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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 38

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-7


Verses 1-7:

When the work on the tabernacle itself was completed, the workmen turned their attention to exterior of the structure. The pattern for the brazen (copper, bronze) altar and its appurtenances is given in Ex 27:1-8. In Ex 27:3, the word "pans" occurs. In the present text, the word is "pots," which is the more accurate rendering. It denotes buckets or scuttles used to carry the ashes from the altar to the ash-heap.

Verse 8

Verse 8:

Instructions for the design and use of the laver are found in Ex 30:17-21. This was a large vessel used to hold water, used for ceremonial cleansing. It was made from the looking-glasses of highly polished brass (copper or bronze), donated by certain women of Israel.

"Assembling," tsaba "to be in the host, or to serve it." The term denotes more than merely to gather together (asaph). It includes the idea of gathering for the purpose of serving. Some believe there was an order of women who ministered regularly before the Lord at the tabernacle. This text appears to confirm this belief. (See Lu 2:36-38.)

Verses 9-20

Verses 9-20:

The final component of the tabernacle complex was the curtain wall of the outer courtyard. Instructions for this wall are recorded in Ex 27:9-19.

Verse 10: "fillets," chashuqim "fastenings" or connecting rods, see Ex 27:10.

Verse 17 is in addition to the earlier instructions. It corresponds to Ex 36:37, 38.

"Filleted with silver," means "connected with silver rods," see Ex 27:17.

The pattern specified that the height of the courtyard wall was to be exactly five cubits, approximately seven and a half feet. The linen curtains were to be woven to this exact dimension.

Verses 21-23

Verses 21-23:

"Sum," paqad "to inspect, number," as in Nu 26:63. In this text the word means the accurate numbering or counting of the materials used to the building of the tabernacle.

This text indicates that Ithamar, the youngest son of Aaron, was in charge of the service of the Levites. This could have been a factor in the later rebellion of Nadab and Abihu, see Nu 3:4; 26:61.

Verses 22 confirms that Bezaleel was the general superintendent of the entire construction project. His chief assistant was Aholiab, a highly skilled technician in textiles and other fine work.

It is important to note that in the actual construction of the tabernacle, the workmen followed exactly the pattern which God gave to Moses. This illustrates the importance of following God’s directives in every area of life today, Joh 2:5; Jas 1:22.

Verses 24-31

Verses 24-31:

The quantity of the precious- metals used in the construction of the tabernacle is awesome. It is impossible to determine with precise accuracy the exact total, due to the variation of weights of that time. However, the following standard of weights is generally accepted:

Talent: about 75.5 pounds.

Shekel (of the sanctuary): about .35 ounces.

Using these figures, the quantity of gold is calculated to be about 2,241.25 pounds, or 26,895.25 troy weight (12 oz. per pound). Calculating at the current (1984) average price of gold at roughly $390 per oz., today’s value of the gold alone would be more than $10.5 million dollars. This tremendous quantity of gold was necessary, in that the huge boards for the walls were to be overlaid with gold, and all the furniture for the tabernacle was to be covered with gold as well. The cherubim overshadowing the mercy seat were to be of beaten gold. The lampstand was to be of one talent of gold.

The silver used in the tabernacle was to be collected as a "ransom" from Israel’s males, Ex 30:11-16. One hundred talents of silver were used to make the one hundred sockets for the tabernacle boards and pillars. This was a total of roughly 755 pounds, or 9,060 troy oz. At the modern (1984) figure of $9.00 per ounce, the monetary value of these sockets alone was roughly $80,634.

The hooks used to fasten the various curtains and hangings weighed 1775 shekels. At .35 oz. per shekel, this calculates at 621.25 troy oz., a monetary value of almost $5,600.00.

In addition to the gold and silver, a considerable quantity of "brass" or copper was used in the tabernacle. The total troy weight of copper was almost 5,300 pounds. Copper was used in the overlay for the altar of burnt offering, for the laver, for the sockets for the pillars of the outer courtyard, and the pins for the curtains of the court.

Israel secured this wealth when they left Egypt, see Ex 3:21, 22; 11:2; 12:35, 36.

The great quantity of materials, and their total value, teaches an important principle: God is deserving of the very best His people have, in their worship and service of Him.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 38". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-38.html. 1985.
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