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Moses delivers the commands of God concerning the erection of the tabernacle: the people readily offer their free gifts: Bezaleel and Aholiab are appointed to the work.
Before Christ 1491.
Exodus 35:1. And Moses gathered, &c.— The narrative, having been interrupted by the affair of the calf, is here resumed; so that, from the 32nd to the present chapter, the whole may be considered as a digression, and read as in a parenthesis. We need not, I judge, give ourselves or our reader the trouble of referring to the former chapters, wherein the several particulars mentioned in this and the following chapters are explained. We need not be surprised at this repetition, since it is known to have been the usual method with the writers of those times: Homer frequently uses it; and it is the taste of the Orientals to this day.
Exodus 35:3. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations— This seems only to be a specification of the general prohibition, Thou shalt do no manner of work: importing, that all menial offices should cease on the sabbath; that the servants, as well as others, might enjoy the blessings of religious rest.
Exodus 35:13. And the shew-bread— i.e. (By an ellipsis frequent in the Hebrew language) the plates, or patens, for the shew-bread. The Hebrews often mention the thing contained for that in which it is contained.
REFLECTIONS.—God now condescending to dwell among them, the tabernacle is to be erected. Moses delivers all his orders, and is particular on this head. With all convenient speed they must begin; yet, though the work be urgent, the sabbath must not be infringed on pain of death: they may not so much as kindle a fire for any servile work. The sabbath is a day of sacred rest, and to be employed wholly with and for God. The tabernacle is to be built by voluntary contribution: God will be served, not by force, but by choice; and they who love the God of the tabernacle will delight to honour him with their best, and be happy to employ their wealth to so blessed a purpose. He has no part among the true Israel, who has a niggard heart in God's service. The wisest must be selected for the work; it is not every man that is fit for it. It is the shame of many, that when their children are fit for nothing else, they thrust them into the ministry, and count that shining talents should have a more gainful employment. But, surely, the greatest parts and most distinguished abilities can never be so becomingly employed, as in the immediate service of God's church and kingdom.
Exodus 35:21. Whose heart stirred him up— In the Hebrew it is, whose heart lifted him up; and so in Exodus 35:26. Nothing elevates and exalts the mind so much as true piety and gratitude to God.
Exodus 35:22. And tablets— The original word כומז cumaz, signifies some female circular ornament, a bracelet, girdle, or necklace. The LXX render it περιδεξια ; and the Vulgate, &c. dextralia.
Exodus 35:25. And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin— Women of the first rank among the Hebrews used in former times to employ themselves in spinning: this too was usual, even with princesses, among the Greeks and Romans, as well as among the Egyptians: Homer and Herodotus supply us with sufficient proofs. (See also Braunius, de Vest. Sacerdot. lib. 1: cap. 17.)
REFLECTIONS.—Their swift obedience to the command was a blessed proof of the sincerity of the repentance which they had professed. They no sooner hear than they obey: delays in duty are dangerous; what we do, we must do quickly: their hearts were willing, and therefore their hands were open; a genuine principle of love makes a cheerful giver. The richest jewels are brought in: they who have tasted of the grace of God, think they can never enough testify their gratitude to him. It was not, indeed, in every man's power to bring gold or diamonds, but if it was a sheep skin, or goat's hair, it was accepted: not the greatness of the gift, so much as the temper of the giver, is precious in God's sight. The idol calf had robbed them of much: it is a shame to reflect how much we have spent upon our sins; yet the spoils of Egypt abundantly supplied them: they had indeed better have left the gold behind than made a god of it; but now they have an opportunity of employing even the unrighteous mammon in the service of the living God. While some are opening their stores, others are at work with their hands: every man has something that he can do for God and his neighbour; and we should remember, that a thread spun for the tabernacle, or two mites cast into the treasury of God, will prove more durable riches than, if we could fill our coffers with diamonds, or adorn our own houses with tapestry of gold.
Exodus 35:31. Hath filled him with the Spirit of God— What we call genius is, in common language, the gift of nature; that is, the gift of God, the Author of nature. Hence the heathens were wont to ascribe to their gods the extraordinary skill in arts which any man had without a teacher. (See the 22nd Dissertation of Maximus Tyrius.) And this was one reason why they called poets divine, or divinely inspired, ενθεοι . (See Petit Miscellan. Obser. lib. 1:) We have observed before, that any skilful artist was called by the ancients a wise man, σοφος : so Homer says of Margites, "the gods neither made him a ploughman, a ditcher, nor any other sort of wise man, ουτ αλλως τι σοφον ." See Exo 35:10 and ch. Exo 28:3 Exodus 31:3. At the same time we have no doubt, but, in the present instance, peculiar and eminent Divine assistance was afforded many of the artists, and particularly the leaders. The cunning workman [חשׁב chosheb] in the 35th verse, signifies an embroiderer who weaves; as רקם rokem, rendered embroiderer, signifies one who embroiders with a needle.
REFLECTIONS.—The workmen are now appointed according to the Divine choice, and qualified for their work; wise to contrive, diligent to execute, and able also to teach others. Note; 1. In the church of God, they who are distinguished in station should be more distinguished for abilities, zeal, and labour. 2. Whoever are truly called to the work of the ministry, God will give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding to know how rightly to divide the word of truth. 3. Whatever learning or abilities we are possessed of, if there be not a communication of them for the instruction of others, they become as useless as the candle under a bushel.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 35". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent