Moses is commanded to set up the tabernacle, the first day of the first month of the second year of their departure from Egypt, Exodus 40:1, Exodus 40:2. The ark to be put into it, Exodus 40:3. The table and candlestick to be brought in also with the golden altar, Exodus 40:4, Exodus 40:5. The altar of burnt-offering to be set up before the door, and the laver between the tent and the altar, Exodus 40:6, Exodus 40:7. The court to be set up, Exodus 40:8. The tabernacle and its utensils to be anointed, Exodus 40:9-11. Aaron and his sons to be washed, clothed, and anointed, Exodus 40:12-15. All these things are done accordingly, Exodus 40:16. The tabernacle is erected; and all its utensils, etc., placed in it on the first of the first month of the second year, vv. 17-33. The cloud covers the tent, and the glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle, so that even Moses is not able to enter, Exodus 40:34, Exodus 40:35. When they were to journey, the cloud was taken up; when to encamp, the cloud rested on the tabernacle, Exodus 40:36, Exodus 40:37. A cloud by day and a fire by night was upon the tabernacle, in the sight of all the Israelites, through the whole course of the journeyings, Exodus 40:38.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.The first day of the first month - It Is generally supposed that the Israelites began the work of the tabernacle about the sixth month after they had left Egypt; and as the work was finished about the end of the first year of their exodus, (for it was set up the first day of the second year), that therefore they had spent about six months in making it: so that the tabernacle was erected one year all but fifteen days after they had left Egypt. Such a building, with such a profusion of curious and costly workmanship, was never got up in so short a time. But it was the work of the Lord, and the people did service as unto the Lord; for the people had a mind to work.
And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail.
And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.Thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things, etc. - That is, Thou shalt place the twelve loaves upon the table in the order before mentioned. See Clarke's note on Exodus 25:30.
And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle.
And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein.
And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate.
And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.
And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy.
And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it.
And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.
And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:
And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.For their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood - By this anointing a right was given to Aaron and his family to be high priests among the Jews for ever; so that all who should be born of this family should have a right to the priesthood without the repetition of this unction, as they should enjoy this honor in their father's right, who had it by a particular grant from God. But it appears that the high priest, on his consecration, did receive the holy unction; see Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 21:10. And this continued till the destruction of the first temple, and the Babylonish captivity; and according to Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, and others, this custom continued among the Jews to the advent of our Lord, after which there is no evidence it was ever practiced. See Calmet's note Exodus 29:7 (note). The Jewish high priest was a type of Him who is called the high priest over the house of God, Hebrews 10:21; and when he came, the functions of the other necessarily ceased. This case is worthy of observation. The Jewish sacrifices were never resumed after the destruction of their city and temple, for they hold it unlawful to sacrifice anywhere out of Jerusalem; and the unction of their high priest ceased from that period also: and why? Because the true priest and the true sacrifice were come, and the types of course were no longer necessary after the manifestation of the antitype.
Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.
And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.
And Moses reared up the tabernacle, and fastened his sockets, and set up the boards thereof, and put in the bars thereof, and reared up his pillars.
And he spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent above upon it; as the LORD commanded Moses.He spread abroad the tent over the tabernacle - By the tent, in this and several other places, we are to understand the coverings made of rams' skins, goats' hair, etc., which were thrown over the building; for the tabernacle had no other kind of roof.
And he took and put the testimony into the ark, and set the staves on the ark, and put the mercy seat above upon the ark:And put the testimony into the ark - That is, the two tables on which the ten commandments had been written. See Exodus 25:16. The ark, the golden table with the shew-bread, the golden candlestick, and the golden altar of incense, were all in the tabernacle, within the veil or curtains, which served as a door, Exodus 40:22, Exodus 40:24, Exodus 40:26. And the altar of burnt-offering was by the door, Exodus 40:29. And the brazen laver, between the tent of the congregation and the brazen altar, Exodus 40:30; still farther outward, that it might be the first thing the priests met with when entering into the court to minister, as their hands and feet must be washed before they could perform any part of the holy service, Exodus 40:31, Exodus 40:32. When all these things were thus placed, then the court that surrounded the tabernacle, which consisted of posts and hangings, was set up, Exodus 40:33.
And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail.
And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward.
And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the vail:
And he burnt sweet incense thereon; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he set up the hanging at the door of the tabernacle.
And he put the altar of burnt offering by the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation, and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal.
And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat:
When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.
Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.Then a cloud covered the tent - Thus God gave his approbation of the work; and as this was visible, so it was a sign to all the people that Jehovah was among them.
And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle - How this was manifested we cannot tell; it was probably by some light or brightness which was insufferable to the sight, for Moses himself could not enter in because of the cloud and the glory, Exodus 40:35. Precisely the same happened when Solomon had dedicated his temple; for it is said that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord; 1 Kings 8:10, 1 Kings 8:11. Previously to this the cloud of the Divine glory had rested upon that tent or tabernacle which Moses had pitched without the camp, after the transgression in the matter of the molten calf; but now the cloud removed from that tabernacle and rested upon this one, which was made by the command and under the direction of God himself. And there is reason to believe that this tabernacle was pitched in the center of the camp, all the twelve tribes pitching their different tents in a certain order around it.
And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:When the cloud was taken up - The subject of these three last verses has been very largely explained in the notes on Exodus 13:21, to which, as well as to the general remarks on that chapter, the reader is requested immediately to refer. See Clarke's note on Exodus 13:21.
But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.
For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day - This daily and nightly appearance was at once both a merciful providence, and a demonstrative proof of the Divinity of their religion: and these tokens continued with them throughout all their journeys; for, notwithstanding their frequently repeated disobedience and rebellion, God never withdrew these tokens of his presence from them, till they were brought into the promised land. When, therefore, the tabernacle became fixed, because the Israelites had obtained their inheritance, this mark of the Divine presence was no longer visible in the sight of all Israel, but appears to have been confined to the holy of holies, where it had its fixed residence upon the mercy-seat between the cherubim; and in this place continued till the first temple was destroyed, after which it was no more seen in Israel till God was manifested in the flesh.
As in the book of Genesis we have God's own account of the commencement of the World, the origin of nations, and the peopling of the earth; so in the book of Exodus we have an account, from the same source of infallible truth, of the commencement of the Jewish Church, and the means used by the endless mercy of God to propagate and continue his pure and undefiled religion in the earth, against which neither human nor diabolic power or policy have ever been able to prevail! The preservation of this religion, which has ever been opposed by the great mass of mankind, is a standing proof of its Divinity. As it has ever been in hostility against the corrupt passions of men, testifying against the world that its deeds were evil, these passions have ever been in hostility to it. Cunning and learned men have argued to render its authority dubious, and its tendency suspicious; whole states and empires have exerted themselves to the uttermost to oppress and destroy it; and its professed friends, by their conduct, have often betrayed it: yet librata ponderibus suis, supported by the arm of God and its own intrinsic excellence, it lives and flourishes; and the river that makes glad the city of God has run down with the tide of time 5800 years, and is running on with a more copious and diffusive current.
Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis aevum.
"Still glides the river, and will ever glide."
We have seen how, by the miraculous cloud, all the movements of the Israelites were directed. They struck or pitched their tents, as it removed or became stationary. Every thing that concerned them was under the direction and management of God. But these things happened unto them for ensamples; and it is evident, from Isaiah 4:5, that all these things typified the presence and influence of God in his Church, and in the souls of his followers. His Church can possess no sanctifying knowledge, no quickening power but from the presence and influence of his Spirit. By this influence all his followers are taught, enlightened, led, quickened, purified, and built up on their most holy faith; and without the indwelling of his Spirit, light, life, and salvation are impossible. These Divine influences Are necessary, not only for a time, but through all our journeys, Exodus 40:38; though every changing scene of providence, and through every step in life. And these the followers of Christ are to possess, not by inference or inductive reasoning, but consciously. The influence is to be felt, and the fruits of it to appear as fully as the cloud of the Lord by day, and the fire by night, appeared in the sight of all the house of Israel. Reader, hast thou this Spirit? Are all thy goings and comings ordered by its continual guidance? Does Christ, who was represented by this tabernacle, and in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, dwell in thy heart by faith? If not, call upon God for that blessing which, for the sake of his Son, he is ever disposed to impart; then shalt thou be glorious, and on all thy glory there shall be a defense. Amen, Amen.
On the ancient division of the law into fifty-four sections, see the notes at the end of Genesis (Genesis 50:26 (note)). Of these fifty-four sections Genesis contains twelve; and the commencement and ending of each has been marked in the note already referred to. Of these sections Exodus contains eleven, all denominated, as in the former case, by the words in the original with which they commence. I shall point these out as in the former, carrying the enumeration from Genesis.
It will at once appear to the reader that these sections have their technical names from some remarkable word, either in the first or second verse of their commencement.