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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 31

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verses 1-11

Exodus 35:30-35. This solemn call of Bezaleel and Aholiab is full of instruction. Their work was to be only that of handicraftsmen. Still it was Yahweh Himself who called them by name to their tasks, and the powers which they were now called upon to exercise in their respective crafts, were declared to have been given them by the Holy Spirit. Thus is every effort of skill, every sort of well-ordered labor, when directed to a right end, brought into the very highest sphere of association.

There appears to be sufficient reason for identifying Hur, the grandfather of Bezaleel, with the Hur who assisted Aaron in supporting the hands of Moses during the battle with Amalek at Rephidim Exodus 17:10, and who was associated with Aaron in the charge of the people while Moses was on the mountain Exodus 24:14. Josephus says that he was the husband of Miriam. It is thus probable that Bezaleel was related to Moses. He was the chief artificer in metal, stone, and wood; he had also to perform the apothecary’s work in the composition of the anointing oil and the incense Exodus 37:29. He had precedence of all the artificers, but Aholiab appears to have had the entire charge of the textile work Exodus 35:35; Exodus 38:23.

Exodus 31:3

Wisdom, understanding, Knowledge - Or, that “right judgment in all things” for which we especially pray on Whitsunday; the perceptive faculty; and experience, a practical acquaintance with facts.

Exodus 31:4

To devise cunning works - Rather, to devise works of skill. The Hebrew phrase is not the same as that rendered “cunning work” in respect to textile fabrics in Exodus 26:1.

Exodus 31:10

And the cloths of service - Rather, And the garments of office; that is, the distinguishing official garments of the high priest. The three kinds of dress mentioned in this verse appear to be the only ones which were unique to the sanctuary. They were:

(1) The richly adorned state robes of the high priest (see Exodus 28:6-38; Exodus 39:1 following).

(2) the “holy garments” of white linen for the high priest, worn on the most solemn occasion in the year (see Exodus 28:39; Leviticus 16:4).

(3) the garments of white linen for all the priests, worn in their regular ministrations (see Exodus 28:40-41).

Verses 12-17

The penal law of the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2-3. In the fourth commandment the injunction to observe the seventh day is addressed to the conscience of the people (see Exodus 20:8 note): in this place, the object is to declare an infraction of the commandment to be a capital offence. The two passages stand in a relation to each other similar to that between Leviticus 18:0, Leviticus 19:0, and Leviticus 20:0. It seems likely that the penal edict was especially introduced as a caution in reference to the construction of the tabernacle, lest the people, in their zeal to carry on the work, should be tempted to break the divine law for the observance of the day.

Exodus 31:14

See Numbers 15:32-36. The distinction between the meaning of the two expressions, “to be cut off from the people”, and “to be put to death”, is here indicated. He who was cut off from the people had, by his offence, put himself out of the terms of the covenant, and was an outlaw. On such, and on such alone, when the offence was one which affected the well-being of the nation, as it was in this case, death could be inflicted by the public authority.

Exodus 31:17

Was refreshed - Literally, “he took breath”. Compare Exodus 23:12; 2 Samuel 16:14. The application of the word to the Creator, which occurs nowhere else, is remarkable.

Verse 18

Two tables of testimony - See Exodus 25:16; Exodus 32:15.

The tables of stone which represented the covenant between Yahweh and His people, and which, when covered with the mercy-seat were to give the sanctuary its significance, are now delivered to Moses in accordance with the promise in Exodus 24:12.

The history of what relates to the construction of the sanctuary is here interrupted, and is taken up again in Exodus 35:1.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-31.html. 1870.
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