The Tabernacle



General Layout

1. Tabernacle in the midst of the Camp of Israel
 

2. Tabernacle in the desert - photo

       (http://www.bibleplaces.com/tabernacle.htm)
 

3. The Tabernacle

 
 

4. The Tabernacle

       (Adapted from Great People of the Bible and How They Lived [Reader's Digest])
 

5. Simple floor plan of the Tabernacle

The floor plan of the Tabernacle reveals that the structure was oblong with three zones of holiness.  In ascending order, the three zones were (1) the outer court yard often called the court of the congregation, (2) the holy place, and (3) the holy of holies.
6. Floor plan - two squares
This floor plan shows that the Tabernacle - which was 50 cubits by 100 cubits - could be divided into two equal squares.  The first zone of holiness - the outer courtyard - lie in the first square with the altar of sacrifice as the central sacred furnishing.  The second and third zone of holiness - the holy place and holy of holies - lay in the second square with the ark of the covenant at the center of the square.      (Nahum M. Sarna, Exodus [JPS Torah Commentary])
7. Tabernacle cutaway
      (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
 

8. Tabernacle cutaway - dimensions and description

       (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)

     
The Tent of Meeting

The courtyard surrounded the santuary which was a tent.  The Hebrew word for this structure is sometimes called the ohel moed meaning "tent of meeting."  It was an unusal tent made of boards covered with gold over which was laid a number of coverings.  The following show how tent of meeting was structured.

1.  The structure of the Tent of Meeting

2.  Tent structure coverings.


 

The Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant
 

The most important sacred furnishing was the ark of the covenant placed in the Holy of Holies.  According to the biblical account, the ark was a box with a covering.  On the covering were two cherubs.  What were cherubs?  The following are pictures of cherubs which have been found in archaeological sites in the Middle East.

1. Cherub
Cherubs (cherubim in KJV) were multi-composite creatures.  This 5-by-4-inch ivory plaque was found in at Arslan Tash in northern Syria and dates for the 9th or 8th centuries B. C.  (Elie Borowski, "Cherubim: God's Throne" in Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 4 [July/August 1995])
2. Cherub
Cherub discovered in the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud (located in modern Iraq) and dates for the 8th or 7th centuries B.C.  (Elie Borowski, "Cherubim: God's Throne" in Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 21, No. 4 [July/August 1995])
3. Cherub
Cherub from Carchemish in north Syria.  Dates about 9th century B.C. (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
4. Cherub
Cherub from the doorway of Ashurnasirpal's palace in Assyria.  Cherubs were often used as gaurdians as in this case.  Two cherubs standing as guardians formed the entry way into the palace (the cherubs were the foundation of the arch that formed the entrance.)  Dates about 9th century B.C. (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
5. Cherub
Ivory cherub from Samaria (capital of the northern kingdom of Israel).  Dates the first half of the 9th century B.C.  (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
 
Often, Cherub formed the thrones of kings as the next pictures show.
6. Cherub throne of the Phoenician King Ahiram
This is King Ahriam's sacrcophagus.  Notice that the King is portrayed sitting on his cherub throne (left).  Dated about 13th century B.C. (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
7. Close up of King Ahiram's cherub throne.
    (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
8. Cherub throne on a Ivory
This is a celebration of victory with feasting and music before a Canaanite king.  This piece of carved ivory was found in Megiddo in northern Israel and dates about 1350-1150 B.C.  (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
9. Daniel before King Nebuchadnezer
Notice the throne upon which King Nebuchadnezer sits in this painting found in the LDS Salt Lake Temple visitor center.
 
So what was the Ark of the Covenant?  It was the throne of God.  What did it look like.  We can only guess.  But using the following ancient artifacts as a guide, I have drawn a possible depiction of the Ark of the Covenant.
10. Ark from King Tut's Tomb
The god Anubis as a jackal lying on a funerary chest, fromthe tomb of Tut-ankh-Amon at Thebes (about 1361-1355 B.C.).  Note that a god is pictured as sitting on an ark.  This is what the Ark of the Covenant is portraying. (James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Pictures Relating to the Old Testament)
11. Cherubim guarding a tree of life.
        ("Angel" in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible)
 

12. Ark of the Covenant.

Using both the ark from King Tut's tomb and the cherubim from the "Cherubim guarding a tree of life", this is my rendition of the Ark of the Covenant using Exodus 25:10-22 in mind.

 

The Holy Place
 

Three sacred furnishings were located in the Holy Place.  The altar of incense was placed before the veil.  The Menorah or candelabra was placed on the north side while the table of shewbread (Heb. "bread that was always present") was located on the south side.

 
1. The Holy Place
   (http://www.glencairnmuseum.org/tabernacle/hp.htm)
 

2. Altar of Incense

     (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
    Altar of Incense Recreated
   (http://www.wildernesstabernacle.com/items_directory.htm)
   Altar of Incense Top View
    (http://www.bibleplaces.com/tabernacle.htm)
 

3. Menorah

     (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
 

4. Table of Shewbread

     (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
   Table of Shewbread recreated
   (http://www.wildernesstabernacle.com/items_directory.htm)
    Table of Shewbread with bread
    (http://www.bibleplaces.com/tabernacle.htm)

 

The Courtyard

1. The courtyard
   (http://www.bibleplaces.com/tabernacle.htm)
 

2. The gate

Entrance into the courtyard was through a multi-colored gate.  (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
 
3. The Brazen Altar
      (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
 

4. The Laver

      (http://www.templebuilders.com/tabernaclepictures/)
 

 

The Priests and High Priest
  

1. The clothing of the Priests and High Priest

   (Peter Connolly, Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth)