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36

Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful one to whom the Lord has given skill and understanding to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.

2 Moses then called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful one to whom the Lord had given skill, everyone whose heart was stirred to come to do the work; 3and they received from Moses all the freewill offerings that the Israelites had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4so that all the artisans who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task being performed, 5and said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” 6So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing; 7for what they had already brought was more than enough to do all the work.

Construction of the Tabernacle

8 All those with skill among the workers made the tabernacle with ten curtains; they were made of fine twisted linen, and blue, purple, and crimson yarns, with cherubim skillfully worked into them. 9The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains were of the same size.

10 He joined five curtains to one another, and the other five curtains he joined to one another. 11He made loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain of the first set; likewise he made them on the edge of the outermost curtain of the second set; 12he made fifty loops on the one curtain, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set; the loops were opposite one another. 13And he made fifty clasps of gold, and joined the curtains one to the other with clasps; so the tabernacle was one whole.

14 He also made curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; he made eleven curtains. 15The length of each curtain was thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains were of the same size. 16He joined five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves. 17He made fifty loops on the edge of the outermost curtain of the one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the other connecting curtain. 18He made fifty clasps of bronze to join the tent together so that it might be one whole. 19And he made for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and an outer covering of fine leather.

20 Then he made the upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 21Ten cubits was the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the width of each frame. 22Each frame had two pegs for fitting together; he did this for all the frames of the tabernacle. 23The frames for the tabernacle he made in this way: twenty frames for the south side; 24and he made forty bases of silver under the twenty frames, two bases under the first frame for its two pegs, and two bases under the next frame for its two pegs. 25For the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, he made twenty frames 26and their forty bases of silver, two bases under the first frame and two bases under the next frame. 27For the rear of the tabernacle westward he made six frames. 28He made two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear. 29They were separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring; he made two of them in this way, for the two corners. 30There were eight frames with their bases of silver: sixteen bases, under every frame two bases.

31 He made bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, 32and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 33He made the middle bar to pass through from end to end halfway up the frames. 34And he overlaid the frames with gold, and made rings of gold for them to hold the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.

35 He made the curtain of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 36For it he made four pillars of acacia, and overlaid them with gold; their hooks were of gold, and he cast for them four bases of silver. 37He also made a screen for the entrance to the tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen, embroidered with needlework; 38and its five pillars with their hooks. He overlaid their capitals and their bases with gold, but their five bases were of bronze.


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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.

2. And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab. It is not without reason that Moses so often exalts the grace of God’s Spirit in the ingenuity and artistic skill of the workmen. In the first place he speaks of them as skillful architects, and then, by way of correction, adds that they were furnished from above with such intelligence. Thus the absurdity of the Papists is refuted, who, in order to prove free-will, think it sufficient to drag forward the passages in which rectitude of will is commended: whereas, even though men may will aright, it is foolish to infer that therefore they are possessed of free-will, unless it be proved that the will proceeds from themselves. Consequently, what follows in the text, — that every one contributed either of his labor or his substance to the building of the tabernacle, according as their hearts stirred them up, — does not so make men the authors of pious affections, as to defraud God of His praise. It is true that men understand — are willing — encourage themselves to holy endeavors; but the question is, from whence comes their intelligence, their will, and their zeal in well-doing? Scripture decides that they are the gifts of God and the Spirit: the Papists improperly arrogate them to themselves.

3. And they received of Moses all the offering. Here is set forth, first of all, the diligence and prudence both of Moses and the artificers, and secondly, their integrity. Their prudence is shewn in the distribution of the materials among them; their diligence in the quickness with which they commence the work, without waiting till they have enough for its completion; whilst they testify their extraordinary integrity when they voluntarily declare that enough has been given, and put a stop to the offerings, lest they should be more than they required. We know how few restrain themselves 297297     “Qui gardent leurs mains pures et nettes;” who keep their hands pure and clean — Fr. when an opportunity is given of thieving without detection; and, even if there be no disposition to deceive, yet most people are tempted by ambition, greedily to long for more to pass through their hands than they need. We see, then, how God directed them all to undertake the work of the sanctuary, and impelled them to persevere in it by His Spirit. This grace, however, manifests itself most fully in the marvelous ardor of the people. They were not very rich, for they had had no treasures laid up for a long period; and the wealthiest among them had no more than what they had secretly conveyed away out of Egypt; whilst the building was sumptuous; and still they do not cease from contributing more than was necessary, until an edict forbade them. Such promptitude and liberality was worthy of no common praise; and hence it is more wonderful that they should soon afterwards neglect the true God in whose service they were thus zealous, and fall into foul idolatry. Let us learn from hence, that the pious zeal, which existed in them for a short time, emanated from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; and further, that all our best feelings vanish, unless the gift of stedfastness be superadded.

What follows represents, as by a lively image, as we have said, how faithfully they executed whatever God had prescribed, so as not to vary from it even in the smallest thread.




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