Exodus 25 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of Exodus 25)
In this chapter an order is given for a freewill offering towards various things for the worship and service of God, and the materials to be offered, which would be useful and acceptable, are mentioned particularly, Exodus 25:1, as also another order to build a sanctuary for God, after a model that he would give, Exodus 25:8, and, an ark to put in the law on tables of stone, the fashion of which, and the various things belonging to it, are described, Exodus 25:10, and a mercy seat with cherubim on it to be set over the ark, where the Lord promises to meet Moses and commune with him, Exodus 25:17 and a table with various appurtenances to it to place the shewbread on, Exodus 25:23 and a candlestick of gold, whose parts are described, and all the instruments relative to it, Exodus 25:31.

Verse 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... When on the mount, and in the midst of the cloud with him:

saying; as follows.

Verse 2. Speak unto the children of Israel,.... That is, when he should go down from the mountain to the camp:

that they bring me an offering; the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan call it a "separation": something separated from their substance, and devoted to the service of God, and for the use of the sanctuary afterwards to be built:

of every man that giveth it willingly, with his heart, ye shall take my offering; or take what was offered to him, be it more or less, and of whatsoever person, high and low, rich and poor, so be it it is freely given from the heart; not grudgingly or through force, as the Targum of Jonathan adds; and in such manner did David and his people many hundreds of years after this offer towards building of the temple, and the vessels belonging to that, see 1 Chronicles 29:6 according to the Jewish writers, none but the children of Israel were to offer to this service, and only such who knew what they did; for thus they criticize on the words, "speak unto the children of "Israel": this exempts an Heathen and an idolater; "of every man"; this excludes a little one; "that giveth it willingly with his heart"; this exempts a deaf and dumb man, and a fool, because they have no knowledge to offer freely {z}" however, this we may learn from hence, that whatever we do for the worship and service of God, we should do it freely, cheerfully, and cordially; for God loves a cheerful giver; and if this was required under the legal dispensation, it is much more necessary and obligatory under the Gospel dispensation, and more suitable to it where all things are done and given freely of God, and such large blessings of grace are liberally bestowed by him on persons undeserving.

{z} Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Trumot, c. 1. sect. 1.

Verse 3. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them,.... That is, some one or other of the following things were to be taken of each of them that had a heart, and it was in the power of their hands to give; it was not expected that something of each of these should be had of everyone, but every man was to give, and it was to be received of him, what of these would suit him best to bestow, some one thing, some another, as they were possessed of, and had a heart to give; and for which service many of them were abundantly supplied with what they had brought out of Egypt; and as it was the Lord that gave them favour in the eyes of the Egyptians to lend or give them the riches they had, they were under the greater obligation to part with somewhat of it freely for his service; and especially as it would be to the spiritual profit and advantage both of them and theirs:

gold and silver, and brass; "gold," for those things that were to he made of gold; as the mercy seat and cherubim, the candlestick, &c. or were covered with it, as the ark, the shewbread table, and other things; and silver, for those that were made of that, as the silver sockets to the boards of the tabernacle, the silver trumpets, &c. and "brass" for the altar of burnt offering, its pans, shovels, basins, rings, and staves, and other things: Aben Ezra rightly observes, that no mention is made of iron, there being no use of that for anything in the tabernacle to be made of it; as also there was not in the temple of Solomon, and where there was not so much as a tool of iron heard in it while it was building, 1 Kings 6:7 it may be, because instruments of war, slaughtering weapons, were made of iron; and to show that God is the God of peace in his sanctuary, and so in all the churches: gold and silver vessels the Israelites borrowed or begged of the Egyptians, and brought them with them when they came out of Egypt, Exodus 11:2.

Verse 4. And blue, and purple, and scarlet,.... The Jewish doctors are much divided about the sense of the words so rendered by us; some will have one colour, and some another meant; but, according to those learned men, who have taken much pains in searching into the meaning of them, as Bochart and Braunius, it appears that our version of them is most correct: and by these we are not to understand the colours themselves, which could not be brought, nor even the materials for dying them are intended; but wool, or clothes, either silken or linen of those colours: of the former the apostle has taught us to expound them, Hebrews 9:19 and so Jarchi interprets them of wool thus died, and Josephus {a} also; which was made up into yarn, and wove, and was much used in the garments of the priests, in the curtains of the tabernacle, and in the vail between the holy and the most holy place:

and fine linen; the best of which was made in Egypt only, as Aben Ezra says, and much wore there, especially by the priests; and they had such an abundance of it that they traded to other nations with it, see Isaiah 19:9 and of which the Israelites might bring a considerable quantity with them out of Egypt; and

goats' [hair]; though the word hair is not in the text, it is rightly supplied, as it is by the Septuagint version, and others, for not goats themselves, but their hair must be meant; of this the curtains for the covering of the tabernacle were made; Jarchi interprets it the down of goats, the short, small, fine hair that grows under the other.

{a} Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 1.

Verse 5. And rams' skins died red,.... Of these were made a covering for the tent or tabernacle:

and badgers' skins, which were for the same use: the Septuagint version calls them hyacinth or blue skins; according to which, they seem to be the rams' skins died blue; and so Josephus {b} seems to have understood it; and it is much questionable whether the same creature is meant we call the badger, since that with the Israelites was an unclean creature; nor is its skin made use of for shoes, or well could be, as the skin of this creature is said to be, Ezekiel 16:10. Jarchi says it was a kind of beast only at that time; and Aben Ezra says, it was known in those days but not now: and

shittim wood; supposed by the Jewish writers, as Kimchi {c}, and Ben Melech from him, to be the best and most excellent kind of cedar: Aben Ezra conjectures, and he delivers it but as a conjecture, that there might be near Mount Sinai a forest of "shittim" trees; and while the Israelites were there they cut them down for booths, which they might carry with them when they removed from thence; for, he says, Moses did not speak of the tabernacle till after the day of atonement: and since Acacia is by much the largest and the most common tree of the deserts of Arabia, as Dr. Shaw {d} observes, he thinks there some reason to conjecture, that the "shittim wood," whereof the several utensils of the tabernacle, &c. were made, was the wood of Acacia: and long ago it was the opinion of Cordus {e} that the "shittim wood" was the Acacia of Dioscorides; and it is the same with the Senton or Santon of the Arabians, which is the Egyptian thorn that grows in the wilderness, of which Herodotus {f} says, they cut wood of two cubits out of and make ships of burden of it: this is said to grow in the parts of Egypt at a distance from the sea; in the mountains of Sinai, at the Red sea, about Suez, in the barren wilderness; which circumstances seem to determine it to be the "shittim wood" {g}: some places where it might grow in plenty seem to have had their names from it, see Numbers 25:1.

{b} Ut supra. (Antiq. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 1.) {c} Sepher Shorash. rad. jwv {d} Travels, p. 144. Ed. 2. {e} Apud Drus. Heb. Adag. Decur. 3. Adag. 4. {f} Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 96. {g} Vid. Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 204.

Verse 6. Oil for the light,.... For the light of the lamps in the candlestick: this was oil olive, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi, see Exodus 27:20,

spices for anointing oil; for the anointing of Aaron and his sons, and the tabernacle and its vessels, such as pure myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, and cassia:

and for sweet incense; as stacte, onycha, and galbanum; from whence they had this oil and these spices, it is not easy to say, unless they brought them out of Egypt with them; which is likely, since the deserts of Arabia could not furnish them with them.

Verse 7. Onyx stones,.... So called from their likeness to the nail of a man's finger: the Targum of Onkelos calls them stones of beryl; and the Targum of Jonathan gems of beryl; and the Septuagint version, stones of sardius; and some take them to be the sardonyx stones, which have a likeness both to the onyx and to the sardius:

and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate; two onyx stones were set in the ephod, one of the garments of the high priest, and an onyx stone, with eleven other precious stones, were set in the breastplate of the high priest: these stones were doubtless among the jewels set in gold and silver the Israelites had of the Egyptians, and brought with them out of Egypt.

Verse 8. And let them make me a sanctuary,.... An holy place to dwell in, and so called from his dwelling in it, as follows:

that I may dwell amongst them; in the midst of them, where the tabernacle was always placed; and there he dwelt as their King and their God, to whom they might have recourse on all occasions, and whom they should serve and worship; this sanctuary was to be made of many of the materials before mentioned by the Israelites, whom Moses should employ, and to whom he should give directions for the making it, according to the pattern showed him: and so the Jewish writers interpret "make me," or "to me," i.e. of mine, of mine holy things, things sanctified and separated to his use; and they bring this passage to prove that the workmen in the temple were to be paid only out of the holy things, or money given for the repair of it {h}: this was a type of the human nature of Christ, the true sanctuary and tabernacle which God pitched and not man, and in which the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily; and of the church of God, the temple of the living God, among whom he walks, and with whom he dwells, Hebrews 8:2.

{h} Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Temurah, c. 7. sect. 1.

Verse 9. According to all that I show thee,.... That is, the sanctuary was to be made in all respects exactly according to the view of it that Moses now had upon the mount from God, and which he was to communicate to the workmen for their instruction and direction;

after the pattern of the tabernacle, and of the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it: and by the "pattern" is not meant an idea of it, impressed on the mind of Moses, or a picture of it which was shown him, but a little edifice representing it in all its parts, a perfect model of it: and so Maimonides {i} says, "Tabnith," the word here used, signifies the structure and disposition of anything, i.e. the form of it in a four square, in roundness, in a triangle, or in any of the like figures, see Hebrews 8:5 and so David had, by the Spirit, a pattern of the temple, and which he gave to his son Solomon, to build according to it, 1 Chronicles 28:11.

{i} Moreh Nevochim, par. 1. c. 3.

Verse 10. And they shall make an ark of shittim wood,.... A chest or coffer to put things into, and into this were to be put the two tables of stone on which the law was written, and it was to be made of the wood before mentioned, Exodus 25:5 this was a very eminent type of Christ, with whom the name of an ark, chest, or coffer where treasure lies, agrees; for the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and the riches of grace, even all the fulness of it, lie in him; and all the epithets of this ark are suitable to him, as when it is called the ark of God, the ark of his strength, the glory of God, the face of God, Jehovah, and God himself, the holy ark, and ark of the covenant: and its being made of "shittim wood," which is an incorruptible wood, a wood that rots not, by which the Septuagint version here, and in Exodus 25:5 and elsewhere render it, may denote the duration of Christ in his person, and the natures united in it; in his divine nature, from everlasting to everlasting, he is God; in his human nature he saw no corruption, and though he died he lived again, and lives for evermore; in his offices, as Mediator, Redeemer, Saviour, prophet, priest, and King, he abideth for ever; and in his grace and the fulness of it, which, like himself, is the same today, yesterday, and forever:

two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof; if this cubit was a common cubit, consisting of a foot and a half or eighteen inches, then the length of this ark was forty five inches, and its breadth and height twenty seven each; according to Dr. Cumberland {k}, the Egyptian and Jewish cubit was above twenty one inches, and then the ark must be fifty three inches long or more, and thirty two and three quarters broad and high, or more: and Josephus {l} says, the length of it was five spans, and the breadth and height of it three spans each.

{k} Of Scripture Weights and Measures, ch. 2. p. 34, 56. {l} Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 5.

Verse 11. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold,.... Not gild it, but put a plate of pure gold over it:

within and without shalt thou overlay it; so that nothing of the wood could be seen: this may denote the glory of Christ in both his natures, divine and human, the riches of his person and office, which are unsearchable and durable, and his preciousness to them that believe, Song of Solomon 5:10,

and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about: or a cornish of pure gold upon it, every way, which was a square on which the mercy seat was set; which may point at the honour and glory of Christ, especially in his kingly office, who has indeed on his head many crowns; one a crown of pure gold, his divine Father has set upon him; another which the church has crowned him with, and indeed both angels and saints cast their crowns at his feet, and set the crown on his head, or give him the glory of all they have and are.

Verse 12. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it,.... For which a mould was to be made, and the gold being melted was poured into it, and so the rings were fashioned:

and put them in the corners thereof; or, "in its feet," as Aben Ezra, though Jarchi says it had no feet; but as the word used so signifies always, it is more probable it had feet; and the rather, that it might not stand upon the ground, but on feet, as chests and coffers usually do:

and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it; Jarchi says, at the upper corners, near the mercy seat were they placed, two on one side and two on the other, at the breadth of the ark; but it is more likely they were fixed in the lower part of it, as Ramban, at the feet of it; and in the length of the ark, as Josephus writes {m}.

{m} Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 5

Verse 13. And thou shall make staves of shittim wood,.... Of the same, wood the ark was made of, see Exodus 25:5 and overlay them with gold; cover them with plates of gold, so that they appeared to be all of gold, the wood being not to be seen.

Verse 14. And thou shall put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark,.... This shows for what use the rings were; namely, to put the staves into them and the use of the staves thus put was,

that the ark might be borne with them; which staves overlaid with gold, and put into golden rings, figured the ministers of Christ, enriched with the gifts and graces of his Spirit, and possessed of the truths of the Gospel, more precious than gold and silver; who bear the name of Christ, and carry his Gospel into the several parts of the world.

Verse 15. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark,.... Not only be put into them, but remain in them, yea, always:

they shall not be taken from it; or, as the Septuagint version is, be immovable; so that those gold rings in the ark may signify the churches of Christ, which are instrumental to bear his name, and spread his truth in the world, comparable to rings for their circular form, being the purest and most perfect bodies of men on earth, and to gold rings for their worth and value, preciousness, excellency, and duration; and with whom the ministers of the Gospel, comparable to golden staves, are always to be, and never depart from them: or else they may signify the perfect and precious doctrines of Christ, in which his ministers are always to be; either in meditation on them, or in preaching of them, and by which they are always to abide, see 1 Timothy 4:15.

Verse 16. And thou shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give thee. Which was the principal use of it: by the "testimony" is meant the law, written on two tables of stone; so called, because it was a testification of the mind and will of God, what he would have done or omitted; and as the Israelites had declared their approbation of it, and assent unto it, and had promised obedience to it, therefore, should they transgress it, it would be a testimony against them: now this was put into the ark, and preserved there, see Deuteronomy 10:1, which may signify that the law was in the heart of Christ, and which he undertook to fulfil, and with pleasure did it; that he is become the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to them that believe in him; and that it remains with him as a rule of walk and conversation to his people, so far as it is of a moral, holy, and spiritual nature.

Verse 17. And thou shall make a mercy seat of pure gold,.... Or "covering" {n}; so Jarchi and Aben Ezra; for so the word properly signifies; and what is meant was no more than a cover of the ark, which was open at the top, and this was the lid of it, and exactly answered to it, as appears by the dimensions afterwards given of it; and because the root of this word in one form signifies to propitiate or make atonement, some render it the "propitiatory" or "propitiation" {o}; which is favoured by the apostle in Hebrews 9:5 and to which he seems to refer, Romans 3:25 and the rather since God is represented sitting on this, as showing himself propitious and well pleased with men, by his communing with them from hence; the Septuagint version takes in both senses, rendering it the "propitiatory covering" {p}: this being called by what name it will, was typical of Christ; he is the seat of mercy, or, as it is in the New Testament expressed, the throne of grace; whereon, or in whom God shows himself to be gracious and merciful to the children of men; all the stores of mercy are in him, and all the vessels of mercy are put into his hands; the mercy of God is displayed in the mission of him as a Saviour, and is glorified by him in a way consistent with his justice and holiness; through him only special mercy is communicated to sinful men, to whom God is only merciful in Christ: and Christ himself is all mercy to his people; his ways of old were mercy and truth, and all his works, especially his great work of redemption, are done in mercy and pity to them; he shows himself to be merciful to them, by sympathizing with them, and supporting them under all their temptations and afflictions, in granting them all the necessary supplies of grace here, and by bestowing eternal life on them hereafter: he is their "covering," the covering of their persons by his righteousness, imputed to them, and of their sins, by his blood shed for them, and sprinkled on them, and of the law, by his satisfaction for the transgressions of it; whereby they are secured from the avenging justice of God, and wrath to come: and he is the "propitiation" or "propitiatory," who has made atonement and reconciliation for sin; and in and through whom God shows himself propitious to his people, he being pacified, his wrath appeased, and his justice satisfied by his obedience and sufferings: and this mercy seat, being of "pure gold," without any alloy or mixture in it, may denote the purity of Christ's obedience, righteousness, and sacrifice, in the completeness of salvation by him, without any works of righteousness of men; the worth and excellency of Christ, and of these blessings of his, and the preciousness of his blood, and the continued virtue and efficacy of it, and of his righteousness and sacrifice, by which the propitiation is made:

two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof: which are exactly the dimensions of the ark, to which this was a lid or cover, see Exodus 25:10 in the mystical sense it intimates, that Christ, in his nature, obedience, sufferings, and death, is the end of the law for righteousness, which is entirely commensurate, and answers to all its demands: his holy nature is answerable to the holiness and spirituality of the law; his righteousness to all that obedience it requires, and his sufferings and death to the penalty of it; so that, through Christ, we have a righteousness to justify us before God, as long and as broad as the law is, though the commandment is exceeding broad, Psalm 119:96. Aben Ezra observes, that there is no mention made of the thickness of the mercy seat; and the same Jarchi takes notice of, but adds, that, according to their Rabbins, it was an hand's breadth, and the Targum of Jonathan says, "and its thickness an hand's breadth."

{n} trpk "opertorium," Montanus; "tegmen sive operimentum," Vatablus; "operculum," Piscator. {o} "Propitiatorium," V. L. Pagninus, Munster, Tigurine version. {p} ilasthrion epiyema Sept. "operculum propitiatorium," Junius & Tremellius.

Verse 18. And thou shalt make two cherubim of gold,.... Which some take to be in the form of birds, and others of winged animals, such as the like were never seen, so Josephus; the Jews commonly suppose they were in the form of young men, which they observe the word signifies in the Chaldee language; others, that they were in the form of an ox, the face of an ox and a cherub being the same, Ezekiel 1:10 and indeed their form is best discerned from account of them in Ezekiel, and in the Revelation, and from the latter we best learn what they were; they were hieroglyphics or emblems, not of the two Testaments, as many of the ancients, nor of the angels, since they are distinguished from them, much less of the trinity of persons in the Godhead; but either of the saints and true believers in Christ in common, of both dispensations, legal and evangelical, and so signified by the number "two"; and being made of gold may denote their excellency, worth, and value in the esteem of Christ; for the precious sons of Sion are comparable to fine gold for their preciousness, solidity, and duration, as well as for their sincerity and simplicity; or rather of the ministers of the word in particular; and these may be signified by two, and at the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New; and the ministers of the word in all ages, and particularly during the reign of antichrist, are called the two witnesses that prophesy in sackcloth; and being said to be of gold, may respect the grace of God bestowed on "them," comparable to gold, the gifts of the Spirit of God they are furnished with, as well as the precious truths of the Gospel committed to their trust:

of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat; not of gold melted and poured into a mould, and so received the form of the cherubim; nor were they first made by themselves, and then placed at the two ends of the mercy seat, and soldered to it; but they were made of the same mass of gold with the mercy seat, and beaten out of it with an hammer, and planished and smoothed, and so wrought up into this form, as appears by the following verse; and may denote the union of believers to Christ, who are one body and one spirit with him; and the union of the Old and New Testament churches in him, and who are but one church, one body, of which he is the head; and as he is the foundation of the apostles or prophets, on whom they are laid, he is the cornerstone in which they are united; and so it may likewise signify the nearness of the ministers of the word to Christ, their dependence on him, and their partaking of the same gifts and graces of his Spirit, only in measure, being made by him able ministers of the Gospel.

Verse 19. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end,.... The situation of the cherubim is particularly explained, lest, as Jarchi observes, it should be thought that there were two at both ends of the mercy seat; whereas there were only one at one end, and another at the other, opposite to each other, and both pointing to the mercy seat; which may express the situation and office of the ministers of the word under each dispensation, who are so placed as to derive all their gifts and graces from Christ, and to point him out unto the sons of men as the only way of salvation, the only propitiation for sin, and through whom alone grace and mercy are to be had:

even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof; this is not so much intended the more to inculcate and confirm the situation of the cherubim, as more fully to explain the matter of which they were made; for it was "of" or out of the mercy seat that they were made, at the two ends of it; that is, they were made not only of the same kind of metal with that, but out of the same mass or lump of gold that was; a lid of gold being made commensurate to the ark, what remained above that measure, at the ends of it, were beaten and formed into two cherubim.

Verse 20. And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high,.... From whence it appears they were in the form of winged creatures, as the seraphim in Isaiah's vision, and the living creatures in those of Ezekiel and John; and their wings did not hang down by them, or on the side of them, but were stretched out upwards towards the heaven above their heads; denoting the readiness, agility, and swiftness of the ministers of the word to do the work and will of Christ, as well as their expectation of all the supplies of gifts and grace from him to enable them to do it:

covering the mercy seat with their wings; which reached each other; though, as Jarchi {q} says, between them and the mercy seat there was a hollow of ten hands' breadth; so high were they stretched upwards, though they met each other:

and their faces shall look one to another; and which is expressive of the harmony, concord, and agreement of the true and faithful ministers of Christ one with another; who all agree in preaching Christ, and him crucified, and in the several momentous and important doctrines of the Gospel:

towards the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be; as before observed, it may denote their directing souls to Christ as the only way of salvation, keeping always in all their ministrations this great truth in view, atonement and satisfaction by the blood and sacrifice of Christ, and salvation alone by him; which they make the rule of their ministry, and from which they never swerve, taking care not to deliver anything contrary to it, or which may serve to cast a veil over it.

{q} T. Bab. Succah, fol. 5. 2. Vid. Gloss. in ib.

Verse 21. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark,.... Over it, as a covering for it: this situation of the mercy seat above the ark, where the law was, signifies, that there is no mercy but in a way of righteousness, or of satisfaction to the law of God, and in a consistence with the honour of it; and the cherubim over the mercy seat making a throne for the majesty of God, in which he sat, and the ark below a kind of footstool for him, shows that Christ, the mercy seat and propitiatory, stands between God and his law, and is the mediator between God, and men the transgressors of that law, and by fulfilling it has covered the sins of his people, which are violations of it; and being above it, and having magnified and made it honourable, is able to suppress its charges and accusations, and secure from its curse and condemnation:

and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee; or "after thou shalt put in the ark," &c. {r}, as the particle "vau" is sometimes used; the sense is, that then the mercy seat should be put above, and upon the ark, as the covering of it, after the law, or the two tables of testimony, were put into it; for then it was covered, and not to be opened any more; see Exodus 40:20.

{r} Nrah law "postquam in area," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius. Vid. Nold. Concord Ebr. part. p. 290.

Verse 22. And there I will meet with thee,.... With Moses, and so with the high priest in later times, when he should enter into the holy of holies, and with the people of God as represented by him, when he should go in and inquire for them of the Lord:

and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim; converse with him and them about whatsoever they should apply unto him for, these being the symbols of the divine presence: hence the Lord is frequently described as "dwelling between the cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony"; that is, which cherubim are upon it, being on the mercy seat, which was the cover of it; or rather "which is upon" {s}, which mercy seat is upon the ark of the testimony, as it properly was; and here the Lord promises to commune

of all things which I shall give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel: what they shall do, respecting those things which by Moses, or the high priest, they should inquire the mind and will of God about: this may signify that the way to communion with God lies through Christ, the mercy seat and propitiation, through his blood and righteousness, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and the encouragement to it is from him, our great high priest, and from his propitiatory sacrifice; and the enjoyment of it is through him; our fellowship is with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ; God speaks to us by him, and reveals himself in him.

{s} le rva "quod est," Vatablus.

Verse 23. Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood,.... As the sanctuary or tabernacle was an house for God to dwell in, he would have the proper furniture of an house, as a table, candlestick, &c. This table was to be in the same place with the ark and mercy seat; they were set in the holy of holies, where there were nothing else; but this in the holy place, on the north side of it, Exodus 26:35 its principal use was to set the shewbread on, as after mentioned, and was typical of Christ, and communion with him, both in this life, and that to come. There is the table of the Lord, to which his people are now admitted, where he sits down with them, and they with him, to have fellowship with him in the ministration of the word and ordinances, of which he is the sum and substance; and this is very desirable and delightful, and an instance of his condescending grace, Song of Solomon 1:12, and he will have a table in his kingdom hereafter, where his saints shall eat and drink with him, in which their chief happiness will consist, Luke 22:30 This table may be considered as typical of Christ himself, for he is both table and provisions and everything to his people; and of him in both his natures; in his human nature, it being made of shittim wood, incorruptible; for though Christ died in, that nature, yet he saw no corruption, he rose again and lives for evermore; in his divine nature, by the gold it was covered with:

two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof; it was two Jewish square cubits in length, which are about six English square feet and above half, viz. ninety four inches, according to Bishop Cumberland {t}. It was neither so long nor so broad as the ark by half a cubit, but was of the same height with it, being about thirty two inches high and three quarters, according to the Jewish and Egyptian cubit, which was about twenty one inches and more and was a proper height for a table; and this measure, no doubt, takes in the thickness of the table, and the height of the seat, as Jarchi and Aben Ezra observe.

{t} Ut supra. (Of Scripture Weights and Measures, ch. 2. p. 34, 36.)

Verse 24. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold,.... Cover it with a plate of gold, so that the wood was not seen; which may denote either the excellency of Christ's human nature, being pure and spotless, and adorned with the grace of the Spirit of God without measure; or rather of his divine nature, which is the head of Christ, and said to be as the most fine gold, for in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily:

and make thereto a crown of gold round about; that is, on both sides and at both ends; for though it is called a crown, it was a square, and this was both to ornament the table, and to keep from falling off of it what was set upon it. Jarchi says, it was a sign of the crown of the kingdom, for a table signifies riches and greatness, as they say a king's table: and indeed this was the table of the King of kings, who has on his head many crowns, and one must be made upon his table.

Verse 25. And thou shalt make unto it a border of art hand's breadth round about,.... Jarchi says, their wise men are divided about this; some say it was above, round about the table; others say it was below, fixed from foot to foot at the four corners of the table, and the board of the table lay upon the border:

and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about; this was not the same spoke of in the former verse, but another; that was above, and upon the table, this below and under it; or rather that was, as it may be better expressed, a lip, rim, or border, that went round within the table {u}; and this crown, surrounded that on the edge of it.

{u} So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 61. 2.

Verse 26. And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold,.... As the ark had, and for the same use as the rings of that were, though whether cast, as they were, is not said:

and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof; as there were four feet at the four corners of the table, to each foot a ring was fastened; the use of these follows.

Verse 27. Over against the border,.... Or "under" it, as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions. Jarchi says the rings were fixed to the feet over against the top of the border:

shall the rings be for placing of the staves to bear the table; into these rings staves were to be put, to carry the table from place to place, when it was necessary, as while they were in the wilderness, and before the tabernacle had a fixed settled place for it; for wherever the tabernacle was carried, the ark and the table were also: where the church of Christ is, there he is, and there are the word and ordinances; and which are sometimes moved from place to place, as from the land of Judea into the Gentile world, from the eastern part of the world to the more northern; and that by the ministers of the word, who bear the name, and carry the Gospel of Christ into the several parts of the world, as this table was bore by the Levites, Numbers 4:7.

Verse 28. And thou shall make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold,.... In like manner as the staves for the ark, and which were made of the same wood:

that the table may be borne with them; when moved from one place to another; these staves did not remain in the rings, as the staves for the ark did; but, as Josephus says {w}, were taken out, because they otherwise would have been in the way of the priests, who came every week to it, to set the shewbread on; and these were put in only when they carried it from place to place, as appears from Numbers 4:8.

{w} Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 6.

Verse 29. And thou shall make the dishes thereof,.... On which the shewbread loaves were set. Jarchi says they were of the form of the bread, and that there were two sorts, one of gold, and one of iron; in the iron one the bread was baked, and when they took it out of the oven, they put it into the golden one until the morrow of the sabbath, when they set it in order upon the table; and that form is called "Kaarah," which we render a dish:

and the spoons thereof; or rather "cups"; these, Jarchi says, were censers, in which they put the frankincense; and there were two of them for the two handfuls of frankincense, which they put upon the two rows of shewbread, Leviticus 24:7. Josephus {x} calls them vials, and says, that on the bread were put two golden vials full of frankincense:

and the covers thereof, and the bowls thereof, to cover withal; the one to cover the bread, and the other to cover the frankincense; or all the above said vessels were to cover the table, and with them all it must be pretty well covered with vessels. The Jews give a different account of these two last, and of their use, which we render "covers" and "bowls": the first of these Jarchi says were like the half of hollow reeds divided to their length, made of gold; and three of them were laid in order on the top of every loaf, so that one loaf rested upon these reeds; and they separated between loaf and loaf, so that the air could come in between them, and they did not become mouldy; the latter, he says, were props like stakes of gold standing on the ground, and they were higher than the table, even as high as the rows of bread; and they were forked with live forks, one above another, and the tops (or ends) of the reeds, which were between each loaf, rested upon these forks, that so the weight of the upper loaves might not be too heavy for the lower ones, and break them. A like account of them Ben Melech gives, and observes, that some make the first word to signify the props, and the second the reeds; and so they are interpreted by Maimonides {y}; and, according to the Misnah {z}, the props were four, and the reeds twenty eight. According to the Septuagint version, these were vessels used in libations, or drink offerings; and the last clause is rendered in it, "with which thou shall pour out": wine or oil, and so in some other versions; but it will be difficult to find any use for such libations or drink offerings at this table.

{x} Antiq. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 6. {y} Pirush in Misn. Menachot, c. 11. sect. 6. {z} Menachot, ib.

Verse 30. And thou shall set upon the table shewbread before me always. Which consisted of twelve cakes loaves, set in two rows upon the table, and stood there a whole week, and every sabbath were renewed; and when the old ones were took away, which were eaten by the priests, new ones were set, so that they were always before the Lord; and being continually before him, were called shewbread, or "bread of faces," being always before the face of God. This was a memorial of the goodness of God in daily providing bread for the people of Israel, and was presented to him as a thankful acknowledgment of it, and being the same they ate at their own tables; and this being eaten by the priests, was expressive of the communion between God and them, they being guests of his, and feeding on the same provisions. This shewbread may be considered either as typical of the church and people of God, who are all one bread, 1 Corinthians 10:17, these pure and unleavened cakes may denote their purity, simplicity, and sincerity, being without the leaven of malice and wickedness; the number twelve, the twelve tribes of Israel, the whole spiritual Israel of God; their being called shewbread, or bread of faces, the presentation of themselves to the Lord in public worship, and their being ever under the eye and care of God; their being set on the table, their standing in Christ, and security by him, who is the foundation of the apostles and prophets; and being set in rows, their order and harmony; being renewed every sabbath, the constancy of their worship, and the succession of them in all ages; the frankincense put on each row, the acceptance of their persons and services through the incense of Christ's mediation; the border round about them, the power of Christ around them to keep them from falling: or else as typical of Christ himself, of his being the food of believers, the bread of life: the shewbread of fine flour may fitly signify Christ, the finest of the wheat, the corn of heaven, the bread that comes from thence; its quantity, twelve cakes, the sufficiency of food with him, bread enough and to spare for the whole Israel of God; its continuance, the permanency of Christ as the food believers have always to feed upon; the frankincense on it, the gratefulness of Christ to such, to whom his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; and being set for priests, and only for them, may show that Christ is only food to such who are made priests to God: or this may be an emblem of the intercession of Christ, who is the Angel of God's presence, ever before him, and represents the whole Israel of God, for whom he intercedes; and his intercession is continual, he ever lives to make intercession for them, and that is always acceptable to God. The twelve loaves, Josephus {a} says, signify the year divided into so many months.

{a} Antiqu. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 7.

Verse 31. And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold,.... Another piece of household furniture, and an useful one, especially in a house where there are no windows, as there were none in the tabernacle, denoting the darkness of the legal dispensation, see 2 Kings 4:10. This candlestick was set in the holy place, on the south side of it, opposite the shewbread table, Exodus 26:35 and was typical of the church of God; so the candlesticks John had a vision of signify seven churches, Revelation 1:13, the general use of which is, to hold forth light put into it, for it has none of itself, but what is put there by Christ: and this is not the light of nature and reason, nor the law of Moses, but the Gospel of Christ; which where it is set, gives light and dispels darkness; is useful to walk and work by; does not always burn alike, and will shine the brightest in the end of the world: this light is put into the candlestick by Christ the fountain of all light, and from whom all light is communicated, particularly the Gospel; and being put there, lost sinners are looked up by it, strayed ones are brought back, hypocrites are detected, and saints are enlightened, comforted, and refreshed: and this candlestick being made of "pure gold," may denote the worth and value of the church of God, and the members of it, their splendour, glory, and purity they have from Christ, and their duration; and thus the seven churches of Asia are compared to seven golden candlesticks, Revelation 1:12, and under the form of a golden candlestick is the Gospel church set forth in Zechariah 4:2. Josephus {b} is of opinion the candlestick has some mystical meaning in it, it being of seventy parts, as he says, refers to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, through which the seven planets take their course, whom Milton {c} follows:

of beaten work shall the candlestick be made; not of gold melted, and poured into a mould, from whence it might take its form; but it was beaten with an hammer out of an entire mass of gold, and not the following parts made separately, and then joined:

his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same; not only of the same metal, but beaten out of the same mass and lump of gold; these are the several parts of the candlestick: the "shaft" is the trunk and body of the candlestick, which stood in the middle of it, and in which the several parts united; and may either be typical of Christ, who is principal and head of the church, and stands in the middle of it, and is the cement of the several parts of it, and is but one, the one head, Mediator and Saviour; or else the church universal, of which particular ones are parts: its "branches" may either signify the several members of churches, who are in Christ as branches, and hold forth the word of light; or else minister, of the Gospel, who have their commission and gifts from him, and are held by him as stars in his right hand; or else particular churches, which are branches of the church universal: its "bowls," which were to hold oil for the lamps, may denote men of capacity in the churches, full of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, able to teach others also: and the "knops" and "flowers" were for decoration, and may signify the graces of the Spirit, with which private members and believers are adorned; or the gifts of the Spirit with which the ministers of the word are furnished, and appear beautiful, publishing the glad tidings of salvation by Christ.

{b} Antiq. l. 3. c. 7. sect. 7. {c} Paradise Lost. B. 12. ver. 254, 255, 256.

Verse 32. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it,.... Out of the trunk or shaft, being beaten out of it:

three branches of the candlestick out of one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side; Jarchi takes what we render the "shaft" to be the lower part of the candlestick, from whence three feet went out below; and the "branch" or "cane," for it is in the singular number in the preceding verse, he takes to be the middle branch or trunk, that went up from the middle of the foot upwards, and upon it was the middle lamp, in the form of a censer, to pour oil into the midst of it; and the six branches went out from the sides of that, here and there drawn obliquely, and went up to the height of the candlestick, which is the middle branch or cane; and they went up from the midst of that middle cane, one above another, the lowermost long, and that above it shorter than that, and the uppermost shorter than that; for the height of the tops of them were equal to the height of the middle cane, that is, the seventh, from whence the six went out.

Verse 33. Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch,.... There were three bowls or cups in the form of almond nuts to each branch, which were either to hold oil for the lamps, as before observed, or, as others think, to catch the snuff which fell from them; and there were a "knop," which, according to the signification of the word, was in the form of a pomegranate, and a flower, which the Targum of Jonathan renders a lily; and they are both in Scripture emblems of the saints endowed with the gifts and graces of the Spirit:

and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch; on the other side of the candlestick, opposite to the former:

so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick; there were the same number of bowls, with a knop and a flower in the rest of the branches, as in those mentioned.

Verse 34. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls,.... That is, in the trunk or body of it; the branches had but three apiece, but this being larger had four: and these were also

made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers; as the bowls on the branches had with them.

Verse 35. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same,.... According to Jarchi, from the middle of the knop (which was like a pomegranate, or, as others, like an apple) two branches were drawn from the two sides of it, here and there; so they teach in the work of the tabernacle, the height of the candlestick was eighteen hands' breadth: this clause is repeated twice in this verse, signifying there should be a knop under each of the three branches on one side, and three on the other side: for it follows,

according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick; out of the trunk of it, as in Exodus 25:32.

Verse 36. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same,.... Of the same metal, gold, and of same mass:

all of it shall be one beaten work of pure gold not made in parts, and then put and soldered together, but the whole candlestick in all its parts and branches were to be beaten out of one piece of gold.

Verse 37. And thou shall make the seven lamps thereof,.... Which were, six of them, on the top of the six branches that came out of the sides of the candlestick, and the seventh on the top of the shaft which ran up in the middle of it; which no doubt were made of gold as well as the rest, and may signify the many members of churches bearing the lamp of a profession: or the several gifts and graces of the Spirit, which are sometimes, because of the perfection of them, called the seven spirits of God, and are compared to seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, Revelation 4:5 or else the ministers of the Gospel, who are the lights of the world:

and they shall light the lamps thereof; Aaron and his sons, the priests in successive generations:

that they may give light over against it to the table of shewbread, which was opposite to it on the north side of the tabernacle, and so by the light of these lamps the priests could see to place the shewbread in its order; or the candlestick itself, the lamps being so placed as to give light to the whole body of it, that it might be seen in all its parts very distinctly; unless it can be thought that these lamps were separate from the candlestick, and set around the sides of the holy place, and gave light to it: and this may rather seem to be the case, since these lamps are spoken of after the whole of it is said to be one beaten work of pure gold; but then we have no account of the lamps of the candlestick, unless they are supposed to be included in the branches; wherefore the first sense seems best.

Verse 38. And the tongs thereof,.... Which, according to Jarchi, was a sort of forks with which they took the wicks out of the oil, and put them in the lamps; or, as some think, the snuffers, but they are distinguished from tongs, 1 Kings 7:49 and the snuffdishes thereof shall be of pure gold; in which the tongs or snuffers were put, or into which the snuff itself was put that was snuffed off. Jarchi says they were a sort of small cups, in which they put the ashes of the lamp, morning by morning, when they trimmed the lamps from the ashes of the wicks which burned in the night, and were extinct: so Ben Gersom and Lyra say they were vessels full of water where those were put which were snuffed off, that they might not make a smoke, which is not improbable.

Verse 39. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. The common talent weighed sixty pounds, but the sacred talent was double, and weighed one hundred and twenty pounds, as says Jarchi, and so Ben Melech: a talent of gold amounted to 5067 pounds, three shillings and ten pence of our money, according to Bishop Cumberland {d}.

(Assuming a troy weight of 12 ounces to a pound, and an ounce of gold worth $400 U.S., than a talent would be worth about $600,000. Editor.)

{d} Of Scripture Weights and Measures, p. 121.

Verse 40. And look that thou make them,.... Or see that they are made by workmen employed:

after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount; from whence it appears, that as Moses was showed the model of the tabernacle, so also of the candlestick, and of all its appurtenances, and of every other vessel in it; and he is strictly charged to look carefully and diligently to it, that everything be done exactly according to the model he had a view of, in which everything was particularly described, and nothing was left to the will, humour, and fancy of men.