What is a…
tabernacle and what is its significance
also known as: tent
The word “tabernacle” is English and comes from the Latin word tabernāculum—a ritual tent or hut.
Types of tabernacles
This word is used to refer to 5 different things in the Bible.
tabernacle, a house or dwelling-place (Job 5:24; 18:6, etc.).
tabernacle, a portable shrine (compare Acts 19:24) containing the image of Moloch (Amos 5:26; margins. and Revised King James Version, “Siccuth”)
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. —Exodus 33:7-11 NASB
THE HOLY TABERNACLE
This was the sacred tent (Hebrew: mishkan מִשְׁכַּן, “the dwelling-place”); the movable tent-temple sanctuary 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).
“According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” —Exodus 25:9 NASB
This divinely designed tent included the Holy of Holies.
The whole tabernacle was completed in 7 months. On the 1st day of the 1st month of the 2nd 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).
The tent is called “the tabernacle of the congregation” and the “tent of meeting,” i.e., the tent 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).Streaming video—Holy Tabernacle replica
on display in Timnah Valley Park area of Israel
A particular account of the materials which the people provided for the erection and of the building itself is recorded in Exodus 25-40. 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).
ConstructionStreaming video—The Construction of the Tabernacle
The tabernacle was a rectangular enclosure, in length about 45 feet [13.7 meters] (i.e., reckoning a cubit at 18 inches [45.7 centimeters]) and in breadth and height about 15 [4.6 meters]. 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 (Hebrew: 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 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.
Aound the tabernacle was a court, enclosed by curtains hung upon 60 pillars (Exodus 27:9-18). This court was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. Within it were placed the altar of burnt offering, which measured 7½ feet in length and breadth and 4½ feet high, with horns at the 7 corners, and the laver of brass (Exodus 30:18), which stood between the altar and the tabernacle.
The first encampment of the Israelites after crossing the Jordan was at Gilgal, and there the tabernacle remained for 7 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.
Contents of the Holy Tabernacle
- Holy Place
- Holy of holies
- Curtain hooks
- Curtain loops
- Hanging curtains and tapestries
- High Priest
- Shittah tree
- Coats made of skins
- Ten Commandments
- Tabernacle of Testimony
- Day of Atonement
- Feast of Tabernacles
- Korah (at the Tabernacle)