TENON tĕn’ ən (יָד, H3338). A projection shaped on the end of a piece of wood for insertion into a corresponding hole in another piece to form a secure joint. The three sides of the Tabernacle were made of forty-eight “frames,” or boards, each one held in place at the bottom by tenons fitted into sockets of silver to give the boards stability (Exod 26:17, 19; 36:22, 24).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
This word, occurring in Ex 26 and 36, is used in the account of the tabernacle to describe the "hand" or yadh by which its 48 boards were kept in place. Each board had two tenons which were mortised into it (Ex 36:22 margin). These tenons would be made of harder wood than the acacia, so as better to stand the strain of wind and weather. When in use the tenons were sunk into the "sockets" (which see), and allowed of a speedy reerection of the tabernacle at its every remove.
Sockets are also mentioned as in use for the standards of the tabernacle court (Ex 27:10 ), but there is no mention of tenons. It may be that the base of each standard was let into its socket, without the use of any tenon. This would give it sufficient stability, as the height of each standard was but 5 cubits (7 1/2 ft.) (Ex 27:18).
For Professor A. R. S. Kennedy’s different theory of "tenons," see Tabernacle, and his own article on the "Tabernacle" in HDB, IV.
W. Shaw Caldecott