On the northern side, or right side of the holy place stood the table of shewbread. It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It measured 2 cubits (36in.) long, 1 cubit (18in.) wide and 1 1/2 cubits (27in.) high. The table had an elaborate double gold crown ornamental rim encircling on its top edge, with a hand-breath between these crowns. The hand-breath was a border between the crowns for the various vessels. In other words, there was to be a crown of molding around the outside edge of the table and a smaller crown inside. Probably serving to prevent articles from falling off the table. The table was fitted with rings in each corner to hold poles for transportation. The poles were also made with acacia wood overlaid with gold. The bread was not removed from the table even when Israel was on the march (Numbers 4:7). The plates and pitchers that held the bread and drinks were also made of pure gold.
The loaves on the table were called “showbread” (Exodus 25:30) or “presence bread,” literally “bread of faces.” Every Sabbath 12 loaves of bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, were placed on the table (Leviticus 24:5-9). They remained there for one week. When the loaves were placed with fresh bread, they were eaten by the priests in the holy place. The placing of the loaves on the table symbolized Israel’s recognition that they were daily in God’s presence and daily dependent upon Him for their spiritual and physical needs. This “bread” was not set out in order to feed Israel’s God, unlike food placed in pagan shrines and temples, but to acknowledge that the 12 tribes were sustained constantly under the watchful eye and care of their Lord.
When the Levites made this bread, the wheat was first crushed and ground into flour. Then it was beaten together with other ingredients and pierced with a sharp fork. Finally it went into a hot oven. When the baked loaves were placed on the table, they were sprinkled with pure frankincense, a sweet-smelling incense. The use of incense suggests that the bread was actually a “meal offering” to the Lord (Leviticus 2:1-11) in thanksgiving to Him for “daily bread.”
The loaves of bread were very special, and were not to be eaten carelessly, even by the priests. Any priests who was defiled and ate the bread or any of the sacrificial meat that belong to the priests, was in danger of death (Leviticus 22:3-9).
Jesus, a type of the Table of Shewbread
Wood and gold: Once again wood in the Bible speaks of humanity ( Zechariah 6:12-13, Isaiah 11:1-4, Isaiah 53:2, Psalm 1:3). The Hebrew word for “gold” comes from an unused root word meaning “shimmer” or “from its shining.”
“and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength”(Rev.1:16).
Gold therefore is typical of Deity or the Divine nature of Jesus Christ. In the table we have gold and wood. Two components and yet only one table. This speaks to us of the union of the 2 natures in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the God-Man. He is the Word (John 1:1, 14,18, 1 Timothy 3:16, Timothy 2:5-6). The gold and wood come together in the Lord Jesus Christ.
There was to be a crown of molding around the outside edge of the table of showbread and a smaller crown inside. Why two crowns? Because Christ will be crowned twice: the first time He was crowned with a crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29). The second time it will be a crown of glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9). And remember, the table was made from the acacia tree, a tree that produced thorns.
It is interesting that the width of the crown is described as a “handbreath,” which is approx. 3 to 4 inches high. All the dimensions of the tabernacle otherwise are in cubits or half cubits. This corresponds with the words of Christ, “Neither shall any pluck them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
His nail- pierced hands, that is!
The bread was crushed and ground into flour. Then it was beaten together with other ingredients and baked in a hot oven. All these factors remind us of the suffering of our True Bread and Living Bread Jesus Christ:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chasetisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isa.53:4-5).
Not only that, but the bread was perforated. The Hebrew implies the thought that they were “pierced cakes.” All of this is typical of the Lord Jesus Christ who was pierced Bread of Life (Zechariah 12:10, John 19:34-37, Revelation 1:7). The priests of Moses day could only eat the bread on the seventh day, while we partake of Christ presently on a daily basis. When we keep learning more of Him and reading God’s Word , we are “feeding” on Him as the priests fed on the showbread. Remember, we too, are priests (1 Peter 2:5,9). Every member of the Body of Christ participates in that one Bread of 1 Cor. 10:17:
“We being many are One Bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that One Bread.”
The unity of the Body of Christ is set forth in the One Bread.