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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 328—Arabian Tent

The patriarchal fathers of the Israelites were dwellers in tents, and their descendants proceeded at once from tents to houses. We therefore read but little of huts among them; and never as the fixed habitations of any people with whom they were conversant. Tents were invented before the Deluge, and appear from the first to have been associated with the pastoral life, to which a movable habitation was necessary (). The practice of the pastoral fathers was to pitch their tents near wells of water, and if possible, under some shady tree (; ). The first tents were undoubtedly covered with skins, of which there are traces in the Pentateuch (); but nearly all the tents mentioned in Scripture were, doubtless, of goats' hair, spun and woven by the women (; ); such as are now, in Western Asia, used by all who dwell in tents; hence their black color (). Tents of linen were, and still are, only used occasionally, for holiday or traveling purposes, by those who do not habitually live in them. The patriarchal tents were probably such as we now see in Arabia, of an oblong shape, and eight or ten feet high in the middle. They vary in size, and have, accordingly, a greater or less number of poles to support them—from three to nine. An encampment is generally arranged circularly, forming an enclosure, within which the cattle are driven at night, and the center of which is occupied by the tent or tents of the Emir or Sheikh. If he is a person of much consequence, he may have three or four tents, for himself, his wives, his servants, and strangers respectively. The two first are of the most importance, and we know that Abraham's wife had a separate tent (). It is more usual, however, for one very large tent to be divided into two or more apartments by curtains. The Holy Tabernacle was on this model ().





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Tent'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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