What Ever Happened to the Mishkan?

Moshe Ben-Chaim



Reader: The Tabernacle of the Congregation, as we gather from the descriptions in Scripture, was a mobile sanctuary, constructed of gilded boards and covered by curtains. Scripture tells us that the Tabernacle accompanied the children of Israel throughout their wanderings in the wilderness until their arrival in the land of Canaan. Gilgal, in the plains of Jericho, was the last station in their wanderings, their first in an inhabited land. It was there that the Tabernacle remained throughout the period of the conquest of Canaan. (Josh IV; Zeb.118, and parallel passages).

According to tradition, the Tabernacle was erected on the first day of Nissan, in the year of Creation 2449, about 3,300 years ago. It served as the centre of Divine worship for the children of Israel for a period of about 500 years. It accompanied them during their wanderings in the desert and after they had taken possession of the land of Canaan, it served as their spiritual centre until the erection of the First Temple by Solomon. It stood for 14 years in Gilgal, for 369 years in Shilo, and for 57 years in Nob and Gibeon. After the First Temple was built, we are told by our Sages, the Tabernacle was dismantled, and its ancient curtains and other appurtenances were hidden away in subterranean passages underneath the Holy Shrine. (Sotah 9a). (From "The Taberncle" by Moshe Levine)

The above two paragraphs answer the question of "Whatever happened to the Mishkan?" But it also adds to the frustration of finding proofs of ancient Bible stories. Wouldn't it be comforting and assuring, that our election to live a Torah way of life, can be supported by the viewing of the actual elements of the Mishkan? How about seeing what is hidden in the Vatican? Shouldn't there be a statute of limitations on "Spoils of war"? After all, it's almost 2000 years since the Romans pillaged the second temple! Can the U.N. be petitioned to persuade Rome to reveal to the world what they have hidden? Many questioning Jews, who weren't indoctrinated with Torah concepts and truths, from birth, are weaker in their beliefs. Especially the last two generations who witnessed the tragedies in Europe and now in Israel.

Is it wrong to want proofs? Will these generations, and future generations still achieve acceptance into the next world, while carrying these sacks of doubts? - Chaim Ben Naphtali

Mesora: One not indoctrinated from youth may still achieve complete conviction in Torah truths. He also need not rely on tangible evidence of the Jews' journeys, or of their Tabernacle. Intelligence applied to the study of the universe and Torah will yield absolute proof of God, His commands, and thus, His will for the Jewish people and mankind. Greater than the Tabernacle, is our universe. "God's glory fills the entire earth" as well. Thus far, we have proof of a Creator. What about his will for us?

In terms of knowing that one has led a proper lifestyle, even without having seen the Temple or Tabernacle, transmission from Sinai is our proof. If we know Sinai occurred without having visuals, we thereby know all other accounts occurred, which are also contained in that same transmission, including the Tabernacle.

What ever happened to the Tabernacle has no affect on what we know must be true based on reason.