Notes for Exodus 25:1LEB

Now begin the detailed instructions for constructing the tabernacle of Yahweh, with all its furnishings. The first paragraph introduces the issue of the heavenly pattern for the construction, calls for the people to make willing offerings (vv. 2–7), and explains the purpose for these offerings (vv. 8–9). The message here is that Yahweh calls his people to offer of their substance willingly so that his sanctuary may be made.


Notes for Exodus 25:2LEB

The verb is וְיִקְחוּ (véyiqkhu), the Qal imperfect or jussive with vav; after the imperative "speak" this verb indicates the purpose or result: "speak…that they may take" and continues with the force of a command.


The "offering" (תְּרוּמָה, térumah) is perhaps better understood as a contribution since it was a freewill offering. There is some question about the etymology of the word. The traditional meaning of "heave-offering" derives from the idea of "elevation," a root meaning "to be high" lying behind the word. B. Jacob says it is something sorted out of a mass of material and designated for a higher purpose (Exodus 765). S. R. Driver (Exodus 263) corrects the idea of "heave-offering" by relating the root to the Hiphil form of that root, herim, "to lift" or "take off." He suggests the noun means "what is taken off" from a larger mass and so designated for sacred purposes. The LXX has "something taken off."


The verb יִדְּבֶנּוּ (yiddévennu) is related to the word for the "freewill offering" (נְדָבָה, nédavah). The verb is used of volunteering for military campaigns (Judg 5:2-9LEB) and the willing offerings for both the first and second temples (see 1 Chr 29:5-17LEB).


The pronoun is plural.


Notes for Exodus 25:3LEB

The pronoun is plural.


Notes for Exodus 25:4LEB

The blue refers to dye made from shellfish. It has a dark blue or purple-blue, almost violet color. No significance for the color is attached.


Likewise this color dye was imported from Phoenicia, where it was harvested from the shellfish or snail. It is a deep purple-red color.


This color is made from the eggs and bodies of the worm coccus ilicus, which is found with the holly plant – so "worm of brilliance." The powder made from the dried maggots produces a bright red-yellow color (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., "Exodus" EBC 2:452). B. Jacob takes the view that these are not simply colors that are being introduced here, but fabrics dyed with these colors (Exodus 765). At any rate, the sequence would then be metals, fabrics, and leathers (v. 5).


This is generally viewed as a fine Egyptian linen that had many more delicate strands than ordinary linen.


Goat’s hair was spun into yarn (Exodus 35:26LEB) and used to make the material for the first tent over the dwelling. It is ideal for tenting, since it is loosely woven and allows breezes to pass through, but with rain the fibers expand and prevent water from seeping through.


Notes for Exodus 25:5LEB

W. C. Kaiser compares this to morocco leather ("Exodus" EBC 2:453); it was skin that had all the wool removed and then was prepared as leather and dyed red. N. M. Sarna, on the other hand, comments, "The technique of leather production is never described [in ancient Hebrew texts]. Hence, it is unclear whether Hebrew me’oddamim (מְאָדָּמִים), literally ‘made red,’ refers to the tanning or dyeing process" (( [JPSTC], 157).


The meaning of the word תְּחָשִׁים (tékhashim) is debated. The Arabic tuhas or duhas is a dolphin, and so some think a sea animal is meant – something like a dolphin or porpoise (cf. NASB; ASV "sealskins"; NIV "hides of sea cows"). Porpoises are common in the Red Sea; their skins are used for clothing by the bedouin. The word has also been connected to an Egyptian word for "leather" (ths); see S. R. Driver, Exodus 265. Some variation of this is followed by NRSV ("fine leather") and NLT ("fine goatskin leather"). Another suggestion connects this word to an Akkadian one that describes a precious stone that is yellow or ornge and also leather died with the color of this stone (N. M. Sarna, ( [JPSTC], 157–58).


The wood of the acacia is darker and harder than oak, and so very durable.


Notes for Exodus 25:8LEB

The verb is a perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; it follows in the sequence initiated by the imperative in v. 2 and continues with the force of a command.


The word here is מִקְדּשׁ (miqdash), "a sanctuary" or "set-a-part place"; cf. NLT "sacred residence." The purpose of building it is to enable Yahweh to reside (וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, véshakhanti) in their midst. U. Cassuto reminds the reader that Yahweh did not need a place to dwell, but the Israelites needed a dwelling place for him, so that they would look to it and be reminded that he was in their midst (Exodus 327).


Notes for Exodus 25:9LEB

The pronoun is singular.


The expression "the pattern of the tabernacle" (תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן, tavnit hammiskan) has been the source of much inquiry. The word rendered "pattern" is related to the verb "to build"; it suggests a model. S. R. Driver notes that in ancient literature there is the account of Gudea receiving in a dream a complete model of a temple he was to erect (Exodus 267). In this passage Moses is being shown something on the mountain that should be the pattern of the earthly sanctuary. The most plausible explanation of what he was shown comes from a correlation with comments in the Letter to the Hebrews and the book of Revelation, which describe the heavenly sanctuary as the true sanctuary, and the earthly as the copy or shadow. One could say that Moses was allowed to see what John saw on the island of Patmos, a vision of the heavenly sanctuary. That still might not explain what it was, but it would mean he saw a revelation of the true tent, and that would imply that he learned of the spiritual and eternal significance of all of it. The fact that Israel’s sanctuary resembled those of other cultures does not nullify this act of revelation; rather, it raises the question of where the other nations got their ideas if it was not made known early in human history. One can conclude that in the beginning there was much more revealed to the parents in the garden than Scripture tells about (Cain and Abel did know how to make sacrifices before Leviticus legislated it). Likewise, one cannot but guess at the influence of the fallen Satan and his angels in the world of pagan religion. Whatever the source, at Sinai Yahweh shows the true, and instructs that it all be done without the pagan corruptions and additions. U. Cassuto notes that the existence of these ancient parallels shows that the section on the tabernacle need not be dated in the second temple period, but fits the earlier period well (Exodus 324).


The pronoun is plural.


Among the many helpful studies on the tabernacle, include S. M. Fish, "And They Shall Build Me a Sanctuary," Gratz College of Jewish Studies 2 (1973): 43-59; I. Hart, "Preaching on the Account of the Tabernacle," EvQ 54 (1982): 111-16; D. Skinner, "Some Major Themes of Exodus" Mid-America Theological Journal 1 (1977): 31-42; S. McEvenue, "The Style of Building Instructions," Sem 4 (1974): 1-9; M. Ben-Uri, "The Mosaic Building Code," Creation Research Society Quarterly 19 (1982): 36-39.


Notes for Exodus 25:10LEB

This section begins with the ark, the most sacred and important object of Israel’s worship. Verses 10–15 provide the instructions for it, v. 16 has the placement of the Law in it, vv. 17–21 cover the mercy lid, and v. 22 the meeting above it. The point of this item in the tabernacle is to underscore the focus: the covenant people must always have Yahweh’s set-a-part standard before them as they draw near to worship. A study of this would focus on Yahweh’s nature (he is a Yahweh of order, precision, and perfection), on the usefulness of this item for worship, and on the typology intended.


The word "ark" has long been used by English translations to render אָרוֹן (’aron), the word used for the wooden "box," or "chest," made by Noah in which to escape the flood and by the Israelites to furnish the tabernacle.


The size is two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. The size in feet and inches is estimated on the assumption that the cubit is 18 inches (see S. R. Driver, Exodus 267).


Notes for Exodus 25:11LEB

The verbs throughout here are perfect tenses with the vav (ו) consecutives. They are equal to the imperfect tense of instruction and/or injunction.


Here the verb is an imperfect tense; for the perfect sequence to work the verb would have to be at the front of the clause.


The word זֵר (zer) is used only in ( and seems to describe something on the order of a crown molding, an ornamental border running at the top of the chest on all four sides. There is no indication of its appearance or function.


Notes for Exodus 25:16LEB

The "testimony" is the Decalogue (Exod 24:12LEB; Exodus 31:18LEB; Deut 4:13LEB; Deut 9:9LEB; 1 Kgs 8:9LEB); the word identifies it as the witness or affirmation of Yahweh’s commandments belonging to his covenant with Israel. It expressed Yahweh’s will and man’s duty. In other cultures important documents were put at the feet of the Yahwehs in the temples.


Notes for Exodus 25:17LEB

The noun is כַּפֹּרֶת (kapporet), translated "atonement lid" or "atonement plate." The traditional translation "mercy-seat" (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) came from Tyndale in 1530 and was also used by Luther in 1523. The noun is formed from the word "to make atonement." The item that the Israelites should make would be more than just a lid for the ark. It would be the place where atonement was signified. The translation of "covering" is probably incorrect, for it derives from a rare use of the verb, if the same verb at all (the evidence shows "cover" is from another root with the same letters as this). The value of this place was that Yahweh sat enthroned above it, and so the ark essentially was the "footstool." Blood was applied to the lid of the box, for that was the place of atonement (see S. R. Driver, Exodus 269–270).


After verbs of making or producing, the accusative (like "gold" here) may be used to express the material from which something is made (see GKC 371 §117.hh).


Notes for Exodus 25:18LEB

The evidence suggests that the cherubim were composite angelic creatures that always indicated the nearness of Yahweh. So here images of them were to be crafted and put on each end of the ark of the covenant to signify that they were there. Ezekiel 1 describes four cherubim as each having human faces, four wings, and parts of different animals for their bodies. Traditions of them appear in the other cultures as well. They serve to guard the set-a-part places and to bear the throne of Yahweh. Here they were to be beaten out as part of the lid.


Notes for Exodus 25:19LEB

The text now shifts to use an imperative with the vav (ו) conjunction.


The use of זֶה (zeh) repeated here expresses the reciprocal ideas of "the one" and "the other" (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 26, §132).


The angels were to form one piece with the lid and not be separated. This could be translated "of one piece with" the lid, but it is likely the angels were simply fastened to it permanently.


Notes for Exodus 25:20LEB

The verb means "overshadowing, screening" in the sense of guarding (see 1 Kgs 8:7LEB; 1 Chr 28:18LEB; see also the account in Gen 3:24LEB). The cherubim then signify two things here: by their outstretched wings they form the throne of Yahweh who sits above the ark (with the Law under his feet), and by their overshadowing and guarding they signify this as the place of atonement where people must find propitiation to commune with Yahweh. Until then they are barred from his presence. See U. Cassuto, Exodus 330–35.


"their faces a man to his brother."


"the faces of the cherubim will be" ("the cherubim" was moved to the preceding clause for smoother English).


Notes for Exodus 25:22LEB

Here then is the main point of the ark of the covenant, and the main point of all worship – meeting with Yahweh through atonement. The text makes it clear that here Yahweh would meet with Moses ("you" is singular) and then he would speak to the people – he is the mediator of the covenant. S. R. Driver (Exodus 272) makes the point that the verb here is not the word that means "to meet by chance" (as in Exod 3:18LEB), but "to meet" by appointment for a purpose (וְנוֹעַדְתִּי, vénoadti). The parallel in the NT is Yashuwa Yashuwa and his work. The theology is that the Law condemns people as guilty of sin, but the sacrifice of Yashuwa makes atonement. So he is the "place of propitiation (Rom 3:25LEB) who gains communion with the Father for sinners. A major point that could be made from this section is this: At the center of worship must be the atoning work of Yashuwa – a perpetual reminder of Yahweh’s righteous standard (the testimony in the ark) and Yahweh’s gracious provision (the atonement lid).


The verb is placed here in the text: "and I will speak"; it has been moved in this translation to be closer to the direct object clause.


Notes for Exodus 25:23LEB

The Table of the Bread of the Presence (Tyndale’s translation, "Shewbread," was used in KJV and influenced ASV, NAB) was to be a standing acknowledgment that Yahweh was the giver of daily bread. It was called the "presence-bread" because it was set out in his presence. The theology of this is that Yahweh provides, and the practice of this is that the people must provide for constant thanks. So if the ark speaks of communion through atonement, the table speaks of dedicatory gratitude.


Notes for Exodus 25:24LEB

"Gold" is an adverbial accusative of material.


Notes for Exodus 25:25LEB

There is some debate as to the meaning of מִסְגֶּרֶת (misgeret). This does not seem to be a natural part of the table and its legs. The drawing on the Arch of Titus shows two cross-stays in the space between the legs, about halfway up. It might have been nearer the top, but the drawing of the table of presence-bread from the arch shows it half-way up. This frame was then decorated with the molding as well.


Notes for Exodus 25:26LEB



"which [are] to four of its feet."


Notes for Exodus 25:27LEB

"houses"; NAB, NASB "holders."


Notes for Exodus 25:28LEB

The verb is a Niphal perfect with vav consecutive, showing here the intended result: "so that [the table] might be lifted up [by them]." The noun "the table" is introduced by what looks like the sign of the accusative, but here it serves to introduce or emphasize the nominative (see GKC 365 §117.i).


Notes for Exodus 25:29LEB

Or "a deep gold dish." The four nouns in this list are items associated with the table and its use.


Or "cups" (NAB, TEV).


The expression "for pouring out offerings" represents Hebrew אֲשֶׁר יֻסַּךְ בָּהֵן (’asher yussakh bahen). This literally says, "which it may be poured out with them," or "with which [libations] may be poured out."


Notes for Exodus 25:30LEB

The name basically means that the bread is to be set out in the presence of Yahweh. The custom of presenting bread on a table as a thank offering is common in other cultures as well. The bread here would be placed on the table as a symbol of the divine provision for the twelve tribes – continually, because they were to express their thanksgiving continually. Priests could eat the bread after certain times. Fresh bread would be put there regularly.


Notes for Exodus 25:31LEB

Clearly the point here is to provide light in the tent for access to Yahweh. He provided for his worshipers a light for the way to Yahweh, but he also wanted them to provide oil for the lamp to ensure that the light would not go out. Verses 31–36 describe the piece. It was essentially one central shaft, with three branches on either side turned out and upward. The stem and the branches were ornamented every so often with gold that was formed into the shape of the calyx and corolla of the almond flower. On top of the central shaft and the six branches were the lamps.


The word is מְנֹרָה (ménorah) – here in construct to a following genitive of material. The main piece was one lampstand, but there were seven lamps on the shaft and its branches. See E. Goodenough, "The Menorah among the Jews of the Roman World," HUCA 23 (1950/51): 449-92.


U. Cassuto (Exodus 342–44) says that the description "the cups, knobs and flowers" is explained in vv. 32–36 as three decorations in the form of a cup, shaped like an almond blossom, to be made on one branch. Every cup will have two parts, (a) a knob, that is, the receptacle at the base of the blossom, and (b) a flower, which is called the corolla, so that each lamp rests on top of a flower.


"will be from/of it"; the referent ("the same piece" of wrought metal) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Notes for Exodus 25:32LEB

"from the sides of it."


"from the second side."


Notes for Exodus 25:33LEB

The text uses "one" again; "the one…the one" means "the one…and the next" in the distributive sense.




Notes for Exodus 25:35LEB

For clarity the phrase "the first" has been supplied.


For clarity the phrase "the next" has been supplied.


For clarity the phrase "the third" has been supplied.


Notes for Exodus 25:36LEB

"will be from it."


Notes for Exodus 25:37LEB

The word for "lamps" is from the same root as the lampstand, of course. The word is נֵרוֹת (nerot). This probably refers to the small saucer-like pottery lamps that are made very simply with the rim pinched over to form a place to lay the wick. The bowl is then filled with olive oil as fuel.


The translation "set up on" is from the Hebrew verb "bring up." The construction is impersonal, "and he will bring up," meaning "one will bring up." It may mean that people were to fix the lamps on to the shaft and the branches, rather than cause the light to go up (see S. R. Driver, Exodus 277).


This is a Hiphil perfect with vav consecutive, from אוֹר (’or, "light"), and in the causative, "to light, give light."


Notes for Exodus 25:38LEB

The first word refers to something like small tongs or tweezers used to pull up and trim the wicks; the second word refers to fire-pans or censers.


"are to be" has been supplied.


Notes for Exodus 25:39LEB

"a talent."


The text has "he will make it" or "one will make it." With no expressed subject it is given a passive translation.


Notes for Exodus 25:40LEB

The text uses two imperatives: "see and make." This can be interpreted as a verbal hendiadys, calling for Moses and Israel to see to it that they make these things correctly.


The participle is passive, "caused to see," or, "shown."


The message of this section surely concerns access to Yahweh. To expound this correctly, though, since it is an instruction section for building the lampstand, the message would be: Yahweh requires that his people ensure that light will guide the way of access to Yahweh. The breakdown for exposition could be the instructions for preparation for light (one lamp, several branches), then instructions for the purpose and maintenance of the lamps, and then the last verse telling the divine source for the instructions. Naturally, the metaphorical value of light will come up in the study, especially from the NT. So in the NT there is the warning that if churches are unfaithful Yahweh will remove their lampstand, their ministry (Rev 2–3).