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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Exodus 36

 

 

Introduction

The Work On Building The Dwellingplace Begins And Is Satisfactorily Completed In Accordance with Yahweh’s Command (Exodus 35:4 to Exodus 38:31).

The preparations for the Dwellingplace and its furniture include gathering all the necessary materials, sewing material together, skilful workmanship and planning in order to make use of the available personnel, with the most skilful work being done by the experts.

It may be asked, why was it necessary for the details of the Dwellingplace and its contents to be repeated twice, firstly in the giving of the instructions (Exodus 25 ff) and then in its actual construction? We may suggest the answer is as follows. Firstly there was a great emphasis on the need for all to be constructed exactly in accordance with the pattern shown to Moses in the Mount (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40; Numbers 8:4; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 9:23). Thus it was necessary to demonstrate first, that the pattern was given by God, and then second that it was followed.

But why was the pattern so important? That brings us to the second reason. The double stress on the construction of the Dwellingplace was evidence of the importance of the lessons that could be drawn from it. It was a twofold witness. And there were two complementary reasons why the pattern was important, one was so as to ensure that no taint of false ideas entered into the Dwellingplace lest it fail to portray the truth about God as precisely as possible and thus lead Israel astray (how easily they were led astray at every opportunity), and second because it revealed heavenly truths that could be revealed in no other way (Hebrews 9:23).

To sum up but some of those truths; it revealed that they worshipped the invisible God; it revealed that He was their merciful King; it revealed that His light was constantly shed on them; it revealed that they were His people and that He would constantly feed them; it revealed that He could be approached and would offer mercy; it warned that He was holy and must not be approached lightly; it made clear that although He was there among them there was a huge difference between man and God, and between creation and its Creator; and it revealed that constantly sinful man needed constant atonement. These are equally lessons that we need to recognise today when many approach God too lightly and overlook His holiness. It is true that Christ has made for us a way into God’s presence more wonderful than the Dwellingplace, and that through Him we can approach Heaven itself, but let us not forget that that is because of the greatness of Who He is, the greatness of the sacrifice He offered, and the wonder of His intercession for us. It is not because we are less sinful, but because of Who He is and What He has done for us. And as we thus study the details of the Dwellingplace let us learn that we approach a holy God, which we can only do without fear because of the wonder of what Christ has done for us. Without Him we would shrivel up in God’s presence.

We may analyse this whole section as follows;

a The gathering of the materials (Exodus 35:4-29).

b Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God, and he and Oholiab, the skilled overseers, are filled with wisdom and all manner of workmanship for the task (Exodus 35:30-35).

c The skilled overseers with the skilled men go about the work (Exodus 36:1-4).

d The generosity of the people is such that the collecting of materials has to cease (Exodus 36:5-7).

c The wisehearted make the curtains and frames, and the veil and screen (Exodus 36:8-38).

b Bezalel (no doubt with assistance from Oholiab and the skilled workmen) makes the furniture (Exodus 37:1 to Exodus 38:20).

a The sum of the gold, silver and brazen copper described (Exodus 38:21-31).

Thus we note that in ‘a’ the materials are gathered, and in the parallel the precious metals used are described. In ‘b’ Bezalel is filled with the Spirit of God for the task of making the furniture and in the parallel he ‘makes’ all the sacred furniture. In ‘c’ the ‘skilled overseers’ go about the work, and in the parallel the ‘wisehearted’ make the curtains and frames. And central to all in ‘d’ the people’s generosity overflows.

So the overall picture it that the materials are gathered, the overseers and skilled workmen are given wisdom by God and go about their work, the gifts overflow and become too many, the skilful workmen make the framework and curtains, and the skilful overseer the furniture, and the precious metals obtained and used are then assessed. But all this is given in detail because of the importance of the work and to enable all to see their part in it.

For us the message comes over how important are all aspects of the work of God. We must now look at the detail.

The Making of the Dwellingplace (Exodus 36:8 to Exodus 38:20).

From this point on the chiastic framework is replaced by a straightforward delineation of the different work done on the Dwellingplace following distinct patterns as is required by the subject matter. Thus we have in Exodus 36 working outwards the making of the inner curtains (Exodus 36:8-13), then of the outer curtains of goat’s hair (Exodus 36:14-18), then of the protective covering of skins (Exodus 36:19). Included is the working of the curtains, their dimensions, the coupling, the loops and the clasps (Exodus 36:8-19) in that order. This is then followed by the making of the frames, their dimensions and their sockets (Exodus 36:20-30); and then by the making of the bars, the Veil with its pillars and the outer screen with its pillars (Exodus 36:31-38).

In Exodus 37:1 to Exodus 38:8 we have, commencing in the Most Holy Place and moving outwards, the making of the Ark, the Mercy Seat (in the Most Holy Place); the Table for the showbread, the Lampstand, the Altar of incense; (all in the Holy Place); the anointing oil and incense (used in the Holy Place); the Altar of burnt offering and the Laver together with their method of transportation (in the courtyard). That is then followed by the making of the curtains and the gate of the courtyard (Exodus 38:9-20).


Verses 2-7

The Work Begins and the Offerings Pour In (Exodus 36:2-7).

This can be analysed as follows:

a The expert trained men who were stirred up by Yahweh are called by Moses to begin the work (Exodus 36:2).

b They receive the gifts from Moses which had been give for the work of the Sanctuary (Exodus 36:3 a)

c Freewill offerings are brought every morning (Exodus 36:3 b)

d The skilful men who are doing the work which Yahweh has commanded them to make come to Moses (Exodus 36:4).

c They declare that the people are bringing too much (Exodus 36:5).

b Moses proclaims that no one is to make any more offerings to the Sanctuary (Exodus 36:6 a).

a The people refrain, for the stuff was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much (Exodus 36:6-7).

We note that in ‘a’ the experts begin the work, and in the parallel there is more than sufficient to do the work. In ‘b’ gifts are received by the Sanctuary, and in the parallel gifts to the Sanctuary are to cease. In ‘c’ freewill offerings are brought every morning and in the parallel they are too much. And central in ‘d’ is the activity of the skilful workmen who are obeying the commands of Yahweh.

The Skilled Overseers Are Set To Work with Their Helpers (Exodus 36:2-3).

Exodus 36:2-3

‘And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab, and every man of expertise, in whose heart Yahweh had put technical knowledge, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come to the work to do it: and they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, with which to make it. And also they brought to him freewill-offerings every morning.’

Moses then set Bezalel and Oholiab to work, and all their skilled assistants who had been willing to provide their services, and gave them what the people had brought for the making of the Sanctuary, and the freewill offerings that the people continued to bring each day.

The Complaint That The People Are Giving Too Much (Exodus 36:4-7).

Exodus 36:4-5

‘And all the experts, who wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they did, and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which Yahweh commanded us to make.” ’

So generous were the people that the skilful workmen had to call a halt to their giving through Moses. They were giving overmuch, and there was too much material around which was probably hindering the work (all the skilful workmen complained). At least in this the people were showing their repentance for the past and hearts now overflowing with gratitude to Yahweh.

Exodus 36:6-7

‘And Moses gave an order, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.’

So Moses gave the order that no more gifts be brought for the work on the Dwellingplace, because they had sufficient. Clearly the people were delighted that Yahweh still consented to make a home among them, and their generosity was overflowing. And there was no shortage of materials for what had already been given was quite sufficient and to spare.


Verses 8-13

The Making of the Dwellingplace (Exodus 36:8 to Exodus 38:20).

From this point on the chiastic framework is replaced by a straightforward delineation of the different work done on the Dwellingplace following distinct patterns as is required by the subject matter. Thus we have in Exodus 36 working outwards the making of the inner curtains (Exodus 36:8-13), then of the outer curtains of goat’s hair (Exodus 36:14-18), then of the protective covering of skins (Exodus 36:19). Included is the working of the curtains, their dimensions, the coupling, the loops and the clasps (Exodus 36:8-19) in that order. This is then followed by the making of the frames, their dimensions and their sockets (Exodus 36:20-30); and then by the making of the bars, the Veil with its pillars and the outer screen with its pillars (Exodus 36:31-38).

In Exodus 37:1 to Exodus 38:8 we have, commencing in the Most Holy Place and moving outwards, the making of the Ark, the Mercy Seat (in the Most Holy Place); the Table for the showbread, the Lampstand, the Altar of incense; (all in the Holy Place); the anointing oil and incense (used in the Holy Place); the Altar of burnt offering and the Laver together with their method of transportation (in the courtyard). That is then followed by the making of the curtains and the gate of the courtyard (Exodus 38:9-20).

The Curtains of the Sanctuary (Exodus 36:8-13).

Exodus 36:8-13

‘And all the men of expertise among those who wrought the work made the Dwellingplace with ten curtains. Of fine twined linen, and bluey-violet, and purpley-red, and scarlet, with cherubim, the work of the artistic workman, Bezalel made them. The length of each curtain was eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits: all the curtains had one measure. And he coupled five curtains one to another: and the other five curtains he coupled one to another. And he made loops of blue on the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling: and he made them in the same way on the edge of the curtain that was outmost in the second coupling. He made fifty loops in the one curtain, and he made fifty loops in the edge of the curtain that was in the second coupling: the loops were opposite one another. And he made fifty clasps of gold, and coupled the curtains one to another with the clasps: so the Dwellingplace was one.’

The coupling together of the ten curtains to form the Sanctuary is now described, compare on Exodus 26:1-11. It is a reminder that the Dwellingplace needed the beautiful curtains, but it also need the couplings without which the curtains would have been useless. We cannot all be curtains, but we can all be couplings, both by prayer and witness and general and reliable support.


Verses 14-18

The Curtains of Goats’ Hair Protecting the Sanctuary Curtains (Exodus 36:14-18).

Exodus 36:14-18

‘And he made curtains of goats' hair for a tent over the Dwellingplace: he made eleven curtains. The length of each curtain was thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain was four cubits: the eleven curtains were the same size. And he coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves. And he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outmost in the coupling, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain which was outmost in the second coupling. And he made fifty clasps of bronze to couple the tent together, that it might be one.’

This next task was the making of the outer cover of goatskin. See on Exodus 26:7-13.


Verse 19

The Outer Protective Covering (Exodus 36:19).

Exodus 36:19

‘And he made a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering of dolphin skins above.’

As in Exodus 26:14 not much is made of the final protective cover. It was not seen as really part of the Dwellingplace. But see on Exodus 26:14.


Verses 20-35

The Framework For The Sanctuary Which Will Support The Curtains (Exodus 36:20-34).

Exodus 36:20-34

‘And he made the frames for the Dwellingplace, of acacia wood, standing up. Ten cubits was the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. Each frame had two tenons, joined one to another. Thus did he make for all the frames for the Dwellingplace. And he made the frames for the Dwellingplace: twenty frames for the south side southward. And he made forty sockets of silver under the twenty frames; two sockets under one frame for its two tenons, and two sockets under another frame for its two tenons. And for the second side of the Dwellingplace, on the north side, he made twenty frames, and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one frame, and two sockets under another frame. And for the hinder part of the Dwellingplace westward he made six frames. And he made two frames for the corners of the tabernacle in the hinder part. And they were double beneath; and in the same way they were entire unto its top to one ring: thus he did to both of them in the two corners. And there were eight frames, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; under every frame two sockets. And he made bars of acacia wood; five for the frames of the one side of the Dwellingplace, and five bars for the frames of the other side of the Dwellingplace, and five bars for the frames of the Dwellingplace for the hinder part westward. And he made the middle bar to pass through in the midst of the boards from the one end to the other. And he overlaid the frames with gold, and made their rings of gold for places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.’

The frames were an important part of the Dwellingplace giving the support required. They formed the skeleton without which it would not stand. There are always some who must bear the burden unseen to enable others to do their work. See on Exodus 26:15-30.


Verses 35-38

The Inner Veil And The Outer Screen (Exodus 36:35-38).

Exodus 36:35-38

‘And he made the veil of bluey-violet, and purpley-red, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cherubim; the work of the expert workman, he made it. And he made for it four pillars of acacia, and overlaid them with gold: their hooks were of gold; and he cast for them four sockets of silver. And he made a screen for the door of the Tent, of bluey-violet, and purpley-red, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the embroiderer; and the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their capitals and their fillets (or ‘connecting-rods’) with gold; and their five sockets were of bronze.’

The making of the veil to separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, and of the screen guarding the entrance to the Sanctuary is now described. See on Exodus 26:31-37. The information about the capitals and connecting-rods is new.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Exodus 36:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/exodus-36.html. 2013.

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Sunday, June 16th, 2019
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