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EXODUS 35-40


The Sabbath Emphasized Sabbath Regulations The Establishment of the Cult (35-40) Regulations for the Sabbath The Sabbath Rest
35:1 35:1-3 35:1 35:1-3 35:1-3
35:2-3 Offerings for the Tabernacle 35:2-3 Offerings for the Sacred Tent The Materials are Collected
35:4-9 35:4-9 35:4-9 35:4-9 35:4-19
Tabernacle Workmen Articles of the Tabernacle Articles for the Tent of the Presence
35:10-19 35:10-19 35:10-19 35:10-19
Gifts Received The Tabernacle Offerings Presented The People Bring Their Offerings
35:20-29 35:20-29 35:20-29 35:20-29 35:20-29
The Artisans Called by God Workers to Make the Tent of the Lord's Presence The Craftsmen for the Sanctuary
35:30-35 35:30-36:1 35:30-36:1 35:30-36:1 35:30-36:1

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


  1. The Tabernacle was the place where YHWH dwelt with Israel during the wilderness wandering period. It functioned as
    1. a place of revelation
    2. a place of sacrifice to maintain fellowship
    3. a symbol of YHWH's presence, guidance, and holiness
    The Tabernacle is the place where the guidelines in Leviticus are carried out. The Priests and Levites take the place of "the firstborns" (i.e., Exodus 13) as YHWH's servants.

  2. There is a detailed description found in Exodus 25-31.
    1. materials to be used, Exod. 25:2-6
    2. the details of the ark, Exod. 25:10-22
    3. the details of the table of showbread, Exod. 25:23-31
    4. the details of the lampstand, Exod. 25:31-40
    5. the details of the curtains, Exod. 26:1-14
    6. the details of the inner structure, Exod. 26:1-14
    7. the details of the inner veil, Exod. 26:31-35
    8. the details of the outer veil, Exod. 26:36-37
    9. the details of the altar of burnt offerings, Exod. 27:1-8
    10. the details of the courtyard, Exod. 27:9-19
    11. the details of the holy garments of Aaron, Exod. 28:1-5
      1. the details of the ephod in Exod. 28:6-14
      2. the details of the breastplate in Exod. 28:31-35
      3. the details of the ephod's robe in Exod. 28:31-35
      4. the turban in Exod. 28:36-43
    12. the details of consecration, Exod. 29:1-46
    13. the details of the altar of incense, Exod. 30:1-10
    14. the details of support of the Tabernacle, Exod. 30:11-16
    15. the details of the laver, Exod. 30:17-21
    16. the details of the anointing oil, Exod. 30:22-23
    17. the details of the incense, Exod. 30:34-38

  3. Although there is great detail, there is still ambivalence about the exact design of this particular portable worship center. The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia has a good picture of the basic floor plan (see ZPBE, vol. 5, p. 573).


1Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and said to them, "These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do:

35:1 "assembled" This (BDB 874, KB 1078, Hiphil IMPERFECT with waw) is the VERB form of a NOUN which is often used of Israel, Qahol. It forms the basis for NT "ekklesia" from LXX. See SPECIAL TOPIC: CHURCH (ekklesia).

▣ "the Lord has commanded" This VERB (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel PERFECT) occurs several times (cf. Exod. 35:1,4,10).

▣ "These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do" This phrase seems to relate to more than just the laws of the Sabbath (i.e., note the same VERB in Exod. 35:4 and 10).

2"For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day."

35:2 "For the six days work may be done, but on the seventh day" This same description of the laws of the Sabbath goes back to Gen. 2:1-3, but it is repeated in theological significance in the Ten Commandments found in Exod. 20:8-11 and Deut. 5:12-15. It is also repeated in Exod. 31:12-17 and Num. 15:32-36.

Notice how the weekly day of rest is characterized.

  1. a holy day
  2. a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord
  3. violators put to death (cf. Num. 15:32-36)
This is a serious commandment.

35:3 This verse is an additional piece of information that is unique to Exodus 35, although it is implied in Exod. 16:23. It forms the basis of much rabbinical discussion on exactly how the term "work" is to be defined. It seems to me that Exod. 35:2 and 3 are simply a representative sample of all of the Ten Commandments and their qualifications, found earlier in the book of Exodus.

4Moses spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying, 5'Take from among you a contribution to the Lord; whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as the Lord's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze, 6and blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goats' hair, 7and rams' skins dyed red, and porpoise skins, and acacia wood, 8and oil for lighting, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense, 9and onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece."

35:5 "Take from among you a contribution to the Lord" Notice that there are two elements here. The ornaments mentioned are the ones that had been taken from the Egyptians (cf. Exod. 3:22; 11:2; 12:36). They were the source of the great sin of the golden calf (Exodus 32), but here of the great benefit of the Tabernacle. This may reflect a theology of the neutrality of things. It is how we use things that make them evil or good. Here the ornaments would be used for the will of God.

▣ "whoever is of a willing heart" Note that it was to be a voluntary contribution (cf. Exod. 35:5,21- 22,26,29). We learn from Exod. 36:2-7 that the generosity of the Hebrews had to be stopped by a command from Moses. This shows that they wanted to participate in the Tabernacle, which was a physical key to the relationship between YHWH (holy) and His people (unholy).

▣ "contributions of gold, silver, and bronze" This was a way of listing the superior to inferior metals. Bronze was a combination of copper and zinc.

35:6 "blue, purple and scarlet" It is very difficult to be precise about these colors, or any colors of the ancient world (see SPECIAL TOPIC: ANE SACRED COLORS).

  1. The term "blue" (BDB 1067) seems to be an Akkadian word which means "violet blue."
  2. The term "purple" (BDB 71) seems to be a Sanskrit word that means "reddish-purple."
  3. The term "scarlet" (BDB 1040) comes from a dye made from the crushed bodies of insects.
So, all of these colors would basically be a reddish purple. How much of a distinction is found between them or how much they are synonymous is uncertain. This same ambiguity can be found in the color of gems.

35:7 "ram skins dyed red and porpoise skins, and acacia wood" It is interesting that God told them to use acacia wood (see SPECIAL TOPIC: ACACIA WOOD), which is a hard, aromatic wood found in a common desert plant. If it is true that this is a common plant then why would something so exotic as porpoise skins be required? It seems that the ram's skin being dyed red may, in reality, be simply the tanning process which made them look red and that "porpoise skins" (see SPECIAL TOPIC: PORPOISE SKINS) may, in reality, be an Egyptian term for leather goods in general. It is not that God called for strange and unique materials but that the common materials at hand be used. It is also possible that these leather materials were not an outer layer but special leather bags to carry the black goat hair tent and its inner curtains.

35:9 "the ephod" This again is a rather difficult word to pin down. In some parts of the OT it can refer to an idol (cf. Jdgs. 8:27). In other parts it is used for a way to determine the will of God (cf. 1 Sam. 23:9-11) and here it is a woven vest. This vest was unique in the sense that it would have two stones on the shoulders, each containing the names of six tribes, while on the front there were gold chains that would hold the unique piece of equipment called "the breastplate of judgment" (see SPECIAL TOPIC: BREASTPLATE OF THE HIGH PRIEST), which would have a special stone for each tribe. Behind the breastplate would be a pocket that held the Urim and Thummim (see SPECIAL TOPIC: URIM AND THUMMIN),which was the Israeli way of determining the will of God during this period (cf. Exod. 28:6-30 for a detailed description). See SPECIAL TOPIC: EPHOD.

10"'Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the Lord has commanded: 11the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12the ark and its poles, the mercy seat, and the curtain of the screen; 13the table and its poles, and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 14the lampstand also for the light and its utensils and its lamps and the oil for the light; 15and the altar of incense and its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the doorway at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; 17the hangings of the court, its pillars and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court and their cords; 19the woven garments for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.'"

35:10 "Let every skilled man among you come" Everyone was encouraged to contribute to the Tabernacle; every man was encouraged to lend his labor to the construction. However, in Exod. 35:30,34, there would be specially gifted construction foremen to guide the process.

35:11 "the tabernacle" The English term, tabernacle, comes from the Latin Vulgate translation. In Hebrew it simply means "the tent of reunion" or "the tent of meeting" (BDB 1015). From this point on the discussion of the most inner and holy part of the tabernacle, "the Holy of Holies," will be described and then move outward to describe the other furnishings.

▣ "its tent and its covering" It was made up of ten curtains. This inner tent was about forty-five by fifteen feet. It had an inside layer of goat's wool, an intermediate layer, discussed in Exod. 27:6-11, and an outer layer made of leather (cf. Exod. 26:12-13). This inner tent was divided into a perfect cube, the Holy of Holies, where the ark of the covenant would sit, and an outer, rectangular-shaped enclosure called the Holy Place, in which three items of sacred furniture would reside.

35:12 "the ark" This is a different Hebrew term from the term "ark" used of Noah's ark or the basket in which Moses was placed as a child. This term would better be translated "chest." There was some discrepancy in the exact size of this ark because of the ambiguity of the term "cubit." However, it seems to be about four feet by two and a half feet by two and a half feet. It was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. It became the very holy container for some of the most sacred objects of Israel, including the Ten Commandments, Aaron's rod that budded, and a jar of manna. See SPECIAL TOPIC: ARK OF THE COVENANT.

▣ "its poles" The ark was to have permanent poles to be carried by the Levites when the people of God moved from one place to another. The ark became the symbol of the presence of God after the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

▣ "the mercy seat" This comes from a Hebrew term (see SPECIAL TOPIC: MERCY SEAT), which means "to cover." It came to mean that especially holy place where the High Priest sprinkled the blood of bulls and goats on the national day of repentance, the Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16). There were two small angelic creatures whose wings met in the middle and God symbolically dwelt between the wings of these cherubim. The term "cherub" (see SPECIAL TOPIC: CHERUBIM) comes from the Hebrew term for "intercessor." They are described in slightly different ways in Ezekiel 1 and 10 and Revelation 4. The Hebrews viewed heaven as the place where God lived with the ark as His footstool (cf. Ps. 99:5).

▣ "the curtain of the screen" This refers to that curtain directly in front of the ark which closed off the end-third of this inner tent and made it the Holy of Holies (i.e., a perfect cube, cf. Exod. 26:31-37).

35:13 "the table and its poles" This refers to the table on which the bread of the presence was placed (see SPECIAL TOPIC: BREAD OF THE PRESENCE, cf. Exod. 25:23ff). These loaves of bread weighed about two and a half to three pounds (cf. Lev. 24:5). There is some debate as to whether they were replaced weekly. The twelve of them, one for each of the twelve tribes, symbolized God's provision. This table seems to be on the north side and the special seven-pointed lampstand on the south (cf. Exod. 26:35). A man would traditionally face east and the other directions were determined by his right hand, his left hand, and his back.

35:14 "the lampstand" The Hebrew term is "Menorah"; see SPECIAL TOPIC: LAMPSTAND (menorah), which is described in detail in Exod. 25:33ff. This particular lampstand had seven light positions, while the one in Solomon's Temple would have ten. The arrangement seemed to be three on each side of a central shaft. On the six side shafts there were three almond flower buds and on the central shaft, four (Exod. 25:33-34).
The almond tree was the first tree of the season to bloom. It is uncertain whether the lamp was lit twenty-four hours a day or just at night. It provided light for the part of the tent called the Holy Place.

35:15 "the altar of incense" This was a small incense altar just before the inner veil and is described in Exod. 30:10 (see SPECIAL TOPIC: ALTAR OF INCENSE). This is the altar on which different kinds of spices were placed daily to make the inner tent smell aromatic. On the Day of Atonement, large amounts of spices were placed on this altar so that smoke would fill the Holy of Holies so that the High Priest might not see God and die. The coals of this altar were taken from the larger sacrificial altar.

▣ "and the screen for the doorway of the entrance of the tabernacle" This is the outer screen which divided the Holy Place from the outer courtyard. It contained no pictures of cherubim, as the inner one did, and is described in Exod. 26:36-37.

35:16 "the altar of burnt offering" This was just in front of the opening of the tabernacle, which faced east. It is described in Exod. 27:1-18 (see SPECIAL TOPIC: ALTAR OF SACRIFICE). It was about a seven and a half foot square at this point, although later in Solomon's Temple, it would be made much larger, 2 Chr. 3:1. It had four horns which became the most holy part (cf. Exod. 30:10; Lev. 4:7,18,25,30). This is where the animal sacrifices would be made and the coals for the altar of incense procured.

35:17 "the screen for the gate of the court" This seems to be the screen for the very outer part of the court. It is interesting to note that the laver, described in detail in Exod. 30:17-21, is not mentioned here.

35:19 "the woven garments for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests" These are described in detail in Exod. 28:1-3,31-39. Here, it is simply a kind of summary statement. The robe, the turban, and the sash are not mentioned.

20Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel departed from Moses' presence. 21Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord's contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. 22Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to the Lord. 23Every man, who had in his possession blue and purple and scarlet material and fine linen and goats' hair and rams' skins dyed red and porpoise skins, brought them. 24Everyone who could make a contribution of silver and bronze brought the Lord's contribution; and every man who had in his possession acacia wood for any work of the service brought it. 25All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen. 26All the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats' hair. 27The rulers brought the onyx stones and the stones for setting for the ephod and for the breastpiece; 28and the spice and the oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the Lord had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the Lord.

35:21 "Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came" This shows the voluntary nature of this enterprise, but also the supernatural drawing power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Exod. 35:5,21-22,26,29).

30Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, "See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; 32to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, 33and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. 34He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.

35:30 "the Lord has called by name Bezalel" This man and the man named Oholiab, mentioned in Exod. 35:34, are especially gifted and called artisans who will be in charge of putting the entire tent together. Notice that one of them is from the tribe of Judah and one from the tribe of Dan.

35:35 "He has filled them with skill to perform every work" This is the basic thrust of our wisdom saying that God never calls us to do anything that He does not equip us to do. He called every man to help, but He called two unique men to guide their efforts and trained them in a unique way. God usually uses human instrumentality and tries to balance the participation of the whole through the expertise of the few.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Why is there such a repetition in description in Exodus 25-31 and then again in 35-40?
  2. Why is there such a detailed description of the tabernacle?
  3. Do we know exactly how this tabernacle looked?
  4. What is the significance of the different types of precious metal and the different colors?
  5. Can you mentally picture these different items of furniture? If not, look at a Bible dictionary or Bible encyclopedia to help you.

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