Exodus 38
Pulpit Commentary
And he made the altar of burnt offering of shittim wood: five cubits was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof; it was foursquare; and three cubits the height thereof.
Verses 1-8. - THE FURTHER PROGRESS OF THE WORK - THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE FURNITURE FOR THE COURT. - Vers. 9-20. - AND OF THE COURT ITSELF. On the completion of the tabernacle, Bezaleel and his assistants turned their attention to the court and its furniture; and constructed, first, the altar of burnt offering (vers. 1-7); secondly, the bronze laver (ver. 8); and thirdly, the hangings, pillars, connecting-rods, hooks and pins for the circuit of the court (vers. 9-20). Vers. 1-7 correspond to vers. 1-8 of ch. 27; ver. 8 corresponds to ver. 18 of ch. 30; and vers. 9-20 correspond to vers. 9-19 of ch. 27.
And he made the horns thereof on the four corners of it; the horns thereof were of the same: and he overlaid it with brass.
And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the shovels, and the basons, and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the vessels thereof made he of brass.
Verse 3. - The pots. This translation is better than that of Exodus 27:3, which is "pans." Buckets or scuttles to convey the ashes from the altar to the ash-heap (Leviticus 1:16) are intended.
And he made for the altar a brasen grate of network under the compass thereof beneath unto the midst of it.
And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate of brass, to be places for the staves.
And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with brass.
And he put the staves into the rings on the sides of the altar, to bear it withal; he made the altar hollow with boards.
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Verse 8. - Of the looking-glasses of the women. This interesting fact has not been previously mentioned. Bronze plates, circular or oval, admitting of a high polish, were used by the Egyptian women as mirrors from a very early date, and may be seen in the Egyptian collection of the British Museum. They have handles like those of our fire-screens, generally also of bronze. It was natural that the Hebrew women should possess similar articles, and should have taken care to bring them with them out of Egypt. The sacrifice of them for a sacred purpose is rather to be ascribed to their own serf-denying piety than to any command issued by Moses (Spencer). Which assembled. Literally, "who came by troops." Women assembled themselves by troops at the entrance of the "tent of meeting" set up lay. Moses (Exodus 33:7), as at a later date we find Hannah (1 Samuel 1:9-12) and other women who were less worthy (1 Samuel 2:22) doing. The women who showed this zeal were those that made the sacrifice of their mirrors for God's service. There is no reason to suppose (with Hengstenberg and others) that they constituted a regular "order."
And he made the court: on the south side southward the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, an hundred cubits:
Their pillars were twenty, and their brasen sockets twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver.
Verse 10. - Their fillets. Rather, "their connecting-rods," as in Exodus 27:10.
And for the north side the hangings were an hundred cubits, their pillars were twenty, and their sockets of brass twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and their sockets ten; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
And for the east side eastward fifty cubits.
The hangings of the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.
And for the other side of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.
All the hangings of the court round about were of fine twined linen.
And the sockets for the pillars were of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver; and the overlaying of their chapiters of silver; and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver.
Verse 17. - The overlaying of their chapiters of silver. This is additional to what is recorded in ch. 27, and is parallel to what we find related of the tabernacle pillars in Exodus 36:38. Filleted with silver. Rather, "connected with silver rods." Compare Exodus 27:17.
And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court.
Verse 18. - The height in the breadth was five cubits. The height of the hangings all round the court was required to be five cubits, or seven and a half feet (Exodus 27:18). It appears by the expression here used - "in the breadth" - that the material was woven of exactly this width.
And their pillars were four, and their sockets of brass four; their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their chapiters and their fillets of silver.
Verse 19. - Their chapiters. This again is additional to the directions given Compare the comment on ver. 17.

CHAPTER 38:21-31
And all the pins of the tabernacle, and of the court round about, were of brass.
This is the sum of the tabernacle, even of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest.
Verses 21-31. - THE SUM OF THE TABERNACLE, OR WEIGHT OF THE METALS EMPLOYED IN IT. Before dismissing the subject of the construction of the tabernacle, Moses places on record the sum of the gold, silver and bronze contributed and consumed in the work. At the same time he informs us who was the accountant by whom the sum was made up (ver. 21), and what were the portions of the work formed of each metal (vers. 24, 27, 28, 30, 31). Incidentally he mentions the number of the congregation at this period (ver. 26), and the weight of the "sockets" or "bases" (ver. 27). Verse 21. - This is the sum. Or "numbering" (as in Numbers 26:63). The tabernacle of testimony. The tabernacle, i.e., of which the great glory was that it contained "the testimony" or "Two Tables." Compare Exodus 25:16. For the service of the Levites. Literally "a service of the Levites by the hand of Ithamar," etc. - i.e. "a service which was performed by the Levites at the command of Ithamar." It is somewhat remarkable that the direction of the Levites should be assigned to Ithamar, rather than to Nadab or Abihu.
And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.
Verse 22. - Bezaleel made all. The direction of the whole work by Bezaleel is here asserted more definitely and decidedly than elsewhere. Compare Exodus 31:2-6; Exodus 36:1, 2.
And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.
Verse 23. - Aholiab's special gifts are here pointed out. He was

1. An artificer (a general term with no special application);

2. A skilled weaver; and

3. An embroiderer.

Altogether, his business was with the textile fabrics - not with the wood-work or the metal-work - of the sanctuary.
All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
Verse 24. - The gold. The value of the gold has been estimated by Canon Cook at £175,075 13s. 0d. of our money; by Thenius at 877,300 Prussian thalers, or about £131,595. It was certainly under £200,000. De Wette and others have argued that the possession of so large a sum in gold at this time by the Hebrew nation is inconceivable. But most critics are of a different opinion. Gold was very abundant in Egypt at the period, being imported from Ethiopia, a rich gold-producing country (Herod. 3:23; Diod. Sic. 3:11), as well as taken in tribute from the nations of Asia. The wealth of Rhampsinitus (Rameses III.), a little later than the exodus, was enormous (Herod. 2:121; Rawlinson, History of Egypt, vol. 2. pp. 368, 378). According to the preceding narrative (Exodus 12:35, 36) much of the wealth of Egypt had, at the moment of their quitting the country, passed from the Egyptians to the Hebrews. If they numbered two millions of souls, their gold ornaments are likely to have been worth very much more than £200,000 of our money. On the shekel of the sanctuary, see the comment upon Exodus 30:13.
And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
Verse 25. - The silver. The silver seems to have amounted to about four times the weight of the gold; but the value of it was very much less, not exceeding £40,000 of our money (Cook). It may seem surprising that this should have been so; but there are grounds for believing that both in Africa and in Asia gold was more plentiful than silver in the early ages. And it is certainly much more suitable for ornaments. Of them that were numbered. See above, Exodus 30:12-16. The silver for the sanctuary was collected by a compulsory tax, of the nature of a church-rate. This produced the amount here given, No estimate is made of the weight of the silver freewill offerings (Exodus 35:24), nor is any account given of their application. It has been suggested that they were returned to the donors as superfluous, which is certainly possible,
A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.
Verse 26. - A bekah for every man. Literally, "for every head." From twenty years old and upward. Compare Numbers 1:3, 22, etc. Six hundred thousand, etc. It is remarkable that this number agrees exactly with the sum total of the numbering in Numbers 2:32, which took place about six months later, and was exclusive of 22,000 Levites. Perhaps the number was lost in this place, and restored from Numbers 2:32, without its being recollected that the Levites were not included in that reckoning.
And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.
Verse 27. - The sockets of the sanctuary and of the veil See above, Exodus 36:24, 26, 30, and 36. The numbers given are 40, 40, 16, and 4, making exactly the hundred.
And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them.
Verse 28. - Hooks for the pillars. See above, vers. 10, 12, 17, and 19. Chapiters. See ver. 19. Filleted them. Rather, "connected them with rods"
And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred shekels.
Verse 29. - The brass of the offering - i.e., the bronze which had been brought by the people in answer to the invitation of Moses (Exodus 35:24).
And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brasen altar, and the brasen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar,
Verses 30, 31. - The sockets. See Exodus 36:38. The brazen altar and the brazen grate. See vers. 1 and 4. The vessels. See ver. 3. The sockets of the court. See above, vers. 11, 14, 15, 17, and 19. The pins of the tabernacle and of the court. See above, ver. 20.

And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about.
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