Exodus 31


‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent—the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.” Exodus 31:1-11

Bezalel And Oholiab

Here we read how God encourages men to do things God won’t do when men are more than capable of doing it themselves under God’s guidance. It was the duty of the skilled worker to use their judgment as to how to make the materials and determine many of the details.

These two men, Bezalel and Oholiab obviously had some kind of leadership skills and God was going to use them both to direct the building of the tabernacle according to God’s will, Exodus 35:30-35.

Keil, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Bezalel was a grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, who is mentioned in Exodus 17:10 / Exodus 24:14, and was called to be the master-builder, to superintend the whole of the building and carry out the artistic work, consequently, he is not only invariably mentioned first, Exodus 35:30 / Exodus 36:1-2, but in the accounts of the execution of the separate portions, he is mentioned alone, Exodus 32:1 / Exodus 38:22.’

God filled Bezaleel means he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to carry out the instructions to build the tabernacle. With his assistant, Aholiab, he was to create the beauty of the tabernacle in a way that it would manifest the splendour of God, Acts 6:3-6. From this, we learn that God never calls anyone to do a task of any kind, without first giving them the ability to do so, Ephesians 4:11-14.

Bezalel was blessed with the wisdom to lead those who were chosen to complete the tasks set before them. His judgments were inspired by God, in order that he lead the workers to comply with the will of God in reference to the construction of the tabernacle.

He was also blessed with understanding, this was the ability to organise the parts of the tabernacle to be completed in order to organise the workers to accomplish the task of construction.

He was also blessed with the knowledge of what materials to use, as well as how to bring these materials together into the final goal of the constructed tabernacle and its furniture.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The name Oholiab means ‘father of tents’, he was from the tribe of Dan, and although that tribe doesn’t appear to have been famous for such men of artistic talent, it was likewise true that Hiram, the chief artist employed by Solomon for the ornamental work of the temple, was also a Danite, 2 Chronicles 2:14. Despite such notable exceptions, The Danites in general were more warlike and rude than artistic, Genesis. 49:17 / Deuteronomy 33:22 / Judges 13:2 / Judges 18:11 / Judges 18:27.’

Cook, in his commentary, says the following concerning the three types of dress mentioned here.

1. The richly adorned state robes of the High Priest, Exodus 28:6-Exodus 29:1ff.

2. The holy garments of white linen worn by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.

3. The garments of white linen worn by all the priests in their regular ministrations.

The Sabbath

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” Exodus 31:12-17

Notice the two things which are revealed for the first time here concerning the sabbath day.

1. The sabbath day was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel.

2. The profanation of it was a capital offence to be punished by the execution of all violators!

This was exactly the proper place for Moses to have included this information because the established worship of God in the services of the tabernacle was about to be inaugurated, and, as the sabbath was to be a prominent and vital part of that worship, this placement of the instructions stressed it as being also of equal importance with the tabernacle rituals.

Along with circumcision, Genesis 17:11-14, the Sabbath was given by God as a sign of the covenant between Israel and God. These two signs were distinguishing marks that separated Israel from the nations around them.

No other nation adopted the sign of the Sabbath. As long as the Israelites circumcised their males and kept the Sabbath, they were signalling to God that they would keep the covenant.

The Jews were to observe the covenant for generations to come, that is until the time of the Messiah, we now know that when Christ came, this observing of the sabbath day ended, Galatians 3:26-29. The Sabbath is no longer a sign of a covenant between God and His people.

The keeping of the Sabbath was a very serious matter, this is seen in the fact that if anyone violated the sabbath day commands, they received the death penalty. We know that God takes His covenants seriously and so must we.

‘When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.’ Exodus 31:18

It’s at this point that Moses finishes his forty days in the mountain. It was for the purpose of receiving these tablets that God had called Moses up into the mountain in the first place, Exodus 24:12, and so this is the fulfilment of the promise of God made to Moses at that time.

After Moses receive these stone tablets they were to be placed in the ark, Exodus 25:16. although Moses later would break the original tablets of stone in his frustration with Israel, Exodus 32:19, God gave him a set of new tablets on which were written the ten commandments, Exodus 34:4 / Exodus 40:20.

Here we read that the tablets were inscribed by the ‘finger of God’, Daniel 5:5 / Daniel 5:24 / John 8:1-11. We’re not to suppose that God has literal fingers, He is Spirit, John 4:24.

The point is simply this, the writing was from God, it was God Himself who wrote the commandments.

Go To Exodus 32