Thomas, riffing on the tabernacle furniture like a medieval James B. Jordan ( ST I-II, 102, 4, repl. 6):

“The outer tabernacle, which denotes this present world, also contained three things, viz. the ‘altar of incense,’ which was directly opposite the ark; the ‘table of proposition,’ with the twelve loaves of proposition on it, which stood on the northern side; and the ‘candlestick,’ which was placed towards the south. These three things seem to correspond to the three which were enclosed in the ark; and they represented the same things as the latter, but more clearly: because, in order that wise men, denoted by the priests entering the temple, might grasp the meaning of these types, it was necessary to express them more manifestly than they are in the Divine or angelic mind. Accordingly the candlestick betokened, as a sensible sign thereof, the wisdom which was expressed on the tables (of the Law) in intelligible words. The altar of incense signified the office of the priest, whose duty it was to bring the people to God: and this was signified also by the rod: because on that altar the sweet-smelling incense was burnt, signifying the holiness of the people acceptable to God: for it is written (Apocalypse 8:3) that the smoke of the sweet-smelling spices signifies the ‘justifications of the saints.’ Moreover it was fitting that the dignity of the priesthood should be denoted, in the ark, by the rod, and, in the outer tabernacle, by the altar of i ncense: because the priest is the mediator between God and the people, governing the people by Divine power, denoted by the rod; and offering to God the fruit of His government, i.e. the holiness of the people, on the altar of i ncense, so to speak. The table signified the sustenance of life, just as the manna did: but the former, a more general and a coarser kind of nourishment; the latter, a sweeter and more delicate.”