Hypothesis Hurdles

Needless to say, this hypothesis and research that I was about to begin would be—by its very definition—unorthodox; and I must confess that embarking upon the journey was as disconcerting as it was exciting. After all, I strongly suspected that there would be nobody—dead or alive—that could show me the path, and even if I did succeed, those entrenched in the religious establishments were almost certain to doubt and even discourage me along the way. After all, in the world of expert theologians, I’m officially an untrained and uncredentialed nobody. Moreover, apart from Moses’ account, there would be no historical archives upon which I could rely, and what I was about to attempt was completely without precedent—at least in modern times among religious institutions and academic circles. Thus, even if I could prove everything from science and Scripture, tradition and institution alike would logically be reluctant to accept proof or argument contrary to the status quo.   

Apart from potential opposition from schools and scholars, the historical artifacts and literature that have survived from Jerusalem’s first and second temple periods are relatively few and far between (the existence of the Temples themselves is even subject to ongoing debate), and relative to that more recent era, the amount of archaeological evidence dating back to the Exodus and Tabernacle times (around 1440 BC) is all the more scarce and scientifically inconclusive. Thus, lacking authentic Tabernacle remains or other physical evidence, historians and archaeologists without hard data will ultimately find themselves at the mercy of religious tradition, such as Josephus’ dimensional description of a rectangular Tabernacle, which obviously could not have been obtained by means of a personal observation. After all, given the ten century gap of time between Josephus and the Tabernacle, it stands to reason that Josephus’ writings were gleaned from other fragmented second-hand accounts of unknown origins and questionable sources, particularly as they contradict Moses’ instructions in several places. Nevertheless, because a source is from the ancient world and in agreement with present day traditions, scholars tend to presume that it must be true, and would be reluctant to treat Josephus’ regurgitated account as if it is mere conjecture or hearsay.

Similarly, it would be unlikely for scholars to consider that Josephus' record is a byproduct of a thousand years of other influences, including urban architecture, catastrophic exile, bad scholarship or careless inference.

Of course to the contrary, history is replete with round building precedents. Apart from the Bible, indigenous and nomadic people alike on every continent have a heritage of dwelling in round structures, be they igloos, grass huts, or nomadic tents, dating back thousands of years. Curiously, the Hebrew word גר meaning “to sojourn” and pronounced “ger” is phonetically identical or at least similar to the word used to describe a round tent in multiple languages spanning continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe (typically called a yurt, ger, or gert). Hence, simple etymological correlations and ancient construction practices also keep the round Tabernacle hypothesis from sounding like a ridiculous or far-fetched idea—even though such reasonable arguments cannot be presented as anything but circumstantial evidence.

Proof of Concept Scale Tabernacle Modeling

Not long after returning from my Israel trip, three different engineers (two civil and the other mechanical) contacted me after hearing about my research from Rob Skiba, who did a follow-up video covering Adam’s Breaking Israel News article. Brian, the first of the two to contact me, was curious as to the scope and content of the “Exodus Engineering Exegesis” drawings that I was advertising on my website. As I made efforts to respond to Brian’s request for clarification, it became evident that Brian had interest in building a physical model. As Brian and I talked, it was clear that we had a good rapport, and shortly thereafter, I explained to Brian that I had developed a completely different set of prints that I had created six months prior that was intended for the explicit purpose physical model fabrication, as well as for the erection procedure.  

After receiving my extended stack of fabrication and erection plan drawings, Brian was impressed, and offered to help fund a “Home Depot” version of the Tabernacle model. When I say a “Home Depot” version of the model, I mean a model that could be constructed from materials that were readily available at local lumberyard and/or hardware store. As it turns out, some of the materials, such as 2x4’s, could be locally sourced; however, some of the materials (e.g., dowels and metal rods) needed to be ordered specially because they were not quite popular consumer grade materials. As we began to discuss optimization of materials, credible fabrication processes, and substitution requirements, we eventually settled on a fractional scale model prototype design that was about 7 feet high and 22 feet in diameter. This size enabled us to base an economical model upon modified 2x4’s; however, the economy of the initial materials became a trivial factor in the overall effort relative to the labor and special tooling required to fabricate the parts according to specification.  

As for modeling objectives, one of the principle goals in building a physical model would be to establish “proof of concept” for the Tabernacle model that I had deciphered from the Exodus texts. Could the Tabernacle structure really be built exactly as the Hebrew Exodus Tabernacle texts had described the structure to be? When I say, “exactly as... Tabernacle texts had described”, I mean in exact proportion to the full size model. After all, if the length and weight proportions between the smaller scale model and the large model did not match, however impressive it would be to fabricate, the purpose behind building a “proof of concept model” would be negated.

As I already knew relatively well what the full size model would require with respect to fabrication processes and tolerances from the fabrication plans that I had developed six months prior, I knew that I had to get the services of—or access to—specialized talent or tools. Although I did get some budget quotes for fabricating some of the specialized pieces, I also came to conclude that it would ultimately be the most economical for me to fabricate the parts with special shapes and features myself—provided that I could get access to the special tooling. Because operation of a precision computer controlled woodworking is not a common skill set, and because prototyping can be a very iterative process, I decided to join the Milwaukee Maker Space, which is tool co-op group that shares a large rented shop space, whereby I could get access to computer controlled machines and a fully equipped wood and metal shop.   

In addition to a computer controlled Tormach metal milling machine, and a programmable wood router featuring 3-axis control and a large 4’x8’ bed, membership granted me 24 hour access to bandsaws, chop saws, table saws, jigsaws, drill presses, taps, dies, welders, buffers, grinders, sanders, lathes, jointers, planers, laser cutters, weaving looms, and leather working station. Not only was the tool and equipment arsenal impressive, but the access to knowledge and talent was impressive as well. As “the space” consisted of approximately 200 members and volunteers, including carpenters, machinists, welders, computer gurus, electricians, engineers, artists, and too many other eclectic specialists to mention, help was never too far away—and no job was impossible for the crew at the Milwaukee Maker Space. But this is not to say that all of the tasks that I performed under the Maker Space roof are expedient and efficient.

Knowing that this Tabernacle model was a prototype, I knew one thing—that I didn’t know quite what I should expect or how long it would take. Although I have worked as a professional engineer in a variety of industries, most of my practical “hands-on” wood and metal shop experience dates back to high school, and the three numerically controlled machines that I needed to use required special training. Sometimes there were equipment access conflicts, sometimes equipment was broken down or left in disrepair, and materials needed to be stowed away at the end of every workday. Also, I had to both redesign and remake a number of prototype parts from scratch, as it was clear that I didn’t have a few of the minor fabrication details thought through very well from the beginning. Given these factors, what I had hoped to accomplish in four weeks took more like four months. Of course, “hope” is never a good basis for a practical estimate, but my professional experience never left me with the knowledge base to estimate such a project with so many unknowns with any level of precision or accuracy. When I set out, I wasn’t so naïve as to think that I would be able to finish the modeling project with no setbacks or in accordance with personal timeline preference, but it is nevertheless discouraging when things take longer than expected.

Once the fabrication of the individual frame parts was completed in March of 2017, I was ready to commence with the prototype erection procedure. That is, sort of... Unfortunately, at the conclusion of my hardware fabrication, I still lacked an indoor facility for frame setup. I needed a space with a level floor that was climate controlled and out of the elements (lest they warp or require rework as a result of water damage), such that I could leave the parts in an interim state for a number of weeks as I worked through the details of the initial installation procedure. To this end, my friend Josh was kind enough to allow me to use his garage and workshop—although it was not exactly what I had in mind for an “empty space”. After I came by and surveyed the space, taking some measurements and figuring out what would be required for equipment relation, I figured we could probably make it work—but just barely. From my calculations, it looked like the extremities of the erected structure would probably fit within just a few inches of the walls.

After some serious reorganization of Josh’s garage goods, I began to set up the large wooden frame—almost exactly the same way that I outlined in the procedure that I had developed the year before. While I was not exactly trying to erect something as large as six stories in height, I didn’t exactly have thousands of Levite helpers at my disposal, either. While I believe that the scale model erection process might be accomplished by ten trained men over the course of an hour or two, erection of the 22 foot scale model used one or two erecting the frame over the course of a week or two with a few hundred feet of rope for frame rigging—straddling some of Josh’s garage shelving and fitting within the garage by mere inches—exactly as predicted. If my memory serves me correctly, the erection iteration began on or around 3/14/5777 on the Hebrew calendar (June 8th), as was completed on or around 6/28 (which is curiously 2 x 3/14) of 2017, which is interesting, considering that the project went public on 3/14/15. From time to time, it leaves me wondering if my efforts weren’t thwarted in part and stalled from time to time for these very reasons.

As I did learn a number of things about God’s dwelling place itself over the course of the “proof of concept” model fabrication and erection process, the completion of the scale model structure marked a major project milestone. Not only do does this model serve as an effective “proof of concept”, but the whole exercise really refined my understanding of some of the Hebrew nuance, which in turn gave me an even greater respect for the brilliance of the design that is so concisely conveyed by a handful of divinely inspired Hebrew words in a mere chapter of the Bible text. Granted, the model did reveal that there remains room for learning on my end and that there is room for many small engineering design improvements, but overall, the modeling exercise proved to be a success, and proved to me beyond a reasonable doubt that my original vision is more than a mere product of my own cre