Exodus 31


                        THE CALL OF BEZALEEL AND AHOLIAB (vs. 1-11)


The directions for the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture being now

complete, and the composition of the holy oil and the holy incense having been laid

down minutely, it only remained to designate the persons to whom the oversight of the

work was to be especially entrusted. These were to be two — Bezaleel, of the tribe of

Judah, as head and chief; Aholiab, of the tribe of Dan, as his assistant. There can be no

doubt that they were selected, primarily, as already possessing superior artistic powers

and acquirements; but in appointing them God promised an infusion of special

wisdom and knowledge, so that they were at once naturally and supernaturally fitted

for their task. It is important to note that artistic ability is thus distinctly recognized as

being quite as much a gift of God as any other, and indeed as coming to man through

the Spirit of God (v. 3).  Artistic excellence is not a thing to be despised. It is very

capable of abuse;  (as evidenced by the corruption of the arts in American society

today, the abuses in grants by the National Endowment of the Arts and to whom

and how they are awarded, the obsession of Freedom of Expression in promotion

of things ungodly and anti-Christian – CY – 2010) but in itself it is a high gift,

bestowed by God on a few only, with the special intent that it should be used to

His honor and glory — not indeed in His direct service only — but always so as

to improve, elevate, refine mankind, and thus help towards the advancement

of God’s kingdom.


1 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 See, I have called by name

Bezaleel the son of Uri the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:  - God “calls by

name only those whom He appoints to some high office, as Moses (chps. 3:4; 33:12),

Cyrus (Isaiah 45:3-4), and here Bezaleel and Aholiab. He honours us highly in even

condescending to “know us by name,” still more in “calling” us.  Bezaleel is traced to

Judah in Chronicles through five ancestors — Uri, Hur, Caleb, Hezron, and Pharez,

Judah’s son by Tamar. The genealogy, though less contracted than most of those in

Exodus, probably contains two or three omissions.  Hur, the grandfather of Bezaleel,

is thought to be the person mentioned in chps. 17:10, and 24:14. 


3 “And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding,

and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,”  And I have filled

him with the spirit of God” - The Holy Spirit is the medium of communication

whereby God the Father bestows all gifts upon us – “in wisdom, and in

understanding, and in knowledge” - By the first of these terms is meant the power

to invent and originate; by the second ability to receive and appreciate directions and

suggestions; by the third, such information as is acquired by experience and

acquaintance with facts.  Bezaleel was to have all these, and, in addition, was to be

wise in “all manner of workmanshipi.e. — to possess manual dexterity, the power

of artistic execution. 



Bezaleel and Aholiab (vs. 1-12)


The calling of these two craftsmen for the work of the sanctuary, and the

statement concerning Bezaleel that Jehovah had “filled him with the spirit

of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all

manner of workmanship” (v. 3), suggest various important lessons. On

the distinction of the terms — “wisdom,” “understanding,” “knowledge,”

see the exposition, and consult the valuable notes on Ephesians 1:8,

Colossians 1:9, in the Bishop of Durham’s Commentaries. The general

moral is, that when God has any important work to be done, whether in

Church or State, He will not fail to raise up, and in due time to “call by

name,” the individuals needed for the doing of it. The preparatory training

school of these individuals may be far removed from the scene of their

future labors. Bezaleel and Aholiab were trained in Egypt. Of what is said

in “From Log Cabin to White House” of Presidents Lincoln and Garfield,

of the United States — “Both of these statesmen were born in log-cabins,

built by their fathers, in the wilderness, for family homes. Both were poor

as mortals can well be. Both were born with talents of the highest order;

but neither enjoyed early advantages of schools and teachers… Both

worked on a farm, chopped wood, and did whatever else was needful for a

livelihood, when eight years of age,” etc. Thus God gifts, trains, prepares

men, without a hint of the use to which He means afterwards to put them.

Till the event discloses it, the honor in reserve for them is kept a secret,

even from themselves. The gem is polished in obscurity by the master’s

hand. Ultimately it is brought to light, and astonishes the beholders by the

rare finish of its beauty. The tabernacle was built with the spoils of the

Egyptians in more senses than one. More special lessons are the following

  • ALL GIFTS ARE FROM GOD. Not simply gifts of intellect, of oratory,

of holiness, of spiritual understanding, but gifts of every kind, from the

highest to the lowest. Grace, in the case of Bezaleel, Aholiab, and their

fellow-craftsmen, proceeded on a basis of natural endowment. Compare v. 6 —

into the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom.” Skill in

handicraft is a species of mental excellence, and deserves the name

wisdom.” It, also, is from God. So with all natural talents; with, e.g., the

poetic gift; gifts of music, painting, sculpture, architecture; business faculty;

the gift of statesmanship; the power to “think out inventions”; the skill of

the artificer. This truth lies at the basis of the demand for a religious use of





workers in the tabernacle were supernaturally assisted in their work.

Nothing less than this is implied in the words — “And I have filled him

with the spirit of God” (v. 3); “into the hearts of all that are wise hearted

I have put wisdom” (v. 6). Grace aids nature. Regeneration is often

accompanied by a mysterious and almost miraculous improvement in the

powers of knowledge, so much so that, from a state of stolid imbecility, a

person may be seen rising up and standing forth an acute argumentative

pleader for the truth. (Cf. Dr. Wm. Anderson on “Regeneration,” p. 37.)

What holds good of the general invigoration of the powers, may be

expected to apply in the particular. Dedication of self carries with it

dedication of gifts. And if an individual dedicates to God any special gift

which he possesses, seeking, whether in the Church or in pursuit of an

ordinary calling, to use the same for God’s glory, it will be his privilege to

have it aided, strengthened, purified, and largely enhanced in its operations

by the influences of DIVINE GRACE!   The commonest work will thus be

better done, if done in the spirit of prayer. And so with the noblest. Milton

speaks of his great epic as a work “not to be raised from the heat of youth,

or the vapors of wine, like that which flows as waste from the pen of some

vulgar amorist or the trencher-fury of a rhyming parasite — nor to be

obtained by invocation of Dame Memory and her siren daughter, but by

devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit who can enrich with all utterance and

knowledge, and sends out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar,

to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases.”


  • RELIGION SANCTIFIES LABOR. The Bible is a text-book of

instruction on the dignity of labor. It has no sympathy with the

contemptible foolishness which looks on labor as degrading. It includes

labor in religion. It sees in the occupation of the humblest handicraftsman

the exercise of a Divine gift. The good man who, whether he eats or

drinks, or whatsoever he does, does all to the glory of God (I Corinthians

10:31) does not demean himself by an honest calling, but

transfigures his calling into part of his service to his Maker. In his case,

laborare est orate (to work is to pray). The shewbread on the table in the

sanctuary was a recognition of the sacredness of labor. It had as one of its

meanings the dedication to God of the exercise of the calling by which Israel

won its daily bread. So manual labor was sanctified to God in the making of

the tabernacle. But it was reserved for Christianity to give the crowning proof

of the dignity of labor by showing it ennobled and glorified in the person

of its Founder. The fathers of the Christian Church, in contrast with the

Greeks and Romans, who looked on artisans and barbarians with

contemptuous disgust, preached in their noblest tones the duty and dignity

of honorable toil. “The proudest bishops were not ashamed to dig; a

Benedict worked six hours a day with hoe and spade; a Becket helped

regularly to reap the fields. The monks at once practiced labor, and

ennobled and protected it. The towns and the middle classes grew up

under their shelter. Laborare est orate became the motto of Christian life.




Transformed by grace, and employed in the service of religion, gifts

become graces “Charismata.” All labor, all gifts, admit of being thus

devoted. The handicrafts can still bring their tribute to God, if in no higher

way, in the erection of places for His worship. Art can labor in the

adornment of the sanctuary (compare Psalm 60:13). The service of praise

affords scope for the utilization of gifts of music, vocal and instrumental.

There is need for care lest art, ministering to the worship of God, should

overpower devotion; but, considered in itself, there need be no jealousy of

the introduction of the tasteful and beautiful into God’s service. It is meet

that the Giver of gifts should be served with the best our gifts can yield.

Earthly callings may minister to God’s kingdom in another way, by

bringing of their lawful gains and laying them at Christ’s feet. There is,

besides, the private consecration of gifts to God, as in the case of Dorcas,

making coats and garments for the poor (Acts 9:39), or as in the case

of a Miss Havergal, or an Ira D. Sankey, consecrating to God a gift of

song. Minor lessons taught are:


Ø      Gifts are not all alike, yet God can use all.

Ø      Some are made to lead, others to serve and follow, in the work of

God’s kingdom. We glorify God most when unambitiously content

to fill our own place; when not envious of the greater gifts of others.

The humblest is needed. Bezaleel could ill have dispensed with the

artificers; Aholiab, with the needle-workers. They in turn needed the

master minds to direct them. There should be no jealousy among

those engaged in the same work (I Corinthians 12.).

Ø      Diversity of gifts gives rise to division of labor.

Ø      Bezaleel and Aholiab, though of different tribes (Judah and Dan),

wrought together as friends, were not opposed as rivals. What kept

out the spirit of rivalry was the consciousness that both were working

in a sacred cause, and for God’s glory, not their own. The feeling that

we are working for Christ should keep down dissensions among




4  To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 

5 and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in

all manner of workmanship.”  The result of these gifts would be to enable him:


·         To devise cunning works — i.e., to design everything excellently; and

·         To work in all manner of workmanship i.e., to carry out his designs

with success.


It has been said that “as everything that had to be done was prescribed in strict and

precise detail, there was to be no exercise of original powers of invention nor of

taste” (Cook); but this was scarcely so.  The forms of the cherubim, the patterns

to be woven into the stuffs, or embroidered on them, the shapes of the vessels,

of the capitals of the pillars, and of the laver were not prescribed in the directions.

Bezaleel and Aholiab would have had to design them after such a description as

Moses could give of the “pattern” which he had seen in the mount. In doing this,

there would be much room for the exercise of inventive power and taste.

In cutting of stones i.e., “in gem-cutting.” The fabric of

the tabernacle was entirely of metal, cloth, and wood. In carving of

timber. Rather “cutting.” The word is the same as that used of the stones.

And no ornamental “carving” of the woodwork was prescribed. 

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” - Aholiab

appears to have had the entire charge of the textile fabrics, both woven and

embroidered (ch. 38:23).  He was of  the tribe of Dan.”   It is remarkable that

Hiram, the chief artist employed by Solomon forthe ornamental work of the temple,

was also a descendant of Dan (II Chronicles 2:14).  Yet the Danites were in general

rather warlike and rude than artistic (Genesis 49:17; Deuteronomy 33:22; Judges

13:2; 18:11, 27). In the hearts of all that are wise hearted have I put wisdom.”  -

Unto him that hath shall be given(Luke 8:18) – Those who were already

wise hearted” — possessed, that is, of artistic power —  were selected by God

to receive extraordinary gifts of the same kind.



Artistic Excellence (vs. 3-6)


  • ITS FOUNDATION A NATURAL GIFT. God singled out from the

            mass of the people such as were “wise hearted.” A natural foundation was

            necessary for His spirit to work upon. It is generally allowed, in the case of

            a poet, that “nascitur, non fit.” But the same is true of all art-genius. Every

            artist, be he poet, painter, sculptor, musician, or mere designer of furniture,

            requires to have a something implanted within him from the first, out of

            which his artistic power is to grow, and without which he could never

            attain to excellence. Bezaleel and Aholiab were such persons. They were

            men of natural genius, with a special aptitude for the task to which they

            were set. (But woe unto those who prostitute their talents and gifts to

            dishonor and despise the God who gave them! – CY – 2010)



            IMPROVED BY GRACE. There is a natural affinity between artistic

            excellence and spirituality. God, who gives artistic power originally for

            wise and good purposes, will, if men use the power worthily, augment it by

            the direct action of his Spirit on their intellects. Those poets, painters, etc.,

            who have been good men, have found their artistic ability improve with

            time. Those who have lived evil lives have found it deteriorate. The spirit

            of devotion gave to the school of Angelico, Francis, and Perugino, its

            wonderful power and intensity. Milton’s religious ardor sublimised his

            poetry. The best art has always had a religious purpose, and derived much

            of its excellence from its association with religion. Men who regard their

            gifts as a trust, and exercise them in the fear of God, find constantly that

            their conceptions grow in grandeur and dignity, while their execution

            becomes more and more happy. The spirit of God fills them with wisdom,

            and understanding, and knowledge, and even with “all manner of





            POSSESSOR AND OTHERS. (Think of the influence that x-rated

            entertainment has had in the decline of the United States of America!  - CY –

            2010)  There is no intellectual power which is not liable to misuse. Artistic

            excellence is perhaps more liable to it than most others. If it is divorced

            from moral goodness, and made a mere instrument of self-glorification,

            it becomes debased at once. And the decline is easy from bad to worse.

            Facilis descensus Averni.” There are few things which have worked

            greater evil in the world than high artistic genius combined with moral            

            depravity. A whole generation may be utterly corrupted by a single

            sensualistic poet. Sculpture and painting have less influence; yet still a       

            sensualistic school of either may have a most deleterious effect upon the

            morals of an age. (Of what possible value or return upon its investment,

            could the National Endowment of the Arts, have hoped for, when it

            helped finance Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography of a bull whip stuck in

            his anus [Mapplethorpe died of AIDS at the age of 42] and Andres Serrano’s       

            “Crucifix in Urine” ?- CY – 2010)  It is of the greatest importance that

            such a perversion of artistic genius should not take place. It should be   

            impressed on all that their artistic powers are the gift of God, to be accounted

            or just as much as other gifts; to be used, as all gifts are to be used, to His

            honor; to be made to serve the ends for  which His kingdom has been

            established upon earth — the advance of holiness, the general elevation,    

            refinement and spiritualization of mankind, and the special “Jesus Christ;

            who gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM US FROM ALL      

            INIQUITY, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good            

            works.”  (Titus 2:13-14)


Vs. 7-11 contain an enumeration of the various works already commanded to be

made The same order is observed, except that here the tabernacle itself is placed

first, and the altar of incense takes its natural position next to the candlestick.


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,  8 And the

table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the

altar of incense,  9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the

laver and his foot, 10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron

the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office,  11 And

the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place:  according to all that I

have commanded thee shall they do.” The cloths of service. Rather “the vestments

of office’ — i.e., the distinguishing vestments of the High Priest, which he alone was

allowed to wear. These were the blue robe, the ephod, the girdle of the ephod, and the

breast-plate (ch. 28:6-35). The holy garments. The rest of the High Priest’s dress —

i.e., the linen drawers, the diapered tunic, the inner girdle and the mitre

(ibid. vs. 39, 43; Leviticus 16:4), which constituted his whole apparel on the great

day of atonement. The garments of his sons i.e, the linen drawers, tunics,

girdles, and caps, mentioned in ch. 28:40, 42.





It is to be observed  that the present passage is not a mere repetition. It adds to

former notices (chps. 20:8-11; 23:12) two new points:


·         That the sabbath was to be a sign between God and Israel, a “distinguishing

      badge,” a “sacramental bond” and


·         That its desecration was to be punished with death (v. 15). These were

                  supplementary points of so much importance as to furnish ample reason

                  against their announcement being delayed.


12 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 13 Speak thou also unto the

children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign

between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that

I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.”  Speak thou also unto the

children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign

between me and you throughout your generations - Hitherto circumcision had

been the only visible “sign” that the Israelites were under a special covenant with God -

His people, bound to Him by special ties (Genesis 17:9-14; Acts 7:8). The adoption of

circumcision by the Egyptians and other nations (Herod. 2:104) had produced the

effect that this “sign” was no longer distinguishing. It might be still” a sign of

profession”; but it had ceased to be “a mark of difference “; and some other mark was

therefore needed.  Such the observance of the sabbath by entire abstinence from

servile work became. No other nation adopted it. It continued to Roman times the mark

and badge of a Jew.(Juv. Sat. 6:159; 14:96) – that ye may know that I am the

LORD that doth sanctify you.”  By keeping the sabbath day as a day of holy rest

the Israelites would know — i.e., would realize severally in their own persons,

that God was their sanctifier. Sanctification would be a result of their obedience.


14 “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every

one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any

work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

“Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that

defileth it shall surely be put to death”To defile the sabbath was to do any

unnecessary servile work upon it. Works of mercy, works of necessity, and works

connected with religious observance were not prohibited. (See Matthew 12:1-7;10-12.)

The penalty of death for breaking the sabbath seems to moderns over-severe; but the

erection of Sabbath observance into the special sacramental sign that Israel was in 

covenant with God made non-observance an offence of the gravest character. The

man who broke the sabbath destroyed, so far as in him lay, the entire covenant

between God and His people — not only broke it, but annulled it, and threw Israel

out of covenant. Hence, when the sin was committed, no hesitation was felt in

carrying out the law. (See Numbers 15:32-36.) – “for whosoever doeth any work

therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 


15 “Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of

rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath

day, he shall surely be put to death.”   Six days may work be done; but in

the seventh is the sabbath of rest, Literally “in the seventh is complete rest. –

The sabbath of restt.  Rather, “a sabbath.”  There were other sabbaths besides

that of the seventh day (ch.  23:11; Leviticus 25:2-12; etc.). By the expression,

a sabbath of rest” — literally, “a rest of resting” — the idea of completeness

is given. Perhaps the best translation would be — “in the seventh is complete rest.”


16 “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe

the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.”

For a perpetual covenant. The sabbath is itself a covenant — i.e., a part of

the covenant between God and Israel (ch. 24:4) — and it is, also, a sign of covenant

i.e., a perceptible indication that the nation has entered into a special agreement

with God, and undertaken the observance of special laws.  It is a sign between me

and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and

earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.”


17 “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six

days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he

rested, and was refreshed.”  It is a sign. See above, v. 13. For in six days the

Lord made heaven and earth. See the comment on ch. 20:11. And

was refreshed. Literally,” and took breath.” The metaphor is a bold one,

but not bolder than others which occur in holy scripture (Psalm 44:23; 78:65).

It does but carry out a little further the idea implied in God’s “resting.” We

cannot speak of any of God’s acts or attributes without anthropomorphisms.




                                                Covenant Signs (vs. 13-17)


To each covenant which He has made with man, God has attached some special sign

or signs. And each sign has been significant, has set before the mind of those to whom

it was given some great religious truth.



            destroyed by a deluge the whole human race, except eight persons. It

            pleased Him, after this, to enter into a covenant with Noah and his sons

            (Genesis 9:8-17), and through them with the human race, that He would

            never bring such a destruction upon the world again (ibid. v. 11). Of this

            covenant He appointed the rainbow to be the sign, symbolizing by its

            brightness and beauty his own mercy (ibid. – vs. 14-17). Here the religious

            truth taught and impressed by the sign was that precious one, that God is not

            only a just, but also a merciful God.



            God selected Abraham out of the entire mass of mankind to be the

            progenitor of the chosen race and of him especially in whom all the families

            of the earth should be blessed, and entered into a covenant with him, it was

            in these words — “Thou shalt keep my covenant, thou and thy seed after

            thee in their generations — this is my covenant which ye shall keep

            between me and you, and thy seed after thee, every man child among you

            shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:9-10). Hence the covenant itself was

            called “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8). This rite of initiation,

            the covenant sign of the Abrahamic dispensation, shadowed forth the great

            truth that man has an impurity of nature, which must be put away before he

            can be brought near to God and received into His full favor.



      be a covenant sign is set forth in the words, “Verily, my sabbaths ye shall

      keep, for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations”

      (v. 13). It witnessed to the truth that God requires distinct and open          

      acknowledgment at the hands of men, and not only so, but material worship at     

      stated times, one day in seven. The nations, when they served Him at all

      (Acts 10:35), served Him irregularly. They knew nothing of a definite day,

      or a formal apportionment of time, for His service. By the institution of the

            Sabbath the Israelites were taught, and through them the world, that God

            is interested in man, claims his thoughts, sets a value on his worship, and

            will not be satisfied with mere occasional acknowledgment, but demands

            that a fixed proportion of our time shall be dedicated to His worship

            exclusively.  (Once a man was traveling to a village and was approached

            by a man begging.  The traveler had but seven dollars, of which he gave

            the beggar six.  As the traveler went on his way, the beggar waylaid him

            and took his seventh dollar.  Basically, this is what we try to do to God

            when we do not keep the sabbath.  CY – 2017)


  • OTHER COVENANT SIGNS. No further covenant signs were given

            until our Lord came upon earth. Then two were instituted in the



Ø      Baptism taught the same truth as circumcision — the need of

                        putting away impurity; but taught it by a simpler rite, and one

to which no exception could be taken.


Ø      The Lord’s Supper taught a new truth, the necessity of reconciliation

through the death and atoning blood of Christ. It witnessed to the certain

fact that man cannot save himself, cannot atone for his own sins, but

needs a Mediator, a Redeemer, an Atoner, to make satisfaction for him.



The Sabbath (vs. 12-18)


If this prohibition to work upon the Sabbath is introduced, as probably it is,

lest the people, in their zeal for the service of the sanctuary, should be

tempted to infringe upon the holy day, it has certain obvious sides of

instruction turned towards ourselves. We cannot but see in it the high

honor which God puts upon His Sabbath.


1. It is the one command of the Decalogue to which reference is made in

the conclusion of this series of instructions. This implies its great

importance. It shows that, in God’s esteem, the observance of the Sabbath

was intimately bound up with the best interests of Israel.


2. The Sabbath is declared to be a sign between God and the Israelites. It

was to be a memorial to future generations that Jehovah had made a

covenant with the nation, and had sanctified them to Himself. But its very

selection for this purpose was a tribute to its importance. The reason of the

selection could only be that the Sabbath was in itself a boon of the highest

kind to Israel, and had important bearings on the state of morals and

religion. A well- or ill-spent Sabbath, as all history shows, has much to do

with the character both of the individual and of the community. The

Sabbath, further, is a “sign” in this respect, that it is at once a means for the

promotion of true religion, and a test or indication OF ITS PRESENCE!?

A disregard of Divine authority shows itself in nothing more readily than in a

disposition to break in upon the day of restto take from it its sacred



3. The Sabbath is not to be infringed upon, even for the work of the

tabernacle. There was no such excessive haste, no such imperative call, for

the sanctuary being finished, that the Sabbath needed to be broken by the

plying of handicrafts, in order to get it done. (or car parts, light bulbs, or

harvesting corn or soybeans – CY – 2017)  We are taught that even our

zeal for God’s work is not to be allowed to betray us into unnecessary

infractions of the day of rest. . This is not, of course, to be applied to

spiritual work, to afford an opportunity for which is one end of the giving

of the Sabbath.


4. The breaker of the Sabbath was to be put to death. This was not too

severe a punishment for the deliberate breaking of a law so repeatedly

enforced, and the observance of which had been made by Jehovah a “sign”

of the covenant between Himself and Israel. Slight as the act seems, it was,

in this case, a crime of a very flagrant order. It was punished as an act of

treason. (No doubt there are myriads of American citizens who condemn

not standing before the flag or during the National Anthem that would

ignore working on the sabbath in the mill, the factory or the hay field?

CY – 2017)  At the conclusion of these commands, God gave to Moses the

two tables of testimony, “tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” A



a.       of the perpetuity of the law,

b.      of its want of power to regenerate (II Corinthians 3:7).




                                    THE TABLES OF TESTIMONY (v. 18)


It had been assumed, in the directions given for the construction of the ark, that God

would give, in some material form, a document to be called “the testimony,” which

was to be laid up inside it (ch. 25:16). It is not too much to say that the tabernacle,

with its various appurtenances, was constructed for this purpose; the rest of the

tabernacle was designed with a view to the holy of holies - the holy of holies was

designed as a receptacle for the ark — and the ark was designed as a receptacle for

the tables of testimony. This section could, therefore, scarcely be concluded without

some definite account of the document which was to give the ark and the tabernacle

itself, its main significance.


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.  And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of

communing (Literally, “when He had finished speaking”) with him upon mount

Sinai, two  tables of testimony, tables of stone, WRITTEN WITH THE FINGER

OF GOD”.  inscribed supernaturally” — not cut by any human hand. Compare

ch. 32:16.


The TABLES OF TESTIMONY  were in many respects like the document

impressed upon them. For instance, they were:



            IMPERISHABLE. Few things are more enduring than some kinds of

            stone. Inscriptions exist, engraved on stone, which are certainly anterior to

            Abraham. No remains in metal go back so far. Gold and silver are,

            comparatively speaking, soft. Iron corrodes. Steel was unknown at the

            period. The material selected to receive the moral law was as nearly

            indestructible as possible. The tables may still exist, and may one day be

            discovered under the mounds of Babylon, or in the bed of the Euphrates.

            The character of the material was thus in harmony with the contents of the

            tables, consisting, as they did, of laws whereof no jot or tittle shall pass

            away till the fulfilment of all things (Matthew 5:18).  “Heaven and

            earth will pass away but my words shall not pass away” – (Matthew



  • WRITTEN WITH THE FINGER OF GOD. The stones had the laws

            engraved upon them by a Divine agency which is called the finger of

            God.” The laws themselves had been long previously written with the

            finger of God in the fleshly tables of men’s hearts. The Divine power,

            which was competent to do the one, could no doubt with can accomplish

            the other. The human heart is the most stubborn of all materials, and the

            most difficult to impress permanently.


  • TWO-FOLD. Twin tables, alike in the main, but inscribed differently.

            So was the law of the tables two-fold — containing:


ü      Man’s duty to God, and

ü      His duty to his neighbor.


            It is uncertain how the Ten Commandments were divided between the two

            tables, but quite possible that the first four were written on one table, and

            the last six on the other. In that case the material division would have

            exactly corresponded to the spiritual.


  • WRITTEN ON BOTH THEIR SIDES (ch. 32:15). So the moral law — the

      law of the Decalogue — is written both within and without the human heart —  

      presses externally upon men as a rule of right which they are constrained to

      obey, and approves itself to them from within, as one which the voice of   

      conscience declares to be binding, apart from external sanction. The book

      seen in vision by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:9) was “written within and without”

      (ibid. v. 10), like the tables; but its entire contents were “lamentation, and

      mourning, and woe.” The moral law, as convincing us of sin, has a painful

      side; but it sustains as much as it alarms, and produces as much effort as    




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