Reference ( אֹ֣הֶל, BDB, 1977 ed., p.14): וַתֵּ֕כֶל כָּל־עֲבֹדַ֕ת מִשְׁכַּ֖ן אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד , (Ex 39:32, BHSa). Ex 39:32; 40:2, 6, 29, cf. 1 Ch 6:17 (BDB) all have the same structure, and BDB references these verses as distinguishing מִשְׁכַּ֖ן and אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד. Translations such as ESV make these two terms synonymous: "Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished" (Ex 39:32a). Are the English translations missing something in Hebrew?

Looking at the English translations, מִשְׁכַּ֖ן appears to be construct, meaning מִשְׁכַּ֖ן is a part of the אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד. However HCSV translates making these terms synonymous:  So all the work for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was finished. (Ex. 39:32, HCSV)

מִשְׁכַּ֖ן -- translated tabernacle and אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד -- translated tent of meeting

(Ex 25:9 RVm; [מִשְׁכַּ֖ן] rendered conventionally ‘tabernacle’), of planks lined with vari-coloured tapestry, with a ‘tent’ (אֹהֶל) over it, filled with כְּבוֹד י׳ . Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 1015). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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Above is a chart using Logos Bible Software showing a Greek word the LXX uses to translate both Hebrew terms. The LXX combines both terms as τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ μαρτυρίου or τὴν σκηνὴν in these passages.

Below is a Jewish translation:

Thus was completed all the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.... Jewish Publication Society. (1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Ex 39:32). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Nahum M. Sarna in the JPS commentary sees the two terms as expressing two distinct functions of one physical sanctuary. Perhaps this is the best explanation. It appears to resolve seemingly conflicting usages.

[Ex. 39:]32. the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting A combination of the two distinct terms for the sanctuary. Together they express its dual function as the symbol of the indwelling of the Divine Presence in the camp of Israel and as the site of communication between God and Moses.4 -- Sarna, N. M. (1991). Exodus (pp. 233–234). Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

  • Excellent question +1.
    – Dottard
    Sep 14, 2020 at 23:47
  • @Dottard Thank you. Understood. If that is the case then, indeed, 'tabernacle' and 'tent of meeting' are different things. Both YLT and Green's Literal assume a possessive genitive and state 'the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. (+1)
    – Nigel J
    Sep 14, 2020 at 23:51
  • See what BDB says about word translated tabernacle. All my references are BDB. Someone has the chance to expand and maybe dispute BDB.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 15, 2020 at 0:11
  • Exodus 39:32-33 [MT] proves the Tabernacle & Tent of Meeting were 2 distinct parts of 1 humble dwelling. The Tabernacle (הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן) included the inner Tent of Meeting (אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד) much like the Temple (הַֽהֵיכָ֔ל) included the inner Holy of Holies (קֹ֖דֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִֽׁים). Sep 15, 2020 at 1:39

2 Answers 2


This is one of the extremely rare occasions where I beg to differ with the very reputable BDB. It is true that lists (eg Ex 39:11, 12, etc) can show distinct items but can also show things in what English might call "apposition".

Note that (contrary to BDB) the construction is distinct because:

  • In Ex 39:11, 12, etc, there is an "and" (waw) at the end of each line implying the list
  • In Ex 39:32, 40:2, 6, 29, etc, no such conjunction exists, and thus, suggest a construct form with a possible implied (to use the English term) genitive; giving something like "the tabernacle of the tent of meeting", as per YLT, WEB, WBT, ERV, JPS, NHEB, HCSB, KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, etc.

Thus, we turn to the semantics. Note the following reference to both the "Tabernacle" מִשְׁכָּן, and the "tent" אֹהֶל of meeting, many in quintessential Hebrew parallelism.

  • Ex 40:35 - Moses was unable to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
  • Lev 17:4 - instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the LORD in front of the tabernacle of the LORD
  • Num 3:7 - They are to perform duties for him and for the whole congregation before the Tent of Meeting, attending to the service of the tabernacle.
  • Num 3:8 - They shall take care of all the furnishings of the Tent of Meeting and fulfill obligations for the Israelites by attending to the service of the tabernacle.
  • Num 4:25 - They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting with the covering of fine leather over it, the curtains for the entrance to the Tent of Meeting
  • Num 4:31 - This is the duty for all their service at the Tent of Meeting: to carry the frames of the tabernacle with its crossbars, posts, and bases
  • I need to look at this further.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 15, 2020 at 1:20
  • What do you think about the explanation in the Exodus commentary published by JPS?
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 18, 2020 at 20:57
  • I agree with the JPS as this supports the construct form of the grammar. The tent of meeting was part of the tabernacle more generally; the latter included the courtyard etc. The tent of meeting housed the sanctuary with the ark of the covenant and its mercy seat above which was supposed to be the Shekinah Glory. Hence the tent of meeting where Moses met with God.
    – Dottard
    Sep 18, 2020 at 21:23
  • I think you're referring to the translation. I was asking about Nahum M. Sarna's interpretation in the JPS commentary now at the end of the question section.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 19, 2020 at 11:11

Exodus 39:32-33 [MT] proves the Tabernacle & Tent of Meeting were 2 distinct parts of 1 humble dwelling. In context to the Tanakh, The Tabernacle (הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן) included the inner Tent of Meeting (אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד) much like the Temple (הַֽהֵיכָ֔ל) included the inner Holy of Holies (קֹ֖דֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִֽׁים).

Ha-Mishkan -vs.- Ohel Moed

Exodus 39:32 [MT] "All the work of the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting was completed; the children of Israel had done [it]; according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so they had done." (וַתֵּ֕כֶל כָּל־עֲבֹדַ֕ת מִשְׁכַּ֖ן אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כְּ֠כֹ֠ל אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֧ה יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־משֶׁ֖ה כֵּ֥ן עָשֽׂוּ )
Exodus 39:33 [MT] "Now they brought the Mishkan to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings its clasps, its planks, its bars, its pillars and its sockets" (וַיָּבִ֤יאוּ אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּן֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה אֶת־הָאֹ֖הֶל וְאֶת־כָּל־כֵּלָ֑יו קְרָסָ֣יו קְרָשָׁ֔יו בְּרִיחָ֖יו (כתיב בריחו) וְעַמֻּדָ֥יו וַֽאֲדָנָֽיו )

"Ha-Mishkan" (The-Dwelling) was a portable gated location setup for ritual cleansing & sacrificial worship in honor of the God YHVH. The Dwelling's inner booth was the "Ohel Moed" (Tent of Meeting) which the Kohenim priests used as a sanctuary courtroom to witness & mediate for Yisrael's sins in front of the presence of the Judge YHVH. [Exodus 33, Leviticus 8]

As Ivri worship of YHVH increased, The Dwelling (Ha-Mishkan) of Moshe increased in size to become the Temple (Ha-Heikal) of the King Shlomoh (הַמֶּ֚לֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה֙). Shlomoh (Solomon) also increased the scale of Moshe's "Tent of Meeting" 10-times to make the heavenly Holy of Holies. [1 Kings 6]

Ohel Moed -vs.- Qodesh Ha-Qadashim

Exodus 33:7 [MT] : "And Moshe took the tent and pitched it for himself outside the camp, distancing [it] from the camp, and he called it the Tent of Meeting, and it would be that anyone seeking YHVH would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp." (וּמשֶׁה֩ יִקַּ֨ח אֶת־הָאֹ֜הֶל וְנָֽטָה־ל֣וֹ | מִח֣וּץ לַמַּֽחֲנֶ֗ה הַרְחֵק֙ מִן־הַמַּֽחֲנֶ֔ה וְקָ֥רָא ל֖וֹ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֙ כָּל־מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה יֵצֵא֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֖ר מִח֥וּץ לַמַּֽחֲנֶֽה)
1 Kings 6:16 [MT] "And he built the twenty cubits at the end of the house with boards of cedar; from the floor unto the joists (of the ceiling), and he built it within, for a Sanctuary, for the Holy of Holies." (וַיִּבֶן֩ אֶת־עֶשְׂרִ֨ים אַמָּ֜ה מִֽיַּרְכְּתֵ֚י (כתיב מִֽיַּרְכְּותֵ֚י) הַבַּ֙יִת֙ בְּצַלְע֣וֹת אֲרָזִ֔ים מִן־הַקַּרְקַ֖ע עַד־הַקִּיר֑וֹת וַיִּ֚בֶן לוֹ֙ מִבַּ֣יִת לִדְבִ֔יר לְקֹ֖דֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִֽׁים)

Ohel Moed -vs.- Qodesh Ha-Qadashim

  • The humble Tent of Meeting of Moses with 1-Menorah compared with Solomon's heavenly Holy of Holies with 10-Menorot illustrates the desire of Hebrews to know God's Word had increased 10-times since the days of Moses.
Exodus 40:24 [MT] "He placed the menorah in the Tent of Meeting, opposite the table, on the southern side of the Mishkan." (וַיָּ֤שֶׂם אֶת־הַמְּנֹרָה֙ בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד נֹ֖כַח הַשֻּׁלְחָ֑ן עַ֛ל יֶ֥רֶךְ הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן נֶֽגְבָּה)
2 Chronicles 4:7 [MT] "And he made the ten golden lampstands according to their regulations, and he placed five in the Heichal, five from the right and five from the left." (וַ֠יַּעַשׂ אֶת־מְנֹר֧וֹת הַזָּהָ֛ב עֶ֖שֶׂר כְּמִשְׁפָּטָ֑ם וַיִּתֵּן֙ בַּֽהֵיכָ֔ל חָמֵ֥שׁ מִיָּמִ֖ין וְחָמֵ֥שׁ מִשְּׂמֹֽאול )
  • In Ivri (Hebrew), the "Tent of Meeting" is called "Ohel Moed" (אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד). Ohel Moed (אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד) could literally be translated as "Tent (אֹ֣הֶל) of set-Witness (מוֹעֵ֑ד)". In Ivri - "Et" (עֵ֥ת) means 'time' & "Ed" (עֵ֑ד) means 'witness'. Thus a literal translation of "Ohel Mo-Ed" = "Tent of set-Witness". In regards to [Leviticus 8] - the "Witness" was Aharon (אַֽהֲרֹ֖ן) the-Priest / ha-Kohen (הַכֹּהֵ֗ן) who testified / atoned for crimes of the Yisraelites to The Judge (YHVH) in the "Tent of set-Witness" / Ohel Moed (אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד).
  • What do you think about the explanation in the Exodus commentary published by JPS?
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 18, 2020 at 20:56
  • Nahum M. Sarna's interpretation
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 19, 2020 at 11:51

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