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The Tabernacle Chapter 6: The Table


The Tabernacle was constructed with the entrance facing east. To the west was the ark, situated within its own chamber, separated from the outside world by a vail. Outside the vail stood the candlestick, and the table on north side.

The table was made of the same material as the ark, shittim wood covered with pure gold. It had the same dimensions as the ark, two and one half cubits long, one and one half cubits wide, and one and one half cubit high, or forty five inches long, twenty seven inches wide, and twenty seven inches high.

Like the ark, the table also contained four gold rings to support two staves, made of shittim wood, covered in gold. The table was designed to be carried by Levites.

The table was set with dishes, spoons, covers, and bowls, made of pure gold. The shewbread was also set upon the table.

It appears the table was set for a meal. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20.

Jesus often used meals, and food as symbols of a relationship. “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:33, 35, 50-51.

Those who built the Tabernacle were fed with manna, bread from Heaven for forty years. The children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. Exodus 16:35. Those under the age of forty had depended on the bread from Heaven their entire lives. Manna not only fulfilled their physical needs for food, it supplied them with a number of spiritual lessons, which taught them about the relationship God is teaching His people.

Exodus 16:26-27 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. (27) And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.

Manna was closely linked to the Sabbath. Using bread from Heaven, God taught Israel a spiritual lesson about the relationship between God and man.

Years ago meal time was a family event. It was time set aside at the end of the day to come together and discuss the events of the day. Families had an opportunity to discuss accomplishments, trials, concerns, sorrows, and the happy moments of the day. Meals were a time to knit the fabric of the family closer together, to lend support for one another. It was also a time for the family to meet and pray together. It was a time when the world outside was shut out, and attention was focused on the family.

The Sabbath was set aside for the same purpose. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)

The Sabbath is God’s time. The time He set aside for us, to spend with Him. Daily prayers may be great, but they may be more like a ten minute phone call compared to the Sabbath. A phone call could never compare to a family meal, just like a few moments of pray can not compare to spending a day with God. The table, shewbread, and omer of manna in the ark are all reminders of how important a real relationship is to God.

Exodus 16:32-34 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. (33) And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations. (34) As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

We all keep souvenirs to remind us of times we want to remember. We receive this emotion from the Father. God wanted Israel to keep a souvenir, reminding them of the bread from Heaven. I often wander if one day, someone may discover the resting place of the ark, and inside find the omer of manna, fresh as the day it came down from Heaven.

Preparing a meal is also an important time. It is a time when love to feed the soul is mixed with the ingredients to feed the body. Who has ever prepared a meal without anticipating the glow on the faces of the spouse and children? Or waited for the compliments from family members?

Manna is only one type of bread from Heaven. Think of the preparation God put into the fruits and vegetables. Oranges, apples, pears, nectarines, plumbs, bananas, pineapples, star fruit, kiwi, mangoes, melons, and more. Not to mention corn, the vast array of potatoes, carrots, beans, onions, and don’t forget peppers, and other spices. All the textures, colors, aromas, and tastes. God had made a good portion of this earth His bread basket. If we only would take the time to appreciate all which we receive.

Often the question is asked, why was David allowed to eat the shewbread? This question has a very easy to explanation.

KJV Matthew 12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4. How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

Looking at this text we see an important question. If it was unlawful for David and his men to eat this shewbread, why did Jesus tell this story? To properly investigate this issue we need to find the text Jesus was referring to.

KJV Leviticus 24:5. And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. 6. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord. 7. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord. 8. Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. 9. And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.

Leviticus 24 provides the details showing how bread or cakes were prepared and arranged for the table in the Tabernacle. This text also makes it clear these cakes were for Aaron, the high priest and his sons. These cakes were to be eaten in the holy place. This explains why Jesus said it was unlawful for David and his men to eat them.

KJV Leviticus 2:4. And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.

Leviticus 2:4 provides an important detail. Cakes and wafers are often referred to as meat. This information will help us to understand the next text.

KJV Leviticus 22:10. There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing. 11. But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.

Leviticus 22 confirms that no stranger, tenant, anyone lodging with the priest or any hired hand of the priest is allowed to eat the holy shewbread. If a priest buys any soul, a man, woman or child, that person has the right to eat it. This verse explains a part of the plan of salvation and why David was allowed to eat the shewbread.

Jesus asked the Pharisees this question for a reason. Jesus gave them the opportunity to search the scriptures. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” KJV John 5:39. Every detail of the life of Jesus had a purpose. We may not know how many Pharisees were present when Jesus made this statement but we can be sure the Spirit was working on the hearts of all of them. Jesus was trying to teach a spiritual lesson clearly explained by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.

KJV 1 Corinthians 6:20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Jesus is the High Priest, who purchased us with His blood. This simple explanation shows exactly why David was allowed to eat the shewbread. His life is among those paid for with Jesus’ blood.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Hebrews 10:19, Revelation 1:5, John 6:53.

Wood used for the table clearly shows the connection to man. The pure gold used to cover the table represents the pure word of God. When considered as a whole, the table may be a symbolic prophecy of Jesus’ journey on the road to Emmaus.

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:30-32).

The words of Jesus are like pure gold. The ages have proven they are more valuable than gold. In both the spiritual and physical nature, gold does not deteriorate, it does not rust or tarnish. Polished gold reflects light. It’s little wander why God chose gold as a symbol of His word.

The same chamber contains the altar of incense, constructed of the same materials as the table, shittim wood, covered in pure gold. Once again we see the relationship between God, His law, and man symbolized by the materials.

The alter of incense is one cubit wide, by one cubit long, and two cubits high, or eighteen inches square, and thirty six inches high, and is also designed with horns. The alter of incense is described in Exodus chapter thirty.

On top is a crown of gold. Under the crown are four rings of gold, one on each corner, used to carry the alter with two poles made of shittem wood, covered in gold. The symbolism of the alter is much like that of the table, with a few important distinctions.

The table is set with bread, the high priest is to burn sweet incense on the alter every morning. The spiritual meaning of incense can be found by searching the scriptures.

Psalms 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Revelation 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. (4) And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

Incense represents the prayers of the saints. Another clear connection, illustrating the vital link between God, and His people. Many of David’s psalms are prayers. How many times was Israel delivered after praying to God? The gospels tell us Jesus spent long hours in prayer. It’s little wonder why Aaron was instructed to perpetually burn incense on a daily bases, throughout all generations, which indicates, prayer as an important subject, one which requires an in depth personal study, based on the fact, prayer, communication with God, covers a vast array of subjects.

Prayer is used to confess your sins. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16.

We pray to give thanks for everything received. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

Not only physical gifts, but spiritual gifts, like wisdom, and understanding. Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. Ephesians 1:16-19.

Jesus set an example of prayer in His life. His early morning prayers prepared Him for everything He would encounter throughout the day, who He would meet, what He would say, the parables and lessons He taught. The same gift is offered to us. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Colossians 4:2-4.

Prayer is a power Jesus understood, exercised, and taught the benefits of. Jesus left us with instructions and promises concerning prayer. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Matthew 6:7-8.

As we can see, prayer is an important aspect in a relationship with God, and salvation. Prayer enlightens us. When combined with God’s word, it will show us the path of righteousness. Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Once a year the high priest was to place a portion of the sacrificial blood on the horns of the alter of incense. This is part of an important ceremony described in Leviticus chapter sixteen, involving two goats, one a sacrifice, the other known as the scapegoat. The ceremony illustrates details of Christ’s ministry, and judgment.

A number of warnings are found in the description of the alter of incense. A special combination of spices described in Exodus thirty made up the incense. No other combination of spices was to be offered upon the altar. No sacrifice, or meat, often used to refer to bread, was to be offered upon the alter of incense. This illustrates the point, no substitute is accepted, no item, idea, or concept is to be added, or applied beyond its intended purpose.

Did God intend this as a warning directed to his people, or for his people? We have to remember the bigger picture. We are in a spiritual war. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12.

The Bible records a number of changes in the structure, details, and services between the time Moses constructed the original Tabernacle, and Jesus’ cleansing if the temple. The book of Hebrews shows us the Tabernacle was constructed according to the pattern shown to Moses. Only the Tabernacle provides an absolutely clear pattern of God’s intended message about the Savior, Jesus, His work in Heaven, and on earth.

Since the construction of the Tabernacle, Satan has been working to hide the messages contained within the details and services of the Tabernacle. He accomplished his task with the Jews. We see the evidence of this in the way they treated Jesus. They had become spiritually blind because they lost sight of everything the Tabernacle stood for.

The war wages on. Satan has achieved his goal in perverting every detail mentioned in Exodus 30: 9-10. Satan began by deceiving Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, the high priest. This most certainly should be a lesson to pay particular attention to, which teaches lessons in many forms on both the physical, and spiritual levels.

Satan’s strategic assault continued through the ages, and has reaching its apex today. The sacrifice pointed to Christ. Jesus warned about false Christs, a deception cloaked in many disguises today. The concept of offerings has been misrepresented ways. Jesus pointed out the misrepresentation of the offering when He cleansed the temple, not once, but twice. Since that time traditions have mingled the concept of offerings with salvation. Satan also knows the spiritual messages contained within the Tabernacle. He knows the incense burnt upon the alter represent prayers. In his continued attacks on God, he has introduced the very concepts of prayer the Bible tells us not to perform.

Prayer stood between Jesus and Satan. Jesus faced his greatest challenge in the garden, where he was taken prisoner by the priests, and their guards. Before He was taken, Jesus prayed. He knew the time had come for Him to take on all the sins of the world. As Jesus prayed for the strength to face His final, and greatest challenge, an angel from Heaven was sent to his side. Facing evident death and humiliation at the hands of the elders, priests, and scribes, who joined to put Jesus to death, prayer was His most important defense.

A second lesson on prayer is also illustrated in the garden. Jesus asked His disciples to pray, so they could overcome temptation. As Jesus prayed alone in His hour of agony, just a few feet away, his closest friends slept. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, His disciples found rest a more inviting past time. With all the warnings spoken by Jesus, all the signs revealed in His parables, their eyes were closed to the fact, Jesus was only a few hours away from the cross. Jesus could not have given them a clearer warning than those given a few hours before during the Passover meal.

His disciples were told the meaning of the Passover. Jesus gave them exact details of the time, and method of His death. Without prayer, his disciples had no hope of understand the plain and simple explanations they were given. While they slept, Jesus was a few minutes away from the point of no return. Once He was taken by the priests, His fate was sealed. There was no turning back. The verdict of His trial had been decided before His was taken into custody in the garden. Every detail of the trial had been rehearsed, down to the theatrical display of the high priest while passing judgment.

Every detail had been planned. The elders and priests timed the journey from the temple to the palace down to the minute. They went over every possible scenario, and planned for every imaginable outcome. Dozens, maybe hundreds of people were involved in the conspiracy to murder one innocent man. Is there any other reason why hundreds of Jews would have been gathered at Pilate’s judgment hall early in the morning, after observing the Passover meal the evening before? How could so many people fail to recognize the connection between the Passover lamb, and Jesus?

The fact which fascinates me the most is, Jesus personally informed his disciples and followers of many of the major details surrounding His sacrifice. When asked to pray, his three closest disciples slept. What type of spiritual lesson can you learn from that?

Satan also knows details about the atonement. Satan knows the exact events this ceremony points to, and has done everything within his power to blind as many people as he can, from seeing its true meaning. He knows this ceremony exposes him, and records his defeat in prophecy. This is why Satan exerts a great deal of effort into hiding the spiritual meaning of the alter of incense, and the other items of the Tabernacle. This is why Satan wants us to take the subject of prayer lightly, and sleep like the disciples. Until it was too late to realize what is happening.

There is little doubt, the spiritual interpretation of the alter of incense is the best news anyone can receive. Death has been defeated, and your sins have been transferred.

Next Chapter:  The Tabernacle Chapter 7: The Candlestick

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Bible Study on the Tabernacle
A detailed study into the fulfillment of the types and symbols in the Tabernacle built by Moses.

Supporting texts:

Exodus 30:1-10 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it. (2) A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same. (3) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. (4) And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal. (5) And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (6) And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. (7) And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. (8) And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. (9) Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon. (10) And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.

Exodus 16:14-19 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. (15) And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. (16) This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. (17) And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. (18) And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. (19) And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.

Exodus 16:31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Exodus 16:32-34 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. (33) And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations. (34) As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.

Exodus 25:23-30 Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (24) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. (25) And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. (26) And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. (27) Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. (28) And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. (29) And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. (30) And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

Exodus 37:10-16 And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof: (11) And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about. (12) Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about. (13) And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof. (14) Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table. (15) And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table. (16) And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.

Exodus 26:35 And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.

Leviticus 2:1-11 And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon: (2) And he shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and he shall take thereout his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: (3) And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire. (4) And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. (5) And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. (6) Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering. (7) And if thy oblation be a meat offering baken in the fryingpan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. (8) And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the LORD: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar. (9) And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. (10) And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’: it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire. (11) No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire.

Leviticus 6:15-23 And he shall take of it his handful, of the flour of the meat offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour, even the memorial of it, unto the LORD. (16) And the remainder thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: with unleavened bread shall it be eaten in the holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation they shall eat it. (17) It shall not be baken with leaven. I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings made by fire; it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering. (18) All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations concerning the offerings of the LORD made by fire: every one that toucheth them shall be holy. (19) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (20) This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the LORD in the day when he is anointed; the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meat offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night. (21) In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the LORD. (22) And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead shall offer it: it is a statute for ever unto the LORD; it shall be wholly burnt. (23) For every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.

Matthew 12:2-5 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day. (3) But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; (4) How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (5) Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?

One Response to “The Tabernacle Chapter 6: The Table”

  1. adventbiblestudy said

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