Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Bezaleel makes the clothes of service for the holy place, and the holy garments, Exo 39:1. The ephod, Exo 39:2. Gold is beaten into plates, and cut into wires for embroidery, Exo 39:3. He makes the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, Exo 39:4. The curious girdle, Exo 39:5. Cuts the onyx stones for the shoulder-pieces, Exo 39:6. Makes the breastplate, its chains, ouches, rings, etc., Exo 39:7-21. The robe of the ephod, Exo 39:22-26. Coats of fine linen, Exo 39:27. The mitre, Exo 39:28. The girdle, Exo 39:29. The plate of the holy crown, Exo 39:30, Exo 39:31. The completion of the work of the tabernacle, Exo 39:32. All the work is brought unto Moses, Exo 39:33-41. Moses, having examined the whole, finds every thing done as the Lord had commanded in consequence of which he blesses the people, Exo 39:42, Exo 39:43.
Blue and purple, and scarlet - See this subject largely explained in the notes on Exo 25:4 (note).
Ephod - See this described, Exo 25:7 (note).
They did beat the gold into thin plates - For the purpose, as it is supposed, of cutting it into wires (פתילם) or threads; for to twist or twine is the common acceptation of the root פתל pathal. I cannot suppose that the Israelites had not then the art of making gold thread, as they possessed several ornamental arts much more difficult: but in the present instance, figures made in a more solid form than that which could have been effected by gold thread, might have been required.
Onyx stones - Possibly the Egyptian pebble. See Exo 25:7, and Exo 28:17, etc.
Breastplate - See Exo 28:15 (note).
And they set in it four rows of stones - See all these precious stones particularly explained in the notes on Exo 28:17 (note), etc.
As the hole of a habergeon - The habergeon or hauberk was a small coat of mail, something in form of a half shirt, made of small iron rings curiously united together. It covered the neck and breast, was very light, and resisted the stroke of a sword. Sometimes it went over the whole head as well as over the breast. This kind of defensive armor was used among the Asiatics, particularly the ancient Persians, among whom it is still worn. It seems to have been borrowed from the Asiatics by the Norman crusaders.
The holy crown of pure gold - On Asiatic monuments, particularly those that appear in the ruins of Persepolis and on many Egyptian monuments, the priests are represented as wearing crowns or tiaras, and sometimes their heads are crowned with laurel. Cuper observes, that the priests and priestesses, among the ancient Greeks, were styled στεφανοφοροι, or crown-bearers, because they officiated having sometimes crowns of gold, at others, crowns of laurel, upon their heads.
Did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses - This refers to the command given Exo 25:40; and Moses has taken care to repeat every thing in the most circumstantial detail, to show that he had conscientiously observed all the directions he had received.
The pure candlestick - See Clarke's note on Exo 25:31.
The lamps to be set in order - To be trimmed and fresh oiled every day, for the purpose of being lighted in the evening. See Clarke's note on Exo 27:21.
And Moses did look upon all the work - As being the general superintendent of the whole, under whom Bezaleel and Aholiab were employed, as the other workmen were under them.
They had done it as the Lord had commanded - Exactly according to the pattern which Moses received from the Lord, and which he laid before the workmen to work by.
And Moses blessed them - Gave them that praise which was due to their skill, diligence, and fidelity. See this meaning of the original word in the note on Gen 2:3 (note). See also a fine instance of ancient courtesy between masters and their servants, in the case of Boaz and his reapers, Rut 2:4. Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, The Lord be with You! And they answered him, The Lord bless Thee! It is, however, very probable that Moses prayed to God in their behalf, that they might be prospered in all their undertakings, saved from every evil, and be brought at last to the inheritance that fadeth not away. This blessing seems to have been given, not only to the workmen, but to all the people. The people contributed liberally, and the workmen wrought faithfully, and the blessing of God was pronounced upon All.
The promptitude, cordiality, and dispatch used in this business cannot be too highly commended, and are worthy of the imitation of all who are employed in any way in the service of God. The prospect of having God to dwell among them inflamed every heart, because they well knew that on this depended their prosperity and salvation. They therefore hastened to build him a house, and they spared no expense or skill to make it, as far as a house made with hands could be, worthy of that Divine Majesty who had promised to take up his residence in it. This tabernacle, like the temple, was a type of the human nature of the Lord Jesus; that was a shrine not made with hands, formed by God himself, and worthy of that fullness of the Deity that dwelt in it.
It is scarcely possible to form an adequate opinion of the riches, costly workmanship, and splendor of the tabernacle; and who can adequately conceive the glory and excellence of that human nature in which the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwelt? That this tabernacle typified the human nature of Christ, and the Divine shechinah that dwelt in it the Deity that dwelt in the man Christ Jesus, these words of St. John sufficiently prove: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (εσκηνωσεν εν ἡμιν, made his Tabernacle among us), full of grace and truth - possessing the true Urim and Thummim; all the lights and perfections, the truth and the grace, typified by the Mosaic economy, Joh 1:1, Joh 1:14. And hence the evangelist adds, And we beheld his glory; as the Israelites beheld the glory of God resting on the tabernacle, so did the disciples of Christ see the Divine glory resting on him, and showing itself forth in all his words, spirit, and works. And for what purpose was the tabernacle erected? That God might dwell in it among the children of Israel. And for what purpose was the human nature of Christ so miraculously produced? That the Godhead might dwell in it; and that God and man might be reconciled through this wonderful economy of Divine grace, God being in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, Co2 5:19. And what was implied by this reconciliation? The union of the soul with God, and the indwelling of God in the soul. Reader, has God yet filled thy tabernacle with his glory? Does Christ dwell in thy heart by faith; and dost thou abide in him, bringing forth fruit unto holiness? Then thy end shall be eternal life. Why shouldst thou not go on thy way rejoicing with Christ in thy heart, heaven in thine eye, and the world, the devil, and the flesh, under thy feet?