“Suddenly Adonai told Moshe, Aharon and Miryam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” The three of them went out. Adonai came down in a column of cloud and stood at the entrance to the tent. He summoned Aharon and Miryam, and they both went forward.”-Numbers 12:4-5
There is one interesting point of disagreement between gentile and Jewish scholars that centers around the following question:
Was there one tent or two tents that the Ark of the Covenant was housed in?
For example, in the following verses, Scripture speaks of a tent that was located outside the camp
“Moshe went out and told the people what Adonai had said. Then he collected seventy of the leaders of the people and placed them all around the tent. Adonai came down in the cloud, spoke to him, took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied — then but not afterwards. There were two men who stayed in the camp, one named Eldad and the other Medad, and the Spirit came to rest on them. They were among those listed to go out to the tent, but they hadn’t done so, and they prophesied in the camp.“-Numbers 11:24-26
Or how about these verses:
“Moshe 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
On the other hand, Scripture speaks of a tent located smack dab in the center of the encampment.
“The people of Israel are to set up camp by clans, each man with his own banner and under his clan’s symbol; they are to camp around the tent of meeting, but at a distance.”-Numbers 2:2
Here’s the thing.
The vast majority of Christian gentile scholars maintain there was ONLY ONE TENT that was moved to different locations from time to time.
However, in the Jewish scholarly camp, the rabbis assert that there were TWO DIFFERENT TENTS, each used for its own purpose.
So which side is right, the Jewish camp or the gentile camp (pun intended)?
In all of the above verses, the fact that the Hebrew term being used for the “Tent of Meeting” is the same adds to the confusion.
It’s always called OHEL MOED.
So let’s get back to the million dollar question.
Was the Ark of the Covenant always kept in one tent or sometimes two?
To find the answer, let’s look at some interesting points from Scripture.
We find that Joshua was stationed as permanent guard protecting a tent located outside the camp. What was inside the tent that was so important that he had to be permanently stationed there. So what was he protecting? My answer? Probably the Ark of the Covenant.
Hundreds of years later we also find Samuel serving in the same capacity (as a guard) protecting a tent located outside the camp. Again, what was he protecting? Again, my answer is most likely the Ark of the Covenant.
Scripture clearly tells us that the Ark was housed in the personal home of a Levite named Obed-Edom and as a result of this, his whole household was blessed greatly. Now think about it. If the requirement was that the Ark absolutely had to be housed in the tent inside the wilderness tabernacle, I don’t think Obed-Edom would have been so blessed for keeping the Ark in his home.
Read this verse: “Moshe 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
So Scripture shows us that ANYONE could seek an oracle from God at the tent THAT WAS LOCATED ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE CAMP! This privilege was not just restricted to Moses and Aaron. Now combine this with the fact that Torah says God’s presence ALWAYS appeared above the Ark inside a tent.
What would be the logical conclusion based on the above points?
I would say that even though it is never specifically mentioned in Scripture, the Ark was transported back and forth to two different tents at Moses’ or God’s command.
So I believe the Jewish scholarly camp is correct in asserting that there were two and NOT only one authorized tent for the Ark to be housed.