EXODUS ch. 25 – 31


Chapter 25

1 This is what the LORD then said to Moses: 2 “Tell the Israelites to take up a collection for me. From every man you shall accept the contribution that his heart prompts him to give me. 3 These are the contributions you shall accept from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 violet, purple and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; 5 rams’ skins dyed red, and tahash skins; acacia wood; 6 oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 onyx stones and other gems for mounting on the ephod and the breastpiece. 8 “They shall make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 This Dwelling and all its furnishings you shall make exactly according to the pattern that I will now show you. 10

“You shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. 11 Plate it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold around the top of it. 12 Cast four gold rings and fasten them on the four supports of the ark, two rings on one side and two on the opposite side. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and plate them with gold. 14 These poles you are to put through the rings on the sides of the ark, for carrying it; 15 they must remain in the rings of the ark and never be withdrawn. 16 In the ark you are to put the commandments which I will give you. 17 “You shall then make a propitiatory of pure gold, two cubits and a half long, and one and a half cubits wide. 18 Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the propitiatory, 19 fastening them so that one cherub springs direct from each end. 20


The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, covering the propitiatory with them; they shall be turned toward each other, but with their faces looking toward the propitiatory. 21 This propitiatory you shall then place on top of the ark. In the ark itself you are to put the commandments which I will give you. 22 There I will meet you and there, from above the propitiatory, between the two cherubim on the ark of the commandments, I will tell you all the commands that I wish you to give the Israelites. 23


“You shall also make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, a cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. 24 Plate it with pure gold and make a molding of gold around it. 25 Surround it with a frame, a handbreadth high, with a molding of gold around the frame. 26 You shall also make four rings of gold for it and fasten them at the four corners, one at each leg, 27 on two opposite sides of the frame as holders for the poles to carry the table. 28 These poles for carrying the table you shall make of acacia wood and plate with gold. 29 Of pure gold you shall make its plates and cups, as well as its pitchers and bowls for pouring libations. 30 On the table you shall always keep showbread set before me. 31

“You shall make a lampstand of pure beaten gold– its shaft and branches– with its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand, three branches on one side, and three on the other. 33 On one branch there are to be three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, each with its knob and petals; on the opposite branch there are to be three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, each with its knob and petals; and so for the six branches that extend from the lampstand. 34 On the shaft there are to be four cups, shaped like almond blossoms, with their knobs and petals, 35 including a knob below each of the three pairs of branches that extend from the lampstand. 36 Their knobs and branches shall so spring from it that the whole will form but a single piece of pure beaten gold. 37 You shall then make seven lamps for it and so set up the lamps that they shed their light on the space in front of the lampstand. 38 These, as well as the trimming shears and trays, must be of pure gold. 39 Use a talent of pure gold for the lampstand and all its appurtenances. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.





Chapter 26

1 “The Dwelling itself you shall make out of sheets woven of fine linen twined and of violet, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim embroidered on them. 2 The length of each shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the width four cubits; all the sheets shall be of the same size. 3 Five of the sheets are to be sewed together, edge to edge; and the same for the other five. 4 Make loops of violet yarn along the edge of the end sheet in one set, and the same along the edge of the end sheet in the other set. 5 There are to be fifty loops along the edge of the end sheet in the first set, and fifty loops along the edge of the corresponding sheet in the second set, and so placed that the loops are directly opposite each other. 6

Then make fifty clasps of gold, with which to join the two sets of sheets, so that the Dwelling forms one whole. 7 “Also make sheets woven of goat hair, to be used as a tent covering over the Dwelling. 8 Eleven such sheets are to be made; the length of each shall be thirty cubits, and the width four cubits: all eleven sheets shall be of the same size. 9 Sew five of the sheets, edge to edge, into one set, and the other six sheets into another set. Use the sixth sheet double at the front of the tent. 10 Make fifty loops along the edge of the end sheet in one set, and fifty loops along the edge of the end sheet in the second set. 11 Also make fifty bronze clasps and put them into the loops, to join the tent into one whole. 12 There will be an extra half sheet of tent covering, which shall be allowed to hang down over the rear of the Dwelling. 13 Likewise, the sheets of the tent will have an extra cubit’s length to be left hanging down on either side of the Dwelling to protect it. 14 Over the tent itself you shall make a covering of rams’ skins dyed red, and above that, a covering of tahash skins. 15 “You shall make boards of acacia wood as walls for the Dwelling. 16 The length of each board is to be ten cubits, and its width one and a half cubits. 17 Each board shall have two arms that shall serve to fasten the boards in line. In this way all the boards of the Dwelling are to be made. 18 Set up the boards of the Dwelling as follows: twenty boards on the south side, 19 with forty silver pedestals under the twenty boards, so that there are two pedestals under each board, at its two arms; 20 twenty boards on the other side of the Dwelling, the north side, 21 with their forty silver pedestals, two under each board; 22 six boards for the rear of the Dwelling, to the west; 23 and two boards for the corners at the rear of the Dwelling. 24 These two shall be double at the bottom, and likewise double at the top, to the first ring. That is how both boards in the corners are to be made. 25 Thus, there shall be in the rear eight boards, with their sixteen silver pedestals, two pedestals under each board. 26 Also make bars of acacia wood: five for the boards on one side of the Dwelling, 27 five for those on the other side, and five for those at the rear, toward the west. 28 The center bar, at the middle of the boards, shall reach across from end to end. 29 Plate the boards with gold, and make gold rings on them as holders for the bars, which are also to be plated with gold. 30 You shall erect the Dwelling according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. 31 “You shall have a veil woven of violet, purple and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it. 32 It is to be hung on four gold-plated columns of acacia wood, which shall have hooks of gold and shall rest on four silver pedestals. 33 Hang the veil from clasps. The ark of the commandments you shall bring inside, behind this veil which divides the holy place from the holy of holies. 34 Set the propitiatory on the ark of the commandments in the holy of holies. 35 “Outside the veil you shall place the table and the lampstand, the latter on the south side of the Dwelling, opposite the table, which is to be put on the north side. 36 For the entrance of the tent make a variegated curtain of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined. 37 Make five columns of acacia wood for this curtain; have them plated with gold, with their hooks of gold; and cast five bronze pedestals for them. 

Chapter 27

1 “You shall make an altar of acacia wood, on a square, five cubits long and five cubits wide; it shall be three cubits high. 2 At the four corners there are to be horns, so made that they spring directly from the altar. You shall then plate it with bronze. 3 Make pots for removing the ashes, as well as shovels, basins, forks and fire pans, all of which shall be of bronze. 4 Make a grating of bronze network for it; this to have four bronze rings, one at each of its four corners. 5 Put it down around the altar, on the ground. This network is to be half as high as the altar. 6   You shall also make poles of acacia wood for the altar, and plate them with bronze. 7 These poles are to be put through the rings, so that they are on either side of the altar when it is carried. 8 Make the altar itself in the form of a hollow box, just as it was shown you on the mountain. 9 “You shall also make a court for the Dwelling. On the south side the court shall have hangings a hundred cubits long, woven of fine linen twined, 10 with twenty columns and twenty pedestals of bronze; the hooks and bands on the columns shall be of silver. 11 On the north side there shall be similar hangings, a hundred cubits long, with twenty columns and twenty pedestals of bronze; the hooks and bands on the columns shall be of silver. 12

On the west side, across the width of the court, there shall be hangings, fifty cubits long, with ten columns and ten pedestals. 13 The width of the court on the east side shall be fifty cubits. 14 On one side there shall be hangings to the extent of fifteen cubits, with three columns and three pedestals; 15 on the other side there shall be hangings to the extent of fifteen cubits, with three columns and three pedestals. 16 “At the entrance of the court there shall be a variegated curtain, twenty cubits long, woven of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined. It shall have four columns and four pedestals. 17 “All the columns around the court shall have bands and hooks of silver, and pedestals of bronze. 18 The enclosure of the court is to be one hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and five cubits high. Fine linen twined must be used, and the pedestals must be of bronze. 19

All the fittings of the Dwelling, whatever be their use, as well as all its tent pegs and all the tent pegs of the court, must be of bronze. 20 “You shall order the Israelites to bring you clear oil of crushed olives, to be used for the light, so that you may keep lamps burning regularly. 21 From evening to morning Aaron and his sons shall maintain them before the LORD in the meeting tent, outside the veil which hangs in front of the commandments. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for the Israelites throughout their generations.


Chapter 28

1 “From among the Israelites have your brother Aaron, together with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, brought to you, that they may be my priests. 2 For the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron you shall have sacred vestments made. 3 Therefore, to the various expert workmen whom I have endowed with skill, you shall give instructions to make such vestments for Aaron as will set him apart for his sacred service as my priest. 4

These are the vestments they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocaded tunic, a miter and a sash. In making these sacred vestments which your brother Aaron and his sons are to wear in serving as my priests, 5 they shall use gold, violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen. 6 “The ephod they shall make of gold thread and of violet, purple and scarlet yarn, embroidered on cloth of fine linen twined. 7 It shall have a pair of shoulder straps joined to its two upper ends. 8 The embroidered belt of the ephod shall extend out from it and, like it, be made of gold thread, of violet, purple and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined. 9





“Get two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: 10 six of their names on one stone, and the other six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a gem-cutter engraves a seal, so shall you have the two stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel and then mounted in gold filigree work. 12 Set these two stones on the shoulder straps of the ephod as memorial stones of the sons of Israel. Thus Aaron shall bear their names on his shoulders as a reminder before the LORD. 13

Make filigree rosettes of gold, 14 as well as two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, and fasten the cordlike chains to the filigree rosettes. 15 “The breastpiece of decision you shall also have made, embroidered like the ephod with gold thread and violet, purple and scarlet yarn on cloth of fine linen twined. 16 It is to be square when folded double, a span high and a span wide. 17 On it you shall mount four rows of precious stones: in the first row, a carnelian, a topaz and an emerald; 18 in the second row, a garnet, a sapphire and a beryl; 19 in the third row, a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; 20 in the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. These stones are to be mounted in gold filigree work, 21 twelve of them to match the names of the sons of Israel, each stone engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes. 22 “When the chains of pure gold, twisted like cords, have been made for the breastpiece, 23 you shall then make two rings of gold for it and fasten them to the two upper ends of the breastpiece. 24 The gold cords are then to be fastened to the two rings at the upper ends of the breastpiece, 25 the other two ends of the cords being fastened in front to the two filigree rosettes which are attached to the shoulder straps of the ephod. 26 Make two other rings of gold and put them on the two lower ends of the breastpiece, on its edge that faces the ephod. 27 Then make two more rings of gold and fasten them to the bottom of the shoulder straps next to where they join the ephod in front, just above its embroidered belt.  28 Violet ribbons shall bind the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod, so that the breastpiece will stay right above the embroidered belt of the ephod and not swing loose from it. 29 “Whenever Aaron enters the sanctuary, he will thus bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastpiece of decision over his heart as a constant reminder before the LORD. 30 In this breastpiece of decision you shall put the Urim and Thummim, that they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus he shall always bear the decisions for the Israelites over his heart in the LORD’S presence. 31  “The robe of the ephod you shall make entirely of violet material. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the center, and around this opening there shall be a selvage, woven as at the opening of a shirt, to keep it from being torn. 33 All around the hem at the bottom you shall make pomegranates, woven of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen twined, with gold bells between them; 34 first a gold bell, then a pomegranate, and thus alternating all around the hem of the robe. 35 Aaron shall wear it when ministering, that its tinkling may be heard as he enters and leaves the LORD’S presence in the sanctuary; else he will die. 36 “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, as on a seal engraving, ‘Sacred to the LORD.’ 37 This plate is to be tied over the miter with a violet ribbon in such a way that it rests on the front of the miter, 38 over Aaron’s forehead. Since Aaron bears whatever guilt the Israelites may incur in consecrating any of their sacred gifts, this plate must always be over his forehead, so that they may find favor with the LORD. 39 “The tunic of fine linen shall be brocaded. The miter shall be made of fine linen. The sash shall be of variegated work. 40 “Likewise, for the glorious adornment of Aaron’s sons you shall have tunics and sashes and turbans made. 41 With these you shall clothe your brother Aaron and his sons. Anoint and ordain them, consecrating them as my priests. 42 You must also make linen drawers for them, to cover their naked flesh from their loins to their thighs. 43 Aaron and his sons shall wear them whenever they go into the meeting tent or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary, lest they incur guilt and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants.


Chapter 29

1 “This is the rite you shall perform in consecrating them as my priests. Procure a young bull and two unblemished rams. 2 With fine wheat flour make unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, 3 and put them in a basket. Take the basket of them along with the bullock and the two rams. 4 Aaron and his sons you shall also bring to the entrance of the meeting tent, and there wash them with water. 5 Take the vestments and clothe Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself, and the breastpiece, fastening the embroidered belt of the ephod around him. 6 Put the miter on his head, the sacred diadem on the miter. 7 Then take the anointing oil and anoint him with it, pouring it on his head. 8

Bring forward his sons also and clothe them with the tunics, 9 gird them with the sashes, and tie the turbans on them. Thus shall the priesthood be theirs by perpetual law, and thus shall you ordain Aaron and his sons. 10 “Now bring forward the bullock in front of the meeting tent. There Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 11 Then slaughter the bullock before the LORD, at the entrance of the meeting tent. 12 Take some of its blood and with your finger put it on the horns of the altar. All the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar. 13 All the fat that covers its inner organs, as well as the lobe of its liver and its two kidneys, together with the fat that is on them, you shall take and burn on the altar. 14 But the flesh and hide and offal of the bullock you must burn up outside the camp, since this is a sin offering.

15  “Then take one of the rams, and after Aaron and his sons have laid their hands on its head, 16 slaughter it. The blood you shall take and splash on all the sides of the altar. 17 Cut the ram into pieces; its inner organs and shanks you shall first wash, and then put them with the pieces and with the head. 18 The entire ram shall then be burned on the altar, since it is a holocaust, a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD. 19 “After this take the other ram, and when Aaron and his sons have laid their hands on its head, 20 slaughter it. Some of its blood you shall take and put on the tip of Aaron’s right ear and on the tips of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and the great toes of their right feet. Splash the rest of the blood on all the sides of the altar. 21 Then take some of the blood that is on the altar, together with some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle this on Aaron and his vestments, as well as on his sons and their vestments, that his sons and their vestments may be sacred. 22   “Now, from this ram you shall take its fat: its fatty tail, the fat that covers its inner organs, the lobe of its liver, its two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and its right thigh, since this is the ordination ram; 23 then, out of the basket of unleavened food that you have set before the LORD, you shall take one of the loaves of bread, one of the cakes made with oil, and one of the wafers. 24 All these things you shall put into the hands of Aaron and his sons, so that they may wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. 25 After you have received them back from their hands, you shall burn them on top of the holocaust on the altar as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD. 26  Finally, take the breast of Aaron’s ordination ram and wave it as a wave offering before the LORD; this is to be your own portion. 27 “Thus shall you set aside the breast of whatever wave offering is waved, as well as the thigh of whatever raised offering is raised up, whether this be the ordination ram or anything else belonging to Aaron or to his sons. 28 Such things are due to Aaron and his sons from the Israelites by a perpetual ordinance as a contribution. From their peace offerings, too, the Israelites shall make a contribution, their contribution to the LORD. 29 “The sacred vestments of Aaron shall be passed down to his descendants, that in them they may be anointed and ordained. 30   The descendant who succeeds him as priest and who is to enter the meeting tent to minister in the sanctuary shall be clothed with them for seven days. 31 “You shall take the flesh of the ordination ram and boil it in a holy place. 32 At the entrance of the meeting tent Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket. 33 They themselves are to eat of these things by which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration; but no layman may eat of them, since they are sacred. 34 If some of the flesh of the ordination sacrifice or some of the bread remains over on the next day, this remnant must be burned up; it is not to be eaten, since it is sacred. 35 Carry out all these orders in regard to Aaron and his sons just as I have given them to you.

“Seven days you shall spend in ordaining them, 36 sacrificing a bullock each day as a sin offering, to make atonement. Thus also shall you purge the altar in making atonement for it; you shall anoint it in order to consecrate it. 37 Seven days you shall spend in making atonement for the altar and in consecrating it. Then the altar will be most sacred, and whatever touches it will become sacred. 38  “Now, this is what you shall offer on the altar: two yearling lambs as the sacrifice established for each day; 39 one lamb in the morning and the other lamb at the evening twilight. 40 With the first lamb there shall be a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a fourth of a hin of oil of crushed olives and, as its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine. 41 The other lamb you shall offer at the evening twilight, with the same cereal offering and libation as in the morning. You shall offer this as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD.   42

Throughout your generations this established holocaust shall be offered before the LORD at the entrance of the meeting tent, where I will meet you and speak to you. 43 “There, at the altar, I will meet the Israelites; hence, it will be made sacred by my glory. 44 Thus I will consecrate the meeting tent and the altar, just as I also consecrate Aaron and his sons to be my priests. 45 I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will be their God. 46 They shall know that I, the LORD, am their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, so that I, the LORD, their God, might dwell among them.  

Chapter 30

1 “For burning incense you shall make an altar of acacia wood, 2 with a square surface, a cubit long, a cubit wide, and two cubits high, with horns that spring directly from it. 3 Its grate on top, its walls on all four sides, and its horns you shall plate with pure gold. Put a gold molding around it. 4 Underneath the molding you shall put gold rings, two on one side and two on the opposite side, as holders for the poles used in carrying it. 5 Make the poles, too, of acacia wood and plate them with gold. 6 This altar you are to place in front of the veil that hangs before the ark of the commandments where I will meet you. 7 “On it Aaron shall burn fragrant incense. Morning after morning, when he prepares the lamps, 8 and again in the evening twilight, when he lights the lamps, he shall burn incense. Throughout your generations this shall be the established incense offering before the LORD. 9  On this altar you shall not offer up any profane incense, or any holocaust or cereal offering; nor shall you pour out a libation upon it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall perform the atonement rite on its horns. Throughout your generations this atonement is to be made once a year with the blood of the atoning sin offering. This altar is most sacred to the LORD.”

11  The LORD also said to Moses, 12 “When you take a census of the Israelites who are to be registered, each one, as he is enrolled, shall give the LORD a forfeit for his life, so that no plague may come upon them for being registered. 13 Everyone who enters the registered group must pay a half-shekel, according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel. This payment of a half-shekel is a contribution to the LORD. 14 Everyone of twenty years or more who enters the registered group must give this contribution to the LORD. 15 The rich need not give more, nor shall the poor give less, than a half-shekel in this contribution to the LORD to pay the forfeit for their lives. 16  When you receive this forfeit money from the Israelites, you shall donate it to the service of the meeting tent, that there it may be the Israelites’ reminder before the LORD, of the forfeit paid for their lives.”

17 The LORD said to Moses, 18 “For ablutions you shall make a bronze laver with a bronze base. Place it between the meeting tent and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons shall use it in washing their hands and feet. 20 When they are about to enter the meeting tent, they must wash with water, lest they die. Likewise when they approach the altar in their ministry, to offer an oblation to the LORD, 21 they must wash their hands and feet, lest they die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and his descendants throughout their generations.”

22  The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Take the finest spices: five hundred shekels of free-flowing myrrh; half that amount, that is, two hundred and fifty shekels, of fragrant cinnamon; two hundred and fifty shekels of fragrant cane; 24 five hundred shekels of cassia-all according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel; together with a hin of olive oil; 25 and blend them into sacred anointing oil, perfumed ointment expertly prepared. 26 With this sacred anointing oil you shall anoint the meeting tent and the ark of the commandments, 27 the table and all its appurtenances, the lampstand and its appurtenances, the altar of incense 28 and the altar of holocausts with all its appurtenances, and the laver with its base. 29 When you have consecrated them, they shall be most sacred; whatever touches them shall be sacred. 30

Aaron and his sons you shall also anoint and consecrate as my priests. 31 To the Israelites you shall say: As sacred anointing oil this shall belong to me throughout your generations. 32 It may not be used in any ordinary anointing of the body, nor may you make any other oil of a like mixture. It is sacred, and shall be treated as sacred by you. 33 Whoever prepares a perfume like this, or whoever puts any of this on a layman, shall be cut off from his kinsmen.” 34  The LORD told Moses, “Take these aromatic substances: storax and onycha and galbanum, these and pure frankincense in equal parts; 35 and blend them into incense. This fragrant powder, expertly prepared, is to be salted and so kept pure and sacred. 36 Grind some of it into fine dust and put this before the commandments in the meeting tent where I will meet you. This incense shall be treated as most sacred by you. 37 You may not make incense of a like mixture for yourselves; you must treat it as sacred to the LORD. 38 Whoever makes an incense like this for his own enjoyment of its fragrance, shall be cut off from his kinsmen.” 

Chapter 31

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with a divine spirit of skill and understanding and knowledge in every craft: 4 in the production of embroidery, in making things of gold, silver or bronze, 5 in cutting and mounting precious stones, in carving wood, and in every craft. 6 As his assistant I have appointed Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. I have also endowed all the experts with the necessary skill to make all the things I have ordered you to make: 7 the meeting tent, the ark of the commandments with the propitiatory on top of it, all the furnishings of the tent, 8 the table with its appurtenances, the pure gold lampstand with all its appurtenances, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of holocausts with all its appurtenances, the laver with its base, 10 the service cloths, the sacred vestments for Aaron the priest, the vestments for his sons in their ministry, 11 the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense for the sanctuary. All these things they shall make just as I have commanded you.” 12

The LORD said to Moses, 13 “You must also tell the Israelites: Take care to keep my sabbaths, for that is to be the token between you and me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the LORD, who make you holy. 14 Therefore, you must keep the sabbath as something sacred. Whoever desecrates it shall be put to death. If anyone does work on that day, he must be rooted out of his people. 15 Six days there are for doing work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of complete rest, sacred to the LORD. Anyone who does work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 So shall the Israelites observe the sabbath, keeping it throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 Between me and the Israelites it is to be an everlasting token; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested at his ease.” 18 When the LORD had finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the commandments, the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger.






This talk is by Deacon Dan Hennessey.

These chapters contain the instructions Moses received regarding the tabernacle, including descriptions of size and shape and materials of every object in the tabernacle.  (Tabernacle = desert version of the temple, which had to be movable.)  Recipes for incense and oils.  Details for the consecration of priests and their vestments.

Six days to do all of creation, 40 days and nights to direct Moses in construction of the tabernacle.

Exodus 35-40

  • The volume of material demonstrates the importance of ritual worship to the Israelites.

Divine Worship

  • To be done according to God’s will – not our own

To be a great nation:

  • Specific traditions
  • A great leader (Moses)
  • A God (the LORD)
  • A house for that God

Fretheim: Exodus = the journey of Israel from slavery to worship, from service to Pharaoh to service of God.

Note the contrast between Israel’s forced construction of Pharaoh’s buildings to the ‘glad and obedient offering of themselves for a building for the worship of God.”  Fretheim

The occasional appearance of God on the mountain .. will become the ongoing presence of God with Israel.  Fretheim

God will now dwell with Israel in a close intimate manner.

Composed in sixth century BCE while in Babylon (572 to 520’s).  Israel in Babylon was in need of forgiveness just like their ancestors were after the apostasy of the golden calf.

They had to be wondering what the future would bring:

  • Whether the LORD would once again ‘dwell in their midst.’
  • Whether God’s divine promise to be their God was still valid.



While in exile:

  • Israel had no central sanctuary.
  • The language of these chapters creates a tabernacle in the minds of those who have none.
  • Only God can provide the detail appropriate for the worship of God.
  • In view of the apostasy, it is made clear that the worship of God is not a matter in which detail can be neglected.  Inattention to detail may well have been a major factor in the syncretism (the combination of different religious practices) and idolatry that developed in temple worship.  A change or compromise here and there, and does not take long for worship patterns to become diverted from the original purpose and for something quite inappropriate or foreign to emerge.  Frethaim.

For us today?  Post-Vatican II changes to liturgy need a corrective to also stress uniformity and God’s transcendence.

Did Israel actually build this thing???   Can not be sure.  CAN say that these chapters contain Israel’s understanding of what an ideal structure ought to have been made.

In the period that followed the fall, God continued to rule the course of history, and from time to time he manifested himself to men, but God’s dwelling was in heaven and no longer on earth.  James Plastaras

Other gods were represented by images / statures which they could inhabit.   “Israel was forbidden to make images of the LORD precisely because his presence was to be seen as the result of a free and personal decision on the part of God.”  Nonetheless, there “remained the need for some kind of visible sign to call attention to the presence of the invisible LORD.”   James Plastaras

Two such signs – the Ark and the Tent of Meeting (later temple).  The Ark of the Covenant symbolized the abiding presence of God with the people.  God was enthroned above the cherubim, the guardians of the ark.  The tent symbolized God’s transcendence.  God came and went from the tent; it was a place of meeting.  God’s presence there was symbolized by the cloud.  (Little Rock Catholic Study Bible.).

The ark:

  • Made of acacia
  • Elaborately decorated with gold plating and molding.
  • The cover was topped by two cherubim made of gold
  • About the size of a footlocker / trunk.
  • It held the stone tablets containing the words of the covenant
  • Was carried with two long gold-plated poles
  • Safeguard for the journey in the wilderness as well as in battle.


Moses:  “Arise, O LORD, may your enemies be scattered and my those who hate you flee before you.”  Num 10:35

When the battle ended:  “Bring back O LORD, the myriads of Israel’s troops!”  Num 10:36

The Ark susceptible to superstition from the people.  Us?

The ark was a forceful reminder that Israel had no king but the LORD.

Simple rituals and trinkets can be forceful reminders of God’s presence in our life.

The LORD’s presence in this world would always be a sacramental presence, a presence symbolized and effected by a visible sign.  But the sign is no longer to be a material object, such as the ark, the people themselves.  Plasteras

Parallels between (ark, Mary)

  • The ark’s return in Second Samuel & how Elizabeth greets Mary in Luke 1:41-55

We should be able to find the Jewish roots of our liturgies in these chapters.

  • The tabernacle itself.  Then and now – a tangible place for encounters with God to occur.
  • Their vessels and ours are made of precious metals.  Not be ostentatious but should be truly beautiful and worthy of the sacred place.
  • Candlesticks and candles then and now – the LORD is the light of the world.
  • Red tabernacle lamp reminiscent of that of the temple.
  • Means of dividing spaces common to both
  • Altar for sacrifice in both temple and our churches
  • Ministers in the temple and churches wear vestments and other signs that they are set apart from others for service to God


LORD, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.






An offering from each person if his/her heart prompts it.   The jewelry and gold had been given to them by Egyptians on their way out of Egypt.

Metals, fabrics, skins, wood, lamp oil, anointing oil ingredients, incense ingredients, gem stones

Metals used to overlay on wood for some things, and to shape alone into other things (rings, gold plates etc.)

Fabrics used to make the various curtains needed and vestments

Skins were for the tabernacle’s outer weather shields.

Wood for the framework of most larger things – ark, tables etc.

Lamp oil for the various lamps

Incense specially formulated for temple use only – it was strictly forbidden for anyone to copy it to use for themselves or to use in other contexts.

Gem stones used on high priests garments to represent the tribes of Israel

In the holy place that is built God will dwell among them.  Important concept.  The ark will represent more than anything else the presence of the LORD.

Stuart: p. 567  “The ark was forty five inches long, twenty-seven inches wide, and twenty seven inches high”   based on a standard cubit of 18 inches.

Emphasis on gold vessels and plates is reflected on our church’s emphasis that cups and bowls used at Eucharist be made of precious metals.  No longer glass or ceramics or wood.




Tabernacle in Hebrew is ‘mishkan’ meaning “living place” or “dwelling place”.  It was set up in the middle of the Israelite camp.

Stuart p. 584: “Everything making up the tabernacle and its courtyard could be rather quickly disassembled, wrapped or bundled up, and transported as the Israelites moved from place to place before settling in Canaan.  It also could be reassembled rather quickly whenever they set up camp.  Thus as the Israelites moved, God moved with them.  Wherever they went, he lived in their midst.”   Rabbinic tradition – Moses had them practice assembling and taking it down multiple times before they ever actually moved it for real.


In general – on the inside was beautiful and delicate, on the outside protective and functional, in between (goat hair) functional.

Stuart p. 589: “Moses did not just hear words.  He saw pictures…. The partial information provided in the written text represented no problem to them, even though it can be confusing at places to us, because Moses had seen a visual supplementation of the spoken words and knw exactly what the LORD wanted for his house.”



The Priestly garments

The priesthood was hereditary – the tribe of Levi were the Levites, a subset – descendants of Aaron – were the priests and high priest.

Urim and Thummim = stones used for discernment of the divine will.  “lights” and “darks”  Exactly what these looked like, whether there were only 2 or an equal number of them, or how they were used is unknown.

Bells attached to the bottom of the high priest’s robe were to alert the LORD that the high priest was coming into the holy of holies.


There were six steps to ordination ceremony:  washing, clothing, and anointing the priest(s) followed by 3 sacrifices ( a young bull and 2 perfect rams).  The bull was a sin-offering.  The blood of the first ram was used to cleanse the altar and the entire ram burned as an offering to the LORD.  The second ram had selected parts burned on the altar but the remainder eaten by the priests.



Census and atonement money (half a shekel).  This was not a large amount in value, but not totally trivial either.

Purpose of a census was primarily in preparation for war.

The incense:  (quantities not given)

  • Gum resin – a powder obtained from the hardened drops of fragrant resin found in the bark of the Myrrh bush.   Fairly available in the region
  • Onycha – a powder obtained by scraping the shell cover of certain mollusks found in the Red Sea
  • Galbanum – a brown very strong-smelling resin from the lower part of the stem of a Ferula plant  comes from Mediterranean Coast
  • Frankincense – a resin from Boswellia trees (balsam like)   comes from North Africa
  • And salt (preservative)



Skilled artisans appointed to create the various elements of the Tabernacle

Stuart p. 649: “In all aspects of tabernacle service and maintenance, Levites were the only persons allowed responsibility.  They alone could set up, take down, transports, maintain, or utilize anything pertaining to the tabernacle.  But the original construction was another matter.  The servants in God’s house were chosen for their duty by reason of birth lineage; but those who actually built it were chosen because of spiritual gifting.”

Laws related to observing the Sabbath.

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