Ex 35:4 (25:3)
Hence, what I have before said is more fully continued, viz., that what the poor offer of their little will not be eclipsed by the abundance of the rich, since God deigns to reckon goats’ hair among the sacred offerings not less than gold, purple, and precious stones. Again, by the varied and manifold contributions, He would shew, as in a glass, that a variety of gifts are necessary to the building of the spiritual temple, as Paul sets forth in Rom_12:0 and 1Co_12:0 The liberality of the rich was indeed more splendid; but, as they did not scruple to mix their gold and silver, blue, purple, and precious stones, with brass, iron, and other common materials, so also, now-a-days, those who aid the edification of the Church by their more excellent gifts, admit, without contempt or dislike, into fellowship poor brethren, to whom it is not given to equal them.
Ex 35:5(Exo 25:3)
This is the offering – There were three kinds of metals:
1. Gold, זהב zahab, which may properly signify wrought gold; what was bright and resplendent, as the word implies. In Job_28:15, Job_28:16, Job_28:17, Job_28:19, gold is mentioned five times, and four of the words are different in the original.
1. סגור Segor, from סגר sagar, to shut up; gold in the mine, or shut up in its ore.
2. כתם Kethem, from כתם catham, to sign, seal, or stamp; gold made current by being coined; standard or sterling gold, exhibiting the stamp expressive of its value.
3. זהב Zahab, wrought gold, pure, highly polished gold; probably what was used for overlaying or gilding.
4. פז Paz, denoting solidity, compactness, and strength; probably gold formed into different kinds of plate, as it is joined in Exo_25:17 of the above chapter with כלי keley, vessels. The zahab, or pure gold, is here mentioned, because it was in a state that rendered it capable of being variously manufactured for the service of the sanctuary.
2. Silver, כסף keseph, from casaph, to be pale, wan, or white; so called from its well-known color.
3. Brass, נחשת nechosheth, copper; unless we suppose that the factitious metal commonly called brass is intended: this is formed by a combination of the oxide or ore of zinc, called lapis calaminaris, with copper. Brass seems to have been very anciently in use, as we find it mentioned Gen_4:22; and the preparation of copper, to transform it into this factitious metal, seems to be very pointedly referred to Job_28:2 : Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone; אבן יצוק נחושה eben yatsuk nechushah, translated by the Vulgate, Lapis, solutus calore, in aes vertitur, “The stone, liquefied by heat, is turned into brass.” Is it going too far to say that the stone here may refer to the lapis calaminaris, which was used to turn the copper into brass? Because brass was capable of so fine a polish as to become exceedingly bright, and keep its lustre a considerable time, hence it was used for all weapons of war and defensive armor among ancient nations; and copper seems to have been in no repute, but for its use in making brass.
5.Take ye from among you an offering.I have introduced a passage from chapter 35, wherein Moses again requires what he had before prescribed; but he goes more into detail, and treats at greater length of the parts of the tabernacle. In the former passage he employed a verb, where he here uses a noun, “willing or voluntary of heart.” There is, however, no ambiguity in the meaning; since in both places God requires a cheerful zeal, so that they may not only contribute abundantly, but willingly. He will afterwards use a different form of expression, viz., that they did their duty, whose heart roused, or stirred them up, so as to distinguish them from the indifferent and slow. — 5:21.
Gold, and silver, and brass – The supply of these metals possessed by the Israelites at this time probably included what they had inherited from their forefathers, what they had obtained from the Egyptians Exo_12:35, and what may have been found amongst the spoils of the Amalekites Exo_17:8-13. But with their abundant flocks and herds, it can hardly be doubted that they had carried on important traffic with the trading caravans that traversed the wilderness, some of which, most likely, in the earliest times were furnished with silver, with the gold of Ophir (or gold of Sheba, as it seems to have been indifferently called), and with the “brass” (the alloy of copper and tin, called bronze) of Phoenicia and Egypt. Compare Exo_38:24 note.
Ex 35:6 (Exo 25:4)
Blue – תכלת techeleth, generally supposed to mean an azure or sky color; rendered by the Septuagint ὑακινθον, and by the Vulgate hyacinthum, a sky-blue or deep violet.
Purple – ארגמן argaman, a very precious color, extracted from the purpura or murex, a species of shell-fish, from which it is supposed the famous Tyrian purple came, so costly, and so much celebrated in antiquity. See this largely described, and the manner of dyeing it, in Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. ix., c. 60-65, edit. Bipont.
Scarlet – תולעת tolaath, signifies a worm, of which this colouring matter was made; and, joined with שני shani, which signifies to repeat or double, implies that to strike this color the wool or cloth was twice dipped: hence the Vulgate renders the original coccum bis tinctum, “scarlet twice dyed;” and to this Horace refers, Odar., lib. ii., od. 16, v. 35:
– Te Bis Afro Murice
Tinctae Vestiunt Lanae – “Thy robes the twice dyed purple stains.”
It is the same color which the Arabs call al kermez, whence the French cramoisi, and the English crimson. On this subject much may be seen in Bochart, Calmet, and Scheuchzer.
Fine linen – שש shesh; whether this means linen, cotton, or silk, is not agreed on among interpreters. Because שש shesh signifies six, the rabbins suppose that it always signifies the fine linen of Egypt, in which six folds constituted one thread; and that when a single fold was meant, בד bad is the term used. See Clarke’s note on Gen_41:42.
Goats’ hair – עזים izzim, goats, but used here elliptically for goats’ hair. In different parts of Asia Minor, Syria, Cilicia, and Phrygia, the goats have long, fine, and beautiful hair, in some cases almost as fine as silk, which they shear at proper times, and manufacture into garments. From Virgil, Georg. iii., v. 305-311, we learn that goats’ hair manufactured into cloth was nearly of equal value with that formed from wool.
Ex 35:6 (Exo_25:4)
Blue, and purple, and scarlet – i. e. the material dyed with these colors. The Jewish tradition has been very generally received that this material was wool. Compare Heb_9:19 with Lev_14:4, Lev_14:49, etc. When spun and dyed by the women, it was delivered in the state of yarn; and the weaving and embroidering was left to Aholiab and his assistants, Exo_35:25, Exo_35:35. The “blue” and “purple” dye are usually thought to have been obtained from shell-fish, the “scarlet” from the cochineal insect of the holm-oak.
Fine linen – The fine flax or the manufactured linen, for which Egypt was famous Eze_27:7, and which the Egyptians were in the habit of using for dresses of state Gen_41:42. It was used as the groundwork of the figured curtains of the tabernacle as well as of the embroidered hangings of the tent and the court. See Exo_35:35.
Ex 35:7 (Exo 25:5)
Rams’ skins dyed red – ערת אילם מאדמים oroth eylim meoddamim, literally, the skins of red rams. It is a fact attested by many respectable travelers, that in the Levant sheep are often to be met with that have red or violet-coloured fleeces. And almost all ancient writers speak of the same thing. Homer describes the rams of Polyphemus as having a violet-coloured fleece.
Pliny, Aristotle, and others mention the same. And from facts of this kind it is very probable that the fable of the golden fleece had its origin. In the Zetland Isles I have seen sheep with variously coloured fleeces, some white, some black, some black and white, some of a very fine chocolate color. Beholding those animals brought to my recollection those words of Virgil:
Badgers’ skins – ערת תחשים oroth techashim. Few terms have afforded greater perplexity to critics and commentators than this. Bochart has exhausted the subject, and seems to have proved that no kind of animal is here intended, but a color. None of the ancient versions acknowledge an animal of any kind except the Chaldee, which seems to think the badger is intended, and from it we have borrowed our translation of the word. The Septuagint and Vulgate have skins dyed a violet color; the Syriac, azure; the Arabic, black; the Coptic, violet; the modern Persic, ram-skins, etc. The color contended for by Bochart is the hysginus, which is a very deep blue. So Pliny, Coccoque tinctum Tyrio tingere, ut fieret hysginum. “They dip crimson in purple to make the color called hysginus.” – Hist. Nat., lib. ix., c. 65, edit. Bipont.
Shittim wood – By some supposed to be the finest species of the cedar; by others, the acacia Nilotica, a species of thorn, solid, light, and very beautiful. This acacia is known to have been plentiful in Egypt, and it abounds in Arabia Deserta, the very place in which Moses was when he built the tabernacle; and hence it is reasonable to suppose that he built it of that wood, which was every way proper for his purpose.
Ex 35:7 (Exo_25:5)
Rams’ skins dyed red – Skins tanned and colored like the leather now known as red morocco.
Badgers’ skins – Rather, leather, probably of a sky-blue color, formed from the skins of the תחשׁ tachash (a general name for marine animals), which was well adapted as a protection against the weather.
Shittim wood – The word שׁטים shittam is the plural form of שׁטה shitah, which occurs as the name of the growing tree, Isa_41:19. The tree is satisfactorily identified with the Acacia seyal, a gnarled and thorny tree, somewhat like a solitary hawthorn in its habit and manner of growth, but much larger. It flourishes in the driest situations, and is scattered more or less numerously over the Sinaitic Peninsula. It appears to be the only good wood produced in the wilderness. No other kind of wood was employed in the tabernacle or its furniture. In the construction of the temple cedar and fir took its place 1Ki_5:8; 1Ki_6:18; 2Ch_2:8.
Ex 35:8 (Exo 25:6)
Oil for the light – This they must have brought with them from Egypt, for they could not get any in the wilderness where there were no olives; but it is likely that this and some other directions refer more to what was to be done when in their fixed and settled residence, than while wandering in the wilderness.
Spices – To make a confection for sweet incense, abounded in different parts of these countries.
Ex 35:9 (Exo 25:7)
Onyx stones – We have already met with the stone called שהם shoham, Gen_2:12, and acknowledged the difficulty of ascertaining what is meant by it. Some think the onyx, some the sardine, and some the emerald, is meant. We cannot say precisely what it was; possibly it might have been that fine pale pebble, called the Egyptian pebble, several specimens of which now lie before me, which were brought from the coast of the Red Sea, and other parts in Egypt, by a particular friend of mine, on purpose to add to my collection of minerals. Stones to be set in the ephod – אבני מלאים abney milluim, stones of filling up. Stones so cut as to be proper to be set in the gold work of the breastplate.
The אפד ephod – It is very difficult to tell what this was, or in what form it was made. It was a garment of some kind peculiar to the priests, and ever considered essential to all the parts of Divine worship, for without it no person attempted to inquire of God. As the word itself comes from the root אפד aphad, he tied or bound close, Calmet supposes that it was a kind of girdle, which, brought from behind the neck and over the shoulders, and so hanging down before, was put cross upon the stomach, and then carried round the waist, and thus made a girdle to the tunic. Where the ephod crossed on the breast there was a square ornament called חשן choshen, the breastplate, in which twelve precious stones were set, each bearing one of the names of the twelve sons of Jacob engraven on it. There were two sorts of ephods, one of plain linen for the priests, the other very much embroidered for the high priest. As there was nothing singular in this common sort, no particular description is given; but that of the high priest is described very much in detail Exo_28:6-8. It was distinguished from the common ephod by being composed of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, fine twisted linen, and cunning work, i.e., superbly ornamented and embroidered. This ephod was fastened on the shoulders with two precious stones, on which the twelve names of the twelve tribes of Israel were engraved, six names on each stone. These two stones, thus engraved, were different from those on the breastplate, with which they have been confounded. From Calmet’s description the ephod seems to have been a series of belts, fastened to a collar, which were intended to keep the garments of the priest closely attached to his body: but there is some reason to believe that it was a sort of garment like that worn by our heralds; it covered the back, breast, and belly, and was open at the sides. A piece of the same kind of stuff with itself united it on the shoulders, where the two stones, already mentioned, were placed, and it was probably without sleeves. See Clarke on Exo_28:2 (note), etc.
30. See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel. This was a great stimulus to encourage them, when they plainly saw that God presided over the work; a conspicuous proof of which was that new and extraordinary power wherewith Bezaleel and Aboliab were endued; for although they had before been noble and excellent artificers, still there is no doubt but that they were still further endowed with higher gifts, even to a miracle. Hence it is not without cause that he bids the people attend to this unexpected exertion of God’s power; since it was exactly as if he had stretched forth His hand from heaven for the advancement of the work. For which reason also the tribe of each of them is referred to, because of the conspicuous excellency of the grace, the memory of which it was fitting to celebrate in all generations. Now, as God conferred this honor on the architects of the visible sanctuary, so He declares that their names shall be glorious in heaven, who, being furnished with the illustrious gifts of the Spirit, faithfully employ their labors in the building of His spiritual temple. (Dan_12:3.)
By “the wisdom of heart,” both in the men and women, which is so often mentioned here, understand activity of mind: for not only is the seat of the affections called the heart, but also the power and faculty of the intellect as it is called: thus in Deu_29:4, it is said, “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to understand.”
The Lord hath called by name Bezaleel – See this subject discussed at large in the note on Exo_28:3 (note), where the subject of superseding the work of the hand by the extra use of machinery is particularly considered.
1. From the nature of the offerings made for the service of the tabernacle, we see of what sort the spoils were which the Israelites brought out of Egypt: gold, silver, brass, blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, rams’ skins dyed red, what we call badgers’ skins, oil, spices, incense, onyx stones, and other stones, the names of which are not here mentioned. They must also have brought looms, spinning wheels, instruments for cutting precious stones, anvils, hammers, furnaces, melting-pots, with a vast variety of tools for the different artists employed on the work of the tabernacle, viz., smiths, joiners, carvers, gilders, etc.
2. God could have erected his tabernacle without the help or skill of man; but he condescended to employ him. As all are interested in the worship of God, so all should bear a part in it; here God employs the whole congregation: every male and female, with even their sons and their daughters, and the very ornaments of their persons, are given to raise and adorn the house of God. The women who had not ornaments, and could neither give gold nor silver, could spin goat’s hair, and the Lord graciously employs them in this work, and accepts what they can give and what they can do, for they did it with a willing mind; they were wise of heart – had learned a useful business, their hearts were lifted up in the work, Exo_36:21, and all felt it a high privilege to be able to put only a nail in the holy place. By the free-will offerings of the people the tabernacle was erected, and all the costly utensils belonging to it provided. This was the primitive mode of providing proper places for Divine worship; and as it was the primitive, so it is the most rational mode. Taxes levied by law for building or repairing churches were not known in the ancient times of religious simplicity. It is an honor to be permitted to do any thing for the support of public worship; and he must have a strange, unfeeling, and ungodly heart, who does not esteem it a high privilege to have a stone of his own laying or procuring in the house of God. How easily might all the buildings necessary for the purpose of public worship be raised, if the money that is spent in needless self-indulgence by ourselves, our sons, and our daughters, were devoted to this purpose! By sacrifices of this kind the house of the Lord would be soon built, and the top-stone brought on with shouting, Grace, grace unto it!
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, etc. — Moses had made this communication before [see Exo_31:2-5; also see on Exo_31:2]. But now that the collection had been made, the materials were contributed, and the operations of building about to be commenced, it was with the greatest propriety he reminded the people that the individuals entrusted with the application of their gold and silver had been nominated to the work by authority to which all would bow.
31. And he hath filled him with the spirit of God. He again magnifies at greater length the excellence of genius and ability, (which had been given to Bezaleel.) For it was a remarkable instance of God’s power, that, after the Israelites had been so contemptuously and oppressively enslaved, there should exist in their nation men still endowed with such talent. God is said to have “filled him with the Spirit of God,” ie., with the Divine Spirit; in order that we may understand that these endowments were not natural to the man, nor even acquired by his own industry. For although even the gifts of nature proceed from the Spirit of God, who gives their intellect to all men no less than their life; still the distribution of peculiar gifts is conspicuous in a higher and different degree. Besides, God had regard to the exquisite nature of this work, so as to endow these artificers with wonderful and extraordinary ability. The faculty of teaching is also added, because two persons by themselves would never have completed so arduous a work in their whole life-time: and this capacity, too, was the gift of Divine grace; for else they would never have overcome the fatigue of instructing the ignorant, nor would have so speedily prepared such a great multitude of men for fashioning the various parts of the work with incredible symmetry.
The engraver – The artificer, literally “one who cuts”: a general name for the workman, to which was added the name of the material in which he worked; thus the artificer in wood, or carpenter; the artificer in iron, or smith, etc. Exo_35:32-33; Exo_31:4-5 enumerate the branches of work committed to Bezaleel. What was under the charge of Aholiab is here for the first time clearly distinguished into the work of the skilled weaver, that of the embroiderer, and that of the weaver.
The cunning workman – The skilled weaver, literally, “the reckoner”. He might have been so called because he had nicely to count and calculate the threads in weaving figures after the manner of tapestry or carpet. His work was chiefly used in the curtains and veil of the tabernacle, in the ephod and the breastplate (Exo_26:1, Exo_26:31; Exo_28:6, Exo_28:15, etc.).
The embroiderer – He worked with a needle, either shaping his design in stitches of colored thread, or in pieces of colored cloth sewn upon the groundwork. His work was employed in the entrance curtains of the tent and the court, and in the girdle of the high priest Exo_26:36; Exo_27:16; Exo_28:39.
The weaver – He appears to have worked in the loom in the ordinary way with materials of only a single color. The tissues made by him were used for the robe of the ephod and its binding, and for the coats of the priests Exo_28:32; Exo_39:22, Exo_39:27.
These three classes of workers were men, while the spinners and dyers were women Exo_35:25.
1. Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab. Although Moses might have seemed to be unnecessarily prolix in recording the injunctions which God gave respecting the building of the tabernacle, yet he repeats the same narrative here almost in the same words; and this he does with the best design, and for very good reasons. For it was of much importance that it might be seen by actual comparison how exactly the artificers had conformed everything to the pattern laid down by God: and this, not only in commendation of their obedience, but because it behooved that there should be nothing human in the structure; for although they might each of them have exerted themselves strenuously in the work, still it was not lawful for them to give the slightest scope to their own inventions; nay, this would have been a profanation of the sacred edifice, not to follow in every part what had been so carefully dictated to Moses. And this might avail as a restraint upon them in future times, so that they might not violate God’s commands by any change or innovation. They did not indeed understand the reason of everything either in reference to number or measure; but it became them to be assured that God had commanded nothing without a purpose. Hence, also, their minds should have been elevated to the heavenly pattern, so as reverently to look up to the mysteries, obscure as they were, which it contained, until its full manifestation. This verbal repetition, then, reminds us how accurately the labor and art of men in the building corresponded with the command of God.
Then wrought, etc. – The first verse of this chapter should end the preceding chapter, and this should begin with verse the second; as it now stands, it does not make a very consistent sense. By reading the first word ועשה veasah, then wrought, in the future tense instead of the past, the proper connection will be preserved: for all grammarians know that the conjunction ו vau is often conversive, i.e., it turns the preterite tense of those verbs to which it is prefixed into the future, and the future into the preterite: this power it evidently has here; and joined with the last verse of the preceding chapter the connection will appear thus, Exo_36:30-35, etc.: The Lord hath called by name Bezaleel and Aholiab; them hath he filled with wisdom of heart to work all manner of work. Exo_36:1 : And Bezaleel and Aholiab Shall Work, and every wise-hearted man, in whom the Lord put wisdom.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise-hearted man, etc. — Here is an illustrious example of zeal and activity in the work of the Lord. No unnecessary delay was allowed to take place; and from the moment the first pole was stuck in the ground till the final completion of the sacred edifice, he and his associates labored with all the energies both of mind and body engaged in the work. And what was the mainspring of their arduous and untiring diligence? They could be actuated by none of the ordinary motives that give impulse to human industry, by no desire for the acquisition of gain; no ambition for honor; no view of gratifying a mere love of power in directing the labors of a large body of men. They felt the stimulus – the strong irresistible impulse of higher and holier motives – obedience to the authority, zeal for the glory, and love to the service of God.
12. And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons I have already expounded all that might seem to be profitable with respect to the garments and the mode of anointing; only let; my readers remember that the priest, who had been before appointed, is now at length inaugurated, in order that he may begin the discharge of his office. At the same time, let them also bear in mind that this oil was consecrated by God. Hence it appears how foolishly the Popish bishops, as it were, ape Moses, when, in imitation of him, they sprinkle their priests and altars and other rubbish with stinking oil, since it is abundantly clear that this ceremony of anointing, belonging as it did to the ancient shadows of the Law, ceased at the coming of Christ. What Augustine reminds us of is also worthy of observation, that Moses, who is commissioned to anoint the others, was never consecrated himself by any visible symbol, in order that we may understand that outward signs are not to be estimated by the dignity of the minister, but only by the ordinance of God; and again, that invisible grace has profited some without visible sacraments, whilst visible sanctification may be imparted, but cannot profit, without invisible.
For their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood – By this anointing a right was given to Aaron and his family to be high priests among the Jews for ever; so that all who should be born of this family should have a right to the priesthood without the repetition of this unction, as they should enjoy this honor in their father’s right, who had it by a particular grant from God. But it appears that the high priest, on his consecration, did receive the holy unction; see Lev_4:3; Lev_6:22; Lev_21:10. And this continued till the destruction of the first temple, and the Babylonish captivity; and according to Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, and others, this custom continued among the Jews to the advent of our Lord, after which there is no evidence it was ever practiced. See Calmet’s note Exo_29:7 (note). The Jewish high priest was a type of Him who is called the high priest over the house of God, Heb_10:21; and when he came, the functions of the other necessarily ceased. This case is worthy of observation. The Jewish sacrifices were never resumed after the destruction of their city and temple, for they hold it unlawful to sacrifice anywhere out of Jerusalem; and the unction of their high priest ceased from that period also: and why? Because the true priest and the true sacrifice were come, and the types of course were no longer necessary after the manifestation of the antitype.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
anoint them, as thou didst anoint their fathers — The sacred oil was used, but it does not appear that the ceremony was performed exactly in the same manner; for although the anointing oil was sprinkled over the garments both of Aaron and his sons (Exo_29:21; Lev_8:30), it was not poured over the heads of the latter. This distinction was reserved for the high priest (Exo_29:7; Lev_8:12; Psa_133:2).