Exodus 38



                                     THE FURTHER PROGRESS OF THE WORK –



On the completion of the tabernacle, Bezaleel and his assistants turned their attention to the

court and its furniture; and constructed, first, the altar of burnt offering (vs. 1-7); secondly,

the bronze laver (v. 8)  Vs. 1-7 correspond to vs. 1-8 of ch. 27; ver. 8 corresponds to

ver. 18 of ch. 30.  (The former chapters give the directions, this chapter along with others

are the carrying out of the directions as God directed! – CY – 2010)


vs. 1-8 – “And he made the altar of burnt offering of shittim wood: five cubits

was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof; it was foursquare; and

three cubits the height thereof.  And he made the horns thereof on the four

corners of it; the horns thereof were of the same: and he overlaid it with brass.

And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the shovels, and the basins,

and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the vessels thereof made he of brass.   

And he made for the altar a brasen grate of network under the compass thereof

beneath unto the midst of it.  And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate

of brass, to be places for the staves.  And he made the staves of shittim wood,

and overlaid them with brass.  And he put the staves into the rings on the sides

of the altar, to bear it withal; he made the altar hollow with boards.  And he made

the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women”

This interesting fact has not been previously mentioned. Bronze plates, circular or oval,

admitting of a high polish, were used by the Egyptian women as mirrors from a very

early date, and may be seen in the Egyptian collection of the British Museum. They

have handles like those of our fire-screens, generally also of bronze. It was natural

that the Hebrew women should possess similar articles, and should have taken care to

bring them with them out of Egypt.  The sacrifice of them for a sacred purpose is

rather to be ascribed to their own self-denying piety than to any command issued by Moses

– “assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” 

Literally, “who came by troops. Women assembled themselves by troops at the entrance

of the “tent of meeting” set up by Moses (ch. 33:7), as at a later date we find Hannah

(I Samuel 1:9-12) and other women who were less worthy (I Samuel 2:22) doing.

The women who showed this zeal were those that made the sacrifice of their mirrors for

God’s service.



                        The Triumph of Female Piety over Female Vanity


Hebrew women were, it must be presumed, much like other women in their natural

dispositions, and therefore not without their share of personal vanity. The fact, that in

all the haste of their sudden departure from Egypt they had not omitted to carry with

them their metal mirrors, is indicative of this. The mirror was the most valued of toilet

articles, and the most indispensable for effecting that end, at which almost all women

aim — the making the best of those advantages of personal appearance which nature

has vouchsafed to them. It is difficult to imagine any material sacrifice to which a

woman would not more readily have consented than the loss of her mirror. Yet we

know that the sacrifice was made by large numbers; for the laver was a vessel of

considerable size. Let us consider then:


  • THE MOTIVE OF THE ACT. No other motive can be conceived of

            than true piety. Piety loves to make offerings to God. Piety does not count

            the cost. Piety, the gift of grace, can triumph over nature; transform a poor

            vain worldling into a saint; make no sacrifice seem a hard one. It must have

            been piety which made these women give their mirrors, either:


ü      In addition to their personal ornaments (ch. 35:22), or

ü      In default of them.


            Some after offering their ear-rings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, and the like,

            may have desired, from pure love of God, to give more, and casting about

            to consider what more they could give, may have bethought them of their

            mirrors. Others may have had no personal ornaments to give; and if unable

            to spin, may have had nothing else but their mirrors which they could

            contribute. In either case, piety was at the root of their giving.



            who contributed their mirrors were women wont to “assemble at the door

            of the tabernacle of the congregation.” In other words, they were such as

            had previously made all the use they could of their religious opportunities.

            We see that God does not shower down His precious gifts of grace at

            random — but “helps such as help themselves.” (a non-Biblical phrase –

            CY – 2010)  He granted the priceless grace of self-denying love to those who  

            were constant in serving Him at the place where He had “set his name,” and

            was to be found of them that sought Him. Much prayer, much waiting upon

            God, had gone to form the character of those who now found themselves able

            to make a willing sacrifice of their vanity.



      It obtained for them the high reward of special mention in God’s holy word — a place

      in His “Valhalla” — a record in his “Roll of worthies.” Of the other offerings we

      know not, for the most part, whether they were made by men or women — much

      less by what class of men, or what class of women. Only here, and in ch. 35:25-26,

      is the sex specified, and only here the class. Let women take this to heart. Let them

      be ready to sacrifice to Him all their adornments — “braided hair and gold an

       pearls, and costly array” - (I Timothy 2:9) — {“Whose adorning let it not be

      that outward adorning of plaiting of the  hair, and of wearing of gold, or of

      putting on of apparel;  But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that

      which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,

      which is in the sight of God of great price” – [I Peter 3:3-4] – Contrast this

      with Isaiah 3:16-24  - CY – 2010} - let them be ready to sacrifice even, if need

      be, their personal charms (as many do in fever or small-pox hospitals), and they

      will not be forgotten by Him — they will not go without a recompense. If their

      act be not recorded in any other book it will be written in that heavenly

      record, out of which all will be judged at the last day (Revelation 20:12




                                                            (vs. 9-20)


 Thirdly, the hangings, pillars, connecting-rods, hooks and pins for the circuit of the

court (vs. 9-20) and correspond to ch. 27:9-19.


vs. 9-20 - “And he made the court: on the south side southward the hangings of the

court were of fine twined linen, an hundred cubits:  Their pillars were twenty, and

their brasen sockets twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver.

 And for the north side the hangings were an hundred cubits, their pillars were

twenty, and their sockets of brass twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets

of silver.  And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and

their sockets ten; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.  And for the

east side eastward fifty cubits.  The hangings of the one side of the gate were

fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.  And for the other side

of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits;

their pillars three, and their sockets three.  All the hangings of the court round

about were of fine twined linen.  And the sockets for the pillars were of brass; the

hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver; and the overlaying of their chapiters

of silver; and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver.  And the hanging

for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine

twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was

five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court.  And their pillars were four,

and their sockets of brass four; their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their

chapiters and their fillets of silver.  And all the pins of the tabernacle, and of the

court round about, were of brass.”  ).  For other Homiletics on the subjects of this

chapter, see those on ch. 27 – this web site.



                                    THE SUM OF THE TABERNACLE,

            OR WEIGHT OF THE METALS EMPLOYED IN IT (vs. 21-31)


Before dismissing the subject of the construction of the tabernacle, Moses places on

record the sum of the gold, silver and bronze contributed and consumed in the work.

At the same time he informs us who was the accountant by whom the sum was made

up (v. 21), and what were the portions of the work formed of each metal (vs. 24, 27-28,

30-31).  Incidentally he mentions the number of the congregation at this period,

603,550 souls over twenty years of age - (v. 26), and the weight of the “sockets” or

bases(v. 27).


vs. 21-31 – “This is the sum (or “numbering” as in Numbers 26:63) of the

tabernacle, The tabernacle, i.e., of which the great glory was that it contained “the

testimony or “Two Tables.” ch. 25:16 – “even of the tabernacle of testimony, as

it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the

Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest.  And Bezaleel the son Uri,

the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.  

And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and

a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and

fine linen.  All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy

place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred

and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.  And the silver of them that

were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven

hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:

 A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary,

for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for

six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.

 And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and

the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a

socket.  And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made

hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them.  And the

brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred

shekels.  And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of

the congregation, and the brasen altar, and the brasen grate for it, and all the

vessels of the altar,  And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of

the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court

round about.”



                                    Great Wealth Worthily Employed



            What was required was a structure sixty feet long by thirty, with a skirting for

            a court or precinct 150 feet long by seventy-five. The main structure, or            

            tabernacle, would be about the size of a small college chapel. The precinct

            would be smaller than most churchyards. Yet upon these two objects, without  

            making any estimate for labor, a lot of money was spent. There was lavish use

            of the precious metals, especially gold. That the structure might be rich,

            splendid, magnificent, gold and silver were lavished upon it, both externally

            and internally — scarcely any wood was seen — nothing caught the eye but     

            costly fabrics of rich color, and masses of silver or gold. A warm, harmonious,  

            rich result was no doubt produced; and nomadic Israel, unable to compete with            

            the settled nations in the size and grandeur of its “holy place,” erected for itself

            a sanctuary, which in its own way was unequalled and unique.



            If a people have temples at all, men will always judge their religious views,

            more or less, by them. If Israel was to have a place of worship — and it

            may be doubted whether any race of men will ever be able to do without

            one — it would certainly be subjected to rough criticism and comparison.

            The Egyptian temples were magnificent — of vast size, of the most solid

            construction, of handsome material, elaborately painted and adorned; they

            delighted those who worshipped in them, and challenged the admiration of

            extraneous beholders. Israel, in the desert, could not possibly vie with

            these. But it might construct a work perfect in its kind, of a different class,

            which would compensate for smallness of size by richness of material and

            artistic elaboration. It could show in this way its sense that men should give

            to God of their best. It could secure an extraordinary degree of beauty,

            finish, and elegance. The nations among which the tabernacle passed —

            even those who heard an account of it — must have been impressed with

            the feeling that here was a people which thoroughly believed in its God;

            which thought nothing too good for Him; which was ready for His sake to

            submit to much self-sacrifice. And the people itself must also have been

            impressed by its own work. No such apostasy as the worship of the calf

            ever took place after the tabernacle had been constructed. It was no longer

            faith, but sight, which told them, that “God was in the midst of them.” The

            sense of this begat a courage and a confidence, which supported the nation

            under many trials, and many temptations. They had never to regret the

            outlay which they had made upon their “tent-temple.”


                                    The Enumeration of the Metals Used


This served a useful purpose:


  • As an account rendered to the people of what had been done with their gifts.
  • As gratifying a very laudable wish of the contributors to know how

            much the sum-total of their contributions amounted to.

  • As giving a just idea of the splendor and costliness of the building.
  • As a testimony to the liberality, willingness, and unstinting self-sacrifice

            of all classes in the congregation.

  • As specially indicating the destination of the atonement-money — the

            making of the “sockets” on which the tabernacle was reared (v. 27).

  • As a lesson of exactitude in church finance. A church is not at liberty to

            deal in a slovenly manner with its receipts and disbursements. Careful

            accounts should be kept and published. This:


ü      Gives confidence in the management;

ü      Is an encouragement to giving;

ü      Prevents charges of maladministration;

ü       Is a prevention against waste.



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