Exodus 38 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of Exodus 38)


1. the altar of burnt offering--The repetitions are continued, in which may be traced the exact conformity of the execution to the order.

8. laver of brass . . . of the looking glasses of the women--The word mirrors should have been used, as those implements, usually round, inserted into a handle of wood, stone, or metal, were made of brass, silver, or bronze, highly polished [WILKINSON]. It was customary for the Egyptian women to carry mirrors with them to the temples; and whether by taking the looking glasses of the Hebrew women Moses designed to put it out of their power to follow a similar practice at the tabernacle, or whether the supply of brass from other sources in the camp was exhausted, it is interesting to learn how zealously and to a vast extent they surrendered those valued accompaniments of the female toilet.
of the women assembling . . . at the door--not priestesses but women of pious character and influence, who frequented the courts of the sacred building (Lu 2:37), and whose parting with their mirrors, like the cutting the hair of the Nazarites, was their renouncing the world for a season [HENGSTENBERG].

9. the court--It occupied a space of one hundred and fifty feet by seventy-five, and it was enclosed by curtains of fine linen about eight feet high, suspended on brazen or copper pillars. Those curtains were secured by rods fastened to the top, and kept extended by being fastened to pins stuck in the ground.

10. hooks--The hooks of the pillars in the court were for hanging up the carcasses of the sacrificial beasts--those on the pillars at the entry of the tabernacle were for hanging the sacerdotal robes and other things used in the service.

11. sockets--mortices or holes in which the end of the pillars stood.

17. chapiters--or capitals of the pillars, were wooden posts which ran along their top, to which were attached the hooks for the hangings.

18. the height in the breadth--or, "in the measure." The sense is that the hangings of the court gate, which was twenty cubits wide, were of the same height as the hangings all round the court [WALL].

21. This is the sum of the tabernacle--Having completed his description of the component parts of the tabernacle, the inspired historian digresses into a statement respecting the gold and silver employed in it, the computation being made according to an order of Moses--by the Levites, under the direction of Ithamar, Aaron's youngest son.

24. twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels--equivalent to £150,00 sterling.

25. the silver of them that were numbered--603,550 men at half a shekel each would contribute 301,775 shekels; which at 2s. 4d. each, amounts to £35,207 sterling. It may seem difficult to imagine how the Israelites should be possessed of so much wealth in the desert; but it should be remembered that they were enriched first by the spoils of the Egyptians, and afterwards by those of the Amalekites. Besides, it is highly probable that during their sojourn they traded with the neighboring nations who bordered on the wilderness [HEWLETT].