- Tabernacle (Latin, tabernaculum, "tent") in Biblical parlance usually designates the movable tent-like sanctuary of the Hebrews before the erection of Solomon's Temple. The various expressions in the Hebrew text in reference to the Tabernacle ('ohel, tent; ohel mo'ed, tent of meeting; ohel ha-'eduth, tent of the testimony; mishkan, dwelling; mishkan ha- 'eduth, dwelling of the testimony; mishkan 'ohel, dwelling of the tent; beth Yahweh, house of Yahweh; godesh, holy; miqdash, sanctuary; hekal, temple), while enabling us to form a fair idea of this construction, raise, by the seeming consistency of the passages in which they severally occur, many problems with which all modern commentators of the Scriptures have to grapple. Thus, Exodus describes the ark as sheltered in a tent (33:7; Hebr. 'ohel mo'ed), whose position was "without the camp afar off" (Cf. Numbers 11:16 sqq.; 11:24-30; 12; Deuteronomy 31:14 sqq.), guarded by "Josue the son of Nun" (11), and at the door of which Yahweh was wont to manifest himself to Moses (9-11; cf. Numbers 12:5; Deuteronomy 31:15). That this "tent of tryst" (or better, perhaps, "tent of the oracle") was not identical with the tabernacle modern independent critics urge from the fact that this 'ohel mo'ed was in existence before Beseleel and Ooliab commenced the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35-36) and that the customary place of the latter was in the very midst of the encampment (Numbers 2:1 sqq.; 10:15 sqq.). Much stress is laid upon this and other seeming discrepancies to conclude that the description of the tabernacle found in Exodus 25-31 and 39-40, is the work of post-exilian authors of the Priestly Code.
- Assuming, however, the historical accuracy of the Biblical narratives, we shall limit ourselves here to a brief description of that "portable sanctuary" of the Hebrews. In this sanctuary we should distinguish the tent or tabernacle proper from the sacred enclosure in which the tent stood.