“Moses would take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the camp. He called it the tent of meeting. Everyone who wanted to consult Adonai would go out to the tent of meeting, outside the camp.”-Exodus 33:7
Verse 7 tells us that Moses pitched a “tent” outside the camp.
Now what I find interesting is there are some commentators who will say this was actually the God-ordained Tabernacle.
The word “tabernacle” isn’t used anywhere in these verses, yet many translators have decided yup, the Lord meant “tabernacle” here.
I have a problem with this.
First of all, the Hebrew word being used here is OHEL and it means “tent”.
In fact, it is the only word used to refer to whatever it was we’re told that Moses set up outside the camp.
In other verses in this chapter we’re told that whenever the Israelites saw Moses heading toward his OHEL, they would stand and wait outside their OHEL.
Second, at this point in time, only the Tabernacle building instructions have been provided.
There isn’t any evidence that any actual construction had taken place.
The whole Golden Calf fiasco had interrupted everything.
The covenant that makes Israel the Lord’s people doesn’t even exist at the moment.
Moses has to go back up and receive a 2nd set of tablets to renew the covenant.
Third, the verses plainly tell us that it was Moses who actually set up the tent, not Moses and hundreds of other people, which is how much manpower would have been necessary to put up the real tabernacle.
Finally, the best piece of evidence proving that this is not the Tabernacle is this little excerpt from verse 11.
“Joshua the son of Nun, never left the inside of the tent.”
So Joshua was inside the tent.
However, only Levites are allowed to enter the Tabernacle and Joshua was NOT a Levite.
He comes from the Tribe of Ephraim.
If it was really the Tabernacle that Joshua (or any other non-Levite for that matter) had entered, he would have been killed on the spot.
Of course, Moses was allowed to go into the Tabernacle because he was a Levite.
In addition, in verses 9 and 10, we’re told the cloud of God stationed itself at the ENTRANCE to the tent.
However, with the real Wilderness Tabernacle, the cloud hovered ABOVE the tent.
So my conclusion?
It wasn’t the Tabernacle.
I think this was probably just Moses’ personal tent that was set up as a temporary expedient until the real Tabernacle was built.