This last part of Exodus largely covers God’s requirements of the tabernacle and His instructions on how it should be set up. By and large, the things covered here are things I have gone over before, but there were a few little things here and there that I found quite interesting.
Chapter 35 starts off with Moses telling the Israelites the commandments that God went through with him in the previous chapters. However, only one is repeated here in the Bible, Exodus 35:2 “2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.” As it’s the only one repeated here, that tells me it must be pretty important. There was a brief discussion on this on my earlier post about the previous section of Exodus, specifically focusing on the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath. I’m looking forward to some continued discussion there.
From here though, one of the things I found interesting in this section is in the materials used in the tabernacle. It’s mentioned over and over again, that the hides of sea cows are used among the many materials. It’s first mentioned in chapter 35:7, again in 35:23, 36:19 and 39:34.
Whether this is of any significance, I don’t know, but it is logical. Their hides are waterproof, so it would keep out any rain that might come up.
I also was not aware of the way the altars were constructed, unlike the more traditional stone altars, these ones were hollow and were made out of wood (37:25 – 38:7). The Altar of Incense was then overlaid with pure gold (37:26), where the Altar of Burnt Offering was overlaid with with bronze (38:2). They then both had rings in the sides and poles to make them easier to carry. Much more logical than either carrying stones everywhere or having to find them at every place they camped!
Also in Exodus 38, from verse 24 through to 29, there is a brief look at just how much was donated to the construction of the tabernacle. 29 talents and 730 shekels of Gold according to verse 24. To my understanding, thats about 1 metric ton of gold. Verse 25 says there was 100 talents and 1775 shekels of silver donated, roughly 3.4 metric tons! Then the bronze in verse 29, 70 talents and 2400 shekels, about 2.4 metric tons. Not quite as impressive as the silver, but quite a lot nonetheless!
Thats a huge amount of metal for a people that are supposed to have been fleeing! However, in verse 26 it says there were 603,550 men over the age of 20. When you count women and children then, thats probably over a million people! All of a sudden, the amount of precious metals, along with all of the other donations I haven’t mentioned seem very small. According to the references in my Bible, thats about 5.5 grams of silver for each man over 20 of silver. So the other metals would be a bit less, and that is not much at all! In Exodus 12:37, it mentions that there were “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.” At this point though, the magnitude of the Israelite people hasn’t really sunk in, not for me anyway.
It is now very easy to see though, why the Pharaoh was getting uncomfortable with their presence!
Finally in chapter 40, Moses is given the final instructions on setting up the tabernacle and it is done. In 40:34, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
I have previously missed mentioning the golden calf in chapter 32, it is interesting, God used plagues in Egypt, and here again, 32:35 “And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.”
I think chapter 32 is fairly interesting in general aside from the plague though, at first glance, it seems out of place with the rest of Exodus. Exodus is a book of freedom, and a book of rules. All of the rules provide freedom, they set the Israelites apart from other nations and provide them with freedom from the rest of society at the same time as they have been freed from Egypt.
Yet they fall, the influence of the surrounding cultures and the culture that they knew before fleeing are stuck with them. God is with them, all the time as well, leading and guarding them all along the way, it hasn’t been long since He brought them through a sea, walking along the bottom of it as the waters parted. Yet still, they fall. God gives us a choice though, I could say it is in human nature to find ourselves falling into the habits of those around us or that we have known. It can take a lot of work to set ourselves apart from those things. However, the real problem is not human nature, but Satan throwing everything he can at us to pull us down with him. This is part of the purpose of the rules God laid out, both in His Ten Commandments and their elaborations in Exodus, and in the laws through Leviticus. To try and help us combat the temptations thrown at us and in doing so set us apart from everyone else.