What should have been said and done upon Moses' coming down the first
time from the mount, if the golden calf had not broken the measures and
put all into disorder, now at last, when with great difficulty
reconciliation was made, begins to be said and done; and that great
affair of the setting up of God's worship is put into its former
channel again, and goes on now without interruption.
I. Moses gives Israel those instructions, received from God, which
required immediate observance.
1. Concerning the sabbath,
2. Concerning the contribution that was to be made for the erecting of
3. Concerning the framing of the tabernacle and the utensils of it,
II. The people bring in their contributions,
III. The head-workmen are nominated,
Exodus 35:30-35, &c.
|Orders Concerning the Tabernacle.
||B. C. 1491.|
1 And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of
Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which
the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them.
2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there
shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD:
whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
3 Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the
4 And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of
Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded,
5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever
is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the
LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,
6 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats'
7 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim
8 And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for
the sweet incense,
9 And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for
10 And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all
that the LORD hath commanded;
11 The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and
his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets,
12 The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and
the vail of the covering,
13 The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the
14 The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and
his lamps, with the oil for the light,
15 And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing
oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the
entering in of the tabernacle,
16 The altar of burnt offering, with his brazen grate, his
staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,
17 The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets,
and the hanging for the door of the court,
18 The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and
19 The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place,
the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his
sons, to minister in the priest's office.
It was said in general
Moses gave them in commandment all that the Lord has spoken with
him. But, the erecting and furnishing of the tabernacle being the
work to which they were now immediately to apply themselves, there is
particular mention of the orders given concerning it.
I. All the congregation is summoned to attend
that is, the heads and rulers of the congregation, the representatives
of the several tribes, who must receive instructions from Moses as he
had received them from the Lord, and must communicate them to the
people. Thus John, being commanded to write to the seven churches what
had been revealed to him, writes it to the angels, or ministers, of the
II. Moses gave them in charge all that (and that only) which God had
commanded him; thus he approved himself faithful both to God and
Israel, between whom he was a messenger or mediator. If he had added,
altered, or diminished, he would have been false to both. But, both
sides having reposed a trust in him, he was true to the trust; yet he
was faithful as a servant only, but Christ as a Son,
III. He begins with the law of the sabbath, because that was much
insisted on in the instructions he had received
Six days shall work be done, work for the tabernacle, the work
of the day that was now to be done in its day; and they had little else
to do here in the wilderness, where they had neither husbandry nor
merchandise, neither food to get nor clothes to make: but on the
seventh day you must not strike a stroke, no, not at the
tabernacle-work; the honour of the sabbath was above that of the
sanctuary, more ancient and more lasting; that must be to you a holy
day, devoted to God, and not be spent in common business. It is a
sabbath of rest. It is a sabbath of sabbaths (so some read it),
more honourable and excellent than any of the other feasts, and should
survive them all. A sabbath of sabbatism, so others read it,
being typical of that sabbatism or rest, both spiritual and eternal,
which remains for the people of God,
It is a sabbath of rest, that is, in which a rest from all worldly
labour must be very carefully and strictly observed. It is a sabbath
and a little sabbath, so some of the Jews would have it read; not only
observing the whole day as a sabbath, but an hour before the beginning
of it, and an hour after the ending of it, which they throw in over and
above out of their own time, and call a little sabbath, to show
how glad they are of the approach of the sabbath and how loth to part
with it. It is a sabbath of rest, but it is rest to the Lord, to whose
honour it must be devoted. A penalty is here annexed to the breach of
it: Whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Also a
particular prohibition of kindling fires on the sabbath day for any
servile work, as smith's work, or plumbers, &c.
IV. He orders preparation to be made for the setting up of the
tabernacle. Two things were to be done:--
1. All that were able must contribute: Take you from among you an
The tabernacle was to be dedicated to the honour of God, and used in
his service; and therefore what was brought for the setting up and
furnishing of that was an offering to the Lord. Our goodness
extends not to God, but what is laid out for the support of his kingdom
and interest among men he is pleased to accept as an offering to
himself; and he requires such acknowledgements of our receiving our all
from him and such instances of our dedicating our all to him. The rule
is, Whosoever is of a willing heart let him bring. It was not to
be a tax imposed upon them, but a benevolence or voluntary
contribution, to intimate to us,
(1.) That God has not made our yoke heavy. He is a prince that does not
burden his subjects with taxes, nor make them to serve with an
offering, but draws with the cords of a man, and leaves it
to ourselves to judge what is right; his is a government that
there is no cause to complain of, for he does not rule with rigour.
(2.) That God loves a cheerful giver, and is best pleased with the
free-will offering. Those services are acceptable to him that come from
the willing heart of a willing people,
2. All that were skilful must work: Every wise-hearted among you
shall come, and make,
See how God dispenses his gifts variously; and, as every man hath
received the gift, so he must minister,
1 Peter 4:10.
Those that were rich must bring in materials to work on; those that
were ingenious must serve the tabernacle with their ingenuity; as they
needed one another, so the tabernacle needed them both,
1 Corinthians 12"7-21.
The work was likely to go on when some helped with their purses, others
with their hands, and both with a willing heart. Moses, as he had told
them what must be given
so he gives them the general heads of what must be made
that, seeing how much work was before them, they might apply themselves
to it the more vigorously, and every hand might be busy; and it gave
them such an idea of the fabric designed that they could not but long
to see it finished.
|The Contributions for the Tabernacle.
||B. C. 1491.|
20 And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed
from the presence of Moses.
21 And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and
every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the
LORD's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the
congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.
22 And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing
hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and
tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered
an offering of gold unto the LORD.
23 And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and
scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and red skins of
rams, and badgers' skins, brought them.
24 Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass
brought the LORD's offering: and every man, with whom was found
shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it.
25 And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their
hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and
of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.
26 And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun
27 And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set,
for the ephod, and for the breastplate;
28 And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil,
and for the sweet incense.
29 The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the
LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring
for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made
by the hand of Moses.
Moses having made known to them the will of God, they went home and
immediately put in practice what they had heard,
O that every congregation would thus depart from the hearing of the
word of God, with a full resolution to be doers of the same!
I. The offerings that were brought for the service of the tabernacle
&c.), concerning which many things may be noted.
1. It is intimated that they brought their offerings immediately; they
departed to their tents immediately to fetch their offering, and did
not desire time to consider of it, lest their zeal should be cooled by
delays. What duty God convinces us of, and calls us to, we should set
about speedily. No season will be more convenient than the present
2. It is said that their spirits made them willing
and their hearts,
What they did they did cheerfully, and from a good principle. They were
willing, and it was not any external inducement that made them so, but
their spirits. It was from a principle of love to God and his service,
a desire of his presence with them in his ordinances, gratitude for the
great things he had done for them, faith in his promise of what he
would further do (or, at least, from the present consideration of these
things), that they were willing to offer. What we give and do for God
is then acceptable when it comes from a good principle in the heart and
3. When it is said that as many as were willing-hearted brought their
it should seem as if there were some who were not, who loved their gold
better than their God, and would not part with it, no, not for the
service of the tabernacle. Such there are, who will be called
Israelites, and yet will not be moved by the equity of the thing, God's
expectations from them, and the good examples of those about them, to
part with any thing for the interests of God's kingdom: they are for
the true religion, provided it be cheap and will cost them nothing.
4. The offerings were of divers kinds, according as they had; those
that had gold and precious stones brought them, not thinking any thing
too good and too rich to part with for the honour of God. Those that
had not precious stones to bring brought goats' hair, and rams' skins.
If we cannot do as much as others for God, we must not therefore sit
still and do nothing: if the meaner offerings which are according to
our ability gain us not such a reputation among men, yet they shall not
fail of acceptance with God, who requires according to what a man
hath, and not according to what he hath not,
2 Corinthians 8:12,2Ki+5:23.
Two mites from a pauper were more pleasing than so many talents from a
Dives. God has an eye to the heart of the giver more than to the value
of the gift.
5. Many of the things they offered were their ornaments, bracelets and
rings, and tablets or lockets
and even the women parted with these. Can a maid forget her
ornaments? Thus far they forgot them that they preferred the
beautifying of the sanctuary before their own adorning. Let this teach
us, in general, to part with that for God, when he calls for it, which
is very dear to us, which we value, and value ourselves by; and
particularly to lay aside our ornaments, and deny ourselves in them,
when either they occasion offence to others or feed our own pride. If
we think those gospel rules concerning our clothing too strict
1 Pet. iii. 3, 4),
I fear we should scarcely have done as these Israelites did. If they
thought their ornaments well bestowed upon the tabernacle, shall not we
think the want of ornaments well made up by the graces of the Spirit?
6. These rich things that they offered, we may suppose, were mostly the
spoils of the Egyptians; for the Israelites in Egypt were kept poor,
till they borrowed at parting. And we may suppose the rulers had
because, having more influence among the Egyptians, they borrowed
larger sums. Who would have thought that ever the wealth of Egypt
should have been so well employed? but thus God has often made the
earth to help the woman,
It was by a special providence and promise of God that the Israelites
got all that spoil, and therefore it was highly fit that they should
devote a part of it to the service of that God to whom they owed it
all. Let every man give according as God hath prospered him,
1 Corinthians 16:2.
Extraordinary successes should be acknowledged by extraordinary
offerings. Apply it to human learning, arts and sciences, which are
borrowed, as it were, from the Egyptians. Those that are enriched with
these must devote them to the service of God and his tabernacle: they
may be used as helps to understand the scriptures, as ornaments or
handmaids to divinity. But then great care must be taken that Egypt's
gods mingle not with Egypt's gold. Moses, though learned in all the
learning of the Egyptians, did not therefore pretend, in the least
instance, to correct the pattern shown him in the mount. The furnishing
of the tabernacle with the riches of Egypt was perhaps a good omen to
the Gentiles, who, in the fulness of time, should be brought into the
gospel tabernacle, and their silver and their gold with them
and it should be said, Blessed be Egypt my people,
7. We may suppose that the remembrance of the offerings made for the
golden calf made them the more forward in these offerings. Those that
had then parted with their ear-rings would not testify their repentance
by giving the rest of their jewels to the service of God: godly sorrow
worketh such a revenge,
2 Corinthians 7:11.
And those that had kept themselves pure from that idolatry yet argued
with themselves, "Were they so forward in contributing to an idol, and
shall we be backward or sneaking in our offerings to the Lord?" Thus
some good was brought even out of that evil.
II. The work that was done for the service of the tabernacle
The women did spin with their hands. Some spun fine work, of
blue and purple; others coarse work, of goats' hair, and yet theirs
also is said to be done in wisdom,
As it is not only rich gifts, so it is not only fine work that God
accepts. Notice is here taken of the good women's work for God, as well
as of Bezaleel's and Aholiab's. The meanest hand for the honour of
God, shall have an honourable recompence. Mary's anointing of Christ's
head shall be told for a memorial
and a record is kept of the women that laboured in the gospel
and were helpers to Paul in Christ Jesus,
It is part of the character of the virtuous woman that she layeth
her hands to the spindle,
This employment was here turned to a pious use, as it may be still
(though we have no hangings to make for the tabernacle) by the
imitation of the charity of Dorcas, who made coats and garments for
Even those that are not in a capacity to give in charity may yet work
in charity; and thus the poor may relieve the poor, and those that have
nothing but their limbs and senses may be very charitable in the labour
30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD
hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of
the tribe of Judah;
31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in
understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of
32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver,
and in brass,
33 And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving
of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he,
and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner
of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the
embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine
linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of
those that devise cunning work.
Here is the divine appointment of the master-workmen, that there might
be no strife for the office, and that all who were employed in the work
might take direction from, and give account to, these general
inspectors; for God is the God of order and not of confusion. Observe,
1. Those whom God called by name to this service he filled with the
Spirit of God, to qualify them for it,
Skill in secular employments is God's gift, and comes from above,
From him the faculty is, and the improvement of it. To his honour
therefore all knowledge must be devoted, and we must study how to serve
him with it. The work was extraordinary which Bezaleel was designed
for, and therefore he was qualified in an extraordinary manner for it;
thus when the apostles were appointed to be master-builders in setting
up the gospel tabernacle they were filled with the Spirit of God in
wisdom and understanding.
2. The were appointed, not only to devise, but to work
to work all manner of work,
Those of eminent gifts, that are capable of directing others, must not
thing that these will excuse them in idleness. Many are ingenious
enough in cutting out work for other people, and can tell what this man
and that man should do, but the burdens they bind on others they
themselves will not touch with one of their fingers. These will
fall under the character of slothful servants.
3. They were not only to devise and work themselves, but they were to
Not only had Bezaleel power to command, but he was to take pains to
instruct. Those that rule should teach; and those to whom God had given
knowledge should be willing to communicate it for the benefit of
others, not coveting to monopolize it.