By William J Jackson
At Mount Sinai G-d appeared to the Israelites with shock and awe “…thunder claps and lightning flashes, and a thick cloud..” (Exodus19:16). This must have been so intimidating and yet so inspiring to the huddled masses at the base of Sinai. Then soon after that G-d says “…make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their (the Israelites) midst” (Exodus 25:8). What a privilege! Thus the concept of the Tabernacle was conceived by HaShem. So what about the destiny of this Holy Sanctuary? What is it’s journey? Where did it end up at? Why and when did it go away? How did it become
a Temple? All these and more are answered here.
- The concept of the Tabernacle (1446 BCE): The Tabernacle of Moses was the first of it’s kind, but was a temporary tent. It was designed to be portable and moved with Israel through their wilderness wanderings (Exodus 25:1-27:19) (1).
- The Tabernacle rested in Shiloh (1399 BCE):A little over 40 years the tabernacle wondered and finally rested at Shiloh. This is about 340 miles North from it’s start point Mount Sinai (2) and 20 miles north of Jerusalem (Joshua 18:1, 19:51).
- The Ark and the Tabernacle become separated (1070 BCE): The Ark of the Covenant was the central piece to the Tabernacle. It was a beautiful gold chest that held the ten commandments. G-d spoke to Moses from above the Ark’s cherubim (Exodus 25:22, Isaiah 37:16, Psalm 80:1). The Israelites separated the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle to bring it into battle. Here it was then lost to the Philistines (1 Sam. 4). The Philistines were cursed for having the Ark (1 Sam. 5). The Philistines returned the Ark to the Israelites in Beth-Shemesh about 40 miles west of Jerusalem (3) (1 Sam. 6).
- King David brings the Ark to Jerusalem (1000 BCE): About 70 years after the Ark was taken from the Philistines King David tried to move the Ark to Jerusalem. Because he did it incorrectly a man was killed by G-d (II San 6:17). Frustrated, King David moved the ark to Kiriath-Jearim about 29 miles west of Jerusalem (4). Here he gives it to Oved-edom the Gittite for safe keeping (II Samuel 6:10-11). After three months David then brought it to Jerusalem correctly (II Samuel 6). It’s great that King David had the Ark of the Covenant now but where was the Tabernacle? If we look in I Chronicles 21:29 it states that the Tabernacle and the altar of the burnt offerings that Moses made was in Gibeon about 8 miles North West of Jerusalem (5). Apparently the Israelites were still using the Tabernacle here to worship the Lord without the Ark (1 Kings 3:4-5, 1 Chronicles 16:39, 2 Chronicles 1:3,13).
- The conception of the Temple (1000 BCE): King David felt bad that he was living in a palace while G-d’s place of worship was a tent (tabernacle). He requests to have a temple built for G-d through Nathan the prophet. G-d graciously accepts (II Samuel 7).
- Where to put the Temple (970 BCE): About 30 years after the Ark was brought into Jerusalem Gad the prophet told King David on behalf of the Lord “Go up to erect an altar to the Lord in the threshing-floor of Aravnah the Jebusite.” (II Samuel 24:18 and I Chronicles 21:18). David wanted to build the temple but because he shed so much blood he gave the honor to his son Solomon (I Chronicles 22:8-10, 28:3, 1 Kings 5:3) So King Solomon built the temple on Mount Moriah at the location told to him by his father King David (II Chronicles 3:1). Mount Moriah is also the place where G-d told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2).
- The Temple is complete (966 BCE): King Solomon completes the Temple (1 Kings 6:38). G-d approved of the Temple (II Chronicles 7:1-2). It is tragic that 380 years after the Temple was dedicated to HaShem it would become destroyed by the Babylonians during the Jewish–Babylonian war. 70 years after that the Jews returning from exile rebuilt the Temple on the same site (7). This is often referred to as the second Temple. Ironically about 380 years after the second Temple Rome destroyed it (70 CE). Adding insult to injury in 630 CE the Moslems took over Jerusalem claiming the temple site in support of their religious beliefs. Today, an Islamic religious committee, manages the Temple Mount, though Israel provides security and upholds decisions made by the Islamic religious committee about access to the site (7).
Begs the question, do we need the Temple? This will be answered thisWednesday 25 February 2015 in the article appropriately named “Do we need the Temple”.