Exodus Chapter 36
Verses 1-9: (See notes on 25:16-18).
Exodus 36:1 “Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.”
Or every ingenious artificer under them. When they began to work is not precisely said, but it is very probable they set about it directly, as soon as they were furnished with materials for it. Nor is it said where they were brought. It is very likely there was a particular place, where they were ranged according to their respective manufactories. And where they did their work under the inspection, and by the direction of these two men.
In whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding, to know how to work all manner of work. For the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the Lord had commanded. For as all the wisdom and understanding, which Bezaleel and Aholiab had for the building of the tabernacle, and making everything appertaining to it. And for instructing others to do the same, were from the Lord. So all the wisdom, understanding, and capacity in the artificers to learn of them, and work according to their directions, were also from him. Who in a very extraordinary manner enlarged their faculties, and increased their natural abilities, to take in what was suggested to them, and perform their work exactly agreeable thereunto.
This statement just meant that Bezaleel and Aholiab fully used the talents God had given them and brought to pass the work.
Exodus 36:2 “And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, [even] every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:”
It was not enough that they had qualifications for this work, but they must have a call to it from Moses, to whom the whole affair was committed. To see that it was done according to the pattern shown him in the mount. So all that are concerned in the public work and service of the church of God should have a call unto it both from the Lord and from the church.
“In whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, even everyone whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it. Who had not only abilities given him of God, but a mind disposed for it, a willingness of heart, a readiness of soul for such service, was even eager upon it, and in haste to be at it.
Exodus 36:3 “And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it [withal]. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning.”
“And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought”. It appears that the building was begun after the first few contributions were made. It was progressively carried on, and no necessity occurred to suspend operations even for the shortest interval, from want of the requisite materials.
“They brought yet unto him free offerings every morning”: Moses, in common with other Oriental magistrates, had his morning levees for receiving the people (see Exodus 18:13). And it was while he was performing his magisterial duties that the people brought unto him freewill offerings every morning. Some who had nothing but their manual labor to give would spend a great part of the night in hastening to complete their self-imposed task before the early dawn. Others might find their hearts constrained by silent meditations on their beds to open their coffers and give a part of their hoarded treasure to the pious object. All whose hearts were touched by piety, penitence, or gratitude, repaired with eager haste into the presence of Moses. Not as heretofore, to have their controversies settled, but to lay on his tribunal their contributions to the sanctuary of God (2 Cor. 9:7).
Even though this is repetitious of what we have read in previous passages, there are lessons to be learned here. The thing that is very obvious to me is that all the congregation who loved the Lord was in some way involved in building the sanctuary. A church and its members are like a great big puzzle. The puzzle cannot be completed until every piece (member), takes his rightful place in the puzzle. Moses was important because he had the plan from God. Bezaleel and Aholiab were important because they had the skill and wisdom. The congregation had to bring the materials to work with. If anyone refused to do his part, the tabernacle and its court would not be built.
Exodus 36:4 “And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made;”
The ingenious artificers who were employed, some in one thing, and some in another, either on the tabernacle itself, or the vessels of it, and things appertaining to it.
“Came every man from his work which they made”: Left off their work by mutual consent and agreement, and came in a body to Moses.
Exodus 36:5 “And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.”
By the calculations, which the practiced eyes of the workmen enabled them to make, they were unanimously of the opinion that the supply already far exceeded the demand and that no more contributions were required. Such a report reflects the highest honor on their character as men of the strictest honor and integrity. Who, notwithstanding they had command of an untold amount of the most precious things and might, without any risk of human discovery, have appropriated much to their own use, were too high principled for such acts of peculation. Forthwith, a proclamation was issued to stop further contributions (Exodus 36:6).
What a wonderful problem to have. The people (congregation), had brought more than they could possibly use. Many small churches have a problem of having enough offerings to even keep the doors open. If members of churches everywhere had the zeal in giving that these people did, God’s work could be carried on. Some have abused the gifts God’s people have given for the work and they make it difficult for the people to know just where to give.
Exodus 36:6 “And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.”
Moses felt it necessary to interfere, and forbid further offerings. By the expression, “Let neither man nor woman make any more work, it would seem that the superfluous offerings were chiefly such things as were produced by labor. Thread, goats’ hair yarn, and the like (See Exodus 35:25-26). The humblest class of contributors would thus appear to have shown itself the most zealous. When will Christian liberality be so excessive as to require to be “restrained”?
Exodus 36:7 “For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”
The gold, silver, brass, and precious stones, the wood and yarn, which had been already brought in, were sufficient for everything they were ordered to make.
“And too much”: A great deal more than would be used”: Much would remain after all was wrought. What was done with this is not said, whether it was returned to the people, or laid up for the use of the tabernacle and service, as might hereafter be wanted; which latter seems most probable.
We see that these workers, Aholiab and Bezaleel, were honest men. These gifts for God’s work were used for God’s work, not for selfish purposes. There could have been a problem where to store more as well.
Verses 8-38: Compared with (26:1-37), there is very little difference in these instructions except that this time, the tabernacle is the initial reference point rather than the ark.
Exodus 36:8-9 “And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains [of] fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: [with] cherubims of cunning work made he them.” “The length of one curtain [was] twenty and eight cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: the curtains [were] all of one size.”
Did the part that was assigned him, what he was fittest for, and most skillful in: particularly some: “Made ten curtains”: Which were properly the tabernacle, and were made first, and then the several things appertaining to it. And here, to the end of the chapter (Exodus 36:9), is only an account of the making of the tabernacle, its curtains, coverings, boards, sockets, and bars, the vail for the most holy place, and the hangings for the tabernacle, exactly as they are ordered to be made (see note on Exodus 26:1 to end of chapter). And it may be observed, that throughout the account of the various articles, it is all along said “he” did this and the other. Either referring to Moses, by whose orders they were done, or to Bezaleel, the chief director of the work, or to each and every one of the artificers severally concerned.
Verses 10-16: (See notes on 25:30).
Exodus 36:10 “And he coupled the five curtains one unto another: and [the other] five curtains he coupled one unto another.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26).
Exodus 36:11 “And he made loops of blue on the edge of one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling: likewise he made in the uttermost side of [another] curtain, in the coupling of the second.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26).
This was a detailed repetition of the instructions that the Lord gave Moses. It might seem to some that this is unnecessary to do, but I believe it shows that Moses, Bezaleel and Aholiab were not adding to, or taking away from the instructions that the Lord gave Moses. Many builders would have a hard time following the directions this precisely. Everything had such an exact spiritual meaning as well as the physical that everything had to be exactly as the Lord gave Moses.
Exodus 36:12 “Fifty loops made he in one curtain, and fifty loops made he in the edge of the curtain which [was] in the coupling of the second: the loops held one [curtain] to another.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:5).
Exodus 36:13 “And he made fifty taches of gold, and coupled the curtains one unto another with the taches: so it became one tabernacle.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:6).
We can see in all of these 50’s, just what I was saying about why it was so important to be so exact. The number “fifty” means jubilee, or set the captives free. The numbers 49 or 51 do not mean that. You can see why it was so important to be exact.
Exodus 36:14 “And he made curtains [of] goats’ [hair] for the tent over the tabernacle: eleven curtains he made them.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:7).
Exodus 36:15 “The length of one curtain [was] thirty cubits, and four cubits [was] the breadth of one curtain: the eleven curtains [were] of one size.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:8).
Exodus 36:16 “And he coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:9).
Verses 17-24: (See notes on 25:31).
Exodus 36:17 “And he made fifty loops upon the uttermost edge of the curtain in the coupling, and fifty loops made he upon the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:10).
Exodus 36:18 “And he made fifty taches [of] brass to couple the tent together, that it might be one.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:11).
Exodus 36:19 “And he made a covering for the tent [of] rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering [of] badgers’ skins above [that].”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:14).
We discussed before that gold was symbolic of the purity of God, silver was symbolic of redemption and brass had to do with judgment. You can easily see how important it was not to vary these metals. That the brass be located away from the Holy of Holies, and that silver was between the gold and bronze. Even the colors had to be the three godly colors: red, blue and purple.
Exodus 36:20 “And he made boards for the tabernacle [of] shittim wood, standing up.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:15).
Exodus 36:21 “The length of a board [was] ten cubits, and the breadth of a board one cubit and a half.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:16).
Exodus 36:22 “One board had two tenons, equally distant one from another: thus did he make for all the boards of the tabernacle.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:17).
Exodus 36:23 “And he made boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards for the south side southward:”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:18).
Exodus 36:24 “And forty sockets of silver he made under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:19).
I would like to stop and mention one more time here that silver is symbolic of redemption. We see these silver sockets under these boards. It is as if redemption was between the sinful earth and this house of the Lord here in the wilderness.
Verses 25-28: (See notes on 30:1-10).
Exodus 36:25 “And for the other side of the tabernacle, [which is] toward the north corner, he made twenty boards,”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:20).
Exodus 36:26 “And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:21).
Exodus 36:27 “And for the sides of the tabernacle westward he made six boards.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:22).
Exodus 36:28 “And two boards made he for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:23).
Exodus 36:29 “And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring: thus he did to both of them in both the corners.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:24).
Exodus 36:30 “And there were eight boards; and their sockets [were] sixteen sockets of silver, under every board two sockets.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:25).
Exodus 36:31 “And he made bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle,”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:26).
All of these sockets, boards and couplings seem to just go on and on to those who do not understand what each means. The symbolisms are fantastic. Even the wood symbolizes the world. Again, I remind you that the outer court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies symbolize the steps of a Christian. The candlestick, bread and many other symbols show us the Lord Jesus. Even the altar of incense symbolizes the prayers of the saints. We need to train our eyes to see beyond the literal in all of this, such as linen curtains (righteousness of Christ). You see everything in this point to the great sacrifice Jesus made for us, His salvation that He bought for us in His blood and how He has made the way open for us into the very Holy of Holies.
Exodus 36:32 “And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the sides westward.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:27).
Exodus 36:33 “And he made the middle bar to shoot through the boards from the one end to the other.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:28).
Exodus 36:34 “And he overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings [of] gold [to be] places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:29).
We need to remember one thing here that anything that came close to God had to be either 24 karat pure gold, or 24 karat pure gold overlaid. This stretched to the smallest items such as the bars we just read about.
Exodus 36:35 “And he made a veil [of] blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: [with] cherubims made he it of cunning work.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:31).
Exodus 36:36 “And he made thereunto four pillars [of] shittim [wood], and overlaid them with gold: their hooks [were of] gold; and he cast for them four sockets of silver.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:32).
Exodus 36:37 “And he made a hanging for the tabernacle door [of] blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework;”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:36).
Exodus 36:38 “And the five pillars of it with their hooks: and he overlaid their chapiters and their fillets with gold: but their five sockets [were of] brass.”
See notes on (Exodus Chapter 26:37).
Every little thing such as these curtains was simple, but beautiful as well.
Exodus Chapter 36 Questions
1. What two men were really in charge of the actual building of the tabernacle?
2. Describe what God had done for these people who were to work on the building.
3. Who did the people bring their offerings to?
4. Who were actually involved in the building of the tabernacle?
5. Tell how Moses, Bezaleel, Aholiab, and the congregation fit into the building of the tabernacle.
6. What unusual news did the workers bring to Moses in verse 5?
7. What proclamation did Moses make to the men and women in answer to the problem?
8. What were the curtains for the tabernacle made of?
9. Why does the author believe that this repetition of details of materials is given?
10. What does the number 50 mean?
11. The curtains to go over the tent were made of what?
12. Gold is symbolic of what?
13. Silver is symbolic of what?
14. Bronze is symbolic of what?
15. What are the three godly colors?
16. Why was silver under the boards next to the earth?
17. Wood symbolizes what?
18. The outer court, Holy Place, and Holy of Holies show us what?
19. The altar of incense symbolizes what?
20. Anything in the close proximity of God had to be what?
21. The veil of the tabernacle was made of what?
22. What two words can describe the tabernacle?