Models of temples, constructed with the utmost precision from precious materials, show how scholars through the ages have sifted through the tantalising clues given by archaeological finds and biblical texts in their attempts to solve the mystery of the design and appearance of the ancient temple of Solomon and Herod. The model of the Tabernacle, commissioned by the founder of the Biblical Museum, the Rev Leendert Schouten, is justly world-famous. This 19th century reconstruction of the portable shrine built by the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt was made as much as possible using the materials mentioned in the Bible. The awning, for example, was woven from goat’s wool which Schouten had specially imported from Syria, and the sand which surrounds it was brought from the Sinai desert.

Bijbels Museum Detail Model van de Tabernakel

Egyptian antiquities
The Biblical Museum houses a number of extraordinary Egyptian artefacts collected by Leendert Schouten in the 19th century. They were intended for display around the Tabernacle to give visitors an impression of the religious life of the ancient Egyptians. In addition to steles (inscribed stone slabs), shabtis (funerary figurines), canopic jars (for storing mummified remains), scarabs (sacred beetle emblems), statues of the gods and a sarcophagus, the collection includes a complete mummy of a young woman.

Archaeological finds
Since the 19th century archaeological discoveries have played an increasingly important role in biblical studies. Oil lamps, clay tablets, earthenware, shards of pottery and coins help to bring the biblical world to life.

The collection of Bibles includes the oldest Bible printed in the Netherlands, dating from 1477, and a first edition of the 1637 Dutch Authorised Version. Centuries-old Bibles tell the fascinating and sometimes hair-raising tale of the translation, printing and distribution of Bibles: a history which is closely interwoven with the development of the Netherlands as an independent state and the evolution of the Dutch language.