Bible Commentaries
Exodus 40

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 22-38


The second major section of Exodus records the events associated with God’s adoption of Israel as His chosen people. Having redeemed Israel out of slavery in Egypt He now made the nation His privileged son. Redemption is the end of one journey but the beginning of another.


3. The erection and consecration of the tabernacle ch. 40

The Israelites erected the tabernacle on the first day of the first month, almost exactly one year after the Israelites left Egypt (Exodus 40:2; Exodus 40:17). This was about nine months after Israel had arrived at Mt. Sinai (cf. Exodus 19:1).

First, the text narrates God’s command to erect the tabernacle (Exodus 40:1-15). Moses’ obedience to this command follows (Exodus 40:16-33). Seven times in this chapter we read that Moses did exactly as the Lord commanded him (Exodus 40:19; Exodus 40:21; Exodus 40:23; Exodus 40:25-26; Exodus 40:29; Exodus 40:32; cf. Hebrews 3:5).

"The writer’s careful attention to the chronology of the events is important, for it shows that the restriction of the offering of the Passover lamb to the central worship center (Deuteronomy 16:1-8) could thus have already been carried out during this first celebration of the Passover in the wilderness." [Note: Sailhamer, The Pentateuch . . ., pp. 321-22.]

When the tabernacle stood complete, God descended in the cloud that so filled the tabernacle that neither Moses nor anyone else could enter it (Exodus 40:34-38). The Jews called this cloud that indicated the special presence of God the shekinah (lit. residence, i.e., of God). This term does not appear in the Old Testament but in the Targums. The Targums are explanations of the Hebrew Scriptures written later in the Aramaic language for the benefit of Jews who, because of the Babylonian captivity, had not learned Hebrew.

Finally God was dwelling among His people. His redemption of them was now complete. He had liberated them from bondage in Egypt (chs. 1-15) and adopted them as His special treasure (chs. 15-40). He had made a covenant with them and now blessed them with His presence. He would guide them from then on "throughout all their journeys" (Exodus 40:36; Exodus 40:38). The descent of God to take up residence in the midst of His people is therefore a fitting climax with which this book closes.

Moses, however, was not able to enter the tabernacle because of the cloud (Exodus 40:34). This indicates that more provisions were necessary before fellowship with God could continue. Leviticus explains those provisions.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Exodus 40". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.