Judith Dekel

The Assyrian conquest of Lachish in the late eighth century B.C. was celebrated in a series of detailed wall reliefs in Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh. This drawing of one of the reliefs depicts the Assyrian war camp, with its tents and buildings inside an oval-shaped enclosure. Several other examples of oval-shaped camps have been uncovered in Assyrian reliefs, all dating to the first millennium B.C.

If, as some scholars have suggested, the description of the Tabernacle is a fictional account written in Mesopotamia in the mid-first millennium B.C., one might expect the authors to have drawn on contemporary local tent-making traditions. But the Tabernacle’s rectangular tent and courtyard share little with first-millennium B.C. Assyrian and Persian traditions; rather, the closest parallels to the Tabernacle are found in second-millennium B.C. Egypt.