Contributed by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis

"Residence", "Dwelling place." 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 the Covenant, the tablets of the Ten Commandments, the altars, the 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.