New European Commentary

 

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Deeper Commentary

Exo 35:1 Moses assembled all the congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them, These are the words which Yahweh has commanded, that you should do them-

The commands to build the tabernacle are repeated in Exodus, and there is the record of Israel's golden calf apostasy set in the middle of them. Ex. 25:1-31:18 give the tabernacle building commands, then there's the golden calf incident, and then the commands are repeated in Ex. 35-40. Surely this was edited in this manner to give encouragement to the exiles- the commands to rebuild the temple had been given in detail in Ez. 40-48, but the exiles failed- and yet, the implication runs, God was still willing to work again with His people in the building of His sanctuary despite their failure. There is good internal reason to think that the Pentateuch likewise was re-written in places to bring out the relevance of Israel's past to those in captivity.

Exo 35:2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of solemn rest to Yahweh: whoever does any work in it shall be put to death.
Exo 35:3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day’.-
It has been widely noted that many elements of the ten commandments are to be found in the legislation of Mesopotamia. Thus there are references to the Sabbath being kept as a monthly festival; and later "the name Shabattu was applied by the Babylonians and Assyrians to the day of the full moon, the fifteenth of the month, which was especially dedicated to the worship of the moon-god... the days of the full moon were considered days of ill luck... the Israelite sabbath was instituted, it seems, in antithesis to the Mesopotamian system" (Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary On The Book Of Exodus (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1997) p. 244). Thus most pagan festivals of the time were begun by the lighting of a candle in the home; but a candle was not to be kindled on the Sabbath (Ex. 35:3). Yahweh blessed the Sabbath (Ex. 20:11). Work was not to be done so as to rest and remember God's creative grace; whereas in pagan thought, work wasn't done because 'Sabbath' was an unlucky day on which it was best to do as little as possible in case some 'Satan' figure struck. Such belief was being deconstructed in the Sabbath law.



Exo 35:4 Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which Yahweh commanded, saying,
Exo 35:5 ‘Take from among you an offering to Yahweh. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, Yahweh’s offering: gold, silver, brass-

Paul pleads with Corinth to see the similarities between them and the ecclesia in the wilderness; he wants them to personalize it all. He sees their gathering and redistribution of wealth as exactly analogous to Israel’s gathering of manna (2 Cor. 8:15)- and he so wishes his Corinthians to think themselves into Israel’s shoes. For then they would realize that as Israel had to have a willing heart to give back to God the wealth of Egypt which He had given them, so they were to have a willing heart in being generous to their poorer brethren (Ex. 35:5 = 2 Cor. 8:12). And they would have realized that as “last year” they had made this offer (2 Cor. 8:10 Gk.), so the year before, Israel had received Egypt’s wealth with a similar undertaking to use it for the Lord’s cause. As Moses had to remind them a second time of their obligations in Ex. 35, so Paul had to bring it again before Corinth. And if they had seen these similarities, they would have got the sense of Paul’s lament that there was not one wise hearted man amongst them- for the “wise hearted” were to convert Israel’s gold and silver into tools for Yahweh’s service (Ex. 35:10 = 1 Cor. 6:5; 2 Cor. 10:12).  

 


Exo 35:6 blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair-

These were the things which Israel had taken with them from Egypt (12:36); we likewise should use whatever resources we have taken from this world [cp. Egypt] in order to do God’s work and build and enhance His dwelling place amongst His people.


Exo 35:7 rams’ skins dyed red, sea cow hides, acacia wood-

Acacia was plentiful in the wilderness, but it is little more than brushwood; a surprising choice of material to be used in God’s dwelling place. But His choice of us with all our weakness and dysfunction, the common, weak stuff of the wilderness, is no less surprising. The choice of acacia wood for constructing the tabernacle is one of several points in the whole enterprise where it seems a less than ideal material was chosen, from a construction point of view. This aspect emphasizes that God prefers to work with the soft, weak and broken in order to do His work (as also in Ez. 15:2-5).

Exo 35:8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense,
Exo 35:9 onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate.
Exo 35:10 Let every wise-hearted man among you come, and make all that Yahweh has commanded:
Exo 35:11 the tabernacle, its outer covering, its roof, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets;
Exo 35:12 the ark, and its poles, the mercy seat, the veil of the screen;
Exo 35:13 the table with its poles and all its vessels, and the show bread;
Exo 35:14 the lampstand also for the light, with its vessels, its lamps, and the oil for the light;-
 
We read in 1 Jn. 2:20,27 that we have each been anointed. The idea of anointing was to signal the initiation of someone. I'd therefore be inclined to see 1 Jn. 2:20,27 as alluding to baptism; when we become in Christ, in the anointed, then as 2 Cor. 1:21 says, we too are anointed in a sense. We're given a specific mission and purpose. "The anointing that you received" would therefore refer to our commissioning at baptism. It seems to imply a one time act of being anointed / commissioned / inaugurated for service. Baptism isn't therefore merely an initiation into a community; it's a specific commissioning for active service, in ways which are unique to us. We do well to bring this point out to those we prepare for baptism. The words for 'anointing' are unique to 1 John but they occur in the LXX to describe the anointing / initiation of the priests, and of the tabernacle / dwelling place of God (e.g. Ex. 29:7; 35:14,28). John sees us as the dwelling place / tabernacle of the Father.


Exo 35:15 and the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, the screen for the door, at the door of the tabernacle;
Exo 35:16 the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of brass, its poles, and all its vessels, the basin and its base;
Exo 35:17 the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court;
Exo 35:18 the pins of the tabernacle, the pins of the court, and their cords;
Exo 35:19 the finely worked garments, for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office’.
Exo 35:20 All the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
Exo 35:21 They came, everyone whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whom his spirit made willing, and brought Yahweh’s offering, for the work of the Tent of Meeting, and for all of its service, and for the holy garments-

The "every man" who had material gave it for the construction of the tabernacle, according to Ex. 35:23; although this "every man" is elsewhere defined as "every one whom his spirit made willing" to donate (Ex. 35:21). "Every knee shall bow to me... every tongue shall confess... so then every one of us shall give account" (Rom. 14:11,12) is another example- 'all men', 'every man' means 'every one of us the responsible'.


Exo 35:22 They came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought brooches, earrings, signet rings, and armlets, all jewels of gold; even every man who offered an offering of gold to Yahweh.
Exo 35:23 Everyone, with whom was found blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, and sea cow hides, brought them.
Exo 35:24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver and brass brought Yahweh’s offering; and everyone, with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it-

The generous response of the Israelites in giving towards the tabernacle was surely because it was not demanded of them but merely their assistance was invited (Ex. 35:24).


Exo 35:25 All the women who were wise-hearted spun with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the fine linen.
Exo 35:26 All the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun the goats’ hair.
Exo 35:27 The rulers brought the onyx stones, and the stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastplate;
Exo 35:28 and the spice, and the oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.
Exo 35:29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to Yahweh; every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all the work, which Yahweh had commanded to be made by Moses.

Exo 35:30 Moses said to the children of Israel, Behold, Yahweh has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.
Exo 35:31 He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of workmanship-

These men could have refused to do what God asked them. This passage appears to be the basis upon which Paul tells us that each of us have “good works” which God has in mind for us to do, and we must exercise our freewill to perceive them and go do them (Eph. 2:10).


Exo 35:32 and to make skilful works, to work in gold, in silver, in brass,
Exo 35:33 in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all kinds of skilful workmanship.
Exo 35:34 He has put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
Exo 35:35 He has filled them with wisdom of heart, to work all kinds of workmanship, of the engraver, of the skilful workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of those who do any workmanship, and of those who make skilful works.