Jewish Question: why no new wilderness tabernacle?

With all respect to any and all Jewish folks who may be on this website:

Since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. (A.D.), why hasn’t Judaism “fallen back” to plan A, if I may call it so, of worshipping G-d in a wilderness tabernacle as did Moses?

Remark: I’ve read that Judaism considers the loss of the Temple to be a catastrophe, as I’m sure it was.

But, the Shekinah (the presence of G-d) was in the wilderness tabernacle, as an endorsement and blessing of the Israelites, right from the beginning.

So, my question is, is there a simple answer or explanation why the wilderness tabernacle was not revived?

Thank You.

Answering as a non-Jew, I would assume it’s because the Ark of the Covenant was the “centerpiece” on which the Shekinah would fall whether in the wilderness or in the Temple from which the Ark was taken into anonymity.

I believe the thinking is that God instructed the Jews to sacrifice only at the location he commanded (Deut. 12:13-14). The last place so commanded was the Temple (Solmon’s temple). That was destroyed in the Babylonian exile and sacrifice stopped. It was rebuilt and this second temple was destroyed around 70AD.

Some jews believed that with the destruction of the temple, sacrifice could occur anywhere - so there is some historical record of scattered practice after the temple destruction. But most Jews would say no sacrifice until the temple is rebuilt on the temple mount.



Well, this is interesting. I may be looking for something that obviously may not exist. But, the rabbis have had to deal with conflicting parts of the Torah for two millenia. For example, the command not to work on the Sabbath has been exhaustively studied, and Jews can break this commandment, for example, to save a life, or, as Jesus once observed, to pull an animal out of a pit.

So, I don’t think Judaism is that superficial. When you say “some Jews” – yeah, that’s the point. There’s always different points of view in Judaism – the Pharisees and Saducees were very different “parties” in Judaism. The Saduccees died out, so maybe that’s my answer. They would have been far more conservative and likely to say that worship and sacrifices should continue in a reconstructed wilderness tabernacle.

It’s hard to believe that Judaism was that passive to just say, what’s God got up his sleeve for us now that the temple is gone? I am not trying to insult Judaism by speculating here. On the contrary, I give them a lot of credit for the agonizing that they did over the loss of the Temple. What, in fact, happened, is that they devoted their efforts at replacing the Temple sacrifices. That’s a bigger leap than tripping over the location of the Temple, as far as I can tell. See? They either break the commandments to do the sacrifices, or as you say, they break the command about where the sacrifices are to be made.

I agree with your observations - but there are even more “alternatives” then that. There are many within Orthodox Judaism who take the view that sacrifice was “replaced” by prayer and good deeds and that sacrifice will not be necessary when/if the Temple is rebuilt. This is an ongoing debate among Orthodox jews today.

Blessings (BTW - I am a jewish believer).


I am not Jewish but believe the answer also, apart from the above, lies in the cold, hard reality of Imperial Rome. There were indeed two Jewish uprisings, one as cited when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, and a second in the 130s A.D. when Simon Bar Kokhba rebelled against Rome. The greatest Jewish scholar of the age, Rabbi Akiva, believed Bar Kokhba to be the real messiah.

Simon was killed, Akiva tortured to death by the Romans, the flesh torn by his body with iron combs. Judea was thoroughly destroyed. Dio the Roman historian stated that 580,000 Jews died in fighting the Romans, and there arose a tradition that there were so many Jewish slaves for sale that the price dropped to less than a horse. How could anybody worship in the Holy Land in such conditions?

Some people forget that even before Christ, there already was a sizable Jewish diaspora living outside of Judea. Alexandria, now in Egypt, had a significant Jewish community, produced Philo the philosopher, and the Jewish community often found itself in feuds with the local Greek community in Alexandria which feuds the Romans had to squash.

Without a physical state, Judaism came to mean the study and observance of Torah. The person who did the most to accomplish this successfully was a Pharisaic rabbi, Ben Zakkai, the deputy head of the Sanhedrin, who was said to have been smuggled out of a besieged Jerusalem in a coffin.

Fate works in strange ways, but still to this day you will find Jewish students deep in debate in thought on the intricacies and meanings of the Torah, from kabbalistic schools to Reform.

I do not believe there is one nation under the sun whose history is as fascinating as that of the Jews. It defies belief.

Thanks Brian, of course, you’re right on. I just found part of the answer to my question in a commentary on Leviticus, and this subject comes up in the context of the dating of the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus is set in the context of the ordination of Aaron and his sons and the dedication of the wilderness tabernacle, but there are “strands” of text that seem to be post-Deuteronomy. Overall, it seems the Torah was not finalized in present form even to maybe the 1st Cen BCE. So, the Biblical answer is that there was a development of religious or cultic practice towards the centralized Jerusalem Temple. And, there are reports in various of the Jewish writings of, for example, King Josiah ordering the end of sacrifices in the “high places” which would tend towards the position in Deut 12:13-14.

That’s the skeleton of the Biblical development.

I suppose I was really inquiring about a possible post- 2nd temple destruction about going back to the point of view in Exodus 20

Ex 20:24 “An altar of earth you shall make for me, and upon it you shall sacrifice your holocausts and peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In whatever place I choose for the remembrance of my name I will come to you and bless you.”

(Catholic New American Bible translation)

OK, so the scriptural point of view is that God, not men, chooses the place.

The glory of God had departed.

While God instructed Moses with detailed instructions as to how the Tabernacle was to be constructed and had promised that his Shekinah Glory was to dwell there, by the time of the Babylonian Captivity the Glory of God had departed. The issue with Israel was that the nation, first the Northern Kingdom and later the Southern Kingdom of Judah, had fallen into idolatry, worshiping the gods of their neighbors. In Ezekiel 8,9,10 are the accounts of His Glory leaving the Temple (Eze. 10:18a ‘Then the Glory of the Lord departed’). The second temple, as built by Zerubabbel and enlarged by Herod, during Yeshua’s time, did not have the residing Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies. My comment is, how is God to be persuaded to have His Glory return to a new tabernacle? It was God who ordered it to be built in the first place, and also instructed the building of the first temple of King Solomon.
I am a gentile christian and perhaps your question may be commented best by those in Judaism.

The reason Jews haven’t erected a moible tabernacle is threefold:

First, the Messiah is said to rebuild the Third Temple when he comes.

Second, Jews worship at temples, which are like miniature versions of the Temple (until the Temple is rebuilt).

Third, the Ark is lost, so Jews cannot make sacrifical offerings to God. Hence, they cannot have a Tabernacle.

This is among many traditions in thinking - but most Orthodox Jews are prepared to rebuild the temple themselves and feel commanded to do so, when/if the Temple mount is posessed again by Israei.

Second, Jews worship at temples, which are like miniature versions of the Temple (until the Temple is rebuilt).

Not really - the “temples” (synagogues) of today are community gathering places where the Torah is housed - but bear no resemblance to the “Temple” and not means of, or design for, sacrifice. If there was a Temple in Jerusalem, then by scripture, all Jews would attempt to pilgrimage there for each of the major feast days.

Third, the Ark is lost, so Jews cannot make sacrifical offerings to God. Hence, they cannot have a Tabernacle.

The Ark is lost - but this will not stop the Jewish people from sacrificing again at the Temple if it is rebuilt - they will build another Ark (they have the plans to do so per scripture).



I think only Reformed Jews refer to their place of worship as a Temple. The Orthodox refer to them only as synagogues.

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