During the time of David and Solomon, the original Tabernacle of the Lord made by Moses was located in Gibeon (ex. 1 Ch 16:39, 21:29). But in 2 Sam 6:17 and 1 Ch 16:1, it said David moved the ark into the tabernacle in Jerusalem that David erected.

I see that the Strong's definitions of the tabernacle/tent used in 1 Ch 16:1 is also different than that of 16:39. However both seem acceptable to refer to the original tabernacle. It would also seem to be a great irreverence to move the ark into a different tent.

I've read some websites that made a great distinction of the two tabernacles. But I'm not sure if that's the common interpretation - that there were two tabernacles during the time of David. If so, are there other references in the bible that made a distinction of the tabernacle of David and the tabernacle of Moses? Do they carry different functions or meanings?

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    – Dottard
    Mar 4, 2021 at 8:53
  • @Kyle S Could you look at the exposition you posted for this very Question, and ask yourself whether that is not capable of many different renditions even in English? Then why would we not expect the number of tabernacles in any given version of the Bible to match… and which Bible version are you using? Aug 27, 2022 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


The simplest explanation is that given by several commentators such as Bension -

2 Samuel 6:17. The tabernacle that David had pitched for it — For the ancient tabernacle made by Moses remained still at Gibeon, 1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29; 2 Chronicles 1:3. From whence David did not think fit to fetch it, because he intended soon to build a temple to place it in. For the present, therefore, he only hung some curtains round about the ark, after the fashion of the tabernacle. See 2 Samuel 7:2. David offered burnt- offerings and peace-offerings — To implore the continuance of God’s mercies to them, and to thank him for those they had received.

Similarly, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary observes:

  1. they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it—The old tabernacle remained at Gibeon (1Ch 16:39; 21:29; 2Ch 1:3). Probably it was not removed because it was too large for the temporary place the king had appropriated, and because he contemplated the building of a temple.
  • So it really was treated as just a temporary construction then. I guess my other question was, does the tabernacle of David carry any significance beyond a temporary construction, such as gotquestions.org/tabernacle-of-David.html, where the tabernacle of David was a prefiguration of the salvation to the gentiles, who were forbidden from entering the Tabernacle of Moses. But having the tabernacle of David being a temporary storage of the ark would weaken the case.
    – Kyle S
    Mar 9, 2021 at 17:28
  • 1
    @KyleS - You have raised two separate matters - the tent of David definitely temporary, nothing more, until the temple was built. Salvation for the gentiles was ALWAYS open as is simple to demonstrate from the many gentiles that became Israelites like, Caleb, Ruth, Uriah, David's gittite regiment, etc.
    – Dottard
    Mar 9, 2021 at 21:08

Not only were their "two" tabernacles in David's time, there were almost certainly more than two. Tabernacle (מִשְׁכָּן) is a fancy English word for "tent" or dwelling place. KJV uses it in the sense of "tent" in Num. 24:5

How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!

Thus any covered Israelite sacred shine was a "tabernacle." However in the view of later biblical writers there could be only one official tabernacle at a time. This attitude, however, is anachronistic.

The Bible states that the tabernacle had been at Shiloh where it remained for most the period of Judges. Shiloh thus became a place of pilgrimage for Israelites who wished to offer their tithes and sacrifices there. However, local altars were also allowed at such sacred sites such as the high places of Gilgal (1 Samuel 11:14), Bethel (Judges 21:2), Mizpah (Judges 21:5) and—according to Samaritan tradition-—Mount Gerizim (Deuteronomy 27:11-13). Each of these is mentioned as an apparently legitimate worship site in the biblical text. While we have no concrete evidence that these altars were housed in tents, there is no reason to doubt that some of them were.

During David's early life, Samuel regularly visited the Israelite shrines at Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. "He judged Israel in all these places." (1 Samuel 7:16) Thus the presence of the official Tabernacle at Gibeon does not mean that other Israelite tabernacles did not exist elsewhere.

The Books of Kings speaks of the high places as centers of apparently legitimate Israel worship a generation after David moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, until the Temple was built:

The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father; only, he sacrificed and burnt incense at the high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings upon that altar. (1 Kings 3:2-4)

Bethel too apparently remained active and was not deemed illegitimate until the rebellion of Jeroboam I which the prophet Ahijah initially sanctioned.(1 Kings 11)

To conclude: In hindsight, we can distinguish between the official Tabernacle and temporary or local tent-altars where sacrifices and sacred vows were also made. But there were certainly more than two local centers of Israelite worship in the time of David.

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