Exodus 31


Bezaleel appointed for the work of the tabernacle, 1-5.

Aholiab appointed for the same, 6.

The particular things on which they were to be employed, the

ark and mercy-seat, 7.

Table, candlestick, and altar of incense, 8.

Altar of burnt-offering and the laver, 9.

Priest's garments, 10.

Anointing oil and sweet incense, 11.

God renews the command relative to the sanctification of the

Sabbath, 12-17.

Delivers to Moses the two tables of stone, 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, 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 1Ch 2:5, 9, 18-20, and

See Clarke on Ex 17:10.

Verse 3. I have filled him with the spirit of God]

See Clarke on Ex 28:3.

In wisdom] , chochmah, from chacham, to be

wise, skilful, 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, [Anglo-Saxon], to teach, to advise, and

[Anglo-Saxon], to judge; hence [Anglo-Saxon], the doom or judgment

of the well taught, wise, or prudent man.

Understanding] tebunah, from ban or bun,

to separate, distinguish, discern; capacity to comprehend the

different parts of a work, how to connect, arrange, &c., in order

to make a complete whole.

Knowledge] daath, denoting particular acquaintance

with a person or thing; practical, experimental knowledge.

Verse 4. Cunning works] machashaboth, works of

invention or genius, in the goldsmith and silversmith line.

Verse 5. In cutting of stones, &c.] Every thing that concerned

the lapidary's, jeweller'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


In the same way Homer attributes such curious arts to Minerva,

the goddess of wisdom, and Vulcan, the god of handicrafts.




Odyss., l. vi., ver. 232.

As by some artist, to whom VULCAN gives

His skill divine, a breathing statue lives;

By PALLAS taught, he frames the wondrous mould,

And o'er the silver pours the fusile gold. -POPE.

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; Pr 8:12.

See Clarke on Ex 28:3, to which the reader is

particularly desired to refer. There is something remarkable in

the name of this second superintendent, 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 on Ex 31:2.

Verse 8. The pure candlestick] Called so either because of the

pure gold of which it was made, or the brightness and splendour

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 on Ex 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 on Ex 30:23.

Sweet incense] See Clarke on Ex 30:23; and "Ex 30:24".

Verse 13. My Sabbaths ye shall keep]

See Clarke on Ge 2:3; and "Ex 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 on Ex 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, &c., before this

time; see Ex 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;" Ex 24:12. "And he gave unto Moses, upon Mount Sinai, two

tables of testimony, tables of stone, WRITTEN WITH THE FINGER OF

GOD;" Ex 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;"

Ex 32:15, 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;" De 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, 2Co 3:3; and this is according to the

covenant which God long before promised to make with mankind,

Jer 31:33.

See also what is said on this subject, Clarke's note, "Ex 20:1", and

See Clarke on Ex 34:1; and "Ex 17:14".

"No time," says Dr. A. Bayley, "seems so proper from whence to

date the introduction of letters among the Hebrews as this, for

after this period we find continual mention of letters, reading,

and writing, in the now proper sense of those words. See

De 27:8; 31:9. Moses, it is said,

επαιδευθη, was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians-in

all the learning they possessed; but it is manifest that he had

not learned of them any method of writing, otherwise there had

been no want of God's act and assistance in writing the two tables

of the law, no need of a miraculous writing. Had Moses known this

art, the Lord might have said to him, as he does often afterwards,

Write thou these words; Ex 34:27.

Write on the stones the words of this law; De 27:3.

Write you this song for you; De 31:19. Perhaps it may be said,

God's writing the law gave it a sanction. True; but why might it

not also teach the first use of letters, unless it can be proved

that they were in use prior to this transaction? It might be

thought too much to assert that letters no more than language were

a natural discovery; that it was impossible for man to have

invented writing, and that he did not invent it: yet this may

appear really the case from the following reflections:-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."

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