Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them.XXXV.
ITERATION OF THE LAW CONCERNING THE SABBATH.
(1-3) Moses, being about to require the people to engage in the work, first, of constructing the materials for the Tabernacle, and then of uprearing the Tabernacle itself, prefaced his requirements by a renewed promulgation of the law of the Sabbath, with additional particularity, and with a new sanction. The necessity of such a re-promulgation had been indicated to him in the last injunctions received before his first descent from Sinai (Exodus 31:12-17), and in acting as he now did, he must be viewed as carrying out those injunctions. The words here put on record are probably not the whole that he said to the people on the subject, but only some main points of his speech. He can scarcely have omitted to tell them that the Sabbath was to be henceforth “a sign” between God and His people (Exodus 31:17).
(1) These are the words.—Exodus 35:2 is, in the main a repetition of Exodus 31:15, but Exodus 35:3 is new, or, at any rate, only contained by implication in any previous legislation. Kindling fire was in early times a hard piece of manual work, being effected by the friction of two pieces of dry wood.
(4-9) And Moses spake.—This passage is the sequence and counterpart of Exodus 25:1-7, and follows exactly the same order in the enumeration of the required offerings. Both passages equally declare the sine quâ non of an acceptable offering to be “a willing heart” (Exodus 25:2; Exodus 35:5).
And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded;(10-19) And every wise hearted among you.—The first appeal is to all; all may contribute something towards the materials of the sacred structure. But the second appeal is to some only. The “wise-hearted” alone can take part in the actual construction, and “make all that the Lord hath commanded.” On the expression “wise – hearted,” see Note on Exodus 28:3. It includes skill of various kinds and degrees, even that of poor women, who “did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen” (Exodus 35:25). In enumerating the things to be constructed, Moses follows, not the order of the revelations made to him, but what may be called the natural order: first, the Tabernacle as a whole; then its various parts (Exodus 35:11); after this, its contents—those of the Holy of Holies (Exodus 35:12), of the Holy Place (Exodus 35:13-15), and of the Court (Exodus 35:16-18); finally, the dress to be worn by those who conducted the services (Exodus 35:19). On the Tabernacle and its parts, see Exodus 26:1-37; on the Ark, the staves, and the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:10-15; on the “veil of the covering,” Exodus 26:31; on the table and the candlestick, Exodus 25:23-30; on the incense altar, Exodus 30:1-10; on the anointing oil, Exodus 30:23-25; on the sweet incense, Exodus 30:34-35; on the hanging for the door, Exodus 26:36; on the altar of burnt offering, Exodus 27:1-8; on the laver and its foot, Exodus 30:17-21; on the hangings of the Court, its pillars, sockets, pins, &c., Exodus 27:9-19; and on “the cloths of service,” Exodus 28:2-42. (On the true meaning of the expression, “cloths of service,” see Note on Exodus 31:10.)
(21) They came, every one whose heart stirred him up.—All classes came, “men and women” (Exodus 35:22), rich and poor, “rulers” (Exodus 35:27), and those whose only skill was to “spin with their hands” (Exodus 35:25). And the great majority gave freely—to the utmost of their power. Still it is implied, both here and in Exodus 35:22; Exodus 35:29, that there were some whose hearts did not stir them up. Enough and to spare, was, however, contributed, and at last the people had to be “restrained from bringing” (Exodus 36:8).
The Lord’s offering—i.e., “their offering to Jehovah.”
And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.(22) Both men and women . . . brought bracelets . . . —It is not quite certain what the personal ornaments here mentioned are. The LXX. render σφραγῖδας καὶ ἐνώτια καὶ δακτυλίους καὶ ἐμπλόκια καὶ περιδέξια, “signets, and earrings, and rings, and chains, and armlets,” substituting five terms for four. Rosenmüller thinks the khâkh was a “nose ring;” others make it a “brooch” or “buckle.” The last word of the four, kumâz, cannot possibly mean “tablets.” It comes from a root signifying “rounded,” and designates probably a bead necklace, such as was often worn by the Egyptians. On the use of personal ornaments by the Hebrew men, as well as women, see Note on Exodus 32:2.
Jewels of gold.—Literally, articles of gold.
And every man that offered, offered an offering of gold.—By repeating the word “offered,” our translators have spoiled the sense. Moses is enumerating those who came. There came those who offered bracelets, earrings, rings, &c.; there came also those who offered any (other) offering of gold to the Lord.
And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers' skins, brought them.(23) Red skins of rams.—Rather, rams’ skins dyed red, as the same words are translated in Exodus 25:5; Exodus 35:7.
Badgers’ skins.—See Note 2 on Exodus 25:5.
Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the LORD'S offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it.(24) An offering of silver.—Silver had been enumerated among the offerings which would be accepted (Exodus 25:3; Exodus 35:5), and it was therefore brought; but it is difficult to say what was done with it. All the silver actually employed in the sanctuary came from the half-shekels paid when the people were numbered. (See Exodus 38:25-28.) Perhaps the silver free-will offerings were returned to the donors.
And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.(25) All the women that were wise-hearted—i.e., “all who had sufficient skill.” Spinning was probably a very general accomplishment of the Hebrew women. It was effected in early times by means of a wheel and spindle, with or without a distaff. The only materials used for the fabrics of the sanctuary appear to have been flax and goats’ hair. The flax was dyed before it was spun into thread, as sometimes by the Greeks (Horn. Od. iv. 135).
Of fine linen.—Rather, of white. Most of the Egyptian linen is of a yellowish white, being made from flax imperfectly blanched.
And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair.(26) All the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.—It would seem to have been more difficult to produce a thread from goats’ hair than from flax. Only the most skilful undertook the more difficult task.
And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate;(27) The rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set.—The “rulers” here intended are probably the “princes of the tribes” of Israel (Numbers 1:16; Numbers 3:3; Numbers 3:5, &c.). The twelve stones required for the breastplate would naturally be contributed by the twelve chiefs of the tribes whose names they were to bear (Exodus 28:21). The two onyx stones for the ephod (Exodus 28:9-12), may have been the further gift of two of the number, who happened to possess stones of the large size needed.
And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.(28) Spice.-See Exodus 30:23-24; Exodus 30:34.
(30-35) This passage is the sequel to Exodus 31:1-6, where Bezaleel and Aholiab were designated for their respective offices, and follows closely the order, and even the wording, of that passage. The verbal resemblance is even greater in the original than in the Authorised Version. The only additions made are in Exodus 35:34-35.
(34) He hath put in his heart that he may teach.—It was essential that the two master-craftsmen should be able to instruct their subordinates, to whom the actual accomplishment of the works which they designed had to be committed. God specially qualified them to act as instructors.
Both he and Aholiab.—Aholiab, though subordinate to Bezaleel, was the director of his own department, that of weaving and embroidery (Exodus 38:23), and had to instruct in it as Bezaleel had in his.
Of the engraver.—Rather, of the artificer. The word used is a generic one, equally applicable to workers in stone, wood, and metal.
Of the cunning workman.—Rather, of the skilful weaver. (See the last Note on Exodus 26:1.) The “skilful weaver” (khoshêb) was the man who wove a patterned fabric. The ordinary “weaver” (’orêg) wove a plain one. The “embroiderer” (rokêm) adorned a fabric of either kind with the needle.