Sunday, February 22, 2009
Samuel and Eli
Before illustrating the picture (right) of Samuel and Eli, I wanted to gather some information about where this scene was taking place. In the first few verses of 1 Samuel chapter 3, a Temple is mentioned. But which Temple is it speaking of? Solomon's Temple had not as yet been built. Rabbi Naftali Silberberg sheds some light on this...
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan river into Canaan, the portable Tabernacle was erected in the city of Gilgal, where it remained for the fourteen years it took them to conquer, divide, and settle the land. After that, the Tabernacle was dismantled, but the tapestries and rugs which covered it were taken to the city of Shiloh where they covered a newly built stone, fixed albeit roofless, sanctuary. This Tabernacle stood there for 369 years until it was destroyed by the Philistines during the lifetime of Samuel.
So it would appear that, in Shiloh, which was the religious capital of Israel in the time of the Judges, a more robust version of the Tabernacle was built in stone. A precursor to the Temple.
I presume that the reason that this structure was roofless was that it retained the Tabernacle tent coverings. For an artist's impression of what the Tabernacle/Temple in Shiloh may have looked like, click here.
There also appears to have been some sleeping chambers added close to the sanctuary for the High Priest and his attendant, and the addition of some doors, (1 Samuel 3:15). Some commentators say that the sleeping accommodation for the Levites and priests was provided in tents next to the Tabernacle.
The scene takes place in the early hours of the morning before the lights of the golden lampstand were extinguished. These lamps were extinguished at sunrise, (Lev 6:12,13). The light source for this scene is provided by the seven branched solid gold lampstand which was 18 handbreadths in height and over 100 Ibs in weight! I have decorated this lampstand or 'menorah' with almond blossoms according to the description in Ex 25:31-40.
According to Josephus, Samuel was 12 years old when the Lord spoke to him. Eli, who was one of the last Israelite Judges, (before the Israelite monarchy began), is seen wearing the seamless white under garment worn by the priests. His high priestly robes which included the turban or mitre, the sleeveless blue robe and the ephod are folded next to him. You can see the bells and pomegranates woven from scarlet, purple and blue wool along the hem of the ephod.
As always, your comments are welcome!
The Day of Atonement
What did Herod's Temple look like?