Ex 25:1-40. Concerning an
1. the Lord spake unto Moses,
&c.—The business that chiefly occupied Moses on the mount,
whatever other disclosures were made to him there, was in receiving
directions about the tabernacle, and they are here recorded as given to
2. bring me an offering of every man that giveth
it willingly, &c.—Having declared allegiance to God as
their sovereign, they were expected to contribute to His state, as
other subjects to their kings; and the "offering" required of them was
not to be imposed as a tax, but to come from their own loyal and
3. this is the offering which ye shall take of
them—the articles of which the offerings should consist.
brass—rather copper, brass being a
4. goats' hair—or leather of goats'
5. badgers' skins—The badger was an
unclean animal, and is not a native of the East—rather some kind
of fish, of the leather of which sandals are made in the East. [See on
Ex 39:34 and Eze
shittim wood—or Shittah (Isa 41:19), the acacia, a shrub which grows
plentifully in the deserts of Arabia, yielding a light, strong, and
beautiful wood, in long planks.
7. ephod—a square cloak, hanging down
from the shoulders, and worn by priests.
8. a sanctuary; that I may dwell among
them—In one sense the tabernacle was to be a palace, the
royal residence of the King of Israel, in which He was to dwell among
His people, receive their petitions, and issue His responses. But it
was also to be a place of worship, in which God was to record His name
and to enshrine the mystic symbols of His presence.
9. According to all that I show thee, after
the pattern of the tabernacle—The proposed erection could be,
in the circumstances of the Israelites, not of a fixed and stable but
of a temporary and movable description, capable of being carried about
with them in their various sojournings. It was made after "the pattern"
shown to Moses, by which is now generally understood, not that it was
an unheard-of novelty, or an entirely original structure, for it is
ascertained to have borne resemblance in form and arrangements to the
style of an Egyptian temple, but that it was so altered, modified, and
purified from all idolatrous associations, as to be appropriated to
right objects, and suggestive of ideas connected with the true God and
10. an ark—a coffer or chest, overlaid
with gold, the dimensions of which, taking the cubit at eighteen
inches, are computed to be three feet nine inches in length, two feet
three inches in breadth.
11. a crown—a rim or cornice.
12. rings—staples for the poles, with
which it was to be carried from place to place.
15. staves shall be in the rings of the
ark—that is, always remain in the rings, whether the ark be
at rest or in motion.
16. the testimony—that is, the two
tables of stone, containing the ten commandments, and called "the
testimony," because by it God did testify His sovereign authority over
Israel as His people, His selection of them as the guardians of His
will and worship, and His displeasure in the event of their
transgressing His laws; while on their part, by receiving and
depositing this law in its appointed place, they testified their
acknowledgment of God's right to rule over them, and their submission
to the authority of His law. The superb and elaborate style of the ark
that contained "the testimony" was emblematic of the great treasure it
held; in other words, the incomparable value and excellence of the Word
of God, while its being placed in this chest further showed the great
care which God has ever taken for preserving it.
17. thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure
gold—to serve as a lid, covering it exactly. It was "the
propitiatory cover," as the term may be rendered, denoting that Christ,
our great propitiation [1Jo 2:2; 4:10], has fully answered all the demands of
the law, covers our transgressions, and comes between us and the curse
of a violated law.
18. two cherubim—The real meaning of
these figures, as well as the shape or form of them, is not known with
certainty—probably similar to what was afterwards introduced into
the temple, and described in Eze 10:8-22. They stretched out their wings, and
their faces were turned towards the mercy seat [Ex 25:20], probably in a bowing attitude. The
prevailing opinion now is, that those splendid figures were symbolical
not of angelic but of earthly and human beings—the members of the
Church of God interested in the dispensation of grace, the redeemed in
every age—and that these hieroglyphic forms symbolized the
qualities of the true people of God—courage, patience,
intelligence, and activity.
22. there I will meet with thee, and I will
commune with thee from above the mercy seat—The Shekinah, or
symbol of the Divine Presence, rested on the mercy seat, and was
indicated by a cloud, from the midst of which responses were audibly
given when God was consulted on behalf of His people. Hence God is
described as "dwelling" or "sitting" between the cherubim.
23. table of shittim wood—of the same
material and decorations as the ark [see on Ex
25:5], and like it, too, furnished with rings for the poles on
which it was carried [Ex 25:26].
The staves, however, were taken out of it when stationary, in order not
to encumber the priests while engaged in their services at the table.
It was half a cubit less than the ark in length and breadth, but of the
same height. [See on Ex 25:10.]
24. crown—the moulding or ornamental
rim, which is thought to have been raised above the level of the table,
to prevent anything from falling off.
29. dishes—broad platters.
spoons—cups or concave vessels, used
for holding incense.
covers—both for bread and incense.
bowls—cups; for though no mention is
made of wine, libations were undoubtedly made to God, according to
Josephus and the rabbins, once a week,
when the bread was changed.
to cover withal—rather, "to pour out
30. showbread—literally, presence
bread, so called because it was constantly exhibited before the
Lord, or because the bread of His presence, like the angel of His
presence, pointed symbolically to Christ. It consisted of twelve
unleavened loaves, said traditionally to have been laid in piles of six
each. This bread was designed to be a symbol of the full and
never-failing provision which is made in the Church for the spiritual
sustenance and refreshment of God's people.
31. candlestick—literally, "a lamp
bearer." It was so constructed as to be capable of being taken to
pieces for facility in removal. The shaft or stock rested on a
pedestal. It had seven branches, shaped like reeds or canes—three
on each side, with one in the center—and worked out into knobs,
flowers, and bowls, placed alternately [Ex 25:32-36]. The figure represented on the arch of
Titus gives the best idea of this candlestick.
33. knops—old spelling for
37. they shall light the lamps … that they
may give light—The light was derived from pure olive oil, and
probably kept continually burning (compare Ex 30:7; Le
39. a talent of pure gold—in weight
equivalent to 125 lbs. troy.
40. look that thou make them after their
pattern—This caution, which is repeated with no small
frequency in other parts of the narrative, is an evidence of the deep
interest taken by the Divine King in the erection of His palace or
sanctuary; and it is impossible to account for the circumstance of
God's condescending to such minute details, except on the assumption
that this tabernacle was to be of a typical character, and eminently
subservient to the religious instruction and benefit of mankind, by
shadowing forth in its leading features the grand truths of the