|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:12-17 Orders were now given that a tabernacle should be set up for the service of God. But they must not think that the nature of the work, and the haste that was required, would justify them in working at it on sabbath days. The Hebrew word /shabath/ signifies rest, or ceasing from labour. The thing signified by the sabbath is that rest in glory which remains for the people of God; therefore the moral obligation of the sabbath must continue, till time is swallowed up in eternity.
Verses 12-17. - THE PENALTY FOR NOT OBSERVING THE SABBATH. Various reasons have been given for this recurrence to the sanctity of the sabbath. Kurtz connects it with the giving of the two tables, in which "the law of the sabbath held a particularly prominent place." Kalisch and others view it rather as the sequel to the directions concerning the tabernacle, and as designed to teach "that the holy service in the tabernacle could not supersede the observance of the sabbath, but derived front that observance its true value." A third set of critics regard the recurrence to the subject as purely practical - being intended to meet an immediate danger - that of the people, in their zeal to erect the tabernacle, setting sabbath observance at nought. (So Jarchi, Aben-Ezra, Clark, Rosenmuller, Canon Cook, and others.) It is to be observed, however, that the present passage is not a mere repetition. It adds to former notices (Exodus 20:8-11; Exodus 23:12) two new points: -
1. That the sabbath was to be a sign between God and Israel, a "distinguishing badge," a "sacramental bond" (Cook); and
2. That its desecration was to be punished with death (ver. 15). These were supplementary points of so much importance as to furnish ample reason against their announcement being delayed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... After he had described to him the place of worship, and appointed the priests that should minister in it, and ordered the making of all things appertaining to it, and the workmen that should be concerned therein, he repeats the law of the sabbath, and puts in mind of the time of worship:
saying: as follows.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12-17. Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep—The reason for the fresh inculcation of the fourth commandment at this particular period was, that the great ardor and eagerness, with which all classes betook themselves to the construction of the tabernacle, exposed them to the temptation of encroaching on the sanctity of the appointed day of rest. They might suppose that the erection of the tabernacle was a sacred work, and that it would be a high merit, an acceptable tribute, to prosecute the undertaking without the interruption of a day's repose; and therefore the caution here given, at the commencement of the undertaking, was a seasonable admonition.
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