[Heb. maareketh, "layer (bread)," maareketh lechem, and lechem hammaareketh, "layer bread," lechem happanéÆm, "bread of the presence"; Gr. artoi teµs prostheseoµs, "loaves to set before (God)."] Unleavened bread displayed continually upon the table of showbread in the holy place of the sanctuary (Ex 25:30; Lev 24:5-8; 1 Ki 7:48). The 12 loaves, or cakes, of showbread, which were replaced each Sabbath. The loaves that were removed, being considered holy, were eaten by the priests in the "holy place" (Lev 24:5-9). These 12 loaves constituted a perpetual thank offering to God from the 12 tribes for the blessings of life they received daily from Him. In ch 24:5-7 specific instructions are given for the preparation and use of the showbread. Each cake was made of about 4 quarts of fine flour, such as was used in a "cereal offering" (ch 2:1, RSV) and, in certain cases, as sin offerings (ch 5:11). The record is not explicit as to whether the bread was leavened, but Josephus states that leaven was not used (Ant. iii. 6. 6). Certain of the Kohathite Levites prepared and arranged the cakes (1 Chr 9:32). In Solomon's Temple there were "tables of shewbread," presumably ten (1 Chr 28:16; cf. 2 Chr 4:8, 19), although elsewhere we find the singular "table" (1 Ki 7:48). Perhaps they were thought of as one; possibly at a later time there were only one (see 2 Chr 13:11; 29:18). For the location of the table see The Mosaic Tabernacle -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

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