Every religion struggles with a basic conundrum. How to explain the involvement of a purely spiritual God in the details of a purely physical world? The solution to this enigma in Judaism is that the divine presence of God actually descends into the physical world to dwell among humans. The original Hebrew word for this “divine presence” is the shekinah (שכינה).
How can an all-perfect, all-powerful, spiritual God enter the flawed, broken, physical world of human beings? In Jewish thought, the solution to this enigma is twofold. In ancient times, the God of Israel descended into the world by entering a sacred space called the Tabernacle (mishkan). Since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the God of Israel has bestowed his “divine presence” (shekinah) without the need for a specific building.
What do the mishkan (משכן) and the shekinah (שכינה) have in common? They are both manifestations of a perfect spiritual God within an imperfect physical world. They are also both words that derive from the same Hebrew root: SKN (שכנ). This root means “to inhabit”, “to settle down”. The God of Israel desires to dwell among us, as the Bible emphasizes: “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God” (Ex. 29:45-46).
Do you thirst for the presence of God to dwell in your midst? The study of Biblical Hebrew is one of the most effective ways of achieving this spiritual goal. Enroll today in eTeacher’s online Hebrew course and begin to fill in the gaps in your Scriptural knowledge. Before you know it, you too will feel that you are a true Tabernacle worthy of God’s indwelling.