Interesting trivia - Ramesses II War Tent

Egyptian pharoahs such as Ramesses II took these war tents on their campaigns waging war. They were well known at the time.

Its Interesting that the Egyptian war tent and the Israelite Tabernacle are very similar.

Given that the bible says the Israelites plundered the Egyptians right before the exodous, id suggest that is the most likely source all of the materials used in building the tabernacle, and therefore it should come as no suprise that they are similar.

1 Like

Interesting. No doubt ideas were borrowed, much like our current church architecture and form is a form borrowed from Rome, in many cases.


Given God provided detailed instructions isn’t it more likely God was just copying the war tent idea?

I will leave defining the other option as an exercise for the reader.

1 Like

I agree with both of the previous posts. Of course a Christian might also say that perhaps the war tent design was copied…

I think that one thing we could safely say, God doesnt come up with design ideas that are any different from those which common sense should determine we would build…ie they are practical. Some might use this as evidence for God as the bible states we are made in His image.

Anyway, no particular motive , just that i wasnt familiar with Ramesses War Tent and hoped it might be a bit of interesting trivia for others too.


There’s also at least one tent shrine known from Sinai, not too far form the time of the Exodus, in what seems to have been a Midianite context.

Much of the raw materials for building the tabernacle, and no doubt the training in sewing, metalwork, etc., would have been brought out of Egypt.


At least one commentary I’ve read claimed that the Israelites would have recognized the war tent and understood the Tabernacle as being YHWH’s ‘war tent’. That’s a nice idea, but there’s no reason to think that any Israelites other than possibly Moses would have ever even seen Pharaoh’s war tent, so that notion fails.

On the other hand, assuming Moses was familiar with Pharaoh’s war tent it would have been convenient for God to use a pattern Moses was familiar with. Given that, Moses may well have understood the Tabernacle as YHWH’s war tent.

A bit deeper, in the ancient near east there were two important concepts about deity that concerned location: First, to approach deity required going up; gods were seen as dwelling on mountains, and thus when cities were on a plain they built “artificial mountains”, i.e. ziggurats, to provide a “high place” suitable for deity to come down and confer with authorized intermediaries. Second – and this one is important here – approaching to deity often required going in; this is reflected in temples all over the Fertile Crescent. This generally entailed an outer area/court that set a structure apart (recall that “holy” means “set apart”), then an outer structure where authorized representatives could enter, and finally an inner chamber where the presence of deity could come. For a mobile ‘holy place’, the approach involving going up was not reasonable, so the method of “going in” was utilized.

I think it’s worth noting that in some instances both were involved; there were ziggurats with a courtyard setting it apart from other buildings, the sides with stairways that only authorized intermediaries could go, and a sanctuary building on top to which deities could come down. This is what we find in the Temple once Solomon built it, except that the outer courtyard was level (I recall someone at a seminar saying that the Temple mount wasn’t much of a mountain; the response was that compared to some ziggurats it was just fine).


It seems almost certainly Midianite.

It used the same kind of wood and fittings as the Israelite version, though instead of standing free it had lined post holes for the upright wooden pieces, suggesting that rather than being mobile the way the Israelite one was it was portable, being set up there when work was being done at the mines and smelters and packed away when work paused. Whether it had a main chamber plus inner chamber depends on how the post holes are interpreted.

Probably. It’s remotely possible that the Israelites acquired copper from one of the mines in the Sinai, though at least some would have had to stay put to mine and refine. Indications have been found that nomadic people raided the mine tailings; those often had low-grade ore discarded in favor of higher grade material, and since refining copper can be done over a hot fire the Israelites could have just scavenged tailings. But other than copper, nothing required for the Tabernacle was available in the Sinai.


And because of their familiarity with Egyptian culture, the Israelites knew what the meaning of the tabernacle was. Same with the Ark of the Covenant.

But it also let them realise how different their God Yahweh was. There was no idol for example.

Some interesting articles:

Egyptian Religious Influences on the Early Hebrews, James Hoffmeier

The Ark of the Covenant in its Egyptian Context

Thanks for posting, my wife and I leave Sunday for Jordan and Egypt, so will look for those examples.


Awesome! Have a safe journey, and enjoy your time there! :slight_smile:

Perhaps you already know these Jordanian sites, but here they are:

Biblical and Historical Jordan: Sites to See

1 Like

The concluding paragraph is worth a secnd look:

Therefore, even though Yahweh is not bound to human limits, he condescended to mankind deferring to human expectations of divinity. The cherubim had wings that stretched out over the Mercy Seat, and the shekinah glory met with man from between the wings of the cherubim above the ark. God did not try to change the beliefs of the people before engaging them, but instead respected human frailty and human notions of the divine, inverting or modifying those beliefs to teach humanity new ideas about himself.

The other day on the biblical hermeneutics stack exchange some guy was insisting that my analysis of a particular thing was flawed because I cited ancient near eastern culture to understand a passage in the Old Testament; he insisted that any interpretation of the Bible that so much as mentions somethuing pagan is automatically wrong.


Yes! Maybe these hesitations to use the ANE (ancient Near East) have to do with the Protestant idea of the perspicuity of Scripture. “Everyone can understand the Bible.” Yes, but there are some things to consider:

First, the perspicuity of Scripture only applies to those things essential for salvation. Take the book of James. When you read it, it becomes pretty clear how you should live as a Christian.

Second, most people can’t read the original languages the Bible was written in (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). We need translators to communicate the Bible’s message. We could say the same about the cultural ideas found in the Bible. We need “translators” to help us understand what certain things meant in their ancient context.

Third, a lot of things have pagan origins. Wedding rings for example. But wedding rings fit perfectly with the idea of the Christian marriage covenant. To renounce everything that is not clearly Christian (whatever that means) reminds me of gnosticism.


I got to meet some Christian jewelers when I was on an interim research trip; they had a series of wedding ring designs based on the “two are better than one . . . a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. As I recall there was a “promise ring”, and engagement ring, and then a third ring designed to fit nice and snugly between those two, binding them into a wedding ring.

One of my companions objected to one of the designs as pagan. The response became a standard through which I view a large number of things that Christians run away from: we are to take all thoughts captaive to Christ, and a threefold wedding ring embodies a thought.

It reminds me of defeatism. When I first heard someone say we shouldn’t celebrate Easter because that was the name for a celebration of Ishtar, I blurted out, “So you think Ishtar is stronger than Jesus?” To me the day had things worth celebrating that linked well to the Resurrection, so the only reason to not celebrate it would be if Jesus wasn’t strong enough to take that day as His own.


probably the only correction to the above article, which i found an interesting read btw, is that this article assumes that Egyptian gods came before Yahweh.

The entire problem there is that given we have a bible historical timeline that goes back more than a thousand years earlier, the bible narrative claims that these heathen gods copied the God of heaven…not the other way round as this article appears to suggest. I accept that the article is simply focusing on the Egyptian worship symbols and furniture of the day, however, we know that Melchizzadek for example, was an High Priest of the God of Heaven at the time of Abraham…Noah offered sacrifices, even Cain and Abel built alters and sacrificed to the Lord.

1 Like

Exactly! Exodus itself is clear about that:

Then the [Yahweh] said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring Me an offering. You are to receive My offering from every man whose heart compels him. This is the offering you are to accept from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; ram skins dyed red and fine leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and gemstones to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. And they are to make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:1-8, NIV)

There may be two exceptions to this. (Although I suppose you only had the precious metals in mind.)

Acacia wood: “A variety of desert tree found in the Sinai with extremely hard wood … The word used here may be an Egyptian loan word, since acacia was widely used in Egypt.” (IVP Bible Background Commentary)

Fine leather: The Hebrew word’s meaning is unclear. It could be a dolphin, porpoise or sea cow. “Both sea cows … and dolphins are found in the Red Sea … These creatures had been hunted for their hides along the Arabian Gulf for millenia.” (Idem)

Translating the words for the stones of the high priest’s breastpiece is hard (Exodus 28:17-20). One of theses stones could be turquoise, which is also found in Sinai:


How? All it shows is that Israel didn’t have any religious ‘furniture’ of their own so God used things that the culture they were in would recognize for what they were.

1 Like

Certainly! King Solomon literally hired pagans (Phoenicians) to build the temple. They were very skillful and were the best choice for the job (1 Kings 5:18).

“Hiram and Phoenician workmen constructed the First Temple on the basic layout and design of the Syro-Phoenician temples. Perhaps adjustments were made for issues related to cultic distinctions that had to avoid pagan theological motifs, but for the most part the structures were essentially the same. This should not be a concern. As God often made accommodations to the prevailing culture in order to relate to his people (e.g., Hebrew covenant and law code follow the same format as the Code of Hammurabi and the suzerain-vassal treaty).”

(Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology)

Yes! And actually, Ishtar probably has nothing to do with Easter. It is only called that way in English and German. But all other European languages (as far as I know) use some version of Pascha. In my native language, Dutch, we call it “Pasen”.

“The English word Easter, which parallels the German word Ostern, is of uncertain origin. It likely derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in Old High German.”


This reminded me of a short story of historical fiction where a sage/Magus from the east visits the Temple in Jerusalem and afterwards quizzes a priest about the parts he wasn’t allowed to enter. When the priest’s description was done, the sage pondered for a bit and then said, “But where is the god?” – meaning there was no statue, no mosaic representing YHWH anywhere within the Temple.
That’s the radical element – not the “box”, but what is (or isn’t) inside.

Except alba isn’t “dawn” in Latin; that would be aurora. Alba is “white, bleached, pale, bright”, and even “auspicious”. I think the Venerable Bede had it right and the word comes from the old German " Ēostre" which was imported into old English as " Ēastre".
The claim that there is a link to Latin is weak given that it is in countries where Latin never dominated (and morphed into a new language) that “Easter” is used; in countries where the language derives from Latin the word “Pascha” takes its place.


Yes! We humans are God’s image.

The basic meaning of alba is indeed white. But in Vulgar Latin that meaning was extended to the first appearance of light, i.e. dawn. Alba still means dawn in both Latin and Spanish. In Spanish you can use both “alba” and “aurora” for dawn.

“It is a well-known fact that Old English is rich in Latin loan-words. Although the precise number is not yet known, it is a fairly safe assumption that there are at least 600 to 700 loan-words in Old English. … The ‘early’ loan-words were borrowed in the Roman and sub-Roman period. They reflect the superiority of Roman civilization and mainly denote concrete things of everyday life adopted from the Romans.”

Early Latin loan-words in Old English on JSTOR

Perhaps the Latin and the German etymology can be combined:

“Old English Easterdæg, “Easter day,” from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *austron-, “dawn,” also possibly the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated in Eastermonað (the Anglo-Saxon month corresponding with April), from *aust- “east, toward the sunrise” (compare east), from PIE root *aus- (1) “to shine,” especially of the dawn.”

Easter | Etymology of the name Easter by etymonline

So maybe the name of the goddess came from Latin. Then the month was called after the goddess (or was based on the Latin). And then Easter was called after the month.

Anyway, Easter certainly has nothing to do with a Mesopotamian goddess. :stuck_out_tongue: