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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 31

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

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:

See I have called. Though the instructions about the tabernacle were privately communicated to Moses, it was plainly impossible that he could superintend the work in person, amid the multiplicity of his other duties. A head director or builder was selected by God himself; and the nomination by such high authority removed all ground of jealousy or discontent on the part of any who might have thought their merits overlooked (cf. Matthew 18:1).

By name Bezaleel - signifying 'in the shadow or protection of God;' and, as called to discharge a duty of great magnitude-to execute a confidential trust in the ancient Church of God-has his family and lineage recorded with marked distinction. He belonged to the tribe of Judah, which, doubtless for wise and weighty reasons, God all along delighted to honour; and he was the grandson of Hur, a pious patriot (Exodus 17:12), who was associated, by a special commission, with Aaron in the government of the people during the absence of Moses.

Moreover, it may be noticed that a Jewish tradition affirms Hur to be the husband of Miriam; and if this tradition may be relied on, it affords an additional reason for the appointment of Bezaleel emanating from the direct authority of God.

Verses 3-5

And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, I have filled him with the spirit of God. It is probable that he was naturally endowed with a mechanical genius, and had acquired in Egypt great knowledge and skill in the useful as well as liberal arts, so as to be a first-class artisan, competent to take charge of both the plain and ornamental work which the building of the sacred edifice required. When God has any special work to be accomplished, He always raises up instruments capable of doing it; and it is likely that He had given to the son of Uri that strong natural aptitude, and those opportunities of gaining mechanical skill with an ultimate view to this responsible office. Notwithstanding his grand duty was to conform with scrupulous fidelity to the pattern furnished, there was still plenty of room for inventive talent and tasteful exactness in the execution; and his natural and acquired gifts were enlarged and invigorated for the important work. His tribe-the tribe of Judah-was renowned in Israel for the many mechanics and artificers of note it had produced (1 Chronicles 4:14; 1 Chronicles 4:23).

Verse 6

And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;

I have given with him Aholiab. He belonged to the tribe of Dan, one of the least influential add honourable in Israel; and here, too, we can trace the evidence of wise and paternal design in choosing the colleague or assistant of Bezaleel from an inferior tribe (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:14-25; also Mark 6:7).

All that are wise-hearted. At that period, when one spirit pervaded all Israel, it was not the man full of heavenly genius who presided over the work, but all who contributed their skill, experience, and labour in rendering the smallest assistance, that showed their piety and devotedness to the divine service. In like manner it was at the commencement of the Christian Church (Acts 6:5; Acts 18:2).

Verse 7

The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, And his furniture. By an error of transcribers the word [ kol (H3605)], "all," appears to have been omitted, because of the following [ keeliy (H3627)] vessels, furniture. The Septuagint, Syrian, Arabic, and Samaritan have the omitted word (Davidson's 'Lectures,' p. 199).

Verses 9-11

And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verses 12-17

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep. The reason for the fresh inculcation of the fourth commandment at this particular period was, that the great ardour and eagerness with which all classes betook themselves to the construction of the tabernacle exposed them to the temptation of encroaching on the sanctity of the appointed day of rest. They might suppose that the erection of the tabernacle was a sacred work, and that it would be a high merit-an acceptable tribute-to prosecute the undertaking without the interruption of a day's repose; and therefore the caution here given, at the commencement of the undertaking, was a seasonable admonition.

Verse 13. It is a sign between me and you throughout your generations. There is here an allusion to the separation of Israel as a special people to the service of God; and the keeping of the Sabbath was a sign or pledge of their national obligation to obey the whole law. The reference obviously is not to the institution of the Sabbath on the part of God, but to its observance on the part of the people; and the purpose of God in making a faithful performance of the Sabbath duties 'a sign between Him and the Israelites was, that they might become a holy and blessed people.'

Verse 14. Ye shall keep the sabbath ... every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death. It was as the king of Israel, who had made the sanctification of the Sabbath a fundamental law in the civil and political constitution of His kingdom, that He denounced the violation of it as a capital crime (see the notes at Numbers 15:32-36).

Verse 17. It is a sign between me and the children ... for ever. The Sabbath was a sign between God and the people of Israel which they were always to be careful in observing-a national peculiarity evinced by its being always prominently associated with the sanctity of the temple, new moons, and other feasts (Leviticus 19:30; Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11), and by its being one of the pledges which the proselyte had for participating in the blessings of the covenant (Isaiah 56:6-8).

"For ever," of course, means only commensurate with the duration of the Jewish economy (cf. Exodus 12:14; Exodus 12:17; Exodus 12:24; Leviticus 16:34; Numbers 10:8). When the covenant was disannulled, the sign could not remain; and accordingly the seventh-day Sabbath is gone with the covenant (cf. Leviticus 26:15; Leviticus 27:1-34; Deuteronomy 28:1 with Ezekiel 20:1-49; Hosea 2:11): it was a type or shadow of the blessed rest in Christ; "for we who have believed do enter into rest."

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth. Attempts have been made to represent this clause, as well as that in Exodus 22:1-31, to be only a gloss or comment of a transcriber; but the proof has utterly failed, and the unanimous authority of the best MSS. confirms the integrity of the text.

Verse 18

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Tables of stone written with the finger of God - containing the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:12), called "tables of testimony, because God testified His will in them. The tenor of the language undoubtedly conveys the impression that these permanent records were a work of God's design and execution so special and so proper to Him as not to have been done by the agency of any creature. Some think that the expression implies that letters were then first given to men. But this is an error, for Moses wrote before these tables were given him (Exodus 24:4); and there is reason to believe that written records existed long prior to the Mosaic age (see the note at Exodus 32:16).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/exodus-31.html. 1871-8.
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