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Tabernacle

The Bible

Bible Usage:

Dictionaries:

  • Included in Eastons: Yes
  • Included in Hitchcocks: No
  • Included in Naves: Yes
  • Included in Smiths: Yes
  • Included in Websters: Yes
  • Included in Strongs: Yes
  • Included in Thayers: Yes
  • Included in BDB: Yes

Strongs Concordance:

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Tabernacle

1. A house or dwelling-place (Job 5:24; 18:6, etc.).

2. A portable shrine (comp. Acts 19:24) containing the image of Moloch (Amos 5:26; marg. and R.V., "Siccuth").

3. The human body (2 Corinthians 5:1, 4); a tent, as opposed to a permanent dwelling.

4. The sacred tent (Heb. mishkan, "the dwelling-place"); the movable tent-temple which Moses erected for the service of God, according to the "pattern" which God himself showed to him on the mount (Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 8:5). It is called "the tabernacle of the congregation," rather "of meeting", i.e., where God promised to meet with Israel (Exodus 29:42); the "tabernacle of the testimony" (Exodus 38:21; Numbers 1:50), which does not, however, designate the whole structure, but only the enclosure which contained the "ark of the testimony" (Exodus 25:16, 22; Numbers 9:15); the "tabernacle of witness" (Numbers 17:8); the "house of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 23:18); the "temple of the Lord" (Joshua 6:24); a "sanctuary" (Exodus 25:8).

A particular account of the materials which the people provided for the erection and of the building itself is recorded in Exodus 25-40. The execution of the plan mysteriously given to Moses was intrusted to Bezaleel and Aholiab, who were specially endowed with wisdom and artistic skill, probably gained in Egypt, for this purpose (Exodus 35:30-35). The people provided materials for the tabernacle so abundantly that Moses was under the necessity of restraining them (36:6). These stores, from which they so liberally contributed for this purpose, must have consisted in a great part of the gifts which the Egyptians so readily bestowed on them on the eve of the Exodus (12:35, 36).

The tabernacle was a rectangular enclosure, in length about 45 feet (i.e., reckoning a cubit at 18 inches) and in breadth and height about 15. Its two sides and its western end were made of boards of acacia wood, placed on end, resting in sockets of brass, the eastern end being left open (Exodus 26:22). This framework was covered with four coverings, the first of linen, in which figures of the symbolic cherubim were wrought with needlework in blue and purple and scarlet threads, and probably also with threads of gold (Exodus 26:1-6; 36:8-13). Above this was a second covering of twelve curtains of black goats'-hair cloth, reaching down on the outside almost to the ground (Exodus 26:7-11). The third covering was of rams' skins dyed red, and the fourth was of badgers' skins (Heb. tahash, i.e., the dugong, a species of seal), Exodus 25:5; 26:14; 35:7, 23; 36:19; 39:34.

Internally it was divided by a veil into two chambers, the exterior of which was called the holy place, also "the sanctuary" (Hebrews 9:2) and the "first tabernacle" (6); and the interior, the holy of holies, "the holy place," "the Holiest," the "second tabernacle" (Exodus 28:29; Hebrews 9:3, 7). The veil separating these two chambers was a double curtain of the finest workmanship, which was never passed except by the high priest once a year, on the great Day of Atonement. The holy place was separated from the outer court which enclosed the tabernacle by a curtain, which hung over the six pillars which stood at the east end of the tabernacle, and by which it was entered.

The order as well as the typical character of the services of the tabernacle are recorded in Hebrews 9; 10:19-22.

The holy of holies, a cube of 10 cubits, contained the "ark of the testimony", i.e., the oblong chest containing the two tables of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded.

The holy place was the western and larger chamber of the tabernacle. Here were placed the table for the shewbread, the golden candlestick, and the golden altar of incense.

Round about the tabernacle was a court, enclosed by curtains hung upon sixty pillars (Exodus 27:9-18). This court was 150 feet long and 75 feet broad. Within it were placed the altar of burnt offering, which measured 7 1/2 feet in length and breadth and 4 1/2 feet high, with horns at the four corners, and the laver of brass (Exodus 30:18), which stood between the altar and the tabernacle.

The whole tabernacle was completed in seven months. On the first day of the first month of the second year after the Exodus, it was formally set up, and the cloud of the divine presence descended on it (Exodus 39:22-43; 40:1-38). It cost 29 talents 730 shekels of gold, 100 talents 1,775 shekels of silver, 70 talents 2,400 shekels of brass (Exodus 38:24-31).

The tabernacle was so constructed that it could easily be taken down and conveyed from place to place during the wanderings in the wilderness. The first encampment of the Israelites after crossing the Jordan was at Gilgal, and there the tabernacle remained for seven years (Joshua 4:19). It was afterwards removed to Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), where it remained during the time of the Judges, till the days of Eli, when the ark, having been carried out into the camp when the Israelites were at war with the Philistines, was taken by the enemy (1 Samuel 4), and was never afterwards restored to its place in the tabernacle. The old tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness was transferred to Nob (1 Samuel 21:1), and after the destruction of that city by Saul (22:9; 1 Chronicles 16:39, 40), to Gibeon. It is mentioned for the last time in 1 Chronicles 21:29. A new tabernacle was erected by David at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 16:1), and the ark was brought from Perez-uzzah and deposited in it (2 Samuel 6:8-17; 2 Chronicles 1:4).

The word thus rendered (ohel) in Exodus 33:7 denotes simply a tent, probably Moses' own tent, for the tabernacle was not yet erected.


Naves Topical Index
Tabernacle

One existed before Moses received the pattern authorized on Mount Sinai
Exodus 33:7-11

The one instituted by Moses was called:

Sanctuary
Exodus 25:8

Tabernacle (or Tent) of Meeting
Exodus 27:21

Tabernacle (or Tent)
Exodus 33:7; 2 Chronicles 5:5

Tabernacle (or Tent) of Testimony
Exodus 38:21; Numbers 1:50

Tent of Testimony
Numbers 17:7-8; 2 Chronicles 24:6

Temple of the Lord
1 Samuel 1:9; 1 Samuel 3:3

House of the Lord
Joshua 6:24

Pattern of, revealed to Moses
Exodus 25:9; Exodus 26:30; Exodus 39:32; Exodus 39:42-43; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5

Materials for, voluntarily offered
Exodus 25:1-8; Exodus 35:4-29; Exodus 36:3-7

Value of the substance contributed for
Exodus 38:24-31

Workmen who constructed it were inspired
Exodus 31:1-11; Exodus 35:30-35

Description of:

Frame
Exodus 26:15-37; Exodus 36:20-38

Outer covering
Exodus 25:5; Exodus 26:7-14; Exodus 36:14-19

Second covering
Exodus 25:5; Exodus 26:14; Exodus 35:7; Exodus 35:23; Exodus 36:19; Exodus 39:34

Curtains of
Exodus 26:1-14; Exodus 26:31-37; Exodus 27:9-16; Exodus 35:15; Exodus 35:17; Exodus 36:8-19; Exodus 36:35; Exodus 36:37

Court of
Exodus 27:9-17; Exodus 38:9-16; Exodus 38:18; Exodus 40:8; Exodus 40:33

Holy place of
Exodus 26:31-37; Exodus 40:22-26; Hebrews 9:2-6; Hebrews 9:8

The most holy place
Exodus 26:33-35; Exodus 40:20-21; Hebrews 9:3-5; Hebrews 9:7-8

Furniture of

General references
Exodus 25:10-40; Exodus 27:1-8; Exodus 27:19; Exodus 2:37; Exodus 38:1-8
Altar; Ark; Candlestick; Cherubim; Laver; Mercy-Seat; Shewbread

Completed
Exodus 39:32

Dedicated
Exodus 4:7

Sanctified
Exodus 29:43; Exodus 40:9-16; Numbers 7:1

Anointed with holy oil
Exodus 30:25-26; Leviticus 8:10; Numbers 7:1

Sprinkled with blood
Leviticus 16:15-20; Hebrews 9:21; Hebrews 9:23

Filled with the cloud of glory
Exodus 40:34-38

How prepared for removal during the journeyings of the Israelites
Numbers 1:51; Numbers 4:5-15

How and by whom carried
Numbers 4:5-33; Numbers 7:6-9

Strangers forbidden to enter
Numbers 1:51

Duties of the Levites concerning
Levites

Defilement of, punished
Leviticus 15:31; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:20; Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 23:38

Duties of the priests in relation to
Priest

Israelites worship at
Numbers 10:3; Numbers 16:19; Numbers 16:42-43; Numbers 20:6; Numbers 25:6; 1 Samuel 2:22; Psalms 27:4

Offerings brought to
Leviticus 17:4; Numbers 31:54; Deuteronomy 12:5-6; Deuteronomy 12:11-14

Causes tried at
Deuteronomy 12:5-6; Deuteronomy 12:11-14

Tribes encamped around, while in the wilderness
Deuteronomy 4:2

All males required to appear before, three times each year
Exodus 23:17

Tabernacle tax
Exodus 30:11-16

Carried in front of the children of Israel in the line of march
Numbers 10:33-36; Joshua 3:3-6

The Lord reveals Himself at
Leviticus 1:1; Numbers 1:1; Numbers 7:89; Numbers 12:4-10; Deuteronomy 31:14-15

Pitched:

At Gilgal
Joshua 4:18-19

At Shiloh
Joshua 18:1; Joshua 19:51; Judges 18:31; Judges 20:18; Judges 20:26-27; Judges 21:19; 1 Samuel 2:14; 1 Samuel 4:3-4; Jeremiah 7:12; Jeremiah 7:14

At Nob
1 Samuel 21:1-6

At Gibeon
1 Chronicles 21:29

Renewed by David, and pitched on Mount Zion
1 Chronicles 15:1; 1 Chronicles 16:1-2; 2 Chronicles 1:4

Solomon offers sacrifice at
2 Chronicles 1:3-6

Brought to the temple by Solomon
2 Chronicles 5:5; 1 Kings 8:1; 1 Kings 8:4-5

Symbol of spiritual things
Psalms 15:1; Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:1-12; Hebrews 9:24
Levites; Priest; Temple


Smith's Bible Dictionary
Tabernacle

The tabernacle was the tent of Jehovah, called by the same name as the tents of the people in the midst of which it stood. It was also called the sanctuary and the tabernacle of the congregation. The first ordinance given to Moses, after the proclamation of the outline of the law from Sinai, related to the ordering of the tabernacle, its furniture and its service as the type which was to be followed when the people came to their own home and "found a place" for the abode of God. During the forty days of Moses' first retirement with God in Sinai, an exact pattern of the whole was shown him, and all was made according to it. (Exodus 25:9,40; 26:30; 39:32,42,43; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5) The description of this plan is preceded by an account of the freewill offerings which the children of Isr'l were to be asked to make for its execution. I. THE TABERNACLE ITSELF.

  1. Its name .

    It was first called a tent or dwelling , (Exodus 25:8) because Jehovah as it were, abode there. It was often called tent or tabernacle from its external appearance.

  2. Its materials .

    The materials were

    (a) Metals: gold, silver and brass. (b) Textile fabrics: blue, purple, scarlet and fine (white) linen, for the production of which Egypt was celebrated; also a fabric of goat's hair, the produce of their own flocks. (c) Skins: of the ram, dyed red, and of the badger. (d) Wood the shittim wood, the timber of the wild acacia of the desert itself, the tree of the "burning bush." (e) Oil, spices and incense for anointing the priests and burning in the tabernacle. (f) Gems: onyx stones and the precious stones for the breastplate of the high priest. The people gave jewels, and plates of gold and silver and brass; wood, skins, hair and linen; the women wove; the rulers offered precious stones, oil, spices and incense; and the artists soon had more than they needed. (Exodus 25:1-8; 35:4-29; 36:5-7) The superintendence of the work was intrusted to Bezaleel, of the tribe of Judah, and to Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, who were skilled in "all manner of workmanship." (Exodus 31:2,6; 35:30,34)

  3. Its structure.

    The tabernacle was to comprise three main parts,

    the tabernacle more strictly so called, its tent and its covering. (Exodus 35:11; 39:33,34; 40:19,34; Numbers 3:25) etc. These parts are very clearly distinguished in the Hebrew, but they are confounded in many places of the English version. The tabernacle itself was to consist of curtains of fine linen woven with colored figures of cherubim, and a structure of boards which was to contain the holy place and the most holy place; the tent was to be a true tent of goat's hair cloth, to contain and shelter the tabernacle; the covering was to be of red ram-skins and seal-skins, (Exodus 25:5) and was spread over the goat's hair tent as an additional protection against the weather. It was an oblong rectangular structure, 30 cubits in length by 10 in width (45 feet by 15), and 10 in height; the interior being divided into two chambers, the first or outer, of 20 cubits in length, the inner, of 10 cubits, and consequently and exact cube. The former was the holy place , or first tabernacle , (Hebrews 9:2) containing the golden candlestick on one side, the table of shew-bread opposite, and between them in the centre the altar of incense. The latter was the most holy place , or the holy of holies , containing the ark, surmounted by the cherubim, with the two tables inside. The two sides and the farther or west end were enclosed by boards of shittim wood overlaid with gold, twenty on the north and twenty on the south side, six on the west side, and the corner-boards doubled. They stood upright, edge to edge, their lower ends being made with tenons, which dropped into sockets of silver, and the corner-boards being coupled at the tope with rings. They were furnished with golden rings, through which passed bars of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, five to each side, and the middle bar passing from end to end, so as to brace the whole together. Four successive coverings of curtains looped together were placed over the open top and fell down over the sides. The first or inmost was a splendid fabric of linen, embroidered with figures of cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet, and looped together by golden fastenings. It seems probable that the ends of this set of curtains hung down within the tabernacle, forming a sumptuous tapestry. The second was a covering of goats' hair; the third, of ram-skins dyed red and the outermost, of badger-skins (so called in our version; but the Hebrew word probably signifies seal-skins). It has been commonly supposed that these coverings were thrown over the wall, as a pall is thrown over a coffin; but this would have allowed every drop of rain that fell on the tabernacle to fall through; for, however tightly the curtains might be stretched, the water could never run over the edge, and the sheep-skins would only make the matter worse as when wetted their weight would depress the centre and probably tear any curtain that could be made. There can be no reasonable doubt that the tent had a ridge, as all tents have had from the days of Moses down to the present time. The front of the sanctuary was closed by a hanging of fine linen, embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet, and supported by golden hooks on five pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold and standing in brass sockets; and the covering of goat's hair was so made as to fall down over this when required. A more sumptuous curtain of the same kind, embroidered with cherubim hung on four such pillars, with silver sockets, divided the holy from the most holy place. It was called the veil, (Sometimes the second veil, either is reference to the first, at the entrance of the holy place, or as below the vail of the second sanctuary;) (Hebrews 9:3) as it hid from the eyes of all but the high priest the inmost sanctuary, where Jehovah dwells on his mercy-seat, between the cherubim above the ark. Hence "to enter within the veil" is to have the closest access to God. It was only passed by the high priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement in token of the mediation of Christ, who with his own blood hath entered for us within the veil which separates God's own abode from earth. (Hebrews 6:19) In the temple, the solemn barrier was at length profaned by a Roman conqueror, to warn the Jews that the privileges they had forfeited were "ready to vanish away;" and the veil was at last rent by the hand of God himself, at the same moment that the body of Christ was rent upon the cross, to indicate that the entrance into the holiest of all is now laid open to all believers by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." (Hebrews 10:19,20) The holy place was only entered by the priests daily, to offer incense at the time of morning and evening prayer, and to renew the lights on the golden candlesticks; and on the sabbath, to remove the old shew-bread, and to place the new upon the table. II. THE SACRED FURNITURE AND INSTRUMENTS OF THE TABERNACLE.

    These are described in separate articles, and therefore it is only necessary to give a list of them here.

  4. In the outer court. The altar of burnt offering and the brazen laver . [ALTAR; LAVER]
  5. In the holy place. The furniture of the court was connected with sacrifice; that of the sanctuary itself with the deeper mysteries of mediation and access to God. The first sanctuary contained three objects: the altar of incense in the centre, so as to be directly in front of the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 6:22) the table of shew-bread on its right or north side, and the golden candlestick on the left or south side. These objects were all considered as being placed before the presence of Jehovah, who dwelt in the holiest of all, though with the veil between. [ALTAR; SHEW-BREAD; CANDLESTICK, CANDLESTICK]
  6. In the holy of holies, within the veil, and shrouded in darkness, there was but one object, the ark of the covenant, containing the two tables of stone, inscribed with the Ten Commandments. [ARK OF THE COVENANT] III. THE COURT OF THE TABERNACLE, in which the tabernacle itself stood, was an oblong space, 100 cubits by 50 (i.e. 150 feet by 75), having its longer axis east and west, with its front to the east. It was surrounded by canvas screens

    in the East called kannauts

    5 cubits in height, and supported by pillars of brass 5 cubits apart, to which the curtains were attached by hooks and filets of silver. (Exodus 27:9) etc. This enclosure was broken only on the east side by the entrance, which was 20 cubits wide, and closed by curtains of fine twined linen wrought with needlework and of the most gorgeous colors. In the outer or east half of the court was placed the altar of burnt offering, and between it and the tabernacle itself; the laver at which the priests washed their hands and feet on entering the temple. The tabernacle itself was placed toward the west end of this enclosure. IV. HISTORY.

    "The tabernacle, as the place in which Jehovah dwelt, was pitched in the centre of the camp, (Numbers 2:2) as the tent of a leader always is in the East; for Jehovah was the Captain of Isr'l. (Joshua 5:14,15) During the marches of Isr'l, the tabernacle was still in the centre. (Numbers 2:1) ... The tribes camped and marched around it in the order of a hollow square. In certain great emergencies led the march. (Joshua 3:11-16) Upon the tabernacle, abode always the cloud, dark by day and fiery red by night, (Exodus 10:38) giving the signal for the march, (Exodus 40:36,37; Numbers 9:17) and the halt. (Numbers 9:15-23) It was always the special meeting-place of Jehovah and his people. (Numbers 11:24,25; 12:4; 14:10; 16:19,42; 20:6; 27:2; 31:14) "During the conquest of Canaan the tabernacle at first moved from place to place, (Joshua 4:19; 8:30-35; 9:6; 10:15) was finally located at Shiloh. (Joshua 9:27; 18:1) Here it remained during the time of the judges, till it was captured by the Philistines, who carried off the sacred ark of the covenant. (1 Samuel 4:22) From this time forward the glory of the tabernacle was gone. When the ark was recovered, it was removed to Jerusalem, and placed in a new tabernacle (2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 15:1) but the old structure still had its hold on the veneration of the community and the old altar still received their offerings. (1 Chronicles 16:39; 21:29) It was not till the temple was built, and a fitting house thus prepared for the Lord, that the ancient tabernacle was allowed to perish and be forgotten. V. SIGNIFICANCE.

    (The great underlying principles of true religion are the same in all ages and for all men; because man's nature and needs are the same, and the same God ever rules over all. But different ages require different methods of teaching these truths, and can understand them in different degrees. As we are taught in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the tabernacle was part of a great system of teaching by object-lessons, and of training the world to understand and receive the great truths which were to be revealed in Jesus Christ and thus really to save the Jews from sin By Jesus dimly seen in the future, as we clearly see him in the past. (1) The tabernacle and its services enabled the Jews, who had no visible representation of God, to feel the reality of God and of religion. (2) The tabernacle as the most beautiful and costly object in the nation and ever in the centre of the camp, set forth the truth that religion was the central fact and the most important, in a persons life. (3) The pillar of cloud and of fire was the best possible symbol of the living God,

    a cloud, bright, glowing like the sunset clouds, glorious, beautiful, mysterious, self-poised, heavenly; fire, immaterial, the source of life and light and comfort and cheer, but yet unapproachable, terrible, a consuming fire to the wicked. (4) The altar of burnt offering, standing before the tabernacle was a perpetual symbol of the atonement,

    the greatness of sin, deserving death, hard to be removed and yet forgiveness possible, and offered freely, but only through blood. The offerings, as brought by the people were a type of consecration to God, of conversion and new life, through the atonement. (6) This altar stood outside of the tabernacle, and must be passed before we come to the tabernacle itself; a type of the true religious life. Before the tabernacle was also the laver, signifying the same thing that baptism does with us, the cleansing of the heart and life. (8) Having entered the holy place, we find the three great means and helps to true living,

    the candlestick, the light of God's truth; the shew-bread, teaching that the soul must have its spiritual food and live in communion with God; and the altar of incense, the symbol of prayer. The holy of holies, beyond, taught that there was progress in the religious life, and that progress was toward God, and toward the perfect keeping of the law till it was as natural to obey the law as it is to breathe; and thus the holy of holies was the type of heaven.

    ED.)


Webster's 1828 Dictionary
Tabernacle

TAB'ERNACLE, noun [Latin tabernaculum, a tent, from taberna, a shop or shed, from tabula, a board; or rather from its root. See Table.]

1. A tent. Numbers 24:5. Matthew 17:4.

2. A temporary habitation.

3. Among the Jews, a movable building, so contrived as to be taken to pieces with ease and reconstructed, for the convenience of being carried during the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness. It was of a rectangular figure, thirty cubits long, ten broad, and ten high. The interior was divided into two rooms by a vail or curtain, and it was covered with four different spreads or carpets.

It is also applied to the temple. Psalms 15:1.

4. A place of worship; a sacred place.

5. Our natural body. 2 Corinthians 5:1. 2 Peter 1:13.

6. God's gracious presence, or the tokens of it. Revelation 21:3.

7. An ornamented chest placed on Roman catholic altars as a receptacle of the ciborium and pyxis.

TAB'ERNACLE, verb intransitive To dwell; to reside for a time; to be housed; as we say, Christ tabernacled in the flesh.


Easton's Bible Dictionary
Tabernacles, Feast of

The third of the great annual festivals of the Jews (Leviticus 23:33-43). It is also called the "feast of ingathering" (Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:13). It was celebrated immediately after the harvest, in the month Tisri, and the celebration lasted for eight days (Leviticus 23:33-43). During that period the people left their homes and lived in booths formed of the branches of trees. The sacrifices offered at this time are mentioned in Numbers 29:13-38. It was at the time of this feast that Solomon's temple was dedicated (1 Kings 8:2). Mention is made of it after the return from the Captivity. This feast was designed (1) to be a memorial of the wilderness wanderings, when the people dwelt in booths (Leviticus 23:43), and (2) to be a harvest thanksgiving (Nehemiah 8:9-18). The Jews, at a later time, introduced two appendages to the original festival, viz., (1) that of drawing water from the Pool of Siloam, and pouring it upon the altar (John 7:2, 37), as a memorial of the water from the rock in Horeb; and (2) of lighting the lamps at night, a memorial of the pillar of fire by night during their wanderings.

"The feast of Tabernacles, the harvest festival of the Jewish Church, was the most popular and important festival after the Captivity. At Jerusalem it was a gala day. It was to the autumn pilgrims, who arrived on the 14th (of the month Tisri, the feast beginning on the 15th) day, like entrance into a silvan city. Roofs and courtyards, streets and squares, roads and gardens, were green with boughs of citron and myrtle, palm and willow. The booths recalled the pilgrimage through the wilderness. The ingathering of fruits prophesied of the spiritual harvest.", Valling's Jesus Christ, p. 133.


Naves Topical Index
Tabernacles, Feast of

Called also Feast of Ingathering.

Instituted
Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:34-43; Numbers 29:12-40; Deuteronomy 16:13-16

Design of
Leviticus 23:42-43

The law read in connection with, every seventh year
Deuteronomy 31:10-12; Nehemiah 8:18

Observance of:

After the captivity
Ezra 3:4; Nehemiah 8:14-18

By Jesus
John 7:2; John 7:14

Omitted
Nehemiah 8:17

Penalty for not observing
Zech 14:16-19

Jeroboam institutes an idolatrous feast to correspond to, in the eighth month
1 Kings 12:32-33; 1 Chronicles 27:11


Smith's Bible Dictionary
Tabernacles, the Feast of

(Exodus 23:16) ("the feast of ingathering"), the third of the three great festivals- of the Hebrews, which lasted from the 15th till the 22d of Tisri.

  1. The following are the principal passages in the Pentateuch which refer to it- (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:34-36; 39-43; Numbers 29:12-38; 16:13-15; 31:10-13) In Nehemiah 8, there is an account of the observance of the feast by Ezra.
  2. The time of the festival fell in the autumn, when the whole of the chief fruits of the ground, the corn, the wine and the oil, were gathered in. (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:39; 15:13-15) Its duration was strictly only seven days, (16:13; Ezekiel 45:25) but it was followed by a day of holy convocation, distinguished by sacrifices of its own, which was sometimes spoken of as an eighth day. (Leviticus 23:36; Nehemiah 8:18) During the seven days the Isr'lites were commanded to dwell in booths or huts formed of the boughs of trees. The boughs were of the olive palm, pine, myrtle and other trees with thick foliage. (Nehemiah 8:15,16) According to rabbinical tradition each Isr'lite used to tie the branches into a bunch, to be carried in his hand to which the name lulab was given. The burnt offerings of the Feast of Tabernacles were by far more numerous than those of any other festival. There were offered on each day two rams, fourteen lambs and a kid for a sin offering. But what was most peculiar was the arrangement of the sacrifices of bullocks, in amounting to seventy. (Numbers 29:12-38) The eighth day was a day of holy convocation of peculiar solemnity. On the morning of this day the Hebrews left their huts and dismantled them, and took up their abode again in their houses. The special offerings of the day were a bullock a ram, seven lambs and a goat for a sin offering. (Numbers 29:36,38) When the Feast of Tabernacles fell on a sabbatical year, portions of the law were read each day in public, to men, women, children and strangers. (31:10-13) We find Ezra reading the law during the festival "day by day, from the first day to the last day." (Nehemiah 8:18)
  3. There are two particulars in the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles which appear to be referred to in the New Testament, but are not noticed in the Old. These were the ceremony of pouring out some water of the pool of Siloam and the display of some great lights in the court of the women. We are told that each Isr'lite, in holiday attire, having made up his lulab , before he broke his fast repaired to the temple with the lulab in one hand and the citron in the other, at the time of the ordinary morning sacrifice. The parts of the victim were laid upon the altar. One of the priests fetched some water in a golden ewer from the pool of Siloam, which he brought into the court through the water-gate. As he entered the trumpets sounded, and he ascended the slope of the altar. At the top of this were fixed two silver basins with small openings at the bottom. Wine was poured into that on the eastern side, and the water into that on the western side, whence it was conducted by pipes into the Cedron. In the evening, both men and women assembled in the court of the women, expressly to hold a rejoicing for the drawing of the water of Siloam. At the same time there were set up in the court two lofty stands, each supporting four great lamps. These were lighted on each night of the festival. It appears to be generally admitted that the words of our Saviour, (John 7:37,38)

    "If a man thirst, let him come unto me drink. He that believeth on me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water"

    were suggested by the pouring out of the water of Siloam. But it is very doubtful what is meant by "the last day, that great day of the feast." It would seem that either the last day of the feast itself, that is, the seventh, or the last day of the religious observances of the series of annual festivals, the eighth, must be intended. The eighth day may be meant and then the reference of our Lord would be to an ordinary and well-known observance of the feast, though it was not, at the very time, going on. We must resort to some such explanation if we adopt the notion that our Lord's words (John 8:12)

    "I am the light of the world "

    refer to the great lamps of the festival.

  4. Though all the Hebrew annual festivals were seasons of rejoicing, the Feast of Tabernacles was, in this respect, distinguished above them all. The huts and the lulabs must have made a gay end striking spectacle over the city by day, and the lamps, the flambeaux, the music and the joyous gatherings in the court of the temple must have given a still more festive character to the night. The main purposes of the Feast of Tabernacles are plainly set forth in (Exodus 23:16) and Leviticus 23:43 It was to be at once a thanksgiving for the harvest and a commemoration of the time when the Isr'lites dwelt in tents during their passage through the wilderness. In one of its meanings it stands in connection with the Passover. as the Feast of Abib, and with Pentecost, as the feast of harvest; in its other meaning, it is related to the Passover as the great yearly memorial of the deliverance from the destroyer and from the tyranny of Egypt. But naturally connected with this exultation in their regained freedom was the rejoicing in the more perfect fulfillment of God's promise in the settlement of his people in the holy blessing. But the culminating point of was the establishment of the central spot of the national worship in the temple at Jerusalem. Hence it was evidently fitting that the Feast of Tabernacles should be kept with an unwonted degree of observance at the dedication of Solomon's temple, (1 Kings 8:2,65) Joseph. Ant. viii. 4,5; again, after the rebuilding of the temple by Ezra, (Nehemiah 8:13-18) and a third time by Judas Maccab'us when he had driven out the Syrians and restored the temple to the worship of Jehovah. 2 Macc. 10.5-8.