Did the tabernacle in the wilderness have a flat roof?

BibleAsk Team

The Roof of the Tabernacle

The following points show that the tabernacle in the wilderness probably had a flat roof:

  1. The outside curtains (Exodus 26:8) were 30 cubits long, the precise length needed to form a flat roof and to reach down either side as a top for the gold-plated board walls. A gable roof would increase the length of covering needed for the roof and similarly decrease the remaining length available for covering the sides. More or less of the lower part of the gold-plated boards would thus be left exposed. But gold was otherwise kept for the interior of the building. The fact that the inner curtain was two cubits shorter than the outer which covered it shows that the outer curtains were made to protect it, and that they probably reached to the floor.
  2. No ridgepole is recorded, nor is the use of one mentioned. In addition, there is nothing to indicate that the five “pillars” were different in length.
  3. There is no mention of any ways of covering triangular gable ends, and it would be unreasonable that the ends were left exposed. The veil which was between the holy place and the most holy did not reach to the top of the building, so that light from the Shekinah might be seen above it from the first apartment of the sanctuary.
  4. The tabernacle was temporary, movable structure made during the wilderness experience, until the erection of a more permanent building in the Promised Land. The little amount of rainfall in the dry, wilderness would not make a flat roof a problem.

Thus, while there is no sure proof, it seems likely that the roof was flat. Drawings of the tabernacle showing a gable roof are based on the artist’s imagination of it.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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