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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 25

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

The Lord spake unto Moses, saying. The business that chiefly occupied Moses on the mount, whatever other disclosures were made to him there, was in receiving directions about the form and arrangements of the tabernacle; and they are recorded in the following section as given to him.

Verse 2

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering, [ tªruwmaah (H8641)] - an oblation, a votive offering.

Of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ... take [ kaal (H3605) 'iysh (H376) 'ªsher (H834) yidbenuw (H5068) libow (H3820)] - whomsoever his heart prompts or urges. The Israelites, having declared allegiance to God as their sovereign, were bound by their covenant engagements to contribute to His state, as other subjects to the revenue of their kings; and the "offering" required of them was not to be imposed as a tax, but to come from their own loyal and liberal feelings.

A glance at the specified subjects of which the required offering should consist shows that it was to comprise materials of a costly as well as of a rare description in metals, manufactures, and articles of foreign merchandise; and the inquiry is naturally suggested, Whence were these to be obtained?-how could contributions of such a sort be expected or made by a body of slaves, recently emancipated from the grinding tyranny of their masters, and now encamped in the recesses of a remote mountain solitude?

In explanation it must be borne in mind that the condition of the Israelites was very different from that of their nomadic neighbours in the desert. They had been born and bred in the most highly civilized country in the world. Large stores of the precious metals, in articles of personal ornament and domestic use or luxury, were heaped upon them at their departure from Egypt, and had been acquired as booty from the carcasses of their drowned pursuers drifted on the eastern shores of the Red Sea; so that they possessed a great accumulation of wealth, and could well spare, out of their superfluous abundance, a portion for sacred purposes. Wood of the kind described abounded in all the neighbourhood of Sinai, and they were in circumstances to negotiate with the indigenous tribes of the desert for the purchase of what timber was needed. The coarse and heavy materials necessary in the construction of the contemplated edifice could be obtained from the mining colonies at Surabit el Khadim, or Jebel Nasb, both of which were only about two days' journey from the encampment. And as to the skips and spices, these could be purchased from the commercial caravans which, trafficking in Indian produce, traveled by various routes through the desert to the markets of Arabia and Egypt.

Moreover, as numbers of the Israelites had been slaves engaged in the workshops of Egyptian artisans, where they were instructed in various branches of the useful and fine arts, they could contribute in labour, if they could not in kind, by enlisting their skill and experience in the work of the tabernacle. The employment of so much talent and of so many resources must, as a matter of prudential economy, have engaged the attention of a wise and judicious ruler; and doubtless Moses, had it depended on him, would have devised a way for directing into various channels for the common good the energies of the mighty multitude under his charge.

But it was not left to the political wisdom of the human leader to employ them as he thought proper. He who had chosen Israel for the high purpose of preserving the knowledge and worship of the true God in the world, was about to engage them in a work directly subservient to the end for which, as a nation, they had been set apart; and as this work was to combine two objects-that of serving as a bond of national unity, as well as of inculcating by visible symbols the grand fundamental principles of revealed religion-He, the Divine Architect, was to preside over its erection, not only by exhibiting a model of the fabric to Moses on the mount, but by an oral description of the plan, with specifications, instructing him even to the minutest details of the structure and its furniture. Such careful and particular directions were essentially necessary to preserve the uniformity of its typical character throughout.

Moreover, as it was of the highest importance that the people should be fellow-workers with God in this sacred undertaking, they were invited, out of their own means, and with their own hands, to further the work of the Lord among them; and the appeal made to them at a time when their minds were so strongly impressed by the most awful displays of the divine presence and majesty, as well as with the marvelous tokens of His distinguishing favour toward them, found an immediate response in the breasts of multitudes, who showed themselves ready and zealous in volunteering their property or their services.

Verse 3

And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,

This is the offering - a list of the leading articles which the offering should embrace.

Brass - rather copper or bronze, brass being a composite metal.

Verse 4

And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,

Blue, [ uwtkeelet (H8504)] - from a shellfish, Helix Ianthina (Linnoeus), a species of mussel found in the Mediterranean, with a cerulean shell; whence was obtained the dark-blue purple dye; Septuagint, huakinthon.

Purple, [ wª'argaamaan (H713)] - a reddish-purple, procured from a different species of Mediterranean shellfish (Ezekiel 27:7; Ezekiel 27:16). [The etymology of this word, and of the Chaldee cognate, 'argªwaan (2 Chronicles 2:6; Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:16), has been traced with great probability in the Sanskrit. The form, 'argaamaan, is Sanskrit ragaman; and 'argªwaan is Sanskrit ragavan, 'tinged with a red colour' (Gesenius); Septuagint, porfuran].

Scarlet, [ wªtowla`at (H8438) shaaniy (H8144)] - a crimson or beautiful red dye, extracted from an insect, Kermes, coccus ilicis (Linnoeus), so called from its depositing its eggs in rows on the holly-the cochineal. [Septuagint, kokkinon diploun.

Fine linen, [ sheesh (H8337)] - a name applied to it from its whiteness. Septuagint, busson kekloosmeneen, fine-spun byssus. According to the received opinion in Europe, this manufacture was, until a comparatively recent period, believed to have been cotton. But the accurate experiments made with the microscope (see Ure's 'Philosophy of Manufactures,' p. 95; Thomson, 'On the Mummy Cloth of Egypt'), have decided the fact (what no modern Egyptian ever doubted) that it was linen.

'Considerable difficulty, however, presents itself, owing to the Hebrew shesh being translated byssus in the Septuagint version, and in our own, "fine linen;" and to shesh being the name applied at this day by the Arabs to fine muslin, which is of cotton, and not of linen; because the similarity of the words in these cognate languages argues in favour of the same meaning. On the other hand, Herodotus says the mummy cloths were of "byssine Sindon" (linen); and they are found to be invariably linen' (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus, b. 2:, ch. 86: see further, 'Egypt's Testimony to the Truth,' pp. 182-191).

Goats' hair, [ `iziym (H5795)] - goats, ellipsis for goats' hair, woven into cloth-camlet, used chiefly as covering for tents (cf. Exodus 36:14; 1 Samuel 19:13). [Septuagint, trichas aigeias].

Verse 5

And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,

Rams' skins dyed red - red morocco leather (see the processes of tanning and dyeing leather among the ancient Egyptians described, Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt,' vol 3:, ch. 9:, pp. 155-157; 'Egypt's Testimony,' pp. 191, 198; Hengstenberg's 'Books of Moses,' pp. 138, 139).

'There is a definiteness in the name rams' skins which is worth noticing. From time out of mind the southern part of Syria and Palestine has been supplied with mutton from the great plains and deserts on the north, east, and south, and the shepherds do not ordinarily bring the females to market. The vast flocks which annually come from Armenia and Northern Syria are nearly all males. The leather, therefore, is literally rams' skins dyed red' ('The Land and the Book'). Badgers' skins, [ wª`orot (H5785) tªchaashiym (H8476).] The Septuagint has: dermata huakinthina; and in like manner all the ancient versions translate the original word as denoting some colour. But Jewish writers are nearly unanimous in regarding tachash (H8477) to be an animal (see Gesenius, who, after assigning four reasons for considering tachash (H8477) an animal, not a colour, says, 'Not improbably the Hebrews designated under this one name both the seal, the badger, and also other like animals which they did not know nor distinguish accurately; while at a later period the name was applied by the Arabs and Western nations only to certain species of these animals.'

'The badger it cannot be, because, being an unclean beast, its skin was unsuitable to be used about the tabernacle, and because it is not native of the East. Nor could it have been a species of the antelope' (Kitto's 'Biblical Cyclopaedia'). Rather some kind of marine animal is meant. Many have supposed the seal, phoca; but as it is now ascertained that it is not found in the Red Sea, others have pitched upon the sea-cow (Dolphin), the Dugong (Professor Owen), called by Ehrenberg-Halicora Hemprichii.

'The Arabs around the convent of Catherine called it Tun; but they could give no further account of it than that it is a large fish, and is eaten. It is a species of Halicore. The skin is clumsy and coarse, and might answer very well for the external covering of the tabernacle, which was constructed at mount Sinai. Its skin is used for sandals by the Bedouin Arabs in the present day, though is would seem hardly a fitting material for the ornamental sandals belonging to the costly attire of high-born dames in Palestine, described by the prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 16:10 (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' vol. 1:, p. 171).

But this doubt of Robinson's has been found to be groundless; because Keil has shown that 'the upper skin differs from the under, the former being larger, thicker, and coarser than the latter, which is only two lines in thickness, and very tough: so that the skin would be well adapted either for the thick covering of tents or for the finer kinds of ornamental sandals.' It may be mentioned that the Jewish version in English, by Dr. Benisch, leaves the word untranslated, having tachash-skins.

Shittim wood, [ `ªtseey (H6086) shiTiym (H7848)] - plural of Shittah; acacia wood; Mimosa Nilotica (Linnaeus); Acacia vera, or Arabica (Sprengel); Al Sunt of the Arabs (acacia gummifera of botanists-from which the gum-Arabic is obtained). Stanley says, 'The wild acacia under this Arabic name everywhere represents the "Seneh" or "Senna" of the Burning Bush. A slightly different form of the tree, equally common under the name of "Tulh" or "Seyal," is the ancient "Shittah," or, as more usually expressed in the plural form, Shittim (from the tangled thickets into which its stem expands) of which the tabernacle was made-an incidental proof, it may be observed, of the antiquity of that erection, inasmuch as the acacia, though the chief growth of the desert, is very rare in Palestine' (see the note at Exodus 3:2). Acacias are still not uncommon in the neighbourhood, rising to a height of from 20 to 25 feet. The wood is thorny; very hard, very durable and hence, the Septuagint renders the words as: zula aseepta, wood not liable to rot], and when old has the colour of ebony.

Verse 6

Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

Oil for the light - (see the note at Exodus 27:20.) Spices for anointing oil, [ bªsaamiym (H1314)] - fragrance as diffused by spices; but in the plural, spices, aromatics, cinnamon, etc. (see the note at Exodus 25:23); [ hacamiym (H5561)] the incense, not necessarily 'sweet' incense (see the note at Exodus 30:34). This verse is missing in the Septuagint version.

Verse 7

Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.

Onyx stones, [ 'abneey (H68) shoham (H7718)] - (see the note at Genesis 2:12.) It is doubtful what gem is meant. J.D. Michaelis supposes it to be the onyx with pale stripes.

In the ephod - (see the note on the form of the ephod, Exodus 28:6.) An ephod was a square vestment covering the shoulders, and extending over the breast, resembling a sleeveless coat. [The Septuagint has eis teen epoomida for the garment worn over the shoulders.]

And in the breastplate - ornament used specially of the breastplate of the high priest, which was externally studded with precious stones (see the note at Exodus 28:15). [The Septuagint has kai eis ton podeeree, and for the long robe (hanging down to the feet) (Revelation 1:13).] The things mentioned in the earlier part of the catalogue were brought by the people at large; but the precious stones were contributed by the princes alone (Exodus 35:27).

Verse 8

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

Let them make me a sanctuary, [ miqdaash (H4720)] - anything consecrated (Numbers 18:29); but here a hallowed place, a sanctuary. The command to erect such a sanctuary affords a clear proof, if any were needed, that the primitive place of worship, called "the presence of the Lord," had been completely obliterated; and although in the patriarchal history many spots are mentioned which, by the experience God's servants had there of His presence and blessings, were Bethels to them, there was no fixed or permanent place in which He manifested Himself by the visible symbols of His presence. In the contemplated sanctuary He was to do so (Exodus 29:45); and however marvelous or apparently incredible that might seem (1 Kings 8:27), this typical inhabitation of the tabernacle, and subsequently of the temple, was but a prelude to His tabernacling with men in the person of His incarnate Son (John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Revelation 21:3).

In one sense the tabernacle was to be a palace-the royal residence of the King of Israel, in which He was to dwell among His people, receive their petitions, and issue His responses. But it was also to be a place of worship, in which God was to record His name and to enshrine the mystic symbols of His presence.

Verse 9

According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

According to all that I show thee, after the pattern [ tabªniyt (H8403)] - model, fashion (cf. 2 Kings 16:10). A question naturally arises, whether the pattern exhibited to the eyes of Moses in the mount was a heavenly original, or merely an external, perhaps miniature, form or likeness (Acts 7:44) - or whither, from the use of the present participle here, "I show thee," it is not to be considered strong mental perception or vision of the structure to be reared, as the representation of the temple was made to Ezekiel. Both are probably included; and while, in reverting to the time when his divine instructor was speaking to him, the present tense might be used, yet in rehearsing the directions given him, it was past time, and therefore he commonly employs the preterite (Exodus 26:30; Exodus 27:8) in his record of what he saw on the mount.

It is commonly regarded as a fact that Moses was favoured with the sight of a real model-an etherial tabernacle, in the opinion of Jewish writers, and even of some Christian commentators, who found on the apostle's phraseology (Hebrews 8:5) "the example and shadow of heavenly things." But God does not dwell in such a tabernacle that the earthly structure reared by Moses could be said to be a facsimile of the heavenly one; and allowing that it was, then the material tabernacle must have been the shadow, while the heavenly one was the substance-a plain contradiction to the doctrine of Paul, that "the body," or substance Christ (Colossians 2:17) - i:e. typical of the actual substantial inhabitation of the Deity in the body or humanity of Christ.

That which was shown to Moses in the mount was [ tabªniyt (H8403), tupos (G5179)] a faint adumbration or similitude of the tabernacle; and as this could not be Christ Himself, who is the substance of heavenly things, not a mere resemblance of them, it follows that "the example and shadow of heavenly things," spoken of by the apostle, means nothing else than "the pattern" shown to Moses on the mount.

Of the tabernacle, [ hamishkaan (H4908). This word and 'ohel (H168) are used to describe the sacred tabernacle; but the difference between them is this, that while the latter denoted the exterior and framework, mishkaan (H4908) referred to the interior-the proper dwelling]. The proposed erection could be, in the circumstances of the Israelites, not of a fixed and stable, but of a temporary and moveable description, capable of being carried about with them in their various sojournings. It was made after "the pattern" shown to Moses-by which is now generally understood, not that it was an unheard of novelty, or an entirely original structure-for it is ascertained to have borne resemblance in form and arrangements to the style of an Egyptian or Assyrian temple-but that it was so altered, modified, and purified from all idolatrous associations as to be appropriated to right objects, and suggestive of ideas connected with the true God and His worship.

Verse 10

And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. An ark, [ 'ªrown (H727), from 'aaraah (H717), to collect] - a coffer or chest, in which a collection of valuable things is deposited [Septuagint, kibootos (G2787)] (Hebrews 9:4).

Of shittim wood. It was to be made of common wood-the acacia; and its dimensions, estimating the cubit at 18 inches, are computed to have been 3 feet 9 inches long, 2 feet 3 inches broad, and 2 feet 3 inches high. Similar chests are said to have been borne in the processions of Isis and Osiris. The paintings on the walls of Egyptian tombs exhibit numerous representations of priests bearing sacred arks, the extremities of which appear decorated with small symbolical figures, called sphinxes, resembling the form of the Hebrew cherubim.

Verse 11

And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.

Thou shalt overlay it with pure gold. That this special mode of applying the precious metal to other substances, especially wood, was practiced in Egypt, undoubted evidence is furnished by the numerous remains of overlaid work still in existence. Some of them, in the form of miniature figures, are deposited in the British Museum; while the process of overlaying is represented frequently on the monuments of that country. Osburn ('Egypt's Testimony,' p. 176) describes a picture from the ancient tomb of Roti, at Benihassan, in which the practice of this art appears to be represented.

'A person stands handing out to workmen thin slips of gold latten, which they are fixing, by means apparently of strong pressure, on a block bearing some resemblance to an ark, or sacred chest. There is something beside them resembling a hook, which would be useful for holding or fastening; and from the appearance of the men, the bodily exertion of the labourer was in no degree spared in this process, either by means of tools or any other contrivance.' In this case the chest was overlaid with thin plates of gold. But Wilkinson has shown that substances were on some occasions only gilded, on others covered with gold leaf ('Ancient Egypt,' vol.

iii., p. 224; also Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and Books of Moses, p. 136).

Dr. Taylor, editor of the latter work, maintains that the 'overlaying' the furniture of the tabernacle must have been by gilding, both because if plates of gold, however thin, had been used, the weight of the plates would have rendered the tabernacle very difficult of transport, and because all the gold that Moses collected would not have sufficed to furnish plates for every article that was to be covered. The ark was to be overlaid with "pure gold." The same writer, after describing how the ore was subjected to the heat of a furnace in a capsule, to remove the dross and make pure gold - i:e., distinguished from gold unworked and not purified-says, 'In the hieroglyphic inscriptions which enumerate the gifts of the Pharaohs to the temples of the gods, the golden offerings are always designated "pure gold;" thus proving to a demonstration that as a certain standard or assay of gold existed in Egypt, and that the metal which bore it was applied to sacred purposes, this standard was known to the Israelites in the desert, and the metal so distinguished employed in a similar way.'

And shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about, [ zeer (H2213)] - a border, rim, or cornice. This golden wreath, which was to encircle the upper edge, was probably intended more to decorate than to strengthen the lid.

Verse 12

And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.

Thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof, [ pa`ªmotaayw (H6471)] - feet of acacia wood, two on each side, on which the ark was supported, so that the body of the sacred coffer, while it never touched, would rest firmly on, the ground. The length of these feet is not given, but it would be proportionate to the size of the chest; and the rings, being attached to the top of these feet, would raise the ark aloft, and render it more conspicuous when carried.

Verses 13-15

And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

Thou shalt make staves of shittim wood. These staves, which were to be ornamented in the same style as the ark itself, were always to remain in the rings, even when the ark was stationary, to prevent it from being desecrated by the contact of human hands. The Septuagint has: hoi anaforeis akineetoi, the poles not to be moved (see the note at Numbers 4:15).

Verse 16

And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.

Thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee, [ haa`eedut (H5715)] - that is, the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments, and called "the Testimony," because by it God did testify His sovereign authority over Israel as His people, His selection of them as the guardians of His will and worship, and His displeasure in the event of their transgressing His laws; while on their part, by receiving and depositing this law in its appointed place, they testified their acknowledgment of God's right to rule over them, and their submission to the authority of His law. [Septuagint, ta marturia (cf. Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:29; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 17:15; Nehemiah 9:34; Psalms 19:7).]

'ln all these passages,' says Gesenius, 'the Septuagint have marturion, testimony, marturia, testimonies, according to the common etymology, but against the context, which requires precepts, or, collectively, law; hence, he translates this passage, 'In the ark thou shalt put the law-the decalogue' (see the note at Exodus 24:12: cf. Exodus 40:20; Deuteronomy 10:5). Kurtz ('History of the Old Covenant,' 3:, p. 121) agrees with Gesenius, considering that the proper meaning of the word is 'attestation of the divine will to the people;' while Hengstenberg ('Pentateuch,' 2:, p. 319) adheres to the common interpretation of the word, maintaining that the name "Testimony" is to be traced directly to the great purpose of the Decalogue (Deuteronomy 31:26) - that of serving as a witness against the transgressor.

May not the word be taken in a wider sense, to include the other things deposited in the ark along with the law, as forming "the testimony" which God gave of His presence and favour to Israel (cf. Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10 with Hebrews 9:4: see the note at 1 Kings 8:9). For although the Decalogue was the basis of the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 9:9), and the divinely-engraven copy of it on the two stone tables was placed in the ark, it is unwarrantable to restrict [ haa`eedut (H5715)], the law to it exclusively; for it is expressly said the covenant embraced not only that portion of the law which Yahweh spoke publicly, but that also which He communicated to Moses in private (cf. Exodus 25:22; Exodus 34:27).

This direction, then, to 'put into the ark the testimony which should be given to him' must be viewed as extending to all the divine communications, embracing not only the precepts and counsels contained in Exodus 20:22-26; Exodus 21:1-36; Exodus 22:1-31; Exodus 23:1-33, which Moses had already written (Exodus 24:4), but most of the remainder of this book, the whole of Leviticus, and the greater part of Numbers; because all these are included in "the testimony" (Exodus 25:16), and were among the 'things which God gave Moses in commandment unto the children of Israel' (Deuteronomy 31:26; 2 Chronicles 34:11).

The ark itself is called "the ark of the testimony" (Exodus 30:6), and in an abbreviated form, "the testimony" (Exodus 16:34). From the description here given of the form and dimensions of the ark, it appears to have been the exact counterpart of an ark carried after the statue of the god Chem, or Khem, in a painting of the time of Rameses III. The Egyptians carried an ark or shrine in procession, and their mode of doing so was that adopted by the Israelites, (Hawks' 'Mon. of Egypt,' pp. 237, 238; Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt,' Second Series, vol. 1:, ch. 13:) But although, in form and general structure, the Hebrew bore resemblance to the Egyptian ark, it was entirely purified from all superstitious accompaniments, and devoted to purposes of the true religion. It was a precious and sacred coffer; but it was not the gold that sanctified it: it was the invaluable treasure it contained. The superb and elaborate style of the ark that contained "the testimony" was emblematic of the great treasure it held-in other words, the incomparable value and excellence of the Word of God; while its being placed in this chest further showed the great care which God has ever taken for preserving it.

The parallelism that has been traced between the shrine processions of the Egyptians (Wilkinson, Second Series, vol. 2:, p. 271) and the ark of the tabernacle is only apparent, for, on a close examination, there are few or no points of resemblance beyond the fact of there being a sacred chest. For in the ark of the tabernacle there was no figure or material representation of the object of worship. It served only as a repository of His holy law; and as that law was the basis of the national covenant of Israel, the sacred deposit was a witness whether, by the keeping of the divine commandments, they were entitled to participate in its promised blessings, or their national election was at an end. The ark or sacred chests of the Hebrews and Egyptians, therefore, were associated with totally different ideas in the minds of those respective peoples.

Verse 17

And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

Mercyseat - [ kaporet (H3727); Septuagint, hilasteerion (G2435), propitiatory (cf. Romans 3:25; Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:13).] It was a covering of pure gold spread over the ark in which the tables of the law were kept, to serve as a lid, covering it exactly, but not as a mere appendage of the ark. It was a separate article, bearing a deeply interesting and important significance; and therefore the preparation was introduced by a fresh order, "thou shalt make," etc. It was 'the propitiatory cover,' as the term may be rendered; denoting that Christ, our great propitiation, has fully answered all the demands of the law, covers our transgressions, and comes between us and the curse of a violated law.

Verse 18

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.

Two cherubim. The real meaning of these figures, as well as the form of them, is not known with certainty (see the note at Genesis 3:24): they were probably similar to what were afterward introduced into the temple, and described, Ezekiel 10:1-22. They stretched out their wings, and their faces were turned toward the mercyseat, probably in a bowing attitude. The prevailing opinion has been that those splendid figures were symbolical not of angelic but of earthly and human beings-the members of the Church of God interested in the dispensation of grace, the redeemed in every age-and that these hieroglyphic forms symbolized the qualities of the true people of God-courage, patience, intelligence, and activity (see the note on the primitive form, attitude, and position of the cherubim, Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and Books of Moses,' pp. 153-159; Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt,' Second Series, vol. 2:, p. 275; B„hr,`Symbol.,' 1:, p. 350; Donaldson's 'Christian Orthodoxy,'

p. 354; Hardwick, 'Christ and Other Masters,' 2:, pp. 324-330).

A different view from that given above is advanced by Mr. Rhind ('The Tabernacle in the Wilderness;' etc., p.

21). 'The construction as well as uses of the mercyseat seem to preclude either of the common interpretations of the type, as referring either to angels or to the Church. The cherubim are distinctly stated to be of the mercyseat, and out of the mercyseat (Exodus 25:19: cf. Exodus 37:8). And this is still more apparent in the Hebrew text, where the preposition used in Exodus 25:18-19 (as well as verses Exodus 37:7-8), and translated, "on the mercyseat," and "on the two ends," etc., should properly be translated 'from;' also, as to the word "beaten work" (Exodus 25:18) (cf. Exodus 37:7, "beaten out of one piece"), the meaning seems to be, that the cherubim were not cast or moulded separately from the mercyseat, and then attached to it, but were beaten out of the solid mass of gold which formed the mercyseat, the one being beaten from out of the one end, and the other from the other. The mercyseat and cherubim being thus all of one piece, represents, it is believed, Christ, as the one who holds all the glorious power of God, associated with mercy, and in and through whom God is able to display His power and righteousness-ever inseparably linked on with mercy and grace.'

Verses 19-21

And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 22

And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

There I will meet with thee. The shechinah, or symbol of the divine presence, rested on the mercyseat, and was indicated by a cloud, from the midst of which responses were audibly given when God was consulted on behalf of His people. Hence, God is described as 'dwelling' or 'sitting' between the cherubim (Psalms 80:1: cf. Isaiah 6:1-3), whose wings were so expanded or disposed as, according to the view of some writers, to form the seat of God (cf. Psalms 18:10), while the ark was his footstool. This promise, made to Moses as the divine delegate in introducing the Sinaitic dispensation, was fulfilled in his experience (Numbers 7:89); and afterward, when the tabernacle ritual had been fully organized, it was accomplished in that of the high priest, who alone was privileged once a year to enter (Leviticus 16:1-34), and through whom God communicated His will to the people (Exodus 29:42; Exodus 40:29; Leviticus 17:4), whether in the delivery of oracles, in the form of councils, acceptance of their homage, or announcement of His blessing (see the note at Exodus 40:20-21).

Verse 23

Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

Table of shittim wood - of the same material and decorations as the ark, and, like it, too, furnished with rings for the poles on which it was carried. The staves, however, were taken out of it when stationary, in order not to encumber the priests while engaged in their services at the table. It was half a cubit less than the ark, but of the same height.

Verse 24

And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.

Crown - the moulding, or ornamental rim, which is thought to have been raised above the level of the table, to prevent anything from falling off.

Verses 25-28

And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 29

And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.

Dishes, [ qª`aarotaayw (H7086) Septuagint, trublia, dishes] - (Numbers 7:13: cf. Matthew 26:23.)

And spoons, [ wªkapotaayw (H3709)] - literally, and hollow hands; Septuagint, thiskas, its censers, pans (Numbers 7:14).

And covers thereof, [ uwqsowtaayw (H7184)] - its bowls [Septuagint, apondeia.

And bowls thereof, [ uwmnaqiyotaayw (H4518); Septuagint, kuathous, cups, goblets (cf. Exodus 37:16; Numbers 4:7).

To cover withal - or, as in margin of English Bible, to pour out withal; i:e., with which-namely, the two previously mentioned utensils-libations might be made. Hence, it may be inferred, although not affirmed either here or in any other passage, that wine was placed on the table, which was probably made use of by the priests at the same time as the bread (Leviticus 24:8-9).

Verse 30

And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

Showbread, [ lechem (H3899) paaniym (H6440)] - literally, bread of faces, presence bread [Septuagint, artoi enoopioi] (Leviticus 24:5-9); so called because it was constantly exhibited before the Lord, or because the bread of His presence, like the angel of His presence, pointed symbolically to Christ. It consisted of twelve unleavened loaves, said traditionally to have been laid in piles of six each. This bread was designed to be a symbol of the full and never-failing provision which is made in the Church for the spiritual sustenance and refreshment of God's people.

Verse 31

And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

Candlestick - literally, a lamp-bearer. It was so constructed as to be capable of being taken to pieces for facility in removal. The shaft or stock rested on a pedestal. It had seven branches, shaped like reeds or canes-three on each side, with one in the center-and worked out into knobs (bosses or protuberances), flowers [Septuagint, krina (G2918), lilies], and bowls placed alternately. The figure represented on the arch of Titus gives the best idea of this candlestick.

Of beaten work, [ miqshaah (H4749), from qaashah, to be heavy] - solid, beaten or hammered out; but according to some (from a different sense of the verb, to turn), turned work, rounded, hollow within (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 3:, ch. 6:, sec. 7).

His shaft, [ yªreekaah (H3409)] - the shank, stem, or pedestal.

And his branches, [ wªqaanaah (H7070)] - and the shaft, the central arm.

His bowls, [ gªbiy`eyhaa (H1375); Septuagint, krateeres] - ornaments, like the calix of a flower.

His knops, [ kaptoreyhaa (H3730); Septuagint, sfairooteeres] - round balls. Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 3:, ch. 6, sec. 7), pomegranates.

And his flowers, [ uwpraacheyhaa (H6525); Septuagint, krina (G2918)] - lilies.

Verse 32

And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:

Six branches, [ qaaniym (H7070); Septuagint, kalamiskoi] - arms, tubes, bearing the light. There were seven branches-the central stalk and six branches, or arms. Each arm was adorned at equal distances with six flower-shaped ornaments, with the same number of knobs and bowls alternately recurring.

Verses 33-36

Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 37

And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.

They shall light the lamps thereof, [ wªhe`ªlaah (H5927) 'et (H854) neeroteyhaa (H5216) wªhee'iyr (H215) `al (H5921) `eeber (H5676) paaneyhaa (H6440)] - and thou shalt put the lamps upon the candlestick, so that they may give light toward the quarter opposite one's face; i:e, straight forwards (cf. Ezekiel 1:9; Ezekiel 1:12), in front. [The Septuagint has: kai epitheeseis tous luchnous kai fanousi ektou henos prosoopou.] The light was derived from pure olive oil, and probably kept continually burning (cf. Exodus 30:7; Leviticus 24:2).

Verse 38

And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.

And the tongs thereof, [ uwmalqaacheyhaa (H4457)] - sometimes large tongs for a fire (cf. Isaiah 6:6); but here small tongs, or snuffers for lamps (cf. Exodus 37:23; Numbers 4:9; 1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 4:21).

Verse 39

Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. A talent of pure gold - in weight equal to 114 lbs., and in value to 7,013 pound sterling. It must have been a magnificent work of art. (As to its typical import, see the note at Leviticus 24:1-4.)

Verse 40

And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

Look that thou make them after their pattern. This caution, which is repeated with no small frequency in other parts of the narrative, is an evidence of the deep interest taken by the Divine King in the erection of His palace or sanctuary; and it is impossible to account for the circumstance of God's condescending to such minute details, except on the assumption that this tabernacle was to be of a typical character, and eminently subservient to the religious instruction and benefit of mankind, by shadowing forth, in its leading features, the grand truths of the Christian Church.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/exodus-25.html. 1871-8.
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