Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Exodus 36–38

Exodus 36–38: The building of the Tabernacle


I’ve combined three chapters together, for this post, as Chapters 37 and 38 are just continuations from Chapter 36.

In the last chapter, Moses had appointed Bezalel and Oholiab to oversee the work of building the Tabernacle—and to teach the necessary skills to others—and in this chapter they get to work. All of the skilled craftsmen start to pull together all of the materials that have been donated by the Israelites, and they start building the Tabernacle. As they begin work, the Israelites are still bringing materials, every morning, to donate to the job.

Before too long, the workers come back to Moses and report that they have more than enough material to finish the work, so Moses sends word to the rest of the Israelites that they aren’t to donate anything for the Tabernacle anymore.

Verses 36:8–38:20 simply outline everything that they built, according to the LORD’s specifications; the Tabernacle, the Ark, the Table, the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Basin for Washing, and the Courtyard.

Verses 38:21–31 list out all of the materials used in the building of the Tabernacle:

  • gold: about 1 metric ton
  • silver: about 3.4 metric tons
    • It says in verse 8:26 that this was about 5.5 grams of silver per person
  • bronze: about 2.4 metric tons


Again, I don’t really have much to say about this chapter. It’s simply outlining that the Israelites carried out the LORD’s commands, in building the Tabernacle. The Bible does this, sometimes: the LORD will give a series of commands to the Israelites (“I want you to do X, Y, and Z”), and then instead of just saying “the people obeyed the LORD’s commands”, it will instead go into details; “the people obeyed the LORD’s commands, and did X, Y, and Z”. It not only drives home how specific the LORD’s commands were, but it also drives home the fact that the people are eager to do everything He has commanded.

It’s tempting, sometimes, to go back and compare everything in chapters 36–38 with the actual commands given in the earlier chapters, and see if everything is mentioned, point by point. However

  1. Even if there is a point that’s missing, it doesn’t mean they didn’t do it—it may just mean that it was left out of the description of what they did.
  2. Who has the time for an exercise like that, other than Bible College students? If the Israelites didn’t carry out the LORD’s commands faithfully, I’m sure there will be mention of it in an upcoming chapter.

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