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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Exodus 31

Verses 1-8

Exodus 24:9 to Exodus 31:18 Instructions to Build Tabernacle (Ceremonial Law) In Exodus 24:9 to Exodus 31:18 God instructs Moses on the details of the building of the Tabernacle. In the description of the building of the articles, the Lord begins with those of the inner sanctuary, the ark of the covenant and mercy seat, then the altar of incense, followed by the table of showbread and the candlestick. Thus, the construction of these articles are arranged in a logical order, from the innermost sanctuary to the outermost. Perhaps one reason for this order is the fact that the order of the erection of the Tabernacle begins with the innermost articles and expands outward to the hangings of the outer court, as described in Exodus 40:1-33. Thus, the order of the construction of the Tabernacle follows the order of its erection.

Verses 1-11

The Appointment of Craftsmen for the Building of the Tabernacle Exodus 31:1-11 describes the appointment of the craftsmen for the building of the Tabernacle. It is important to note that God gave Moses general instructions on the building of this Tabernacle and of the making of the priestly garments. However, God left it up to the creativity of the craftsmen, being inspired under their anointing, to design the details of each item they made. In the same way, God will give us instructions for our lives, but He often allows us to make the decisions about many of the details as we are inspired by the Holy Spirit each day.

Exodus 31:1-11 God Appoints Bezaleel - God anointed Bezaleel so that he could “devise cunning works.” This phrase tells us that he was going to build and carve and create a work that had never been done on earth before, a work so beautiful and unique that it could only have come from the mind of God and imparted to man by the Spirit of God. Bezaleel began to have “God ideas” on how to design and construct the Tabernacle. These thoughts were inspired by the Spirit of God.

Exodus 31:1-11 God Appoints Bezaleel (The Symbolism of the Materials Used in the Building of the Tabernacle) - We see the children of Israel building bricks out of straw and stubble while in Egyptian bondage.

Exodus 5:12, “So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.”

When they were delivered, they began to build the tabernacle out of gold, silver, brass and precious stones. God anointed Bezaleel, the son of Uri, to work with these valuable metals, stones and wood carvings (see also Exodus 35:30-33).

The gold, silver, and precious stones could represent the works that we do in faith, being led by the Spirit. It could represent the good, the acceptable and the perfect will of God. In contrast, the wood, hay, and stubble could represent the works of the flesh, also as three levels of works. Note how these works are contrasted in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

1 Corinthians 3:12-13, “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.”

Note these comments from Frances J. Roberts, who refers to the works of the flesh as being symbolized by straw and stubble:

“My people shall obey Me (not a human leader) saith the Lord. My people shall not labor in vain in the straw and stubble of the works of the flesh. But My people shall walk in newness of life and they shall be energized and led by My Spirit, saith the Lord.” [97]

[97] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 62.

Exodus 31:4 Word Study on “To devise” Strong says the Hebrew word “to devise” ( חָשַׁב ) (H2803) is a primitive root that means, “to think, plan, esteem, calculate, invent, make a judgment, imagine, count.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 124 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “ count 23, devise 22, think 18, imagine 9, cunning 8, reckon 7, purpose 6, esteem 6, account 5, impute 4, forecast 2, regard 2, workman 2, conceived 1, misc 9.”

Exodus 31:4 Word Study on “cunning works” Strong says the Hebrew word “cunning works” ( מַחֲשָׁבָה ) (H4284) means, “a thought, a device, plan, purpose or invention.” The Enhanced Strong says it is found 56 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “ thought 28, device 12, purpose 6, work 3, imaginations 3, cunning 1, devised 1, invented 1, means 1. ”

Verses 1-18

Instructions Concerning the Building of the Tabernacle - In Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 31:18 the Lord gives Moses instructions concerning the building of the Tabernacle and its articles, as well as the priestly garments. According to Hebrews 8:5, the Lord showed to Moses this pattern visually, probably while he was on the Mount, for God told Moses to make everything according to the pattern that He showed Moses on the mount. The Lord revealed it to him audibly as recorded in this section of the book of Exodus.

Hebrews 8:5, “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount .’

It is important to note that God gave Moses general instructions on the building of this Tabernacle and of the making of the priestly garments. But God left it up to the creativity of the craftsmen, being inspired under their anointing, to design the details of each item they made. In the same way, God will give us instructions for our lives, but He often allows us to make the decisions about many of the details as we are inspired by the Holy Spirit each day.

Here is a proposed outline of Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 31:18:

The Offerings for the Sanctuary Exodus 25:1-9 The Furniture of the Tabernacle Exodus 25:10-40 The Ark of the Covenant, Mercy Seat & Cherubim Exodus 25:10-22 The Table of Shewbread & its Accessories Exodus 25:23-30 The Candlestick Exodus 25:31-39 Concluding Statement Exodus 25:40 The Building to House the Articles of the Tabernacle Exodus 26:1-37 The Altar of Burnt Offering Exodus 27:1-8 The Court of the Tabernacle Exodus 27:9-19 The Care of the Lampstand Exodus 27:20-21 The Garments for the Priesthood Exodus 28:1-43 Introduction Exodus 28:1-4 The Ephod Exodus 28:5-14 The Breastplate of Judgment Exodus 28:15-30 The Robe, Mitre, Girdle & Linen Breeches Exodus 28:31-42 Concluding Statement Exodus 28:43 The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons Exodus 29:1-35 The Consecration & Service of the Burnt Altar Exodus 29:36-46 The Altar of Incense Exodus 30:1-10 The Ransom Money Exodus 30:11-16 The Bronze Laver Exodus 30:17-21 The Holy Anointing Oil Exodus 30:22-33 The Incense Exodus 30:34-38 The Appointment of Craftsmen Exodus 31:1-11

Verses 12-18

The Law of the Sabbath Exodus 31:12-18 describes the Law of the Sabbath in which the Israelites were to rest on the seventh day from their works.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Exodus 31". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/exodus-31.html. 2013.