What the scriptures say about
TABERNACLE
the dwelling-place of the holy Yahweh in the midst of His people
also Tent of Meeting, sanctuary, tabernacle of the congregation
References:
Easton's Bible Dictionary | Smith's Bible Dictionary | International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - A and B | Thompson Chain Reference
Also see:
Life sized replica of the tabernacle, New Holy Land Tour, Eureka Springs, AR

TABERNACLE, TENT OF MEETING in scriptures [BibleGateway Search]

select Cross Reference Bible links
Exodus 25:8-9 - sanctuary, tabernacle
Exodus 27:21 - tent of meeting
Hebrews 8:5 - a copy and shadow of the heavenly things


TABERNACLE [Easton's Bible Dictionary]

  • A house or dwelling-place (Job 5:24; 18:6, etc.).
  • A portable shrine (Compare Acts 19:24) containing the image of Moloch (Amos 5:26; marg. and RSV, "Siccuth").
  • The human body (2 Corinthians 5:1,4); a tent, as opposed to a permanent dwelling.
  • The sacred tent (Heb. mishkan, "the dwelling-place"); the movable tent-temple which Moses erected for the service of God, according to the "pattern" which God himself showed to him on the mount (Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:5).
    It is called "the tabernacle of the congregation," rather "of meeting", i.e., where God promised to meet with Israel (Exodus 29:42);

    the "tabernacle of the testimony" (Exodus 38:21; Numbers 1:50), which does not, however, designate the whole structure, but only the enclosure which contained the "ark of the testimony" (Exodus 25:16,22; Numbers 9:15);

    the "tabernacle of witness" (Numbers 17:8);

    the "house of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 23:18);

    the "temple of the Lord" (Joshua 6:24);

    a "sanctuary" (Exodus 25:8).

    A particular account of the materials which the people provided for the erection and of the building itself is recorded in Exodus 25:1-40. The execution of the plan mysteriously given to Moses was intrusted to Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were specially endowed with wisdom and artistic skill, probably gained in Egypt, for this purpose (Exodus 35:30-35). The people provided materials for the tabernacle so abundantly that Moses was under the necessity of restraining them (36:6). These stores, from which they so liberally contributed for this purpose, must have consisted in a great part of the gifts which the Egyptians so readily bestowed on them on the eve of the (Exodus 12:35,36).

    The tabernacle was a rectangular enclosure, in length about 45 feet (i.e., reckoning a cubit at 18 inches) and in breadth and height about 15. Its two sides and its western end were made of boards of acacia wood, placed on end, resting in sockets of brass, the eastern end being left open (Exodus 26:22). This framework was covered with four coverings, the first of linen, in which figures of the symbolic cherubim were wrought with needlework in blue and purple and scarlet threads, and probably also with threads of gold (Exodus 26:1-6; 36:8-13). Above this was a second covering of twelve curtains of black goats'-hair cloth, reaching down on the outside almost to the ground (Exodus 26:7-11). The third covering was of rams' skins dyed red, and the fourth was of badgers' skins (Heb. tahash, i.e., the dugong, a species of seal), Exodus 25:5; 26:14; 35:7,23; 36:19; 39:34.

    Internally it was divided by a veil into two chambers, the exterior of which was called the holy place, also "the sanctuary" (Hebrews 9:2) and the "first tabernacle" (6); and the interior, the holy of holies, "the holy place," "the Holiest," the "second tabernacle" (Exodus 28:29; Hebrews 9:3,7). The veil separating these two chambers was a double curtain of the finest workmanship, which was never passed except by the high priest once a year, on the great Day of Atonement. The holy place was separated from the outer court which enclosed the tabernacle by a curtain, which hung over the six pillars which stood at the east end of the tabernacle, and by which it was entered.

    The order as well as the typical character of the services of the tabernacle are recorded in Hebrews 9; 10:19-22.

    The holy of holies, a cube of 10 cubits, contained the "ark of the testimony", i.e., the oblong chest containing the two tables of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded.

    The holy place was the western and larger chamber of the tabernacle. Here were placed the table for the shewbread, the golden candlestick, and the golden altar of incense.

    Round about the tabernacle was a court, enclosed by curtains hung upon sixty pillars (Exodus 27:9-18). This court was 150 feet long and 75 feet broad. Within it were placed the altar of burnt offering, which measured 7 1/2 feet in length and breadth and 4 1/2 feet high, with horns at the four corners, and the laver of brass (Exodus 30:18), which stood between the altar and the tabernacle.

    The whole tabernacle was completed in seven months. On the first day of the first month of the second year after the Exodus, it was formally set up, and the cloud of the divine presence descended on it (Exodus 39:22-43; 40:1-38). It cost 29 talents 730 shekels of gold, 100 talents 1,775 shekels of silver, 70 talents 2,400 shekels of brass (Exodus 38:24-31).

    The tabernacle was so constructed that it could easily be taken down and conveyed from place to place during the wanderings in the wilderness. The first encampment of the Israelites after crossing the Jordan was at Gilgal, and there the tabernacle remained for seven years (Joshua 4:19). It was afterwards removed to Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), where it remained during the time of the Judges, till the days of Eli, when the ark, having been carried out into the camp when the Israelites were at war with the Philistines, was taken by the enemy (1 Samuel 4), and was never afterwards restored to its place in the tabernacle. The old tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness was transferred to Nob (1 Samuel 21:1), and after the destruction of that city by Saul (22:9; 1 Chronicles 16:39,40), to Gibeon. It is mentioned for the last time in 1 Chronicles 21:29. A new tabernacle was erected by David at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 16:1), and the ark was brought from Perez-uzzah and deposited in it (2 Samuel 6:8-17; 2Chr 1:4).

    The word thus rendered ('ohel) in Exodus 33:7 denotes simply a tent, probably Moses' own tent, for the tabernacle was not yet erected.


  • TABERNACLE [Smith's Bible Dictionary]

    The tabernacle was the tent of Jehovah, called by the same name as the tents of the people in the midst of which it stood. It was also called the sanctuary and the tabernacle of the congregation. The first ordinance given to Moses, after the proclamation of the outline of the law from Sinai, related to the ordering of the tabernacle, its furniture and its service as the type which was to be followed when the people came to their own home and "found a place" for the abode of God. During the forty days of Mosesí first retirement with God in Sinai, an exact pattern of the whole was shown him, and all was made according to it. (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30; 39:32,42,43; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5) The description of this plan is preceded by an account of the freewill offerings which the children of Israel were to be asked to make for its execution.

    I. THE TABERNACLE ITSELF.--

    1. Its name . -- It was first called a tent or dwelling , (Exodus 25:8) because Jehovah as it were, abode there. It was often called tent or tabernacle from its external appearance.

    2. Its materials . -- The materials were --

    (a) Metals: gold, silver and brass.

    (b) Textile fabrics: blue, purple, scarlet and fine (white) linen, for the production of which Egypt was celebrated; also a fabric of goatís hair, the produce of their own flocks.

    (c) Skins: of the ram, dyed red, and of the badger.

    (d) Wood the shittim wood, the timber of the wild acacia of the desert itself, the tree of the "burning bush."

    (e) Oil, spices and incense for anointing the priests and burning in the tabernacle.

    (f) Gems: onyx stones and the precious stones for the breastplate of the high priest. The people gave jewels, and plates of gold and silver and brass; wood, skins, hair and linen; the women wove; the rulers offered precious stones, oil, spices and incense; and the artists soon had more than they needed. (Exodus 25:1-8; 35:4-29; 36:5-7) The superintendence of the work was intrusted to Bezaleel, of the tribe of Judah, and to Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, who were skilled in "all manner of workmanship." (Exodus 31:2,6; 35:30,34)

    3. Its structure. -- The tabernacle was to comprise three main parts, -- the tabernacle more strictly so called, its tent and its covering. (Exodus 35:11; 39:33,34; 40:19,34; Numbers 3:25) etc. These parts are very clearly distinguished in the Hebrew, but they are confounded in many places of the English version. The tabernacle itself was to consist of curtains of fine linen woven with colored figures of cherubim, and a structure of boards which was to contain the holy place and the most holy place; the tent was to be a true tent of goatís hair cloth, to contain and shelter the tabernacle; the covering was to be of red ram-skins and seal-skins, (Exodus 25:5) and was spread over the goatís hair tent as an additional protection against the weather. It was an oblong rectangular structure, 30 cubits in length by 10 in width (45 feet by 15), and 10 in height; the interior being divided into two chambers, the first or outer, of 20 cubits in length, the inner, of 10 cubits, and consequently and exact cube. The former was the holy place , or first tabernacle , (Hebrews 9:2) containing the golden candlestick on one side, the table of shew-bread opposite, and between them in the centre the altar of incense. The latter was the most holy place , or the holy of holies , containing the ark, surmounted by the cherubim, with the two tables inside. The two sides and the farther or west end were enclosed by boards of shittim wood overlaid with gold, twenty on the north and twenty on the south side, six on the west side, and the corner-boards doubled. They stood upright, edge to edge, their lower ends being made with tenons, which dropped into sockets of silver, and the corner-boards being coupled at the tope with rings. They were furnished with golden rings, through which passed bars of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, five to each side, and the middle bar passing from end to end, so as to brace the whole together. Four successive coverings of curtains looped together were placed over the open top and fell down over the sides. The first or inmost was a splendid fabric of linen, embroidered with figures of cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet, and looped together by golden fastenings. It seems probable that the ends of this set of curtains hung down within the tabernacle, forming a sumptuous tapestry. The second was a covering of goatsí hair; the third, of ram-skins dyed red and the outermost, of badger-skins (so called in our version; but the Hebrew word probably signifies seal-skins). It has been commonly supposed that these coverings were thrown over the wall, as a pall is thrown over a coffin; but this would have allowed every drop of rain that fell on the tabernacle to fall through; for, however tightly the curtains might be stretched, the water could never run over the edge, and the sheep-skins would only make the matter worse as when wetted their weight would depress the centre and probably tear any curtain that could be made. There can be no reasonable doubt that the tent had a ridge, as all tents have had from the days of Moses down to the present time. The front of the sanctuary was closed by a hanging of fine linen, embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet, and supported by golden hooks on five pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold and standing in brass sockets; and the covering of goatís hair was so made as to fall down over this when required. A more sumptuous curtain of the same kind, embroidered with cherubim hung on four such pillars, with silver sockets, divided the holy from the most holy place. It was called the veil, (Sometimes the second veil, either is reference to the first, at the entrance of the holy place, or as below the vail of the second sanctuary;) (Hebrews 9:3) as it hid from the eyes of all but the high priest the inmost sanctuary, where Jehovah dwells on his mercy-seat, between the cherubim above the ark. Hence "to enter within the veil" is to have the closest access to God. It was only passed by the high priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement in token of the mediation of Christ, who with his own blood hath entered for us within the veil which separates Godís own abode from earth. (Hebrews 6:19) In the temple, the solemn barrier was at length profaned by a Roman conqueror, to warn the Jews that the privileges they had forfeited were "ready to vanish away;" and the veil was at last rent by the hand of God himself, at the same moment that the body of Christ was rent upon the cross, to indicate that the entrance into the holiest of all is now laid open to all believers by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." (Hebrews 10:19,20) The holy place was only entered by the priests daily, to offer incense at the time of morning and evening prayer, and to renew the lights on the golden candlesticks; and on the sabbath, to remove the old shew-bread, and to place the new upon the table.

    II. THE SACRED FURNITURE AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE TABERNACLE. --These are described in separate articles, and therefore it is only necessary to give a list of them here.

    4. In the outer court. The altar of burnt offering and the brazen laver . [ALTAR; LAVER]

    5. In the holy place. The furniture of the court was connected with sacrifice; that of the sanctuary itself with the deeper mysteries of mediation and access to God. The first sanctuary contained three objects: the altar of incense in the centre, so as to be directly in front of the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 6:22) the table of shew-bread on its right or north side, and the golden candlestick on the left or south side. These objects were all considered as being placed before the presence of Jehovah, who dwelt in the holiest of all, though with the veil between. [ALTAR; SHEW-BREAD; CANDLESTICK]

    6. In the holy of holies, within the veil, and shrouded in darkness, there was but one object, the ark of the covenant, containing the two tables of stone, inscribed with the Ten Commandments. [ARK]

    III. THE COURT OF THE TABERNACLE, in which the tabernacle itself stood, was an oblong space, 100 cubits by 50 (i.e. 150 feet by 75), having its longer axis east and west, with its front to the east. It was surrounded by canvas screens -- in the East called kannauts -- 5 cubits in height, and supported by pillars of brass 5 cubits apart, to which the curtains were attached by hooks and filets of silver. (Exodus 27:9) etc. This enclosure was broken only on the east side by the entrance, which was 20 cubits wide, and closed by curtains of fine twined linen wrought with needlework and of the most gorgeous colors. In the outer or east half of the court was placed the altar of burnt offering, and between it and the tabernacle itself; the laver at which the priests washed their hands and feet on entering the temple. The tabernacle itself was placed toward the west end of this enclosure.

    IV. HISTORY. --"The tabernacle, as the place in which Jehovah dwelt, was pitched in the centre of the camp, (Numbers 2:2) as the tent of a leader always is in the East; for Jehovah was the Captain of Israel. (Joshua 5:14,15) During the marches of Israel, the tabernacle was still in the centre. (Numbers 2:1) ... The tribes camped and marched around it in the order of a hollow square. In certain great emergencies led the march. (Joshua 3:11-16) Upon the tabernacle, abode always the cloud, dark by day and fiery red by night, (Exodus 10:38) giving the signal for the march, (Exodus 40:36,37; Numbers 9:17) and the halt. (Numbers 9:15-23) It was always the special meeting-place of Jehovah and his people. (Numbers 11:24,25; 12:4; 14:10; 16:19,42; 20:6; 27:2; 31:14) "During the conquest of Canaan the tabernacle at first moved from place to place, (Joshua 4:19; 8:30-35; 9:6; 10:15) was finally located at Shiloh. (Joshua 9:27; 18:1) Here it remained during the time of the judges, till it was captured by the Philistines, who carried off the sacred ark of the covenant. (1 Samuel 4:22) From this time forward the glory of the tabernacle was gone. When the ark was recovered, it was removed to Jerusalem, and placed in a new tabernacle (2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 15:1) but the old structure still had its hold on the veneration of the community and the old altar still received their offerings. (1 Chronicles 16:39; 21:29) It was not till the temple was built, and a fitting house thus prepared for the Lord, that the ancient tabernacle was allowed to perish and be forgotten.

    V. SIGNIFICANCE. -- (The great underlying principles of true religion are the same in all ages and for all men; because manís nature and needs are the same, and the same God ever rules over all. But different ages require different methods of teaching these truths, and can understand them in different degrees. As we are taught in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the tabernacle was part of a great system of teaching by object-lessons, and of training the world to understand and receive the great truths which were to be revealed in Jesus Christ and thus really to save the Jews from sin By Jesus dimly seen in the future, as we clearly see him in the past.

    (1) The tabernacle and its services enabled the Jews, who had no visible representation of God, to feel the reality of God and of religion.

    (2) The tabernacle as the most beautiful and costly object in the nation and ever in the centre of the camp, set forth the truth that religion was the central fact and the most important, in a persons life.

    (3) The pillar of cloud and of fire was the best possible symbol of the living God, -- a cloud, bright, glowing like the sunset clouds, glorious, beautiful, mysterious, self-poised, heavenly; fire, immaterial, the source of life and light and comfort and cheer, but yet unapproachable, terrible, a consuming fire to the wicked.

    (4) The altar of burnt offering, standing before the tabernacle was a perpetual symbol of the atonement, -- the greatness of sin, deserving death, hard to be removed and yet forgiveness possible, and offered freely, but only through blood. The offerings, as brought by the people were a type of consecration to God, of conversion and new life, through the atonement.

    (6) This altar stood outside of the tabernacle, and must be passed before we come to the tabernacle itself; a type of the true religious life. Before the tabernacle was also the laver, signifying the same thing that baptism does with us, the cleansing of the heart and life.

    (8) Having entered the holy place, we find the three great means and helps to true living, -- the candlestick, the light of Godís truth; the shew-bread, teaching that the soul must have its spiritual food and live in communion with God; and the altar of incense, the symbol of prayer. The holy of holies, beyond, taught that there was progress in the religious life, and that progress was toward God, and toward the perfect keeping of the law till it was as natural to obey the law as it is to breathe; and thus the holy of holies was the type of heaven. --ED.)


    TABERNACLE - A [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

    tab'-er-na-k'l ('ohel mo`edh "tent of meeting," mishkan, "dwelling"; skene):
    A. STRUCTURE AND HISTORY and B. IN CRITICISM
    I. INTRODUCTORY
    1. Earlier "Tent of Meeting"
    2. A Stage in Revelation
    3. The Tabernacle Proper
    II. STRUCTURE
    1. The Enclosure or Court
    2. Structure, Divisions and Furniture of the Tabernacle
    (1) Coverings of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:1-14; 36:8-19)
    (a) Tabernacle Covering Proper
    (b) Tent Covering
    (c) Protective Covering
    (2) Framework and Divisions of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:15-37; 36:20-38)
    Arrangement of Coverings
    (3) Furniture of the Sanctuary
    (a) The Table of Shewbread
    (b) The Candlestick (Lampstand)
    (c) The Altar of Incense
    III. HISTORY
    1. Removal from Sinai
    2. Sojourn at Kadesh
    3. Settlement in Canaan
    4. Destruction of Shiloh
    5. Delocalization of Worship
    6. Nob and Gibeon
    7. Restoration of the Ark
    8. The Two Tabernacles
    IV. SYMBOLISM
    1. New Testament References
    2. God's Dwelling with Man
    3. Symbolism of Furniture
    LITERATURE

    I. Introductory.

    Altars sacred to Yahweh were earlier than sacred buildings. Abraham built such detached altars at the Terebinth of Moreh (Genesis 12:6-7), and again between Beth-el and Ai (Genesis 12:8). Though he built altars in more places than one, his conception of God was already monotheistic. The "Judge of all the earth" (Genesis 18:25) was no tribal deity. This monotheistic ideal was embodied and proclaimed in the tabernacle and in the subsequent temples of which the tabernacle was the prototype.
    1. Earlier "Tent of Meeting":
    The first step toward a habitation for the Deity worshipped at the altar was taken at Sinai, when Moses builded not only "an altar under the mount," but "12 pillars, according to the 12 tribes of Israel" (Exodus 24:4). There is no recorded command to this effect, and there was as yet no separated priesthood, and sacrifices were offered by "young men of the children of Israel" (Exodus 24:5); but already the need of a separated structure was becoming evident. Later, but still at Sinai, after the sin of the golden calf, Moses is stated to have pitched "the tent" (as if well known: the tense is frequentative, "used to take the tent and to pitch it") "without the camp, afar off," and to have called it, "the tent of meeting," a term often met with afterward (Exodus 33:7 ff). This "tent" was not yet the tabernacle proper, but served an interim purpose. The ark was not yet made; a priesthood was not yet appointed; it was "without the camp"; Joshua was the sole minister (Exodus 33:11). It was a simple place of revelation and of the meeting of the people with Yahweh (Exodus 33:7,9-11). Critics, on the other hand, identifying this "tent" with that in Numbers 11:16 ff; Numbers 12:4 ff; Deuteronomy 31:14-15 (ascribed to the Elohist source), regard it as the primitive tent of the wanderings, and on the ground of these differences from the tabernacle, described later (in the Priestly Code), deny the historicity of the latter. On this see below under B, 4, (5).
    2. A Stage in Revelation:
    No doubt this localization of the shrine of Yahweh afforded occasion for a possible misconception of Yahweh as a tribal Deity. We must remember that here and throughout we have to do with the education of a people whose instincts and surroundings were by no means monotheistic. It was necessary that their education should begin with some sort of concession to existing ideas. They were not yet, nor for long afterward, capable of the conception of a God who dwelleth not in temples made with hands. So an altar and a tent were given them; but in the fact that this habitation of God was not fixed to one spot, but was removed from place to place in the nomad life of the Israelites, they had a persistent education leading them away from the idea of local and tribal deities.
    3. The Tabernacle Proper:
    The tabernacle proper is that of which the account is given in Exodus 25 through Exodus 27; 30 through Exodus 31; 35 through Exodus 40, with additional details in Numbers 3:25 ff; Numbers 4:4 ff; Numbers 7:1 ff. The central idea of the structure is given in the words, "Make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8). It was the dwelling-place of the holy Yahweh in the midst of His people; also the place of His "meeting" with them (Exodus 25:22). The first of these ideas is expressed in the name mishkan; the second in the name 'ohel mo`edh (it is a puzzling fact for the critics that in Exodus 25 through Exodus 27:19 only mishkan is used; in Exodus 28 through Exodus 31 only 'ohel mo`edh; in other sections the names intermingle). The tabernacle was built as became such a structure, according to the "pattern" shown to Moses in the mount (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30; compare Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:2,5). The modern critical school regards this whole description of the tabernacle as an "ideal" construction -- a projection backward by post-exilian imagination of the ideas and dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, the measurements of the latter being throughout halved. Against this violent assumption, however, many things speak. See below under B.
    II. Structure.
    The ground plan of the Mosaic tabernacle (with its divisions, courts, furniture, etc.) can be made out with reasonable certainty. As respects the actual construction, knotty problems remain, in regard to which the most diverse opinions prevail. Doubt rests also on the precise measurement by cubits (see CUBIT ; for a special theory, see W. S. Caldecott, The Tabernacle; Its History and Structure). For simplification the cubit is taken in this article as roughly equivalent to 18 inches.

    A first weighty question relates to the shape of the tabernacle. The conventional and still customary conception (Keil, Bahr, A. R. S. Kennedy in HDB, etc.) represents it as an oblong, flat-roofed structure, the rich coverings, over the top, hanging down on either side and at the back -- not unlike, to use a figure sometimes employed, a huge coffin with a pall thrown over it. Nothing could be less like a "tent," and the difficulty at once presents itself of how, in such a structure, "sagging" of the roof was to be prevented. Mr. J. Fergusson, in his article "Temple" in Smith's DB, accordingly, advanced the other conception that the structure was essentially that of a tent, with ridge-pole, sloping roof, and other appurtenances of such an erection. He plausibly, though not with entire success, sought to show how this construction answered accurately to the measurements and other requirements of the text (e.g. the mention of "pins of the tabernacle," Exodus 35:18). With slight modification this view here commends itself as having most in its favor.

    To avoid the difficulty of the ordinary view, that the coverings, hanging down outside the framework, are unseen from within, except on the roof, it has sometimes been argued that the tapestry covering hung down, not outside, but inside the tabernacle (Keil, Bahr, etc.). It is generally felt that this arrangement is inadmissible. A newer and more ingenious theory is that propounded by A. R. S. Kennedy in his article "Tabernacle" in HDB. It is that the "boards" constituting the framework of the tabernacle were, not solid planks, but really open "frames," through which the finely wrought covering could be seen from within. There is much that is fascinating in this theory, if the initial assumption of the flat roof is granted, but it cannot be regarded as being yet satisfactorily made out. Professor Kennedy argues from the excessive weight of the solid "boards." It might be replied: In a purely "ideal" structure such as he supposes this to be, what does the weight matter? The "boards," however, need not have been so thick or heavy as he represents.

    In the more minute details of construction yet greater diversity of opinion obtains, and imagination is often allowed a freedom of exercise incompatible with the sober descriptions of the text.

    1. The Enclosure or Court:

    The attempt at reconstruction of the tabernacle begins naturally with the "court" (chatser) or outer enclosure in which the tabernacle stood (see COURT OF THE SANCTUARY; TABERNACLE; TEMPLE ). The description is given in Exodus 27:9-18; 38:9-20. The court is to be conceived of as an enclosed space of 100 cubits (150 ft.) in length, and 50 cubits (75 ft.) in breadth, its sides formed (with special arrangement for the entrance) by "hangings" or curtains (qela`im) of "fine twined linen," 5 cubits (7 1/2 ft.) in height, supported by pillars of brass (bronze) 5 cubits apart, to which the hangings were attached by "hooks" and "fillets" of silver. It thus censisted of two squares of 50 cubits each, in the anterior of which (the easterly) stood the "altar of burnt-offering" (see ALTAR ), and the "layer" (see LAVER ), and in the posterior (the westerly) the tabernacle itself. From Exodus 30:17-21 we learn that the laver -- a large (bronze) vessel for the ablutions of the priests -- stood between the altar and the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18) The pillars were 60 in number, 20 being reckoned to the longer sides (North and South), and 10 each to the shorter (East and West). The pillars were set in "sockets" or bases ('edhen) of brass (bronze), and had "capitals" (the King James Version and the English Revised Version "chapiters") overlaid with silver (Exodus 38:17). The "fillets" are here, as usually, regarded as silver rods connecting the pillars; some, however, as Ewald, Dillmann, Kennedy, take the "fillet" to be an ornamental band round the base of the capital. On the eastern side was the "gate" or entrance. This was formed by a "screen" (macakh) 20 cubits (30 ft.) in breadth, likewise of fine twined linen, but distinguished from the other (white) hangings by being embroidered in blue, and purple, and scarlet (see EAST GATE ). The hangings on either side of the "gate" were 15 cubits in breadth. The 10 pillars of the east side are distributed -- 4 to the entrance screen, 3 on either side to the hangings. The enumeration creates some difficulty till it is remembered that in the reckoning round the court no pillar is counted twice, and that the corner pillars and those on either side of the entrance had each to do a double duty. The reckoning is really by the 5-cubit spaces between the pillars. Mention is made (Exodus 27:19; 38:20) of the "pins" of the court, as well as of the tabernacle, by means of which, in the former case, the pillars were held in place. These also were of brass (bronze).
    2. Structure, Divisions and Furniture of the Tabernacle:
    In the inner of the two squares of the court was reared the tabernacle -- a rectangular oblong structure, 30 cubits (45 ft.) long and 10 cubits (15 ft.) broad, divided into two parts, a holy and a most holy (Exodus 26:33). Attention has to be given here

    (1) to the coverings of the tabernacle,
    (2) to its framework and divisions, and
    (3) to its furniture.

    (1) Coverings of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:1-14; 36:8-19).

    The wooden framework of the tabernacle to be afterward described had 3 coverings--one, the immediate covering of the tabernacle or "dwelling," called by the same name, mishkan (Exodus 26:1,6); a second, the tent" covering of goats' hair; and a third, a protective covering of rams' and seal- (or porpoise-) skins, cast over the whole.

    (a) Tabernacle Covering Proper:
    The covering of the tabernacle proper (Exodus 26:1-6) consisted of 10 curtains (yeri`oth, literally, "breadth") of fine twined linen, beautifully-woven with blue, and purple, and scarlet, and with figures of cherubim. The 10 curtains, each 28 cubits long and 4 cubits broad, were joined together in sets of 5 to form 2 large curtains, which again were fastened by 50 loops and clasps (the King James Version "taches") of gold, so as to make a single great curtain 40 cubits (60 ft.) long, and 28 cubits (42 ft.) broad.
    (b) Tent Covering:
    The "tent" covering (Exodus 26:7-13) was formed by 11 curtains of goats hair, the length in this case being 30 cubits, and the breadth 4 cubits. These were joined in sets of 5 and 6 curtains, and as before the two divisions were coupled by 50 loops and clasps (this time of bronze), into one great curtain of 44 cubits (66 ft.) in length and 30 cubits (45 ft.) in breadth--an excess of 4 cubits in length and 2 in breadth over the fine tabernacle curtain.
    (c) Protective Covering:
    Finally, for purposes of protection, coverings were ordered to be made (Exodus 26:14) for the "tent" of rams' skins dyed red, and of seal-skins or porpoise-skins (English Versions of the Bible, "badgers' skins"). The arrangement of the coverings is considered below.
    (2) Framework and Division of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:15-37; 36:20-38)
    The framework of the tabernacle was, as ordinarily understood, composed of upright "boards" of acacia wood, forming 3 sides of the oblong structure, the front being closed by an embroidered screen," depending from 5 pillars (Exodus 26:36-37; see below). These boards, 48 in number (20 each for the north and south sides, and 8 for the west side), were 10 cubits (15 ft.) in height, and 1 1/2 cubits (2 ft. 3 in.) in breadth (the thickness is not given), and were overlaid with gold. They were set by means of "tenons" (literally, "hands"), or projections at the foot, 2 for each board, in 96 silver "sockets," or bases ("a talent for a socket," Exodus 38:27). In the boards were "rings" of gold, through which were passed 3 horizontal "bars," to hold the parts together -- the middle bar, apparently, on the long sides, extending from end to end (Exodus 26:28), the upper and lower bars being divided in the center (5 bars in all on each side). The bars, like the boards, were overlaid with gold. Some obscurity rests on the arrangement at the back: 6 of the boards were of the usual breadth (= 9 cubits), but the 2 corner boards appear to have made up only a cubit between them (Exodus 26:22-24). Notice has already been taken of theory (Kennedy, article "Tabernacle," HDB) that the so-called "boards" were not really such, but were open "frames," the 2 uprights of which, joined by crosspieces, are the "tenons" of the text. It seems unlikely, if this was meant, that it should not be more distinctly explained. The enclosure thus constructed was next divided into 2 apartments, separated by a "veil," which hung from 4 pillars overlaid with gold and resting in silver sockets. Like the tabernacle-covering, the veil was beautifully woven with blue, purple, and scarlet, and with figures of cherubim (Exodus 26:31-32; see VEIL (1) ). The outer of these chambers, or holy place" was as usually computed, 20 cubits long by 10 broad; the inner, or most holy place, was 10 cubits square. The "door of the tent" (Exodus 26:36) was formed, as already stated, by a "screen," embroidered with the above colors, and depending from 5 pillars in bronze sockets. Here also the hooks were of gold, and the pillars and their capitals overlaid with gold (Exodus 36:38).
    Arrangement of Coverings:
    Preference has already been expressed for Mr. Fergusson's idea that the tabernacle was not flat-roofed, the curtains being cast over it like drapery, but was tentlike in shape, with ridge-pole, and a sloping roof, raising the total height to 15 cubits. Passing over the ridge pole, and descending at an angle, 14 cubits on either side, the inner curtain would extend 5 cubits beyond the walls of the tabernacle, making an awning of that width North and South, while the goats'-hair covering above it, 2 cubits wider, would hang below it a cubit on either side. The whole would be held in position by ropes secured by bronze tent-pins to the ground (Exodus 27:19; 38:31). The scheme has obvious advantages in that it preserves the idea of a "tent," conforms to the principal measurements, removes the difficulty of "sagging" on the (flat) roof, and permits of the golden boards, bars and rings, on the outside, and of the finely wrought tapestry, on the inside, being seen (Professor Kennedy provides for the latter by his "frames," through which the curtain would be visible). On the other hand, it is not to be concealed that the construction proposed presents several serious difficulties. The silence of the text about a ridge-pole, supporting pillars, and other requisites of Mr. Fergusson's scheme (his suggestion that "the middle bar" of Exodus 26:28 may be the ridge-pole is quite untenable), may be got over by assuming that these parts are taken for granted as understood in tent-construction. But this does not apply to other adjustments, especially those connected with the back and front of the tabernacle. It was seen above that the inner covering was 40 cubits in length, while the tabernacle-structure was 30 cubits. How is this excess of 10 cubits in the tapestry-covering dealt with? Mr. Fergusson, dividing equally, supposes a porch of 5 cubits at the front, and a space of 5 cubits also behind, with hypothetical pillars. The text, however, is explicit that the veil dividing the holy from the most holy place was hung "under the clasps" (Exodus 26:33), i.e. on this hypothesis, midway in the structure, or 15 cubits from either end. Either, then,
    (1) the idea must be abandoned that the holy place was twice the length of the Holy of Holies (20 X 10; it is to be observed that the text does not state the proportions, which are inferred from those of Solomon's Temple), or

    (2) Mr. Fergusson's arrangement must be given up, and the division of the curtain be moved back 5 cubits, depriving him of his curtain for the porch, and leaving 10 cubits to be disposed of in the rear.

    Another difficulty is connected with the porch itself. No clear indication of such a porch is given in the text, while the 5 pillars "for the screen" (Exodus 26:37) are most naturally taken to be, like the latter, at the immediate entrance of the tabernacle. Mr. Fergusson, on the other hand, finds it necessary to separate pillars and screen, and to place the pillars 5 cubits farther in front. He is right, however, in saying that the 5th pillar naturally suggests a ridge-pole; in his favor also is the fact that the extra breadth of the overlying tentcovering was to hang down, 2 cubits at the front, and 2 cubits at the back of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:9,12). It is possible that there was a special disposition of the inner curtain -- that belonging peculiarly to the "dwelling" -- "according to which its "clasps" lay above the "veil" of the Holy of Holies (20 cubits from the entrance), and its hinder folds closed the aperture at the rear which otherwise would have admitted light into the secrecy of the shrine. But constructions of this kind must ever remain more or less conjectural.

    The measurements in the above reckoning are internal. Dr. Kennedy disputes this, but the analogy of the temple is against his view.

    (3) Furniture of the Sanctuary
    The furniture of the sanctuary is described in Exodus 25:10-40 (ark, table of shewbread, candlestick); Exodus 30:1-10 (altar of incense); compare Exodus 37 for making. In the innermost shrine, the Holy of Holies, the sole object was the ark of the covenant, overlaid within and without with pure gold, with its molding and rings of gold, its staves overlaid with gold passed through the rings, and its lid or covering of solid gold -- the propitiatory or mercy-seat -- at either end of which, of one piece with it. (Exodus 25:19; 37:8), stood cherubim, with wings outstretched over the mercy-seat and with faces turned toward it (for details see ARK OF THE COVENANT; MERCY-SEAT, THE ; CHERUBIM (1) ). This was the meeting-place of Yahweh and His people through Moses (Exodus 25:22). The ark contained only the two tables of stone, hence its name "the ark of the testimony" (Exodus 25:16,22). It is not always realized how small an object the ark was -- only 2 1/2 cubits (3 ft. 9 in.) long, 1 1/2 cubits (2 ft. 3 in.) broad, and the same (1 1/2 cubits) high.
    The furniture of the outer chamber of the tabernacle consisted of

    (a) the table of shewbread;
    (b) the golden candlestick:
    (c) the altar of incense, or golden altar.

    These were placed, the table of shewbread on the north side (Exodus 40:22), the candlestick on the south side (Exodus 40:24), and the altar of incense in front of the veil, in the holy place.

    (a) The Table of Shewbread:
    The table of shewbread was a small table of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, with a golden rim round the top, gold rings at the corners of its 4 feet, staves for the rings, and a "border" (at middle?) joining the legs, holding them together. Its dimensions were 2 cubits (3 ft.) long, 1 cubit (18 inches) broad, and 1 1/2 cubits (2 ft. 3 inches) high. On it were placed 12 cakes, renewed each week, in 2 piles (compare Leviticus 24:5-9), together with dishes (for the bread), spoons (incense cups), flagons and bowls (for drink offerings), all of pure gold.

    See SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF , TABLE OF NATIONS .

    (b) The Candlestick:
    The candlestick or lampstand was the article on which most adornment was lavished. It was of pure gold, and consisted of a central stem (in Exodus 25:32-35 this specially receives the name "candlestick"), with 3 curved branches on either side, all elegantly wrought with cups of almond blossom, knops, and flowers (lilies?)--3 of this series to each branch and 4 to the central stem. Upon the 6 branches and the central stem were 7 lamps from which the light issued. Connected with the candlestick were snuffers and snuff-dishes for the wicks--all of gold. The candlestick was formed from a talent of pure gold (Exodus 25:38).

    See CANDLESTICK, THE GOLDEN .

    (c) The Altar of Incense:
    The description of the altar of incense occurs (Exodus 30:1-10) for some unexplained reason or displacement out of the place where it might be expected, but this is no reason for throwing doubt (with some) upon its existence. It was a small altar, overlaid with gold, a cubit (18 in.) square, and 2 cubits (3 ft.) high, with 4 horns. On it was burned sweet-smelling incense. It had the usual golden rim, golden rings, and gold-covered staves.

    See ALTAR OF INCENSE.

    III. History.
    1. Removal from Sinai:
    We may fix 1220 BC as the approximate date of the introduction of the tabernacle. It was set up at Sinai on the 1st day of the 1st month of the 2nd year (Exodus 40:2,17), i.e. 14 days before the celebration of the Passover on the first anniversary of the exodus (see CHRONOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT , sec. VII, VIII). When the people resumed their journey, the ark was wrapped in the veil which had served to isolate the most holy place (Numbers 4:5). This and the two altars were carried upon the shoulders of the children of Kohath, a descendant of Levi, and were removed under the personal supervision of the high priest (Numbers 3:31-32; 4:15). The rest of the dismembered structure was carried in six covered wagons, offered by the prince, each drawn by two oxen (Numbers 7). Doubtless others were provided for the heavier materials (compare Keil). Before leaving Sinai the brazen altar had been dedicated, and utensils of gold and silver had been presented for use at the services. The tabernacle had been standing at Sinai during 50 days (Numbers 10:11).
    2. Sojourn at Kadesh:
    The journey lay along the "great and terrible wilderness" between Horeb in the heart of Arabia and Kadesh-barnea in the Negeb of Judah; of the 40 years occupied in the journey to Canaan, nearly 38 were spent at Kadesh, a fact not always clearly recognized. The tabernacle stood here during 37 years (one year being occupied in a punitive journey southward to the shore of the Red Sea). During this whole time the ordinary sacrifices were not offered (Amos 5:25), though it is possible that the appropriate seasons were nevertheless marked in more than merely chronological fashion. Few incidents are recorded as to these years, and little mention is made of the tabernacle throughout the whole journey except that the ark of the covenant preceded the host when on the march (Numbers 10:33-36). It is the unusual that is recorded; the daily aspect of the tabernacle and the part it played in the life of the people were among the things recurrent and familiar.
    3. Settlement in Canaan:
    When, at last, the Jordan was crossed, the first consideration, presumably, was to find a place on which to pitch the sacred tent, a place hitherto uninhabited and free from possible defilement by human graves. Such a place was found in the neighborhood of Jericho, and came to be known as Gilgal (Joshua 4:19; 5:10; 9:6; 10:6,43). Gilgal, however, was always regarded as a temporary site. The tabernacle is not directly mentioned in connection with it. The question of a permanent location was the occasion of mutual jealousy among the tribes, and was at last settled by the removal of the tabernacle to Shiloh, in the territory of Ephraim, a place conveniently central for attendance of all adult males at the three yearly festivals, without the zone of war, and also of some strategic importance. During the lifetime of Joshua, therefore, the tabernacle was removed over the 20 miles, or less, which separated Shiloh among the hills from Gilgal in the lowlands (Joshua 18:1; 19:51). While at Shiloh it seems to have acquired some accessories of a more permanent kind (1 Samuel 1:9, etc.), which obtained for it the name "temple" (1 Samuel 1:9; 3:3).
    4. Destruction of Shiloh:
    During the period of the Judges the nation lost the fervor of its earlier years and was in imminent danger of apostasy. The daily services of the tabernacle were doubtless observed after a perfunctory manner, but they seem to have had little effect upon the people, either to soften their manners or raise their morals. In the early days of Samuel war broke out afresh with the Philistines. At a council of war the unprecedented proposal was made to fetch the ark of the covenant from Shiloh (1 Samuel 4:1 ff). Accompanied by the two sons of Eli--Hophni and Phinehas--it arrived in the camp and was welcomed by a shout which was heard in the hostile camp. It was no longer Yahweh but the material ark that was the hope of Israel, so low had the people fallen. Eli himself, at that time high priest, must at least have acquiesced in this superstition. It ended in disaster. The ark was taken by the Philistines, its two guardians were slain, and Israel was helpless before its enemies. Though the Hebrew historians are silent about what followed, it is certain that Shiloh itself fell into the hands of the Philistines. The very destruction of it accounts for the silence of the historians, for it would have been at the central sanctuary there, the center and home of what literary culture there was in Israel during this stormy period, that chronicles of events would be kept. Psalms 78:60 ff no doubt has reference to this overthrow, and it is referred to in Jeremiah 7:12. The tabernacle itself does not seem to have been taken by the Philistines, as it is met with later at Nob.
    5. Delocalization of Worship:
    For lack of a high priest of character, Samuel himself seems now to have become the head of religious worship. It is possible that the tabernacle may have been again removed to Gilgal, as it was there that Samuel appointed Saul to meet him in order to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings. The ark, however, restored by the Philistines, remained at Kiriath-jearim (1 Samuel 7:1-2), while courts for ceremonial, civil, and criminal administration were held, not only at Gilgal, but at other places, as Beth-el, Mizpah and Ramah (1 Samuel 7:15-17), places which acquired a quasi-ecclesiastical sanctity. This delocalization of the sanctuary was no doubt revolutionary, but it is partly explained by the fact that even in the tabernacle there was now no ark before which to burn incense. Of the half-dozen places bearing the name of Ramah, this, which was Samuel's home, was the one near to Hebron, where to this day the foundations of what may have been Samuel's sacred enclosure may be seen at the modern Ramet-el-Khalil.
    6. Nob and Gibeon:
    We next hear of the tabernacle at Nob, with Ahimelech, a tool of Saul (probably the Ahijah of 1 Samuel 14:3), as high priest (1 Samuel 21:1 ff). This Nob was 4 miles to the North of Jerusalem and was more-over a high place, 30 ft. higher than Zion. It does not follow that the tabernacle was placed at the top of the hill. Here it remained a few years, till after the massacre by Saul of all the priests at Nob save one, Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:11 ff). Subsequently, possibly by Saul himself, it was removed to Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39; 21:29). Gibeon was 6 miles from Jerusalem, and 7 from Beth-el, and may have been chosen for its strategic advantage as well as for the fact that it was already inhabited by priests, and was Saul's ancestral city.
    7. Restoration of the Ark:
    This removal by Saul, if he was the author of it, was recognized afterward by David as a thing done, with which he did not think it wise to interfere (of 1 Chronicles 16:40). On his capturing the fortress of Jebus (later Jerusalem), and building himself a "house" there, David prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent on Zion in imitation of the tabernacle at Gibeon (2 Samuel 6:17 ff; 1 Chronicles 16:1). He must also have provided an altar, for we read of burnt offerings and peace offerings being made there. Meanwhile the ark had been brought from Kiriath-jearim, where it had lain so long; it was restored in the presence of a concourse of people representing the whole nation, the soldiery and civilians delivering it to the priests (2 Samuel 6:1 ff). On this journey Uzzah was smitten for touching the ark. Arrived near Jerusalem, the ark was carried into the house of Obed-edom, a Levite, and remained there for 3 months. At the end of this time it was carried into David's tabernacle with all fitting solemnity and honor.
    8. The Two Tabernacles:
    Hence, it was that there were now two tabernacles, the original one with its altar at Gibeon, and the new one with the original ark in Jerusalem, both under the protection of the king. Both, however, were soon to be superseded by the building of a temple. The altar at Gibeon continued in use till the time of Solomon. Of all the actual material of the tabernacle, the ark alone remained unchanged in the temple. The tabernacle itself, with its sacred vessels, was brought up to Jerusalem, and was preserved, apparently, as a sacred relic in the temple (1 Kings 8:4). Thus, after a history of more than 200 years, the tabernacle ceases to appear in history.
    IV. Symbolism.

    Though the tabernacle was historically the predecessor of the later temples, as a matter of fact, the veil was the only item actually retained throughout the series of temples. Nevertheless it is the tabernacle rather than the temple which has provided a substructure for much New Testament teaching. All the well-known allusions of the writer to the Hebrews, e.g. in chapters 9 and 10, are to the tabernacle, rather than to any later temple.

    1. New Testament References:
    In general the tabernacle is the symbol of God's dwelling with His people (Exodus 25:8; compare 1 Kings 8:27), an idea in process of realization in more and more perfect forms till it reaches its completion in the carnation of the Word ("The Word became flesh, and dwelt (Greek "tabernacled") among us," John 1:14; compare 2 Corinthians 5:1), in the church collectively (2 Corinthians 6:16) and in the individual believer (1 Corinthians 6:19) and finally in the eternal glory (Revelation 2:13 ff). In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the locus classicus of the tabernacle in Christian thought, the idea is more cosmical--the tabernacle in its holy and most holy divisions representing the earthly and the heavenly spheres of Christ's activity. The Old Testament was but a shadow of the eternal substance, an indication of the true ideal (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). The tabernacle in which Christ ministered was a tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man (Hebrews 8:2). He is the high priest of "the greater and more perfect tabernacle" (Hebrews 9:11). "Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24). The symbolical significance of the tabernacle and its worship is not, however, confined to the Epistle to the Hebrews. It must be admitted that Paul. does not give prominence to the tabernacle symbolism, and further, that his references are to things common to the tabernacle and the temple. But Paul speaks of "the layer of regeneration" (Titus 3:5 the Revised Version margin), and of Christ, who "gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for an odor of a sweet smell" (Ephesians 5:2). The significance which the synoptic writers give to the rending of the veil of the temple (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45) shows how this symbolism entered deeply into their thought and was felt by them to have divine attestation in this supernatural fact. The way into the holiest of all, as the writer to the Hebrews says, was now made manifest (Luke 9:8; 10:19-20).
    2. God's Dwelling with Man:
    The suggestion which underlies all such New Testament references is not only that Christ, in His human manifestation, was both tabernacle and priest, altar and sacrifice, but also, and still more, that God ever has His dwelling among men, veiled no doubt from the unbelieving and insincere, but always manifest and accessible to the faithful and devout. As we have a great high priest who is now passed into the heavens, there to appear in our behalf in the true tabernacle, so we ourselves have permission and encouragement to enter into the holiest place of all on earth by the blood of the everlasting covenant. Of the hopes embodied in these two planes of thought, the earthly tabernacle was the symbol, and contained the prospect and foretaste of the higher communion. It is this which has given the tabernacle such an abiding hold on the imagination and veneration of the Christian church in all lands and languages.
    3. Symbolism of Furniture:
    The symbolism of the various parts of the tabernacle furniture is tolerably obvious, and is considered under the different headings. The ark of the covenant with its propitiatory was the symbol of God's gracious meeting with His people on the ground of atonement (compare Romans 3:25; see ARK OF THE COVENANT ). The twelve cakes of shewbread denote the twelve tribes of Israel, and their presentation is at once an act of gratitude for that which is the support of life, and, symbolically, a dedication of the life thus supported; the candlestick speaks to the calling of Israel to be a people of light (compare Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16); the rising incense symbolizes the act of prayer (compare Revelation 5:8; 8:3).

    LITERATURE.

    See the articles on "Tabernacle" and "Temple" in Smith's DB, HDB, EB, The TempleBD, etc.;

    also the commentaries on Exodus (the Speaker's Pulpit Commentary, Keil's, Lange's, etc.);

    Bahr, Symbolik d. Mosaischen Cult;

    Keil, Archaeology, I, 98 ff (English translation);

    Westcott, essay on "The General Significance of the Tabernacle," in his Hebrews;

    Brown, The Tabernacle (1899);

    W. S. Caldecott, The Tabernacle: Its History and Structure.

    See the articles in this Encyclopedia on the special parts of the tabernacle.

    See also TEMPLE, A1.

    W. Shaw Caldecott
    James Orr


    TABERNACLE - B [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

    A. STRUCTURE AND HISTORY and B. IN CRITICISM
    I. CONSERVATIVE AND CRITICAL VIEWS

    II. ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF THE CRITICAL THEORY EXAMINED

    1. Not Stated, That the Temple Was Constructed after the Pattern of the Tabernacle

    2. No Trace of the Tabernacle in Pre-Solomonic Times

    3. The Tabernacle Could Not Have Been Built as Exodus Describes

    4. Biblical Account Contains Marks of Its Unhistorical Character

    5. Pre-exilic Prophets Knew Nothing of Levitical System of Which the Tabernacle Was Said to Be the Center

    LITERATURE

    I. Conservative and Critical Views.

    The conservative view of Scripture finds:
    (1) that the tabernacle was constructed by Moses in the wilderness of Sinai;

    (2) that it was fashioned according to a pattern shown to him in the Mount;

    (3) that it was designed to be and was the center of sacrificial worship for the tribes in the wilderness; and

    (4) that centuries later the Solomonic Temple was constructed after it as a model.

    However, the critical (higher) view of Scripture says:

    (1) that the tabernacle never existed except on paper;

    (2) that it was a pure creation of priestly imagination sketched after or during the exile;

    (3) that it was meant to be a miniature sanctuary on the model of Solomon's Temple;

    (4) that it was represented as having been built in the wilderness for the purpose of legitimizing the newly-published Priestly Code (P) or Levitical ritual still preserved in the middle books of the Pentateuch; and

    (5) that the description of the tabernacle furnished in the Priestly Code (P) (Exodus 25 through Exodus 31; 36 through Exodus 40; Numbers 2:2,17; 5:1-4; 14:44) conflicts with that given in the Elohist (E) (Exodus 33:7-11), both as to its character and its location.

    The principal grounds on which it is proposed to set aside the conservative viewpoint and put in its place the critical theory are these:

    II. Arguments in Support of the Critical Theory Examined.

    (1) It is nowhere stated that Solomon's Temple was constructed after the pattern of the Mosaic tabernacle; hence, it is reasonable to infer that the Mosaic tabernacle had no existence when or before the Solomonic Temple was built.

    (2) No trace of the Mosaic tabernacle can be found in the pre-Solomonic period, from which it is clear that no such tabernacle existed.

    (3) The Mosaic tabernacle could not have been produced as Exodus describes, and, accordingly, the story must be relegated to the limbo of romance.

    (4) The Biblical account of the Mosaic tabernacle bears internal marks of its completely unhistorical character.

    (5) The pre-exilic prophets knew nothing of the Levitical system of which the Mosaic tabernacle was the center, and hence, the whole story must be set down as a sacred legend.

    These assertions demand examination:

    1. Not Stated, That the Temple Was Constructed after the Pattern of the Tabernacle:
    It is urged that nowhere is it stated that Solomon's Temple was fashioned after the pattern of the Mosaic tabernacle. Wellhausen thinks (GI, chapter i, 3, p. 44) that, had it been so, the narrators in Kings and Chronicles would have said so. "At least," he writes, "one would have expected that in the report concerning the building of the new sanctuary, casual mention would have been made of the old." And so there was--in 1 Kings 8:4 and 2 Chronicles 5:5. Of course, it is contended that "the tent of meeting" referred to in these passages was not the Mosaic tabernacle of Exodus 25, but simply a provisional shelter for the ark--though in P the Mosaic tabernacle bears the same designation (Exodus 27:21). Conceding, however, for the sake of argument, that the tent of the historical books was not the Mosaic tabernacle of Exodus, and that this is nowhere spoken of as the model on which Solomon's Temple was constructed, does it necessarily follow that because the narrators in Kings and Chronicles did not expressly state that Solomon's Temple was built after the pattern of the Mosaic tabernacle, therefore the Mosaic tabernacle had no existence when the narrators wrote? If it does, then the same logic will demonstrate the non-existence of Solomon's Temple before the exile, because when the writer of P was describing the Mosaic tabernacle he made no mention whatever about its being a miniature copy of Solomon's Temple. A reductio ad absurdum like this disposes of the first of the five pillars upon which the new theory rests.
    2. No Trace of the Tabernacle in Pre-Solomonic Times
    It is alleged that no trace of the Mosaic tabernacle can be found in pre-Solomonic times. On the principle that silence about a person, thing or event does not prove the non-existence of the person or thing or the non-occurrence of the event, this 2nd argument might fairly be laid aside as irrelevant. Yet it will be more satisfactory to ask, if the assertion be true, why no trace of the tabernacle can be detected in the historical books in pre-Solomonic times. The answer is, that of course it is true, if the historical books be first "doctored," i.e. gone over and dressed to suit theory, by removing from them every passage, sentence, clause and word that seems to indicate, presuppose or imply the existence of the tabernacle, and such passage, sentence, clause and word assigned to a late R who inserted it into the original text to give color to his theory, and support to his fiction that the Mosaic tabernacle and its services originated in the wilderness. Could this theory be established on independent grounds, i.e. by evidence derived from other historical documents, without tampering with the sacred narrative, something might be said for its plausibility. But every scholar knows that not a particle of evidence has ever been, or is likely ever to be, adduced in its support beyond what critics themselves manufacture in the way described. That they do find traces of the Mosaic tabernacle in the historical books, they unconsciously and unintentionally allow by their efforts to explain such traces away, which moreover they can only do by denouncing these traces as spurious and subjecting them to a sort of surgical operation in order to excise them from the body of the text. But these so-called spurious traces are either true or they are not true. If they are true, whoever inserted them, then they attest the existence of the tabernacle, first at Shiloh, and afterward at Nob, later at Gibeon, and finally at Jerusalem; if they are not true, then some other things in the narrative must be written down as imagination, as, e.g. the conquest of the land, and its division among the tribes, the story of the altar on the East of Jordan, the ministry of the youthful Samuel at Shiloh, and of Ahimelech at Nob.

    (1) The Mosaic Tabernacle at Shiloh.

    That the structure at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3,9,19,24; 2:11-12; 3:3) was the Mosaic tabernacle everything recorded about it shows. It contained the ark of God, called also the ark of the covenant of God and the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, or more fully the ark of the covenant of Yahweh of Hosts, names, especially the last, which for the ark associated with the tabernacle were not unknown in the period of the wandering. It had likewise a priesthood and a sacrificial worship of three parts -- offering sacrifice (in the forecourt), burning incense (in the holy place), and wearing an ephod (in the Holy of Holies) -- which at least bore a close resemblance to the cult of the tabernacle, and in point of fact claimed to have been handed down from Aaron. Then Elkanah's pious custom of going up yearly from Ramathaim-zophim to Shiloh to worship and to sacrifice unto Yahweh of Hosts suggests that in his day Shiloh was regarded as the central high place and that the law of the three yearly feasts (Exodus 23:14; Leviticus 23:1-18; Deuteronomy 16:16) was not unknown, though perhaps only partially observed; while the statement about "the women who did service at the door of the tent of meeting" as clearly points back to the similar female institution in connection with the tabernacle (Exodus 38:8).

    To these considerations it is objected (a) that the Shiloh sanctuary was not the Mosaic tabernacle, which was a portable tent, but a solid structure with posts and doors, and (b) that even if it was not a solid structure but a tent, it could be left at any moment without the ark, in which case it could not have been the Mosaic tabernacle of which the ark was an "inseparable companion"; while (c) if it was the ancient "dwelling" of Yahweh, it could not have been made the dormitory of Samuel.

    But (a) while it need not be denied that the Shiloh sanctuary possessed posts and doors -- Jeremiah 7:12 seems to admit that it was a structure which might be laid in ruins -- yet this does not warrant the conclusion that the Mosaic tabernacle had no existence in Shiloh. It is surely not impossible or even improbable that, when the tabernacle had obtained a permanent location at Shiloh, and that for nearly 400 years (compare above under A,III , 1, 8 and see CHRONOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ,VII ,VIII ), during the course of these centuries a porch with posts and doors may have been erected before the curtain that formed the entrance to the holy place, or that strong buildings may have been put up around it as houses for the priests and Levites, as treasure-chambers, and such like -- thus causing it to present the appearance of a palace or house with the tabernacle proper in its interior.

    Then (b) as to the impossibility of the ark being taken from the tabernacle, as was done when it was captured by the Philistines, there is no doubt that there were occasions when it was not only legitimate, but expressly commanded to separate the ark from the tabernacle, though the war with the Philistines was not one. In Numbers 10:33, it is distinctly stated that the ark, by itself, went before the people when they marched through the wilderness; and there is ground for thinking that during the Benjamite war the ark was with divine sanction temporarily removed from Shiloh to Beth-el (Judges 20:26-27) and, when the campaign closed, brought back again to Shiloh (Judges 21:12).

    (c) As for the notion that the Shiloh sanctuary could not have been the Mosaic tabernacle because Samuel is said to have slept in it beside the ark of God, it should be enough to reply that the narrative does not say or imply that Samuel had converted either the holy place or the most holy into a private bedchamber, but merely that he lay down to sleep "in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was," doubtless "in the court where cells were built for the priests and Levites to live in when serving at the sanctuary" (Keil). But even if it did mean that the youthful Samuel actually slept in the Holy of Holies, one fails to see how an abuse like that may not have occurred in a time so degenerate as that of Eli, or how, if it did, it would necessarily prove that the Shiloh shrine was not the Mosaic tabernacle.

    (2) The Mosaic Tabernacle at Nob.

    That the sanctuary at Nob (1 Samuel 21:1-6) was the Mosaic tabernacle may be inferred from the following circumstances:

    (a) that it had a high priest with 85 ordinary priests, a priest's ephod, and a table of shewbread;

    (b) that the eating of the shewbread was conditioned by the same law of ceremonial purity as prevailed in connection with the Mosaic tabernacle (Leviticus 15:18); and

    (c) that the Urim was employed there by the priest to ascertain the divine will -- all of which circumstances pertained to the Mosaic tabernacle and to no other institution known among the Hebrews. If the statement (1 Chronicles 13:3) that the ark was not inquired at in the days of Saul calls for explanation, that explanation is obviously this, that during Saul's reign the ark was dissociated from the tabernacle, being lodged in the house of Abinadab at Kiriath-jearim, and was accordingly in large measure forgotten. The statement (1 Samuel 14:18) that Saul in his war with the Philistines commanded Ahijah, Eli's great-grandson, who was "the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod" (1 Samuel 14:3) to fetch up the ark -- if 1 Samuel 14:18 should not rather be read according to the Septuagint, "Bring hither the ephod" -- can only signify that on this particular occasion it was fetched from Kiriath-jearim at the end of 1 Samuel 20 years and afterward returned thither. This, however, is not a likely supposition; and for the Septuagint reading it can be said that the phrase "Bring hither" was never used in connection with the ark; that the ark was never employed for ascertaining the Divine Will, but the ephod was; and that the Hebrew text in 1 Samuel 14:18 seems corrupt, the last clause reading "for the ark of God was at that day and the sons of Israel," which is not extremely intelligible.

    (3) The Mosaic Tabernacle at Gibeon.
    The last mention of the Mosaic tabernacle occurs in connection with the building of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 8:4; 2 Chronicles 1:3; 5:3), when it is stated that the ark of the covenant and the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent were solemnly fetched up into the house which Solomon had built. That what is here called the tabernacle of the congregation, or the tent of meeting, was not the Mosaic tabernacle has been maintained on the following grounds: (a) that had it been so, David, when he fetched up the ark from Obed-edom's house, would not have pitched for it a tent in the city of David, but would have lodged it in Gibeon; (b) that had the Gibeon shrine been the Mosaic tabernacle it would not have been called as it is in Kings, "a great high place"; (c) that had the Gibeon shrine been the Mosaic tabernacle, Solomon would not have required to cast new vessels for his Temple, as he is reported to have done; and (d) that had the Gibeon shrine been the Mosaic tabernacle the brazen altar would not have been left behind at Gibeon but would also have been conveyed to Mt. Moriah.

    But

    (a) if it was foolish and wrong for David not to lodge the ark in Gibeon, that would not make it certain that the Mosaic tabernacle was not at Gibeon. That it was either foolish or wrong, however, is not clear. David may have reckoned that if the house of Obed-edom had derived special blessing from the presence of the ark in it for three months, possibly it would be for the benefit of his (David's) house and kingdom to have the ark permanently in his capital. And in addition, David may have remembered that God had determined to choose out a place for His ark, and in answer to prayer David may have been directed to fetch the ark to Jerusalem. As good a supposition this, at any rate, as that of the critics.

    (b) That the Gibeon shrine should have been styled "the great high place" (1 Kings 3:4) is hardly astonishing, when one calls to mind that it was the central sanctuary, as being the seat of the Mosaic tabernacle with its brazen altar. And may not the designation "high place," or bamah, have been affixed to it just because, through want of its altar, it had dwindled down into a mere shadow of the true sanctuary and become similar to the other "high places" or bamoth?

    (c) The casting of new vessels for Solomon's Temple needs no other explanation than this, that the new house was at least twice as spacious as the old, and that in any case it was fitting that the new house should have new furniture.

    (d) That the brazen altar would not have been left behind at Gibeon when the Mosaic tabernacle was removed, may be met by the demand for proof that it was actually left behind. That it was left behind is a pure conjecture. That it was transplanted to Jerusalem and along with the other tabernacle utensils laid up in a side chamber of the temple is as likely an assumption as any other (see 1 Kings 8:4).

    3. The Tabernacle Could Not Have Been Built as Exodus Describes P> It is maintained that the Mosaic tabernacle could not have been produced as Exodus describes:
    (1) that the time was too short,

    (2) that the Israelites were too little qualified, and

    (3) that the materials at their disposal were too scanty for the construction of so splendid a building as the Mosaic tabernacle.

    But
    (1) does any intelligent person believe that 9 months was too short a time for 600,000 able-bodied men, to say nothing of their women and children, to build a wooden house 30 cubits long, 10 high and 10 broad, with not as many articles in it as a well-to-do artisan's kitchen oftentimes contains?

    (2) Is it at all likely that they were so ill-qualified for the work as the objection asserts? The notion that the Israelites were a horde of savages or simply a tribe of wandering nomads does not accord with fact. They had been bond-men, it is true, in the land of Ham; but they and their fathers had lived there for 400 years; and it is simply incredible, as even Knobel puts it, that they should not have learnt something of the mechanical articles One would rather be disposed to hold that they must have had among them at the date of the Exodus a considerable number of skilled artisans. At least, archaeology has shown that if the escaped bondsmen knew nothing of the arts and sciences, it was not because their quondam masters had not been able to instruct them. The monuments offer silent witness that every art required by the manufacturers existed at the moment in Egypt, as e.g. the arts of metal-working, wood-carving, leather-making, weaving and spinning. And surely no one will contend that the magnificent works of art, the temples and tombs, palaces and pyramids, that are the world's wonder today, were the production always and exclusively of native Egyptian and never of Hebrew thought and labor!

    Nor (3) is the reasoning good, that whatever the Israelites might have been able to do in Egypt where abundant materials lay to hand, they were little likely to excel in handicrafts of any sort in a wilderness where such materials were wanting. Even Knobel could reply to this, that as the Israelites when they escaped from Egypt were not a horde of savages, so neither were they a tribe of beggars; that they had not entered on their expedition in the wilderness without preparation, or without taking with them their most valuable articles; that the quantities of gold, silver and precious stones employed in the building of the tabernacle were but trifles in comparison with other quantities of the same that have been found in possession of ancient oriental peoples; that a large portion of what was contributed had probably been obtained by despoiling the Egyptians before escaping from their toils and plundering the Amalekites whom they soon after defeated at Rephidim, and who, in all likelihood, at least if one may judge from the subsequent example of the Midianites, had come to the field of war bedecked with jewels and gold; and that the acacia wood, the linen, the blue, the purple and the scarlet, with the goats' skins, rams' skins, and seal skins might all have been found and prepared in the wilderness (compare Kurtz, Geschichte des alten Bundes,II , section 53). In short, so decisively has this argument, derived from the supposed deficiency of culture and resources on the part of the Israelites, been disposed of by writers of by no means too conservative pro-clivities, that one feels surprised to find it called up again by Benzinger in Encyclopedia Biblica to do duty in support of the unhistorical character of the tabernacle narrative in Exodus.

    4. Biblical Account Contains Marks of Its Unhistorical Character

    The Biblical account of the Mosaic tabernacle, it is further contended, bears internal marks of its completely unhistorical character, as e.g.

    (1) that it represents the tabernacle as having been constructed on a model which had been supernaturally shown to Moses;

    (2) that it habitually speaks of the south, north, and west sides of the tabernacle although no preceding order had been issued that the tent should be so placed;

    (3) that the brazen altar is described as made of timber overlaid with brass, upon which a huge fire constantly burned;

    (4) that, the tabernacle is depicted, not as a mere provisional shelter for the ark upon the march, but "as the only legitimate sanctuary for the church of the twelve tribes before Solomon"; and

    (5) that the description of the tabernacle furnished in P (Exodus 25 through Exodus 31; 36 through Exodus 40; Numbers 2:2,17; 5:1-4; 14:44) conflicts with that given in E (Exodus 33:7-11), both as to its character and its location.

    But (1) why should the story of the tabernacle be a fiction, because Moses is reported to have made it according to a pattern showed to him in the Mount (Exodus 25:40 (Hebrews 8:5))? No person says that the Temple of Solomon was a fiction, because David claimed that the pattern of it given to Solomon had been communicated to him (David) by divine inspiration (1 Chronicles 28:19). Every critic also knows that Ezekiel wrote the book that goes by his name. Yet Ezekiel asserts that the temple described by him was beheld by him in a vision. Unless therefore the supernatural is ruled out of history altogether, it is open to reply that God could just as easily have revealed to Moses the pattern of the tabernacle as He afterward exhibited to Ezekiel the model of his temple. And even if God showed nothing to either one prophet or the other, the fact that Moses says he saw the pattern of the tabernacle no more proves that he did not write the account of it, than Ezekiel's stating that he beheld the model of his temple attests that Ezekiel never penned the description of it. The same argument that proves Moses did not write about the tabernacle also proves that Ezekiel could not have written about the vision-temple. Should it be urged that as Ezekiel's temple was purely visionary so also was Moses' tabernacle, the argument comes with small consistency and less force from those who say that Ezekiel's vision-temple was the model of a real temple that should afterward be built; since if Ezekiel's vision-temple was (or should have been, according to the critics) converted into a material sanctuary, no valid reason can be adduced why Moses' vision-tabernacle should not also have been translated into an actual building.

    (2) How the fact that the tabernacle had three sides, south, north and west, shows it could not have been fashioned by Moses, is one of those mysteries which takes a critical mind to understand. One naturally presumes that the tabernacle must have been located somewhere and oriented somehow; and, if it had four sides, would assuredly suit as well to set them toward the four quarters of heaven as in any other way. But in so depicting the tabernacle, say the critics, the fiction writers who invented the story were actuated by a deep-laid design to make the Mosaic tabernacle look like the Temple of Solomon. Quite a harmless design, if it was really entertained! But the Books of Kings and Chronicles will be searched in vain for any indication that the Temple foundations were set to the four quarters of heaven. It is true that the 12 oxen who supported the molten sea in Solomon's Temple were so placed--4 looking to the North, 4 to the South, 4 to the East, and 4 to the West (1 Kings 7:25); but this does not necessarily warrant the inference that the sides of the Temple were so placed. Hence, on the well-known principle of modern criticism, that when a thing is not mentioned by a writer the thing does not exist, seeing that nothing is recorded about how the temple was placed, ought it not to be concluded that the whole story about the Temple is a myth?

    (3) As to the absurdity of representing a large fire as constantly burning upon a wooden altar overlaid with a thin plate of brass, this would certainly have been all that the critics say -- a fatal objection to receiving the story of the tabernacle as true. But if the story was invented, surely the inventor might have given Moses and his two skilled artisans, Bezalel and Oholiab, some credit for common sense, and not have made them do, or propose to do, anything so stupid as to try to keep a large fire burning upon an altar of wood. This certainly they did not do. An examination of Exodus 27:1-8; 38:1-7 makes it clear that the altar proper upon which "the strong fire" burned was the earth or stone-filled (Exodus 20:24 f) hollow which the wooden and brass frame enclosed.

    (4) The fourth note of fancy -- what Wellhausen calls "the chief matter" -- that the tabernacle was designed for a central sanctuary to the church of the Twelve Tribes before the days of Solomon, but never really served in this capacity -- is partly true and partly untrue. That it was meant to be a central sanctuary, until Yahweh should select for Himself a place of permanent habitation, which He did in the days of Solomon, is exactly the impression a candid reader derives from Exodus, and it is gratifying to learn from so competent a critic as Wellhausen that this impression is correct. But that it really never served as a central sanctuary, it is impossible to admit, after having traced its existence from the days of Joshua onward to those of Solomon. That occasionally altars were erected and sacrifices offered at other places than the tabernacle -- as by Gideon at Ophrah (Judges 6:24-27) and by Samuel at Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17) --is no proof that the tabernacle was not the central sanctuary. If it is, then by parity of reasoning the altar in Mt. Ebal (Deuteronomy 27:5) should prove that Jerusalem was not intended as a central sanctuary. But, if alongside of the Temple in Jerusalem, an altar in Ebal could be commanded, then also alongside of the tabernacle it might be legitimate to erect an altar and offer sacrifice for special needs. And exactly this is what was done. While the tabernacle was appointed for a central sanctuary the earlier legislation was not revoked: "An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee" (Exodus 20:24). It was still legitimate to offer sacrifice in any spot where Yahweh was pleased to manifest Himself to His people. And even though it had not been, the existence of local shrines alongside of the tabernacle would no more warrant the conclusion that the tabernacle was never built than the failure of the Christian church to keep the Golden Rule would certify that the Sermon on the Mount was never preached.

    (5) With regard to the supposed want of harmony between the two descriptions of the tabernacle in P and E, much depends on whether the structures referred to in these documents were the same or different.

    (a) If different, i.e. if the tent in E (Exodus 33:7-11) was Moses' tent (Kurtz, Keil, Kalisch, Ewald and others), or a preliminary tent erected by Moses (Havernick, Lange; Kennedy, and section A (I, 1), above), or possessed by the people from their forefathers (von Gerlach, Benzinger in EB), no reason can be found why the two descriptions should not have varied as to both the character of the tent and its location. The tent in E, which according to the supposition was purely provisional, a temporary sanctuary, may well have been a simple structure and pitched outside the camp; while the tent in P could just as easily have been an elaborate fabric with an ark, a priesthood and a complex sacrificial ritual and located in the midst of the camp. In this case no ground can arise for suggesting that they were contradictory of one another, or that P's tent was a fiction, a paper-tabernacle, while E's tent was a reality and the only tabernacle that ever existed in Israel.

    But (b) if on the other hand the tent in E was the same as the tent in P (Calvin, Mead in Lange, Konig, Eerdmans, Valeton and others), then the question may arise whether or not any contradiction existed between them, and, if such contradiction did exist, whether this justifies the inference that P's tent was unhistorical, i.e. never took shape except in the writer's imagination.

    That the tent in E was not P's Mosaic tabernacle has been argued on the following grounds:
    (a) that the Mosaic tabernacle (assuming it to have been a reality and not a fiction) was not yet made; so that E's tent must have been either the tent of Moses or a provisional tent;

    (b) that nothing is said about a body of priests and Levites with an ark and a sacrificial ritual in connection with E's tent, but only of a non-Levitical attendant Joshua, and

    (c) that it was situated outside the camp, whereas P's tabernacle is always represented as in the midst of the camp.

    The first of these grounds largely disappears when Exodus 33:7 is read as in the Revised Version: "Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it without the camp." The verbs, being in the imperfect, point to Moses' practice (Driver, Introduction and Hebrew Tenses; compare Ewald, Syntax, 348), which again may refer either to the past or to the future, either to what Moses was in the habit of doing with his own or the preliminary tent, or what he was to do with the tent about to be constructed. Which interpretation is the right one must be determined by the prior question which tent is intended. Against the idea of E's tent being Moses' private domicile stands the difficulty of seeing why it was not called his tent instead of the tent, and why Moses should be represented as never going into it except to hold communion with Yahweh. If it was a provisional tent, struck up by Moses, why was no mention of its construction made? And if it was a sort of national heirloom come down from the forefathers of Israel, why does the narrative contain not the slightest intimation of any such thing?

    On the other hand if E's tent was the same as P's, the narrative does not require to be broken up; and Exodus 33:7-11 quite naturally falls into its place as an explanation of how the promises of Exodus 33:3 and 5 were carried out (see infra).

    The second supposed proof that E's tent was not P's but an earlier one, namely, that P's had a body of priests and Levites, an ark and a complex ritual, while E's had only Joshua as attendant and made no mention of ark, priests or sacrifices, loses force, unless it can be shown that there was absolute necessity that in this paragraph a full description of the tabernacle should be given. But obviously no such necessity existed, the object of the writer having been as above explained. Driver, after Wellhausen (GJ, 387), conjectures that in E's original document Exodus 33:7-11 may have been preceded "by an account of the construction of the Tent of Meeting and of the ark," and that "when the narrative was combined with that of P this part of it (being superfluous by the side of Exodus 25 through Exodus 35) was probably omitted." As this however is only a conjecture, it is of no more (probably of less) value than the opinion that Exodus 25 through Exodus 35 including Exodus 33:7-11 proceeded from the same pen. The important contribution to the interpretation of the passage is that the absence from the paragraph relating to E's tent of the ark, priests and sacrifices is no valid proof that E's tent was not the Mosaic tabernacle.

    The third argument against their identity is their different location -- E's outside and P's inside the camp. But it may be argued

    (a) that the translation in the Revised Version (British and American) distinctly relieves this difficulty. For if Moses used to take and pitch the tabernacle outside the camp, the natural implication is that the tabernacle was often, perhaps usually, inside the camp, as in the Priestly Code (P), and only from time to time pitched outside the camp, when Yahweh was displeased with the people (Eerdmans, Valeton).

    Or (2) that "outside the camp" may signify away, at an equal distance from all the four camps ("over against the tent of meeting" -- in the King James Version "far off," after Joshua 3:4 -- were the various tribes with their standards, i.e. the four camps, to be pitched; Numbers 2:2); so that the tabernacle might easily be in the midst of all the camps and yet "outside" and "far off" from each camp separately, thus requiring every individual who sought the Lord to go out from his camp unto the tabernacle.

    Numbers 11:26 through Numbers 30 may perhaps shed light upon the question. There it is stated that "there remained two men in the camp (who) had not gone out with Moses unto the Tent," and that Moses and the elders after leaving the tent, "gat (them) into the camp." Either the tent at this time was in the center of the square, around which the four camps were stationed, or it was outside. If it was outside, then the first of the foregoing explanations will hold good; if it was inside the camp, then the second suggestion must be adopted, namely, that while the camps were round about the tabernacle, the tabernacle was outside each camp. "Although the tabernacle stood in the midst of the camp, yet it was practically separated from the tents of the tribes by an open space and by the encampment of the Levites" (Pulpit Commentary, in the place cited.; compare Keil, in the place cited.). When one calls to mind that the tabernacle was separated from each side of the square probably, as in Joshua 3:4, by Joshua 2,000 cubits (at 19-25 inches each = about 3/4 of a mile), one has small difficulty in understanding how the tabernacle could be both outside the several camps and inside them all; how the two promises in Exodus 33 (the King James Version) -- "I will not go up in the midst of thee" (Exodus 33:3) and "I will come up into the midst of thee" (Exodus 33:5) -- might be fulfilled; how Moses and the elders could go out from the camp (i.e. their several camps) to the tabernacle and after leaving the tabernacle return to the camp (i.e. their several camps); and how no insuperable difficulty in the shape of an insoluble contradiction exists between E's account and P's account.
    5. Pre-exilic Prophets Knew Nothing of Levitical System of Which the Tabernacle Was Said to Be the Center.
    That the pre-exilic prophets knew nothing about the Levitical system of which the tabernacle was the center is regarded as perhaps the strongest proof that the tabernacle had no existence in the wilderness and indeed never existed at all except on paper. The assertion about the ignorance of the pre-exilic prophets as to the sacrificial system of the Priestly Code has been so often made that it has come to be a "commonplace" and "stock-phrase" of modern criticism. In particular, Amos in the 8th century BC (5:25,26) and Jeremiah in the 7th century BC (7:21-23) are quoted as having publicly taught that no such sacrificial ritual as the tabernacle implied had been promulgated in the wilderness. But, if these prophets were aware that the Levitical Law had not been given by Moses, one would like to know,
    (1) how this interpretation of their language had been so long in being discovered;

    (2) how the critics themselves are not unanimous in accepting this interpretation -- which they are not;

    (3) how Amos could represent Yahweh as saying "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Yea, though ye offer me your burnt-offerings and meal-offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts" (5:21,22), if Yahweh had never accepted and never enjoined them;

    (4) how Jeremiah could have been a party to putting forward Deuteronomy as a work of Moses if he knew that Yahweh had never commanded sacrifices to be offered, which Deuteronomy does; and

    (5) how Jeremiah could have blamed Judah for committing spiritual adultery if Yahweh had never ordered the people to offer sacrifice.

    In reply to (1) it will scarcely do to answer that all previous interpreters of Amos and Jeremiah had failed to read the prophets' words as they stand (Amos 5:25-26; Jeremiah 7:22), because the question would then arise why the middle books of the Pentateuch should not also be read as they stand, as e.g. when they say, "The Lord spake unto Moses," and again "These (the legislative contents of the middle books) are the commandments, which Yahweh commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai" (Leviticus 27:34).

    As for (2) it is conveniently forgotten that Bohlen (Introduction to Genesis, I, 277) admitted that some of the Pentateuch "might possibly have originated in the time of Moses," and when quoting Jeremiah 7:22 never dreamed of putting forward an explanation different from the orthodox rendering of the same, and certainly did not cite it as a proof that the Law had no existence prior to the exile; that De Wette in his Einleitung (261, 262, 8th edition) stated that "the holy laws and institutions of theocratic people had for their author Moses, who in giving them stood under divine guidance"; that Knobel (Die Bucher Ex und Lev, xxii) explicitly declared that Moses must be regarded not only as the liberator and founder of his people, but also the originator of the peculiar Israelite constitution and lawgiving, at least in its fundamental elements; that Ewald (Die Propheten, II, 123) regarded Jeremiah 7:22 as making no announcement about the origin of the sacrificial cult; and that Bleek (Introduction to the Old Testament) forgot to read the modern critical interpretation into the words of Amos and Jeremiah for the simple reason that to have done so would have stultified his well-known view that many of the laws of the middle books of the Pentateuch are of Mosaic origin.

    Nor is the difficulty (3) removed by holding that, if prior to the days of Amos Yahweh did accept the burnt offerings and meal offerings of Israel, these were not sacrifices that had been appointed in the wilderness, because Yahweh Himself appears to intimate (Amos 5:25-26) that no such sacrifices or offerings had been made during the whole 40 years' wandering. Had this been the case, it is not easy to see why the post-exilic authors of the Priestly Code should have asserted the contrary, should have represented sacrifices as having been offered in the wilderness, as they have done (see Numbers 16; 18). The obvious import of Yahweh's language is either that the sacrificial worship which He had commanded had been largely neglected by the people, or that it had been so heartless and formal that it was no true worship at all -- their real worship being given to their idols -- and that as certainly as the idolaters in the wilderness were excluded from Canaan, so the idolaters in Amos' day, unless they repented, would be carried away into exile.

    As to (4) Jeremiah's action in putting forward or helping to put forward Deuteronomy as a work of Moses when he knew that it represented Yahweh as having commanded sacrifices to be offered both in the wilderness and in Canaan (Deuteronomy 12:6,11,13), and must have been aware as well that J-E had represented Yahweh as commanding sacrifice at Sinai (Exodus 20:24-25), no explanation can be offered that will clear the prophet from the charge of duplicity and insincerity, or prevent his classification with the very men who were a grief of mind to him and against whom a large part of his life was spent in contending, namely, the prophets that prophesied lies in the name of God. Nor does it mend matters to suggest (Cheyne) that when Jeremiah perceived that Deuteronomy, though floated into publicity under high patronage, did not take hold, he changed his mind, because in the first place if Jeremiah did so, he should, like an honest man, have washed his hands clear of Deuteronomy, which he did not; and in the second place, because had he done so he could not have been "the iron pillar and brazen wall" which Yahweh had intended him to be and indeed had promised to make him against the princes, priests and people of the land (Exodus 1:18).

    And, still further, (5) it passes comprehension how, if Yahweh never commanded His people to offer sacrifice to Him, Jeremiah could have represented Yahweh as enjoining him to pronounce a curse upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem because they transgressed the words of Yahweh's covenant, which He had made with their fathers in the day when He brought them out of the land of Egypt, by running after other gods to serve them, setting up altars and burning incense unto Baal and even working lewdness in Yahweh's house (Jeremiah 11:1-15). It is urged in answer to this, that the offense complained of was not that the men of Judah did not offer sacrifices to Yahweh, but that they offered them to Baal and polluted His temple with heathen rites -- that what Yahweh demanded from His worshippers was not the offering of sacrifice, but obedience to the moral law conjoined with abstinence from idolatry. But in that case, what was the use of a temple at all? And why should Yahweh speak of it as "mine house," if sacrifices were not required to be offered in it (compare on this Kittel, The Scientific Study of the Old Testament, 218)? Why idolatrous sacrifices were denounced was not merely because they were wrong in themselves, but also because they had supplanted the true sacrificial worship of Yahweh. As already stated, it is not easy to perceive how Jeremiah could have said that Yahweh had never commanded sacrifices to be offered to Him, when he (Jeremiah) must have known that the Book of the Covenant in J-E (Exodus 20:24-25) represented Yahweh as expressly enjoining them. Had Jeremiah not read the Book of the Covenant with sufficient care? This is hardly likely in so earnest a prophet. Or will it be lawful to suggest that Jeremiah knew the Book of the Covenant to be a fiction and the assumption of divine authority for its enactments to be merely a rhetorical device? In this case his words might be true; only one cannot help regretting that he did not distinctly state that in his judgment the Book of the Covenant was a fraud.

    It may now be added in confirmation of the preceding, that the various references to a tabernacle in the New Testament appear at least to imply that in the 1st Christian century the historicity of the Mosaic tabernacle was generally accepted. These references are Peter's exclamation on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33); Stephen's statement in the council (Acts 7:44); the affirmations in Hebrews (chapters 8; 9); and the voice which John heard out of heaven (Revelation 21:3). It may be admitted that taken separately or unitedly these utterances do not amount to a conclusive demonstration that the tabernacle actually existed in the wilderness; but read in the light of Old Testament aeclarations that such a tabernacle did exist, they have the force of a confirmation. If the language of Peter and that of John may fairly enough be regarded as figurative, even then their symbolism suggests, as its basis, what Stephen and the writer to the He affirm to have been a fact, namely, that their "fathers had the tabernacle .... in the wilderness," and that, under the first covenant, "there was a tabernacle prepared."
    LITERATURE.
    I, critical:
    De Wette, Beitrage;
    von Bohlen, Genesis;
    Georg, Judische Feste;
    Reuss, Geschichte der heiligen Schriften des AT;
    Graf, de Templo Silonensi;
    Kuenen, The Religion of Israel;
    Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels;
    HDB and EB, articles "Tabernacle,"
    II, conservative:
    Bredenkamp, Gesetz und Propheten;
    Kurtz, Geschichte des alten Bundes;
    Havernick, Einleitung;
    Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses;
    Riehm, Handworterbuch, and Herzog, RE (ed 1; edition 3 is "critical"), articles "Stiftshutte";
    Baxter, Sanctuary and Sacrifice;
    Bissell, The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Structure;
    Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament;
    Whitelaw, Old Testament Critics.
    T. Whitelaw

    TABERNACLE [Thompson Chain Reference]
        * Exodus 25:8
        * Exodus 26:1
        * Exodus 39:32
        * Exodus 40:34
        * Leviticus 8:10
        * Leviticus 16:16
        * Numbers 1:51
        * Numbers 2:17
        * Numbers 7:1
        * Joshua 18:1
        * 1 Kings 8:4
        * 1 Chronicles 21:29
        * 2 Chronicles 1:3
        * 2 Chronicles 5:5
        * 2 Chronicles 24:6
        * Hebrews 9:11

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