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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 35

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


III. Israel at Sinai ( XIX. XL.) .

The division Num 19– 40 presents difficulties due to its very importance, see introduction to Ex. (last paragraph). But Num 25– 31, 35– 40 readily fall apart from the rest, as containing P’ s account of the Tabernacle ( see on Exodus 25:1), the introduction to which is found in Exodus 19:1-2 a and Exodus 24:15 b Exodus 24:18 a, Exodus 34:29-35 being a link section. All critics confess that in the remainder many details must remain doubtful. The Oxf. Hex. is for the most part followed here. It does not differ very widely from Baentsch, who has made a special study of this part. Gressmann’ s drastic reconstruction is highly suggestive in particulars, but as a whole is over-bold. The noteworthy fact is that both J and E preserve important traditions. In each there is an older stratum preserving these elements of the national memory of the religious and political confederation of the tribes: an awful appearance of God upon Sinai-Horeb (Exodus 19 JE, Exodus 20:18-21 E), and the giving of a sacred code, the (Ten) Covenant Words, inscribed upon stone tablets ( Exodus 31:18 b E, Exodus 34:28 J) and sealed by a solemn sacrificial feast ( Exodus 24:5 E, Exodus 24:11 J). Now these passages concur in presenting a favourable view of Israel at this period: he is the son gratefully responding to the compassionate love of his Father ( cf. Exodus 4:22 *), or the lowly bride returning the affection of her Husband. And this agrees with the view of the period taken by all the pre-exilic prophets who refer to it (see Hosea 2:15; Hosea 11:1; Hosea 11:3 f., Hosea 12:9; Hosea 12:13, Amos 2:9-11; Amos 3:1 f., Jeremiah 2:1-3; Jeremiah 2:34). Even Ezekiel’ s severe view rather points to the ancestral heathenism of the tribes (Egyptian, Exodus 23:3, but Canaanite or Amorite-Hittite, Exodus 16:3) than to any apostasy just at this epoch. Only Hosea 9:11, if it refers to the incident Numbers 25:1-5 JE, implies such a lapse. On these grounds it is probable that Numbers 32 JE (the Golden Calf and its destruction E, and the vengeance of the Levites J), together with not a little expansion elsewhere, belongs to a later stage in the moulding of the tradition. The order of incidents is hard to follow, because the editor who united J and E, in his care to preserve as much as possible of both, took the story of the tablets in J as a re-giving and rewriting of them with a renewal of the broken covenant. Much of Numbers 33 containing the colloquies with the Divine Leader belongs to this stage. All this, of course, involves a considerable disturbance of the Bible order and representation in Ex., which, but for one section, is substantially followed by D. But the essence of the great religious facts is irrefragably secure: Israel did, by whatever stages short or long, emerge from a condition little removed from contemporary heathenism, and learned to worship one gracious and holy God (p. 84). Differences concern only the manner and form of events, and their times. Later historians have so accustomed us to having at least the main events fitted neatly into their centuries B.C. or A.D. that we find it hard to think that serious writers could be centuries out in their reckoning. But just as prophets saw future events near and distant in a foreshortened perspective, so it may be that the Bible historians— called “ the former prophets” (pp. 38, 244) by the Jews— saw their instances of the nation’ s glory and shame as more closely crowded together than they actually were. The main thing is that they actually saw them, and that, too, in the mirror of eternity.” Throughout the whole we see the material, as it were, in a plastic state. As older conceptions were outgrown new touches could modify the details, though, fortunately for our chances of recognising the earlier levels of inspiration, traces of the old were not always obliterated. Sometimes we must suppose that these modifications had already been made during the period of oral tradition.

Verses 1-29

Exodus 35-40. P s . The Construction and Erection of the Sacred Tent.— This division of the book is generally recognised as coming from the latest stratum in the Hexateuch. This conclusion can be denied (as recently by A. H. Finn in JThS 16:449– 481) only by those who ignore the number, variety, and independence of the converging lines of proof which point to it. The clearest and most specific ground for it is that the later elements in the appendix (Exodus 30 f.) to Exodus 25-29 are here redistributed and put in their proper places. Further, the radical differences of order, and astonishing omissions— as, in places, of the incense altar and the laver (both among the supplements in Exodus 30)— in LXX require the assumption that the Gr. translators had the material before them in an earlier and less well-arranged draft of the Heb. text. It does not follow that all differences are due to this cause, and the suggestion that the translators were not the same for Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40 is shown by Finn to be ill-supported, as the present writer had independently pointed out in 1914. But the general conclusion (arrived at by Popper in 1862) that the Alexandrian Jews c. 250 B.C. had not yet received the Heb. text in its final form as we have it, sheds a flood of light on the flexibility and capacity for growth and adaptation which the Pentateuchal laws of worship preserved even at that late date. The virtual stereotyping of the text was probably subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.

The repetition of detail is minute and the verbal correspondence is close, but the copying is not slavish or unintelligent; e.g. clauses that relate to erection and use are disregarded till the right point is reached in Exodus 40. Besides the two full-length descriptions, the plan (Exodus 25-31) and its execution (Exodus 35-39), there are no less than five summaries, Exodus 31:7-10, Exodus 35:11-19, Exodus 39:33-41, Exodus 40:2-15, Exodus 40:18-33. The differences of order and contents between these, and between the Heb. and LXX, confirm the conclusions as to the gradual elaboration of these chapters. From the point of view of the student of religion this last division adds little to what went before (but see Exodus 35:20-29 below).

Exodus 35:1-3 P s. The Sabbath.— This summarises Exodus 31:12-17, but the kindling of fire is not elsewhere expressly forbidden in OT.

Exodus 35:4-19 P s. Summary of materials needed and things to be made. This follows generally the order of Exodus 35-39, nut veil and screen are put in order of erection, not together as Exodus 36:35 ff.

Exodus 35:20-29 P s. The Willing Contributors.— The picture presented, of generous and general giving for the sanctuary, in its spirit happily expresses the joyous readiness of Yahweh’ s worshippers in the earliest times to bring their best gifts in His honour, while the costly gifts reflect an age when wealthy individuals had become numerous. The contribution of fabrics by the women, still the spinners of the East, is noted in Exodus 35:25 f.

Verses 30-35

Exodus 35:30 to Exodus 36:7 P s. The Craftsmen and their Supplies.— The first paragraph (to Exodus 36:1) describes the call of Bezalel and Oholiab ( cf. Exodus 31:2 ff.). The second ( Exodus 36:2-7) relates, with a glowing idealisation of the conditions of that golden age, how the craftsmen had to restrain the givers from bringing too much.

Exodus 36:8-38 P s. The Tent.— This section comes first instead of following the account of its contents as in Exodus 36:26. The fourfold curtains are described first ( Exodus 35:8-19; cf. Exodus 26:1-14); then the framework ( Exodus 35:20-34; cf. Exodus 26:15-29); and lastly the veil and screen ( Exodus 35:35-35, cf. Exodus 26:31 f., Exodus 26:36 f.). The only new feature is the gradation in gilding by which the veil pillars were all gilt and the screen pillars had gilded capitals ( Exodus 36:38), while the pillars at the entrance of the court had silvered tops ( Exodus 38:19).

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Exodus 35". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/exodus-35.html. 1919.
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