1. A slightly built or temporary habitation; especially, a tent. "Dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob." (Heb. Xi. 9) "Orange trees planted in the ground, and secured in winter with a wooden tabernacle and stoves." (Evelyn)

2. A portable structure of wooden framework covered with curtains, which was carried through the wilderness in the Israelitish exodus, as a place of sacrifice and worship. (Ex. Xxvi)

3. Hence, the Jewish temple; sometimes, any other place for worship.

4. Figuratively: The human body, as the temporary abode of the soul. "Shortly I must put off this my tabernacle." (2 Pet. I. 14)

5. Any small cell, or like place, in which some holy or precious things was deposited or kept. Specifically:

The ornamental receptacle for the pyx, or for the consecrated elements, whether a part of a building or movable.

A niche for the image of a saint, or for any sacred painting or sculpture.

Hence, a work of art of sacred subject, having a partially architectural character, as a solid frame resting on a bracket, or the like.

A tryptich for sacred imagery.

A seat or stall in a choir, with its canopy.

6. A boxlike step for a mast with the after side open, so that the mast can be lowered to pass under bridges, etc. Feast of Tabernacles, one of the three principal festivals of the Jews, lasting seven days, during which the people dwelt in booths formed of the boughs of trees, in commemoration of the habitation of their ancestors in similar dwellings during their pilgrimage in the wilderness. Tabernacle work, rich canopy work like that over the head of niches, used over seats or stalls, or over sepulchral monuments.

Origin: F, fr. L. Tabernaculum, dim. Of taberna nut. See Tabern.

(01 Mar 1998)

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