Yahweh could have asked Moses for just about anything—a temple, a palace, even a pyramid. Instead, Yahweh requests that Moses build him a tent (Exodus 25:8–9). Once the tent has been constructed according to Yahweh’s exacting instructions, the Israelite deity moves in. For the rest of the Israelites’ stay in Sinai, throughout the desert wanderings, during the conquest and settlement of Canaan, through the reigns of Israel’s first two kings, all the way to the completion of Solomon’s Temple—that is, from the Book of Exodus through 1 Kings 8—Yahweh dwells in a tent.
Of course, the desert Tabernacle, with its elaborate construction of gold, silver, bronze, wood, linen, goats’ hair and leather (Exodus 26), is no ordinary tent. Its greatness is indicated by Yahweh’s own lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of moving from tent to Temple. When David asks Yahweh if he is interested in giving up the tent lifestyle and settling down in a lovely three-room temple built on prime Jerusalem real estate, Yahweh responds negatively: