Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Moses assembles the congregation to deliver to them the commandments of God, Exo 35:1. Directions concerning the Sabbath, Exo 35:2, Exo 35:3. Free-will offerings of gold, silver, brass, etc., for the tabernacle, Exo 35:4-7. Of oil and spices, Exo 35:8. Of precious stones, Exo 35:9. Proper artists to be employed, Exo 35:10. The tabernacle and its tent, Exo 35:11. The ark, Exo 35:12. Table of the shew-bread, Exo 35:13. Candlestick, Exo 35:14. Altar of incense, Exo 35:15. Altar of burnt-offering, Exo 35:16. Hangings, pins, etc., Exo 35:17, Exo 35:18. Clothes of service, and holy vestments, Exo 35:19. The people cheerfully bring their ornaments as offerings to the Lord, Exo 35:20-22; together with blue, purple, scarlet, etc., etc., Exo 35:23, Exo 35:24. The women spin, and bring the produce of their skill and industry, Exo 35:25, Exo 35:26. The rulers bring precious stones, etc., Exo 35:27, Exo 35:28. All the people offer willingly, Exo 35:29. Bezaleel and Aholiab appointed to conduct and superintend all the work of the tabernacle, for which they are qualified by the spirit of wisdom, Exo 35:30-35.
And Moses gathered - The principal subjects in this chapter have been already largely considered in the notes on chapters 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31, and to those the reader is particularly desired to refer, together with the parallel texts in the margin.
Ye shall kindle no fire - The Jews understand this precept as forbidding the kindling of fire only for the purpose of doing work or dressing victuals; but to give them light and heat, they judge it lawful to light a fire on the Sabbath day, though themselves rarely kindle it-they get Christians to do this work for them.
An offering - A terumah or heave-offering; see Lev 7:1, etc. , Exo 35:6
See, on these metals and colors, Exo 25:3 (note), Exo 25:4 (note), etc.
Rams' skins, etc. - See Exo 25:5.
Oil for the light - See Exo 25:6.
Onyx stones - See Exo 25:7.
The tabernacle - See Exo 25:8.
The ark - See Exo 25:10-17.
The table - See Exo 25:23-28.
The candlestick - See Exo 25:31-39.
The incense altar - The golden altar, see Exo 30:1-10.
The altar of burnt-offering - The brazen altar, see Exo 27:1-8.
The hangings of the court - See Exo 27:9.
The clothes of service - Probably aprons, towels, and such like, used in the common service, and different from the vestments for Aaron and his sons. See these latter described Exo 28:1, etc.
Every one whose heart stirred him up - Literally, whose heart was lifted up - whose affections were set on the work, being cordially engaged in the service of God.
As many as were willing-hearted - For no one was forced to lend his help in this sacred work; all was a free-will offering to the Lord.
Bracelets - חח chach, whatever hooks together; ornaments for the wrists, arms, legs, or neck.
Ear-rings - נזם nezem, see this explained Gen 24:22 (note).
Rings - טבעת tabbaath, from טבי taba, to penetrate, enter into; probably rings for the fingers.
Tablets - כומז cumaz, a word only used here and in Num 31:50, supposed to be a girdle to support the breasts.
All the women that were wise-hearted did spin - They had before learned this art, they were wise-hearted; and now they practice it, and God condescends to require and accept their services. In building this house of God, all were ambitious to do something by which they might testify their piety to God, and their love for his worship. The spinning practiced at this time was simple, and required little apparatus. It was the plain distaff or twirling pin, which might be easily made out of any wood they met with in the wilderness.
The rulers brought onyx stones - These being persons of consequence, might be naturally expected to furnish the more scarce and costly articles. See how all join in this service! The men worked and brought offerings, the women spun and brought their ornaments, the rulers united with them, and delivered up their jewels! and all the children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the Lord, Exo 36:29.
The Lord hath called by name Bezaleel - See this subject discussed at large in the note on Exo 28:3 (note), where the subject of superseding the work of the hand by the extra use of machinery is particularly considered.
1. From the nature of the offerings made for the service of the tabernacle, we see of what sort the spoils were which the Israelites brought out of Egypt: gold, silver, brass, blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, rams' skins dyed red, what we call badgers' skins, oil, spices, incense, onyx stones, and other stones, the names of which are not here mentioned. They must also have brought looms, spinning wheels, instruments for cutting precious stones, anvils, hammers, furnaces, melting-pots, with a vast variety of tools for the different artists employed on the work of the tabernacle, viz., smiths, joiners, carvers, gilders, etc.
2. God could have erected his tabernacle without the help or skill of man; but he condescended to employ him. As all are interested in the worship of God, so all should bear a part in it; here God employs the whole congregation: every male and female, with even their sons and their daughters, and the very ornaments of their persons, are given to raise and adorn the house of God. The women who had not ornaments, and could neither give gold nor silver, could spin goat's hair, and the Lord graciously employs them in this work, and accepts what they can give and what they can do, for they did it with a willing mind; they were wise of heart - had learned a useful business, their hearts were lifted up in the work, Exo 36:21, and all felt it a high privilege to be able to put only a nail in the holy place. By the free-will offerings of the people the tabernacle was erected, and all the costly utensils belonging to it provided. This was the primitive mode of providing proper places for Divine worship; and as it was the primitive, so it is the most rational mode. Taxes levied by law for building or repairing churches were not known in the ancient times of religious simplicity. It is an honor to be permitted to do any thing for the support of public worship; and he must have a strange, unfeeling, and ungodly heart, who does not esteem it a high privilege to have a stone of his own laying or procuring in the house of God. How easily might all the buildings necessary for the purpose of public worship be raised, if the money that is spent in needless self-indulgence by ourselves, our sons, and our daughters, were devoted to this purpose! By sacrifices of this kind the house of the Lord would be soon built, and the top-stone brought on with shouting, Grace, grace unto it!