At this chapter begins an account of the instructions God gave Moses
for erecting and furnishing the tabernacle.
Orders given for a collection to be made among the people, ver. 1 - 9.
Concerning the ark of the covenant, ver. 10 - 22.
The table of shew - bread, ver. 23 - 30.
The golden candlestick, ver. 31 - 40.
1: Doubtless when Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and
abode there so long, he saw and heard glorious things, but they were things
which were not lawful or possible to utter; and therefore, in the
records he kept of the transactions there, he saith nothing to satisfy
curiosity, but writes that only which he was to speak to the children
of Israel. Probably there never was any house or temple built for
sacred uses, before this tabernacle was erected by Moses. In this God
kept his court, as Israel's king, and it was intended for a sign
or token of his presence, that while they had that in the midst of them
they might never again ask, Is the Lord among us or not? And because in
the wilderness they dwelt in tents, even this royal palace was
ordered to be a tabernacle too, that it might move with them. And these
holy places made with hands were the figures of the true,(Heb 9:24). The gospel - church is the
true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man, (Heb 8:2).
The body of Christ, in and by which he made atonement, was the greater
and more perfect tabernacle, (Heb 9:11).
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, as in a tabernacle.
2: Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring me an offering
- This offering was to be given willingly, and with the heart. It
was not prescribed to them what or how much they must give, but it was left
to their generosity, that they might shew their good - will to the house of
God, and the offices thereof.
4: Blue, and purple, and scarlet - Materials of those colours.
5: Shittim - wood - A kind of wood growing in Egypt and the deserts
of Arabia, very durable and precious.
8: A sanctuary - A place of public and solemn worship; that I may
dwell among them. Not by my essence, which is everywhere; but by my grace
and glorious operations.
9: According to all that I shew thee - God shewed him an exact plan
of it in little, which he must conform to in all points. And God did
not only shew him the model, but gave him also particular directions how to
frame the tabernacle, according to that model, in all the parts of it. When
Moses was to describe the creation of the world, tho' it be such a
stately and curious fabrick, yet he gave a very short and general account of
it; but when he comes to describe the tabernacle, he doth it with the
greatest niceness and accuracy imaginable: for God's church and instituted
religion is more precious to him than all the rest of the world. And the
scriptures were written not to describe to us the works of nature,
(a general view of which is sufficient to lead us to the knowledge of the
Creator,) but to acquaint us with the methods of grace, and those things
which are purely matters of revelation.
10: The ark was a chest or coffer, in which the two tables of the
law, written with the finger of God, were to be deposited. If the
Jewish cubit was, as some learned men compute three inches longer
than our half - yard, (twenty one inches in all) this chest or cabinet was
about fifty - two inches long, thirty - one broad and thirty one deep; it was
overlaid within and without with thin plates of gold; it had a crown, or
cornish of gold round it; rings and staves to carry it with; and in it he
must put the testimony. The tables of the law are called the
testimony, because God did in them testify his will; his giving them
that law was in token of his favour to them, and their acceptance of it
was in token of their subjection to him. This law was a testimony
to them to direct them in their duty, and would be a testimony
against them if they transgressed. The ark is called the ark of the
testimony, (Ex 30:6), and the tabernacle, the
tabernacle of the testimony, (Nu 10:11). The tables of the law
were carefully preserved in the ark, to teach us to make much of the word of
God, and to hide it in our inmost thoughts, as the ark was placed in the
holy of holies. It intimates likewise the care which divine providence ever
did, and ever will take to preserve the records of divine revelation in the
church, so that even in the latter days there shall be seen in his
temple the ark of his testament. See (Re 11:19).
17: The mercy - seat was the covering of the ark, made exactly to fit
the dimensions of it. This propitiatory covering, as it might well be
translated, was a type of Christ the great propitiation, whose
satisfaction covers our transgressions, and comes between us and the curse
18: The cherubim (Cherubim is the plural of Cherub, not
Cherubims) were fixed to the mercy - seat, and of a piece with it, and
spread their wings over it. It is supposed these were designed to represent
the holy angels, (who always attend the Shechinah, or divine majesty,)
not by any effigies of an angel, but some emblem of the angelical nature,
probably one or more of those four faces spoken of (Eze 1:10).
Whatever the faces were, they looked one towards another, and both
downwards towards the ark, while their wings were stretched out so as to
touch one another. It notes their attendance upon the Redeemer, their
readiness to do his will, their presence in the assemblies of saints,(Ps 68:17,1Co 11:10), and their desire to look into the mysteries
of the gospel, which they diligently contemplate, (1Pe 1:12). God is
said to dwell or sit between the cherubim, on the mercy - seat,(Ps 80:1), and from thence he here promiseth for the future to
meet with Moses, and to commune with him. Thus he manifests
himself, willing to keep up communion with us, by the mediation of Christ.
23: This table was to stand not in the holy of holies, (nothing was
in that but the ark with its appurtenances) but in the outer part of the
tabernacle, called the sanctuary or holy place. This table was to be
always furnished with the shew - bread, or bread of faces, twelve
loaves, one for each tribe, set in two rows, six in a row. As the ark
signified God's being present with them, so the twelve loaves signified
their being presented to God. This bread was designed to be, a thankful
acknowledgment of God's goodness to them in giving them their daily
bread, a token of their communion with God; this bread on God's table
being made of the same corn as the bread on their own tables. And a type
of the spiritual provision which is made in the church, by the gospel of
Christ, for all that are made priests to our God.
31: This candlestick had many branches drawn from the main
shaft, which had not only bowls to put the oil and the kindled wick
in for necessity, but knops made in the form of a pomegranate and
flowers for ornament. The tabernacle had no windows, all its light was
candle - light, which notes the comparative darkness of that dispensation,
while the sun of righteousness was not as yet risen, nor had the
day - star from on high visited his church. Yet God left not himself
without witness, nor them without instruction; the commandment was a lamp,
and the law a light, and the prophets were branches from that lamp, which
gave light in their several ages. The church is still dark, as the
tabernacle was, in comparison with what it will be in heaven: but the
word of God is the candlestick, a light burning in a dark place.