3 minute read

Don’t you love that feeling of checking a giant task off your to-do list? I did that about four times last week, only to have the task pop right back up: “not finished yet!” I pray that this week, when you knock your tasks down, they stay down.

I did get the chance to really dig in to some of the minutia of the design of the tabernacle in Exodus as part of Chapter By Chapter this week; you’ll see some of the fruits of those digs (are there fruits you dig for?) below.

RecentlyUpcoming on VerseNotes

There are no new posts on VerseNotes this week. That aforementioned work task just knocked it out of me, and I apologize. So let me tell you what I’ve been working on and hope to release this week:

  • First, I’m about halfway through a post looking at the origins of the names of the books of the Bible. There are a lot of lists out there, but I always find myself asking more questions. What questions do you have about the names of the books?
  • Second, I’ve been playing around with those statistics I posted last week and building charts—some of them are pretty, and some of them are useful, and some of them are even both! Here’s a sneak preview, which you saw already if you follow me on Twitter. It’s a histogram of the lengths of verses in the Bible; every book is a different color, with Genesis at the bottom in pink and Revelation at the top in orange. You all know me: I love details. Did you notice that weird spike almost all the way to the left? What do you think that is?

A histogram of verse lengths in the entire Bible, color coded by book.

Delight in the Details

Okay, I lied, there is one new post on VerseNotes this week…

Uriah the very minor prophet has the dubious distinction of being mentioned immediately after the only place in the Old Testament where one prophet quotes another one and identifies his source: Jeremiah quotes Micah’s prophecy against Jerusalem, and then tells the story of Uriah.

Uriah also prophesied against Jerusalem, so (unlike King Hezekiah with Micah) King Jehoiakim tried to kill him. He briefly escaped to Egypt, but unfortunately, Judah and Egypt had mutual extradition treaties at that time as a result of Egypt’s victory over Jehoiakim’s father Jehoahaz, so a man named Elnathan brought him back, and the king killed him.

Jeremiah nearly met the same fate, but God’s hand on him kept him alive.

Et Cetera

Things I learned in my reading this week, in no particular order.

After Israel arrives at Sinai in Exodus 19, they don’t move again

They stay at Sinai for the next 21 chapters as Moses receives the covenant, the Ten Commandments, the two sets of stone tablets, and instructions for the tabernacle. They build the first tabernacle in the shadow of Sinai.

The “goat skin” covering Moses’s tabernacle may actually have been porpoise skin

There are serious scholars who think the word translated “goat” is actually “porpoise” or possibly “dugong“—yep, those goofy-looking relatives of manatees. Weirdly, that probably made the outside of the tabernacle somewhat unattractive even though everything inside was covered in gold. Sounds kind of like every other message God has ever given humanity about whether to focus on what’s inside or what’s outside…

The bread of the Presence in the tabernacle must have been HUGE

Each loaf was made of two-tenths of an ephah (Leviticus 24:5). An ephah was a dry measure of about 20 quarts. So each loaf used 4 quarts of flour, which is 16 cups, which weighs almost 5 pounds. For contrast, a modern loaf of bread uses about 3.5 cups of flour, or just under 1 pound. These loaves were enormous. (And they baked twelve of them every week.)