Exodus 35


‘Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” Exodus 35:1-3

Sabbath Regulations

This chapter begins with the instructions to build the tabernacle, However, whilst doing so, they mustn’t forget to honour the Sabbath. In other words, they shouldn’t build on the Sabbath in order to honour the day.

The lighting of fires involved a lot of work. It was ordinarily affected by rubbing two sticks together or twisting one round rapidly between the two palms in a depression upon a board. God had told them earlier that lighting fires for cooking purposes weren’t permitted either on the sabbath, Exodus 16:23.

The Sabbath Day

Back in Exodus 20:8-11, God told them to ‘remember the Sabbath day’ and in Deuteronomy 5:12-15, God told them to ‘observe the Sabbath day’. God understands that life can get very busy and He knows that the Israelites, just like many people do today, don’t take any time out from work and consume themselves with work.

The idea is the more we work, the more money we’ll earn, therefore, the more we can spend on ourselves. It’s such a shame that many people don’t work for a living, but they live to work.

God is telling the Israelites that six days is more than enough time to do all the things which are necessary for living. In other words, the Sabbath is made for man to rest, Mark 2:23-28.

The meaning of the word ‘Sabbath’ teaches us the purpose for keeping the day, the word doesn’t mean ‘seventh’ it means ‘rest’. The Israelites were to rest from work on this day.

The reason for this rest day is illustrated in God’s creation, He rested from His work in creation. God could easily have created the heavens and earth in a shorter or greater time, but to establish an example for man in reference to his work, God set the pattern by the six 24-hour days of creation.

For the Israelites, keeping the Sabbath was also a sign of their covenant with God. The Sabbath and circumcision were the two signs of the covenant, and so when Israel as a nation rested on this day, the other nations around them would see this and know Israel was in a covenant relationship with God.

Remember also, it wasn’t simply a sign to the nations around them, but mainly a sign to God that Israel was keeping the covenant.

Why did He tell them to keep the Sabbath day holy? It was to remind them of what God had done for them in Egypt and please note that the Sabbath wasn’t given as a ‘religious day’, but as a day where there would be common respect between the citizens of society.

Those who employed people to work for them, couldn’t force their employees to work on the Sabbath, this is respect, even the animals were not allowed to be put to work. The Sabbath was made for man in order to give him rest, a rest from all the earthly things so that he had time to think about spiritual things.

God created everything in six days, Genesis 1 / Exodus 20:11. At the end of the sixth day, God looked at everything He had made and said it was ‘very good’, Genesis 1:31. The next day, day seven, God rested from His work of creating because it was all finished, Genesis 2:2. God then blessed this day because it was the day that He chose to rest from His work, Genesis 2:3.

Why did God rest? Was He tired from all the work of creating? Not at all! The Bible tells us that God doesn’t get tired or sleep, Psalm 121:3-4. He rested to establish a pattern for us to follow.

Materials For The Tabernacle

‘Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the LORD has commanded: From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. “All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; the ark with its poles and the atonement cover and the curtain that shields it; the table with its poles and all its articles and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light; the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the bronze basin with its stand; the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, and their ropes; the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary—both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests.” Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewellery of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or the other durable leather brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.’ Exodus 35:4-29

Notice that in order to acquire materials for the building of the tabernacle, Moses asked for a freewill offering from the people. It was a freewill offering because a freewill offering requires personal sacrifice. Here the people, both rich and poor, men and women, willingly contributed and gave freely, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Back in Exodus 25:1-9, we asked the question, where did the Israelites get this material from? We were reminded that when they left Egypt, God ensured that they didn’t leave empty-handed, they plundered Egypt, Exodus 12:35-36 / Psalm 105:37.

The gold, silver and brass that were offered here came from their plunder of the Egyptians, as well as their conquest over the Amalekites, Exodus 35:4-19.

The yarn and fine linen were spun from flax, Exodus 9:31 / Joshua 2:6, and the goat’s hair was spun and used for making tents. The durable leather would probably have been made from some sea animal. Acacia wood is sometimes called shittim wood. This would be easily obtainable throughout the region of Sinai.

The pure oil was beaten from olives that were picked just before ripening, Exodus 27:20. The oil lamps were to be burning every night, which burning probably symbolized that God’s presence would never leave Israel, Exodus 30:8 / 1 Samuel 3:3.

No one really knows what onyx stones were. Onyx is the middle gemstone in the fourth and last row of the High Priest’s breastplate, Exodus 28:20, and the fifth foundational stone in New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:20.

The tabernacle was to be a symbol of God’s presence among His people. Why did God want the tabernacle built?

1. It would be a rallying place where God’s Word would be proclaimed.

2. It would serve as a physical reminder of God’s presence among the people.

3. It was the place where God recorded His name, the place where He would meet with them and bless them, Exodus 20:24.

4. It was a singularly impressive ‘figure’ of the ultimate spiritual realities to be achieved in ‘the kingdom of God,’ the church of Jesus, and therefore a witness at one and the same time to both Israels, the Old, and the New.

The tabernacle had to be built specifically according to the pattern that God will give them, Hebrews 8:5. In other places, it is referred to as the tent of meeting, Exodus 27:21, the tabernacle of the Lord, Numbers 16:9, and the tabernacle of testimony, Exodus 38:21.

For a more detailed look at the material described here, see notes from Exodus 25 and Exodus 26.

Bezalel And Oholiab

‘Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has 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 artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.’ Exodus 35:30-35

Bezalel And Oholiab

Back in Exodus 31:1-11, we read how God encouraged 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.

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.

Go To Exodus 36


"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."