Exodus 39
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chapters 35–40

These chapters, which all belong to P, form the sequel to chs. 25–31, and narrate the execution of the instructions there communicated to Moses. In the main, the narrative is repeated verbatim from the instructions in chs. 25–31, with the simple substitution of past tenses for future; in two or three cases, however, a phrase is altered, and there are also some instances of omission or abridgement. Thus a few verses (as Exodus 25:8-9; Exodus 25:15; Exodus 25:22; Exodus 25:40) are omitted, as not needing repetition; others (as Exodus 25:16; Exodus 25:21; Exodus 25:30; Exodus 25:37 b), chiefly relating to the position or use of the different vessels named, are incorporated in Exodus 40:17-23, the account of the erection of the Tent of Meeting, where they actually belong; and the sections on the Anointing Oil and the Incense (Exodus 30:22-38) are merely referred to briefly in a single verse (Exodus 37:29). There are also, as compared with chs. 25–31, differences in the order of contents. The relation of chs. 35–40 to chs. 25–31 will appear perhaps most clearly from the following synoptical table:—

Chapters 35–40  Chapters 25–31

Exodus 35:1-3. Observance of the Sabbath inculcated (v. 3 added).  Exodus 31:15 (vv. 13–14, 16–17 not repeated).

Exodus 35:4-9. The people invited to make voluntary offerings.  Exodus 25:2-7 (vv. 8, 9 not repeated).

Exodus 35:10-19. All skilled workmen invited to assist  

Exodus 35:20-29. Presentation of the offerings  

Exodus 35:30 to Exodus 36:1. Moses announces to the people the appointment of Bĕẓal’çl and Oholiab, and of other skilled workmen qualified to assist.  Exodus 31:2-6 (vv. 7–11, the details of things to be made, not repeated).

Exodus 36:2-7. Delivery of the offerings to Běẓal’çl and Oholiab. The liberality of the people has to be checked.  

Exodus 36:8-19. The curtains for the Dwelling, the tent over it, and the two outer coverings.  Exodus 26:1-11; Exodus 26:14 (vv. 9b, 12, 13 not repeated).

Exodus 36:20-34. The boards, or ‘frames,’ to support the curtains.  Exodus 26:15-29 (v. 30 not repeated).

Exodus 36:35-38. The Veil and Screen.  Exodus 26:31-32; Exodus 26:36-37 (vv. 33–35 not repeated).

Exodus 37:1-9. The Ark and Mercy-seat.  Exodus 25:10-14; Exodus 25:17-20 (vv. 15, 16, 21, 22 not repeated).

Exodus 37:10-16. The Table of Presence-bread.  Exodus 25:23-29 (v. 30 not repeated).

Exodus 37:17-24. The Candlestick.  Exodus 25:31-39 (vv. 37b, 40 not repeated.

Exodus 37:25-28. The Altar of Incense.  Exodus 30:1-5 (vv. 6–10 not repeated).

Exodus 37:29. The Anointing Oil, and the Incense.  Exodus 30:22-25; Exodus 30:34-35 (abridged: vv. 26–33, 36–38 not repeated).

Exodus 38:1-7. The Altar of Burnt-offering.  Exodus 27:1-8 a (v. 8b not repeated).

Exodus 38:8 a. The Bronze Laver (v. 8b is new).  Exodus 30:18 a (vv. 18b–21 not repeated.

Exodus 38:9-20. The Court of the Tent of Meeting.  Exodus 27:9-19.

Exodus 38:21-31. Account of the amount of metal employed.  

Exodus 39:1-31. Vestments of the priests:—  Exodus 28:6-43.

Exodus 39:2-5. The ephod (v. 1 introductory; most of v. 3 new.  Exodus 28:6-8.

Exodus 39:6-7. The two onyx stones on the shoulder-straps, engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel.  Exodus 28:9-12 (abridged).

Exodus 39:8-21. The pouch of judgement, to contain the Urim and Thummim.  Exodus 28:15-28 (vv. 13, 14 much abridged in Exodus 39:16 a: vv. 29, 30 (the Urim and Thummim) not repeated).

Exodus 39:22-26. The robe of the ephod.  Exodus 28:31-35 a (v. 35b not repeated).

Exodus 39:27-29. The tunics, turban, caps, drawers, and sashes.  Exodus 28:39-40; Exodus 28:42 a (abridged: vv. 41, 42b, 43 not repeated).

Exodus 39:30-31. The golden plate, on the front of the turban.  Exodus 28:36-37 (v. 38 not repeated.

Exodus 39:32-43. Delivery of the completed work to Moses.  

Exodus 40:1-8. Moses is commanded to set up the Tent of Meeting, and to arrange the sacred vessels in their places.  

Exodus 40:9-15. Repetition of command to anoint the Tent of Meeting, and the sacred vessels (Exodus 30:26-29); and to wash, invest, and anoint the priests (Exodus 29:4-9; Exodus 30:30).  

Exodus 40:16-33. Moses sets up the Tent of Meeting, and arranges the sacred vessels according to the instructions given partly in vv. 1–8, partly in chs. Exodus 25-31.  See references to chs. 25–31 in the notes on Exodus 40:16-33.

Exodus 40:34-38. The cloud takes up its abode on the Tent of Meeting.  

From a critical point of view, the most noticeable variation is the different position of the Altar of Incense and the Bronze Laver. These, which appeared before in the appendix to chs. 25–29, viz. in ch. 30, are here introduced in accordance with the place which they would naturally hold, viz. in the description of the Dwelling (Exo Exodus 37:25-28), and Court (Exodus 38:8), respectively; the Altar of Incense is mentioned also in ch. 40 (vv. 5, 26). If, therefore, chs. 30–31 are rightly assigned to a secondary stratum of P (see p. 328), the same conclusion will follow, as a necessary corollary, for chs. 35–40. There are other indications pointing in the same direction. In the LXX. of chs. 35–40 the order of the contents in Exodus 36:8 b–39:43 differs remarkably from the Hebrew (see the Table in LOT. 37 f. [6–8 40 f.], or McNeile, pp. Exo 224 f.); and the renderings of many of the technical terms of the Hebrew differ from those in chs. 25–31 (see examples in McNeile, p. 226). It is thus difficult to suppose either (1) that the translators of chs. 35–40 had before them the Hebrew text of these chapters in its present form, or (2) that these translators were the same as those who translated chs. 1–34; and it becomes probable ‘that the Heb. text used by the original translators of Exodus did not contain chs. 35–40, and that they were supplied afterwards from a longer Heb. recension of the book, in which these chapters had not yet reached their final form’ (Swete, Intr. to OT. in Greek, p. 236). These considerations support the conclusion, reached in the first instance upon independent grounds (the relation of these chapters to chs. 30, 31), that chs. 35–40 belong to a secondary and posterior stratum of P (P2[223] or P3[224]). This is recognized even by Dillm., who supposes (Nu. Dt. Jos. pp. 635, 688) that the execution of the instructions contained in chs. 25–31 was originally narrated quite briefly—in, for instance, Exodus 35:1-5; Exodus 35:20-21, Exodus 36:2-6, Exodus 40:1-2; Exodus 40:34-38 [and Leviticus 8]; and that all the rest of chs. 35–40 is an expansion due to a later hand (or hands). See further Kuen. Hex. pp. 76–80.

[223] Secondary strata of P (see p. xii top; pp. 328f., 378).

[224] Secondary strata of P (see p. xii top; pp. 328f., 378).

1–31. (ch. 28). The vestments for the priests. V. 1 is introductory. V. 1a begins as though it belonged to Exodus 38:24-31, and was going on to state what was made of the richly woven materials offered by the Israelites (Exodus 25:4, &c.). At the same time it is remarkable (1) that the ‘fine linen’ is not mentioned at all, (2) that no notice is taken of the curtains and hangings (Exodus 26:1 ff., Exodus 26:31; Exodus 26:36, Exodus 27:9 ff.), for which nevertheless by far the greater part of the woven materials must have been used, and (3) that the second clause (‘and they made,’ &c.) is an evident doublet of the first (for ‘holy garments’ is a mere synonym of ‘finely wrought garments’: see on Exodus 31:10). It is possible therefore that v. 1a (to holy place) is a fragment of a complete account of what was made of the woven materials; and that and they made the holy garments, &c., is the real beginning of the account of the making of the priestly vestments.

And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the LORD commanded Moses.
1. the plaited (?) garments] See on Exodus 31:10.

as Jehovah commanded Moses] so seven times in this chapter (here, and vv. 5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31); also seven times in ch. 40 (vv. 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32); and Leviticus 8:9; Leviticus 8:13; Leviticus 8:17; Leviticus 8:21; Leviticus 8:29.

2–5 (Exodus 28:6-8). The ephod, with its shoulder-straps.

And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.
3. As far as fine linen, an addition, not in Exodus 28:6, explaining how the gold was used; it was beaten into thin plates, and these were then cut into narrow strips, forming wires or threads, which were worked in with the variously coloured yarns (Exodus 35:25). Cf. Wilk.-B. ii. 166 f.

beat] cf. Numbers 16:38-39. The verb is the one from which râḳîa‘, ‘firmament,’ lit. something beaten out, is derived.

the cunning workman] the designer, or pattern-weaver.

They made shoulderpieces for it, to couple it together: by the two edges was it coupled together.
4. They made shoulder-straps for it, joined (to it); at its two (top) edges was it joined (to them)] See on Exodus 28:7.

And the curious girdle of his ephod, that was upon it, was of the same, according to the work thereof; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; as the LORD commanded Moses.
5. And the artistically woven band (or simply, And the band) of its attachment, that was upon it, was of the same piece, &c.] See on Exodus 28:8.

And they wrought onyx stones inclosed in ouches of gold, graven, as signets are graven, with the names of the children of Israel.
6. ouches] rosettes; see on Exodus 28:11 s. So vv. 13, 16, 18.

8–21 (Exodus 28:15-28). The pouch, to contain the Urim and Thummim.

6–7. The two onyx stones on the shoulder-straps, engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel. V. 6 abridged from Exodus 28:9-11; v. 7a = Exodus 28:12 a; Exodus 28:12 b omitted.

And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he made the breastplate of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
8. the cunning workman] the designer, or pattern-weaver.

It was foursquare; they made the breastplate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled.
9. they made the pouch doubled] See on Exodus 28:15-16.

And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row.
10–13. The names of several of the stones are uncertain: see on Exodus 28:17-20.

And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they were inclosed in ouches of gold in their inclosings.
And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name, according to the twelve tribes.
14, 15. Corresponding to Exodus 28:21-22.

16a (to gold) Introduced here from Exodus 28:13. Exodus 39:16 b (from and two gold rings)–21a=Exodus 28:23-28.

And they made upon the breastplate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold.
And they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings; and put the two rings in the two ends of the breastplate.
And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breastplate.
And the two ends of the two wreathen chains they fastened in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod, before it.
And they made two rings of gold, and put them on the two ends of the breastplate, upon the border of it, which was on the side of the ephod inward.
And they made two other golden rings, and put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart of it, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.
And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue.
22. woven work] the work of the weaver; see on Exodus 26:1. Not mentioned in Exodus 28:31 : see on Exodus 28:32.

22–26 (Exodus 28:31-35 a). The robe of the ephod.

And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend.
And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.
24. and twined linen] Sam. LXX. and fine twined linen, the usual expression. Not prescribed in the Heb. text of Exodus 28:33, but read there in Sam. LXX.

26b. to minister in] abridged from Exodus 28:35 a, Exodus 28:35 b is omitted, as not needing to be repeated.

And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates;
A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons,
27. coats] tunics: see on Exodus 28:39.

woven work] the work of the weaver; see on Exodus 26:1.

27–29. The tunics and other priestly vestments. Abridged from Exodus 28:39-40; Exodus 28:42 a.

And a mitre of fine linen, and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen,
28. the mitre] the turban (for the high-priest); see on Exodus 28:39.

the goodly headtires] the ornamental caps (for ‘caps,’ see on Exodus 28:40); lit. the ornaments of (i.e. consisting in; G.-K. § 128m) caps. Pe’çr, ‘ornament,’ is however itself also specialized in the sense of ornamental cap: see Ezekiel 24:17; Ezekiel 44:18 (‘tires,’—of the priests, as here). The caps were for the ordinary priests.

breeches] loin-cloths or drawers; see on Exodus 28:42-43.

And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses.
29. the girdle] the sash; see on Exodus 28:39. But no doubt the sashes should be read with LXX.: see Exodus 28:40.

And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
30. the holy crown] the holy diadem; see on Exodus 29:6. Not mentioned in Exodus 28:36.

30, 31 (Exodus 28:36-37). The plate, on the front of the high priest’s turban.

And they tied unto it a lace of blue, to fasten it on high upon the mitre; as the LORD commanded Moses.
31. upon the turban above] Comp. on Exodus 28:37.

Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.
32. Subscription, in P’s manner (cf. Genesis 2:1), to the entire enumeration (Exodus 36:8 to Exodus 39:31).

the Dwelling of the tent of meeting] the pleonasm, as Exodus 40:2; Exodus 40:6; Exodus 40:29; cf. v. 40.

and, &c.] for the form of sentence (in the Heb.), see on Exodus 7:6.

And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his pillars, and his sockets,
33. the tabernacle] the Dwelling, i.e., in the proper sense of the term (see on Exodus 26:1), the curtains constituting the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 26:1-6).

the Tent] the tent of goats’ hair, outside the ‘curtains’ (Exodus 26:7-13).

33–40. The things made are all brought to Moses, and (v. 43) approved by him. A complete enumeration is given, substantially in the same order as in Exodus 35:11-19.

And the covering of rams' skins dyed red, and the covering of badgers' skins, and the vail of the covering,
34. I.e. the two protective outer coverings, of rams’ skins, and dugong skins (Exodus 26:14).

the veil of the screen] in front of the Holy of holies. The expression, as Exodus 35:12, Exodus 40:21.

The ark of the testimony, and the staves thereof, and the mercy seat,
35. the ark of the testimony] See on Exodus 25:16.

The table, and all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread,
The pure candlestick, with the lamps thereof, even with the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and the oil for light,
37. the pure candlestick] as Exodus 31:8.

to be set in order] i.e. to be arranged on it. See Exodus 27:21.

And the golden altar, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the tabernacle door,
38. the golden altar] i.e. the altar of incense (see Exodus 30:3). So Exodus 40:5; Exodus 40:26, Numbers 4:11.

door] entrance.

The brasen altar, and his grate of brass, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot,
39. the bronze altar] as Exodus 38:30.

The hangings of the court, his pillars, and his sockets, and the hanging for the court gate, his cords, and his pins, and all the vessels of the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of the congregation,
40. instruments of the service] cf. Exodus 27:19.

of the Dwelling of the tent of meeting] cf. v. 32. The Heb. here, as Numbers 9:15; see G.-K., § 128a end, § 129d, f.

the cords thereof] see on Exodus 35:18.

The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons' garments, to minister in the priest's office.
41. the plaited (?) garments] as v. 1, Exodus 31:10, Exodus 35:19.

(even) the holy garments] the ‘and’ has come in by some error: it is not in the Hebrew at all.

According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work.
42. As in v. 32 (cf. Exodus 25:8), the Israelites generally, not Bĕẓal’çl and Oholiab in particular, are mentioned as those who did the work. No doubt the ‘wise hearted’ assistants (Exodus 31:6, Exodus 35:10; Exodus 35:25, Exodus 36:1-2; Exodus 36:4; Exodus 36:8) are thought of.

And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
43. Moses found that all had been done according to Jehovah’s instructions.

blessed them] for the energy and promptitude which had been shewn.

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