Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
31. And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
31. Facies item candelabrum ex auro puro: ductile fiet candelabrum illud: restile ejus, et calamus ejus scyphi ejus, sphaerulae ejus, et flores ejus ex ipso erunt.
32. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
32. Et sex calami egredientur a lateribus ejus: tres calami candelabri ex latere ejus uno, et tres calami candelabri ex latere ejus altero.
33. Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
33. Tres calices in speciem nucis amygdalinae deformati erunt in calamo uno, spaerula, et flos, et tres calices in speciem nucis amygdalinae deformati in calamo altero, sphaerula et flos: sic de sex calamis egredientibus e candelabro.
34. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
34. Et in candelabro erunt quatuor calices in speciem nucis amygdalinae deformaft, sphaerulae ejus, et flores ejus.
35. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
35. Eritque sphaerula sub duobus calamis ex ipso, sphaerula item sub duobus calamis ex ipso, et sphaerula sub duobus calamis ex ipso: sic de sex calamis egredientibus e candelabro.
36. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all of it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
36. Sphaerulae eorum et calami eorum ex ipso erunt: totum ipsum ductile unum, ex auro puro.
37. And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
37. Facies quoque lucernas ejus septem, quas collocabis in sublimi, ut luceant ad latus faciei ejus.
38. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
38. Et forcipes ipsius, et receptacula ejus ex auro puro.
39. Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
39. Talento auri puri facies illud, et omnia vasa ista.
40. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
40. Vide autem ut facias juxta similitudinem suam, quae tibi ostensa est in monte.
31. And thou shalt make a candlestick. God would have seven bright lamps burning day and night in the Tabernacle: first, that the people might know that they were directed by God Himself as to how they were to worship Him aright, and that a light was set before their eyes which might disperse all the darkness of error; and, secondly, lest they should obscure the very worship of God with their gross inventions, but that, intent on the instruction of the Law, they might with a pure and enlightened mind seek after God in all the ceremonies. Let us, therefore, remark a distinction here set forth between the rule of true religion and the superstitions of the Gentiles; because the Gentiles were carried away by their foolish and blind devotions, as they call them, into circuitous and erring ways, so that nothing was straight in them; for unless we have divine teaching to enlighten us, our own reason will beget nothing but mere vanity. But it was not enough for the Israelites that the right way should be pointed out, unless their eyes were open to direct them, since men sometimes are blind in the very midst of light. And this occurred to themselves not only when they went astray into strange and adulterous worships, for though they held fast the external form of the Law, they were, nevertheless, degenerate; and religion was corrupted among them by foul superstitions, when, in obedience to their carnal reason, they conceived that religion consisted in ceremonies. For when God is not worshipped spiritually according to His nature, this is to travesty Him. Hence there was so much security in the hypocrites, that they proudly despised all the reproofs of the Prophets, nay, that they broke out into open fury whenever their empty pomps were condemned. But the candlestick, shining with its seven lights, reminded the people that, in their worship of God, they should look attentively to the light of heavenly doctrine.
But, for the understanding of this type, the vision of Zechariah will be no slight assistance to us, since the truth of this symbol is there set forth. (Zec 4:2.) God there promises that the power of His Spirit will alone avail, and more than avail, for the preservation of His Church, although it may be destitute of all other aid. To awaken confidence in this, He represents the same image of a candlestick which is here described, with the addition of some other circumstances, whereby He reminds us that the shining lights were no vain show like stage plays, but that in the candlestick was represented what believers would really experience to take place. But, that the comparison may be made clearer, we must say a little respecting this passage. The material of the candlestick is pure gold, whereby the excellency of the thing signified is denoted. But, when we have spoken somewhat of its form, the application of Zechariah’s prophecy will be more manifest. Some parts of it were merely for ornament, that its dignity might be increased by its very appearance, such as the flowers and the balls or knops; others for use, as the bowls or receptacles, to prevent the sacred oil from falling on the ground. The lamps were placed at the top, that the Israelites might know that men are surrounded with darkness on earth, if God did not enlighten His Church from on high, and that by day and by night. Thus Isaiah, describing the kingdom of Christ, in which the reality of this sign was at length exhibited, says, — “Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” And again,
"Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thy everlasting light.”
Now, since God is called the Father of lights, the grace of illumination resides in the Spirit; and since a variety of gifts are distributed by the Spirit, there were seven lamps which visibly represented what Paul says, —
"The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1Co 12:7-11.)
Some, however, have gratuitously invented a mystery in the number seven, whence the common notion 136 among the Papists about the sevenfold grace of the Spirit, which is refuted both by the above-cited passage of St. Paul and the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, where a greater number of gifts are enumerated. I suppose rather that perfection is denoted by the seven lamps according to the ordinary and acknowledged use (of the figure); as if God thus declared that nothing would be wanting for the full enlightenment of believers, who should seek it from its one and only source; secondly, that the Spirit presides over all religious rites when He shines forth to the Church in His gifts. Now, the Prophet, (Zec 4:2,) desiring to teach that what had been shewn forth in this visible symbol would be fulfilled in the restoration of the Church, adds to the lamps seven pipes and two olive-trees, from whence oil would continually flow, so that there was no fear of want or failure. Thus he signifies that God is possessed of a manifold abundance of blessings for the enrichment of the Church; and so that the virtue which flows down from heaven is sufficient for its preservation, according to what is added in connection,
"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,
saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zec 4:6.)
For although God uses the ministry of men and earthly means at His discretion for the protection and maintenance of the Church, yet He would have, as is just, all the praise ascribed to Himself; whilst He would also have believers to be contented under His guardianship, and not to be discouraged although they should find no ground of confidence in the world.
40 And look that thou make them. He again inculcates, what we have already seen, that Moses should take care that all things were exactly modeled according to the original or pattern seen in the mount. But it is certain that it is not any mere vision which is here in question, but that the external ornaments of the sanctuary have reference to their spiritual object, as is plain from the explanation of Stephen and the Apostle. Wherefore we need not wonder that Zechariah should say that God would make manifest, and that by certain proof, under the reign of Christ, that it was no empty spectacle which God had set before His people under the Law.
The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are represented in Roman Catholic Catechisms to be, — 1. Wisdom; 2. Understanding; 3. Counsel; 4. Fortitude; 5. Knowledge; 6. Godliness; 7. The fear of the Lord: founded, of course, on Isa 11:2. Augustin says, Sermo 8, (Edit. Ben., tom. 5, p. 46,) speaking of the Holy Spirit, “Ipse requiescit super humilem et quietum, tanquam in Sabbato suo. Ad hoc septenarius numerus etiam Sancto Spiritui deputatur, hoc Scripturae nostrae satis indicant. Viderint meliora meliores, et majora majores; et de isto septenario numero subtilius aliquid et divinius aliquid dicant et explicent: ego tamen, quod in presenti sat est, illud video, illud vos ad videndum commemoro, septenariam istam rationem inveniri proprie Sancto Spiritui deputatam; quia; septimo die sonat sanctificatio,” etc.