Exodus 40
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 25:1 5; 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).

The erection of the Tent of Meeting

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
1–15. Moses is instructed by Jehovah to set up the Tent of Meeting, and the Court, to arrange the sacred vessels in their places (vv. 2–8), to consecrate the whole by anointing it (vv. 9–11), to clothe the priests in their vestments, and to anoint them (vv. 12–15). Most of these instructions have been given before; now that the time has come for carrying them out, they are summarily repeated (though not all that are necessary are given here; see vv. 17 ff.).

On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
2. the first day of the first month] viz. (v. 17) of the second year of the Exodus, nine months since the arrival at Sinai (Exodus 19:1).

the Dwelling of the tent of meeting] as Exodus 39:32.

And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail.
3. See Exodus 26:33.

And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.
4. See Exodus 26:35, Exodus 25:30; Exodus 25:37 b.

set in order, &c.] lit. arrange its arrangement, with reference to the two piles of loaves arranged upon it. Cf. v. 23 (lit. ‘arranged upon it the arrangement of bread’). Leviticus 24:6 ‘two rows’ (lit. arrangements). And so a later designation of the Presence-bread was ‘bread of arrangement’ (see on Exodus 25:30); cf. the ‘table of the arrangement,’ 2 Chronicles 29:18.

light] fix on: see on Exodus 27:20.

And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle.
5a. See Exodus 30:6. The ‘golden-altar,’ as Exodus 39:38, and v. 26 below.

5b. door] entrance. See Exodus 26:36.

And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
6. the altar of burnt offering] Exodus 27:1-8; Exodus 38:1-7. The position of this altar has not been defined before.

the entrance of the Dwelling, &c.] cf. v. 2.

And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein.
7. See Exodus 30:18 b.

And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate.
8. Cf. Exodus 27:9 a (the court), 16 (the screen).

And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.
9, 10. It is remarkable that, while in Exodus 30:29 (see vv. 26–28), the Tent of Meeting with all the vessels belonging to it, are, by anointing, made ‘most holy’ (see for this term on Exodus 29:37), here the altar only is ‘most holy,’ and the Tent of Meeting and all its contents are only ‘holy.’

9–11. The Dwelling, and everything belonging to it, to be anointed with the holy anointing oil: see Exodus 30:26-29; and cf. Exodus 29:36 f. (the altar alone).

And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy.
And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it.
And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.
12–15. Aaron and his sons (i.e. the high-priest and the ordinary priests) to be washed, clothed in their sacred vestments, and anointed. See Exodus 29:4-6 (much abridged here), 7–9; and Exodus 30:30.

And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
13. and sanctify him] Not in Exodus 29:7; but cf. the similar clause in Exodus 30:30.

And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:
14. coats] tunics.

And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
15a. For the common priests being anointed exactly as the high-priest (not prescribed in ch. 29), see Exodus 28:41; and cf. on Exodus 30:30.

15b. an everlasting priesthood] It is to be for ever hereditary in Aaron’s family. A perpetual priesthood is also promised to Aaron’s ‘sons’ in Exodus 29:9 : but it is not, as here, based upon their being anointed; in fact, no anointing is there prescribed for them at all. The Rabbis, understanding the pron. in ‘their anointing’ to refer to Aaron’s sons alone, inferred that the anointing of Aaron’s actual sons sufficed for the ordinary priests in all future ages, and that in the case of the ordinary priests the ceremony was never afterwards repeated (cf. Di., and Kalisch, Leviticus, pp. 666–8). But this is a forced and artificial interpretation: their and to them refer naturally to Aaron and his sons together (Di.).

Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.
16. Thus did Moses] And Moses did (so),—leading on to the enumeration of particulars in v. 17 ff.: for the form of sentence, see on Exodus 7:6. The verse, so far as vv. 9–14 are concerned, anticipates Leviticus 8:10-11; Leviticus 8:6-9; Leviticus 8:12-13 : the execution of the command in v. 15 is nowhere recorded (cf. on Exodus 30:30).

And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.
17. the tabernacle] the Dwelling. So vv. 18, 19, 21, &c.

17–33. Moses sets up the Tent of Meeting, and the Court, and arranges the sacred vessels according to the instructions given in vv. 1–8, or (in some cases) in chs. 25–31 only. He also (vv. 23, 25, 27, 29) begins the daily services.

And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.
18. See v. 2b, Exodus 26:30.

And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses.
19. the tent over the Dwelling, andthe covering] See Exodus 26:7; Exodus 26:14.

‘Covering’ (strictly, ‘coverings’), as Exodus 35:11.

as Jehovah commanded Moses] so vv. 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32; cf. on Exodus 39:1.

And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:
20. See Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:21 b; Exodus 25:14-15; Exodus 25:21 a. For the ‘testimony’ (i.e. the tables of stone with the Decalogue), see on Exodus 25:16.

And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.
21. See v. 3, Exodus 26:33. The ‘veil of the screen,’ as Exodus 35:12, Exodus 39:34.

And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail.
22. See Exodus 26:35 a, c; and cf. v. 4a, above.

And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
23. See Exodus 25:30; and cf. on v. 4a, above.

And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.
24. See v. 4b, Exodus 26:35 b. For over against, read opposite to.

And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
25. See v. 4b, Exodus 25:37 b. For lighted, read fixed on.

And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail:
26. See v. 5a, Exodus 30:6. The ‘golden altar,’ as Exodus 39:38.

And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses.
27. See Exodus 30:7. Moses, however, not Aaron, according to the present writer, begins the daily services (cf. vv. 23, 25, 29), and maintains them during the first eight days till the priests are installed (cf. Exodus 29:35, Leviticus 8:33; Leviticus 9:1).

And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle.
28. See v. 5b; and cf. Exodus 26:36. For door, read entrance, as regularly.

And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses.
29. at the entrance of the Dwelling, &c.] See v. 6; and on Exodus 39:32.

the burnt offering, &c.] See Exodus 29:38-42.

And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal.
30. See v. 7, Exodus 30:18 b.

And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:
31–32. See Exodus 30:19-20. Moses is included, because for the time he acted as priest (v. 27). The tenses are frequentative, used to wash (twice), just as in Exodus 34:34 f., for instance. As ‘Aaron and his sons’ are not yet installed (see Leviticus 8), there is a prolepsis in the verses, even if (Di.) they are not a mere interpolation, attached unsuitably to v. 30, on the basis of Exodus 30:19 f.

When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.
33. See v. 8; cf. Exodus 27:9 a, 16. (‘Set up’ here = ‘hang up’ in v. 8. ‘Put up’ in v. 8a, and ‘set up’ in v. 8b, would make the renderings in the two verses uniform.)

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
34–38. The cloud (see on Exodus 13:21-22) now takes up its abode on the Tent of Meeting (cf. Numbers 9:15 P), and the glory (see on Exodus 16:10) of Jehovah fills the Dwelling (vv. 34 f.). Ever afterwards, through the period of the Israelites’ journeyings, the cloud, while they were stationary, remains upon the Tent of Meeting, with fire shining in it by night, its being lifted up from it being a signal that they are to break up camp, and move on (vv. 36–38).

the glory of Jehovah filled the Dwelling] cf. Exodus 29:43.

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
35. was not able, &c.] cf. 1 Kings 8:10 f. (at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple), Ezekiel 43:4 f.

And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
36. went onward] lit. plucked up (tent-pegs), i.e. broke up camp, the usual Heb. expression for set out. The verb is cognate with ‘journeys,’ and is rendered ‘journeyed’ in v. 37. Comp. on Exodus 12:37, and Exodus 17:1.

36–38. The tenses are throughout frequentative (used to go onward, used not to journey, used to be), describing what was the case habitually during the journeyings in the wilderness. Cf. Numbers 9:16-23; Numbers 10:34; also Exodus 10:11 f. (all P). For the divergent representations of J and E, see on Exodus 13:21-22.

But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.
For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
38. and there was fire therein, &c.] i.e. in the cloud. Cf. Numbers 9:15-16 (P).

The book thus closes with the fulfilment of the promise given in Exodus 29:43; Exodus 29:45 (see on Exodus 29:43-46). The Dwelling is complete,—and Jehovah, with His protecting and sanctifying Presence, has taken up His abode in it, in the midst of His people. For the noble and impressive symbolism by which this great idea is expressed, see p. 113.

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