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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Tabernacle

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TABERNACLE . 1 . By ‘the tabernacle’ without further qualification, as by the more expressive designation ‘ tabernacle of the congregation ’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] more correctly ‘ tent of meeting ,’ see below), is usually understood the elaborate portable sanctuary which Moses erected at Sinai, in accordance with Divine instructions, as the place of worship for the Hebrew tribes during and after the wilderness wanderings. But modern criticism has revealed the fact that this artistic and costly structure is confined to the Priestly sources of the Pentateuch, and is to be carefully distinguished from a much simpler tent bearing the same name and likewise associated with Moses. The relative historicity of the two ‘tents of meeting’ will be more fully examined at the close of this article (§ 9 ).

2 . The sections of the Priests’ Code (P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ) devoted to the details of the fabric and furniture of the Tabernacle, and to the arrangements for its transport from station to station in the wilderness, fall into two groups, viz. ( a ) Exodus 25:1-40 ; Exodus 26:1-37 ; Exodus 27:1-21 ; Exodus 30:1-38 ; Exodus 31:1-18 , which are couched in the form of instructions from J″ [Note: Jahweh.] to Moses as to the erection of the Tabernacle and the making of its furniture according to the ‘pattern’ or model shown to the latter on the holy mount ( Exodus 25:9 ; Exodus 25:40 ); ( b ) Exodus 35:1-35 ; Exodus 36:1-38 ; Exodus 37:1-29 ; Exodus 38:1-31 ; Exodus 39:1-43 ; Exodus 40:1-38 , which tell inter alia of the carrying out of these instructions. Some additional details, particularly as to the arrangements on the march, are given in Numbers 3:25 ff; Numbers 4:4 ff; Numbers 7:1 ff..

In these and other OT passages the wilderness sanctuary is denoted by at least a dozen different designations (see the list in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv. 655). The most frequently employed is that also borne, as we have seen, by the sacred tent of the Elohistic source (E [Note: Elohist.] ), ‘ the tent of meeting ’ (so RV [Note: Revised Version.] throughout). That this is the more correct rendering of the original ’ôhel mô‘çd , as compared with AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ’s ‘ tabernacle of the congregation ,’ is now universally acknowledged. The sense in which the Priestly writers, at least, understood the second term is evident from such passages as Exodus 25:22 , where, with reference to the mercy-seat (see 7 ( b )), J″ [Note: Jahweh.] is represented as saying: ‘there I will meet with thee and commune with thee’ (cf. Numbers 7:89 ). This, however, does not exclude a possible early connexion of the name with that of the Babylonian ‘mount of meeting’ ( Isaiah 14:13 , EV [Note: English Version.] ‘congregation’), the mô‘çd or assembly of the gods.

3 . In order to do justice to the Priestly writers in their attempts to give literary shape to their ideas of Divine worship, it must be remembered that they were following in the footsteps of Ezekiel (chs. 40 48), whose conception of a sanctuary is that of a dwelling-place of the Deity (see Ezekiel 37:27 ). Now the attribute of Israel’s God, which for these theologians of the Exile overshadowed all others, was His ineffable and almost unapproachable holiness, and the problem for Ezekiel and his priestly successors was how man in his creaturely weakness and sinfulness could with safety approach a perfectly holy God. The solution is found in the restored Temple in the one case ( Ezekiel 40:1-49 ff.), and in the Tabernacle in the other, together with the elaborate sacrificial and propitiatory system of which each is the centre. In the Tabernacle, in particular, we have an ideal of a Divine sanctuary, every detail of which is intended to symbolize the unity, majesty, and above all the holiness of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , and to provide an earthly habitation in which a holy God may again dwell in the midst of a holy people. ‘Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them ’ ( Exodus 25:8 ).

4 . Taking this general idea of the Tabernacle with us, and leaving a fuller discussion of its religious significance and symbolism to a later section (§ 8 ), let us proceed to study the arrangement and component parts of P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s ideal sanctuary. Since the tents of the Hebrew tribes, those of the priests and Levites, and the three divisions of the sanctuary court, holy place, and the holy of holies represent ascending degrees of holiness in the scheme of the Priestly writer, the appropriate order of study will be from without inwards, from the perimeter of the sanctuary to its centre.

( a ) We begin, therefore, with ‘the court of the dwelling ’ ( Exodus 27:9 ). This is described as a rectangular enclosure in the centre of the camp, measuring 100 cubits from east to west and half that amount from south to north. If the shorter cubit of, say, 18 inches (for convenience of reckoning) be taken as the unit of measurement, this represents an area of approximately 50 yards by 25, a ratio of 2:1. The entrance, which is on the eastern side, is closed by a screen ( Exodus 27:16 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) of embroidered work in colours. The rest of the area is screened off by plain white curtains (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘ hangings ’) of ‘fine twined linen’ 5 cubits in height, suspended, like the screen, at equal intervals of 5 cubits from pillars standing in sockets (EV [Note: English Version.] ) or bases of bronze. Since the perimeter of the court measured 300 cubits, 60 pillars in all were required for the curtains and the screen, and are reckoned in the text in groups of tens and twenties, 20 for each long side, and 10 for each short side. The pillars are evidently intended to be kept upright by means of cords or stays fastened to pins or pegs of bronze stuck in the ground.

( b ) In the centre of the court is placed the altar of burnt-offering ( Exodus 27:1-8 ), called also ‘ the brazen altar ’ and ‘ the altar par excellence . When one considers the purpose it was intended to serve, one is surprised to find this altar of burnt-offering consisting of a hollow chest of acacia wood (so RV [Note: Revised Version.] throughout, for AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘shittim’) the only wood employed in the construction of the Tabernacle 5 cubits in length and breadth, and 3 in height, overlaid with what must, for reasons of transport, have been a comparatively thin sheathing of bronze. From the four corners spring the four horns of the altar , ‘of one piece’ with it, while half-way up the side there was fitted a projecting ledge , from which depended a network or grating (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘ grate ’) of bronze ( Exodus 27:5 , Exodus 38:4 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). The meshes of the latter must have been sufficiently wide to permit of the sacrificial blood being dashed against the sides and base of the altar (cf. the sketch in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv. 658). Like most of the other articles of the Tabernacle furniture, the altar was provided with rings and poles for convenience of transport.

( c ) In proximity to the altar must be placed the bronze laver ( Exodus 30:17-21 ), containing water for the ablutions of the priests. According to Exodus 38:8 , it was made from the ‘mirrors of the women which served at the door of the tent of meeting’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) a curious anachronism.

5 . ( a ) It has already been emphasized that the dominant conception of the Tabernacle in these chapters is that of a portable sanctuary, which is to serve as the earthly dwelling-place of the heavenly King. In harmony therewith we find the essential part of the fabric of the Tabernacle, to which every other structural detail is subsidiary , described at the outset by the characteristic designation ‘ dwelling .’ ‘Thou shalt make the dwelling (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘tabernacle’) of ten curtains’ ( Exodus 26:1 ). It is a fundamental mistake to regard the wooden part of the Tabernacle as of the essence of the structure, and to begin the study of the whole therefrom, as is still being done.

The ten curtains of the dwelling ( mishkân ), each 28 cubits by 4, are to be of the finest linen, adorned with inwoven tapestry figures of cherubim in violet, purple, and scarlet (see Colours). ‘the work of the cunning workman’ ( Exodus 26:1 ff. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). They are to be sewed together to form two sets of five, which again are to be ‘coupled together’ by means of clasps (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ; AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘ taches ’) and loops , so as to form one large surface 40 (10×4) cubits by 28 (7×4), ‘for the dwelling shall be one’ ( Exodus 26:8 ). Together the curtains are designed to form the earthly, and, with the aid of the attendant cherubim, to symbolize the heavenly, dwelling-place of the God of Israel.

( b ) The next section of the Divine directions ( Exodus 26:7-14 ) provides for the thorough protection of these delicate artistic curtains by means of three separate coverings. The first consists of eleven curtains of goats’ hair ‘for a tent over the dwelling,’ and therefore of somewhat larger dimensions than the curtains of the latter, namely 30 cubits by 4, covering, when joined together, a surface of 44 cubits by 30. The two remaining coverings are to be made respectively of rams’ skins dyed red and of the skins of a Red Sea mammal, which is probably the dugong ( Exodus 26:14 , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘sealskins,’ Heb. tachash ).

( c ) At this point one would have expected to hear of the provision of a number of poles and stays by means of which the dwelling might be pitched like an ordinary tent. But the author of Exodus 26:1-14 does not apply the term ‘tent’ to the curtains of the dwelling, but, as we have seen, to those of the goats’ hair covering, and instead of poles and stays we find a different and altogether unexpected arrangement in Exodus 26:15-30 . Unfortunately the crucial passage, Exodus 26:15-17 , contains several obscure technical terms, with regard to which, in the present writer’s opinion, the true exegetical tradition has been lost. The explanation usually given, which finds in the word rendered ‘boards’ huge wooden beams of impossible dimensions, has been shown in a former study to be exegetically and intrinsically inadmissible; see art. ‘Tabernacle’ in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] , vol. iv. p. 563 b ff. To § 7 ( b ) of that article, with which Haupt’s note on 1 Kings 7:28 in SBOT [Note: BOT Sacred Books of Old Testament.] should now be compared, the student is referred for the grounds on which the following translation of the leading passage is based. ‘And thou shalt make the frames for the dwelling of acacia wood, two uprights for each frame joined together by cross rails.’ The result is, briefly, the substitution of 48 light open frames (see diagrams, op. cit .), each 10 cubits in height by 1 1 / 2 in width, for the traditional wooden beams of these dimensions, each, according to the usual theory, 1 cubit thick, equivalent to a weight of from 15 to 20 hundredweights!

The open frames after being overlaid with gold according to our present but scarcely original text (1 Kings 7:29 ) are to be ‘reared up,’ side by side, along the south, west, and north sides of a rectangular enclosure measuring 30 cubits by 10 ( 1 Kings 3:1 ), the east side or front being left open. Twenty frames go to form each long side of the enclosure (1 1 /2x20 = 30 cubits); the western end requires only six frames (1 1 /2x6 = 9 cubs.); the remaining cubit of the total width is made up by the thickness of the frames and bars of the two long sides. The two remaining frames are placed at the two western corners, where, so far as can be gathered from the obscure text of 1 Kings 3:24 , the framework is doubled for greater security. The lower ends of the two uprights of each frame are inserted into solid silver bases , which thus form a continuous foundation and give steadiness to the structure. This end is further attained by an arrangement of bars which together form three parallel sets running along all three sides, binding the whole framework together and giving it the necessary rigidity.

Over this rigid framework, and across the intervening space, are laid the tapestry curtains to form the dwelling , the symbolic figures of the cherubim now fully displayed on the sides as well as on the roof. Above these come the first of the protective coverings above described, the goats’ hair curtains of the ‘ tent ,’ as distinguished from the ‘dwelling.’ In virtue of their greater size, they overlap the curtains of the latter, their breadth of 30 cubits exactly sufficing for the height and width of the dwelling (10 + 10 + 10 cubits). As they thus reached to the base of the two long sides of the Tabernacle, they were probably fastened by pegs to the ground. At the eastern end the outermost curtain was probably folded in two so as to hang down for the space of two cubits over the entrance (26:9). In what manner the two remaining coverings are to be laid is not specified.

[This solution of the difficulties connected with the construction of the Tabernacle, first offered in DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv., has been adopted, since the above was written, by the two latest commentators on Exodus, M‘Neile and Bennett; see esp. the former’s Book of Exodus [1908], lxxiii xcii.]

( d ) The fabric of the Tabernacle, as described up to this point in Exodus 26:1-30 , has been found to consist of three parts, carefully distinguished from each other. These are (1) the artistic linen curtains of the dwelling , the really essential part; (2) their supporting framework , the two together enclosing, except at the still open eastern front, a space 30 cubits long and 10 cubits wide from curtain to curtain, and 10 cubits in height; and (3) the protecting tent (so called) of goats’ hair, with the two subsidiary coverings.

The next step is to provide for the division of the dwelling into two parts, in the proportion of 2 Timothy 1 , by means of a beautiful portiere, termed the veil ( Exodus 26:31 ff.), of the same material and artistic workmanship as the curtains of the dwelling. The veil is to be suspended from four gilded pillars, 20 cubits from the entrance and 10 from the western end of the structure. The larger of the two divisions of the dwelling is named the holy place , the smaller the holy of holies or most holy place. From the measurements given above, it will be seen that the most holy place the true presence-chamber of the Most High, to which the holy place forms the antechamber has the form of a perfect cube, 10 cubits (about 15 ft.) in length, breadth, and height, enclosed on all four sides and on the roof by the curtains and their cherubim.

( e ) No provision has yet been made for closing the entrance to the Tabernacle. This is now done ( Exodus 26:36 f.) by means of a hanging, embroidered in colours a less artistic fabric than the tapestry of the ‘cunning workman’ measuring 10 cubits by 10, and suspended from five pillars with bases of bronze. Its special designation, ‘a screen for the door of the Tent’ ( Exodus 26:36 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), its inferior workmanship, and its bronze bases, all show that strangely enough it is not to be reckoned as a part of the dwelling, of which the woven fabric is tapestry, and the only metals silver and gold.

6 . Coming now to the furniture of the dwelling, and proceeding as before from without inwards, we find the holy place provided with three articles of furniture: ( a ) the table of shewbread, or, more precisely, presence-bread ( Exodus 25:23-30 , Exodus 37:10-16 ); ( b ) the so-called golden candlestick, in reality a seven-branched lampstand ( Exodus 25:31-40 , Exodus 37:17-24 ) ( c ) the altar of incense ( Exodus 30:1-7 , Exodus 37:25-28 ). Many of the details of the construction and ornamentation of these are obscure, and reference is here made, once for all, to the fuller discussion of these difficulties in the article already cited ( DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv. 662 ff.).

( a ) The table of shewbread , or presence-table ( Numbers 4:7 ), is a low table or wooden stand overlaid with pure gold, 1 1 /2 cubits in height. Its top measures 2 cubits by 1. The legs are connected by a narrow binding-rail, one hand-breadth wide, the ‘border’ of Exodus 25:25 , to which are attached four golden rings to receive the staves by which the table is to be carried on the march. For the service of the table are provided ‘the dishes, the spoons, the flagons, and the bowls thereof to pour withal’ ( Exodus 25:29 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), all of pure gold. Of these the golden ‘ dishes ’ are the salvers on which the loaves of the presence-bread (see Shewbread) were displayed; the ‘ spoons ’ are rather cups for frankincense ( Leviticus 24:7 ); the flagons’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘covers’) are the larger, and the ‘bowls’ the smaller, vessels for the wine connected with this part of the ritual.

( b ) The golden candlestick or lampstand is to be constructed of ‘beaten work’ ( repoussé ) of pure gold. Three pairs of arms branched off at different heights from the central shaft, and curved outwards and upwards until their extremities were on a level with the top of the shaft, the whole providing stands for seven golden lamps. Shaft and arms were alike adorned with ornamentation suggested by the flower of the almond tree (cf. diagram in DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv. 663). The golden lampstand stood on the south side of the holy place, facing the table of shewbread on the north side. The ‘ tongs ’ of exo Exodus 25:38 are really ‘ snuffers ’ (so AV [Note: Authorized Version.] Exodus 37:23 ) for dressing the wicks of the lamps, the burnt portions being placed in the ‘ snuff dishes .’ Both sets of articles were of gold.

( c ) The passage containing the directions for the altar of incense ( Exodus 30:1-7 ) forms part of a section (chs. 30, 31) which, there is reason to believe is a later addition to the original contents of the Priests’ Code. The altar is described as square in section, one cubit each way, and two cubits in height, with projecting horns. Like the rest of the furniture, it was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, with the usual provision of rings and staves. Its place is in front of the veil separating the holy from the most holy place. Incense of sweet spices is to be offered upon it night and morning ( Exodus 30:7 ff.).

7 . In the most holy place are placed two distinct yet connected sacred objects, the ark and the propitiatory or mercy-seat ( Exodus 25:10-22 , Exodus 37:1-9 ). ( a ) P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s characteristic name for the former is the ark of the testimony . The latter term is a synonym in P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] for the Decalogue ( Exodus 25:16 ), which was written on ‘the tables of testimony’ ( Exodus 31:18 ), deposited, according to an early tradition, within the ark. The ark itself occasionally receives the simple title of ‘the testimony,’ whence the Tabernacle as sheltering the ark is named in P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] both ‘the dwelling (EV [Note: English Version.] ‘tabernacle’) of the testimony’ ( Exodus 38:21 etc.) and ‘the tent of the testimony’ ( Numbers 9:15 etc.). The ark of the Priests’ Code is an oblong chest of acacia wood, 2 1 /2 cubits in length and 1 1 /2 in breadth and height (5×3×3 half-cubits), overlaid within and without with pure gold. The sides are decorated with an obscure form of ornamentation, the ‘crown’ of Exodus 25:11 , probably a moulding (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘rim or moulding’). At the four corners ( Exodus 25:12 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ; RV [Note: Revised Version.] , less accurately, ‘feet’) the usual rings were attached to receive the bearing-poles. The precise point of attachment is uncertain, whether at the ends of the two long sides or of the two short sides. Since it would be more seemly that the throne of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , presently to be described, should face in the direction of the march, it is more probable that the poles were meant to pass through rings attached to the short sides, but whether these were to be attached at the lowest point of the sides, or higher up, cannot be determined. That the Decalogue or ‘testimony’ was to find a place in the ark ( Exodus 25:16 ) has already been stated.

( b ) Distinct from the ark, but resting upon and of the same superficial dimensions as its top, viz. 2 1 /2 by 1 1 /2 cubits, we find a slab of solid gold to which is given the name kappôreth . The best English rendering is the propitiatory ( Exodus 25:17 ff.), of which the current mercy-seat , adopted by Tindale from Luther’s rendering, is a not inappropriate paraphrase. From opposite ends of the propitiatory, and ‘of one piece’ with it ( Exodus 25:19 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), rose a pair of cherubim figures of beaten work of pure gold. The faces of the cherubim were bent downwards in the direction of the propitiatory, while the wings with which each was furnished met overhead, so as to cover the propitiatory ( Exodus 25:18-20 ).

We have now penetrated to the Innermost shrine of the priestly sanctuary . Its very position is significant. The surrounding court is made up of two squares, 50 cubits each way, placed side by side (see above). The eastern square, with its central altar, is the worshippers’ place of meeting. The entrance to the Tabernacle proper lies along the edge of the western square, the exact centre of which is occupied by the most holy place. In the centre of the latter, again, at the point of intersection of the diagonals of the square, we may be sure, is the place intended for the ark and the propitiatory. Here in the very centre of the camp is the earthly throne of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] . Here, ‘from above the propitiatory, from between the cherubim,’ the most holy of all earth’s holy places, will God henceforth meet and commune with His servant Moses ( Exodus 25:22 ). But with Moses only; for even the high priest is permitted to enter the most holy place but once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, when he comes to sprinkle the blood of the national sin-offering ‘with his finger upon the mercy-seat’ ( Leviticus 16:14 ). The ordinary priests came only into the holy place, the lay worshipper only into ‘the court of the dwelling.’ In the course of the foregoing exposition, it will have been seen how these ascending degrees of sanctity are reflected in the materials employed in the construction of the court, holy place, most holy place, and propitiatory respectively. It is not without significance that the last named is the only article of solid gold in the whole sanctuary.

8. These observations lead naturally to a brief exposition of the religious symbolism which so evidently pervades every part of the wilderness sanctuary. Its position in the centre of the camp of the Hebrew tribes has already been more than once referred to. By this the Priestly writer would emphasize the central place which the rightly ordered worship of Israel’s covenant God must occupy in the theocratic community of the future.

The most assured fruit of the discipline of the Babylonian Exile was the final triumph of monotheism. This triumph we find reflected in the presuppositions of the Priests’ Code. One God, one sanctuary, is the idea implicit throughout. But not only is there no God but Jahweh; Jahweh, Israel’s God, ‘is one’ (Deuteronomy 6:4 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ), and because He is one, His earthly ‘dwelling’ must be one ( Exodus 26:6 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , cf. § 5 ( a )). The Tabernacle thus symbolizes both the oneness and the unity of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] .

Nor is the perpetual striving after proportion and symmetry which characterizes all the measurements of the Tabernacle and its furniture without a deeper significance. By this means the author undoubtedly seeks to symbolize the perfection and harmony of the Divine character. Thus, to take but a single illustration, the perfect cube of the most holy place, of which ‘the length and breadth and height,’ like those of the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse (Revelation 21:16 ), ‘are equal,’ is clearly intended to symbolize the perfection of the Divine character, the harmony and equipoise of the Divine attributes.

Above all, however, the Tabernacle in its relation to the camp embodies and symbolizes the almost unapproachable holiness of God. This fundamental conception has been repeatedly emphasized in the foregoing sections, and need be re-stated in this connexion only for the sake of completeness. The symbolism of the Tabernacle is a subject in which pious imaginations in the past have run riot, but with regard to which one must endeavour to be faithful to the ideas in the mind of the Priestly author. The threefold division of the sanctuary, for example, into court, holy place, and holy of holies, may have originally symbolized the earth, heaven, and the heaven of heavens, but for the author of Exodus 25:1-40 ff. it was an essential part of the Temple tradition (cf. Temple, § 7 ). In this case, therefore, the division should rather be taken, as in § 7 above, as a reflexion of the three grades of the theocratic community, people, priests, and high priest.

9. Reluctantly, but unavoidably, we must return, in conclusion, to the question mooted in § 2 as to the relation of the gorgeous sanctuary above described to the simple ‘ tent of meeting ’ of the older Pentateuch sources. In other words, is P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s Tabernacle historical? In the first place, there is no reason to question, but on the contrary every reason to accept, the data of the Elohistic source (E [Note: Elohist.] ) regarding the Mosaic ‘tent of meeting.’ This earlier ‘tabernacle’ is first met with in Exodus 33:7-11 ; ‘Now Moses used to take the tent and to pitch it [the tenses are frequentative] without the camp, afar off from the camp … and it came to pass that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tent of meeting which was without the camp.’ To it, we are further Informed, Moses was wont to retire to commune with J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , who descended in the pillar of the cloud to talk with Moses at the door of the tent ‘as a man talketh with his friend’ (see also the references in Numbers 11:16-30 ; Numbers 12:1 ff; Numbers 14:10 ). Only a mind strangely insensible to the laws of evidence, or still in the fetters of an antiquated doctrine of inspiration, could reconcile the picture of this simple tent, ‘afar off from the camp,’ with Joshua as its single non-Levitical attendant ( Exodus 33:11 ), with that of the Tabernacle of the Priests’ Code, situated in the centre of the camp, with its attendant army of priests and Levites. Moreover, neither tent nor Tabernacle is rightly intelligible except as the resting-place of the ark, the symbol of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ’s presence with His people. Now, the oldest of our extant historical sources have much to tell us of the fortunes of the ark from the time that it formed the glory of the Temple at Shiloh until it entered its final resting-place in that of Solomon (see Ark). But nowhere is there the slightest reference to anything in the least resembling the Tabernacle of §§ 4 8 . It is only in the Books of Chronicles, in certain of the Psalms, and in passages of the pre-exilic writings which have passed through the hands of late post-exilic editors that such references are found. An illuminating example occurs in 2 Chronicles 1:3 f. compared with 1 Kings 3:2 ff..

Apart, therefore, from the numerous difficulties presented by the description of the Tabernacle and its furniture, such as the strangely inappropriate brazen altar (§ 4 ( b )), or suggested by the unexpected wealth of material and artistic skill necessary for its construction, modern students of the Pentateuch find the picture of the desert sanctuary and its worship irreconcilable with the historical development of religion and the cultus in Israel. In Exodus 25:1-40 and following chapters we are dealing not with historical fact, but with ‘the product of religious idealism’; and surely these devout idealists of the Exile should command our admiration as they deserve our gratitude. If the Tabernacle is an ideal, it is truly an ideal worthy of Him for whose worship it seeks to provide (see the exposition of the general idea of the Tabernacle in § 3 , and now in full detail by M‘Neile as cited, § 5 above). Nor must it be forgotten, that in reproducing in portable form, as they unquestionably do, the several parts and appointments of the Temple of Solomon, including even its brazen altar, the author or authors of the Tabernacle believed, in all good faith, that they were reproducing the essential features of the Mosaic sanctuary, of which the Temple was supposed to be the replica and the legitimate successor.

A. R. S. Kennedy.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tabernacle'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/t/tabernacle.html. 1909.

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