Related to this question, I’m wondering was there a special exception to allow Joshua into the Tabernacle? Some areas such as Numbers 1:51 say that any non-Levite who approaches it should be executed. Numbers 3 also says:

6 Bring forth the tribe of Levi and present them before Aaron the kohen, that they may serve him. 7 They shall keep his charge and the charge of the entire community before the Tent of Meeting, to perform the service of the Mishkan. ... 38 Camping in front of the Mishkan, in front of the Tent of Meeting to the east were Moses, Aaron and his sons, the keepers of the charge of the Sanctuary as a trust for the children of Israel; any outsider who approaches shall be put to death.

But Joshua was no Levite, and yet Deuteronomy 31:14 among other verses speaks of Joshua standing in the Tent of Meeting (aka the Tabernacle). What am I missing; was there a special exception for Joshua?

  • 1
    I believe the end of parshas Ki Sisa teaches that there were two tent of meetings: one in the tabernacle and one outside the camp. Unless I'm mistaken
    – robev
    Apr 5, 2020 at 2:49
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    @robev The Ohel Moed in 31:7 and in 33:7 are two different things? Is this stated explicitly? What determined which one would be used by Moses at any particular time?
    – Aaliyah
    Apr 5, 2020 at 3:57
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    I found a variety of explanations here: thetorah.com/article/the-other-ohel-moed — Apparently some commentators say that Moses's Ohel Moed was temporary until the construction of the tabernacle, which would leave my question about if Joshua had special permission to enter. Other opinions say both were in continued use.
    – Aaliyah
    Apr 5, 2020 at 19:56
  • I'm not sure what prohibition Joshua was transgressing: Rashi on Numbers 1:51 says:"any outsider who approaches: [to participate] in this work. shall be put to death: at the hands of heaven". In the context of the verses, "[to participate] in this work" means the dismantling and re-erecting of the Tabernacle. Also, in Deuteronomy 31:14, if God commanded that Joshua stand before Him in the Tent of Meeting, who's "hand of heaven" is going to execute him?
    – Tamir Evan
    Apr 8, 2020 at 13:50
  • I'll edit my question with a verse referencing a more general prohibition.
    – Aaliyah
    Apr 8, 2020 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


First of all Bamidbar 1:51talks about approaching the mishkan to perform the work of taking it down (and setting it up) which was restricted to the Leviyim.

51 When the Tabernacle is set to travel, the Levites shall dismantle it; and when the Tabernacle camps, the Levites shall erect it; any outsider [non Levite] who approaches shall be put to death.


any outsider who approaches: [to participate] in this work.

shall be put to death: at the hands of heaven.

Secondly there were areas within the mishkan that Israelites were allowed to enter (such as to bring sacrifices). Other areas Leviyim were allowed to enter (to perform their service such as singing). Finally there were areas restricted to the kohanim to actually perform the sacrifices.

The area referred to in Vayeileich 31:14-15

14 And the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, your days are approaching [for you] to die. Call Joshua and stand in the Tent of Meeting, and I will inspire him. So Moses and Joshua went, and stood in the Tent of Meeting.

15 And the Lord appeared in the Tent, in a pillar of cloud. The pillar of cloud stood at the entrance to the Tent.

The pillar of cloud stood at the entrance to the Moshkan and Moshe and Yehoshua were in the area that a Yisrael was allowed to stand. Rav Hirsch explains

that made all the people see that Moses and Joshua were receiving a speech from God inside the tent. Compare Ex. XXXIII 9 and 10.

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