Exodus 38
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chapters 35–40

These chapters, which all belong to P, form the sequel to chs. 25–31, and narrate the execution of the instructions there communicated to Moses. In the main, the narrative is repeated verbatim from the instructions in chs. 25–31, with the simple substitution of past tenses for future; in two or three cases, however, a phrase is altered, and there are also some instances of omission or abridgement. Thus a few verses (as Exodus 25:8- 9; Exodus 25:15; Exodus 25:22; Exodus 25:40) are omitted, as not needing repetition; others (as Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:21; Exodus 25:30; Exodus 25:37 b), chiefly relating to the position or use of the different vessels named, are incorporated in Exodus 40:17-23, the account of the erection of the Tent of Meeting, where they actually belong; and the sections on the Anointing Oil and the Incense (Exodus 30:22-38) are merely referred to briefly in a single verse (Exodus 37:29). There are also, as compared with chs. 25–31, differences in the order of contents. The relation of chs. 35–40 to chs. 25–31 will appear perhaps most clearly from the following synoptical table:—

Chapters 35–40  Chapters 25–31

Exodus 35:1-3. Observance of the Sabbath inculcated (v. 3 added).  Exodus 31:15 (vv. 13–14, 16–17 not repeated).

Exodus 35:4-9. The people invited to make voluntary offerings.  Exodus 25:2-7 (vv. 8, 9 not repeated).

Exodus 35:10-19. All skilled workmen invited to assist  

Exodus 35:20-29. Presentation of the offerings  

Exodus 35:30 to Exodus 36:1. Moses announces to the people the appointment of Bĕẓal’çl and Oholiab, and of other skilled workmen qualified to assist.  Exodus 31:2-6 (vv. 7–11, the details of things to be made, not repeated).

Exodus 36:2-7. Delivery of the offerings to Běẓal’çl and Oholiab. The liberality of the people has to be checked.  

Exodus 36:8-19. The curtains for the Dwelling, the tent over it, and the two outer coverings.  Exodus 26:1-11; Exodus 26:14 (vv. 9b, 12, 13 not repeated).

Exodus 36:20-34. The boards, or ‘frames,’ to support the curtains.  Exodus 26:15-29 (v. 30 not repeated).

Exodus 36:35-38. The Veil and Screen.  Exodus 26:31-32; Exodus 26:36-37 (vv. 33–35 not repeated).

Exodus 37:1-9. The Ark and Mercy-seat.  Exodus 25:10-14; Exodus 25:17-20 (vv. 15, 16, 21, 22 not repeated).

Exodus 37:10-16. The Table of Presence-bread.  Exodus 25:23-29 (v. 30 not repeated).

Exodus 37:17-24. The Candlestick.  Exodus 25:31-39 (vv. 37b, 40 not repeated.

Exodus 37:25-28. The Altar of Incense.  Exodus 30:1-5 (vv. 6–10 not repeated).

Exodus 37:29. The Anointing Oil, and the Incense.  Exodus 30:22-25; Exodus 30:34-35 (abridged: vv. 26–33, 36–38 not repeated).

Exodus 38:1-7. The Altar of Burnt-offering.  Exodus 27:1-8 a (v. 8b not repeated).

Exodus 38:8 a. The Bronze Laver (v. 8b is new).  Exodus 30:18 a (vv. 18b–21 not repeated.

Exodus 38:9-20. The Court of the Tent of Meeting.  Exodus 27:9-19.

Exodus 38:21-31. Account of the amount of metal employed.  

Exodus 39:1-31. Vestments of the priests:—  Exodus 28:6-43.

Exodus 39:2-5. The ephod (v. 1 introductory; most of v. 3 new.  Exodus 28:6-8.

Exodus 39:6-7. The two onyx stones on the shoulder-straps, engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel.  Exodus 28:9-12 (abridged).

Exodus 39:8-21. The pouch of judgement, to contain the Urim and Thummim.  Exodus 28:15-28 (vv. 13, 14 much abridged in Exodus 39:16 a: vv. 29, 30 (the Urim and Thummim) not repeated).

Exodus 39:22-26. The robe of the ephod.  Exodus 28:31-35 a (v. 35b not repeated).

Exodus 39:27-29. The tunics, turban, caps, drawers, and sashes.  Exodus 28:39-40; Exodus 28:42 a (abridged: vv. 41, 42b, 43 not repeated).

Exodus 39:30-31. The golden plate, on the front of the turban.  Exodus 28:36-37 (v. 38 not repeated.

Exodus 39:32-43. Delivery of the completed work to Moses.  

Exodus 40:1-8. Moses is commanded to set up the Tent of Meeting, and to arrange the sacred vessels in their places.  

Exodus 40:9-15. Repetition of command to anoint the Tent of Meeting, and the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26-29); and to wash, invest, and anoint the priests (Exodus 29:4-9; Exodus 30:30).  

Exodus 40:16-33. Moses sets up the Tent of Meeting, and arranges the sacred vessels according to the instructions given partly in vv. 1–8, partly in chs. Exodus 25-31.  See references to chs. 25–31 in the notes on Exodus 40:16-33.

Exodus 40:34-38. The cloud takes up its abode on the Tent of Meeting.  

From a critical point of view, the most noticeable variation is the different position of the Altar of Incense and the Bronze Laver. These, which appeared before in the appendix to chs. 25–29, viz. in ch. 30, are here introduced in accordance with the place which they would naturally hold, viz. in the description of the Dwelling (Exo Exodus 37:25-28), and Court (Exodus 38:8), respectively; the Altar of Incense is mentioned also in ch. 40 (vv. 5, 26). If, therefore, chs. 30–31 are rightly assigned to a secondary stratum of P (see p. 328), the same conclusion will follow, as a necessary corollary, for chs. 35–40. There are other indications pointing in the same direction. In the LXX. of chs. 35–40 the order of the contents in Exodus 36:8 b–39:43 differs remarkably from the Hebrew (see the Table in LOT. 37 f. [6–8 40 f.], or McNeile, pp. Exo 224 f.); and the renderings of many of the technical terms of the Hebrew differ from those in chs. 25–31 (see examples in McNeile, p. 226). It is thus difficult to suppose either (1) that the translators of chs. 35–40 had before them the Hebrew text of these chapters in its present form, or (2) that these translators were the same as those who translated chs. 1–34; and it becomes probable ‘that the Heb. text used by the original translators of Exodus did not contain chs. 35–40, and that they were supplied afterwards from a longer Heb. recension of the book, in which these chapters had not yet reached their final form’ (Swete, Intr. to OT. in Greek, p. 236). These considerations support the conclusion, reached in the first instance upon independent grounds (the relation of these chapters to chs. 30, 31), that chs. 35–40 belong to a secondary and posterior stratum of P (P2[223] or P3[224]). This is recognized even by Dillm., who supposes (Nu. Dt. Jos. pp. 635, 688) that the execution of the instructions contained in chs. 25–31 was originally narrated quite briefly—in, for instance, Exodus 35:1-5; Exodus 35:20-21, Exodus 36:2-6, Exodus 40:1-2; Exodus 40:34-38 [and Leviticus 8]; and that all the rest of chs. 35–40 is an expansion due to a later hand (or hands). See further Kuen. Hex. pp. 76–80.

[223] Secondary strata of P (see p. xii top; pp. 328f., 378).

[224] Secondary strata of P (see p. xii top; pp. 328f., 378).

And he made the altar of burnt offering of shittim wood: five cubits was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof; it was foursquare; and three cubits the height thereof.
1. the altar of burnt offering] for distinction from the altar of incense (Exodus 37:25-28). In Exodus 27:1 ‘the altar’ simply. See introd. to chs. 30–31 (p. 329).

1–7. (Exodus 27:1-8 a). The altar of burnt offering. In vv. 4, 5 there are some changes of order: Exodus 27:8 b is not repeated.

And he made the horns thereof on the four corners of it; the horns thereof were of the same: and he overlaid it with brass.
2. overlaid it with bronze] According to Numbers 16:38-39 (where ‘a covering’ is properly ‘an overlaying,’ as here), this was not done till a later time.

And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the shovels, and the basons, and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the vessels thereof made he of brass.
And he made for the altar a brasen grate of network under the compass thereof beneath unto the midst of it.
And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate of brass, to be places for the staves.
And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with brass.
And he put the staves into the rings on the sides of the altar, to bear it withal; he made the altar hollow with boards.
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
8. The Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:18-21). V. 8a as Exodus 30:18 a; v. 8b is new. Exodus 30:18 b–21 is not repeated here (see Exodus 40:30-32).

8b. the serving women which served] The expression is peculiar, the word used (צבא) being (both times) not the ordinary Heb. for ‘serve,’ but the word which means properly and regularly to serve in a host, to war or fight. The same word is used by P of the service of the Levites in (particularly) the transport of the Tabernacle and its appurtenances (Numbers 4:1-33), Numbers 4:23 (RVm.) ‘Heb. to war the warfare’; cf. the cognate subst. warfare (EVV. ‘service’), vv. 3 (see RVm.), 35, 39, 43, Exodus 8:24-25 (see RVm.). Either, it seems, the Levites in Nu., and the women here, are pictured as performing their duties in organized bands, like soldiers in an army (cf. Ges. Thes., Di.), or (Gray, Numbers, pp. 32, 36) the word is one of those which in postexilic times, when the nation had become a church, acquired a religious connotation. The women were no doubt thought of as washing, cleaning, repairing, &c. Women ‘doing “warfare” at the entrance to the tent of meeting’ are also mentioned in 1 Samuel 2:22 b: but the passage is not expressed in the LXX., besides differing in representation from the context (the sanctuary a ‘tent,’ not a hêkâl, or ‘temple’); and is beyond question a late gloss. LXX. render νηστεύσασαι, ‘fasting,’ either paraphrasing, or misreading צבאת as צמות (‘fasting’). Onk. has who prayed. For other haggadic interpretations, see reff. in DI. The clause (8b) must (Di. al.) be a later addition to the original narrative; for it obviously presupposes the erection of the Tent of Meeting, which is not narrated till ch. 40.

The metal mirrors are to be thought of as the terûmâh, or ‘contribution,’ of the women; and the laver and its base, cast from them, as a ‘memorial’ of the gift. Comp. the explanation of the metal casing of the altar in Numbers 16:37-40.

And he made the court: on the south side southward the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, an hundred cubits:
9–20 (Exodus 27:9-19). The Court of the Tent of Meeting. In vv. 16–19 the text (Exodus 27:16-18) is reproduced with greater freedom than usual.

Their pillars were twenty, and their brasen sockets twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver.
10. fillets] i.e. bands, or binding-rings; see on Exodus 27:10.

12b. the hooks, &c.] Not in Exodus 27:12.

And for the north side the hangings were an hundred cubits, their pillars were twenty, and their sockets of brass twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and their sockets ten; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
And for the east side eastward fifty cubits.
The hangings of the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.
And for the other side of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.
15. on this handof the court] Not in Exodus 27:15; and, as Di. points out, a misplaced gloss (there is no ‘so’ in the Heb. at the beginning of the verse): read therefore (for and so, &c.), and for the other side were hangings of fifteen cubits.

All the hangings of the court round about were of fine twined linen.
16. of fine twined linen] Cf. Exodus 27:18, towards the end.

And the sockets for the pillars were of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver; and the overlaying of their chapiters of silver; and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver.
17. Expanded from Exodus 27:17.

the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver] Sam. their hooks of silver (Exodus 27:17), relieving the tautology with the last clause of the verse.

their chapiters] not mentioned in Exodus 27:17.

And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court.
18, 19. The screen for the gate of the Court. V. 18a=Exodus 27:16 a; v. 18b (‘the height,’ &c.) inferred from Exodus 27:18 (‘answerable to’ = corresponding to; cf. in RV. Ezekiel 40:18; Ezekiel 45:7; Ezekiel 48:13; Ezekiel 48:18; and see DB. s.v. Answer). V. 19a =Exodus 27:16 b; v.19b their hooks of silver inferred from Exodus 27:17 b; the ‘chapiters’ and ‘fillets’ not mentioned in Exodus 27:16 (cf. above, on v. 17), only the silver fillets implied in Exodus 27:17 a.

And their pillars were four, and their sockets of brass four; their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their chapiters and their fillets of silver.
And all the pins of the tabernacle, and of the court round about, were of brass.
20. As Exodus 27:19 b.

This is the sum of the tabernacle, even of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest.
21. Superscription. These are the reckonings of (the metals employed for) the Dwelling, (even) the Dwelling of the testimony (so Numbers 1:50; Numbers 1:53; Numbers 10:11; cf. on Exodus 25:16), which were reckoned according to the commandment of Moses; (being) the work of the Levites, under the hand, &c. ‘For the service’ is wrong grammatically (for the constr. see G.-K. § 118m); the meaning is not that the reckonings were made for the Levites, but that they were the work of the Levites, done by them under the direction of Ithamar (cf. Numbers 4:28; Numbers 4:33; Numbers 7:8, where the same prep. is rendered under). For Ithamar see on Exodus 6:23. ‘Reckoning’ is derived from the verb explained on Exodus 30:12, and is cognate with ‘counted’ just below and ‘numbered’ in v. 25.

21–31. Account of the amount of metal employed in the construction of the Tent of Meeting. A ‘very late addition’ to the narrative (Di., in agreement with We. and others): notice (1) in v. 25 f. the census of Numbers 1 (v. 46) is presupposed, although according to P (Numbers 1:1 compared with Exodus 40:17) this did not take place till a whole month after the Tabernacle was completed and erected; (2) the Levites, who are first appointed to their official duties in Numbers 3, are already (cf. Numbers 4:33) represented as acting under Ithamar’s superintendence; (3) ‘wave-offering’ (vv. 24, 29) appears in the same weakened sense as in Exodus 35:22; (4) the writer, while passing over altogether the silver offered voluntarily (Exodus 25:3, Exodus 35:5 f., 24), to all appearance (comp. v. 26 with Exodus 31:13-14) misunderstands Exodus 30:11-16, treating the poll-tax there imposed, at the time of a census, in order to form a fund for the maintenance of daily worship, as if it were a contribution of silver in kind, for the construction of the sanctuary.

And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.
22, 23. The writer, after mentioning what the Levites did (v. 21), reverts to the more important work done by the two artificers, Bĕẓal’çl and Oholiab (Exodus 31:2; Exodus 31:6, Exodus 35:30; Exodus 35:35).

And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.
23. a craftsman, and a pattern-weaver, &c.] as Exodus 35:35.

All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
24. The gold. This amounted to 29 talents, and 730 shekels, or (as the talent contained Exo 3000 shekels) 87,730 shekels, i.e. if the ‘sacred’ shekel (p. 333) weighed 224 grs., c. 40,940 oz. troy,—which, even at the present value of gold, would be worth nearly £ 160,000.

the offering] properly, the wave-offering; see on Exodus 35:22. So v. 29.

the sacred shekel] See on Exodus 30:13; and cf. DB. iv. 906a.

And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
25–28. The silver, with particulars of the purposes for which it was used. This amounted to 100 talents and 1775 shekels, i.e. 301,775 shekels (c. Exo 140,828 oz.), being half a shekel a head, exacted (according to Exodus 30:13 f.) from the 603,550 male Israelites, of 20 years old and upwards, of the census described in Numbers 1 (see v. 46). No account is taken of the silver offered voluntarily (Exodus 25:3, Exodus 35:5 f., 24).

A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.
26. a beḳa‘] Genesis 24:22.† Lit. a thing cleft or halved. Three beḳa‘s have been found recently in Palestine (Qu. St. of PEF., 1904, pp. 179, 211, ZDPV. 1906, p. 94), weighing respectively 90.58, 94.28, and 102.5 grains Troy. They are apparently light, or worn, beḳa‘s of the ‘Phoenician’ standard (DB. iv. 905b; EB. iv. 4444, 5297 f.), in which the shekel weighed 224 grs.

that passed over to them that were numbered] as Exodus 30:13.

And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.
27. See Exodus 26:19; Exodus 26:21; Exodus 26:25; Exodus 26:32 (40+40+16+4=100).

And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them.
28. See Exodus 27:10-11; Exodus 27:17 (the hooks and the fillets of the pillars of the Court); Exodus 38:17; Exodus 38:19 (the chapiters as well).

And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred shekels.
29–31. The bronze. This weighed 212,400 shekels, or (see, for the standard of copper or bronze, DB. iv. 906a) 108,749 oz. av. (= c. 3 tons).

And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brasen altar, and the brasen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar,
30. the bronze altar] i.e. the altar of burnt offering (Exodus 27:1-8). So Exodus 39:39; see p. 329.

30, 31. See Exodus 26:37; Exodus 27:2-4; Exodus 27:6; Exodus 27:10-11; Exodus 27:17-19. The Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:18) is passed over in the enumeration.

And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about.
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