of the earth. Durham, John I. Exodus. Word Biblical Commentary

4. the lampstands of the temple (also Revelation 1) 1 Chron. 28:11-19 2 Chron 4:6-8

It can be seen even in Solomon’s day that Israel was not solely responsible for permeating the world with the truth of God. She was to have help in her task as other lampstands came alongside to provide light in the darkness. As history progressed toward the Gospel dispensation, the light increased until we find the explanation of the lampstands given by Christ himself to John the Apostle – the seven churches of Asia Minor representative of the church at large with the glorified Savior present in their midst.

The significance of the candlestick in the holy place centred, as I have shown in my biblische Archäologie (i. p. 107), in its seven lamps, which were lighted every evening, and burned through the night. The burning lamps were a symbol of the church or of the nation of God, which causes the light of its spirit, or of its knowledge of God, to shine before the Lord, and lets it stream out into the night of a world estranged from God. As the disciples of Christ were called, as lights of the world (Mat 5:14), to let their lamps burn and shine, or, as candlesticks in the world (Luk 12:35; Phi 2:15), to shine with their light before men (Mat 5:16), so as the church of the Old Testament also. The correctness of this explanation of the meaning of the candlestick is placed beyond all doubt by Rev 1:20, where the seven λυχνίαι, which John saw before the throne of God, are explained as being the seven ἐκκλησίαι, which represent the new people of God, viz., the Christian church. The candlestick itself merely comes into consideration here as the stand which carried the lamps, in order that they might shine, and as such was the divinely appointed form for the realization of the purpose of the shining lamps. In this respect it might be taken as a symbol of the kingdom of God on its formal side, i.e., of the divinely appointed organism for the perpetuation and life of the church. But the lamps received their power to burn from the oil, with which they had to be filled before they could possibly burn. Kiel & Delitzsch


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