Front Matter The Story of a Beautiful Garden The First Baby in the World and His Brother The Great Ship That Saved Eight People The Tower That Was Never Finished The Story of a Long Journey How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing The Angel by the Well The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City The Boy Who Became an Archer How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life The Story of a Journey after a Wife How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing Jacob's Wonderful Dream A Midnight Wrestling Match The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave From the Prison to the Palace How Joseph's Dream Came True A Lost Brother Found From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River The Voice from the Burning Bush The River That Ran Blood The Night When a Nation Was Born How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It The Tent Where God Lived Among His People How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons The Scapegoat in the Wilderness The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land The Story of Job The Story of a Scarlet Cord How the River Jordan Became Dry The Story of a Wedge of Gold How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge The Story of an Altar Beside the River The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon How a Woman Won a Great Victory Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz The Little Boy with a Linen Coat How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark The Last of the Judges The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh The Brave Young Prince Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows Where David Found the Giant's Sword How David Spared Saul's Life The Last Days of King Saul The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King The Sound in the Treetops The Cripple at the King's Table The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah Solomon on This Father's Throne The Wise Young King The House of God on Mount Moriah The Last Days of Solomon's Reign The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom The King Who Led Israel to Sin The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount The Wounded Prophet and His Story What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard The Arrow That Killed a King Elijah's Chariot of Fire A Spring Sweetened by Salt The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison The Little Boy at Shunem How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper The Chariots of Fire around Elisha What the Lepers Found in the Camp Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh How the Ten Tribes Were Lost The First Four Kings of Judah The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King Three Kings and a Great Prophet The Good King Hezekiah The Lost Book Found in the Temple The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again The Writing upon the Wall Daniel in the Den of Lions The Story of a Joyous Journey The New Temple on Mount Moriah The Beautiful Queen of Persia The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem The Angel by the Altar The Manger of Bethlehem The Star and the Wise Men The Boy in his Father's House The Prophet in the Wilderness Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast The Stranger at the Well The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot A Net Full of Fishes The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea "Peace, Be Still" The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It The Answer to a Mother's Prayer The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus At the Feast of Tabernacles The Man with Clay on His Face The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan Lazarus Raised to Life Some Parables in Perea The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man Jesus at Jericho Palm Sunday The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple The Parables on the Mount of Olives The Last Supper The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall The Crown of Thorns The Darkest Day of All the World The Brightest Day of All the World The Stranger on the Shore The Church of the First Days The Man at the Beautiful Gate The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way Stephen with the Shining Face The Man Reading in the Chariot The Voice That Spoke to Saul What Peter Saw by the Sea How the Iron Gate Was Opened The Earliest Missionaries The Song in the Prison Paul's Speech on the Hill Paul at Corinth Paul at Ephesus Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem The Speech on the Stairs Two Years in Prison The Story That Paul Told to the King Paul in the Storm How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There The Throne of God The City of God

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut

The Tent Where God Lived among His People

It may seem strange that the Israelites, after all that God had done for them, and while Mount Sinai was still showing God's glory, should fall away from the service of God to the worship of idols, as we read in the last Story (Twenty-six). But you must keep in mind that all the people whom the Israelites had ever met, both in Canaan and in Egypt, were worshippers of images; and from their neighbors the Israelites also had learned to bow down to idols. In those times everywhere people felt that they must have a god that they could see.

God was very good to the Israelites after they had forsaken him, to take them again as his own people: and God gave to the Israelites a plan for worship, which would allow them to have something that they could see, to remind them of their God; and yet, at the same time, would not lead them to the worship of an image, but would teach them a higher truth, that the true God cannot be seen by the eyes of men.

The plan was this: to have in the middle of the camp of Israel a house to be called, "The House of God," which the people could see, and to which they could come for worship. Every time that an Israelite looked at this house he might say to himself, and might teach his children, "That is the house where God lives among his people," even though no image stood in the house.

And as the Israelites were living in tents, and were often moving from place to place, this House of God, would need to be something like a tent, so that it could be taken down, and moved, as often as the camp was changed. Such a tent as this was called a Tabernacle. The Tabernacle then was the tent where God was supposed to live among his people, and where the people could meet God. We do not know just how the tent looked but from the description given of it many have tried to draw it. We give you one picture drawn in this way.



We know that God is a Spirit, and has no body like ours; and that he is everywhere. Yet it was right to say that God lived in the Tabernacle of the Israelites, because there God showed his presence in a special way, by having the pillar of cloud over it all day, and the pillar of fire all night. And it was believed by the Israelites that in one room of this Tabernacle the glory and brightness of God's presence might be seen.

This Tabernacle stood exactly in the middle of the camp of the Israelites in the wilderness. In front of it, and a little distance from it, on the east, stood the tent where Moses lived, and from which he gave the laws and commands of God to the people.

Around the Tabernacle there was what we might call an open square, though it was not exactly square, for it was about a hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five feet wide; that is its length and twice its width. Around it was a curtain of fine linen, in bright colors, hanging upon posts of brass. The posts were held in place by cords fastened to the ground with tent-pins or spikes. Some think that these posts were not of brass, but of copper; for we are not sure that men knew how to make brass in those times. This open square was called the Court of the Tabernacle. The curtain around it was between seven and eight feet high, a little higher than a man's head. In the middle, on the end toward the east, it could be opened for the priests to enter into the court; but no others except the priests and their helpers were ever allowed to enter it.

Inside this court, near the entrance, stood the great Altar. You remember that an altar was made generally of stone, or by heaping up the earth; and that it was the place on which a fire was kindled to burn the offering or sacrifice. The offering or sacrifice, you remember, was the gift offered to God whenever a man worshipped; and it was given to God by being burned upon his altar. (See Story Two.)

But as a stone-altar or an earth-altar could not be carried from place to place, God told the Israelites to make an altar of wood and brass, or copper. It was like a box, without bottom or top, made of thin boards so that it would not be too heavy, and then covered on the inside and the outside with plates of brass or copper, so that it would not take fire and burn. Inside, a few inches below the top, was a metal grating on which the fire was built; and the ashes would fall through the grating to the ground inside.

This altar had four rings on the corners, through which long poles were placed, so that the priests could carry it on their shoulders when the camp was moved. The altar was a little less than five feet high, and a little more than seven feet wide on each side. This was the great altar, sometimes called "The Altar of Burnt-Offering," because a sacrifice was burned upon it every morning and every evening. Near the altar in the court of the Tabernacle, stood the Laver. This was a large tank or basin, holding water which was used in washing the offerings. For the worship of the Tabernacle much water was needed; and for this purpose the Laver was kept full of water.

The Tabernacle itself stood in the court. It was a large tent, not unlike the tents in which the people lived, while they were journeying through the wilderness, though larger. Its walls, however, were not made of skins or woven cloth, as were most tents, but of boards standing upright on silver bases, and fastened together. The boards were covered with gold. The roof of the Tabernacle was made of four curtains, one laid above another; the inner curtain being beautifully decorated, and the outer curtain of rams' skins to keep out the rain. The board-walls of the Tabernacle were on the two sides and the rear end; the front was open, except when a curtain was hung over it. The Tabernacle, half tent and half house, was about forty-five feet long, and fifteen feet wide, and fifteen feet high. Its only floor was the sand of the desert.

This Tabernacle was divided into two rooms, by a vail which hung down from the roof. The larger room, the one on the eastern end, into which the priest came first from the court, was twice as large as the other room. It was thirty feet long, fifteen feet wide, and fifteen feet high, and was called the Holy Place. In the Holy Place were three things: on the right side, as one entered, a table covered with gold, on which lay twelve loaves of bread, as if each tribe gave its offering of feed to the Lord; on the left side, the Gold Lampstand, with seven branches, each having its light. This is sometimes called the Golden Candlestick, but as it held lamps, and not candles, it should be called "the lampstand."

At the further end of the Holy Place, close to the vail, was the Golden Altar of Incense: a small altar on which fragrant gum was burned, and from which a silvery cloud floated up. The fire on this altar was always to be lighted from the great altar of brass or copper that was standing outside the Tabernacle in the court. Everything in this room was made of gold, or covered with gold, even to the walls on each side.

The inner room of the Tabernacle was called the Holy of Holies; and it was so sacred that no one except the high-priest ever entered it, and he on only one day in each year. It was fifteen feet wide, fifteen feet long, and fifteen feet high. All that it held was a box or chest, made of wood and covered with places of gold on both the outside and the inside; and with a cover of solid gold, on which stood two strange figures called cherubim, also made of gold. This chest was called the Ark of the Covenant, and in it were placed for safe-keeping, the two stone tables on which God wrote the Ten Commandments. It was in this room, the Holy of Holies, that God was supposed to dwell, and to show his glory. But in it there was no image, to tempt the Israelites to the worship of idols.



Whenever the camp in the desert was to be changed, the priests first carefully covered with curtains all the furniture in the Tabernacle,—the Table, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, and the Ark of the Covenant; and they passed rods through the rings which were on the corners of all these articles. They took down the Tabernacle and tied its gold-covered boards and its great curtains, its posts and its pillars, in packages to be carried. And then the men of the tribe of Levi, who were the helpers of the priests, took up their burdens and carried them out in front of the camp. The twelve tribes were arranged in marching order behind them; the Ark of the Covenant unseen under its wrappings, upon the shoulders of the priests, led the way, with the pillar of cloud over it. And thus the children of Israel removed their camp from place to place for forty years in the wilderness.

When they fixed their camping-place after each journey, the Tabernacle was first set up, with the court around it, and the altar in front of it. Then the tribes placed their tents in order around it, three tribes on each of its four sides.

And whenever an Israelite saw the altar with the smoke rising from it, and the Tabernacle with the silver-white cloud above it, he said to himself, "Our God, the Lord of all the earth, lives in that tent. I need no image, made by men's hands, to remind me of God."