This chapter records the building of the Ark and the Mercy-seat (Exodus 37:1-9), instructions for which are recorded in Exo. 25:10-22; the Table of Showbread (Exodus 37:10-16), instructions for which are in Exo. 25:28-30; the Golden Candlestick (Exodus 37:17-24), the instructions being in Exo. 25:31-40; the Altar of Incense (Exodus 37:25-28), instructions being found in Exo. 30:1-5; the Holy Oil and Incense (Exodus 37:29), the recipe for which is detailed in Exo. 30:22-38. Of course, any modern writer would have written all this merely by the statement that, "Moses did all this exactly according to the instructions of Jehovah." However, this is not a modern book, or even a book like those known in Western Civilization. It is a book written after the style of ancient Near East literature in 1400 B.C., which is thus confirmed as the approximate date of Exodus. This must be added to many other evidences which we have cited here and there throughout Exodus and Genesis, frustrating and destroying the fanciful imaginations which attempt to link these sacred books with a scheming and reprobate priesthood in fifth or sixth century (B.C.) Jewish generations.
For our comments on these items in the sacred furniture of the Tabernacle, see the special articles devoted to each of them in the appropriate passages in which one finds the divine instructions for making them.
Exo. 37:1-29 --
And Bezaleel made the ark of acacia wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it.F1 And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without. and made a crown of gold to it round about. And he cast for it four rings of gold, in the four feet thereof; even two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. And he made staves of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold. And he put the staves into the rings on the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. And he made a mercy-seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And he made two cherubim of gold; of beaten work made he them, at the two ends of the mercy-seat; one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other end: of one piece with the mercy-seat made he the cherubim at the two ends thereof And the cherubim spread out their wings on high, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.
And he made the table of acacia wood; two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereto a crown of gold round about. And he made unto it a border of a handbreadth round about, and made a gold crown to the border thereof round about. And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that were on the four feet thereof. Close by the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table. And he made the staves of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table. And he made the vessels which were upon the table, the dishes thereof, and the spoons thereof, and the bowls thereof, and the flagons thereof, wherewith to pour out, of pure gold.
And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick, even its base, and its shaft; its cups, its knops, and its flowers, were of one piece with it. And there were six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof: three cups made like almond-blossoms in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three cups made like almond-blossoms in the other branch, a knop and a flower: so for the six branches going out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick were four cups made like almond-blossoms, the knops thereof, and the flowers thereof; and a knop under two branches of one piece with it, and a knop under two branches with one piece with it, and a knop under two branches with it, for the six branches going out of it. Their knops and their branches were of one piece with it: the whole of it was one beaten work of pure gold. And he made the lamps thereof, seven, and snuffers thereof, and the snuff-dishes thereof, of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold he made it, and all the vessels thereof.F2
And he made the altar of incense of acacia wood: a cubit was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, foursquare; and two cubits was the height thereof; the horns thereof were of one piece with it. And he overlaid it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns of it: and he made unto it a crown of gold round about. And he made for it two golden rings under the crown thereof, upon the two ribs thereof, for places for staves wherewith to bear it. And he made the staves of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold. And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, after the art of the perfumer.F3
Footnotes for Exodus 37
1: Of course, the statement in Deut. 10:1-5, where Moses is said to have made an ark, is seized upon as a contradiction, but it is only a pseudocon. See comment on this under Exo. 34:29-35.
2: A talent of gold was 120 pounds troy, or 96 pounds avoirdupois (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. V, p. 2904). At the current price of gold (350 per ounce, Troy), a talent of gold amounts to $504,000 in current (as of 1984) U.S.A. dollars.
3: An exception in the usual repetition occurs here in this brief summary of the making of the anointing oil and spices for the incense; but even in this it is possible that the divine purpose was served. The oil and the spices were not aded with such a weight of symbolism as that which pertained to things like the ark and the candlestick, etc. Therefore, criticism has nothing to gain by focusing upon this "drastic abridgement!" (Hyatt as quoted by Gordon, pp. 209).