The Word Made Fresh
1Moses gathered all the Israelites and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has ordered you to do:
2“You are allowed to work for six days, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, you may not work under penalty of death. 3Do not even light a fire in your house on the Sabbath.”
4Moses continued, “The LORD has commanded 5that an offering must be taken from you. Let whoever is generous bring the LORD’s offering; of gold, silver, and bronze; 6of blue, purple, and crimson yarns and fine linen; of goats’ hair, 7and weathered skins of rams and other animals; acacia wood; 8oil for the lamp; spices for the anointing oil and sweet-smelling incense; 9onyx and gems for the priest’s apron and vest.
10“All of you who have the skill to make what the LORD has ordered, come forward. You will make the sanctuary, 11its tent and its covering, its clasps and frames and carrying poles and columns and bases; 12the chest with its carrying poles and its lid, and the curtain that screens it; 13the table with its carrying poles and tools, and the bread of God’s presence; 14the stand for the light with its tools and lamps along with the oil for the lamps; 15the small altar for the incense with its carrying poles, and the anointing oil and sweet-smelling incense, and the screen for the entrance to the sanctuary; 16the altar for burnt offerings with bronze grating, its carrying poles and all its tools; the basin with its stand; 17the curtains for the courtyard with the columns and bases, and the screen for the entrance to the courtyard; 18the tent pegs for the sanctuary and the courtyard and their ropes; 19the priestly garments of finely woven cloths to be worn whenever they are about their duties in the holy place; the priestly gown for Aaron and the clothing to be worn by his sons when they go about their duties.”
20Then all the people left Moses 21and those whose hearts and spirits were stirred returned and brought their offerings to be used for the meeting tent, for the religious activities and the priests’ clothing. 22Men and women came. Everyone who was willing brought jewelry; ornaments, earrings, rings, pendants, and all kinds of gold items, each carrying an offering of gold for the LORD. 23Everyone who owned blue, purple, or crimson yard or fine linen cloth or goats’ hair rugs or weathered skins brought them. 24All those who had silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood that could be used in the construction brought it forward. 25All the women who could spin with their hands spun the blue, purple, and crimson yarn and the fine linen and brought it forward, 26and others whose hearts were moved spun the goats’ hair. 27The leaders brought onyx and other gems to be sewn into the priest’s apron and vest 28along with spices and oil for the lamp and anointing oil and sweet-smelling incense. 29All the Israelites, men and women, who were willing to give brought things for the work the LORD had commissioned Moses to have done. They brought all these things of their own free will.
30Moses announced that the LORD had chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31“The LORD has chosen him and given him the skills and knowledge in all sorts of craftsmanship,” he said. 32“He is an artist who can design works in gold, silver, and bronze. 33He knows how to cut stones for settings, how to carve wood, how to do every kind of craft. 34And the LORD has approved him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan to teach others these skills. 35They can show you how to perform every kind of work done by artists or designers or those who work with beautiful yarns and fine linens, or those who weave. They can teach any kind of artwork or skill.”
1: Having returned from his second 40-day stint on Mt. Sinai, Moses summons the people for further instructions.
2-3: The Sabbath requirement is reiterated — it is the most often mentioned of all the Ten Commandments. Such is the importance of the Sabbath observance that violating it is deserving of death. Here the curious detail is added that no fire is to be kindled in their dwellings on the Sabbath day.
4-9: Finally, Moses gets around to fulfilling God’s instructions from the first 40-day stint on Mt. Sinai. He orders the people to make an offering of all the things that will be needed for the construction of the tabernacle (see 25:1-9).
10-19: He enumerates all the things that will be needed and asks for volunteers.
20-29: The Israelites respond generously. Men and women alike accumulate all the things needed. They give as their “hearts make them willing.” That is a requirement for all faithful stewardship. Of special note, we learn in verse 25 that the women were very much involved in all this.
30-35: Moses introduces Bezalel and Oholiab as head craftsmen to direct all the work.
We find the details tedious, but every item was considered essential. God is molding the people of Israel into a community the likes of which the world had never seen. God will do the same thing again many years later when Jesus says to Peter, “upon this rock I will build my church” (see Matthew 16:18).