Once I discovered that the Tabernacle courtyard was circular, my mind jumped back to my experience as a snowboard instructor at Granite Peak Ski Resort. Halfway through our lessons, we took our students inside a temporary building to give them a chance to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa. With the building being so cozy and spacious inside, I was surprised to learn that this temporary building was merely a tent. Sipping my hot chocolate, I came to appreciate the building's simple and ROUND construction. At the resort, this special round tent was usually referred to as “The Yurt”.
Granite Peak Ski School "Yurt" - Inside and Outside
While my first personal introduction to a round tent (except maybe Native American tipis) was the ski school's yurt, I learned that round tents or "yurts" were hardly an American invention.
As tents, yurts are an exceptionally efficient use of materials, easy to heat and ventilate, stable, and extremely wind resistant. Given their advantages over other tent shapes, they have been part of nomadic cultures for thousands of years. They are also referred to as "Gerts" or "Gers" as well (the Y and the G sounds have morphed between language groups), depending upon the local dialect. In Hebrew, the word "ger" or גר actually means "sojourner". Could it be a mistake that the same word for "sojourn" was the same word to describe mobile tents in other ancient cultures? Surely, this could hardly be coincidence, particularly as God promised that he would "sojourn" among the people of Israel after they made their Tabernacle.
Mongolian Yurt (1)
Furthermore, in addition to the "ger" or sojourning connections, it is of note that yurt-like structures continue to be used to this very day for temples or religious purposes, as depicted in the Buddhist monastary below:
Buddhist "Yurt" Monastery (2)
As Israel left Egypt during the time of the Exodus, the Israelites traveled through the parcels of land joining Europe, Asia, and Africa. Just prior to this Exodus, Egypt was the superpower of the ancient world. Surely, those living in Egypt would have been aware of a variety of "tent technologies", especially given the number of mobile merchants bringing riches to their borders via trade routes. Alternatively, as Israel wandered the wilderness, other nearby nations were sure to have witnessed Israel's tent designs, perhaps adopting their "ger" designs for themselves.
As suggested above, these "Round House" designs don't seem to be limited to eastern nomads. Engineer and inventor Bruce Bedlam believes that England's Stonehenge megalithic remains to have been used as a large structure of some sort. Bruce muses, "Given the level of intelligence of the people who built Stonehenge, is it conceivable that they would be prepared to stand in the rain?" His artistic rendering of Stonehenge as a building structure is shown below:
Bruce Bedlam's Stonehenge Building Concept(3)
Bruce proposes a similar explanation for another English site known as "Woodhenge", which features strange circular remains that also seem to be conducive to forming a building's foundation.
Circular Pillar Arrnagement at Woodhenge Site, ~2 miles from Stonehenge (4)
Clearly, the builders of the ancient world were not people defined by remedial skills, crippled by backwards technologies, or limited by our imaginations. Granted, the pre-Exodus origin of yurts might be a subject best left to speculation. Nevertheless, the traditional rectangular models as depicted in drawings (as shown below) and English Bible translations should be subject to serious scrutiny, probably not representative of the ancient past, but perhaps a product of poor Bible interpretation and remedial engineering knowledge, possibly inspired by rectangular architecture throughout Europe’s dark ages.
Artist's Depiction of Exodus Tabernacle (5)
Mankind's earliest invention is often thought to be the wheel. Should we assume that the ancients were not capable of applying the same round shape to other everyday structures? From studying the Scriptures, an English Architect named Henry Sulley came to apply this round-structure principle in his 1887 sketch of Ezekiel's future temple. While this case does not address Exodus particulars, it is, nevertheless, another example of a viable and alternate interpretation using a round foundation.
Henry Sully's Round Temple ol Ezekiel (1887)
Go to next page: Who/What is Betzalel?
4. Image by Grolltech, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en