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by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis
The portable sanctuary built by the Israelites while they sojourned in the desert for forty years. It was built at the explicit instructions of God. The building project was overseen by Bezalel. After its completion, a cloud of the Glory of God would descend into the tent and address the whole people through Moses.

The structure was built out of a vast array of materials - wood, gold, silver, copper, clothes of blue, purple and red, animal skins given as free-will offerings by the Israelites.

Divided into three zones (the enclosure, sanctuary and inner shrine (devir), it housed the Ark of Covenant, the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the altars, the menorah, as well as the sacred vessels and instruments of the sacrificial cult. Its structure represented a microcosm of the heaven and the earth (Ex. R. 35:6). Once the people settled Israel, the tent resided in various locations until David brought it to Jerusalem. Eventually Solomon replaced it as the central sanctuary of the Jews by building the permanent Temple.

Article copyright 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.

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  • Also known as:
    Ohel Moed

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