has several meanings:
- In Old Testament times, a worship tent or other movable worship facility which the Israelites used during their nomadic period.
- In churches, a small cupboard, chest or cabinet in which consecrated communion wafers or bread are kept.
- In architecture, a canopied niche, often used for housing statues.
- An alternative word for a shrine, temple or chapel.
- The early Methodists of the eighteenth century called their chapels 'Tabernacles', the most famous of which was George Whitefield's London 'Tabernacle', formerly situated in Moorfields.
The word 'tabernacle' is derived from the Latin
meaning 'tent, hut, booth'. Tabernaculum
itself is a diminutive form of the word taberna
, meaning 'tavern.'
The tabernacle of the nomadic Israelites was a tent draped with colourful curtains. The outside was draped with goats-hair curtains, and the roof was made from rams' skins. It was divided into two areas, separated by a curtain: the outer room, containing the seven-branched candelaber, and the inner room, also known as the 'Holy of Holies' and containing the Ark of the covenant.