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People's Dictionary of the Bible

Tabernacle

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Tabernacle, Exodus 25:9, literally means "a tent." The sanctuary where in the earlier times the most sacred rites of the Hebrew religion were performed. The command to erect a tabernacle is recorded in Exodus 25:8; and in that place, and in Exodus 29:42-43; Exodus 29:45, the special purpose is declared for which it was to be made. And so we find the various names of it, the "tent," Exodus 26:11-12; the "tabernacle," dwelling or habitation, Exodus 26:13; the "tent of meeting," Exodus 29:43, for so the words should be rendered; the "tent of the testimony" or "tabernacle of witness," Numbers 9:15; Numbers 17:7; Numbers 18:2; the "house of the Lord," Deuteronomy 23:18; Joshua 9:23; Judges 18:31; all these appelations pointing to the covenant-purpose of God. The command to make it began by inviting the people to contribute suitable materials. They were to be offered with a willing heart. These materials are described in Exodus 25:3-7. And the tabernacle was to be built according to the pattern given of God. It was as to its general plan like an ordinary tent, which is usually divided into two compartments, the inner lighted by a lamp and closed against strangers. Such tents are longer than they are broad. And so the tabernacle was an oblong square or rectangle, 30 cubits (45 feet or perhaps 50 feet) long, ten cubits in breadth and in height. The frame-work on these sides was perpendicular boards of shittim-wood, that is, acacia, overlaid with gold, kept together by means of transverse bars passing through golden rings, and each with two tenons, fitting into silver sockets, on which they stood. There were four coverings. The first was ten curtains of byssus, or fine linen, blue, purple, and scarlet, with cherubim embroidered on them, coupled together by loops and gold hooks. The second covering was of goals' hair in eleven curtains. The third covering was of rams' skins dyed red, like our morocco leather; and the fourth of "badgers' skins," more probably a kind of seal skin. These were to protect the tabernacle from the weather. The inner apartment or most holy place was a cube of ten cubits, the outer apartment 20 cubits in length and ten in breadth. They were separated by a veil of the same kind as the innermost covering, suspended on four gilded acacia pillars reared upon silver sockets. The east end or entrance of the tabernacle had also a large curtain suspended from five gilded acacia pillars set in sockets of brass or copper.

The Furniture.— In the most holy place, which the high priest alone entered, was the ark of the covenant; in the holy place, where the priests ministered—to the north the table of shew-bread, to the south the golden candlestick, in the centre the altar of incense. Round about the tabernacle was an open court into which the people were admitted, 100 cubits in length and 50 broad. It was formed by columns, 20 on each side, 10 at each end, raised on brazen or copper sockets. Hangings fastened to the pillars formed three sides and part of the fourth: on the east the breadth of four pillars was reserved for a central entrance, where was an embroidered curtain suspended from the four pillars. Immediately opposite the entrance was the great altar of burnt offering; and between that and the door of the tabernacle was the laver. Ex., chaps. 26, 27, 38, 40. There are some parts of the description of the pillars and hangings of the court which it is not easy to understand. The tabernacle was completed in about nine months: and as the people offered most liberally, Exodus 36:5, it was a costly structure: the value of the materials being estimated at $1,000,000. It was erected on the first day of the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt. It was carried by the Israelites into Canaan, and there set up, possibly first at Gilgal, then, when the land was subdued, at Shiloh, Joshua 18:1, and also at Bethel, perhaps afterwards at Nob, and then at Gibeon. 1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29. It was removed, when the temple was built, to Jerusalem, and possibly deposited in the temple. 1 Kings 8:4; 2 Chronicles 5:5. For the regulations about its removal see Numbers 4:1-49. David seems to have constructed a second tabernacle to receive the ark when it was brought to Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 15:1. Doubtless the first one had perished or worn out. See Bissell, Bib. Antiq.


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Tabernacle'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/t/tabernacle.html. 1893.

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