Exodus 25:17

17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

Exodus 25:17 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 25:17

And thou shall make a mercy seat of pure gold
Or "covering" F14; so Jarchi and Aben Ezra; for so the word properly signifies; and what is meant was no more than a cover of the ark, which was open at the top, and this was the lid of it, and exactly answered to it, as appears by the dimensions afterwards given of it; and because the root of this word in one form signifies to propitiate or make atonement, some render it the "propitiatory" or "propitiation" F15; which is favoured by the apostle in ( Hebrews 9:5 ) and to which he seems to refer, ( Romans 3:25 ) and the rather since God is represented sitting on this, as showing himself propitious and well pleased with men, by his communing with them from hence; the Septuagint version takes in both senses, rendering it the "propitiatory covering" F16: this being called by what name it will, was typical of Christ; he is the seat of mercy, or, as it is in the New Testament expressed, the throne of grace; whereon, or in whom God shows himself to be gracious and merciful to the children of men; all the stores of mercy are in him, and all the vessels of mercy are put into his hands; the mercy of God is displayed in the mission of him as a Saviour, and is glorified by him in a way consistent with his justice and holiness; through him only special mercy is communicated to sinful men, to whom God is only merciful in Christ: and Christ himself is all mercy to his people; his ways of old were mercy and truth, and all his works, especially his great work of redemption, are done in mercy and pity to them; he shows himself to be merciful to them, by sympathizing with them, and supporting them under all their temptations and afflictions, in granting them all the necessary supplies of grace here, and by bestowing eternal life on them hereafter: he is their "covering", the covering of their persons by his righteousness, imputed to them, and of their sins, by his blood shed for them, and sprinkled on them, and of the law, by his satisfaction for the transgressions of it; whereby they are secured from the avenging justice of God, and wrath to come: and he is the "propitiation" or "propitiatory", who has made atonement and reconciliation for sin; and in and through whom God shows himself propitious to his people, he being pacified, his wrath appeased, and his justice satisfied by his obedience and sufferings: and this mercy seat, being of "pure gold", without any alloy or mixture in it, may denote the purity of Christ's obedience, righteousness, and sacrifice, in the completeness of salvation by him, without any works of righteousness of men; the worth and excellency of Christ, and of these blessings of his, and the preciousness of his blood, and the continued virtue and efficacy of it, and of his righteousness and sacrifice, by which the propitiation is made:

two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a
half the breadth thereof:
which are exactly the dimensions of the ark, to which this was a lid or cover, see ( Exodus 25:10 ) in the mystical sense it intimates, that Christ, in his nature, obedience, sufferings, and death, is the end of the law for righteousness, which is entirely commensurate, and answers to all its demands: his holy nature is answerable to the holiness and spirituality of the law; his righteousness to all that obedience it requires, and his sufferings and death to the penalty of it; so that, through Christ, we have a righteousness to justify us before God, as long and as broad as the law is, though the commandment is exceeding broad, ( Psalms 119:96 ) . Aben Ezra observes, that there is no mention made of the thickness of the mercy seat; and the same Jarchi takes notice of, but adds, that, according to their Rabbins, it was an hand's breadth, and the Targum of Jonathan says,

``and its thickness an hand's breadth.''


F14 (trpk) "opertorium", Montanus; "tegmen sive operimentum", Vatablus; "operculum", Piscator.
F15 "Propitiatorium", V. L. Pagninus, Munster, Tigurine version.
F16 (ilasthrion epiyema) Sept. "operculum propitiatorium", Junius & Tremellius.

Exodus 25:17 In-Context

15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
The King James Version is in the public domain.