The Tabernacle

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

(little shed or tent). Tent of Jehovah, or movable sanctuary, which Moses was directed to erect in the wilderness (Ex. 25:8). Its plan, materials, and furnishings are described in Exodus 25:9-40; 26; 27. It could be readily taken down and set up and accompanied the Israelites during their wanderings (Ex. 40:38). During the conquest it was stationed at Gilgal (Josh. 4:19; 9:6; 10:15); and at Ebal (Josh. 8:30-35). After the conquest it was set up at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1), where it remained during the time of the Judges and where the ark was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:17,22). Sometime after the return of the ark it was taken to Jerusalem and placed in a new tabernacle, and finally in the temple (2 Sam. 6:17; 1 Chron. 15:1), but the old structure was still venerated, as long as it remained at Shiloh. It was afterward removed to Nob (1 Sam. 21:1-9), and in the reign of David to Gibeon (1 Chron. 16:39; 21:29), where it was at the beginning of Solomon’s reign. Some suppose that the tabernacle and its furniture were moved into Solomon’s temple when it was completed.

Concise Bible Dictionary:

Modern replica of the Tabernacle at Timna Park in the Arabah (Israel).
This is variously styled the “tabernacle of testimony, or of witness,” the “tabernacle of the congregation,” or “tent of meeting.” It was the place recognized by Jehovah, where, as dwelling among them, He met His people, and where in separation from the outer world His will was made known. It was to be made after the pattern shown to Moses in the mount, and when it was completed Moses bore witness that it had been constructed as the Lord had commanded. It is worthy of notice that none of its details were left to the ingenuity of Moses: he had simply to carry out his instructions. We read in the New Testament that the things made were patterns of things in the heavens, but not the very image of them; they were patterns of things that were before God, which were not to be materialized.
The tabernacle with its sacrifices was God’s way of displaying Himself, and His way for man’s approach to Himself. Any one drawing near to the tabernacle would see first its court, a space enclosed with curtains hanging from pillars. This was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits broad. On entering the court by its one gate the first thing approached was the brazen altar. This altar was the place of approach for the people. The burnt offering was the ground of acceptance for a people on earth. The place of approach for the priestly family was the golden altar in the holy (place); but the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest (Heb. 9:8).
Between the brazen altar and the holy (place) stood the laver, at which the priests washed their hands and feet whenever they drew near to minister. The holy (place) contained the table of shewbread on the north, the golden candlestick on the south, and the altar of incense “before the vail” in the center. Here the priests ministered daily, burning sweet incense: type of Christ’s intercession, and of the perfections of His Person and work, not seen here as meeting man’s need, but as for the delight of God, His Father. The lamps were burning “continually,” but apparently only in the night (compare Ex. 30:7-8; Lev. 24:2-3; 2 Chron. 13:11). The light typified the manifestation of God by the Spirit, the seven lamps being figurative of heavenly completeness. Twelve loaves were constantly on the table, typical of Israel in association with Christ before God, and of God’s bounty which will be administered through Israel (twelve loaves) to the earth in the kingdom. The holy (place), or “first tabernacle” refers to the things of Israel. Inside the second veil was the holy of holies, in which was the ark with the cherubim, typical of the throne of God. It figured the approach which Christians now have to the presence of God, because Christ has made a new and living way for them by entering in Himself as their great Priest (Heb. 10:19).
The tabernacle was a rectangle, measuring ten cubits in breadth, and thirty cubits in length, which was divided into ten cubits for the holy of holies and twenty for the holy (place). The sides were formed of boards of acacia wood, ten cubits in height, set by tenons into silver sockets, each board having two sockets. The boards were kept together by horizontal bars throughout, and were all covered with gold. If the whole tabernacle be taken as typical of Christ, then the gold and the wood may point to His divinity and His humanity, or the gold may be taken as typical of divine righteousness. Internally all was gold and embroidered work: the wood was not seen.
The whole was covered with curtains, the innermost being of rich embroidered work of various colors; then curtains of woven goats’ hair; then coverings of rams’ skins and badgers’ skins—typical of entire preservation from outward evil. There were three distinct parts in the entire covering: the tabernacle, the tent, and the covering (Ex. 35:11). The inner curtains, which were of such widths that the junctions of each set did not fall in the same place as the one next to it, formed the tabernacle (mishkan); the set of curtains of goats’ hair were the tent (ohel) of the tabernacle (see TENT); and the rams’ skins and badgers’ skins formed the covering (mikseh). An embroidered hanging formed the door, or the first veil. Exodus 25-27 gives God’s approach to man; Exodus 28-30, man’s approach to God; and Exodus 35-40 the gifts for the tabernacle and its construction.
The tabernacle as a whole may be said to typify—
1. God coming forth in a Man (His own Son) and on the basis of redemption, filling the universe with the light of His glory.
2. The provision made by God for approach to Himself by a redeemed people. Much light is thrown on the tabernacle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, but what is there taught presents often a contrast rather than a comparison to what pertained to the earthly tabernacle.
The tabernacle may also be considered as God’s house, and thus a type of the saints in their present place. The temple was for the ordered and established kingdom. In Revelation 21, after alluding to the kingdom and the eternal state, the Spirit goes back to the thought of the tabernacle.
The tabernacle was carried about during the forty years in the wilderness (see CAMP), and when the Israelites entered the land it was apparently placed first at Gilgal (Josh. 9:6). Afterward it was at Shiloh (Josh. 18:1). While here it was forsaken of God because of the idolatry and wickedness of the people (Psa. 78:60; Jer. 7:12,14; Jer. 26:6, 9). The ark was taken by the Philistines and was not returned to the tabernacle; nor, when David removed the ark, did he restore it to the tabernacle, but placed it on Mount Zion. We next read of the tabernacle as being at Nob (1 Sam. 21:1-6). Afterward it was at Gibeon (1 Chron. 16:39; 1 Chron. 21:29; 2 Chron. 1:3-6). When the temple was built, the tabernacle was brought up, with the ark and the holy vessels. The ark was placed in the most holy place, and the staves drawn out, for it had found its settled rest. The tabernacle gave place to the house, the latter glory of which will yet be greater than ever (2 Chron. 5:4-9; Hag. 2:9).
Amid the coming judgments, we read of “the temple [or shrine, that is, the holy place] of the tabernacle of the testimony” being opened in heaven, and out of the temple proceed the seven angels having the seven vials (Rev. 15:5-6).

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Exodus 40:2. On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
This was thirty cubits long by ten wide, and was ten cubits in height (Ex. 36:20-30). It was made of boards of shittim or acacia wood, every board being ten cubits long, and one cubit and a half wide (Ex. 36:21). The thickness is not mentioned in the Bible, but Josephus says that each of these boards was four fingers thick, excepting the two corners of the west end, which were each a cubit in thickness. (Ant. of the Jews, Book 3, chap. 6, ยง 3). Each board had two tenons at the base (Ex. 36:22), which fitted into silver mortises (Ex. 36:24). These mortises in turn were fastened to the ground by means of brass pins (Ex. 38:20), which, according to Josephus, were each a cubit in length. The boards were held together by means of wooden bars covered with gold (Ex. 36:31-34).
Several kinds of curtains and coverings were made for the Tabernacle. One was of fine linen, the threads being “blue, purple. and scarlet,” and on the curtains were figures of cherubim, either woven or embroidered (Ex. 36:8-13). Another was of goats’ hair, spun and woven into cloth (Ex. 35:26; 36:14). Another was of “rams’ skins dyed red,” and a fourth was of the skins of the tachash or “badger” (Ex. 36:19), though precisely what animal is meant by that name is not known.
The design and arrangement of these different curtains and coverings are a subject of dispute among restorers of the Tabernacle. Some regard them as coverings thrown over the tabernacle, the figured curtain being the first, and making a beautiful ceiling, the goats’ hair next, the dyed rams’ skins next, and over all the tachash skins. Others think that the figured curtains not only made a ceiling, but also were suspended on the inside, either partially or entirely covering the gilded boards.
Connected with this question is that of the shape of the Tabernacle roof, whether flat, like Oriental houses, or peaked and slanting, like Oriental tents. Great names might be mentioned on both sides. Fergusson, the celebrated English architect, presents a very strong plea in favor of the tent theory in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, art. “Temple.” Some very strong arguments against his plan of restoration may be found in a recent work by a learned Scotch layman (The Tabernacle and its Priests and Services, by Willam Brown, Edinburgh, 1871). One of the most original treatises on the subject is to be found in Solomon’s Temple, etc., by the Rev. T. O. Paine, Boston, 1861. Mr. Paine adopts the tent-theory, but, as we shall presently see, has a method of restoration entirely his own.
Fergusson supposes that the Tabernacle of gilded boards was entirely uncovered within and without, and that above this, and stretching beyond it on either side, so as completely to cover and protect it, were the curtains and coverings, in the form of a tent. The beautiful figured curtain was first thrown over the ridge pole, and was thus visible from the inside of the Tabernacle. Over this was the cloth of goats’ hair, and over this the “rams’ skins dyed red.” The tachtash skins he places along the ridge polo as a protection to the joint of the ram-skin covering.
Mr. Paine supposes that the linen curtains were hung in festoons on the inside of the gilded boards, four cubits from the bottom, thus leaving six cubits of gilded boards uncovered. Stretched over the Tabernacle, in tent form, was a double covering, made of goats’ hair, spun and woven into cloth of a dark brown color. This made the roof of the tent, and it came down close to the boarded sides of the Tabernacle. Fergusson’s tent, it will be remembered, stretches some distance beyond. Next to the gilded planks, on the outside, Paine puts the tachash skins, and over these the skins of the rams, with the wool on and dyed red. Thus “the Tabernacle had red sides and end, and a brown roof and gable, nearly black” (Solomon’s Temple, p. 16). He makes the front entirely open above the low entrance veil, and also has a small. opening in the rear, or west end, between the top of the gable and the peak of the roof. (See engraving on p. 77).
Nothing is said of the floor of the Tabernacle; whether of earth or boards is not known. In front were five pillars, over which was hung an embroidered curtain for a door (Ex. 36:37-38). There was also a veil dividing the interior into two rooms. This veil was of embroidery and hung on four pillars (Ex. 36:35-36). The precise length of each of these two rooms is not given, though, from the analogy between the Tabernacle and the Temple, two thirds of the space are supposed to have been given to the first room and the remaining third to the second. See 1 Kings 6:17-20.
The first room, which was called the Holy Place (Ex. 28:29) contained on one side the table of show-bread, on the other the golden candlestick (Ex. 26:35) and in front of the veil the golden altar of incense (Ex. 30:6). Behind the veil was the second room, supposed to have been in the form of a perfect cube. It contained the ark, and was called the Most Holy Place (Ex. 26:33-34).
In this Tabernacle of the Israelites there was a general resemblance to the temples of other ancient nations. This resemblance is to be seen, among other things, in the secret place where no one was permitted to enter, the special shrine of the Deity.
The wandering tribes of Asia have tents for their temples. They are larger than their dwelling-tents, and of better material and workmanship.

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