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Bezalel and Oholiab


The L ord spoke to Moses: 2See, I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3and I have filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, 4to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft. 6Moreover, I have appointed with him Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have given skill to all the skillful, so that they may make all that I have commanded you: 7the tent of meeting, and the ark of the covenant, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, 8the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, 9and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its stand, 10and the finely worked vestments, the holy vestments for the priest Aaron and the vestments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the holy place. They shall do just as I have commanded you.

The Sabbath Law

12 The L ord said to Moses: 13You yourself are to speak to the Israelites: “You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the L ord, sanctify you. 14You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. 15Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the L ord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. 16Therefore the Israelites shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. 17It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the L ord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

The Two Tablets of the Covenant

18 When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

18 And he gave unto Moses. It must be observed, that, after the voice of God had been heard from the midst of the fire, and He had delivered the Ten Commandments, and the form of the tabernacle had been described, and the work had been already finished by the artificers, though its dedication had not yet taken place, Moses was again withdrawn from the sight and intercourse of men, that he might be taught apart by himself to be a faithful interpreter of the Law. For although God had briefly comprised in the Ten Commandments the sum of His doctrine, which might suffice for the rule of a pious and righteous life, still a clearer exposition was needed, such as Moses afterwards added. With this object he was taken up into the sanctuary (adytum) of heaven, as it were, in order that he might familiarly learn all things that concerned the full and complete understanding of the Ten Commandments, since he could never have attained their genuine meaning if God had not been his Master and Teacher. Hence we gather that he wrote his five books not only under the guidance of the Spirit of God, but as God Himself had suggested them, speaking to him out of His own mouth. Wherefore he observed silence for forty days, that he might afterwards freely speak by the authority of God. Thus ought all true pastors of the Church to be disciples, so as to teach nothing but what they have received. But although God might in a moment have fully perfected His servant, yet, in order more surely to evince that he advanced nothing which did not proceed from the school of heaven, he was separated for forty days from the human race, so that the Israelites might henceforth look up to him as to an angel sent from heaven; for there could be no savour of earth about him who had thus lived with God, without meat and drink, or any other means of nourishment, and divested of all infirmity of the flesh.

Finally, the Ten Commandments were written on two tables, so that they might never be lost. I have elsewhere stated why they were divided into two tables, viz., because they consist of two parts, the first of which is the rule of piety, whilst the second prescribes how we must live righteously, innocently, and chastely with men. Thus the worship of God comes first in order, and then the duties of charity follow. The tables were of stone, inasmuch as it is usual for enduring monuments to be engraven on brass, or stones. That they were “written with the finger of God,” we must understand to mean that the characters were formed without the hand or skill of men, by the secret virtue of God; nor is it a matter of wonder that a writing should have suddenly been brought into existence at the same will (nutu) of God, whereby the waste and shapeless materials of the world, which they call chaos, were changed so as to be resplendent with astonishing elegance and beauty. This expression, however, is metaphorical, whereby what is only applicable to men is figuratively spoken of God; for God is not corporeal so as to write with His finger; and for Him to act is only to command; as it is said in the Psalms,

“He spake, and all things were made; he commanded, and they were created.” (Psalm 33:9; 148:5.)

Many approve of the allegory, that the Law was written by the Spirit of God on stones, because the hardness of our heart does not receive it without the grace of regeneration; but we must rather hold to the antithesis of Paul, wherein he shews that the Gospel differs from the Law in this respect, because it is written on fleshy hearts, subdued unto obedience, (2 Corinthians 3:3;) and indeed it is by no means fitting that we should trifle in such conceits as this, when the simple intention of God is abundantly manifest, viz., that the Law was registered upon stones, in order that the perpetuity of its doctrine should be maintained in all ages.

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