Exodus 39:3
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.
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(3) They did beat the gold into thin plates and cut it into wires.—This very primitive method of forming gold thread is nowhere else mentioned. It implies a ruder state of the art of metallurgy than we should have expected.

To work it in the blue.—The blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the white linen thread were woven into a patterned fabric. The gold was inserted afterwards in the way of embroidery. A similar practice prevailed in Egypt (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii., p. 128).

Exodus 39:3. Cut it into wires — They had not then the art which we have now, of drawing a piece of gold into threads of what length we please; but they beat it first into thin plates, and then cut off small wires, which they wove with the other materials here mentioned.39:1-31 The priests' garments were rich and splendid. The church in its infancy was thus taught by shadows of good things to come; but the substance is Christ, and the grace of the gospel. Christ is our great High Priest. When he undertook the work of our redemption, he put on the clothes of service, he arrayed himself with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, girded himself with resolution to go through the undertaking, took charge of all God's spiritual Israel, laid them near his heart, engraved them on the palms of his hands, and presented them to his Father. And he crowned himself with holiness to the Lord, consecrating his whole undertaking to the honour of his Father's holiness. True believers are spiritual priests. The clean linen with which all their clothes of service must be made, is the righteousness of saints, Re 19:8.See the notes to Exodus 28. 3. cut the gold into wires to work it—that is, the metal was beaten with a hammer into thin plates, cut with scissors or some other instrument into long slips, then rounded into filaments or threads. "Cloth of golden tissue is not uncommon on the monuments, and specimens of it have been found rolled about mummies; but it is not easy to determine whether the gold thread was originally interwoven or subsequently inserted by the embroiderer" [Taylor]. No text from Poole on this verse. And he made the ephod of gold,.... From hence to the end of verse thirty one we have a very particular account of the making of the priest's garments exactly according to the directions given to Moses; see Gill on Exodus 28:1 &c. to end of chapter twenty eight; only it may be observed, that here in Exodus 39:3 an account is given of the manner in which they made the gold fit to be worked along with the blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; they beat the gold into thin plates, and then cut them into wires, and then twisted them together with the yarn: the gold that was used in the weaving of the ephod and the breastplate, spoken of in the law, was wrought after this manner; the workman took one thread of pure gold, and put it with six threads of blue, and twisted the seven threads as one, and so he wrought a thread of gold with six of purple, and another thread with six of scarlet, and another with six of linen or flax, so that there were four threads of gold, and all the threads were twenty eight, as it is said; "they did beat" or spread out "the gold", &c. "to work in the midst of blue", &c. from whence is learnt that the thread of gold was twisted in the midst of them (y): and it may be further observed, that after the enumeration of the stones in the breastplate, Exodus 39:10 no mention is made of the Urim and Thummim, which seems to confirm the opinion of many, and which is my own, that they are the same with the stones: moreover, in Exodus 39:28, it may be observed, that what the coats for the common priests were made of is expressed, which is not before, which was linen; expressive of their purity and holiness, and in which they ought always to appear before God and man, and in which apparel they have been imitated among the Heathens: the priests of Hercules are said to be clothed with linen (z), and the Egyptian priests wore only a linen garment (a); hence the priests of Isis, with whom she is represented as surrounded by Juvenal (b), are called by him "grex liniger", and by Martial, "linigeri" (c).

(y) Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 5. (z) Silius Ital. de Bell. Punic. l. 3.((a) Herodot. Euterpe sive, l. 2. c. 38. (b) Satyr. 6. (c) L. 12. Epigram. 26.

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.

Verse 3. - They did beat the gold into thin plates and out it into wires. This mode of producing gold thread is remarkable, and had not been previously mentioned. Of the silver, all that is mentioned is the amount of atonement-money raised from those who were numbered (see at Exodus 30:12.) at the rate of half a shekel for every male, without including the freewill-offerings of silver (Exodus 35:24, cf. Exodus 25:3), whether it was that they were too insignificant, or that they were not used for the work, but were placed with the excess mentioned in Exodus 36:7. The result of the numbering gave 603,550 men, every one of whom paid half a shekel. This would yield 301,775 shekels, or 100 talents and 1775 shekels, which proves by the way that a talent contained 3000 shekels. A hundred talents of this were used for casting 96 sockets for the 48 boards, and 4 sockets for the 4 pillars of the inner court, - one talent therefore for each socket, - and the 1775 shekels for the hooks of the pillars that sustained the curtains, for silvering their capitals, and "for binding the pillars," i.e., for making the silver connecting rods for the pillars of the court (Exodus 27:10-11; Exodus 38:10.).
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