What happened to the tabernacle?

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Puritan Board Freshman
I understand that the Hebrew words for tent, tabernacle, tent of meeting, sacred tent, etc. are somewhat interchangeable, correct? But what I am curious about is the actual 100 cubit X 50 cubit structure, not the 30 cubit X 10 cubit tabernacle proper.

Apparently this structure remained at Shiloh during the time of the judges. 18:31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.

Now the ark of the covenant only was taken into battle at Ebenezer and captured by the Philistines according to 1 Sam. 5:1. It was eventually re-captured and taken to Jerusalem.

David created some kind of structure for the ark at that point. 2 Sam. 6:17 So they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent which David had pitched for it ...

Later, Joab fled to the "tent of the Lord" (1 Ki. 2:28) and I am assuming that this is the same structure that David had built, not anything resembling the original tabernacle.

Then when the ark was brought into the completed temple, They [elders and priests] brought up the ark of the Lord and the tent of meeting and all the holy utensils, which were in the tent ... (1 Ki. 8:4). So does that mean they brought all the original furnishings including the curtains, basin, lampstand, altars, etc. The whole 100 X 50 cubit structure or the 30 X 10 inner structure, or neither?

OK, I'll stop asking questions and try to keep this post focused. I guess what I'm asking is, What happened to the original tabernacle after it was erected in Shiloh after the conquest?Were the curtains, furnishings, etc. simply left there? Was is still used for worship? Were the holy utensils the same ones later transferred to Solomon's temple?

Thank you for any insight.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Jer.7:12-14, 26:6 (cf. Ps.78:60) all indicate that the ark was not simply lost in battle, but that Shiloh also was devastated. If this is a proper interpretation, then that Tabernacle may have been destroyed.

It does appear from 1Sam.21 that there was another Tabernacle structure in place in Nob some years later, with all the furnishings (note v4, plainly implying the Table of Showbread). This might indicate that when one structure was destroyed, Israel and the priests made another as close to the original plan as feasible--or maybe they escaped with the structure, or articles thereof, from Shiloh.

1Sam.7:2 indicates that one Eleazar was consecrated to the ark (for protection most likely); this text states that for 20yrs (most likely considerably longer overall, passing by the whole of Saul's reign and into David's) the ark seems to have resided apart from the Tabernacle. The priest and the altar, even more so than the ark (the divine throne), was the key to Israel's relationship with Jehovah. The people resorted to the altar (rather than the ark) for their cultic needs and celebrations.

It is unreasonable to think, even allowing for temporary housing for the ark such as undoubtedly also took place 2Sam.6:11, that the full religious life of Israel was much or ever interrupted. If the Tabernacle and altar remained fixed in Nob since the removal from Shiloh (and remember, it was designed as a movable structure), minus the ark (which does appear the case) the sacrifices of the people could still continue--as they surely did wherever the priesthood was headquartered, even while the ark was captive. As to why it remained in another location, it is pure speculation; but perhaps there was some effort at keeping the ark's location protected, while the country was largely on a war-footing.

In my modest opinion, I feel fairly strongly that with David's purchase of the threshingfloor of Araunah (2Sam.24:24) that there was more than enough incentive at that point (if no sooner) to bring the whole sanctuary apparatus to a site near to where the Temple was destined to rise, in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Once the Temple was established, the Tabernacle could be dismantled, the pieces becoming part of the Lord's treasury (1Ki.6:5ff; cf. 1Chr.29:8 & 2Chr.12:9).
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