Sacred Tents, Divine Sanctuaries
[Araber Zelte, illustration of Ottoman Palestine by E.M. Lilien]
with metaphorical and even spiritual significance, symbolizing authority, shelter, salvation, sanctuary, and pilgrimage (Ps. 27:5, 61:4, 91:10, 104:2; Isa. 15:5, 54:2; Jer. 30:18; 35:7).
Pre-Israelite Canaanites believed that the gods assembled in the sacred tent of El, the supreme god (Coogan, Stories from Ancient Canaan, pp. 12; 95):
She [Anat] stamped her feet and left the earth;
Pss. 15:1 and 61:5 describes God’s celestial tent sitting atop a sacred mountain, so we see a mythic motif in Israelite thought similar to the Canaanite one. Thus the idea that the God of Israel would command Moses to build a tent-sanctuary, the Mishkan, (Tabernacle), must not have seemed entirely alien to the Children of Israel. Still, it was novel in another regard - that God would transfer the dwelling place of His glory to the earth (Ex. 25-28) is a startling innovation. No longer would divinity be remote from humanity, but instead would dwell amidst people! This is a revolutionary notion of deity in relationship to humanity couched (pardon the pun) in mythic imagery (I will devote a separate entry to a more detailed consideration of the Ohel Moed/Mishkan).
In the World-to-Come, the righteous enjoy the comfort of dwelling in palatial tents; a messianic tent made from the skin of Leviathan, and/or under seven canopies in Eden (B.B. 75a; Seder Gan Eden).
To learn more, read the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism. http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050/sr=1-1/qid=1159997117/ref=sr_1_1/002-7116669-7231211?ie=UTF8&s=books