Exodus 39



(This chapter seems to be a fitting closing chapter to the last fourteen chapters [chps.

25-39] – It is said over and over here, “as the Lord commanded Moses” coupled

with “so they {people} made” – we are tempted to think that this is rather boring

reading – remember that God had told Moses “See, saith He, that thou make all

things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Hebrews 8:5) –

the earlier chapters 25-39 tell of God’s directions and the later ones tell of Moses

and the people carrying out the directions as directed!  WOULD TO GOD THAT


HAS DIRECTED   For the symbolism of each piece of work, furniture of the

tabernacle, or attire of the priests – see each of the chapters individually and

look for the commentary on its symbolism – chps. 25-38 -CY – 2010)



                        THE FURTHER PROGRESS OF THE WORK

                THE MAKING OF THE PRIEST’S DRESSES (vs. 1-31)


The entire work for the structure of the tabernacle being completed, it only remained

for Bezaleel and Aholiab to take in hand the priestly vestments, which had been

prescribed with the greatest elaboration in ch. 28:4-40. The present chapter is mainly

occupied in relating how the vestments were made, and follows, very nearly, the order

of the directions. Vs. 1-7 correspond to ch. 28:5-14; vs. 8-21 to ch. 28:15-38;

vs. 22-26 to ch. 28:31-34; vs. 27-29 to ch. 28:39-40; and vs. 30-31 to ch. 28:36-37.


1 “And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service,

to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the

LORD commanded Moses.” Of the blue, and purple, and scarlet i.e., of the

blue, purple, and scarlet thread which had been spun by the women, and brought

to Moses. See ch. 35:25. The omission of “fine linen” seems to be

accidental. Cloths of service. See the comment on ch. 31:10.


2 “And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine

twined linen.   3  And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into

wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the

fine linen, with cunning work.”  They did beat the gold into thin plates and

out it into wires.  This mode of producing gold thread is remarkable, and had

not been previously mentioned


4 “They made shoulder-pieces for it, to couple it together: by the two edges

was it coupled together.   5 And the curious girdle of his ephod, that was upon it,

was of the same, according to the work thereof; of gold, blue, and purple, and

scarlet, and fine twined linen; as the LORD commanded Moses.  6 And they

wrought onyx stones enclosed in ouches of gold, graven, as signets are graven,

with the names of the children of Israel.  7 And he put them on the shoulders

of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of

Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.  8 And he made the breastplate

of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and

scarlet, and fine twined linen.”


9  It was foursquare; they made the breastplate double: a span was the length

thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled.”  For a memorial.

Compare ch. 28:12.


10 “And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz,

and a carbuncle: this was the first row.  11 And the second row, an emerald,

a sapphire, and a diamond.  12 And the third row, a ligure (probably a jacinth),

an agate, and an amethyst.   13 And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a

jasper: they were enclosed in ouches of gold in their enclosings.”  On the

probable stones intended, see the comment upon ch. 28:17-20.


14 And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel,

twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one

with his name, according to the twelve tribes.  15 And they made upon the

breastplate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold.  16 And

they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings; and put the two rings

in the two ends of the breastplate.”  Two ouches of gold. Compare ch. 28:13, 25.


17 “And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings on the

ends of the breastplate.   18 And the two ends of the two wreathen chains

they fastened in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulder-pieces of

the ephod, before it.  19 And they made two rings of gold, and put them

on the two ends of the breastplate, upon the border of it, which was on

the side of the ephod inward.   20 And they made two other golden rings, and

put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart of it,

over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.

21 And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with

a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the

breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.

22 And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue.   23 And there

was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band

round about the hole, that it should not rend.  24 And they made upon the hems

of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.”

And twined linen. Rather “twined,” i.e., twisted together.  There was no direction to

use “fine twined linen” in making the pomegranates. See ch. 28:33


25 “And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the

pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; 

26 A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem

of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses.  27 And they made

coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons,”  Coats of fine

linen of woven work for Aaron and for his sons. Compare ch. 28:39-40.


28  And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen

breeches of fine twined linen,” A mitre… and goodly bonnets. The mitre

for Aaron (ch. 28:37-39), the “goodly bonnets,” or rather “caps” for his sons

(ibid. v. 40). The “linen breeches”, or drawers, were for both (ibid. vs. 42-43).



29 “And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet,

of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses.”  A girdle of fine twined

linen, etc. In the directions of ch. 28:39, this is called simply, “A girdle of needlework.”


30 “And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote

upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

31 And they tied unto it a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre; as the

LORD commanded Moses.” The plate of the holy crown. See ch.29:6, and

compare ch. 28:36. To fasten it on high. This was not mentioned in the directions,

which only ordered that it should be placed in front (ch.28:37).



The Priests and their Garments (vs. 1-31)

                      (See homily on ch. 28:1-43 – this website)





The remainder of the chapter (vs. 32-43) contains a recapitulation of the work done,

and a statement that it was all submitted to Moses and approved by him.  Everything

was brought to Moses for his approval — not perhaps all things at once, but each as it

was finished — and was judged by him “according to the pattern which he had seen

upon the mount” - (chps. 25:40; 26:30).. The order observed in the enumeration is

nearly, but not quite, the order in which it has been stated that the various things were

made.  We must suppose that if Moses disapproved of anything, it was rejected; but no

disapproval is mentioned.


32  Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation

finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD

commanded Moses, so did they.  33 And they brought the tabernacle unto

Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his

pillars, and his sockets,  34 And the covering of rams’ skins dyed red, and the

covering of badgers’ skins, and the vail of the covering,  35 The ark of the

testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy seat, 36 The table, and all the

vessels thereof, and the shewbread,  37 The pure candlestick, with the lamps

thereof, even with the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and

the oil for light,  38 And the golden altar, and the anointing oil, and the sweet

incense, and the hanging for the tabernacle door, 39 The brasen altar, and his

grate of brass, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,  40 The

hangings of the court, his pillars, and his sockets, and the hanging for the

court gate, his cords, and his pins, and all the vessels of the service of the

tabernacle, for the tent of the congregation, 41 The cloths of service to do

service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his

sons’ garments, to minister in the priest’s office.  42 According to all that the

LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work. 

43  And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as

the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.”

Accordingly Moses concluded all by “blessing” them; thereby signifying, not his

own approval only, but the Divine approval, of their diligence and obedience.




The Clothes of Service (vs. 1-41)




Ø      Their splendor. They were fashioned of gold and jewels, and blue, and

purple, and scarlet. God gives glory to His servants. He makes us kings

and priests unto Himself. (Revelation 1:6)  The spiritual nobleness and

beauty given now are but the earnest of the glory which will be hereafter.


Ø      Their purpose: they were clothes of service. The honor and comeliness

which God bestows are for service to Him in the midst of our brethren,

not to minister to our own:


o       spiritual pride and

o       unbrotherly judgment.



LORD’S COMMANDMENT, “As the Lord commanded Moses”

(5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31). “The children of Israel did according to all that the

Lord commanded Moses, so did they” (v. 32). “And Moses did look upon

 all the work; and behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded,

even so had they done it” (v. 43).


Ø      There was no deficiency: no part of the work was slighted. We may not

abate anything of all the Lord has commanded. The ordinances must be

observed as they have been delivered to us. The cross which Jesus has

called us to take up in His service must not be laid aside.


Ø      There was no excess. No room was given for the exercise of fancy, or

taste, or judgment, as to what might better impress, or improve, the

vulgar.  There was only one solicitudeto do what the Lord had

commanded. He alone is master here. We are merely servants. The

things which God had not commanded were as carefully kept out of

the worship as the things He had commanded were kept in it.


Ø      “And Moses blessed them.” Serving God thus, the blessing of

A GREATER THAN MOSES will rest upon us. And there awaits

us in the eternal light the “Well done! good and faithful servant!

......enter into the joy of thy Lord!”  (Matthew 25:23)




The Commanded Work Completed and Commended (vs. 42-43)


  • THERE IS A PROFESSED COMPLETION. We know not exactly how

long this work took to do. That it could not be done in a few days or even

a few weeks is plain; but it is equally plain that however long the time was,

the work was done with steadiness and devotion. There is no mention of

any hitch or unseemly dispute; all seems to have gone on with holy industry

and patience to the end. Looking, then, on this work, for which a special

endowment of the Spirit’s help was given, and which was completed, we

are bound also to feel that the work for which God in Christ has given His

Spirit to His Church in these latter days will also be accomplished. Hindered

and fragmentary is the appearance that it now presents; but it is going on.

The wonderful manifestations of Pentecost are the pledge of a work that

some day will have finis (end, conclusion) written upon it. Amid all the

uncertainties of prophecy; amid all the hapless guesses with respect to the

time of events, one thing is clear, that the prophecies point to a

CONSUMATION! There is a συντέλεια sunteleiaconsumation; end –

 to the work of the Church even as to this typical work of Bezaleel and



  • THERE IS A RIGOROUS INSPECTION. Many human observers, we

may be sure, had also inspected the work of Bezaleel and Aholiab; some to

praise, some also to carp. But it is not those whom men commend who are

really praiseworthy, nor those whom men censure who are censurable.

Moses looks, and ever as he looks there is the remembrance of his solemn

sojourn in the mount. He has in his instructed mind the standard of success

and excellence. Let us also, as being invited to become temples of the

living God — temple and sacrifice comprised in the varied faculties of one

living organism — consider the rigorous demand which is made on us.

These sacred articles, fashioned from perishable materials, and by human

hands, were yet such that they could be stamped with Divine approval; and

thus they are meant to direct us, that we may fashion all our life, in

affections, in aims, and in service, according to the pattern given in the

mount that mount in Galilee, where Jesus talked with all who were

willing to admit his authority.


  • THERE IS A HEARTY COMMENDATION. “Moses blessed them.”

There had been so much disobedience and pursuit of selfish aims before,

that when an obedience comes like the one mentioned here, it is important

to note the way in which God smiles upon it. For the blessing of Moses is

as the smile of God. God is as quick to show approval of all compliance

with His wishes as He is to frown upon all disregard of them; only, as men

will have it, there is more occasion for the frowning than for the favor.

This commendation is more fully expressed in ch. 40:34 – “Then a cloud

covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled

the tabernacle”  - where the wrapping of the tabernacle with the glory-cloud

signifies that what God did through Moses in the well-understood formula

of blessing, He could also do Himself by His own miraculous manifestations.

The successful work here and the immediate recognition of it serve to show,

in a more condemnatory aspect, the subsequent transgression of the people.

In the making of the tabernacle-furniture, they had recognized the claims

of God, and God had recognized their ability to meet His claims. He knew

that they could not yet be obedient in all things; He only asked that they

should be obedient as far as they were able to be obedient. They had shown

their ability once; and it was their great blame that they did not show it

again and again.



                                    A Blessing Upon Obedience (v. 43)


It is not every kind of obedience that brings down a blessing upon it. To deserve the

Divine approval, and obtain the Divine benediction, obedience must be, as was that

here recorded:


  • EXACT. “According to all that the Lord commanded, so the children of

            Israel made the work” (v. 42). “As the Lord had commanded, even so

            had they done it” (v. 43).


  • PROMPT. The work could not have commenced before the sixth or the

      seventh month, since Sinai was not reached till the third month (ch.19:1),

      and Moses passed in conference with God nearly three months. Yet

            the whole was finished before the year was out (see Exodus 40:1). Thus it

            appears that six months sufficed for the completion of everything.


  • INTELLIGENT. There was little misunderstanding — few, if any,

            mistakes. All comprehended the orders given to them, and each carried out

            his assigned portion. Unless this had been the case very generally, it is

            impossible that all would have been ready by the end of the year. The rapid

            completion of the work proves the intelligence of the workmen, Note what

            is said of their being “wise-hearted” (ch. 36:1, 2, 8). Men, for the most

            part, think to obtain the supreme blessing of eternal life, though their

            obedience has been:


Ø      Partial and inexact;

Ø      Tardy;

Ø      Marred by misapprehension of the commands given them.


            They do not seem to imagine that there will be any real inspection of their

            work, such as that which is here ascribed to Moses. “Moses did look upon

            all the work” (v. 43). Yet surely at the last day, man’s work will be

            tested in some real, searching way. Whatever may be meant by the

            expression“The fire shall try every man’s work” ( Corinthians 3:13),

            at any rate, some trial there will be. Faithful service to Christ will be

            rewarded by a blessing exceeding all that we can “ask or think” -

            (Ephesians 3:20-21) but there will be minute inquiry, whether the service

            has been indeed faithful.





(This chapter has been short in comment but exceedingly great in instruction.

Remember “the Lord commanded” and the people “so did they”! – CY – 2010)


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