|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:1-9 God chose the people of Israel to be a peculiar people to himself, above all people, and he himself would be their King. He ordered a royal palace to be set up among them for himself, called a sanctuary, or holy place, or habitation. There he showed his presence among them. And because in the wilderness they dwelt in tents, this royal palace was ordered to be a tabernacle, that it might move with them. The people were to furnish Moses with the materials, by their own free will. The best use we can make of our worldly wealth, is to honour God with it in works of piety and charity. We should ask, not only, What must we do? but, What may we do for God? Whatever they gave, they must give it cheerfully, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2Co 9:7. What is laid out in the service of God, we must reckon well bestowed; and whatsoever is done in God's service, must be done by his direction.
Verse 5. - And rams' skins dyed red. The manufacture of leather was well-known in Egypt from an early date, and the Libyan tribes of North Africa were celebrated for their skill in preparing and dyeing the material (Herod. 4:189). Scarlet was one of the colours which they peculiarly affected (ibid.). We must suppose that the skins spoken of had been brought with them by the Israelites cut of Egypt. And badgers' skins. It is generally agreed among moderns that this is a wrong translation. Badgers are found in Palestine, but not either in Egypt or in the wilderness. The Hebrew takhash is evidently the same word as the Arabic tukhash or dukhash, which is applied to marine animals only, as to seals, dolphins, dugongs, and perhaps sharks and dog-fish. "Seals' skins" would perhaps be the best translation. (Compare Plin. H. N. 2:55; Sueton. Octav § 90.) Shittim wood. It is generally agreed that the Shittah (plural Shittim) was an acacia, whether the seyal (Acacia seyal) which now grows so abundantly in the Sinaitic peninsula, or the Acacia Nilotica, or the Serissa, is uncertain. The seyal wood is "hard and close-grained of an orange colour with a darker heart, well-adapted for cabinet work;" but the tree, as it exists nowadays, could certainly not furnish the planks, ten cubits long by one and a half wide, which were needed for the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:21). The Serissa might do so, but it is not now found in the wilderness. We are reduced to supposing either that the seyal grew to a larger size anciently than at present, or that the serissa was more widely spread than at the present day.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And rams' skins died red,.... Of these were made a covering for the tent or tabernacle:
and badgers' skins, which were for the same use: the Septuagint version calls them hyacinth or blue skins; according to which, they seem to be the rams' skins died blue; and so Josephus (b) seems to have understood it; and it is much questionable whether the same creature is meant we call the badger, since that with the Israelites was an unclean creature; nor is its skin made use of for shoes, or well could be, as the skin of this creature is said to be, Ezekiel 16:10. Jarchi says it was a kind of beast only at that time; and Aben Ezra says, it was known in those days but not now: and
shittim wood; supposed by the Jewish writers, as Kimchi (c), and Ben Melech from him, to be the best and most excellent kind of cedar: Aben Ezra conjectures, and he delivers it but as a conjecture, that there might be near Mount Sinai a forest of "shittim" trees; and while the Israelites were there they cut them down for booths, which they might carry with them when they removed from thence; for, he says, Moses did not speak of the tabernacle till after the day of atonement: and since Acacia is by much the largest and the most common tree of the deserts of Arabia, as Dr. Shaw (d) observes, he thinks there some reason to conjecture, that the "shittim wood", whereof the several utensils of the tabernacle, &c. were made, was the wood of Acacia: and long ago it was the opinion of Cordus (e) that the "shittim wood" was the Acacia of Dioscorides; and it is the same with the Senton or Santon of the Arabians, which is the Egyptian thorn that grows in the wilderness, of which Herodotus (f) says, they cut wood of two cubits out of and make ships of burden of it: this is said to grow in the parts of Egypt at a distance from the sea; in the mountains of Sinai, at the Red sea, about Suez, in the barren wilderness; which circumstances seem to determine it to be the "shittim wood" (g): some places where it might grow in plenty seem to have had their names from it, see Numbers 25:1.
(b) Ut supra. (Antiq. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 1.) (c) Sepher Shorash. rad. (d) Travels, p. 144. Ed. 2.((e) Apud Drus. Heb. Adag. Decur. 3. Adag. 4. (f) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 96. (g) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 204.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. badgers' skins—The badger was an unclean animal, and is not a native of the East—rather some kind of fish, of the leather of which sandals are made in the East. [See on Ex 39:34 and Eze 16:10.]
shittim wood—or Shittah (Isa 41:19), the acacia, a shrub which grows plentifully in the deserts of Arabia, yielding a light, strong, and beautiful wood, in long planks.
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