The Sides of the Court of the Tabernacle
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Translators have to make choices in deciding what words to use the carry the Scriptures from one language to another. In Exodus 27: 9-13, an example of this is shown in regard to naming the four directions. What seems to be a very easy matter turns into something rather complex. These verses, as they appear in the King James (Authorized) Version are quoted below in full. Underlined, bold type is used for the naming of the directions.

The way that forty-three versions, including the KJV, is then stated. The versions are divided into four groups, based on how east is rendered in verse 13.

  1. There is a literal translation of what may be a Hebraism.
  2. The Hebraism is eliminated to avoid repetition for a better English structure.
  3. There is a translation of the Hebraism in an English phrase, thus creating a problem.
  4. There seems to be a variation of pattern.
In the commentary, some questions are posed and some implications are stated.

Versions Compared


AAT An American Translation (Beck)
AB Amplified Bible
DHB Darby Holy Bible
EBR The Emphasized Bible
EVD English Version for the Deaf
GW God's Word
HBME The Holy Bible in Modern English
HBRV Holy Bible, Revised Version
HSH Holy Scriptures (Harkavy)
IB Interlinear Bible
IV Inspired Version
JBK Jerusalem Bible (Koren)
KJV King James Version
KTC Knox Translation
LB Living Bible
LBP Lamsa Bible
LXX The Septuagint
MNT Moffatt New Translation
MRB Modern Readers Bible
NAB New American Bible
NAS New American Standard Version
NBV New Berkeley Version
NCV New Century Version
NEB New English Bible
NIV New International Version
NJB New Jerusalem Bible
NJPS New JPS Version
NKJ New King James Version
NLT New Living Translation
NLV New Life Version
NRS New Revised Standard Version
NTJ A New Translation (Jewish)
NWT New World Translation
REB Revised English Bible
RSV Revised Standard Version
SARV Standard American Edition, Revised Version
SGAT An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
SISR The Scriptures (ISR)
SNB Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible
SSBE The Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition
TEV Today's English Version
TJB The Jerusalem Bible
YLR Young's Literal Translation, Revised Edition

Exodus 27: 9-13

And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twilled linen of an hundred cubits long for one side.
And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.
And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.

Group 1

south side southward; north side; west side; east side eastward:


Group 2

southern side toward the Negeb; north side; west side; east side:

south side; north side; west side; east side:
Footnote: NJPS: Heb. uses two terms for "south."

south side; north side; west side; to the east:

southern side; north side; western side; eastern side:

south side; north side; west end; east end:


Group 3

south side; north side; west side; east end, toward the rising sun:

to face towards the south; north side; to face the west; to face the east, towards the sun-rise:

facing the south country, on the southern side; northern side; western side; eastern side facing the sunrise:

south side facing southwards; north side; west side; on the east, towards the sunrise:

south side; north side; west end; east end, toward the sunrise:

south side; north side; west side; east side, facing the sunrise:

the side toward the Negeb, to the south; north side; west side; on the side toward the sunrising:

south side facing southwards; north side; west side; ast side, towards the sunrise:

south side; north side; west end; east end, facing the rising sun:


Group 4

south side southward; north side; west side; east side eastward:
Footnote: DBH: [eastward], Lit. "toward sunrise:" so chapter 38:13.

at the south side of this towards the mid-day sun; north side; on the short side westwards; side which looks eastward:

south side; side toward the north; toward the west; toward the south:



Except for the versions in Group 2, there is an inconsistency within each version. In Group 1, why are the words southward and eastward used, but northward and westward are not used? This pattern is followed by the Hebrew versions examined, with the exception of the New JPS Version.

In Group 2, the four directions are named. This appears to be the best way of rendering the directions of the four sides. The English is correct, and no problematic implications are given.

Questions arise for Group 3. In referring to the east, the sunrise is mentioned. However, in referring to the west, why is the sunset not mentioned? Why is stress also placed on the south in some versions? This also occurs in Group 4.

The gate of the enclosure is on the east side. Reference to this spot is made in verses 13-16. Perhaps, an answer to why eastward has been translated to include the sun can be found in Ezekiel 8: 16. It may also explain why there is reference to noon in two versions in regard to the south and no reference to the sun for west or north. The King James Version is quoted:

This practice of sun-worship was condemned in this chapter and in other places in the Scripture. Yet, it appears in some of the versions. It is very subtle and may be missed or refuted; but it is there. It also appears in various other places in the Scriptures with the use of words whose origin can be traced through etymology to the worship of sun-gods. One of the most blatant, yet overlooked, example can be found in Malachi 4: 2, where Yahshua the Messiah is referred to as the Sun of Righteousness. Can the term eastward, which is used in several versions above, have the same implication as using reference to the rising sun?

Who are responsible for inserting the implications of sun worship into the Scriptures? If the inerrancy of the Scriptures held by many Christians be true, it would have to be Yahweh. However, Yahweh has condemned all pagan worship and all pagan gods. Therefore, man, through copying, translating, and interpreting, and interpolating has polluted the inspired word of Yahweh. It is necessary to pick out the true message in the Scriptures and avoid what man has added, either intentionally or innocently.