In this chapter,
I. The work of the tabernacle is begun,
II. A stop is put to the people's contributions,
III. A particular account is given of the making of the tabernacle
itself; the fine curtains of it,
The coarse ones,
The partition veil,
And the hanging for the door,
Appointment of Bezaleel and Aholiab.
B. C. 1491.
1 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted
man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to
work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary,
according to all that the LORD had commanded.
2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted
man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one
whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:
3 And they received of Moses all the offering, which the
children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the
sanctuary, to make it withal. And they brought yet unto him
free offerings every morning.
4 And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the
sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made;
5 And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more
than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded
6 And Moses gave commandment, 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.
7 For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to
make it, and too much.
I. The workmen set in without delay. Then they wrought,
When God had qualified them for the work, then they applied themselves
to it. Note, The talents we are entrusted with must not be laid up,
but laid out; not hid in a napkin, but traded with. What have we all
our gifts for, but to do good with them? They began when Moses called
Even those whom God has qualified for, and inclined to, the service of
the tabernacle, yet must wait for a regular call to it, either
extraordinary, as that of prophets and apostles, or ordinary, as that
of pastors and teachers. And observe who they were that Moses called:
Those in whose heart God had put wisdom for this purpose, beyond
their natural capacity, and whose heart stirred them up to come to
the work in good earnest. Note, Those are to be called to the
building of the gospel tabernacle whom God has by his grace made in
some measure fit for the work and free to engage in it. Ability and
willingness (with resolution) are the two things to be regarded in the
call of ministers. Has God given them not only knowledge, but wisdom?
(for those that would win souls must be wise, and have their hearts
stirred up to come to the work, and not to the honour only; to do it,
and not to talk of it only), let them come to it with full purpose of
heart to go through with it. The materials which the people had
contributed were delivered by Moses to the workmen,
They could not create a tabernacle, that is, make it out of nothing,
nor work, unless they had something to work upon; the people therefore
brought the materials and Moses put them into their hands. Precious
souls are the materials of the gospel tabernacle; they are built up
a spiritual house,
1 Peter 2:5.
To this end they are to offer themselves a free-will offering to the
Lord, for his service
and they are then committed to the care of his ministers, as builders,
to be framed and wrought upon by their edification and increase in
holiness, till they all come, like the curtains of the tabernacle,
in the unity of the faith, to be a holy temple,
II. The contributions restrained. The people continued to bring free
offerings every morning,
Note, We should always make it our morning's work to bring our
offerings unto the Lord; even the spiritual offerings of prayer and
praise, and a broken heart surrendered entirely to God. This is that
which the duty of every day requires. God's compassions are new every
morning, and so must our duty to him be. Probably there were some that
were backward at first to bring their offering, but their neighbours'
forwardness stirred them up and shamed them. The zeal of some provoked
many. There are those who will be content to follow who yet do not care
for leading in a good work. It is best to be forward, but better late
than never. Or perhaps some who had offered at first, having pleasure
in reflecting upon it, offered more; so far were they from grudging
what they had contributed, that they doubled their contribution. Thus,
in charity, give a portion to seven, and also to eight; having
given much, give more. Now observe,
1. The honesty of the workmen. When they had cut out their work, and
found how their stuff held out, and that the people were still forward
to bring in more, they went in a body to Moses to tell him that there
needed no more contributions,
Had they sought their own things, they had now a fair opportunity of
enriching themselves by the people's gifts; for they might have made up
their work, and converted the overplus to their own use, as perquisites
of their place. But they were men of integrity, that scorned to do so
mean a thing as to sponge upon the people, and enrich themselves with
that which was offered to the Lord. Those are the greatest cheats that
cheat the public. If to murder many is worse than to murder one, by the
same rule to defraud communities, and to rob the church or state, is a
much greater crime than to pick the pocket of a single person. But
these workmen were not only ready to account for all they received, but
were not willing to receive more than they had occasion for, lest they
should come either into the temptation or under the suspicion of taking
it to themselves. These were men that knew when they had enough.
2. The liberality of the people. Though they saw what an abundance was
contributed, yet they continued to offer, till they were forbidden by
A rare instance! Most need a spur to quicken their charity; few need a
bridle to check it, yet these did. Had Moses aimed to enrich himself,
he might have suffered them still to bring in their offerings; and when
the work was finished might have taken the remainder to himself: but he
also preferred the public before his own private interest, and was
therein a good example to all in public trusts. It is said
The people were restrained from bringing; they looked upon it as
a restraint upon them not to be allowed to do more for the tabernacle;
such was the zeal of those people, who gave to their power, yea, and
beyond their power, praying the collectors with much entreaty to
receive the gift,
2 Corinthians 8:3,4.
These were the fruits of a first love; in these last-days charity has
grown too cold for us to expect such things from it.
Construction of the Tabernacle.
B. C. 1491.
8 And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work
of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen, and
blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work
made he them.
9 The length of one curtain was twenty and eight cubits, and
the breadth of one curtain four cubits: the curtains were all
of one size.
10 And he coupled the five curtains one unto another: and the
other five curtains he coupled one unto another.
11 And he made loops of blue on the edge of one curtain from
the selvedge in the coupling: likewise he made in the uttermost
side of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.
12 Fifty loops made he in one curtain, and fifty loops made he
in the edge of the curtain which was in the coupling of the
second: the loops held one curtain to another.
13 And he made fifty taches of gold, and coupled the curtains
one unto another with the taches: so it became one tabernacle.
The first work they set about was the framing of the house, which must
be done before the furniture of it was prepared. This house was not
made of timber or stone, but of curtains curiously embroidered and
coupled together. This served to typify the state of the church in this
world, the palace of God's kingdom among men.
1. Though it is upon the earth, yet its foundation is not in the earth,
as that of a house is; no, Christ's kingdom is not of this world, nor
founded in it.
2. It is mean and mutable, and in a militant state; shepherds dwelt in
tents, and God is the Shepherd of Israel; soldiers dwelt in tents, and
the Lord is a man of war, and his church marches through an enemy's
country, and must fight its way. The kings of the earth enclose
themselves in cedar
but the ark of God was lodged in curtains only.
3. Yet there is a beauty in holiness; the curtains were embroidered, so
is the church adorned with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, that
raiment of needle-work,
4. The several societies of believers are united in one, and, as here,
all become one tabernacle; for there is one Lord, one faith, and one
14 And he made curtains of goats' hair for the tent over
the tabernacle: eleven curtains he made them.
15 The length of one curtain was thirty cubits, and four
cubits was the breadth of one curtain: the eleven curtains
were of one size.
16 And he coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains
17 And he made fifty loops upon the uttermost edge of the
curtain in the coupling, and fifty loops made he upon the edge of
the curtain which coupleth the second.
18 And he made fifty taches of brass to couple the tent
together, that it might be one.
19 And he made a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed
red, and a covering of badgers' skins above that.
20 And he made boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood,
21 The length of a board was ten cubits, and the breadth of a
board one cubit and a half.
22 One board had two tenons, equally distant one from another:
thus did he make for all the boards of the tabernacle.
23 And he made boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards for the
south side southward:
24 And forty sockets of silver he made under the twenty boards;
two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets
under another board for his two tenons.
25 And for the other side of the tabernacle, which is toward
the north corner, he made twenty boards,
26 And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one
board, and two sockets under another board.
27 And for the sides of the tabernacle westward he made six
28 And two boards made he for the corners of the tabernacle in
the two sides.
29 And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the
head thereof, to one ring: thus he did to both of them in both
30 And there were eight boards; and their sockets were
sixteen sockets of silver, under every board two sockets.
31 And he made bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the
one side of the tabernacle,
32 And five bars for the boards of the other side of the
tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for
the sides westward.
33 And he made the middle bar to shoot through the boards from
the one end to the other.
34 And he overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings
of gold to be places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with
1. The shelter and special protection that the church is under are
signified by the curtains of hair-cloth, which were spread over the
tabernacle, and the covering of rams' skins and badgers' skins over
God has provided for his people a shadow from the heat, and a covert
from storm and rain,
They are armed against all weathers; the sun and the moon shall not
smite them: and they are protected from the storms of divine wrath,
that hail which will sweep away the refuge of lies,
Those that dwell in God's house shall find, be the tempest ever so
violent, or the dropping ever so continual, it does not rain in.
2. The strength and stability of the church, though it is but a
tabernacle, are signified by the boards and bars with which the
curtains were borne up,
The boards were coupled together and joined by the bars which shot
through them; for the union of the church, and the hearty agreement of
those that are its stays and supporters, contribute abundantly to its
strength and establishment.
35 And he made a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and
fine twined linen: with cherubims made he it of cunning work.
36 And he made thereunto four pillars of shittim wood, and
overlaid them with gold: their hooks were of gold; and he cast
for them four sockets of silver.
37 And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue,
and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework;
38 And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid
their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five
sockets were of brass.
In the building of a house there is a great deal of work about the
doors and partitions. In the tabernacle these were answerable to the
rest of the fabric; there were curtains for doors, and veils for
1. There was a veil made for a partition between the holy place, and
the most holy,
This signified the darkness and distance of that dispensation, compared
with the New Testament, which shows us the glory of God more clearly
and invites us to draw near to it; and the darkness and distance of our
present state, in comparison with heaven, where we shall be ever
with the Lord and see him as he is.
2. There was a veil made for the door of the tabernacle,
At this door the people assembled, though forbidden to enter; for,
while we are in this present state, we must get as near to God as we
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Exodus' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".