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Offerings for the Tabernacle


The L ord said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me. 3This is the offering that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4blue, purple, and crimson yarns and fine linen, goats’ hair, 5tanned rams’ skins, fine leather, acacia wood, 6oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7onyx stones and gems to be set in the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. 9In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

The Ark of the Covenant

10 They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make a molding of gold upon it all around. 12You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side. 13You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, by which to carry the ark. 15The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16You shall put into the ark the covenant that I shall give you.

17 Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its width. 18You shall make two cherubim of gold; you shall make them of hammered work, at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other; of one piece with the mercy seat you shall make the cherubim at its two ends. 20The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings. They shall face one to another; the faces of the cherubim shall be turned toward the mercy seat. 21You shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you. 22There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

The Table for the Bread of the Presence

23 You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. 24You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. 25You shall make around it a rim a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26You shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27The rings that hold the poles used for carrying the table shall be close to the rim. 28You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29You shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.

The Lampstand

31 You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its calyxes, and its petals shall be of one piece with it; 32and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on one branch, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34On the lampstand itself there shall be four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its calyxes and petals. 35There shall be a calyx of one piece with it under the first pair of branches, a calyx of one piece with it under the next pair of branches, and a calyx of one piece with it under the last pair of branches—so for the six branches that go out of the lampstand. 36Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one hammered piece of pure gold. 37You shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38Its snuffers and trays shall be of pure gold. 39It, and all these utensils, shall be made from a talent of pure gold. 40And see that you make them according to the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

8 And let them make me a sanctuary. By first setting before them an inestimable recompense, God stirs up the people to give largely; for, although liberality is praised by all as a most excellent virtue, yet no one willingly deprives himself of his own to bestow it upon others, since all think that it is so much lost to themselves, unless they have some compensation in view. Wherefore, that they may expend cheerfully, God promises that He will dwell among them, than which nothing is more desirable. But we must beware of imagining anything inconsistent with the nature of God, for He who sits above the heavens, and whose footstool is the earth, could not be enclosed in the tabernacle; but, because in His indulgence for the infirmities of an ignorant people, He desired to testify the presence of His grace and help by a visible symbol, the earthly sanctuary is called His dwelling amongst men, inasmuch as there He was not worshipped in vain. And we must bear in memory what we have lately seen, that it was not the infinite essence of God, but His name, or the record of His name, that dwelt there. This was the object of the expressions; that the Israelites ought not to be slow or lazy in setting up the tabernacle, because by these means they would obtain for themselves an inestimable advantage. Another clause follows, that the artificers should copy the pattern shewn to Moses, and not dare to invent anything, since it would be a profanation to mix up anything human with the commands of God; on which matter we shall treat more diffusely when we speak generally of the types. Now is described the form of the Ark and its covering: for the composition of the tabernacle, and its various parts, which Moses now only slightly adverts to, will be presently repeated at greater length in chapter 32. But, although the tabernacle was called God’s house, yet there was a more express image of His glory in the Ark of the Covenant; because the Law, whereby God bound the people to Himself, was there deposited. The material was shittim-wood, covered or overlaid with plates of gold. As to the species of the tree, 121121     “This was perhaps the acacia horrida, a kind of mimosa, a native of Arabia, since the Arabic word resembles the Hebrew. The thorns are twinned, and nearly equal to the leaves in length. The leaves are repeatedly winged. The spikes, of white flowers, proceed from the bosom of the leaves. The wood is of an excellent quality, whence it deserves the name given by the Greek translators, ξύλα ἄσηπτα, wood that never decays.” — Illustrated Comment., in loco. “The most important material, the wood for the tent, is just that which is found here most plentifully, while Palestine is deficient in acacia trees.” — Comp. Theophrast., Hist. P1. 4 3. Prosper Alpinus, de Plant. AEg., 100. 1., “Acaciae arbores copiosissime in montibus Sinai penes Rubrum Mare positis proveniunt.” Hieron. ad Joel, 4., “Quae ligna in locis cultis, et in Romano solo absque Arabiae solitudine non inveniuntur. Forskal. Flora AEg. Arab., p. 56.” Havernick, Introd. Pent., p. 284. not even the Hebrews are agreed among themselves, although we may conjecture that it was beautiful and costly; yet God would have gold over its whole surface, and even shining on its staves, that the dignity of the Law might be enhanced But here a question may arise, which introduces many others with it, how the sumptuous splendor both of the Ark, as well as the tabernacle and all its utensils, contributed to the worship of God? for it is certain that God would never be worshipped except agreeably to His nature; whence it follows, that His true worship was always spiritual, and therefore by no means comprised in external pomp.

But the great number and intricacy of the ceremonies were so far from awakening piety, that they were even the occasion of superstition, or era foolish and perverse confidence. Again, so many and such various rites seem to have had no other tendency than to feed curiosity. It will be therefore worth while briefly to premise something respecting this point. They are, in my judgment, at fault, who think that the eyes of the people were captivated by these magnificent sights, lest their religion, being stripped of all ornament, should become dishonored, when amongst the Gentiles their false worship was splendid even to a miracle; and thus a depraved rivalry might affect their minds, 122122     “Et fussent induits a essayer de faire plus qu’eux;” and they might be induced to try to do more than they.Fr. if the beauty of the tabernacle did not at least equal the pomp of others, as though the God they worshipped were inferior to idols. On the same grounds they imagine that the Jews were burdened with many observances; lest, if God had only sparingly and slightly exercised them, they would in their natural curiosity, have sought in all directions after profane trifles. They tell part of the truth, but not the whole; for I admit that this was given to the ancient people, in order that, when they saw the tabernacle so brilliantly ornamented, they might be inspired with greater reverence. I also admit that, by God’s command, they were engrossed with many ceremonies, that they might not seek after strange ones; but if this had been the only object proposed in them, the whole legal service would have only availed for ostentation in its shadows and histrionic pomps. But it is most absurd to think that God so trifled with His people. We see, too, how honorably David and the Prophets speak of these exercises. 123123     Hengstenberg,. Dissertations on the Pentateuch, vol. 2, pp. 504-505, briefly, but most satisfactorily, enumerates the objects of the Ceremonial Law in reply to the deistical writers, who, like De Wette, “can find out no rational basis for it,” and can form no other notion of these pedantic regulations, this gnat-straining, as he calls it, than as the production of a later priestcraft. “The best apology Hengstenberg says of the Ceremonial Law lies in pointing out its objects, and these, therefore, we present to refute the charges brought against it: — First, It served to cherish the religious sentiment. The Israelite was reminded by it in all his relations, even the most insignificant and external, of God; the thought of God was introduced into the very midst of the popular life. Secondly, It required the recognition of sin, and thus called forth the first thing essential for the reception of redemption, a sense of the need of redemption. The people must be burdened and heavy-laden, in order that the Lord might say to them, Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy, laden, and I will give you rest. The Law was, and was intended to be, a heavy yoke, and therefore would awaken a longing after the Redeemer. Everywhere it proclaimed, Touch not, taste not, handle not! and thus was a perpetual remembrancer of sin. Thirdly, It served to separate Israel from the heathen; it erected between the two a wall of separation, by which communication was prevented. Compare Ephesians 2:14. Not yet strong enough to conquer heathenism, the people were, so to speak, shut up, to be withdrawn from its influence, to preserve them for the time in which, armed with power from on high, they might commence an offensive war against it. The preliminary limitation effected by the Ceremonial Law served as the means of the future illimitedness. Fourthly, Many things in the Ceremonial Law served, by impressions on the senses, to awaken reverence for holy things among a sensual people. The bad consequence of denying this is, that it will then be necessary to impose a symbolic meaning on institutions, in which evidently nothing of the kind is to be found. Fifthly, One principal object of the Ceremonial Law lay in its symbolic meaning. The people, enthralled in visible objects, were not yet capable of vitally appropriating supersensual truth in words, the form most suited to their nature. It was needful for the truth to condescend, to come down to their power of apprehension, to prepare itself a body from visible things, in order to free the people from the bondage of the visible. This form was common to the Israelitish religion with that of the heathen, and therein lies its best apology. Would we rather not speak at all to the dumb than make use of signs? The Ceremonial Law was not the opposite to the worship of God in spirit and in truth, but only an imperfect form of the same, a necessary preparation for it. The accommodation was only formal, one which did not alter the essence, but only presented it in large capital letters to children who could not yet read a small running-hand.” - Ryland’s Translation, Edinburgh, 1847. It is, therefore, impiety to suppose that the legal rites were like farces composed in imitation of the Gentiles. In order, then, to preserve their honor and dignity, we must remember the principle to which we have lately alluded, viz., that all of them were arranged according to the spiritual pattern which had been shewn to Moses in the mount. (Exodus 25:40.) And this both Stephen, and the Apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, wisely observed, when they would reprove the gross follies of the people who continued to be wrapped up in the external ceremonies, as if religion were comprised in them. (Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5.) Stephen and the Apostle, therefore, are our best expositors, that the tabernacle, the altar, the table, the Ark of the Covenant, were of no importance except in so far as they referred to the heavenly pattern, of which they were the shadows and images. Thence their entire utility, and even their legitimate use, depended on the truth, (which they represented.) 124124     Added from Fr For the slaughter of an ox profits nothing in itself, nay, it is but an unimportant thing; and so all the sacrifices, except that they were types, would have been thought nothing of. Whence we gather that there is the greatest difference between the ceremonies of the Law and the profane rites of the Gentiles, for they differ from each other not only inasmuch as God is the author of the one, and that the temerity of men has foolishly invented the other, but because among the Gentiles their religion was entirely comprised in these bare and empty pomps; whilst God, by these rudiments, which He gave to His people, elevated pious minds, as it were by steps, to higher things. Thus the Gentiles seemed to themselves duly to propitiate (their gods) when they offered victims; whilst the sacrifices of the Jews were acceptable to God, because they were exercises of repentance and faith. So the Law instructed the Jews in the spiritual worship of God, and in nothing else, though it were clothed in ceremonies agreeably to the requirements of the age. For, before the truth was fully made known, the childhood of the Church was to be directed by earthly elements, and thus, though there was great affinity and likeness between the Jews and Gentiles as regarded the external form of their religious service, yet its end was widely different. Moreover, when we would seek the body or substance of the ancient shadows, and the truth of the figures, we may learn them, not only from the Apostles, but also from the Prophets, who everywhere draw the attention of believers to the kingdom of Christ; yet their clearer explanation must be sought in the Gospel, where Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shining forth, shews that their fulfillment exists in Himself alone. But, although by His coming He abolished these typical ceremonies as regards their use, yet at the same time He established the reverence justly due to them; since they have no claim to be held in esteem on any other grounds, except that their completion is found in Him; for, if they are separated from Him, it is plain that they are mere farces, 125125     Lat., “lusorias.” Fr., “frivoles et comme badinages." since neither the blood of animals, nor the sweetness of fat, nor aromatic odors, nor candles, nor anything of that sort, have any power to propitiate God. This indeed must be remembered, that the Jews did not pay attention to the legal sacrifices in vain, since the promises were annexed to them; as often, therefore, as these sentences occur, “your iniquity shall be blotted out,” — “ye shall appear before my face,” — “I will hear you from the sanctuary,” we are reminded that all the ancient figures were sure testimonies of God’s grace and of eternal salvation; and thus Christ was represented in them, since all the promises are in Him, yea, and amen. (2 Corinthians 1:20.) Yet it by no means follows from hence that there were mysteries hidden in all their details, since some, with mistaken acuteness, pass over no point, however trifling, without an allegorical exposition; as, in this passage, for instance, the dimensions of the ark afford them matter of speculation. 126126     “Rupertus thus collecteth, that as the Ark is described to be two cubits and a half in length, equal to the stature of a man, so God hath appeared on earth, and shewed himself unto the capacity of men ” — Willet, Hexapla, in loco. But it will be enough for the sound and sober-minded to know that God would have His Law deposited in a handsome vessel, in order that its majesty should be recognized. He commanded that the ark itself should be carried with staves, that the hands of the Levites might not touch it, and thus that its sanctity might be the greater

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