The Lord addresses Moses out of the Divine glory, and commands him to speak unto the Israelites, that they may give him free-will offerings, Exodus 25:1, Exodus 25:2. The different kinds of offerings, gold, silver, and brass, Exodus 25:3. Purple, scarlet, fine linen, and goats' hair, Exodus 25:4. Rams' skins, badgers' skins, (rather violet-coloured skins), and shittim wood, Exodus 25:5. Oil and spices, Exodus 25:6. Onyx stones, and stones for the ephod and breastplate, Exodus 25:7. A sanctuary is to be made after the pattern of the tabernacle, Exodus 25:8, Exodus 25:9. The ark and its dimensions, Exodus 25:10. Its crown of gold, Exodus 25:11. Its rings, Exodus 25:12. Its staves, and their use, Exodus 25:13-15. The testimony to be laid up in the ark, Exodus 25:16. The mercy-seat and its dimensions, Exodus 25:17. The cherubim, how made and placed, Exodus 25:18-20. The mercy-seat to be placed on the ark, and the testimony to be put within it, Exodus 25:21. The Lord promises to commune with the people from the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:22. The table of shew-bread, and its dimensions, Exodus 25:23. Its crown and border of gold, Exodus 25:24, Exodus 25:25. Its rings, Exodus 25:26, Exodus 25:27. Staves, Exodus 25:28. Dishes, spoons, and bowls, Exodus 25:29. Its use, Exodus 25:30. The golden candlestick; its branches, bowls, knops, and flowers, Exodus 25:31-36. Its seven lamps, Exodus 25:37. Tongs and snuffers, Exodus 25:38. The weight of the candlestick and its utensils, one talent of gold, Exodus 25:39. All to be made according to the pattern showed to Moses on the mount, Exodus 25:40.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.That they bring me an offering - The offering here mentioned is the תרומה terumah, a kind of free-will offering, consisting of any thing that was necessary for the occasion. It signifies properly any thing that was lifted up, the heave-offering, because in presenting it to God it was lifted up to be laid on his altar; but see Clarke on Exodus 29:27 (note). God requires that they should build him a tent, suited in some sort to his dignity and eminence, because he was to act as their king, and to dwell among them; and they were to consider themselves as his subjects, and in this character to bring him presents, which was considered to be the duty of every subject appearing before his prince. See Exodus 23:15.
And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,This is the offering - There were three kinds of metals:
1. Gold, זהב zahab, which may properly signify wrought gold; what was bright and resplendent, as the word implies. In Job 28:15, Job 28:16, Job 28:17, Job 28:19, gold is mentioned five times, and four of the words are different in the original.
1. סגור Segor, from סגר sagar, to shut up; gold in the mine, or shut up in its ore.
2. כתם Kethem, from כתם catham, to sign, seal, or stamp; gold made current by being coined; standard or sterling gold, exhibiting the stamp expressive of its value.
3. זהב Zahab, wrought gold, pure, highly polished gold; probably what was used for overlaying or gilding.
4. פז Paz, denoting solidity, compactness, and strength; probably gold formed into different kinds of plate, as it is joined in Exodus 25:17 of the above chapter with כלי keley, vessels. The zahab, or pure gold, is here mentioned, because it was in a state that rendered it capable of being variously manufactured for the service of the sanctuary.
2. Silver, כסף keseph, from casaph, to be pale, wan, or white; so called from its well-known color.
3. Brass, נחשת nechosheth, copper; unless we suppose that the factitious metal commonly called brass is intended: this is formed by a combination of the oxide or ore of zinc, called lapis calaminaris, with copper. Brass seems to have been very anciently in use, as we find it mentioned Genesis 4:22; and the preparation of copper, to transform it into this factitious metal, seems to be very pointedly referred to Job 28:2 : Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone; אבן יצוק נחושה eben yatsuk nechushah, translated by the Vulgate, Lapis, solutus calore, in aes vertitur, "The stone, liquefied by heat, is turned into brass." Is it going too far to say that the stone here may refer to the lapis calaminaris, which was used to turn the copper into brass? Because brass was capable of so fine a polish as to become exceedingly bright, and keep its lustre a considerable time, hence it was used for all weapons of war and defensive armor among ancient nations; and copper seems to have been in no repute, but for its use in making brass.
And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,Blue - תכלת techeleth, generally supposed to mean an azure or sky color; rendered by the Septuagint ὑακινθον, and by the Vulgate hyacinthum, a sky-blue or deep violet.
Purple - ארגמן argaman, a very precious color, extracted from the purpura or murex, a species of shell-fish, from which it is supposed the famous Tyrian purple came, so costly, and so much celebrated in antiquity. See this largely described, and the manner of dyeing it, in Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. ix., c. 60-65, edit. Bipont.
Scarlet - תולעת tolaath, signifies a worm, of which this colouring matter was made; and, joined with שני shani, which signifies to repeat or double, implies that to strike this color the wool or cloth was twice dipped: hence the Vulgate renders the original coccum bis tinctum, "scarlet twice dyed;" and to this Horace refers, Odar., lib. ii., od. 16, v. 35:
- Te Bis Afro Murice
Tinctae Vestiunt Lanae -
"Thy robes the twice dyed purple stains."
It is the same color which the Arabs call al kermez, whence the French cramoisi, and the English crimson. On this subject much may be seen in Bochart, Calmet, and Scheuchzer.
Fine linen - שש shesh; whether this means linen, cotton, or silk, is not agreed on among interpreters. Because שש shesh signifies six, the rabbins suppose that it always signifies the fine linen of Egypt, in which six folds constituted one thread; and that when a single fold was meant, בד bad is the term used. See Clarke's note on Genesis 41:42.
Goats' hair - עזים izzim, goats, but used here elliptically for goats' hair. In different parts of Asia Minor, Syria, Cilicia, and Phrygia, the goats have long, fine, and beautiful hair, in some cases almost as fine as silk, which they shear at proper times, and manufacture into garments. From Virgil, Georg. iii., v. 305-311, we learn that goats' hair manufactured into cloth was nearly of equal value with that formed from wool.
Hae quoque non cura nobis leviore tuendae
Nec minor usus erit: quamvis Milesia magno
Vellera mutentur, Tyrios incocta rubores.
Nec minus interea barbas incanaque menta
Cinyphii tondent hirci, setasque comantes,
Usum in castrorum, et miseris velamina nautis.
"For hairy goats of equal profit are
With woolly sheep, and ask an equal care.
'Tis true the fleece when drunk with Tyrian juice
Is dearly sold, but not for needful use:
Meanwhile the pastor shears their hoary beards
And eases of their hair the loaden herds.
Their camelots, warm in tents, the soldier hold,
And shield the shivering mariner from the cold."
And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,Rams' skins dyed red - ערת אילם מאדמים oroth eylim meoddamim, literally, the skins of red rams. It is a fact attested by many respectable travelers, that in the Levant sheep are often to be met with that have red or violet-coloured fleeces. And almost all ancient writers speak of the same thing. Homer describes the rams of Polyphemus as having a violet-coloured fleece.
Αρσενες οΐες ησαν εΰτρεφεες, δασυμαλλοι,
Καλοι τε, μεγαλοι τε, ιοδνεφες ειρος εχοντες.
Odyss., lib. ix., ver. 425.
"Strong were the rams, with native purple fair,
Well fed, and largest of the fleecy care."
Pliny, Aristotle, and others mention the same. And from facts of this kind it is very probable that the fable of the golden fleece had its origin. In the Zetland Isles I have seen sheep with variously coloured fleeces, some white, some black, some black and white, some of a very fine chocolate color. Beholding those animals brought to my recollection those words of Virgil:
- Ipse sed in pratis Aries jam suave rubenti
Murice, jam croceo mutabit vellera luto.
Eclog. iv., ver. 43.
"No wool shall in dissembled colors shine;
But the luxurious father of the fold,
With native purple or unborrow'd gold,
Beneath his pompous fleece shall proudly sweat,
And under Tyrian robes the lamb shall bleat."
Badgers' skins - ערת תחשים oroth techashim. Few terms have afforded greater perplexity to critics and commentators than this. Bochart has exhausted the subject, and seems to have proved that no kind of animal is here intended, but a color. None of the ancient versions acknowledge an animal of any kind except the Chaldee, which seems to think the badger is intended, and from it we have borrowed our translation of the word. The Septuagint and Vulgate have skins dyed a violet color; the Syriac, azure; the Arabic, black; the Coptic, violet; the modern Persic, ram-skins, etc. The color contended for by Bochart is the hysginus, which is a very deep blue. So Pliny, Coccoque tinctum Tyrio tingere, ut fieret hysginum. "They dip crimson in purple to make the color called hysginus." - Hist. Nat., lib. ix., c. 65, edit. Bipont.
Shittim wood - By some supposed to be the finest species of the cedar; by others, the acacia Nilotica, a species of thorn, solid, light, and very beautiful. This acacia is known to have been plentiful in Egypt, and it abounds in Arabia Deserta, the very place in which Moses was when he built the tabernacle; and hence it is reasonable to suppose that he built it of that wood, which was every way proper for his purpose.
Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,Oil for the light - This they must have brought with them from Egypt, for they could not get any in the wilderness where there were no olives; but it is likely that this and some other directions refer more to what was to be done when in their fixed and settled residence, than while wandering in the wilderness.
Spices - To make a confection for sweet incense, abounded in different parts of these countries.
Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.Onyx stones - We have already met with the stone called שהם shoham, Genesis 2:12, and acknowledged the difficulty of ascertaining what is meant by it. Some think the onyx, some the sardine, and some the emerald, is meant. We cannot say precisely what it was; possibly it might have been that fine pale pebble, called the Egyptian pebble, several specimens of which now lie before me, which were brought from the coast of the Red Sea, and other parts in Egypt, by a particular friend of mine, on purpose to add to my collection of minerals. Stones to be set in the ephod - אבני מלאים abney milluim, stones of filling up. Stones so cut as to be proper to be set in the gold work of the breastplate.
The אפד ephod - It is very difficult to tell what this was, or in what form it was made. It was a garment of some kind peculiar to the priests, and ever considered essential to all the parts of Divine worship, for without it no person attempted to inquire of God. As the word itself comes from the root אפד aphad, he tied or bound close, Calmet supposes that it was a kind of girdle, which, brought from behind the neck and over the shoulders, and so hanging down before, was put cross upon the stomach, and then carried round the waist, and thus made a girdle to the tunic. Where the ephod crossed on the breast there was a square ornament called חשן choshen, the breastplate, in which twelve precious stones were set, each bearing one of the names of the twelve sons of Jacob engraven on it. There were two sorts of ephods, one of plain linen for the priests, the other very much embroidered for the high priest. As there was nothing singular in this common sort, no particular description is given; but that of the high priest is described very much in detail Exodus 28:6-8. It was distinguished from the common ephod by being composed of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, fine twisted linen, and cunning work, i.e., superbly ornamented and embroidered. This ephod was fastened on the shoulders with two precious stones, on which the twelve names of the twelve tribes of Israel were engraved, six names on each stone. These two stones, thus engraved, were different from those on the breastplate, with which they have been confounded. From Calmet's description the ephod seems to have been a series of belts, fastened to a collar, which were intended to keep the garments of the priest closely attached to his body: but there is some reason to believe that it was a sort of garment like that worn by our heralds; it covered the back, breast, and belly, and was open at the sides. A piece of the same kind of stuff with itself united it on the shoulders, where the two stones, already mentioned, were placed, and it was probably without sleeves. See Clarke on Exodus 28:2 (note), etc.
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.Let them make me a sanctuary - מקדש mikdash, a holy place, such as God might dwell in; this was that part of the tabernacle that was called the most holy place, into which the high priest entered only once a year, on the great day of atonement.
That I may dwell among them - "This," says Mr. Ainsworth, "was the main end of all; and to this all the particulars are to be referred, and by this they are to be opened. For this sanctuary, as Solomon's temple afterwards, was the place of prayer, and of the public service of God, Leviticus 17:4-6; Matthew 21:13; and it signified the Church which is the habitation of God through the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 21:2, Revelation 21:3; and was a visible sign of God's presence and protection, Leviticus 26:11, Leviticus 26:12; Ezekiel 37:27, Ezekiel 37:28; 1 Kings 6:12, 1 Kings 6:13; and of his leading them to his heavenly glory. For as the high priest entered into the tabernacle, and through the veil into the most holy place where God dwelt; so Christ entered into the holy of holies, and we also enter through the veil, that is to say his flesh. See the use made of this by the apostle, Hebrews 9 and 10. Thus the sanctuary is to be applied as a type,
2. To every Christian, 1 Corinthians 6:19.
3. To the Church; both particular, Hebrews 3:6; 1 Timothy 3:15; and universal, Hebrews 10:21 : and it was because of the very extensive signification of this building, that the different things concerning this sanctuary are particularly set down by Moses, and so variously applied by the prophets and by the apostles." - See Ainsworth.
As the dwelling in this tabernacle was the highest proof of God's grace and mercy towards the Israelites, so it typified Christ's dwelling by faith in the hearts of believers, and thus giving them the highest and surest proof of their reconciliation to God, and of his love and favor to them; see Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:17.
According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.After the pattern of the tabernacle - It has been supposed that there had been a tabernacle before that erected by Moses, though it probably did not now exist; but the tabernacle which Moses is ordered to make was to be formed exactly on the model of this ancient one, the pattern of which God showed him in the mount, Exodus 25:40. The word משכן mishcan signifies literally the dwelling or habitation; and this was so called because it was the dwelling place of God; and the only place on the earth in which he made himself manifest. See Clarke's note on Exodus 25:40, and on Exodus 33:7-10.
And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.They shall make an ark - ארון aron signifies an ark, chest, coffer, or coffin. It is used particularly to designate that chest or coffer in which the testimony or two tables of the covenant was laid up, on the top of which was the propitiatory or mercy-seat, (see on Exodus 25:17), and at the end of which were the cherubim of gold, (Exodus 25:18-20), between whom the visible sign of the presence of the supreme God appeared as seated upon his throne. The ark was the most excellent of all the holy things which belonged to the Mosaic economy, and for its sake the tabernacle and the temple were built, Exodus 26:33; Exodus 40:18, Exodus 40:21. It was considered as conferring a sanctity wherever it was fixed, 2 Chronicles 8;11; 2 Samuel 6:12.
Two cubits and a half shall be the length, etc. - About four feet five inches in length, taking the cubit as twenty-one inches, and two feet six inches in breadth and in depth. As this ark was chiefly intended to deposit the two tables of stone in, which had been written by the finger of God, we may very reasonably conjecture that the length of those tables was not less than four feet and their breadth not less than two. As to their thickness we can say nothing, as the depth of the ark was intended for other matters besides the two tables, such as Aaron's rod, the pot of manna, etc., etc., though probably these were laid up beside, not in, the ark.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.A crown of gold round about - A border, or, as the Septuagint have it, κυματια χρυσα στεπτα κυκλω, waves of gold wreathed round about.
And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.The staves - shall not be taken from it - Because it should ever be considered as in readiness to be removed, God not having told them at what hour he should command them to strike their tents. If the staves were never to be taken out, how can it be said, as in Numbers 4:6, that when the camp should set forward, they should put in the staves thereof, which intimates that when they encamped, they took out the staves, which appears to be contrary to what is here said? To reconcile these two places, it has been supposed, with great show of probability, that besides the staves which passed through the rings of the ark, and by which it was carried, there were two other staves or poles in the form of a bier or handbarrow, on which the ark was laid in order to be transported in their journeyings, when it and its own staves, still in their rings, had been wrapped up in the covering of what is called badgers' skins and blue cloth. The staves of the ark itself, which might be considered as its handles simply to lift it by, were never taken out of their rings; but the staves or poles which served as a bier were taken from under it when they encamped.
And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.The testimony - The two tables of stone which were not yet given; these tables were called עדת eduth, from עד forward, onward, to bear witness to or of a person or thing. Not only the tables of stone, but all the contents of the ark, Aaron's rod, the pot of manna, the holy anointing oil, etc., bore testimony to the Messiah in his prophetic, sacerdotal, and regal offices.
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.A mercy-seat - כפרת capporeth, from כפר caphar, to cover or overspread; because by an act of pardon sins are represented as being covered, so that they no longer appear in the eye of Divine justice to displease, irritate, and call for punishment; and the person of the offender is covered or protected from the stroke of the broken law. In the Greek version of the Septuagint the word ιλαστηριον, hilasterion, is used, which signifies a propitiatory, and is the name used by the apostle, Hebrews 9:5. This mercy-seat or propitiatory was made of pure gold; it was properly the lid or covering of that vessel so well known by the name of the ark and ark of the covenant. On and before this, the high priest was to sprinkle the blood of the expiatory sacrifices on the great day of atonement: and it was in this place that God promised to meet the people, (see Exodus 25:22); for there he dwelt, and there was the symbol of the Divine presence. At each end of this propitiatory was a cherub, between whom this glory was manifested; hence in Scripture it is so often said that he dwelleth between the cherubim. As the word ιλαστηριον, propitiatory or mercy-seat, is applied to Christ, Romans 3:25, whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation (ιλαστηριον) through faith in his blood - for the remission of sins that are past; hence we learn that Christ was the true mercy-seat, the thing signified by the capporeth, to the ancient believers. And we learn farther that it was by his blood that an atonement was to be made for the sins of the world. And as God showed himself between the cherubim over this propitiatory or mercy-seat, so it is said, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; 2 Corinthians 5:19, etc. See on Leviticus 7 (note).
And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.Thou shalt make two cherubims - What these were we cannot distinctly say. It is generally supposed that a cherub was a creature with four heads and one body: and the animals, of which these emblematical forms consisted, were the noblest of their kinds; the lion among the wild beasts, the bull among the tame ones, the eagle among the birds, and man at the head of all; so that they might be, says Dr. Priestley, the representatives of all nature. Concerning their forms and design there is much difference of opinion among divines. It is probable that the term often means a figure of any kind, such as was ordinarily sculptured on stone, engraved on metal, carved on wood, or embroidered on cloth. See on Exodus 35:8 (note). It may be only necessary to add, that cherub is the singular number; cherubim, not cherubims, the plural. See what has been said on this subject in the note on Genesis 3:24 (note).
And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.And there I will meet with thee - That is, over the mercy-seat, between the cherubim. In this place God chose to give the most especial manifestations of himself; here the Divine glory was to be seen; and here Moses was to come in order to consult Jehovah, relative to the management of the people.
Ainsworth has remarked that the rabbins say, "The heart of man may be likened to God's sanctuary; for as, in the sanctuary, the shechinah or Divine glory dwelt, because there were the ark, the tables, and the cherubim; so, in the heart of man, it is meet that a place be made for the Divine Majesty to dwell in, and that it be the holy of holies." This is a doctrine most implicitly taught by the apostles; and the absolute necessity of having the heart made a habitation of God through the Spirit, is strongly and frequently insisted on through the whole of the New Testament. See the note on Exodus 25:23.
Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood - The same wood, the acacia, of which the arkstaves, etc., were made. On the subject of the ark, table of shew-bread, etc., Dr. Cudworth, in his very learned and excellent treatise on the Lord's Supper, has the following remarks: -
"When God had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, resolving to manifest himself in a peculiar manner present among them, he thought good to dwell amongst them in a visible and external manner; and therefore, while they were in the wilderness, and sojourned in tents, he would have a tent or tabernacle built to sojourn with them also. This mystery of the tabernacle was fully understood by the learned Nachmanides, who, in few words, but pregnant, expresseth himself to this purpose: 'The mystery of the tabernacle was this, that it was to be a place for the shechinah, or habitation of Divinity, to be fixed in;' and this, no doubt, as a special type of God's future dwelling in Christ's human nature, which was the True Shechinah: but when the Jews were come into their land, and had there built them houses, God intended to have a fixed dwelling-house also; and therefore his movable tabernacle was to be turned into a standing temple. Now the tabernacle or temple, being thus as a house for God to dwell in visibly, to make up the notion of dwelling or habitation complete there must be all things suitable to a house belonging to it; hence, in the holy place, there must be a table, and a candlestick, because this was the ordinary furniture of a room, as the fore-commended Nachmanides observes. The table must have its dishes, and spoons, and bowls, and covers belonging to it, though they were never used; and always be furnished with bread upon it. The candlestick must have its lamps continually burning. Hence also there must be a continual fire kept in this house of God upon the altar, as the focus of it; to which notion I conceive the Prophet Isaiah doth allude, Isaiah 31:9 : Whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem; and besides all this, to carry the notion still farther, there must be some constant meat and provision brought into this house; which was done in the sacrifices that were partly consumed by fire upon God's own altar, and partly eaten by the priests, who were God's family, and therefore to be maintained by him. That which was consumed upon God's altar was accounted God's mess, as appeareth from Malachi 1:12, where the altar is called God's table, and the sacrifice upon it, God's meat: Ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even His Meat, is contemptible. And often, in the law, the sacrifice is called God's לחם lechem, i.e., his bread or food. Wherefore it is farther observable, that besides the flesh of the beast offered up in sacrifice, there was a minchah, i.e., a meat-offering, or rather bread-offering, made of flour and oil; and a libamen or drink-offering, which was always joined with the daily sacrifice, as the bread and drink which was to go along with God's meat. It was also strictly commanded that there should be salt in every sacrifice and oblation, because all meat is unsavoury without salt, as Nachmanides hath here also well observed; 'because it was not honorable that God's meat should be unsavoury, without salt.' Lastly, all these things were to be consumed on the altar only by the holy fire which came down from heaven, because they were God's portion, and therefore to be eaten or consumed by himself in an extraordinary manner." See Clarke on Exodus 25:22 (note).
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.
And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.
And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.
Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.
And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.
And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.The dishes thereof - קערתיו kearothaiv, probably the deep bowls in which they kneaded the mass out of which they made the shew-bread.
And spoons thereof - כפתיו cappothaiu, probably censers, on which they put up the incense; as seems pretty evident from Numbers 7:14, Numbers 7:20, Numbers 7:26, Numbers 7:32, Numbers 7:38, Numbers 7:44, Numbers 7:50, Numbers 7:56, Numbers 7:62, Numbers 7:68, Numbers 7:74, Numbers 7:80, Numbers 7:86, where the same word is used, and the instrument, whatever it was, is always represented as being filled with incense.
Covers thereof - קשותיו kesothaiv, supposed to be a large cup or tankard, in which pure wine was kept on the table along with the shewbread for libations, which were poured out before the Lord every Sabbath, when the old bread was removed, and the new bread laid on the table.
Bowls thereof - מנקיתיו menakkiyothaiv, from נקה nakah, to clear away, remove, empty, etc.; supposed by Calmet to mean, either the sieves by which the Levites cleansed the wheat they made into bread, (for it is asserted that the grain, out of which the shew-bread was made, was sowed, reaped, ground, sifted, kneaded, baked, etc., by the Levites themselves), or the ovens in which the bread was baked. Others suppose they were vessels which they dipped into the kesoth, to take out the wine for libations.
And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.Shew-bread - לחם פנים lechem panim literally, bread of faces; so called, either because they were placed before the presence or face of God in the sanctuary, or because they were made square, as the Jews will have it. It is probable that they were in the form of cubes or hexaedrons, each side presenting the same appearance; and hence the Jews might suppose they were called the bread or loaves of faces: but the Hebrew text seems to intimate that they were called the bread of faces, פנים panim, because, as the Lord says, they were set לפני lephanai, before my Face. These loaves or cakes were twelve, representing, as is generally supposed, the twelve tribes of Israel. They were in two rows of six each. On the top of each row there was a golden dish with frankincense, which was burned before the Lord, as a memorial, at the end of the week, when the old loaves were removed and replaced by new ones, the priests taking the former for their domestic use.
It is more difficult to ascertain the use of these, or what they represented, than almost any other emblem in the whole Jewish economy. Many have conjectured their meaning, and I feel no disposition to increase their number by any addition of my own. The note on Exodus 25:23, from Dr. Cudworth, appears to me more rational than any thing else I have met with. The tabernacle was God's house, and in it he had his table, his bread, his wine, candlestick, etc., to show them that he had taken up his dwelling among them. See Clarke's note on Exodus 25:23.
And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.A candlestick of pure gold - This candlestick or chandelier is generally described as having one shaft or stock, with six branches proceeding from it, adorned at equal distances with six flowers like lilies, with as many bowls and knops placed alternately. On each of the branches there was a lamp, and one on the top of the shaft which occupied the center; thus there were seven lamps in all, Exodus 25:37. These seven lamps were lighted every evening and extinguished every morning.
We are not so certain of the precise form of any instrument or utensil of the tabernacle or temple, as we are of this, the golden table, and the two silver trumpets.
Titus, after the overthrow of Jerusalem, a.d. 70, had the golden candlestick and the golden table of the shew-bread, the silver trumpets, and the book of the law, taken out of the temple and carried in triumph to Rome; and Vespasian lodged them in the temple which he had consecrated to the goddess of Peace. Some plants also of the balm of Jericho are said to have been carried in the procession. At the foot of Mount Palatine there are the ruins of an arch, on which the triumph of Titus for his conquest of the Jews is represented, and on which the several monuments which were carried in the procession are sculptured, and particularly the golden candlestick, the table of the shew-bread and the two silver trumpets. A correct Model of this arch, taken on the spot, now stands before me; and the spoils of the temple, the candlestick, the golden table, and the two trumpets, are represented on the panel on the left hand, in the inside of the arch, in basso-relievo. The candlestick is not so ornamented as it appears in many prints; at the same time it looks much better than it does in the engraving of this arch given by Montfaucon, Antiq. Expliq., vol. iv., pl. 32. It is likely that on the real arch this candlestick is less in size than the original, as it scarcely measures three feet in height. See the Diarium Italicum, p. 129. To see these sacred articles given up by that God who ordered them to be made according to a pattern exhibited by himself, gracing the triumph of a heathen emperor, and at last consecrated to an idol, affords melancholy reflections to a pious mind. But these things had accomplished the end for which they were instituted, and were now of no farther use. The glorious personage typified by all this ancient apparatus, had about seventy years before this made his appearance. The true light was come, and the Holy Spirit poured out from on high; and therefore the golden candlestick, by which they were typified, was given up. The ever-during bread had been sent from heaven; and therefore the golden table, which bore its representative, the shew-bread, was now no longer needful. The joyful sound of the everlasting Gospel was then published in the world; and therefore the silver trumpets that typified this were carried into captivity, and their sound was no more to be heard. Strange providence but unutterable mercy of God! The Jews lost both the sign and the thing signified; and that very people, who destroyed the holy city, carried away the spoils of the temple, and dedicated them to the objects of their idolatry, were the first in the universe to receive the preaching of the Gospel, the light of salvation, and the bread of life! There is a sort of coincidence or association here, which is worthy of the most serious observation. The Jews had these significant emblems to lead them to, and prepare them for, the things signified. They trusted in the former, and rejected the latter! God therefore deprived them of both, and gave up their temple to the spoilers, their land to desolation, and themselves to captivity and to the sword. The heathens then carried away the emblems of their salvation, and God shortly gave unto those heathens that very salvation of which these things were the emblems! Thus because of their unbelief and rebellion, the kingdom of heaven, according to the prediction of our blessed Lord, was taken from the Jews, and given to a nation (the Gentiles) that brought forth the fruits thereof; Matthew 21:43. Behold the Goodness and Severity of God!
And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels - That is, a talent of gold in weight was used in making the candlestick, and the different vessels and instruments which belonged to it. According to Bishop Cumberland, a talent was three thousand shekels. As the Israelites brought each half a shekel, Exodus 38:26, so that one hundred talents, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, were contributed by six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty persons; by halving the number of the Israelites, he finds they contributed three hundred and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels in all. Now, as we find that this number of shekels made one hundred talents, and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels over, if we subtract one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, the odd shekels, from three hundred and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, we shall have for a remainder three hundred thousand, the number of shekels in one hundred talents: and if this remainder be divided by one hundred, the number of talents, it quotes three thousand, the number of shekels in each talent. A silver shekel of the sanctuary, being equal, according to Dr. Prideaux, to three shillings English, three thousand such shekels will amount to four hundred and fifty pounds sterling; and, reckoning gold to silver as fifteen to one, a talent of gold will amount to six thousand seven hundred and fifty pounds sterling: to which add two hundred and sixty-three pounds for the one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, at three shillings each, and it makes a total of seven thousand and thirteen pounds, which immense sum was expended on the candlestick and its furniture. It is no wonder, then, (if the candlestick in the second temple was equal in value to that in the ancient tabernacle), that Titus should think it of sufficient consequence to be one of the articles, with the golden table, and silver trumpets, that should be employed to grace his triumph. Their intrinsic worth was a matter of no consequence to Him whose are the silver and gold, the earth and its fullness; they had accomplished their design, and were of no farther use, either in the kingdom of providence, or the kingdom of grace. See Clarke's note on Exodus 25:31, and see Clarke's note on Exodus 38:24.
And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.And look that thou make, etc. - This verse should be understood as an order to Moses after the tabernacle, etc., had been described to him; as if he had said: "When thou comest to make all the things that I have already described to thee, with the other matters of which I shall afterwards treat, see that thou make every thing according to the pattern which thou didst see in the mount." The Septuagint have it, κατα τον τυτον τον δεδειγμενον σοι· according to the Type-form or fashion, which was shown thee. It appears to me that St. Paul had this command particularly in view when he gave that to his son Timothy which we find in the second epistle, 2 Timothy 1:13 : Ὑποτυπωσιν εχε ὑγιαινοντων λογων, ὡν παρ' εμου ηκουσας. "Hold fast the Form of sound words which thou hast heard of me." The tabernacle was a type of the Church of God; that Church is built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, Ephesians 2:20-22 : the doctrines, therefore, delivered by the prophets, Jesus Christ, and his apostles, are essential to the constitution of this church. As God, therefore, gave the plan or form according to which the tabernacle must be constructed, so he gives the doctrines according to which the Christian Church is to be modeled; and apostles, and subordinate builders, are to have and hold fast that Form of sound words, and construct this heavenly building according to that form or pattern which has come through the express revelation of God.
In different parts of this work we have had occasion to remark that the heathens borrowed their best things from Divine revelation, both as it refers to what was pure in their doctrines, and significant in their religious rites. Indeed, they seem in many cases to have studied the closest imitation possible, consistent with the adaptation of all to their preposterous and idolatrous worship. They had their Iao or Jove, in imitation of the true Jehovah; and from different attributes of the Divine Nature they formed an innumerable group of gods and goddesses. They had also their temples in imitation of the temple of God; and in these they had their holy and more holy places, in imitation of the courts of the Lord's house. The heathen temples consisted of several parts or divisions:
1. The area or porch;
2. The ναος or temple, similar to the nave of our churches;
3. The adytum or holy place, called also penetrale and sacrarium; and,
4. The οπισθοδομος or the inner temple, the most secret recess, where they had their mysteria, and which answered to the holy of holies in the tabernacle.
And as there is no evidence whatever that there was any temple among the heathens prior to the tabernacle, it is reasonable to conclude that it served as a model for all that they afterwards built. They had even their portable temples, to imitate the tabernacle; and the shrines for Diana, mentioned Acts 19:24, were of this kind. They had even their arks or sacred coffers, where they kept their most holy things, and the mysterious emblems of their religion; together with candlesticks or lamps, to illuminate their temples, which had few windows, to imitate the golden candlestick in the Mosaic tabernacle. They had even their processions, in imitation of the carrying about of the ark in the wilderness, accompanied by such ceremonies as sufficiently show, to an unprejudiced mind, that they borrowed them from this sacred original. Dr. Dodd has a good note on this subject, which I shall take the liberty to extract.
Speaking of the ark, he says, "We meet with imitations of this Divinely instituted emblem among several heathen nations. Thus Tacitus, De Moribus Germanorum, cap. 40, informs us that the inhabitants of the north of Germany, our Saxon ancestors, in general worshipped Herthum or Hertham, i.e., the mother earth: Hertham being plainly derived from ארץ arets, earth, and אם am, mother: and they believed her to interpose in the affairs of men, and to visit nations: that to her, in a sacred grove in a certain island of the ocean, a vehicle covered with a vestment was consecrated, and allowed to be touched by the priests only, (compare 2 Samuel 6:6, 2 Samuel 6:7; 1 Chronicles 13:9, 1 Chronicles 13:10), who perceived when the goddess entered into her secret place, penetrale, and with profound veneration attended her vehicle, which was drawn by cows; see 1 Samuel 6:7-10. While the goddess was on her progress, days of rejoicing were kept in every place which she vouchsafed to visit; they engaged in no war, they handled no weapons; peace and quietness were then only known, only relished, till the same priest reconducted the goddess to her temple. Then the vehicle and vestment, and, if you can believe it, the goddess herself, were washed in a sacred lake."
Apuleius, De Aur. Asin., lib. ii., describing a solemn idolatrous procession, after the Egyptian mode, says, "A chest, or ark, was carried by another, containing their secret things, entirely concealing the mysteries of religion."
And Plutarch, in his treatise De Iside, etc., describing the rites of Osiris, says, "On the tenth day of the month, at night, they go down to the sea; and the stolists, together with the priest, carry forth the sacred chest, in which is a small boat or vessel of gold."
Pausanius likewise testifies, lib. vii., c. 19, that the ancient Trojans had a sacred ark, wherein was the image of Bacchus, made by Vulcan, which had been given to Dardanus by Jupiter. As the ark was deposited in the holy of holies, so the heathens had in the inmost part of their temples an adytum or penetrale, to which none had access but the priests. And it is remarkable that, among the Mexicans, Vitzliputzli, their supreme god, was represented under a human shape, sitting on a throne, supported by an azure globe which they called heaven; four poles or sticks came out from two sides of this globe, at the end of which serpents' heads were carved, the whole making a litter which the priests carried on their shoulders whenever the idol was shown in public - Religious Ceremonies, vol. iii., p. 146.
Calmet remarks that the ancients used to dedicate candlesticks in the temples of their gods, bearing a great number of lamps.
Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. xxxiv., c. 3, mentions one made in the form of a tree, with lamps in the likeness of apples, which Alexander the Great consecrated in the temple of Apollo.
And Athenaeus, lib. xv., c. 19, 20, mentions one that supported three hundred and sixty-five lamps, which Dionysius the younger, king of Syracuse, dedicated in the Prytaneum at Athens. As the Egyptians, according to the testimony of Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom., lib. i., were the first who used lamps in their temples, they probably borrowed the use from the golden candlestick in the tabernacle and temple.
From the solemn and very particular charge, Look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount, it appears plainly that God showed Moses a model of the tabernacle and all its furniture; and to receive instructions relative to this was one part of his employment while on the mount forty days with God. As God designed that this building, and all that belonged to it, should be patterns or representations of good things to come, it was indispensably necessary that Moses should receive a model and specification of the whole, according to which he might direct the different artificers in their constructing the work.
1. We may observe that the whole tabernacle and its furniture resembled a dwelling-house and its furniture.
2. That this tabernacle was the house of God, not merely for the performance of his worship, but for his residence.
3. That God had promised to dwell among this people, and this was the habitation which he appointed for his glory.
5. That as the glory of God was manifested between the cherubim, above the mercy-seat, in this tabernacle, so God was in Christ, and in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
6. As in the tabernacle were found bread, light, etc., probably all these were emblematical of the ample provision made in Christ for the direction, support, and salvation of the soul of man. Of these, and many other things in the law and the prophets, we shall know more when mortality is swallowed up of life.