Exodus 39 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of Exodus 39)
In this chapter is continued the account of making the several things belonging to the sanctuary, particularly the clothes for the service of the tabernacle, and the garments of the priests, as the ephod and its curious girdle, Exodus 39:1 the breastplate and the putting of the stones in it, and the fastening of it to the ephod, Exodus 39:8 the robe of the ephod, with the bells and pomegranates to it, Exodus 39:21 and the coats, mitre, bonnets, breeches, and girdle of fine linen, for Aaron and his sons, Exodus 39:27 and the golden plate, Exodus 39:30 and all being finished, the tabernacle and everything belonging to it were brought to Moses, and viewed by him; who seeing that all was done exactly according to the commandment of the Lord, blessed the people, and particularly the artificers, Exodus 39:38.

Verse 1. And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service,.... Jarchi observes that there is no mention made of linen, because these were not the priestly garments in which there was linen; but these were they with which they covered the vessels of the sanctuary when they journeyed; and so says Aben Ezra; and those were covered with cloths of blue, purple, and scarlet, Numbers 4:5 though some think these were clothes wore by the priests:

to do service in the holy place: and which they only wore when in it, and employed in the service of it; and therefore what follows must be by way of explanation:

and made the holy garments for Aaron, as the Lord commanded Moses; the particulars of which are given in the following verses.

Verses 2-31. And he made the ephod of gold,.... From hence to the end of verse thirty one we have a very particular account of the making of the priest's garments exactly according to the directions given to Moses, See Gill on "Ex 28:1" &c. to end of chapter twenty eight; only it may be observed, that here in Exodus 39:3 an account is given of the manner in which they made the gold fit to be worked along with the blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; they beat the gold into thin plates, and then cut them into wires, and then twisted them together with the yarn: the gold that was used in the weaving of the ephod and the breastplate, spoken of in the law, was wrought after this manner; the workman took one thread of pure gold, and put it with six threads of blue, and twisted the seven threads as one, and so he wrought a thread of gold with six of purple, and another thread with six of scarlet, and another with six of linen or flax, so that there were four threads of gold, and all the threads were twenty eight, as it is said; "they did beat" or spread out "the gold," &c. "to work in the midst of blue," &c. from whence is learnt that the thread of gold was twisted in the midst of them {y}: and it may be further observed, that after the enumeration of the stones in the breastplate, Exodus 39:10 no mention is made of the Urim and Thummim, which seems to confirm the opinion of many, and which is my own, that they are the same with the stones: moreover, in Exodus 39:28, it may be observed, that what the coats for the common priests were made of is expressed, which is not before, which was linen; expressive of their purity and holiness, and in which they ought always to appear before God and man, and in which apparel they have been imitated among the Heathens: the priests of Hercules are said to be clothed with linen {z}, and the Egyptian priests wore only a linen garment {a}; hence the priests of Isis, with whom she is represented as surrounded by Juvenal {b}, are called by him "grex liniger," and by Martial, "linigeri" {c}.

{y} Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 9. sect. 5. {z} Silius Ital. de Bell. Punic. l. 3. {a} Herodot. Euterpe sive, l. 2. c. 38. {b} Satyr. 6. {c} L. 12. Epigram. 26.

Verse 32. Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished,.... Both the tabernacle, consisting of the court, the holy place, and the most holy place, and the tent or covering that was over it, with all things appertaining to the service of it, as before described:

and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they: both the people in general, and the artificers in particular; the people brought gold, silver, and brass, &c. as was proposed to them; and the artificers wrought these and all other things, according to the directions and instructions they received.

Verses 33-42. And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses,.... That is, the several parts of it before it was put together, with all its furniture, and everything appertaining to it; which are examined in the order in which they were directed to be made, from hence to the end of Exodus 39:42 and this was done, that Moses might inspect the whole, and see whether it was done according to the pattern shown him, and the instructions he had given to the workmen.

Verse 43. And Moses did look upon all the work,.... Made a survey of it, and with great care and accuracy examined every particular thing, and the manner in which it was finished:

and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it; both as to matter and manner in every point, on all accounts, just as they were ordered and directed; they being throughout the whole filled by the Spirit of God with wisdom and understanding, to do everything just as it was the will and pleasure of God it should be done:

and Moses blessed them; commended them for what they had done, and implored the divine blessing upon them; and which may be understood both of the people who had so liberally and plentifully contributed to this good work, and of the artificers who had so carefully and punctually performed it. The form of blessing, as the Targum of Jonathan gives it, is, "may the Shechinah (or the divine Majesty) of the Lord dwell in the works of your hands;" or as Jarchi expresses it, "may it be the pleasure (of God) that the Shechinah may dwell in the works of your hands, and the beauty of the Lord our God may be upon us, &c." which last words were part of the prayer of Moses, Psalm 90:17.