Moses’ Tabernacle - Biblical Text vs Exegetic Tradition

Volume 6, Issue 4, August 2022     |     PP. 228-251      |     PDF (905 K)    |     Pub. Date: August 24, 2022
DOI: 10.54647/sociology84863    101 Downloads     2158 Views  


Flavio Barbiero, Retired

No less than twelve chapters of Exodus and Numbers are dedicated to the mobile sanctuary built by the Jews on Moses’ instructions during their sojourn at the feet of Mount Horeb, making full use of their technical skills and the materials they brought from Egypt to this purpose. The biblical description is accurate and extremely detailed, down to every single element, at the point that, following its instructions, the Tabernacle can be reconstructed with precision and a high degree of reliability, as it is shown in the present work were the single elements are assembled according to obliged technical solutions in a step by step process. The result is up to the expectations for people who wanted to create a grandiose mobile-temple where to host their God: a large tent of 50 by 100 cubits with a same-size courtyard in front. Although strictly adherent to the letter of the biblical text, this model disagrees in a remarkable way with traditional exegetic reconstructions, which represent the Mishkan as a wooden cubicle, wrapped up by several drapes, surrounded by a high fence. In all evidence the traditional models are inspired to a conception initiated by Josephus Flavius, who in his book “Jewish Antiquities” reconstructs the Tabernacle heavily forcing the meaning of the biblical text to obtain a model in scale 1 to 2 of Jerusalem’s Temple. The two conceptions inevitably motivate different conclusions for what concerns the reliability and the historical significance of Exodus’ and Numbers’ accounts. While the first demonstrates that the narrative is perfectly coherent and historically reliable, the second encourages a symbolic interpretation of it.

mishkan, mobile temple, text interpretation, Bible’s reliability, Josephus Flavius

Cite this paper
Flavio Barbiero, Moses’ Tabernacle - Biblical Text vs Exegetic Tradition , SCIREA Journal of Sociology. Volume 6, Issue 4, August 2022 | PP. 228-251. 10.54647/sociology84863


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