While visiting the Timna Park recently with my students, we had an unexpected surprise. Timna Park is situated about 60 km north of Eilat. The site was one of the biggest copper mines in antiquity, but what we saw was quite modern, although imitating a famous ancient structure. It was a one to one model of the tabernacle that the Israelites built and carried with them during their 40 years of sojourn in the desert. A pleasant young man invited us in and explained that the replica belongs to a local Christian community, “for deductive reasons only” he assured me. The model is quite impressive. The details try to present the original materials used for the construction as much as possible. Flags around represent the tribes, and the altar is of copper, but the blood stains on its horns were plain red color, and so was the gold color of the table of showbread.
Unlike in the real thing, we were allowed to go all the way into the Holy of Holies, where, by a press of a button, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant rolled away. Inside we saw and photographed the complete Ten Commandments, and the rod of Aaron..
Proper tourist attraction? perhaps, but it is an intriguing site for anyone interested in Israelite period structures. The model is also built along the possible route of the Israelites on their way into the Promised Land. Who knows, perhaps the original tabernacle too was placed in Timna for a while in antiquity.