The sabbath to be observed. (1-3) The free gifts for the tabernacle. (4-19) The readiness of the people in general. (20-29) Bezaleel and Aholiab called to the work. (30-35)
Verses 1-3 The mild and easy yoke of Christ has made our sabbath duties more delightful, and our sabbath restraints less irksome, than those of the Jews; but we are the more guilty by neglecting them. Surely God's wisdom in giving us the sabbath, with all the mercy of its purposes, are sinfully disregarded. Is it nothing to pour contempt upon the blessed day, which a bounteous God has given to us for our growth in grace with the church below, and to prepare us for happiness with the church above?
Verses 4-19 The tabernacle was to be dedicated to the honour of God, and used in his service; and therefore what was brought for it, was an offering to the Lord. The rule is, Whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring. All that were skilful must work. God dispenses his gifts; and as every man hath received, so he ( 1 Peter. 4:10 ) materials to work on; those that were skilful, must serve the tabernacle with their skill: as they needed one another, so the ( 1 Corinthians. 12:7-21 )
Verses 20-29 Without a willing mind, costly offerings would be abhorred; with it, the smallest will be accepted. Our hearts are willing, when we cheerfully assist in promoting the cause of God. Those who are diligent and contented in employments considered mean, are as much accepted of God as those engaged in splendid services. The women who spun the goats' hair were wise-hearted, because they did it heartily to the Lord. Thus the labourer, mechanic, or servant who attends to his work in the faith and fear of God, may be as wise, for his place, as the most useful minister, and he equally accepted of the Lord. Our wisdom and duty consist in giving God the glory and use of our talents, be they many or few.
Verses 30-35 Here is the Divine appointment of the master-workmen, that there might be no strife for the office, and that all who were employed in the work might take direction from, and give account to them. Those whom God called by name to his service, he filled with the Spirit of God. Skill, even in worldly employments, is God's gift, and comes from above. But many are ready enough in cutting out work for other people, and can tell what this man or that man should do; but the burdens they bind on others, they themselves will not touch with one of their fingers. Such will fall under the character of slothful servants. These men were not only to devise and to work themselves, but they were to teach others. Those that rule should teach; and those to whom God has given knowledge, should be willing to make it known for the benefit of others.
Exodus 35:1-35 . CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TABERNACLE.
1. Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel, &c.--On the occasion referred to in the opening of this chapter, the Israelites were specially reminded of the design to erect a magnificent tabernacle for the regular worship of God, as well as of the leading articles that were required to furnish that sacred edifice [ Exodus 35:11-19 ].
20, 21. all the congregation of Israel departed from the presence of Moses--No exciting harangues were made, nor had the people Bibles at home in which they could compare the requirements of their leader and see if these things were so. But they had no doubt as to his bearing to them the will of God, and they were impressed with so strong a sense of its being their duty, that they made a spontaneous offer of the best and most valuable treasures they possessed.
21. they came, every one whose heart stirred him up--One powerful element doubtless of this extraordinary open-hearted liberality was the remembrance of their recent transgression, which made them "zealous of good works" (compare 2 Corinthians 7:11 ). But along with this motive, there were others of a higher and nobler kind--a principle of love to God and devotedness to His service, an anxious desire to secure the benefit of His presence, and gratitude for the tokens of His divine favor: it was under the combined influence of these considerations that the people were so willing and ready to pour their contributions into that exchequer of the sanctuary.
every one whom his spirit made willing--Human nature is always the same, and it is implied that while an extraordinary spirit of pious liberality reigned in the bosoms of the people at large, there were exceptions--some who were too fond of the world, who loved their possessions more than their God, and who could not part with these; no, not for the service of the tabernacle.
22. they came, both men and women, &c.--literally, "the men over and above the women"; a phraseology which implies that the women acted a prominent part, presented their offerings first, and then were followed by as many of their male companions as were similarly disposed.
brought bracelets, &c.--There was in that early age no money in the form of coins or bullion. What money passed current with the merchant consisted of rings which were weighed, and principally of ornaments for personal decoration. Astonishment at the abundance of their ornaments is at an end when we learn that costly and elegant ornaments abounded in proportion as clothing was simple and scarce among the Egyptians, and some, entirely divested of clothing, yet wore rich necklaces [HENGSTENBERG]. Among people with Oriental sentiments and tastes, scarcely any stronger proof could have been given of the power of religion than their willingness not only to lay aside, but to devote those much-valued trinkets to the house of God; and thus all, like the Eastern sages, laid the best they had at the service of God.
30. See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, &c.--Moses had made this communication before [see Exodus 31:2-5 ; But now that the collection had been made, the materials were contributed, and the operations of building about to be commenced, it was with the greatest propriety he reminded the people that the individuals entrusted with the application of their gold and silver had been nominated to the work by authority to which all would bow.
35. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart--A statement which not only testifies that skill in art and science is a direct gift from God, but that weaving was especially the business of men in Egypt (see Exodus 38:22 , Exodus 39:22 Exodus 39:27 ). And in perfect harmony with the testimony of the monuments is the account given by Moses to the artists who were divinely taught the arts necessary for the embellishment of the tabernacle. Others, whose limited means did not admit of these expensive contributions, offered their gratuitous services in fabricating such articles of tapestry as were needed; arts which the Israelitish females learned as bondwomen, in the houses of Egyptian princes.