Exodus 26 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Exodus 26)

Verse 1

[1] Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.

The curtains were to be embroidered with cherubim, to intimate that the angels of God pitched their tents round about the church, Psalms 34:7. As there were cherubim over the mercy-seat, so there were round the tabernacle. There were to be two hangings, five breadths to each, sewed together, and the two hangings coupled together with golden clasps or tacks, so that it might be all one tabernacle, Exodus 26:6. Thus the churches of Christ, though they are many, yet are one, being fitly joined together in holy love and by the unity of the Spirit, so growing into one holy temple in the Lord. This tabernacle was very strait and narrow, but at the preaching of the gospel, the church is bid to enlarge the place of her tent, and to stretch forth her curtains, Isaiah 54:2.

Verse 14

[14] And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers' skins.

Badger skins — So we translate it, but it should rather seem to have been some strong sort of leather, (but very fine) for we read of the best sort of shoes made of it. Ezekiel 16:10.

Verse 15

[15] And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.

Very particular directions are here given about the boards of the tabernacle, which were to bear up the curtains. These had tenons which fell into the mortaises that were made for them in silver bases. The boards were coupled together with gold rings at top and bottom, and kept firm with bars that run through golden staples in every board. Thus every thing in the tabernacle was very splendid, agreeable to that infant state of the church, when such things were proper to possess the minds of the worshippers with a reverence of the divine glory. In allusion to this, the new Jerusalem is said to be of pure gold, Revelation 21:18. But the builders of the gospel church said, Silver and gold have we none; and yet the glory of their building far exceeded that of the tabernacle.

Verse 31

[31] And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:

The veils are here ordered to be made, one for a partition between the holy place and the most holy, which not only forbad any to enter, but so much as to look into the holiest of all. Under that dispensation divine grace was veiled, but now we behold it with open face. The apostle tells us, this veil, intimated that the ceremonial law could not make the comers thereunto perfect. The way into the holiest was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was standing; life and immortality lay concealed till they were brought to light by the gospel, which was therefore signified by the rending of this veil at the death of Christ. We have now boldness to enter into the holiest in all acts of devotion by the blood of Jesus; yet such as obliges us to a holy reverence, and a humble sense of our distance. Another veil was for the outward door of the tabernacle. Through this the priests went in every day to minister in the holy-place, but not the people, Hebrews 9:6. This veil was all the defence the tabernacle had against thieves and robbers, which might easily be broken through, for it could be neither locked nor bared, and the abundance of wealth in it, one would think, might be a temptation. But by leaving it thus exposed, 1. The priests and Levites would be so much the more obliged to keep a strict watch upon it: and, 2. God would shew his care of his church on earth, though it be weak and defenceless, and continually exposed. A curtain shall be (if God please to make it so) as strong a defence, as gates of brass and bars of iron.