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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
R. Samuel b. Judah said in R. Abba's name in R. Huna's name in the name of Rab: If one carries [an article] four cubits in covered public ground, he is liable, because it is not like the banners of the wilderness.3 But that is not so? for the waggons surely were covered,4 and yet Rab said in R. Hiyya's name: As for the waggons, beneath them, between them, and at their sides it was public ground?5 — Rab referred to the interspaces6 — Consider: what was the length of the waggons? Five cubits. What was the breadth of the board? A cubit and a half. Then how many [rows] could be placed: three: thus leaving half a cubit, and when you divide it among them [the spaces] they are as joined!7 — Do you think that the boards lay on their width? they were laid on their thickness. Yet even so, what was the thickness of the board? One cubit. How many [rows] were [then] laid? Four, thus leaving a cubit, and when you divide it among them [the spaces] they are as joined!8 Now, on the view that the boards were one cubit thick at the bottom, but tapered to a fingerbreadth, it is well:9 but on the view that just as they were a cubit thick at the bottom, so at the top too, what can be said? — Said R. Kahana: (They were arranged] in clasped formation.10 Now, where were they placed: on the top of the waggon. But the waggon itself was covered?11
— Said Samuel: [The bottom consisted] of laths.
Our Rabbis taught: The boards were one cubit thick at the bottom, but tapered to a fingerbreadth at the top, for it is said, they shall be entire [thammim] unto the top thereof1 whilst elsewhere it is said, [the waters …] ended [tammu] and were cut off;2 this is R. Judah's view. R. Nehemiah said: Just as their thickness at the bottom, was a cubit, so at the top was their thickness a cubit, for it is said, 'and in like manner [they shall be entire]'. But surely 'thammim' is written? That [teaches] that they were to come whole,3 and not divided.4 And the other too, surely is written 'in like manner'? — That [teaches] that they were not to erect them irregularly.5 Now, on the view that just as they were a cubit thick at the bottom, so were they at the top, it is well: thus it is written, And from the hinder part of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards, and two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle:6 thus the breadth of these comes and fills in the thickness of those.7 But on the view that they were a cubit thick at the bottom, while they tapered at the top to a fingerbreadth, one receded and the other protruded?8 They were planed mountain-fashion.9
Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains. The length of each curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits.13 Throw their length over the breadth of the Tabernacle; how much was it? twenty-eight cubits. Subtract ten for the roof, and this leaves nine cubits on each side. According to R. Judah. the cubit of the sockets was left uncovered; according to R. Nehemiah, a cubit of the boards was uncovered [too].14 Cast their breadth over the length of the Tabernacle: how much was it? forty cubits.15 Subtract thirty for the roof,16 leaves ten. According to R. Judah the cubit of the sockets was covered; according to R. Nehemiah the cubit of the sockets was uncovered.
And thou shalt make curtains of goats' hair for a tent over the tabernacle: [eleven curtains shalt thou make them]. The length of each curtain Shall be be thirty cubits. [and the breadth of each curtain four cubits].17 Cast their length over the breadth of the Tabernacle; how much was it? Thirty. Subtract ten for the roof, which leaves ten [cubits] on each side. According to R. Judah the cubit of the sockets was covered; according to R. Nehemiah the cubit of the sockets was uncovered. It was taught likewise: And the cubit on one side, and the cubit of the other side of that which remaineth [in the length of the curtains of the tent]:18 this was to cover the cubit of the sockets: that is R. Judah's view. R. Nehemiah said: It was to cover the cubit of the boards.19 Cast their breadth over the length of the Tabernacle: how much was it? Forty-four [cubits]. Subtract thirty for the roof leaves fourteen. Subtract two for the doubling over, as it is written, and thou shalt double over the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tent,20 leaves twelve. Now, according to R. Judah, it is well; thus it is written, the half curtain that remaineth shall hang;21 but according to R. Nehemiah, what is meant by [the half curtain …] shall hang?22 — It shall hang over its companions.23 The School of R. Ishmael taught: What did the Tabernacle resemble? A woman who goes in the street and her skirts trail after her.24
Our Rabbis taught: The boards were cut out and the sockets were grooved;25
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