Exodus 25:4
And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,
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(4) And blue, and purple, and scarlet.—The colours intended are probably a dark blue produced from indigo, which was the only blue known to the Egyptians, a purplish crimson derived from the murex trunculus, the main source of the “Tyrian dye” of the ancients, and a scarlet furnished by the coccus ilicis, or cochineal insect of the holm oak, which was largely employed in antiquity, though now superseded by the brighter tint obtained from the coccus cacti of Mexico. Linen yarn of the three colours mentioned seems to have been what the people were asked to furnish (Exodus 35:25; Exodus 39:1).

Fine linen—i.e., white thread spun from flax, which is found to be the material of almost all the Egyptian dresses, mummy cloths, and other undyed fabrics. It is of a yellowish white, soft, and wonderfully fine and delicate. (See Wilkinson in Rawlinson’s Herodotus, vol. ii., p. 233).

Goats’ hair.—The covering of an Arab tent is to this day almost always of goats’-hair. An excellent fabric is woven from the soft inner hair of the Syrian goat, and a coarse one from the outer coat of the animal. Yarn of goats’-hair was to be offered, that from it might be produced the first of the three outer coverings of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:7-14).

Exodus 25:4-5. Blue, and purple, and scarlet — Materials of those colours. Shittim-wood — A kind of wood growing in Egypt and the deserts of Arabia, very durable and precious.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.Blue, and purple, and scarlet - i. e. the material dyed with these colors. The Jewish tradition has been very generally received that this material was wool. Compare Hebrews 9:19 with Leviticus 14:4, Leviticus 14:49, etc. When spun and dyed by the women, it was delivered in the state of yarn; and the weaving and embroidering was left to Aholiab and his assistants, Exodus 35:25, Exodus 35:35. The "blue" and "purple" dye are usually thought to have been obtained from shell-fish, the "scarlet" from the cochineal insect of the holm-oak.

Fine linen - The fine flax or the manufactured linen, for which Egypt was famous Ezekiel 27:7, and which the Egyptians were in the habit of using for dresses of state Genesis 41:42. It was used as the groundwork of the figured curtains of the tabernacle as well as of the embroidered hangings of the tent and the court. See Exodus 35:35.

4. goats' hair—or leather of goats' skin. Blue, or sky-coloured; but here you must not understand the mere colours, which could not be offered, but some materials proper for the work, and of the colours here mentioned, to wit, wool, or threads, or some suchlike things, as appears from Hebrews 9:19, and from the testimony of the Jews. Fine linen, which was of great esteem in ancient times, and used by priests and great officers of state. See Genesis 41:42 Revelation 19:8,14.

Goats’ hair; Heb. goats. But that their hair is understood, is apparent from the nature of the thing, and from the use of the word in that sense in other places. And blue, and purple, and scarlet,.... The Jewish doctors are much divided about the sense of the words so rendered by us; some will have one colour, and some another meant; but, according to those learned men, who have taken much pains in searching into the meaning of them, as Bochart and Braunius, it appears that our version of them is most correct: and by these we are not to understand the colours themselves, which could not be brought, nor even the materials for dying them are intended; but wool, or clothes, either silken or linen of those colours: of the former the apostle has taught us to expound them, Hebrews 9:19 and so Jarchi interprets them of wool thus died, and Josephus (a) also; which was made up into yarn, and wove, and was much used in the garments of the priests, in the curtains of the tabernacle, and in the vail between the holy and the most holy place:

and fine linen; the best of which was made in Egypt only, as Aben Ezra says, and much wore there, especially by the priests; and they had such an abundance of it that they traded to other nations with it, see Isaiah 19:9 and of which the Israelites might bring a considerable quantity with them out of Egypt; and

goats' hair; though the word hair is not in the text, it is rightly supplied, as it is by the Septuagint version, and others, for not goats themselves, but their hair must be meant; of this the curtains for the covering of the tabernacle were made; Jarchi interprets it the down of goats, the short, small, fine hair that grows under the other.

(a) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 1.

And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,
4. Materials spun or woven.

blue] more exactly, purple-blue (LXX. ὑάκινθος, ὑακίνθινος, ‘dark blue’), or violet (Esther 1:6 AV.), i.e. yarn or stump so coloured by means of a dye obtained from a shell-fish, found adhering to rocks in the Medit. Sea (cf. Ezekiel 27:7), and said to be the Helix Ianthina (Ges. Thes. 1503; DB. i. 457a). Both this and the next named stuff were highly prized in antiquity, on account of their costliness and brilliancy. Violet is mostly mentioned in connexion with the Tent of meeting: but see also Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 23:7; Ezekiel 27:7; Ezekiel 27:24, Esther 1:6; Esther 8:15, Sir 6:30.

purple] more exactly, purple-red (LXX. πορφύρα), a dye extracted from a small gland in the throat of two other species of shell-fish, the Murex brandaris and Murex trunculus, found on the coasts of Phoenicia (cf. Verg. ‘Tyrioque ardebat murice laena’). Robes of this colour were particularly distinctive of wealth and royalty: comp. Jdg 8:26, Ezekiel 23:6, Song of Solomon 3:10, 1Ma 4:23; 1Ma 10:20, Mark 15:17, Luke 16:19; and the frequent mention of purpura, purpureus by Latin authors in connexion with royalty.

scarlet] lit. ‘worm of shânî,’ i.e. probably (comp. the Arab, sanâ, to shine) ‘of brilliancy’ (cf. Pliny, H.N. xxxiii. 40 ‘cocci nitor’). The ‘worm’ is the cochineal insect, which resembles a berry, and is found attached to the leaves and twigs of the Syrian Holm-oak (whence its technical name of coccus ilicis): the colouring matter is obtained from the dried body of the female. (Our word ‘crimson’ comes from ḳirmiz, the Arabic name of the same insect.) See further NHB. 319, EB. i. 956, DB. iv. 416b. For allusions to this colour (outside the following chapters), see Isaiah 1:18, Jeremiah 4:30, 2 Samuel 1:24, Proverbs 31:1.

fine linen] Heb. shçsh, prob. of Egypt, origin (cf. Ezekiel 27:7; and Copt. shens = byssus): linen was much worn in Egypt by men of rank; see Erman, Index, or DB. s.v.; and cf. Genesis 41:42. LXX. βύσσος, βύσσινος, from bûẓ, the later Heb. syn. of shçsh (found exclusively in Chr., Est., as 1 Chronicles 15:27). The marg. cotton is less probable: see EB. iii. 2800. There was a superior quality of fine linen, called ‘fine twined linen’ (Exodus 26:1; Exodus 26:31; Exodus 26:36, Exodus 27:9; Exodus 27:16; Exodus 27:18, Exodus 28:6; Exodus 28:8; Exodus 28:15, Exodus 39:28-29): this was made from yarn of which each thread was composed of many delicate strands. The Egyptians excelled in work of this kind: Amâsis (b.c. 564–526) was said to have sent to Rhodes a corslet of which each thread consisted of 360 separate strands (Hdt. iii. 47, cited by Kn.; cf. Wilkinson-Birch, ii. 166 f.).

goats’ hair] This was spun by women into yarn (Exodus 35:26): the fabric woven from it formed the ‘tent,’ or first covering, over the curtains constituting the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 26:7). See also Exo 1 Samuel 19:13.Verse 4. - And blue, and purple, and scarlet. Cloths of these three colours seem to be meant. The material was probably wool; the blue dye probably indigo, which was the ordinary blue dye of Egypt; the purple was no doubt derived from one or other of the shell-fish so well-known to the Syrians (of which the one most used was the Murex trunculus), and was of a warm reddish hue, not far from crimson; the scarlet (literally, "scarlet worm" or "worm scarlet,") was the produce of the Corcus ilicis, or cochineal insect of the holm oak, which has now been superseded by the Coccus cacti, or cochineal insect of the prickly pear, introduced into Europe from Mexico. And fine linen. The word used is Egyptian. It seems to have designated properly the fine linen spun from flax in Egypt, which was seldom dyed. and was of a beautiful soft white hue. The fineness of the material is extraordinary, equalling that of the best Indian muslins (Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, vol. 3. p. 121). It would seem that the Israelite women spun the thread from the flax (Exodus 35:25), and that the skilled workmen employed by Moses wove the thread into linen (ib, 35). And goat's hair. The soft inner wool of the Angora goat was also spun by the women into a fine worsted (ib, 26), which was woven into cloths, used especially as coverings for tents. When he ascended the mountain, upon which the glory of Jehovah dwelt, it was covered for six days with the cloud, and the glory itself appeared to the Israelites in the camp below like devouring fire (cf. Exodus 19:16); and on the seventh day He called Moses into the cloud. Whether Joshua followed him we are not told; but it is evident from Exodus 32:17 that he was with him on the mountain, though, judging from Exodus 24:2 and Exodus 33:11, he would not go into the immediate presence of God.
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