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Exploring the Tabernacle of Moses

The Tabernacle of Moses is an important part of Jewish history which means it also plays an important role in the hearts of Christians. However, many people don’t know much about this temporary dwelling place of the Lord.

The Tabernacle of Moses, called the Mishkan in Hebrew, was the portable sanctuary constructed by the Israelites as a place of worship for the Jewish people after their exodus from Egypt. Also known as the Tent of Meeting, it was the very place where the kavod or glory of the Lord resided.

This post explores more about this fascinating structure and its role in both Judaism and its influence within Christianity. We’ll explore who built the Tabernacle, where the Tabernacle was located, the difference between the Tabernacle and Temple, and the sections of the Tabernacle.

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The Tabernacle and its role in both Judaism and its influence within Christianity. We'll explore who built the Tabernacle the difference between the Tabernacle and Temple, and its various sections. Click To Tweet

Who Built the Tabernacle of Moses?

The Tabernacle of Moses was built by skilled craftsmen under the supervision of Bezalel, son of Uri and grandson of Hur.

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Interestingly enough, scholars indicate that Bezalel did not receive the command to build from Moses who had heard it from God but that Bezalel himself heard God GIVING the command to Moses.

Exodus 38:22 says:

“Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur of the tribe of Judah made all that Adonai commanded Moses.”

TLV

Medieval commentator Rashi states:

AND BEZALEEL THE SON OF URI etc. MADE ALL THAT THE LORD COMMANDED MOSES — It is not stated here: אשר צֻוָּה (Bezaleel made all that he had been commanded), but “[Bezaleel made] all that the Lord commanded Moses” — even regarding such things which his teacher (Moses) did not tell him, his own opinion was in agreement with what had been told to Moses on Sinai (Jerusalem Talmud Peah 1:1; Bereishit Rabbah 1:14). [For Moses bade Bezaleel lo make the vessels first and the Tabernacle afterwards but Bezaleel said to him: “Surely, it is the way of the world (the usual way) first to build a house and then to place the household utensils in it!” He (Moses) replied to him: “So, indeed, did I hear from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He”. Moses further said to him: (בצלאל), you must have been sitting in the shadow of God (בצל אל), for certainly did thus God command me!” And consequently Bezaleel made the Tabernacle first and afterwards he made the vessels (cf. Berakhot 55a).

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Its construction, according to scripture, cost a total 29 talents and 730 shekels of gold, 100 talents and 1,775 shekels of silver and 70 talents and 2,400 shekels of brass (Exodus 38:24-31).

The contribution came from all who were willing to part with their gold and silver for this purpose.

Where was the Tabernacle of Moses Located?

The Tabernacle was constructed in an area known as Mount Sinai which is believed to be on or near Sinai Peninsula. However, the exact location is unknown and the location of the mountain overall has been disputed as well. The Tabernacle was set up and then taken down as the Israelites traveled in the wilderness before settling in the Promised Land.

Once Solomon’s Temple was constructed, there was no longer a need for the Tabernacle.

The Divisions of the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle was an important part of existence for the Israelites as the presence of God resided inside, specifically within the Holy of Holies.

The Tabernacle proper was sectioned in three parts; the Outer Court (which was technically outside the Tabernacle itself hence the name “Outer Court”), the Inner Court or Holy Place and then the Holy of Holies. Each area contained articles and/or furnishings and the Priests, the descendants of Aaron, would minister within these sections with the High Priest alone ministering in the Holy of Holies.

You can read more about the High Priest’s duties in the Holy of Holies in this post on the Day of Atonement.

Within the Outer Court we find the laver, which was a basin for washing, and the altar where the burnt sacrifices were offered. This is why it was on the outside of the Tabernacle itself as this is where blood was shed. You can learn more about the Outer Court in my article specifically on that area of the Tabernacle.

The altar had tools that accompanied it, such as pots, shovels (for the ashes), sprinkling basins, prongs and fire pans.

Then we enter behind the cloth veil to the Holy Place or Inner Court. You can also learn more about the Inner Court in its own article. Within this section we have three furnishings; the Lampstand, the Table of Shewbread and the Altar of Incense.

Beyond the Holy Place was the Holy of Holies (again, this section has its own article as well) and there we find the Ark of the Covenant or Ark of the Testimony.

There was a veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies which hung from four golden pillars that were set in silver sockets (Exodus 33:32)

I won’t go into detail here about each of these furnishings and their purposes as that is covered in the articles for each section of the Tabernacle.

Cross Section of the Tabernacle of Moses

What is the Difference Between the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple?

The Tabernacle and the Temple both had the same furnishings and the same basic divisions. However, there were a few differences.

The most obvious of all is that the Temple was a permanent structure and was a center of life and worship for the Jewish people whereas the Tabernacle was a wilderness sanctuary.

It was meant to serve as a temporary dwelling for the Lord and once the Jewish people entered the Promised Land and settled there, the Temple was constructed by King Solomon and stood until it was destroyed by the Babylonians. A second Temple was then constructed and stood until it too was destroyed in 70AD.

The second distinction is that the dimensions of The Tabernacle were clearly much smaller than those of The Temple as it had to be moved frequently.

A final difference between the Tabernacle and the Temple (and a difference between the 1st and 2nd Temples as well) is that the veil separated the Outer Court from The Holy Place in the Tabernacle, but a wall separated The “Outer Court” from The “Inner Court” in the 1st Temple (2 Chronicles 4:9).

The Tabernacle’s Significance in Relation to Christianity

I hope this brief summary of the Tabernacle of Moses was helpful and that you will visit the other articles on the site that go into each section in more detail, specifically how they can also be pictures of the life of the believer and our individual progression with the Lord in various stages of our walk with Him.

While the Tabernacle and the Temple in were part of Jewish life, they do hold meaning for you as a Christian as well since you worship a Jewish Messiah. I will be writing more about the Temple in the near future, specifically the 2nd Temple. So stay tuned for that.

If you would like to learn more about the Jewish roots of your faith and explore Torah more deeply, be sure to sign up for my weekly Torah portion emails below!

Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society.  Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.

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