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Adam Clarke Commentary

Exodus 31


Bezaleel appointed for the work of the tabernacle, Exodus 31:1 -5. Aholiab appointed for the same, Exodus 31:6 . The particular things on which they were to be employed, the ark and mercy-seat, Exodus 31:7 . Table, candlestick, and altar of incense, Exodus 31:8 . Altar of burnt-offering and the laver, Exodus 31:9 . Priest's garments, Exodus 31:10 . Anointing oil and sweet incense, Exodus 31:11 . God renews the command relative to the sanctification of the Sabbath, Exodus 31:12 -17. Delivers to Moses the two tables of stone, Exodus 31:18 .

Verse 2

I have called by name Bezaleel - That is, I have particularly appointed this person to be the chief superintendent of the whole work. His name is significant, בצלאל betsal-el, in or under the shadow of God, meaning, under the especial protection of the Most High. He was the son of Uri, the son of Hur, the son of Caleb or Chelubai, the son of Esron, the son of Pharez, the son of Judah. See 1 Chronicles 2:5 , 1 Chronicles 2:9 ,Ch1 2:18, 1 Chronicles 2:19 , 1 Chronicles 2:20 , and see Clarke's note on Exodus 17:10 .

Verse 3

I have filled him with the spirit of God - See Clarke's note on Exodus 28:3 .In wisdom - חכמה, chochmah, from חכם chacham, to be wise, skillful, or prudent, denoting the compass of mind and strength of capacity necessary to form a wise man: hence our word wisdom, the power of judging what is wise or best to be done; from the Saxon, to teach, to advise, and to judge; hence the doom or judgment of the well taught, wise, or prudent man.Understanding - תבונה tebunah, from בן ban or bun, to separate, distinguish, discern; capacity to comprehend the different parts of a work, how to connect, arrange, etc., in order to make a complete whole.Knowledge - דעת daath, denoting particular acquaintance with a person or thing; practical, experimental knowledge.

Verse 4

Cunning works - מחשבת machashaboth, works of invention or genius, in the goldsmith and silversmith line.

Verse 5

In cutting of stones, etc. - Every thing that concerned the lapidary's, jeweler's, and carver's art.

Verse 6

In the hearts of all that are wisehearted I have put wisdom - So every man that had a natural genius, as we term it, had an increase of wisdom by immediate inspiration from God, so that he knew how to execute the different works which Divine wisdom designed for the tabernacle and its furniture. Dark as were the heathens, yet they acknowledged that all talents, and the seeds of all arts, came from God. Hence Seneca: Insita nobis omnium artium semina, magisterque ex occulto Deus producit ingenia. In the same way Homer attributes such curious arts to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, and Vulcan, the god of handicrafts.Odyss., 1. vi., ver. 232.As by some artist, to whom Vulcan givesHis skill divine, a breathing statue lives;By Pallas taught, he frames the wondrous mould,And o'er the silver pours the fusile gold.And all this the wisest of men long before them declared; when speaking of the wisdom of God he says, I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions; Proverbs 8:12 . See Clarke's note on Exodus 28:3 , to which the reader is particularly desired to refer. There is something remarkable in the name of this second superintendent, אהליאב Aholiab, the tabernacle of the father, or, the father is my tabernacle; a name nearly similar in its meaning to that of Bezaleel, see Clarke's note on Exodus 31:2 .

Verse 8

The pure candlestick - Called so either because of the pure gold of which it was made, or the brightness and splendor of its workmanship, or of the light which it imparted in the tabernacle, as the purest, finest oil was always burnt in it.

Verse 9

The altar of burnt-offering - See Clarke's note on Exodus 27:1 .The laver and his foot - The pedestal on which it stood.

Verse 10

Clothes of service - Vestments for the ordinary work of their ministry; the holy garments - those which were peculiar to the high priest.

Verse 11

The anointing oil - See Clarke's note on Exodus 30:23 .Sweet incense - See on Exodus 30:24 (note).

Verse 13

My Sabbaths ye shall keep - See Clarke's note on Genesis 2:3 . See Clarke's note on Exodus 20:8 .

Verse 14

Every one that defileth it - By any kind of idolatrous or profane worship.Shall surely be put to death - The magistrates shall examine into the business, and if the accused be found guilty, he shall be stoned to death.Shall be cut off - Because that person who could so far contemn the Sabbath, which was a sign to them of the rest which remained for the people of God, was of course an infidel, and should be cut off from all the privileges and expectations of an Israelite.

Verse 16

A perpetual covenant - Because it is a sign of this future rest and blessedness, therefore the religious observance of it must be perpetually kept up. The type must continue in force till the antitype come.

Verse 17

Rested, and was refreshed - God, in condescension to human weakness, applies to himself here what belongs to man. If a man religiously rests on the Sabbath, both his body and soul shall be refreshed; he shall acquire new light and life.

Verse 18

When he had made an end of communing - When the forty days and forty nights were ended.Two tables of testimony - See Clarke's note on Exodus 34:1 . Tables of stone - That the record might be lasting, because it was a testimony that referred to future generations, and therefore the materials should be durable.Written with the finger of God - All the letters cut by God himself. Dr. Winder, in his History of Knowledge, thinks it probable that this was the first writing in alphabetical characters ever exhibited to the world, though there might have been marks or hieroglyphics cut on wood, stone, etc., before this time; see Exodus 17:14 . That these tables were written, not by the commandment but by the power of God himself, the following passages seem to prove: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mountain, and be thou there; and I will give thee tables of stone Which I Have Written, that thou mayest teach them;" Exodus 24:12 . "And he gave unto Moses, upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, Written With The Finger Of God;" Exodus 31:18 . "And Moses went down from the mount, and the two tables of testimony were in his hand; the tables were Written on both their sides. And the tables were The Work Of God, and the Writing Was The Writing Of God, graven upon the tables;" Exodus 32:15 , Exodus 32:16 . "These words [the ten commandments] the Lord spake in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more, But He Wrote Them on two tables of stone;" Deuteronomy 5:22 . It is evident therefore that this writing was properly and literally the writing of God himself. God wrote now on tables of stone what he had originally written on the heart of man, and in mercy he placed that before his eyes which by sin had been obliterated from his soul; and by this he shows us what, by the Spirit of Christ, must be rewritten in the mind, 2 Corinthians 3:3 ; and this is according to the covenant which God long before promised to make with mankind, Jeremiah 31:33 . See also what is said on this subject, Exodus 20:1 (note), Exodus 34:1 (note), and Exodus 17:14 (note).1. Reason may show us how near to an impossibility it was that a just and proper number of convenient characters for the sounds in language should naturally be hit upon by any man, for whom it was easy to imitate and vary, but not to invent.2. From evidence of the Mosaic history, it appears that the introduction of writing among the Hebrews was not from man, but God.3. There are no evident vestiges of letters subsisting among other nations till after the delivery of the law at Mount Sinai; nor then, among some, till very late."

Exodus 31

  1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
  3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
  4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
  5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
  6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;
  7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,
  8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,
  9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,
  10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office,
  11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.
  12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
  14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
  15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
  16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
  17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
  18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

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