by Beth Piepenburg
Living in Star Valley in Western Wyoming, I was invited to tour the new Mormon Temple before it is dedicated. Naturally, my LDS friends are excited about their Temple opening up, and much discussion was on Facebook. When my friend and State representative, Marti Halverson, shared she had enjoyed the tour, discussion developed about the difference of their Tabernacles and Temples. My background being in Classical Studies and Biblical History, I was highly interested in the discussion and shared some about the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple, too.
First, I explained the difference of the use of the words, house and home, in our own English language.” We use the term house and home to mean a different thing and the same thing. We buy a house to live in, but our home is dear to our heart. If we move, our home moves with us. Although it’s not wrong to use house and home interchangeably, house more often refers to the structure, while home has dear memories and the sense of family.”
Second, I shared the difference between the Tabernacle and Temple during the Old Testament days. “In the early Old Testament, the original Tabernacle was a glorified tent for the worship of the LORD. Tabernacle means dwelling, like a home. Temple is a building, somewhat a palace but for worship of a deity. When Solomon built the Temple to God, it was a tabernacle where God was to dwell among them. At times, the Temple was called the Tabernacle, because the Temple was thought of in terms of being the Tabernacle of God. The heart of the Temple was the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies where the requirements of worship took place for the High Priest. Outside this area was where the ritual sacrifices took place and the Molten Sea for the priest to cleanse themselves. Mostly south of the Temple were the Mikva’ot, which were used for spiritual cleansing by immersion by the people.”
In looking up Scriptures, and checking the difference of Hebrew words used for tent, tabernacle, and temple, I was surprised to find that the word temple was first used in the days of Eli, the usurping High Priest. Previously, I have noticed that a few times Bible translators have not been inconsistent in translating the Hebrew words for tent, tabernacle, and temple correctly. So, I decided to see if this were the case. No, the words were translated correctly in 1 Samuel 1:9 and 3:3.
Could it be that a mini-Temple had been built in Shiloh to replace the older Tabernacle that had been erected centuries earlier? In reference to Jeremiah 7:8-14, Dr. Bryant Wood had explained to me that he believed the Tabernacle had been destroyed by the Philistines when they captured the Ark of the Lord. Yes, that would make sense. Years later, when King David had brought the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, he saw the need for a permanent house for the Ark of the Lord. Christians and Jews understand that the first Temple was built by David’s son, King Solomon, and indeed it was the first one built in Jerusalem. However, could a smaller Temple have been in existence at Shiloh?
Josephus writes in the Antiquities of the Jews, “Joshua removed his camp to the mountainous country, and placed the tabernacle in the city of Shiloh, for that seemed a fit place for it, because of the beauty of its situation, until such thee as their affairs would permit them to build a temple…” (Book 5, Chapter 1:19) However, we aren’t given any clues if a Temple was ever built or not.
This coming May of 2017, my friend, Dr. Scott Stripling, will be excavating this sight for evidence of a Tabernacle, and associated buildings, with hopes of finding the homes of the priest Eli and the prophet Samuel. Could it be possible that they will find evidence of Temple stones there or evidence of a Tabernacle? Through archaeological excavations, we might be able to learn the truth.
For anyone interesting in joining or supporting an archaeological dig at Shiloh, please click here: Volunteer at the Shiloh Excavations.
Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2016. All rights reserved.