Meaning of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)
Everything in the Mishkan paralleled what G-d had made during the six days of creation.
- The curtains of goats' wool paralleled the heaven and the earth.
- The washstand and its base represented the seas and rivers.
- The altar and its sacrifices paralleled the animals.
- The incense altar paralleled all spices and remedies.
- The menorah paralleled the sun and the moon. Its seven lamps paralleled the seven heavenly bodies: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon.
We thus see that G-d used the same expression in creation as He did when making the Mishkan. When G-d made the universe, He said, "He spread out the heaven like a curtain." (Tehillim 104:2) Regarding the Mishkan G-d also spoke of "curtains of goats' wool."
On the second day G-d said, "Let there be an expanse in the middle of the water and let it divide between water and water." (Bereishit 1:6) G-d wanted there to be a division between the upper water and the lower water. In the Mishkan G-d said, "The cloth barrier shall be a separation for you." (Shemot 26:33) This hanging was a barrier between the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies.
On the third day G-d said, "Let the waters be gathered." (Bereishit 1:9) With regard to the Mishkan G-d said, "You shall make a copper washstand and its base out of copper, and you shall place water there." (Shemot 30:18)
On the fourth day G-d said, "Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the sky." (Bereishit 1:14) With regard to the Mishkan He said, "You shall make its lamps." (Shemot 25:37)
On the fifth day G-d said, "Let the waters teem with living creatures and let birds fly." (Bereishit 1:20) In making the Mishkan, G-d commanded to bring sacrifices of animals and birds.
On the sixth day the Torah says, "G-d created man in His image." (Bereishit 1:27) This indicates that G-d created man for His Glory so that man could serve Him. In the Mishkan G-d commanded to anoint the High Priest to serve Him.
On the Shabbat it says, "G-d finished on the seventh day." (Bereishit 2:2) Regarding the Mishkan it says, "All the work of the Communion Tent Mishkan was completed." (Shemot 39:32)
When the world was created the Torah says, "G-d blessed the seventh day." (Bereishit 2:3) Regarding the Mishkan it says, "Moshe blessed them." (Shemot 39:43)
When the world was created the Torah says, "G-d blessed it." (Bereishit 2:3) Regarding the Mishkan it also says, "He anointed it and sanctified it." (BaMidbar 7:1)
G-d made heaven and earth His witnesses as He said, "I have made heaven and earth as witnesses for you." (Devarim 4:26) Therefore, if the Yisraelim rebel against G-d by not studying His Torah and not keeping His commandments, heaven and earth will be the first ones to take revenge against them and punish them. It is thus written, "The hand of the witnesses shall be against him first to kill him." (Devarim 17:7) Here too, the heaven would punish them; rain would not fall and the earth would not produce its crops.
The Mishkan was similarly a witness for the Yisraelim. As it is written, "These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony." (Shemot 38:21) The Mishkan and the Temple that followed it stood as witnesses for the Yisraelim. If the Yisraelim rebelled against G-d and did not keep His commandments, the Temple would be taken away as security, twice. This denotes the first and the second Temples, which were destroyed because the Yisraelim rebelled against G-d. Just as the Mishkan parallels the creation of heaven and earth and alludes to everything in the world, it also includes the entire Torah.
We thus see that expressions involving "making" occur 248 times with regard to the Mishkan. This includes such expressions such as "you shall make," "he made," or "they made." The first time such an expression occurs is, "They shall make Me a sanctuary." (Shemot 25:8)
The only expressions that are not counted are those that involve evil such as the making of the Golden Calf, where people said, "Come on, let us make for ourselves gods." (Shemot 32:1) Every expression from here until "And I will know what to do to you" (Shemot 33:5) is not counted.
With these exceptions, the expression "make" or "made" occurs 248 times from the above verse (Shemot 25:8) to the end of the Book of Shemot. This parallels the 248 positive commandments in the Torah. A human being also has 248 limbs. This teaches that if a person keeps the Torah, the world and the Mishkan are sustained. If not, he destroys the world and causes the Holy Temple to be taken as security.
There is another allusion in the 248 expressions denoting "making." When the Yisraelim accepted the Torah they said, "We will do and we will listen." (Shemot 24:7) The expression "we will do" referred to the positive commandments while "we will listen" referred to the negative commandments. The Yisraelim violated the portion of the commandments to which they said, "we will do." G-d therefore commanded them to make the Mishkan, which contained the expression "do" or "make" 248 times. This paralleled the 248 positive commandments that were violated when the Golden Calf was made.
Yalkut MeAm Lo'ez, vol. 10