Exodus 35




The work commanded during the time of Moses’ first stay upon Sinai (ch. 25-31.), and

hindered first by the infraction (ch. 32.), and then by the renewal (chs. 33., 34.) of the

covenant, was now about to commence under the direction of Moses, who alone knew

what was to be constructed. Before giving his orders upon the matter, he assembled the

people (v. 1) and once more recited to them in a solemn manner the law of the sabbath

(v. 2), adding to the general law a special injunction concerning the kindling of fire

(v. 3), which may have been required by some recent breach of the law in this respect.

The iteration of a command, already so often enjoined upon the people (chps.16:23-30;

20:8-11; 23:12; 31:13-17), is best accounted for by the consideration, that a caution

was needed, lest the people, in their zeal to hurry on the work of the tabernacle, and

regarding that work as a sacred one, and so exceptional, might be tempted to

infractions of the law, or even to an entire neglect of it, while the work was in



vs. 1-3 – “And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel

together” – All had to be summoned, to learn what was required – “and said unto

them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should

do them.  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be

to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work

therein shall be put to death.  Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your

habitations upon the sabbath day.” - The kindling of fire in early times involved

considerable labor. It was ordinarily affected by rubbing two sticks together, or

twisting one round rapidly between the two palms in a depression upon a board. Fire

only came after a long time. Moreover, as in the warm climate of Arabia and Palestine

artificial warmth was not needed, fire could only have been kindled there for cooking

purposes, which involved further unnecessary work, and had already been forbidden

(ch. 16:23).



            The Sabbath Rest was not to be Broken even for Sacred Work


Note here a difference. Some work is rendered necessary by the very nature of that

public worship which is especially commanded on the sabbath. “On the sabbath days

the priests in the temple,” says our Lord, “profane the sabbath day and are

blameless (Matthew 12:5). Offering sacrifice was a heavy work — cleansing the

altar and its precincts after  sacrifice was perhaps a heavier one — reading aloud,

teaching, preaching are works, the last named to many a most exhausting work.

Against such kinds of work there is no law. But physical toil, not needed for Divine

worship, and so not necessary to be undergone on the sabbath day, stands on a

different footing, and was forbidden, at any rate to the Jews. The spinning, weaving,

dying, embroidering, carpentering, metallurgy, which occupied hundreds during the

rest of the week, were to cease upon the sabbath. Men were not to consider that the

fact of the purpose whereto the fabrics were about to be applied so sanctified the

making of them as to render that a fit occupation for the “day of holy rest” — of

rest to the Lord.”  Christians will do well to apply the lesson to themselves,

and not allow themselves in occupations, on their “day of holy rest,” which

are really secular, because it may be argued that they have, in some respects,

a sacred aspect.. Whatever our rule of Sunday observance, let us beware of evading

it under the excuse that our employment has a connection with religion when it is

essentially secular in its character.




                          WORK OF THE TABERNACLE (vs. 4-20)


Having warned the Israelites against breaches of the sabbath, Moses proceeded to

enumerate the offerings which God had said that they might bring (vs. 4-9), and the

works which He had required to be constructed (vs. 10-19). In the former

enumeration, he follows exactly the order and wording of the Divine command to

himself, as recorded in ch. 25:3-7; in the latter, he changes the order, mentioning first

the building, with its component parts (v.11), then the contents of the building

(vs.12-15), then the court with its contents (vs. 16-17) together with some details

which had been omitted in the former account (v.18), and finally the holy garments

(v.19). After hearing him, the people returned to their several tents (v.20).


vs. 4-20 – “And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of

Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye

from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let

him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,  And blue,

and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,  And rams’ skins dyed

red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,  And oil for the light, and spices for

anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, And onyx stones, and stones to be set for

the ephod, and for the breastplate.  And every wise hearted among you shall come,

and make all that the LORD hath commanded;  The tabernacle, his tent, and his

covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets,  The ark,

and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the vail of the covering, The table,

and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread, The candlestick also for the

light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light, And the incense altar,

and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the

door at the entering in of the tabernacle,  The altar of burnt offering, with his brasen

grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot, The hangings of the

court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court,

 The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords, The cloths

of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest,

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

congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.”  On

the symbolism of the Tabernacle and its parts, see chps. 25:10-39; 26; 27:1-8; and

30:1-10 – (this web site)  On the symbolism of the anointing oil and the holy incense,

see ch. 30:23-28.



                        The Duty and Privilege of Making Offerings to God


That God allows us to offer to Him of His own, and accepts such offerings as free gifts,

is one of His many gracious condescensions. It is the part of all ministers to give opportunity

for such offerings — to encourage them, suggest them, elicit them. Moses now summoned

all the congregation of the children of Israel,” that he might give to

all, without partiality or favoritism, the opportunity for a good action, which would

obtain its due reward. Doubtless he pointed out that the object was one for the glory of

God and the edification of His people — no less an object than the substitution for that poor

tent of meeting,” which he had extemporized on the morrow of his first descent from Sinai

(ch. 33:7), of a glorious structure, Of the richest materials, designed by God Himself, worthy

of Him, and suited to intensify and spiritualize the devotions of all worshippers. It was fit that

the structure should, if possible, be raised by means of the free gifts of the faithful. For this

Moses now, like a faithful minister of Christ, made appeal to all. In doing so, he pointed

out the two modes in which such offerings may

be made:




            gold, silver, brass, blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goat’s hair, etc., were

            invited to contribute out of their abundance to the erection of the new

            sanctuary. It was especially urged that, if they did so, it should be with “a

            willing heart” (v. 1) — “not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a

            cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7). Such a mode of offering is open to

            those only who have property of some kind or other, and is especially

            suited to the rich and well-to-do classes; and it was no doubt the wealthy

            who at this time chiefly contributed in this way. But, as God is “no

            respecter of persons,” and regards the poor and needy fully as much as

            those who are of high estate, some further mode of making him an offering

            is necessary. Note, in this connection, that:



      OF SOME PORTION OF OUR TIME AND LABOR  Every wise-hearted           

      among you shall come, and make all that the Lord hath commanded”

      (v. 10).   All who had sufficient skill were invited to join in the actual work of    

      preparing and making the various fabrics.  Carpenters, weavers, dyers, smiths,  

      embroiderers, metallurgists, might contribute their time and work, and so make

      an offering to God as acceptable as that of the gold or jewels of the wealthy.

      Even poor women, whose only skill was to spin thread with their hands (v. 25),            

      might “bring that which they had spun,” and were accepted as offering

      worthily. In this way there were few families that might not have their part in

      the work, for spinning was a wide-spread accomplishment. And so, in our own

      day, whenever any good work is taken in hand, it will always be found that

            every one who wills can have some part in it — can help, by headwork or

            by handiwork, to effect the end desired. And the value of such participation

            is quite equal to that rendered by rich contributors, at any rate, in the sight

            of God. For observe, the women who spun goat’s hair are placed side by

            side with the “rulers” who “brought onyx stones,” and costly spices, and

            jewels to be set in the high-priest’s breastplate (vs. 26-28).



                        THE ZEAL OF THE PEOPLE IN OFFERING (21-29)


Moses dismissed the people; but they soon began to return, bringing their offerings

with them. There was a general, if not a universal, willingness.  Men and women

alike “brought bracelets (brooches?), and earrings, and rings, and armlets — all

 articles of gold,” and offered them to the Lord (v. 22). Others brought blue and

purple and scarlet and fine linen, and goats’ hair and rams’ skins dyed red, and badger

(or rather, seal) skins (v. 23). Silver and bronze and shittim wood were contributed by

others (v. 24). The women, who were the only spinners, brought their spun yarn

of blue and purple and scarlet and fine linen, and their yarn of goats’ hair (vs. 25-26);

while the richest class of all — “the rulers” — gave, as their contribution, the onyx

stones for the ephod, the jewels for the high-priest’s breastplate, and the oil needed

for the light, together with rare spices for the anointing ointment and the incense

(vs. 27-28).  Subsequently, we are told that what was contributed was “much more

than enough” (ch.  36:5), and that the people had to be “restrained from bringing”

(ibid. v. 6).


vs. 21-29 – “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every

one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering   -

their offering to Jehovah” – “to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation,

and for all His service, and for the holy garments.   And they came, both men and

women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings,

and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an

offering of gold unto the LORD.  And every man, with whom was found blue,

and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams,

and badgers’ skins, brought them.  Every one that did offer an offering of silver

and brass brought the LORD’s offering: and every man, with whom was found

shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it.  And all the women that

were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had

spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.   And all the

women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.  And the

rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the

breastplate; And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for

the sweet incense.  The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the

LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for

all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the

hand of Moses.”



                                                Zeal in Offering


Appeals are made to men, in all parts of the world, and in all ages, for

material contributions towards the erection of structures in which God is to

be worshipped. The spirit in which such appeals are met varies:


  • Occasionally, they are met in a scoffing spirit. “What, your God needs a

            house, and cannot build one for himself! He must beg contributions, put

            out a subscription list! And for what? To make a huge building, which will

            be of no practical use — not a school, not a hospital, not a corn-exchange,

            but a Church! Catch us giving anything!”


  • Or it is met in a grudging spirit. “Why is so much required? What need is

            there for so large a building, or for such rich ornament, or for such

            architectural display?” And the general inclination,  is to give as little as it

            is decent to give.


  • Or it is met in a fussy spirit. Let the matter be well considered — let

            meetings be held — let a committee be formed — let our advice be taken.

            If we give, we must be consulted — we must have a voice in the

            arrangements — we must examine the plans and express our opinion upon

            them. Then perhaps we may head the subscription-list with something

            handsome.” Very different was the spirit which now animated the

            Israelites, and which is here held up for our imitation. Their response to

            the appeal made to them by Moses was:


ü      DEVOUT. None objected. None asked why a tabernacle was wanted,

      or why the tent which Moses had made a place of worship would not   

      suffice.  None scoffed at the idea of a “House of God.” All seemed to

      see the propriety of it. All felt that what they brought was “the Lord’s  

      offering” - (vs. 21, 24) — a real gift to Jehovah. All longed to have a  

      place of worship of a worthy character.


ü      UNGRUDGING AND SPONTANEOUS. Their “hearts stirred them

                        up,” their “spirits made them willing” (v.21). They “brought a willing

                        offering unto the Lord” (v.29). The rich brought jewels and precious

                        spices; the men and women of the middle class brought their personal

                        ornaments; the poor men gave brass, or silver, or a ram’s skin, or a piece

                        of acacia wood; the poor women gave the labor of their hands, and spun

                        thread for the hangings. There was no murmuring, no complaining, no

                        fabrication of excuses — so far as appears, no open refusing to give,

                        though there was some abstention.


ü      IMMEDIATE. In one verse we read “they departed” (v. 20), in the

                        next (v. 21) “they came.” There was no delay, no considering, no

                        discussing one with another, no asking “How much do you intend to

                        give?” Each man seemed to be well persuaded of the truth of the adage -

                        Bis dat qui cito dat,” and brought his offering at once.


ü      UNSELFISH AND UNCONDITIONAL. No one wanted to have a

                        quid pro quo as the condition of his giving. No one asked to “see the

                        plans.” All were willing to leave the ordering of the work to Moses, and

                        put their contributions absolutely in his hands. A spirit of enthusiasm was

                        stirred up, and none thought of anything but how much he could possibly

                        spare for the grand work which they understood Moses to contemplate.

                        The wealth of Easterns is stored chiefly in the form of ornaments, and to

                        denude themselves of these was a great effort of self-sacrifice.




                                    TO SUPERINTEND THE WORK (vs. 30-35)


Though, in some real sense, “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” –

(Acts 7:22) - still Moses was probably devoid of the technical knowledge requisite for

a “superintendent  of the works” on the present occasion. At any rate, his other duties

imperatively required that he should decline to undertake, in addition to them, so

onerous an office. And God had told him whom it would be best for him to set over

the work (ch. 31:1-6). Accordingly, he now made known to the people that the

construction of the tabernacle and its appurtenances would be committed to two men –

Bezaleel, the son of Uri, as principal, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, as his

assistant — who would “teach” those under them what they were to do (v.34)


vs. 30-35 – “And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath

called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;

 And He hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding,

and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;  And to devise curious

works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones,

to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.

 And He hath put in his heart that he may teach” - He (God) has given him the

gift of being able to teach others, and so has enabled him to form a body of

workmen competent to carry out His conceptions – both he, and Aholiab, the son

of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to

work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of

the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the

weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”

God gave them genius and artistic skill, so that both their designs, and their execution

of them, were of unusual excellence.



                                                Master Craftsmen


The qualities needed for a master-craftsman are fourfold. These are here enumerated

in v.31 as:


  • WISDOM (Hebrew - khakam;  - Greek - sofi>a; - sof-ee’-ah; - wisdom -

            Vulgate sapientia), the highest gift of all — the power of original conception,    

            which, if He combines with it the other necessary qualities, makes the true artist,            

            the master-workman, in whatsoever branch of art his work may lie. This is

            appropriately placed first as the most necessary quality for those who are

            to direct a great construction of an artistic character.


  • UNDERSTANDING (Hebrew - taban; Greek -  su>nesiv; soon’-es-is; - a mental

            putting together, i.e. intelligence or (concretely) the intellect: — knowledge,

            understanding – Vulgate -  intelligentia), a desirable, but very inferior quality,  

            consisting in the power of appreciating the work of others, and estimating it       

            aright. This power is needed in master-craftsmen, to qualify them for passing     

            judgment on the work produced by those under their direction.


  • KNOWLEDGE (Hebrew - yada; Greek ejpisth>mh; ep-is’-tam-ahee; to put

       the mind upon, i.e. comprehend, or be acquainted with: — know, understand.

      Vulgate -  scientia), or acquaintance with the laws and facts of science bearing

      on their art. In the present case, acquaintance with such things as elementary     

      mechanics, the method of cutting hard stones, the process of dyeing, the best    

      mode of working different metals, and the like. An inferior quality this, which

      the master-craftsman should not lack, but which will avail him little without

      the higher excellences


  • WORKMANSHIP (Hebrews m’lakah; Greek -  ajrcitektoni>a; -

            ar-khee-tek’-tonia;  a chief constructor, i.e. “architect”: — masterbuilder.

            Vulgate -  doctrina), or power of execution, next to genius the most necessary

            quality of the artist, and accepted to a large extent in lieu of genius, as placing

            a man high in the artistic scale. This excellence does not consist in mere

            dexterity of hand, but in a happy way of working out designed effects,

            producing the feeling of complete mastery over the materials. It is by their

            wonderful execution that the genuine works of great masters are known

            from copies. Note, that all these qualities were possessed by both of the

            master-craftsmen in an eminent degree, and that all of them were the gift of

            the Spirit of God” (v.31), from whom comes down “every good gift

            and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). Artists should bear this in mind,

            and sanctify their art by directing it to holy, or at any rate to good ends.

            (Witness Mapplethorpe, Warhol, etc. – CY – 2010)!  What a sad spectacle is          

            genius prostituted to the service of Satan!


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