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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Exodus 40

 

 

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 2

On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.

On the first day of the first month. From a careful consideration of the incidents recorded to have happened after the exodus (Exodus 12:2; Exodus 13:4; Exodus 19:1; Exodus 20:18; Exodus 34:28; etc.) it has been computed that the work of the tabernacle was commenced within six months after that emigration, and consequently, that other six months had been occupied in building it. We do not know how many or how few skilled artisans were employed on the work; but native Israelites alone were employed, not foreigners, as in the construction of the temple. Moreover, the acacia wood was found in great abundance in the surrounding desert. These circumstances must have contributed to accelerate the progress of the work. So long a period, therefore, spent in preparing the materials of a moveable pavilion (Hieron foreeton, a portable temple, Philo, 'De Vita Mosis,' L. 3:), it would be difficult to understand, were it not for what we are told of the vast dimensions of the tabernacle, as well as the immense variety of curious and elaborate workmanship which its different articles of furniture required.

the tabernacle of the tent mishkaan (Hebrew #4908) 'ohel (Hebrew #168) - the entire edifice; "the tent;" the covering that surmounted it (Exodus 40:19.)


Verse 3

And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail.

The ark of the testimony - (see the note at Exodus 25:10).


Verses 4-8

And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verses 9-11

And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.

Thou shalt take the anointing oil ... The oil was emblematic of the Holy Spirit; and this formal consecration of the tabernacle and its furniture, by sprinkling them with this sacred unguent, was symbolical of the communication of the Holy Spirit to the Church (see the note at Exodus 30:26).


Verses 12-15

And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.

Bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle ... and wash them. This ceremony, as Hengstenberg remarks, was observed also in Egypt, where the priests were purified with water before they assumed the sacerdotal robes, and there was a general but very striking similarity of the sacerdotal institutions among the Egyptians and Israelites. The whole ceremony of investiture, the anointing oil poured on them after their equipment in the official robes, the cap, the crown, all were the same. But there were also marked differences in the ritual of the tabernacle, which will be noticed as they occur.

Verse 15. And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father. The sacred oil was used, but it does not appear that the ceremony was performed exactly in the same manner; for although the anointing oil was sprinkled over the garments both of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 8:30), it was not poured over the heads of the latter. This distinction was reserved for the high priest (Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 8:12; Psalms 133:2).

For their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations - i:e., so long as the national polity should last, and until the Aaronic priesthood be superseded by the advent of Messiah. Not only so, but as the priestly office was hereditary in the house of Aaron, the first consecration was sufficient for all future priests: none of the succeeding ones were anointed, with the exception of the high priests only (Exodus 29:29; Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 16:32; Leviticus 21:10).


Verse 16

Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.

Thus did Moses. On his part, the same scrupulous fidelity was shown in conforming to the "pattern" in the disposition of the furniture as had been displayed by the workmen in the erection of the edifice.


Verses 17-32

And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 33

And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work.

So Moses finished the work. Though it is not expressly recorded in this passage, yet, from what took place on all similar occasions, there is reason to believe that, on the inauguration day, the people were summoned from their tents-were all drawn up, a vast assemblage, yet in calm and orderly arrangement, around the newly erected tabernacle.


Verse 34

Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

A cloud - literally, 'The' cloud; the mystic cloud which was the well-known symbol of the divine presence. After remaining at a great distance from them on the summit of the mount, it appeared to be in motion; and if many among them had a secret misgiving about the issue, how would the fainting heart revive, the interest of the moment intensely increase, and the tide of joy swell in every bosom, when that symbolic cloud was seen slowly and majestically descending toward the plain below, and covering the tabernacle!

The entire and universal concealment of the tabernacle within the folds of an impervious cloud was not without a deep and instructive meaning-it was a protection to the sacred edifice from the burning heats of the Arabian climate; it was a token of the divine presence; and it was also an emblem of the Mosaic dispensation, which, though it was a revelation from heaven, yet left many things hid in obscurity; for it was a dark cloud compared with the bright cloud which betokened the clearer and fuller discoveries of the divine character and glory in the Gospel (Matthew 17:5).

The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle - i:e., light and fire, a created splendour, which was the special symbol of God (1 John 1:5). Whether this light was inherent in the cloud or not, it emanated from it on this occasion, and making its entry, not with the speed of a lightning flash, as if it were merely an electric spark, but in majestic splendour, it passed through the outer porch into the interior of the most holy place (1 Kings 8:10; John 1:14). Its miraculous character is shown by the fact that, though it "filled the tabernacle," not a curtain or any article of furniture was so much as singed.


Verse 35

And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter. He might not have been called, and he would not attempt to enter without a call (Exodus 24:16). But it is said that he "was not able to enter;" and his inability might arise partly from the dense magnitude of the cloud, which filled every part of the tabernacle, and partly from reverential awe for the symbol of the divine presence. How does this circumstance show the incapacity of man, in his present state, to look upon the unveiled perfections of the Godhead!

Moses could not endure the unclouded effulgence, nor the sublimest of the prophets (Isaiah 6:5). But what neither Moses nor the most eminent of God's messengers to the ancient Church, through the weakness of nature, could endure, we can all now do by an exercise of faith-looking unto Jesus, who reflected with chastened radiance the brightness of the Father's glory; and who, having, as the Forerunner for us, entered within the veil, has invited us to come boldly to the mercyseat. While Moses was compelled, through the influence of overwhelming awe, to stand aloof, and could not enter the tabernacle, Christ entered into the holy place not made with hands; nay He is Himself the true tabernacle, filled with the glory of God, even with the grace and truth which the shechinah typified.

What reason have we to thank God for Jesus Christ, who, while He himself was the brightness of the Father's glory, yet exhibited that glory in so mild and attractive a manner as to allure us to draw near with confidence and love into the divine presence!


Verse 36

And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:

When the cloud was taken up. In journeying through the sandy trackless deserts of the East, the use of torches, exhibiting a cloud of smoke by day and of fire by night, has been resorted to from time immemorial. The armies of Darius and Alexander were conducted on their marches in this manner. The Arab caravans in the present day observe the same custom; and materials for these torches are stored up among other necessary preparations for a journey. Live fuel, hoisted in chafing-dishes at the end of long poles, and being seen at a great distance, serves, by the smoke in the daytime and by the light at night, as a better signal for march than the sound of a trumpet, which is not heard at the extremities of a large camp (Laborde).

This usage and the miracle related by Moses mutually illustrate each other. The usage leads us to think that the miracle was necessary, and worthy of God to perform; and, on the other hand, the miracle of the cloudy pillar, affording double benefit of shade by day and of light at night, implies not only that the usage was not unknown to the Hebrews, but supplied all the wants which they felt in common with other travelers through those dreary regions (Faber, Hess, Grandpierre). But its special appearance, unvarying character, and regular movements distinguished it from all the common atmospheric phenomena. It was an invaluable boon to the Israelites; and being recognized by all classes among that people as the symbol of the Divine Presence, it guided their journeys and regulated their encampments, (cf. Psalms 29:1-11; Psalms 105:1-45.)


Verse 37

But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 38

For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their

The cloud of the Lord ... While it had hitherto appeared sometimes in one place, sometimes in another, it was now found on the tabernacle only; so that from the moment that sanctuary was erected, and the glory of the Lord had filled the sacred edifice, the Israelites had to look to the place which God had chosen to put His name there, in order that they might enjoy the benefit of a Heavenly Guide (Numbers 9:15-23). In like manner the Church had divine revelation for its guide from the first-long before the Word of God existed in a written form; but ever since the setting up of that sacred canon, it rests on that as its tabernacle, and there only is it to be found. It accompanies us wherever we are or go, just as the cloud led the way of the Israelites. It is always accessible-can be carried in our pockets when we walk abroad; it may be engraven on the inner tablets of our memories and our hearts; and so true, faithful, and complete a guide is it, that there is not a scene of duty or of trial through which we may be called to pass in the world, but it furnishes a clear, a safe, and unerring direction (Colossians 3:16).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Exodus 40:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/exodus-40.html. 1871-8.

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