Exodus 40


Moses is commanded to set up the tabernacle, the first day of

the first month of the second year of their departure from

Egypt, 1, 2.

The ark to be put into it, 3.

The table and candlestick to be brought in also with the golden

altar, 4.5.

The altar of burnt-offering to be set up before the door, and

the laver between the tent and the altar, 6, 7.

The court to be set up, 8.

The tabernacle and its utensils to be anointed, 9-11.

Aaron and his sons to be washed, clothed, and anointed, 12-15.

All these things are done accordingly, 16.

The tabernacle is erected; and all its utensils, &c., placed in

it on the first of the first month of the second year, 17-33.

The cloud covers the tent, and the glory of the Lord fills the

tabernacle, so that even Moses is not able to enter, 34, 35.

When they were to journey, the cloud was taken up; when to

encamp, the cloud rested on the tabernacle, 36, 37.

A cloud by day and a fire by night was upon the tabernacle, in

the sight of all the Israelites, through the whole course of

the journeyings, 38.


Verse 2. The first day of the first month] It Is generally

supposed that the Israelites began the work of the tabernacle

about the sixth month after they had left Egypt; and as the work

was finished about the end of the first year of their exodus, (for

it was set up the first day of the second year,) that therefore

they had spent about six months in making it: so that the

tabernacle was erected one year all but fifteen days after they

had left Egypt. Such a building, with such a profusion of curious

and costly workmanship, was never got up in so short a time. But

it was the work of the Lord, and the people did service as unto

the Lord; for the people had a mind to work.

Verse 4. Thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the

things, &c.] That is, Thou shalt place the twelve loaves upon the

table in the order before mentioned.

See Clarke on Ex 25:30.

Verse 15. For their anointing shall surely be an everlasting

priesthood] By this anointing a right was given to Aaron and his

family to be high priests among the Jews for ever; so that all who

should be born of this family should have a right to the

priesthood without the repetition of this unction, as they should

enjoy this honour in their father's right, who had it by a

particular grant from God. But it appears that the high priest,

on his consecration, did receive the holy unction; see

Le 4:3; 6:22; 21:10. And this continued till the destruction

of the first temple, and the Babylonish captivity; and according

to Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, and others, this custom continued

among the Jews to the advent of our Lord, after which there is no

evidence it was ever practised. See Calmet's note on chap. xxix.

7. See Clarke on Ex 29:7. The Jewish high priest was a

type of Him who is called the high priest over the house of God,

Heb 10:21; and when he came, the functions of the

other necessarily ceased. This case is worthy of observation.

The Jewish sacrifices were never resumed after the destruction of

their city and temple, for they hold it unlawful to sacrifice

anywhere out of Jerusalem; and the unction of their high priest

ceased from that period also: and why? Because the true priest

and the true sacrifice were come, and the types of course were no

longer necessary after the manifestation of the antitype.

Verse 19. He spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle] By the

tent, in this and several other places, we are to understand the

coverings made of rams' skins, goats' hair, &c., which were

thrown over the building; for the tabernacle had no other kind of


Verse 20. And put the testimony into the ark] That is, the two

tables on which the ten commandments had been written. See

Ex 25:16. The ark, the golden table with the shew-bread, the

golden candlestick, and the golden altar of incense, were all in

the tabernacle, within the veil or curtains, which served as a

door, Ex 40:22, 24, 26. And the altar of burnt-offering was

by the door, Ex 40:29. And the brazen laver,

between the tent of the congregation and the brazen altar,

Ex 40:30; still farther outward, that it might be the

first thing the priests met with when entering into the court to

minister, as their hands and feet must be washed before they could

perform any part of the holy service, Ex 40:31,32. When all

these things were thus placed, then the court that surrounded the

tabernacle, which consisted of posts and hangings, was set up,

Ex 40:33.

Verse 34. Then a cloud covered the tent] Thus God gave his

approbation of the work; and as this was visible, so it was a sign

to all the people that Jehovah was among them.

And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.] How this was

manifested we cannot tell; it was probably by some light or

brightness which was insufferable to the sight, for Moses himself

could not enter in because of the cloud and the glory, Ex 40:35.

Precisely the same happened when Solomon had dedicated his temple;

for it is said that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so

that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud;

for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord;

1Ki 8:10,11. Previously to this the cloud of the Divine glory

had rested upon that tent or tabernacle which Moses had pitched

without the camp, after the transgression in the matter of the

molten calf; but now the cloud removed from that tabernacle and

rested upon this one, which was made by the command and under the

direction of God himself. And there is reason to believe that

this tabernacle was pitched in the centre of the camp, all the

twelve tribes pitching their different tents in a certain order

around it.

Verse 36. When the cloud was taken up] The subject of these

three last verses has been very largely explained in the notes on

Ex 13:21, to which, as well as to the general remarks on that

chapter, the reader is requested immediately to refer.

See Clarke on Ex 13:21.

Verse 38. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by

day] This daily and nightly appearance was at once both a

merciful providence, and a demonstrative proof of the Divinity of

their religion: and these tokens continued with them throughout

all their journeys; for, notwithstanding their frequently repeated

disobedience and rebellion, God never withdrew these tokens of his

presence from them, till they were brought into the promised land.

When, therefore, the tabernacle became fixed, because the

Israelites had obtained their inheritance, this mark of the Divine

presence was no longer visible in the sight of all Israel, but

appears to have been confined to the holy of holies, where it had

its fixed residence upon the mercy-seat between the cherubim; and

in this place continued till the first temple was destroyed, after

which it was no more seen in Israel till God was manifested in the


As in the book of GENESIS we have God's own account of the

commencement of the WORLD, the origin of nations, and the

peopling of the earth; so in the book of EXODUS we have an

account, from the same source of infallible truth, of the

commencement of the Jewish CHURCH, and the means used by the

endless mercy of God to propagate and continue his pure and

undefiled religion in the earth, against which neither human nor

diabolic power or policy have ever been able to prevail! The

preservation of this religion, which has ever been opposed by the

great mass of mankind, is a standing proof of its Divinity. As it

has ever been in hostility against the corrupt passions of men,

testifying against the world that its deeds were evil, these

passions have ever been in hostility to it. Cunning and learned

men have argued to render its authority dubious, and its tendency

suspicious; whole states and empires have exerted themselves to

the uttermost to oppress and destroy it; and its professed

friends, by their conduct, have often betrayed it: yet librata

ponderibus suis, supported by the arm of God and its own

intrinsic excellence, it lives and flourishes; and the river that

makes glad the city of God has run down with the tide of time 5800

years, and is running on with a more copious and diffusive


Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.

"Still glides the river, and will ever glide."

We have seen how, by the miraculous cloud, all the movements of

the Israelites were directed. They struck or pitched their tents,

as it removed or became stationary. Every thing that concerned

them was under the direction and management of God. But these

things happened unto them for ensamples; and it is evident, from

Isa 4:5, that all these things typified the presence and

influence of God in his Church, and in the souls of his followers.

His Church can possess no sanctifying knowledge, no quickening

power but from the presence and influence of his Spirit. By this

influence all his followers are taught, enlightened, led,

quickened, purified, and built up on their most holy faith; and

without the indwelling of his Spirit, light, life, and salvation

are impossible. These Divine influences Are necessary, not only

for a time, but through all our journeys, Ex 40:38; though every

changing scene of providence, and through every step in life. And

these the followers of Christ are to possess, not by inference or

inductive reasoning, but consciously. The influence is to be

felt, and the fruits of it to appear as fully as the cloud of

the Lord by day, and the fire by night, appeared in the sight of

all the house of Israel. Reader, hast thou this Spirit? Are all

thy goings and comings ordered by its continual guidance? Does

Christ, who was represented by this tabernacle, and in whom dwelt

all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, dwell in thy heart by

faith? If not, call upon God for that blessing which, for the sake

of his Son, he is ever disposed to impart; then shalt thou be

glorious, and on all thy glory there shall be a defence. Amen,


On the ancient division of the law into fifty-four sections, see

the notes at the end of Genesis. See Clarke on Ge 50:26.

Of these fifty-four sections Genesis contains twelve; and the

commencement and ending of each has been marked in the note

already referred to. Of these sections Exodus contains eleven, all

denominated, as in the former case, by the words in the original

with which they commence. I shall point these out as in the

former, carrying the enumeration from Genesis.

The THIRTEENTH section, called shemoth, begins Ex 1:1,

and ends Ex 6:1.

The FOURTEENTH, called vaera, begins Ex 6:2, and ends

Ex 9:35.

The FIFTEENTH, called bo, begins Ex 10:1, and ends

Ex 13:16.

The SIXTEENTH, called beshallach, begins Ex 13:17, and

ends Ex 17:16.

The SEVENTEENTH, called yithro, begins Ex 18:1, and ends

Ex 20:26.

The EIGHTEENTH, called mishpatim, begins Ex 21:1, and

ends Ex 24:18.

The NINETEENTH, called terumah, begins Ex 25:2, and

ends Ex 27:19.

The TWENTIETH, called tetsavveh, begins Ex 27:20, and

ends Ex 30:10.

The TWENTY-FIRST, called tissa, begins Ex 30:11, and ends

Ex 34:35.

The TWENTY-SECOND, called vaiyakhel, begins Ex 35:1,

and ends Ex 38:20.

The TWENTY-THIRD, called pekudey, begins Ex 38:21, and

ends Ex 40:38.

It will at once appear to the reader that these sections have

their technical names from some remarkable word, either in the

first or second verse of their commencement.


Number of VERSES in Veelleh shemoth, (Exodus,) 1209.

The symbol of this number is ; aleph denoting 1000,

, resh 200, and teth 9.

The middle verse is Ex 22:28:

Thou shalt not revile God, nor curse the ruler of thy people.

Its parashioth, or larger sections, are 11. The symbol of this

is the word ei, Isa 66:1. WHERE

is the house that ye will build unto me? In which aleph

stands for 1, and yod for 10.

Its sedarim are 29. The symbol of which is taken from Ps 19:2,

yechavveh: Night unto night SHOWETH FORTH knowledge. In

which word, yod stands for 10, cheth for 8, vau

for 6, and he for 5; amounting to 29.

Its pirkey, perakim, or present chapters, 40. The symbol of

which is belibbo, taken from Ps 37:31:

The law of God is IN HIS HEART. In this word, beth stands for

2, lamed for 30, beth for 2, and vau for 6;

amounting to 40.

The open sections are 69. The close sections are 95. Total

164. The symbol of which is yisadecha, from Ps 20:2:

STRENGTHEN THEE out of Zion. In which numerical word ain

stands for 70, samech for 60, caph for 20, yod

for 10, and daleth for 4; making together 164.

Number of words, 16,513; of letters 63,467.

But on these subjects, important to some, and trifling to

others, see what is said in the concluding note on GENESIS.

See Clarke on Ge 50:26.



IN the preceding notes I have had frequent occasion to refer to

Dr. Shaw's account of the different stations of the Israelites, of

which I promised an abstract in this place. This will doubtless

be acceptable to every reader Who knows that Dr. Shaw travelled

over the same ground, and carefully, in person, noted every spot

to which reference is made in the preceding chapters.

After having endeavoured to prove that Goshen was that part of

the Heliopolitan Nomos, or of the land of Rameses, which lay in

the neighbourhood of Kairo, Matta-reah, and Bishbesh, and that

Cairo might be Rameses, the capital of the district of that name,

where the Israelites had their rendezvous before they departed out

of Egypt, he takes up the text and proceeds thus:-

"Now, lest peradventure (Ex 13:17)

when the Hebrews saw war they should repent and return to Egypt,

God did not lead them through the way of the land of the

Philistines, (viz., either by Heroopolis in the midland road, or

by Bishbesh, Tineh, and so along the seacoast towards Gaza

and Ascalon,) although that was the nearest, but he led them ABOUT

through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. There are

accordingly two roads through which the Israelites might have been

conducted from Kairo to Pihahhiroth, on the banks of the Red Sea.

One of them lies through the valleys, as they are now called, of

Jendily, Rumeleah, and Baideah, bounded on each side by the

mountains of the lower Thebais. The other lies higher, having the

northern range of these mountains, (the mountains of Mocattee)

running parallel with it on the right hand, and the desert of the

Egyptian Arabia, which lies all the way open to the land of the

Philistines, on the left. About the middle of this range we may

turn short upon our right hand into the valley of Baideah through

a remarkable breach or discontinuation, in which we afterwards

continued to the very bank of the Red Sea. Suez, a small city

upon the northern point of it, at the distance of thirty hours or

ninety Roman miles from Kairo, lies a little to the northward of

the promontory that is formed by this same range of mountains,

called at present Attackah, as that which bounds the valley of

Baideah to the southward is called Gewoubee.

"This road then through the valley of Baideah, which is some

hours longer than the other open road which leads us directly from

Kairo to Suez, was, in all probability, the very road which the

Israelites took to Pihahhiroth, on the banks of the Red Sea.

Josephus then, and other authors who copy after him, seem to be

too hasty in making the Israelites perform this journey of ninety

or one hundred Roman miles in three days, by reckoning each of the

stations that are recorded for one day. Whereas the Scriptures

are altogether silent with regard to the time or distance,

recording the stations only. The fatigue, likewise, would have

been abundantly too great for a nation on foot, encumbered with

their dough, their kneading-troughs, their little children and

cattle, to walk at the rate of thirty Roman miles a day.

Another instance of the same kind occurs Nu 33:9, where

Elim is mentioned as the next station after Marah, though Elim

and Marah are farther distant from each other than Kairo is from

the Red Sea. Several intermediate stations, therefore, as well

here as in other places, were omitted, the holy penman contenting

himself with laying down such only as were the most remarkable, or

attended with some notable transaction. Succoth, then, the first

station from Rameses, signifying only a place of tents, may have

no fixed situation, being probably nothing more than some

considerable Dou-war of the Ishmaelites or Arabs, such as we

will meet with at fifteen or twenty miles' distance from Kairo,

in the road to the Red Sea. The rendezvous of the caravan which

conducted us to Suez was at one of these Dou-wars; at the same

time we saw another at about six miles' distance, under the

mountains of Mocattee, or in the very same direction which the

Israelites may be supposed to have taken in their marches from

Goshen towards the Red Sea.

"That the Israelites, before they turned towards Pihahhiroth,

had travelled in an open country, (the same way, perhaps, which

their forefathers had taken in coming into Egypt,) appears to be

farther illustrated from the following circumstance: that upon

their being ordered to remove from the edge of the wilderness, and

to encamp before Pihahhiroth, it immediately follows that Pharaoh

should then say, they are entangled in the land, the wilderness

(betwixt the mountains we may suppose of Gewoubee and Attackah)

hath shut them in, Ex 14:3, or, as it is in the original, (

sagar,) viam illis clausit, as that word is explained by Pagninus;

for, in these circumstances the Egyptians might well imagine that

the Israelites could have no possible way to escape, inasmuch as

the mountains of Gewoubee would stop their flight or progress to

the southward, as the mountains of Attackah would do the same

towards the land of the Philistines; the Red Sea likewise lay

before them to the east, whilst Pharaoh closed up the valley

behind them with his chariots and horsemen. This valley ends at

the sea, in a small bay made by the eastern extremities of the

mountains which I have been describing, and is called Tiah-Beni

Israel, i.e., the road of the Israelites, by a tradition that is

still kept up by the Arabs, of their having passed through it; so

it is also called Baideah, from the new and unheard-of miracle

that was wrought near it, by dividing the Red Sea, and destroying

therein Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. The third notable

encampment then of the Israelites was at this bay. It was to be

before Pihahhiroth, betwixt Migdol and the sea, over against

Baal-tsephon, Ex 14:2; and in Nu 33:7 it was to be

before Migdol, where the word liphney, (before, as we

render it,) being applied to Pihahhiroth and Migdol, may signify

no more than that they pitched within sight of, or at a small

distance from, the one and the other of those places. Whether

Baal-tsephon then may have relation to the northern situation of

the place itself, or to some watch tower or idol temple that was

erected upon it, we may probably take it for the eastern extremity

of the mountains of Suez or Attackah, the most conspicuous of

these deserts, inasmuch as it overlooks a great part of the lower

Thebais, as well as the wilderness that reaches towards, or

which rather makes part of, the land of the Philistines. Migdol

then might lie to the south, as Baal-tsephon did to the north, of

Pihahhiroth; for the marches of the Israelites from the edge of

the wilderness being to the seaward, that is, towards the

south-east, their encampments betwixt Migdol and the sea, or

before Migdol, as it is otherwise noted, could not well have

another situation.

"Pihahhiroth, or Hhiroth rather, without regarding the prefixed

part of it, may have a more general signification, and denote the

valley or that whole space of ground which extended itself from

the edge of the wilderness of Etham to the Red Sea: for that

particular part only, where the Israelites were ordered to encamp,

appears to have been called Pihahhiroth, i.e., mouth of Hhiroth;

for when Pharaoh overtook them, it was in respect to his coming

down upon them, Ex 14:9, i.e.,

beside or at the mouth, or the most advanced part, of Hhiroth to

the eastward. Likewise in Nu 33:7, where the Israelites are

related to have encamped before Migdol, it follows, Nu 33:8, that

they departed from before Hhiroth, and not from

before Pihahhiroth, as it is rendered in our translation.

"There are likewise other circumstances to prove that the

Israelites took their departure from this valley in their

passage through the Red Sea, for it could not have been to the

northward of the mountains of Attackah, or in the higher road,

which I have taken notice of; because as this lies for the most

part upon a level, the Israelites could not have been here, as we

find they were, shut in and entangled. Neither could it have been

on the other side, viz., to the south of the mountains of

Gewoubee, for then (besides the insuperable difficulties which the

Israelites would have met with in climbing over them, the same

likewise that the Egyptians would have had in pursuing them) the

opposite shore could not have been the desert of Shur where the

Israelites landed, Ex 15:22, but it would have been the desert

of Marah, that lay a great way beyond it. What is now called

Corondel might probably be the southern portion of the desert of

Marah, the shore of the Red Sea, from Suez, hitherto having

continued to be low and sandy; but from Corondel to the port of

Tor, the shore is for the most part rocky and mountainous, in

the same manner with the Egyptian coast that lies opposite to it;

neither the one nor the other of them affording any convenient

place, either for the departure of a multitude from the one shore,

or the reception of it upon the other. And besides, from Corondel

to Tor, the channel of the Red Sea, which from Suez to Sdur is

not above nine or ten miles broad, begins here to be so many

leagues, too great a space certainly for the Israelites, in the

manner they were encumbered, to pass over in one night. At Tor the

Arabian shore begins to wind itself round about Ptolemy's

promontory of Paran, towards the gulf of Eloth, whilst the

Egyptian shore retires so far to the south-west that it can

scarce be perceived. As the Israelites then, for these reasons,

could not, according to the opinion of some authors, have landed

either at Corondel or Tor, so neither could they have landed at

Ain Mousa, according to the conjectures of others. For if the

passage of the Israelites had been so near the extremity of the

Red Sea, it may be presumed that the very encampments of six

hundred thousand men, besides children and a mixed multitude,

which would amount to as many more, would have spread themselves

even to the farther or the Arabian side of this narrow isthmus,

whereby the interposition of Providence would not have been at all

necessary; because, in this case and in this situation, there

could not have been room enough for the waters, after they were

divided, to have stood on a heap, or to have been a wall unto

them, particularly on the left hand. This, moreover, would not

have been a division, but a recess only of the water to the

southward. Pharaoh likewise, by overtaking them as they were

encamped in this open situation by the sea, would have easily

surrounded them on all sides. Whereas the contrary seems to be

implied by the pillar of the cloud, Ex 14:19, 20, which (divided

or) came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel,

and thereby left the Israelites (provided this cloud should have

been removed) in a situation only of being molested in the rear.

For the narrow valley which I have described, and which we may

presume was already occupied and filled up behind by the host of

Egypt, and before by the encampments of the Israelites, would

not permit or leave room for the Egyptians to approach them,

either on the right hand or on the left. Besides, if this passage

was at Ain Mousa, how can we account for that remarkable

circumstance, Ex 15:22, where it is said that,

when Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, they went out into

(or landed in) the wilderness of Shur? For Shur, a particular

district of the wilderness of Etham, lies directly fronting the

valley from which I suppose they departed, but a great many miles

to the south-ward of Ain Mousa. If they landed likewise at Ain

Mousa, where there are several fountains, there would have been no

occasion for the sacred historian to have observed, at the same

time, that the Israelites after they went out from the sea into

the wilderness of Shur, went three days in the wilderness, always

directing their marches toward Mount Sinai, and found no water;

for which reason Marah is recorded, Ex 15:23, to be the first

place where they found water, as their wandering so far before

they found it seems to make Marah also their first station, after

their passage through the Red Sea. Moreover, the channel over

against Ain Mousa is not above three miles over, whereas that

betwixt Shur or Sedur and Jibbel Gewoubee and Attackah, is nine or

ten, and therefore capacious enough, as the other would have been

too small, for covering or drowning therein, Ex 14:28,

the chariots and horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh. And

therefore, by impartially weighing all these arguments together,

this important point in the sacred geography may with more

authority be fixed at Sedur, over against the valley of Baideah,

than at Tor, Corondel, Ain Mousa, or any other place.

"Over against Jibbel Attackah and the valley of Baideah is the

desert, as it is called, of Sdur, (the same with Shur,

Ex 15:22,) where the

Israelites landed after they had passed through the interjacent

gulf of the Red Sea. The situation of this gulf, which is the

Jam suph, the weedy sea or the tongue of the Egyptian sea

in the Scripture language; the gulf of Heroopolis in the Greek and

Latin geography; and the Western arm, as the Arabian geographers

call it, of the sea of Kolzum; stretches itself nearly north and

south, and therefore lies very properly situated to be traversed

by that strong east wind which was sent to divide it, Ex 14:21.

The division that was thus made in the channel, the making the

waters of it to stand on a heap, (Ps 78:13,)

their being a wall to the Israelites on the right hand and on

the left, (Ex 14:22,) besides the twenty miles' distance, at

least, of this passage from the extremity of the gulf, are

circumstances which sufficiently vouch for the miraculousness of

it, and no less contradict all such idle suppositions as pretend

to account for it from the nature and quality of tides, or from

any such extraordinary recess of the sea as it seems to have been

too rashly compared to by Josephus.

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