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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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TENT . Apart from the traditions of the patriarchs as ‘quiet’ men, ‘dwelling in tents’ ( Genesis 25:27 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ), the settled Hebrews preserved a reminder of their nomad ancestry in such phrases as ‘going to one’s tent’ for to ‘go home’ ( Judges 19:9 ), and in the recurring call, ‘to thy tents ( i.e. to your homes), O Israel’ ( 1 Kings 12:16 etc.). For an interesting case of adherence to the ‘nomadic Ideal’ on religious grounds, see Rechabites.

The Hebrew tent, even in later days, cannot have differed much from the simple Bedouin tent of to-day, made by sewing together strips of the native goats’ hair cloth (cf. Song of Solomon 1:5 ‘I am black as the tents of Kedar’). These ‘curtains’ ( Jeremiah 4:20 , Exodus 26:2 and oft.) are held up by poles, generally 9 in number, arranged in three rows of three, and 6 7 ft. high, which are kept in position by ropes the ‘cords’ of EV [Note: English Version.] , and the ‘ tent-cord ’ of Job 4:21 RV [Note: Revised Version.] attached to ‘stakes’ or ‘ tent-pins ’ driven into the ground by a mallet ( Judges 4:21 ). The larger the tent, the longer the cords and the stronger the stakes, according to the figure. Isaiah 54:2 . The tent, then as now, was probably divided into two parts by hanging a curtain from the three middle poles along the length of the tent the front division open and free to all, the back closed and reserved for the women and the privacy of domestic life ( Judges 15:1 , Song of Solomon 3:4; cf. Genesis 18:9 f.).

In time of war we read both of booths ( 2 Samuel 11:11 , so RV [Note: Revised Version.] rightly for AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘tents’) and of tents ( 2 Kings 7:7 , Jeremiah 37:10 ). The Assyrian sculptures represent the soldiers’ tents as conical in shape, supported by a central pole with two arms. On the famous bronze Sheathing of the palace gates at Balawat, representing every detail of the conduct of war, the royal pavilion ( 1 Kings 20:12; 1 Kings 20:16 ) is frequently represented. It was rectangular in shape, with ornamental wooden pillars with floral capitals at the four corners. The walls were probably of linen, and the roof evidently of tapestry or other rich material edged with tassels (see the plates in Billerbeck’s Die Palasttore Satmanassars II., 1908).

In early times a special tent was pitched for a newly wedded pair (Psalms 19:6 , Joel 2:15; cf. 2 Samuel 16:22 ), as is still the custom among the Arahs. The canopy under which Jewish couples are married at the present day still retains the name, as it is a survival of the ancient chuppah or bridal tent.

Priscilla and Aquila, as well as the Apostle Paul, were tentmakers ( Acts 18:2 f.). See Spinning and, Weaving, §§ 1 , 4 ( c ). For the tent of meeting (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) see Tabernacle.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Tent'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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