Here is an account, I. Of the making of the brazen altar (v.
1-7), and the laver (v. 8). II. The preparing of the hangings for the enclosing
of the court in which the tabernacle was to stand (v. 9-20). III. A summary of
the gold, silver, and brass, that was contributed to, and used in, the preparing
of the tabernacle (v. 21, etc.).
Bezaleel having finished the gold-work, which, though the
richest, yet was ordered to lie most out of sight, in the tabernacle itself,
here goes on to prepare the court, which lay open to the view of all. Two things
the court was furnished with, and both made of brass:
I. An altar of burnt-offering, v. 1-7. On this all their
sacrifices were offered, and it was this which, being sanctified itself for this
purpose by the divine appointment, sanctified the gift that was in faith offered
on it. Christ was himself the altar to his own sacrifice of atonement, and so he
is to all our sacrifices of acknowledgment. We must have an eye to him in
offering them, as God has in accepting them.
II. A laver, to hold water for the priests to wash in when they
went in to minister, v. 8. This signified the provision that is made in the
gospel of Christ for the cleansing of our souls from the moral pollution of sin
by the merit and grace of Christ, that we may be fit to serve the holy God in
holy duties. This is here said to be made of the looking-glasses (or
mirrors) of the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle.
1. It should seem these women were eminent and exemplary for
devotion, attending more frequently and seriously at the place of public worship
than others did; and notice is here taken of it to their honour. Anna was such a
one long afterwards, who departed not from the temple, but served God with
fastings and prayers night and day, Lu. 2:37. It seems in every age of the
church there have been some who have thus distinguished themselves by their
serious zealous piety, and they have thereby distinguished themselves; for
devout women are really honourable women (Acts 13:50), and not the less so for
their being called, by the scoffers of the latter days, silly women.
Probably these women were such as showed their zeal upon this occasion, by
assisting in the work that was now going on for the service of the tabernacle.
They assembled by troops, so the word is; a blessed sight, to see so
many, and those so zealous and so unanimous, in this good work.
2. These women parted with their mirrors (which were of the
finest brass, burnished for that purpose) for the use of the tabernacle. Those
women that admire their own beauty, are in love with their own shadow, and make
the putting on of apparel their chief adorning by which they value and recommend
themselves, can but ill spare their looking-glasses; yet these women
offered them to God, either, (1.) In token of their repentance for the
former abuse of them, to the support of their pride and vanity; now that they
were convinced of their folly, and had devoted themselves to the service of God
at the door of the tabernacle, they thus threw away that which, though lawful
and useful in itself, yet had been an occasion of sin to them. Thus Mary
Magdalene, who had been a sinner, when she became a penitent wiped Christ's
feet with her hair. Or, (2.) In token of their great zeal for the work of the
tabernacle; rather than the workmen should want brass, or not have of the best,
they would part with their mirrors, though they could not do well without them.
God's service and glory must always be preferred by us before any
satisfactions or accommodations of our own. Let us never complain of the want of
that which we may honour God by parting with.
3. These mirrors were used for the making of the laver. Either
they were artfully joined together, or else molten down and cast anew; but it is
probable that the laver was so brightly burnished that the sides of it still
served for mirrors, that the priests, when they came to wash, might there see
their faces, and so discover the spots, to wash them clean. Note, In the washing
of repentance, there is need of the looking-glass of self-examination. The word
of God is a glass, in which we may see our own faces (see Jam. 1:23); and with
it we must compare our own hearts and lives, that, finding out our blemishes, we
may wash with particular sorrow, and application of the blood of Christ to our
souls. Usually the more particular we are in the confession of sin the more
comfort we have in the sense of the pardon.
The walls of the court, or church-yard, were like the rest
curtains or hangings, made according to the appointment, ch. 27:9, etc. This
represented the state of the Old-Testament church: it was a garden enclosed; the
worshippers were then confined to a little compass. But the enclosure being of
curtains only intimated that the confinement of the church in one particular
nation was not to be perpetual. The dispensation itself was a
tabernacle-dispensation, movable and mutable, and in due time to be taken down
and folded up, when the place of the tent should be enlarged and its cords
lengthened, to make room for the Gentile world, as is foretold, Isa. 54:2, 3.
The church here on earth is but the court of God's house, and happy they that
tread these courts and flourish in them; but through these courts we are passing
to the holy place above. Blessed are those that dwell in that house of
God: they well be still praising him. The enclosing of a court before the
tabernacle teaches us a gradual approach to God. The priests that ministered
must pass through the holy court, before they entered the holy house. Thus
before solemn ordinances there ought to be the separated and enclosed court of a
solemn preparation, in which we must wash our hands, and so draw near with a
Here we have a breviat of the account which, by Moses's
appointment, the Levites took and kept of the gold, silver, and brass, that was
brought in for the tabernacle's use, and how it was employed. Ithamar the son
of Aaron was appointed to draw up this account, and was thus by less services
trained up and fitted for greater, v. 21. Bezaleel and Aholiab must bring in the
account (v. 22, 23), and Ithamar must audit it, and give it in to Moses. And it
was thus:-1. All the gold was a free-will offering; every man brought as he
could and would, and it amounted to twenty-nine talents, and 730 shekels over,
which some compute to be about 150,000l. worth of gold, according to the
present value of it. Of this were made all the golden furniture and vessels. 2.
The silver was levied by way of tax; every man was assessed half a shekel, a
kind of poll-money, which amounted in the whole to 100 talents, and 1775 shekels
over, v. 25, 26. Of this they made the sockets into which the boards of the
tabernacle were let, and on which they rested; so that they were as the
foundation of the tabernacle, v. 27. The silver amounted to about 34,000l.
of our money. The raising of the gold by voluntary contribution, and of the
silver by way of tribute, shows that either way may be taken for the defraying
of public expenses, provided that nothing be done with partiality. 3. The brass,
though less valuable, was of use not only for the brazen altar, but for the
sockets of the court, which probably in other tents were of wood: but it is
promised (Isa. 60:17), For wood I will bring brass. See how liberal the
people were and how faithful the workmen were, in both which respects their good
example ought to be followed.