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The Materials for the Tabernacle

25 [a] The Lord spoke to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to take[b] an offering[c] for me; from every person motivated by a willing[d] heart you[e] are to receive my offering. This is the offering you[f] are to accept from them: gold, silver, bronze, blue,[g] purple,[h] scarlet,[i] fine linen,[j] goats’ hair,[k] ram skins dyed red,[l] fine leather,[m] acacia[n] wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for fragrant incense, onyx stones, and other gems to be set in the ephod and in the breastpiece. Let them make[o] for me a sanctuary,[p] so that I may live among them. According to all that I am showing you[q]—the pattern of the tabernacle[r] and the pattern of all its furnishings—you[s] must make it exactly so.[t]

The Ark of the Testimony

10 [u] “They are to make an ark[v] of acacia wood—its length is to be 45 inches, its width 27 inches, and its height 27 inches.[w] 11 You are to overlay[x] it with pure gold—both inside and outside you must overlay it,[y] and you are to make a surrounding border[z] of gold over it. 12 You are to cast four gold rings for it and put them on its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other side. 13 You are to make poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold, 14 and put the poles into the rings at the sides of the ark in order to carry the ark with them. 15 The poles must remain in the rings of the ark; they must not be removed from it. 16 You are to put into the ark the testimony[aa] that I will give to you.

17 “You are to make an atonement lid[ab] of pure gold;[ac] its length is to be 45 inches, and its width is to be 27 inches. 18 You are to make two cherubim[ad] of gold; you are to make them of hammered metal on the two ends of the atonement lid. 19 Make[ae] one cherub on one end[af] and one cherub on the other end; from the atonement lid[ag] you are to make the cherubim on the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to be spreading their wings upward, overshadowing[ah] the atonement lid with their wings, and the cherubim are to face each other,[ai] looking[aj] toward the atonement lid. 21 You are to put the atonement lid on top of the ark, and in the ark you are to put the testimony I am giving you. 22 I will meet with you there,[ak] and[al] from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites.

The Table for the Bread of the Presence

23 [am] “You are to make a table of acacia wood; its length is to be 36 inches, its width 18 inches, and its height 27 inches. 24 You are to overlay it with[an] pure gold, and you are to make a surrounding border of gold for it. 25 You are to make a surrounding frame[ao] for it about three inches broad, and you are to make a surrounding border of gold for its frame. 26 You are to make four rings of gold for it and attach[ap] the rings at the four corners where its four legs are.[aq] 27 The rings are to be close to the frame to provide places[ar] for the poles to carry the table. 28 You are to make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that the table may be carried with them.[as] 29 You are to make its plates,[at] its ladles,[au] its pitchers, and its bowls, to be used in pouring out offerings;[av] you are to make them of pure gold. 30 You are to set the Bread of the Presence[aw] on the table before me continually.

The Lampstand

31 [ax] “You are to make a lampstand[ay] of pure gold. The lampstand is to be made of hammered metal; its base and its shaft, its cups,[az] its buds, and its blossoms are to be from the same piece.[ba] 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand,[bb] three branches of the lampstand from one side of it and three branches of the lampstand from the other side of it.[bc] 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, and three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on the next[bd] branch, and the same[be] for the six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 On the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms, 35 with a bud under the first[bf] two branches from it, and a bud under the next[bg] two branches from it, and a bud under the third[bh] two branches from it, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand. 36 Their buds and their branches will be one piece,[bi] all of it one hammered piece of pure gold.

37 “You are to make its seven lamps[bj] and then set[bk] its lamps up on it, so that it will give light[bl] to the area in front of it. 38 Its trimmers and its trays[bm] are to be[bn] of pure gold. 39 About seventy-five pounds[bo] of pure gold is to be used for it[bp] and for all these utensils. 40 Now be sure to make[bq] them according to the pattern you were shown[br] on the mountain.[bs]

The Tabernacle

26 [bt] “The tabernacle itself[bu] you are to make with[bv] ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet;[bw] you are to make them with[bx] cherubim that are the work of an artistic designer. The length of each[by] curtain is to be 42 feet, and the width of each curtain is to be 6 feet[bz]—the same size for each of the curtains. Five curtains are to be joined,[ca] one to another,[cb] and the other[cc] five curtains are to be joined, one to another. You are to make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and in the same way you are to make loops[cd] in the outer edge of the end curtain in the second set. You are to make fifty loops on the one curtain, and you are to make fifty loops on the end curtain which is on the second set, so that the loops are opposite one to another.[ce] You are to make fifty gold clasps and join the curtains together with the clasps, so that the tabernacle is a unit.[cf]

“You are to make curtains of goats’ hair[cg] for a tent over the tabernacle;[ch] you are to make[ci] eleven curtains. The length of each[cj] curtain is to be 45 feet, and the width of each curtain is to be 6 feet—the same size for the eleven curtains. You are to join five curtains by themselves and six curtains by themselves. You are to double over[ck] the sixth curtain at the front of the tent. 10 You are to make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and fifty loops along the edge of the curtain that joins the second set. 11 You are to make fifty bronze clasps and put the clasps into the loops and join the tent together so that it is a unit.[cl] 12 Now the part that remains of the curtains of the tent—the half curtain that remains will hang over at the back of the tabernacle.[cm] 13 The foot and a half[cn] on the one side and the foot and a half on the other side of what remains in the length of the curtains of the tent will hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on one side and the other side, to cover it.[co]

14 “You are to make a covering[cp] for the tent out of ram skins dyed red and over that a covering of fine leather.[cq]

15 “You are to make the frames[cr] for the tabernacle out of[cs] acacia wood as uprights.[ct] 16 Each[cu] frame is to be 15 feet long, and each frame is to be 27 inches wide, 17 with two projections[cv] per frame parallel one to another.[cw] You are to make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 18 So you are to make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side,[cx] 19 and you are to make forty silver bases to go under the twenty frames—two bases under the first frame for its two projections, and likewise[cy] two bases under the next frame for its two projections; 20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, the north side, twenty frames, 21 and their forty silver bases, two bases under the first frame, and two bases under the next frame. 22 And for the back of the tabernacle on the west[cz] you will make six frames. 23 You are to make two frames for the corners[da] of the tabernacle on the back. 24 At the two corners[db] they must be doubled at the lower end and finished together at the top in one ring. So it will be for both. 25 So there are to be eight frames and their silver bases, sixteen bases, two bases under the first frame, and two bases under the next frame.

26 “You are to make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 27 and five bars for the frames on the second side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames on the back of the tabernacle on the west. 28 The middle bar in the center of the frames will reach from end to end.[dc] 29 You are to overlay the frames with gold and make their rings of gold to provide places for the bars, and you are to overlay the bars with gold. 30 You are to set up the tabernacle according to the plan[dd] that you were shown on the mountain.

31 “You are to make a special curtain[de] of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twisted linen; it is to be made[df] with cherubim, the work of an artistic designer. 32 You are to hang it[dg] with gold hooks[dh] on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold, set in[di] four silver bases. 33 You are to hang this curtain under the clasps and bring the ark of the testimony in there behind the curtain.[dj] The curtain will make a division for you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.[dk] 34 You are to put the atonement lid on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 35 You are to put the table outside the curtain and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle, opposite the table, and you are to place the table on the north side.

36 “You are to make a hanging[dl] for the entrance of the tent of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twisted linen, the work of an embroiderer.[dm] 37 You are to make for the hanging five posts of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, and their hooks will be[dn] gold, and you are to cast five bronze bases for them.[do]

The Altar

27 “You are to make the[dp] altar of acacia wood, 7½ feet long,[dq] and 7½ feet wide; the altar is to be square,[dr] and its height is to be 4½ feet[ds] . You are to make its four horns[dt] on its four corners; its horns will be part of it,[du] and you are to overlay it with bronze. You are to make its pots for the ashes,[dv] its shovels, its tossing bowls,[dw] its meat hooks, and its fire pans—you are to make all[dx] its utensils of bronze. You are to make a grating[dy] for it, a network of bronze, and you are to make on the network four bronze rings on its four corners. You are to put it under the ledge of the altar below, so that the network will come[dz] halfway up the altar.[ea] You are to make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and you are to overlay them with bronze. The poles are to be put[eb] into the rings so that the poles will be on two sides of the altar when carrying it.[ec] You are to make the altar hollow, out of boards. Just as it was shown you[ed] on the mountain, so they must make it.[ee]

The Courtyard

“You are to make the courtyard[ef] of the tabernacle. For the south side[eg] there are to be hangings[eh] for the courtyard of fine twisted linen, 150 feet long for one side,[ei] 10 with[ej] twenty posts and their twenty bronze bases, with the hooks of the posts and their bands of silver. 11 Likewise[ek] for its length on the north side, there are to be[el] hangings for 150 feet, with twenty posts and their twenty bronze bases, with silver hooks and bands[em] on the posts. 12 The width of the court on the west side is to be 75 feet with hangings, with their ten posts and their ten bases. 13 The width of the court on the east side, toward the sunrise, is to be 75 feet. 14 The hangings on one side[en] of the gate are to be[eo] 22½ feet long, with their three posts and their three bases. 15 On the second side[ep] there are to be[eq] hangings 22½ feet long, with their three posts and their three bases. 16 For the gate of the courtyard there is to be a curtain of 30 feet, of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine twisted linen, the work of an embroiderer, with four posts and their four bases. 17 All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands;[er] their hooks are to be[es] silver, and their bases bronze. 18 The length of the courtyard is to be 150 feet[et] and the width 75 feet,[eu] and the height of the fine twisted linen hangings[ev] is to be[ew] 7½ feet, with their bronze bases. 19 All[ex] the utensils of the tabernacle used[ey] in all its service, all its tent pegs, and all the tent pegs of the courtyard are to be made of bronze.[ez]

Offering the Oil

20 “You are to command the Israelites that they bring[fa] to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, so that the lamps[fb] will burn[fc] regularly.[fd] 21 In the tent of meeting[fe] outside the curtain that is before the testimony,[ff] Aaron and his sons are to arrange it from evening[fg] to morning before the Lord. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for generations to come.[fh]


  1. Exodus 25:1 sn Now begin the detailed instructions for constructing the tabernacle of Yahweh, with all its furnishings. The first paragraph introduces the issue of the heavenly pattern for the construction, calls for the people to make willing offerings (vv. 2-7), and explains the purpose for these offerings (vv. 8-9). The message here is that God calls his people to offer of their substance willingly so that his sanctuary may be made.
  2. Exodus 25:2 tn The verb is וְיִקְחוּ (veyiqekhu), the Qal imperfect or jussive with vav; after the imperative “speak” this verb indicates the purpose or result: “speak…that they may take” and continues with the force of a command.
  3. Exodus 25:2 tn The “offering” (תְּרוּמָה, terumah) is perhaps better understood as a contribution since it was a freewill offering. There is some question about the etymology of the word. The traditional meaning of “heave-offering” derives from the idea of “elevation,” a root meaning “to be high” lying behind the word. B. Jacob says it is something sorted out of a mass of material and designated for a higher purpose (Exodus, 765). S. R. Driver (Exodus, 263) corrects the idea of “heave-offering” by relating the root to the Hiphil form of that root, herim, “to lift” or “take off.” He suggests the noun means “what is taken off” from a larger mass and so designated for sacred purposes. The LXX has “something taken off.”
  4. Exodus 25:2 tn The verb יִדְּבֶנּוּ (yiddevennu) is related to the word for the “freewill offering” (נְדָבָה, nedavah). The verb is used of volunteering for military campaigns (Judg 5:2, 9) and the willing offerings for both the first and second temples (see 1 Chr 29:5, 6, 9, 14, 17).
  5. Exodus 25:2 tn The pronoun is plural.
  6. Exodus 25:3 tn The pronoun is plural.
  7. Exodus 25:4 sn The blue refers to dye made from shellfish. It has a dark blue or purple-blue, almost violet color. No significance for the color is attached.
  8. Exodus 25:4 sn Likewise this color dye was imported from Phoenicia, where it was harvested from the shellfish or snail. It is a deep purple-red color.
  9. Exodus 25:4 sn This color is made from the eggs and bodies of the worm coccus ilicus, which is found with the holly plant—so Heb “worm of brilliance.” The powder made from the dried maggots produces a bright red-yellow color (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:452). B. Jacob takes the view that these are not simply colors that are being introduced here, but fabrics dyed with these colors (Exodus, 765). At any rate, the sequence would then be metals, fabrics, and leathers (v. 5).
  10. Exodus 25:4 sn This is generally viewed as a fine Egyptian linen that had many more delicate strands than ordinary linen.
  11. Exodus 25:4 sn Goat’s hair was spun into yarn (35:26) and used to make the material for the first tent over the dwelling. It is ideal for tenting, since it is loosely woven and allows breezes to pass through, but with rain the fibers expand and prevent water from seeping through.
  12. Exodus 25:5 sn W. C. Kaiser compares this to morocco leather (“Exodus,” EBC 2:453); it was skin that had all the wool removed and then was prepared as leather and dyed red. N. M. Sarna, on the other hand, comments, “The technique of leather production is never described [in ancient Hebrew texts]. Hence, it is unclear whether Hebrew מְאָדָּמִים (meʾoddamim) literally ‘made red,’ refers to the tanning or dyeing process” (Exodus [JPSTC], 157).
  13. Exodus 25:5 tn The meaning of the word תְּחָשִׁים (tekhashim) is debated. The Arabic tuhas or duhas is a dolphin, and so some think a sea animal is meant—something like a dolphin or porpoise (cf. NASB; ASV “sealskins”; NIV “hides of sea cows”). Porpoises are common in the Red Sea; their skins are used for clothing by the bedouin. The word has also been connected to an Egyptian word for “leather” (ths); see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 265. Some variation of this is followed by NRSV (“fine leather”) and NLT (“fine goatskin leather”). Another suggestion connects this word to an Akkadian one that describes a precious stone that is yellow or orange and also leather dyed with the color of this stone (N. M. Sarna, Exodus [JPSTC], 157-58).
  14. Exodus 25:5 sn The wood of the acacia is darker and harder than oak, and so very durable.
  15. Exodus 25:8 tn The verb is a perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; it follows in the sequence initiated by the imperative in v. 2 and continues with the force of a command.
  16. Exodus 25:8 tn The word here is מִקְדּשׁ (miqdash), “a sanctuary” or “holy place”; cf. NLT “sacred residence.” The purpose of building it is to enable Yahweh to reside (וְשָׁכַנְתִּי, veshakhanti) in their midst. U. Cassuto reminds the reader that God did not need a place to dwell, but the Israelites needed a dwelling place for him, so that they would look to it and be reminded that he was in their midst (Exodus, 327).
  17. Exodus 25:9 tn The pronoun is singular.
  18. Exodus 25:9 sn The expression “the pattern of the tabernacle” (תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן, tavnit hammishkan) has been the source of much inquiry. The word rendered “pattern” is related to the verb “to build”; it suggests a model. S. R. Driver notes that in ancient literature there is the account of Gudea receiving in a dream a complete model of a temple he was to erect (Exodus, 267). In this passage Moses is being shown something on the mountain that should be the pattern of the earthly sanctuary. The most plausible explanation of what he was shown comes from a correlation with comments in the Letter to the Hebrews and the book of Revelation, which describe the heavenly sanctuary as the true sanctuary, and the earthly as the copy or shadow. One could say that Moses was allowed to see what John saw on the island of Patmos, a vision of the heavenly sanctuary. That still might not explain what it was, but it would mean he saw a revelation of the true tent, and that would imply that he learned of the spiritual and eternal significance of all of it. The fact that Israel’s sanctuary resembled those of other cultures does not nullify this act of revelation; rather, it raises the question of where the other nations got their ideas if it was not made known early in human history. One can conclude that in the beginning there was much more revealed to the parents in the garden than Scripture tells about (Cain and Abel did know how to make sacrifices before Leviticus legislated it). Likewise, one cannot but guess at the influence of the fallen Satan and his angels in the world of pagan religion. Whatever the source, at Sinai God shows the true, and instructs that it all be done without the pagan corruptions and additions. U. Cassuto notes that the existence of these ancient parallels shows that the section on the tabernacle need not be dated in the second temple period, but fits the earlier period well (Exodus, 324).
  19. Exodus 25:9 tn The pronoun is plural.
  20. Exodus 25:9 sn Among the many helpful studies on the tabernacle, include S. M. Fish, “And They Shall Build Me a Sanctuary,” Gratz College of Jewish Studies 2 (1973): 43-59; I. Hart, “Preaching on the Account of the Tabernacle,” EvQ 54 (1982): 111-16; D. Skinner, “Some Major Themes of Exodus,” Mid-America Theological Journal 1 (1977): 31-42; S. McEvenue, “The Style of Building Instructions,” Sem 4 (1974): 1-9; M. Ben-Uri, “The Mosaic Building Code,” Creation Research Society Quarterly 19 (1982): 36-39.
  21. Exodus 25:10 sn This section begins with the ark, the most sacred and important object of Israel’s worship. Verses 10-15 provide the instructions for it, v. 16 has the placement of the Law in it, vv. 17-21 cover the mercy lid, and v. 22 the meeting above it. The point of this item in the tabernacle is to underscore the focus: the covenant people must always have God’s holy standard before them as they draw near to worship. A study of this would focus on God’s nature (he is a God of order, precision, and perfection), on the usefulness of this item for worship, and on the typology intended.
  22. Exodus 25:10 tn The word “ark” has long been used by English translations to render אָרוֹן (ʾaron), the word used for the wooden “box,” or “chest,” made by Noah in which to escape the flood and by the Israelites to furnish the tabernacle.
  23. Exodus 25:10 tn The size is two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. The size is estimated on the assumption that the cubit is 18 inches (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 267).
  24. Exodus 25:11 tn The verbs throughout here are perfect tenses with the vav (ו) consecutives. They are equal to the imperfect tense of instruction and/or injunction.
  25. Exodus 25:11 tn Here the verb is an imperfect tense; for the perfect sequence to work the verb would have to be at the front of the clause.
  26. Exodus 25:11 tn The word זֵר (zer) is used only in Exodus and seems to describe something on the order of a crown molding, an ornamental border running at the top of the chest on all four sides. There is no indication of its appearance or function.
  27. Exodus 25:16 sn The “testimony” is the Decalogue (Exod 24:12; 31:18; Deut 4:13; 9:9; 1 Kgs 8:9); the word identifies it as the witness or affirmation of God’s commandments belonging to his covenant with Israel. It expressed God’s will and man’s duty. In other cultures important documents were put at the feet of the gods in the temples.
  28. Exodus 25:17 tn The noun is כַּפֹּרֶת (kapporet), translated “atonement lid” or “atonement plate.” The traditional translation “mercy-seat” (so KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV) came from Tyndale in 1530 and was also used by Luther in 1523. The noun is formed from the word “to make atonement.” The item that the Israelites should make would be more than just a lid for the ark. It would be the place where atonement was signified. The translation of “covering” is probably incorrect, for it derives from a rare use of the verb, if the same verb at all (the evidence shows “cover” is from another root with the same letters as this). The value of this place was that Yahweh sat enthroned above it, and so the ark essentially was the “footstool.” Blood was applied to the lid of the box, for that was the place of atonement (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 269-270).
  29. Exodus 25:17 tn After verbs of making or producing, the accusative (like “gold” here) may be used to express the material from which something is made (see GKC 371 §117.hh).
  30. Exodus 25:18 tn The evidence suggests that the cherubim were composite angelic creatures that always indicated the nearness of God. So here images of them were to be crafted and put on each end of the ark of the covenant to signify that they were there. Ezekiel 1 describes four cherubim as each having human faces, four wings, and parts of different animals for their bodies. Traditions of them appear in the other cultures as well. They serve to guard the holy places and to bear the throne of God. Here they were to be beaten out as part of the lid.
  31. Exodus 25:19 tn The text now shifts to use an imperative with the vav (ו) conjunction.
  32. Exodus 25:19 tn The use of זֶה (zeh) repeated here expresses the reciprocal ideas of “the one” and “the other” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 26, §132).
  33. Exodus 25:19 sn The angels were to form one piece with the lid and not be separated. This could be translated “of one piece with” the lid, but it is likely the angels were simply fastened to it permanently.
  34. Exodus 25:20 tn The verb means “overshadowing, screening” in the sense of guarding (see 1 Kgs 8:7; 1 Chr 28:18; see also the account in Gen 3:24). The cherubim then signify two things here: by their outstretched wings they form the throne of God who sits above the ark (with the Law under his feet), and by their overshadowing and guarding they signify this as the place of atonement where people must find propitiation to commune with God. Until then they are barred from his presence. See U. Cassuto, Exodus, 330-35.
  35. Exodus 25:20 tn Heb “their faces a man to his brother.”
  36. Exodus 25:20 tn Heb “the faces of the cherubim will be” (“the cherubim” was moved to the preceding clause for smoother English).
  37. Exodus 25:22 sn Here then is the main point of the ark of the covenant, and the main point of all worship—meeting with God through atonement. The text makes it clear that here God would meet with Moses (“you” is singular) and then he would speak to the people—he is the mediator of the covenant. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 272) makes the point that the verb here is not the word that means “to meet by chance” (as in Exod 3:18), but “to meet” by appointment for a purpose (וְנוֹעַדְתִּי, venoʿadti). The parallel in the NT is Jesus Christ and his work. The theology is that the Law condemns people as guilty of sin, but the sacrifice of Christ makes atonement. So he is the “place of propitiation” (Rom 3:25) who gains communion with the Father for sinners. A major point that could be made from this section is this: At the center of worship must be the atoning work of Christ—a perpetual reminder of God’s righteous standard (the testimony in the ark) and God’s gracious provision (the atonement lid).
  38. Exodus 25:22 tn The verb is placed here in the text: “and I will speak”; it has been moved in this translation to be closer to the direct object clause.
  39. Exodus 25:23 sn The Table of the Bread of the Presence (Tyndale’s translation, “Shewbread,” was used in KJV and influenced ASV, NAB) was to be a standing acknowledgment that Yahweh was the giver of daily bread. It was called the “presence-bread” because it was set out in his presence. The theology of this is that God provides, and the practice of this is that the people must provide for constant thanks. So if the ark speaks of communion through atonement, the table speaks of dedicatory gratitude.
  40. Exodus 25:24 tn “Gold” is an adverbial accusative of material.
  41. Exodus 25:25 sn There is some debate as to the meaning of מִסְגֶּרֶת (misgeret). This does not seem to be a natural part of the table and its legs. The drawing on the Arch of Titus shows two cross-stays in the space between the legs, about halfway up. It might have been nearer the top, but the drawing of the table of presence-bread from the arch shows it half-way up. This frame was then decorated with the molding as well.
  42. Exodus 25:26 tn Heb “give.”
  43. Exodus 25:26 tn Heb “which [are] to four of its feet.”
  44. Exodus 25:27 tn Heb “houses”; NAB, NASB “holders.”
  45. Exodus 25:28 tn The verb is a Niphal perfect with vav consecutive, showing here the intended result: “so that [the table] might be lifted up [by them].” The noun “the table” is introduced by what looks like the sign of the accusative, but here it serves to introduce or emphasize the nominative (see GKC 365 §117.i).
  46. Exodus 25:29 tn Or “a deep gold dish.” The four nouns in this list are items associated with the table and its use.
  47. Exodus 25:29 tn Or “cups” (NAB, TEV).
  48. Exodus 25:29 tn The expression “for pouring out offerings” represents Hebrew אֲשֶׁר יֻסַּךְ בָּהֵן (ʾasher yussakh bahen). This literally says, “which it may be poured out with them,” or “with which [libations] may be poured out.”
  49. Exodus 25:30 sn The name basically means that the bread is to be set out in the presence of Yahweh. The custom of presenting bread on a table as a thank offering is common in other cultures as well. The bread here would be placed on the table as a symbol of the divine provision for the twelve tribes—continually, because they were to express their thanksgiving continually. Priests could eat the bread after certain times. Fresh bread would be put there regularly.
  50. Exodus 25:31 sn Clearly the point here is to provide light in the tent for access to God. He provided for his worshipers a light for the way to God, but he also wanted them to provide oil for the lamp to ensure that the light would not go out. Verses 31-36 describe the piece. It was essentially one central shaft, with three branches on either side turned out and upward. The stem and the branches were ornamented every so often with gold that was formed into the shape of the calyx and corolla of the almond flower. On top of the central shaft and the six branches were the lamps.
  51. Exodus 25:31 tn The word is מְנֹרָה (menorah)—here in construct to a following genitive of material. The main piece was one lampstand, but there were seven lamps on the shaft and its branches. See E. Goodenough, “The Menorah among the Jews of the Roman World,” HUCA 23 (1950/51): 449-92.
  52. Exodus 25:31 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 342-44) says that the description “the cups, knobs and flowers” is explained in vv. 32-36 as three decorations in the form of a cup, shaped like an almond blossom, to be made on one branch. Every cup will have two parts, (a) a knob, that is, the receptacle at the base of the blossom, and (b) a flower, which is called the corolla, so that each lamp rests on top of a flower.
  53. Exodus 25:31 tn Heb “will be from/of it”; the referent (“the same piece” of wrought metal) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  54. Exodus 25:32 tn Heb “from the sides of it.”
  55. Exodus 25:32 tn Heb “from the second side.”
  56. Exodus 25:33 tn The text uses “one” again; “the one…the one” means “the one…and the next” in the distributive sense.
  57. Exodus 25:33 tn Heb “thus.”
  58. Exodus 25:35 tn For clarity the phrase “the first” has been supplied.
  59. Exodus 25:35 tn For clarity the phrase “the next” has been supplied.
  60. Exodus 25:35 tn For clarity the phrase “the third” has been supplied.
  61. Exodus 25:36 tn Heb “will be from it.”
  62. Exodus 25:37 tn The word for “lamps” is from the same root as the lampstand, of course. The word is נֵרוֹת (nerot). This probably refers to the small saucer-like pottery lamps that are made very simply with the rim pinched over to form a place to lay the wick. The bowl is then filled with olive oil as fuel.
  63. Exodus 25:37 tn The translation “set up on” is from the Hebrew verb “bring up.” The construction is impersonal, “and he will bring up,” meaning “one will bring up.” It may mean that people were to fix the lamps on to the shaft and the branches, rather than cause the light to go up (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 277).
  64. Exodus 25:37 tn This is a Hiphil perfect with vav consecutive, from אוֹר (ʾor, “light”), and in the causative, “to light, give light.”
  65. Exodus 25:38 sn The first word refers to something like small tongs or tweezers used to pull up and trim the wicks; the second word refers to fire-pans or censers.
  66. Exodus 25:38 tn “are to be” has been supplied.
  67. Exodus 25:39 tn Heb “a talent.”
  68. Exodus 25:39 tn The text has “he will make it” or “one will make it.” With no expressed subject it is given a passive translation.
  69. Exodus 25:40 tn The text uses two imperatives: “see and make.” This can be interpreted as a verbal hendiadys, calling for Moses and Israel to see to it that they make these things correctly.
  70. Exodus 25:40 tn The participle is passive, “caused to see,” or, “shown.”
  71. Exodus 25:40 sn The message of this section surely concerns access to God. To expound this correctly, though, since it is an instruction section for building the lampstand, the message would be: God requires that his people ensure that light will guide the way of access to God. The breakdown for exposition could be the instructions for preparation for light (one lamp, several branches), then instructions for the purpose and maintenance of the lamps, and then the last verse telling the divine source for the instructions. Naturally, the metaphorical value of light will come up in the study, especially from the NT. So in the NT there is the warning that if churches are unfaithful God will remove their lampstand, their ministry (Rev 2-3).
  72. Exodus 26:1 sn This chapter is given over to the details of the structure itself, the curtains, coverings, boards and walls and veil. The passage can be studied on one level for its function both practically and symbolically for Israel’s worship. On another level it can be studied for its typology, for the tabernacle and many of its parts speak of Christ. For this one should see the commentaries.
  73. Exodus 26:1 tn The word order in Hebrew thrusts the direct object to the front for particular emphasis. After the first couple of pieces of furniture are treated (chap. 25), attention turns to the tabernacle itself.
  74. Exodus 26:1 tn This is for the adverbial accusative explaining how the dwelling place is to be made.
  75. Exodus 26:1 sn S. R. Driver suggests that the curtains were made with threads dyed with these colors (Exodus, 280). Perhaps the colored threads were used for embroidering the cherubim in the curtains.
  76. Exodus 26:1 tn The construction is difficult in this line because of the word order. “Cherubim” is an adverbial accusative explaining how they were to make the curtains. And מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב (maʿaseh khoshev) means literally “work of a designer”; it is in apposition to “cherubim.” The Hebrew participle means “designer” or “deviser” so that one could render this “of artistic designs in weaving” (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 280-81). B. Jacob says that it refers to “artistic weavers” (Exodus, 789).
  77. Exodus 26:2 tn Heb “one” (so KJV).
  78. Exodus 26:2 tn Heb “28 cubits” long and “4 cubits” wide.
  79. Exodus 26:3 tn This is the active participle, not the passive. It would normally be rendered “joining together.” The Bible uses the active because it has the result of the sewing in mind, namely, that every curtain accompanies another (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 348).
  80. Exodus 26:3 tn Heb “a woman to her sister,” this form of using nouns to express “one to another” is selected because “curtains” is a feminine noun (see GKC 448 §139.e).
  81. Exodus 26:3 tn The phrase “the other” has been supplied.
  82. Exodus 26:4 tn Here “loops” has been supplied.
  83. Exodus 26:5 tn Heb “a woman to her sister.”
  84. Exodus 26:6 tn Heb “one”; KJV “it shall be one tabernacle”; NRSV “that the tabernacle may be one whole”; NLT “a single unit.”
  85. Exodus 26:7 sn This chapter will show that there were two sets of curtains and two sets of coverings that went over the wood building to make the tabernacle or dwelling place. The curtains of fine linen described above could be seen only by the priests from inside. Above that was the curtain of goats’ hair. Then over that were the coverings, an inner covering of rams’ skins dyed red and an outer covering of hides of fine leather. The movement is from the inside to the outside because it is God’s dwelling place; the approach of the worshiper would be the opposite. The pure linen represented the righteousness of God, guarded by the embroidered cherubim; the curtain of goats’ hair was a reminder of sin through the daily sin offering of a goat; the covering of rams’ skins dyed red was a reminder of the sacrifice and the priestly ministry set apart by blood, and the outer covering marked the separation between God and the world. These are the interpretations set forth by Kaiser; others vary, but not greatly (see W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:459).
  86. Exodus 26:7 sn This curtain will serve “for a tent over the tabernacle,” as a dwelling place.
  87. Exodus 26:7 tn Heb “you will make them”
  88. Exodus 26:8 tn Heb “one”
  89. Exodus 26:9 sn The text seems to describe this part as being in front of the tabernacle, hanging down to form a valence at the entrance (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 284).
  90. Exodus 26:11 tn Heb “one”
  91. Exodus 26:12 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 353) cites b. Shabbat 98b which says, “What did the tabernacle resemble? A woman walking on the street with her train trailing behind her.” In the expression “the half of the curtain that remains,” the verb agrees in gender with the genitive near it.
  92. Exodus 26:13 tn Literally “cubit.”
  93. Exodus 26:13 sn U. Cassuto states the following: “To the north and to the south, since the tent curtains were 30 cubits long, there were 10 cubits left over on each side; these covered the 9 cubits of the curtains of the tabernacle and also the bottom cubit of the boards, which the tabernacle curtains did not suffice to cover. It is to this that v. 13 refers” (Exodus, 353).
  94. Exodus 26:14 sn Two outer coverings made of stronger materials will be put over the tent and the curtain, the two inner layers.
  95. Exodus 26:14 tn See the note on this phrase in Exod 25:5.
  96. Exodus 26:15 tn There is debate whether the word הַקְּרָשִׁים (haqqerashim) means “boards” (KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB) or “frames” (NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV) or “planks” (see Ezek 27:6) or “beams,” given the size of them. The literature on this includes M. Haran, “The Priestly Image of the Tabernacle,” HUCA 36 (1965): 192; B. A. Levine, “The Description of the Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch,” JAOS 85 (1965): 307-18; J. Morgenstern, “The Ark, the Ephod, and the Tent,” HUCA 17 (1942/43): 153-265; 18 (1943/44): 1-52.
  97. Exodus 26:15 tn “Wood” is an adverbial accusative.
  98. Exodus 26:15 tn The plural participle “standing” refers to how these items will be situated; they will be vertical rather than horizontal (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 354).
  99. Exodus 26:16 tn Heb “the frame.”
  100. Exodus 26:17 sn Heb “hands,” the reference is probably to projections that served as stays or supports. They may have been tenons, or pegs, projecting from the bottom of the frames to hold the frames in their sockets (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 286).
  101. Exodus 26:17 tn Or “being joined each to the other.”
  102. Exodus 26:18 tn Heb “on the south side southward.”
  103. Exodus 26:19 tn The clause is repeated to show the distributive sense; it literally says, “and two bases under the one frame for its two projections.”
  104. Exodus 26:22 tn Or “westward” (toward the sea).
  105. Exodus 26:23 sn The term rendered “corners” is “an architectural term for some kind of special corner structure. Here it seems to involve two extra supports, one at each corner of the western wall” (N. M. Sarna, Exodus [JPSTC], 170).
  106. Exodus 26:24 tn Heb “they will be for the two corners.” This is the last clause of the verse, moved forward for clarity.
  107. Exodus 26:28 sn These bars served as reinforcements to hold the upright frames together. The Hebrew term for these bars is also used of crossbars on gates (Judg 16:3; Neh 3:3).
  108. Exodus 26:30 tn The noun is מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat), often translated “judgment” or “decision” in other contexts. In those settings it may reflect its basic idea of custom, which here would be reflected with a rendering of “prescribed norm” or “plan.”
  109. Exodus 26:31 tn Although translated “curtain” (traditionally “veil,” so ASV, NAB, NASB) this is a different word from the one used earlier of the tent curtains, so “special curtain” is used. The word פָּרֹכֶת (parokhet) seems to be connected with a verb that means “to shut off” and was used with a shrine. This curtain would form a barrier in the approach to God (see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 289).
  110. Exodus 26:31 tn The verb is the third masculine singular form, but no subject is expressed. It could be translated “one will make” or as a passive. The verb means “to make,” but probably has the sense of embroidering both here and in v. 1.
  111. Exodus 26:32 tn Heb “put it.”
  112. Exodus 26:32 tn This clause simply says “and their hooks gold,” but is taken as a circumstantial clause telling how the veil will be hung.
  113. Exodus 26:32 tn Heb “on four silver bases.”
  114. Exodus 26:33 tn The traditional expression is “within the veil,” literally “into the house (or area) of the (special) curtain.”
  115. Exodus 26:33 tn Or “the Holy of Holies.”
  116. Exodus 26:36 sn This was another curtain, serving as a screen in the entrance way. Since it was far away from the special curtain screening the Most Holy Place, it was less elaborate. It was not the work of the master designer, but of the “embroiderer,” and it did not have the cherubim on it.
  117. Exodus 26:36 tn The word רֹקֵם (roqem) refers to someone who made cloth with colors. It is not certain, however, whether the colors were woven into the fabric on the loom or applied with a needle; so “embroiderer” should be understood as an approximation (cf. HALOT 1290-91 s.v. רקם).
  118. Exodus 26:37 tn “will be” has been supplied.
  119. Exodus 26:37 sn In all the details of this chapter the expositor should pay attention to the overall message rather than engage in speculation concerning the symbolism of the details. It is, after all, the divine instruction for the preparation of the dwelling place for Yahweh. The point could be said this way: The dwelling place of Yahweh must be prepared in accordance with, and by the power of, his divine word. If God was to fellowship with his people, then the center of worship had to be made to his specifications, which were in harmony with his nature. Everything was functional for the approach to God through the ritual by divine provisions. But everything also reflected the nature of God, the symmetry, the order, the pure wood, the gold overlay, or (closer to God) the solid gold. And the symbolism of the light, the table, the veil, the cherubim—all of it was revelatory. All of it reflected the reality in heaven. Churches today do not retain the pattern and furnishings of the old tabernacle. However, they would do well to learn what God was requiring of Israel, so that their structures are planned in accordance with the theology of worship and the theology of access to God. Function is a big part, but symbolism and revelation instruct the planning of everything to be used. Christians live in the light of the fulfillment of Christ, and so they know the realities that the old foreshadowed. While a building is not necessary for worship (just as Israel worshiped in places other than the sanctuary), it is practical, and if there is going to be one, then the most should be made of it in the teaching and worshiping of the assembly. This chapter, then, provides an inspiration for believers on preparing a functional, symbolical, ordered place of worship that is in harmony with the word of God. And there is much to be said for making it as beautiful and uplifting as is possible—as a gift of freewill offering to God. Of course, the most important part of preparing a place of worship is the preparing of the heart. Worship, to be acceptable to God, must be in Christ. He said that when the temple was destroyed he would raise it up in three days. While he referred to his own body, he also alluded to the temple by the figure. When they put Jesus to death, they were destroying the temple; at his resurrection he would indeed begin a new form of worship. He is the tent, the curtain, the atonement, that the sanctuary foreshadowed. And then, believers also (when they receive Christ) become the temple of the Lord. So the NT will take the imagery and teaching of this chapter in a number of useful ways that call for more study. This does not, however, involve allegorization of the individual tabernacle parts.
  120. Exodus 27:1 tn The article on this word identifies this as the altar, meaning the main high altar on which the sacrifices would be made.
  121. Exodus 27:1 tn The dimensions are 5 cubits by 5 cubits by 3 cubits high.
  122. Exodus 27:1 tn Heb “four”; this refers to four sides. S. R. Driver says this is an archaism that means there were four equal sides (Exodus, 291).
  123. Exodus 27:1 tn Heb “and 3 cubits its height.”
  124. Exodus 27:2 sn The horns of the altar were indispensable—they were the most sacred part. Blood was put on them; fugitives could cling to them, and the priests would grab the horns of the little altar when making intercessory prayer. They signified power, as horns on an animal did in the wild (and so the word was used for kings as well). The horns may also represent the sacrificial animals killed on the altar.
  125. Exodus 27:2 sn The text, as before, uses the prepositional phrase “from it” or “part of it” to say that the horns will be part of the altar—of the same piece as the altar. They were not to be made separately and then attached, but made at the end of the boards used to build the altar (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 363).
  126. Exodus 27:3 sn The word is literally “its fat,” but sometimes it describes “fatty ashes” (TEV “the greasy ashes”). The fat would run down and mix with the ashes, and this had to be collected and removed.
  127. Exodus 27:3 sn This was the larger bowl used in tossing the blood at the side of the altar.
  128. Exodus 27:3 tn The text has “to all its vessels.” This is the lamed (ל) of inclusion according to Gesenius, meaning “all its utensils” (GKC 458 §143.e).
  129. Exodus 27:4 tn The noun מִכְבָּר (mikhbar) means “a grating”; it is related to the word that means a “sieve.” This formed a vertical support for the ledge, resting on the ground and supporting its outer edge (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 292).
  130. Exodus 27:5 tn The verb is the verb “to be,” here the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. It is “and it will be” or “that it may be,” or here “that it may come” halfway up.
  131. Exodus 27:5 tn Heb “to the half of the altar.”
  132. Exodus 27:7 tn The verb is a Hophal perfect with vav consecutive: וְהוּבָא (vehuvaʾ, “and it will be brought”). The particle אֶת (ʾet) here introduces the subject of the passive verb (see a similar use in 21:28, “and its flesh will not be eaten”).
  133. Exodus 27:7 tn The construction is the infinitive construct with the preposition ב (bet): “in carrying it.” Here the meaning must be that the poles are not left in the rings, but only put into the rings when they carried it.
  134. Exodus 27:8 tn The verb is used impersonally; it reads “just as he showed you.” This form then can be made a passive in the translation.
  135. Exodus 27:8 tn Heb “thus they will make.” Here too it could be given a passive translation since the subject is not expressed. But “they” would normally refer to the people who will be making this and so can be retained in the Nothing is said about the top of the altar. Some commentators suggest, in view of the previous instruction for making an altar out of earth and stone, that when this one was to be used it would be filled up with dirt clods and the animal burnt on the top of that. If the animal was burnt inside it, the wood would quickly burn. A number of recent scholars think this was simply an imagined plan to make a portable altar after the pattern of Solomon’s—but that is an unsatisfactory suggestion. This construction must simply represent a portable frame for the altar in the courtyard, an improvement over the field altar. The purpose and function of the altar are not in question. Here worshipers would make their sacrifices to God in order to find forgiveness and atonement, and in order to celebrate in worship with him. No one could worship God apart from this; no one could approach God apart from this. So too the truths that this altar communicated form the basis and center of all Christian worship. One could word an applicable lesson this way: Believers must ensure that the foundation and center of their worship is the altar, i.e., the sacrificial atonement.
  136. Exodus 27:9 tn Or “enclosure” (TEV).
  137. Exodus 27:9 tn Heb “south side southward.”
  138. Exodus 27:9 tn Or “curtains.”
  139. Exodus 27:9 sn The entire courtyard of 150 feet by 75 feet was to be enclosed by a curtain wall held up with posts in bases. All these hangings were kept in place by a cord and tent pegs.
  140. Exodus 27:10 tn Heb “and.”
  141. Exodus 27:11 tn Heb “and thus.”
  142. Exodus 27:11 tn Here the phrase “there will be” has been supplied.
  143. Exodus 27:11 sn These bands have been thought by some to refer to connecting rods joining the tops of the posts. But it is more likely that they are bands or bind rings surrounding the posts at the base of the capitals (see 38:17).
  144. Exodus 27:14 tn The word literally means “shoulder.” The next words, “of the gate,” have been supplied here and in v. 15. The east end would contain the courtyard’s entry with a wall of curtains on each side of the entry (see v. 16).
  145. Exodus 27:14 tn Here “will be” has been supplied.
  146. Exodus 27:15 tn Heb “shoulder.”
  147. Exodus 27:15 tn Here the phrase “there will be” has been supplied.
  148. Exodus 27:17 tn The text uses the passive participle here: they are to “be filleted with silver” or “bound round” with silver.
  149. Exodus 27:17 tn Here the phrase “are to be” has been supplied.
  150. Exodus 27:18 tn Heb “100 cubits.”
  151. Exodus 27:18 tn Heb “fifty.” The text has “and the width 50 [cubits] with 50.” This means that it is 50 cubits wide on the western end and 50 cubits wide on the eastern end.
  152. Exodus 27:18 tn Here “hangings” has been supplied.
  153. Exodus 27:18 tn Here the phrase “is to be” has been supplied.
  154. Exodus 27:19 tn Heb “to all”; for use of the preposition ל (lamed) to show inclusion (“all belonging to”) see GKC 458 §143.e.
  155. Exodus 27:19 tn Here “used” has been supplied.
  156. Exodus 27:19 sn The tabernacle is an important aspect of OT theology. The writer’s pattern so far has been: ark, table, lamp, and then their container (the tabernacle); then the altar and its container (the courtyard). The courtyard is the place of worship where the people could gather—they entered God’s courts. Though the courtyard may not seem of much interest to current readers, it did interest the Israelites. Here the sacrifices were made, the choirs sang, the believers offered their praises, they had their sins forgiven, they came to pray, they appeared on the holy days, and they heard from God. It was sacred because God met them there; they left the “world” (figuratively speaking) and came into the very presence of God.
  157. Exodus 27:20 tn The form is the imperfect tense with the vav showing a sequence with the first verb: “you will command…that they take.” The verb “take, receive” is used here as before for receiving an offering and bringing it to the sanctuary.
  158. Exodus 27:20 tn Heb “lamp,” which must be a collective singular here.
  159. Exodus 27:20 tn The verb is unusual; it is the Hiphil infinitive construct of עָלָה (ʿalah), with the sense here of “to set up” to burn, or “to fix on” as in Exod 25:37, or “to kindle” (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 370).
  160. Exodus 27:20 sn The word can mean “continually,” but in this context, as well as in the passages on the sacrifices, “regularly” is better, since each morning things were cleaned and restored.
  161. Exodus 27:21 tn The LXX has mistakenly rendered this name “the tent of the testimony.”
  162. Exodus 27:21 tn Or “covenant,” or “treaty.”
  163. Exodus 27:21 sn The lamps were to be removed in the morning so that the wicks could be trimmed and the oil replenished (30:7) and then lit every evening to burn through the night.
  164. Exodus 27:21 sn This is the first of several sections of priestly duties. The point is a simple one here: those who lead the worship use the offerings of the people to ensure that access to God is illumined regularly. The NT will make much of the symbolism of light.

The Altar of Incense

30 [a] “You are to make an altar for burning incense;[b] you are to make it of[c] acacia wood.[d] Its length is to be 18 inches[e] and its width 18 inches; it will be square. Its height is to be 36 inches,[f] with its horns of one piece with it.[g] You are to overlay it with pure gold—its top,[h] its four walls,[i] and its horns—and make a surrounding border of gold for it.[j] You are to make two gold rings for it under its border, on its two flanks; you are to make them on its two sides.[k] The rings[l] will be places[m] for poles to carry it with. You are to make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

“You are to put it in front of the curtain that is before the ark of the testimony (before the atonement lid that is over the testimony), where I will meet you. Aaron is to burn sweet incense[n] on it morning by morning; when he attends to[o] the lamps he is to burn incense.[p] When Aaron sets up the lamps around sundown he is to burn incense on it; it is to be a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. You must not offer strange incense on it, nor burnt offering, nor meal offering, and you must not pour out a drink offering on it. 10 Aaron is to make atonement on its horns once in the year with some of the blood of the sin offering for atonement;[q] once in the year[r] he is to make atonement on it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the Lord.”[s]

The Ransom Money

11 [t] The Lord spoke to Moses,[u] 12 “When you take a census[v] of the Israelites according to their number,[w] then each man is to pay a ransom[x] for his life to the Lord when you number them,[y] so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. 13 Everyone who crosses over to those who are numbered[z] is to pay this: a half shekel[aa] according to the shekel of the sanctuary[ab] (a shekel weighs twenty gerahs). The half shekel is to be an offering[ac] to the Lord. 14 Everyone who crosses over to those numbered, from twenty years old and up, is to pay an offering to the Lord. 15 The rich are not to pay more and the poor are not to pay less than the half shekel when giving[ad] the offering of the Lord, to make atonement[ae] for your lives. 16 You are to receive the atonement money[af] from the Israelites and give it for the service[ag] of the tent of meeting. It will be a memorial[ah] for the Israelites before the Lord, to make atonement[ai] for your lives.”

The Bronze Laver

17 [aj] The Lord spoke to Moses,[ak] 18 “You are also to make a large bronze[al] basin with a bronze stand[am] for washing. You are to put it between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it,[an] 19 and Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and their feet from it.[ao] 20 When they enter[ap] the tent of meeting, they must wash with[aq] water so that they do not die.[ar] Also, when they approach[as] the altar to minister by burning incense[at] as an offering made by fire[au] to the Lord, 21 they must wash[av] their hands and their feet so that they do not die. And this[aw] will be a perpetual ordinance for them and for their descendants[ax] throughout their generations.”[ay]

Oil and Incense

22 [az] The Lord spoke to Moses,[ba] 23 “Take[bb] choice spices:[bc] 12½ pounds[bd] of free-flowing myrrh,[be] half that—about 6¼ pounds—of sweet-smelling cinnamon, 6¼ pounds of sweet-smelling cane, 24 and 12½ pounds of cassia, all weighed[bf] according to the sanctuary shekel, and four quarts[bg] of olive oil. 25 You are to make this[bh] into[bi] a sacred anointing oil, a perfumed compound,[bj] the work of a perfumer. It will be sacred anointing oil.

26 “With it you are to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, 27 the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, the altar of incense, 28 the altar for the burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its base. 29 So you are to sanctify them,[bk] and they will be most holy;[bl] anything that touches them will be holy.[bm]

30 “You are to anoint Aaron and his sons and[bn] sanctify them so that they may minister as my priests. 31 And you are to tell the Israelites: ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil throughout your generations. 32 It must not be applied[bo] to people’s bodies, and you must not make any like it with the same recipe. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. 33 Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts any of it on someone not a priest[bp] will be cut off[bq] from his people.’”

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Take[br] spices, gum resin,[bs] onycha,[bt] galbanum,[bu] and pure frankincense[bv] of equal amounts[bw] 35 and make it into an incense,[bx] a perfume,[by] the work of a perfumer. It is to be finely ground,[bz] and pure and sacred. 36 You are to beat some of it very fine and put some of it before the ark of the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it is to be most holy to you. 37 And the incense that you are to make, you must not make for yourselves using the same recipe; it is to be most holy to you, belonging to the Lord. 38 Whoever makes anything like it, to use as perfume,[ca] will be cut off from his people.”


  1. Exodus 30:1 sn Why this section has been held until now is a mystery. One would have expected to find it with the instructions for the other furnishings. The widespread contemporary view that it was composed later does not answer the question, it merely moves the issue to the work of an editor rather than the author. N. M. Sarna notes concerning the items in chapter 30 that “all the materials for these final items were anticipated in the list of invited donations in 25:3-6” and that they were not needed for installing Aaron and his sons (Exodus [JPSTC], 193). Verses 1-10 can be divided into three sections: the instructions for building the incense altar (1-5), its placement (6), and its proper use (7-10).
  2. Exodus 30:1 tn The expression is מִזְבֵּחַ מִקְטַר קְטֹרֶת (mizbeakh miqtar qetoret), either “an altar, namely an altar of incense,” or “an altar, [for] burning incense.” The second noun is “altar of incense,” although some suggest it is an active noun meaning “burning.” If the former, then it is in apposition to the word for “altar” (which is not in construct). The last noun is “incense” or “sweet smoke.” It either qualifies the “altar of incense” or serves as the object of the active noun. B. Jacob says that in order to designate that this altar be used only for incense, the Torah prepared the second word for this passage alone. It specifies the kind of altar this is (Exodus, 828).
  3. Exodus 30:1 tn This is an adverbial accusative explaining the material used in building the altar.
  4. Exodus 30:1 sn See M. Haran, “The Uses of Incense in Ancient Israel Ritual,” VT 10 (1960): 113-15; N. Glueck, “Incense Altars,” Translating and Understanding the Old Testament, 325-29.
  5. Exodus 30:2 tn Heb “a cubit.”
  6. Exodus 30:2 tn Heb “2 cubits.”
  7. Exodus 30:2 tn Heb “its horns from it.”
  8. Exodus 30:3 tn Heb “roof.”
  9. Exodus 30:3 tn Heb “its walls around.”
  10. Exodus 30:3 tn Heb “and make for it border gold around.” The verb is a consecutive perfect. See Exod 25:11, where the ark also has such a molding.
  11. Exodus 30:4 sn Since it was a small altar, it needed only two rings, one on either side, in order to be carried. The second clause clarifies that the rings should be on the sides, the right and the left, as you approach the altar.
  12. Exodus 30:4 tn Heb “And it”; this refers to the rings collectively in their placement on the box, and so the word “rings” has been used to clarify the referent for the modern reader.
  13. Exodus 30:4 tn Heb “for houses.”
  14. Exodus 30:7 tn The text uses a cognate accusative (“incense”) with the verb “to burn” or “to make into incense/sweet smoke.” Then, the noun “sweet spices” is added in apposition to clarify the incense as sweet.
  15. Exodus 30:7 tn The Hebrew is בְּהֵיטִיבוֹ (behetivo), a Hiphil infinitive construct serving in a temporal clause. The Hebrew verb means “to make good” and so in this context “to fix” or “to dress.” This refers to cleansing and trimming the lamps.
  16. Exodus 30:7 sn The point of the little golden altar of incense is normally for intercessory prayer, and then at the Day of Atonement for blood applied atonement. The instructions for making it show that God wanted his people to make a place for prayer. The instructions for its use show that God expects that the requests of his people will be pleasing to him.
  17. Exodus 30:10 tn The word “atonements” (plural in Hebrew) is a genitive showing the result or product of the sacrifice made.
  18. Exodus 30:10 sn This ruling presupposes that the instruction for the Day of Atonement has been given, or at the very least, are to be given shortly. That is the one day of the year that all sin and all ritual impurity would be removed.
  19. Exodus 30:10 sn The phrase “most holy to the Lord” means that the altar cannot be used for any other purpose than what is stated here.
  20. Exodus 30:11 sn This brief section has been interpreted a number of ways by biblical scholars (for a good survey and discussion, see B. Jacob, Exodus, 829-35). In this context the danger of erecting and caring for a sanctuary may have been in view. A census would be taken to count the losses and to cover the danger of coming into such proximity with the holy place; payment was made to ransom the lives of the people numbered so that they would not die. The money collected would then be used for the care of the sanctuary. The principle was fairly straightforward: Those numbered among the redeemed of the Lord were to support the work of the Lord to maintain their fellowship with the covenant. The passage is fairly easy to outline: I. Every covenant member must give a ransom for his life to avoid death (11-12); II. The ransom is the same for all, whether rich or poor (13-15); and III. The ransom money supports the sanctuary as a memorial for the ransomed (16).
  21. Exodus 30:11 tn Heb “and Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying.” This full means for introducing a quotation from the Lord is used again in 30:17, 22; 31:1; and 40:1. It appears first in 6:10. Cynthia L. Miller discusses its use in detail (The Representation of Speech in Biblical Hebrew Narrative, 373-86).
  22. Exodus 30:12 tn The expression is “when you take [lift up] the sum [head] of the Israelites.”
  23. Exodus 30:12 tn The form is לִפְקֻדֵיהֶם (lifqudehem, “according to those that are numbered of/by them”) from the verb פָּקַד (paqad, “to visit”). But the idea of this word seems more to be that of changing or determining the destiny, and so “appoint” and “number” become clear categories of meaning for the word. Here it simply refers to the census, but when this word is used for a census it often involves mustering an army for a military purpose. Here there is no indication of a war, but it may be laying down the principle that when they should do this, here is the price. B. Jacob (Exodus, 835) uses Num 31 as a good illustration, showing that the warrior was essentially a murderer, if he killed anyone in battle. For this reason his blood was forfeit; if he survived he must pay a כֹּפֶר (kofer) because every human life possesses value and must be atoned for. The payment during the census represented a “presumptive ransom” so that they could not be faulted for what they might do in war.
  24. Exodus 30:12 tn The “ransom” is כֹּפֶר (kofer), a word related to words translated “atone” and “atonement.” Here the noun refers to what is paid for the life. The idea is that of delivering or redeeming by a substitute—here the substitute is the money. If they paid the amount, their lives would be safe (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:473).
  25. Exodus 30:12 tn The temporal clause uses a preposition, an infinitive construct, and then an accusative. The subject is supplied: “in numbering them” means “when [you] number them.” The verb could also be rendered “when you muster them.”
  26. Exodus 30:13 sn Each man was to pass in front of the counting officer and join those already counted on the other side.
  27. Exodus 30:13 sn The half shekel weight of silver would be about one-fifth of an ounce (6 grams).
  28. Exodus 30:13 sn It appears that some standard is in view for the amount of a shekel weight. The sanctuary shekel is sometimes considered to be twice the value of the ordinary shekel. The “gerah,” also of uncertain meaning, was mentioned as a reference point for the ancient reader to understand the value of the required payment. It may also be that the expression meant “a sacred shekel” and looked at the purpose more—a shekel for sanctuary dues. This would mean that the standard of the shekel weight was set because it was the traditional amount of sacred dues (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 333). “Though there is no certainty, the shekel is said to weigh about 11,5 grams…. Whether an official standard is meant [by ‘sanctuary shekel’] or whether the sanctuary shekel had a different weight than the ‘ordinary’ shekel is not known” (C. Houtman, Exodus, 3:181).
  29. Exodus 30:13 tn Or “contribution” (תְּרוּמָה, terumah).
  30. Exodus 30:15 tn The form is לָתֵת (latet), the Qal infinitive construct with the lamed preposition. The infinitive here is explaining the preceding verbs. They are not to increase or diminish the amount “in paying the offering.” The construction approximates a temporal clause.
  31. Exodus 30:15 tn This infinitive construct (לְכַפֵּר, lekhapper) provides the purpose of giving the offering—to atone.
  32. Exodus 30:16 tn Heb “the silver of the atonements.” The genitive here is the result (as in “sheep of slaughter”) telling what the money will be used for (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 11, §44).
  33. Exodus 30:16 sn The idea of “service” is maintenance and care of the sanctuary and its service, meaning the morning and evening sacrifices and the other elements to be used.
  34. Exodus 30:16 sn S. R. Driver says this is “to keep Jehovah in continual remembrance of the ransom which had been paid for their lives” (Exodus, 334).
  35. Exodus 30:16 tn The infinitive could be taken in a couple of ways here. It could be an epexegetical infinitive: “making atonement.” Or it could be the infinitive expressing result: “so that atonement will be made for your lives.”
  36. Exodus 30:17 sn Another piece of furniture is now introduced, the laver, or washing basin. It was a round (the root means to be round) basin for holding water, but it had to be up on a pedestal or base to let water run out (through taps of some kind) for the priests to wash—they could not simply dip dirty hands into the basin. This was for the priests primarily to wash their hands and feet before entering the tent. It stood in the courtyard between the altar and the tent. No dimensions are given. The passage can be divided into three sections: the instructions (17-18), the rules for washing (19-20), and the reminder that this is a perpetual statute.
  37. Exodus 30:17 tn Heb “and Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying.”
  38. Exodus 30:18 sn The metal for this object was obtained from the women from their mirrors (see Exod 38:8).
  39. Exodus 30:18 tn Heb “and its stand bronze.”
  40. Exodus 30:18 tn The form is the adverb “there” with the directive qamets-he.
  41. Exodus 30:19 tn That is, from water from it.
  42. Exodus 30:20 tn The form is an infinitive construct with the temporal preposition ב (bet), and a suffixed subjective genitive: “in their going in,” or, whenever they enter.
  43. Exodus 30:20 tn “Water” is an adverbial accusative of means, and so is translated “with water.” Gesenius classifies this with verbs of “covering with something.” But he prefers to emend the text with a preposition (see GKC 369 §117.y, n. 1).
  44. Exodus 30:20 tn The verb is a Qal imperfect with a nuance of final imperfect. The purpose/result clause here is indicated only with the conjunction: “and they do not die.” But clearly from the context this is the intended result of their washing—it is in order that they not die.
  45. Exodus 30:20 tn Here, too, the infinitive is used in a temporal clause construction. The verb נָגַשׁ (nagash) is the common verb used for drawing near to the altar to make offerings—the official duties of the priest.
  46. Exodus 30:20 tn The text uses two infinitives construct: “to minister to burn incense”; the first is the general term and expresses the purpose of the drawing near, and the second infinitive is epexegetical, explaining the first infinitive.
  47. Exodus 30:20 tn The translation “as an offering made by fire” is a standard rendering of the one word in the text that appears to refer to “fire.” Milgrom and others contend that it simply means a “gift” (Leviticus 1-16, 161).
  48. Exodus 30:21 tn Heb “and [then] they will wash.”
  49. Exodus 30:21 tn The verb is “it will be.”
  50. Exodus 30:21 tn Heb “for his seed.”
  51. Exodus 30:21 tn Or “for generations to come”; it literally is “to their generations.”sn The symbolic meaning of washing has been taught throughout the ages. This was a practical matter of cleaning hands and feet, but it was also symbolic of purification before Yahweh. It was an outward sign of inner spiritual cleansing, or forgiveness. Jesus washed the disciples feet (Jn 13) to show this same teaching; he asked the disciples if they knew what he had done (so it was more than washing feet). In this passage the theological points for the outline would be these: I. God provides the means of cleansing; II. Cleansing is a prerequisite for participating in the worship, and III. (Believers) priests must regularly appropriate God’s provision of cleansing.
  52. Exodus 30:22 sn The chapter ends with these two sections. The oil (22-33) is the mark of consecration, and the incense (34-38) is a mark of pleasing service, especially in prayer. So the essence of the message of the chapter is that the servants of God must be set apart by the Spirit for ministry and must be pleasing to God in the ministry.
  53. Exodus 30:22 tn Heb “and Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying.”
  54. Exodus 30:23 tn The construction uses the imperative “take,” but before it is the independent pronoun to add emphasis to it. After the imperative is the ethical dative (lit. “to you”) to stress the task to Moses as a personal responsibility: “and you, take to yourself.”
  55. Exodus 30:23 tn Heb “spices head.” This must mean the chief spices, or perhaps the top spice, meaning fine spices or choice spices. See Song 4:14; Ezek 27:22.
  56. Exodus 30:23 tn Or “500 shekels.” Verse 24 specifies that the sanctuary shekel was the unit for weighing the spices. The total of 1500 shekels for the four spices is estimated at between 77 and 100 pounds, or 17 to 22 kilograms, depending on how much a shekel weighed (C. Houtman, Exodus, 3:576).
  57. Exodus 30:23 sn Myrrh is an aromatic substance that flows from the bark of certain trees in Arabia and Africa and then hardens. “The hardened globules of the gum appear also to have been ground into a powder that would have been easy to store and would have been poured from a container” (J. Durham, Exodus [WBC], 3:406).
  58. Exodus 30:24 tn The words “all weighed” are added for clarity in English.
  59. Exodus 30:24 tn Or “a hin.” A hin of oil is estimated at around one gallon (J. Durham, Exodus [WBC], 3:406).
  60. Exodus 30:25 tn Heb “it.”
  61. Exodus 30:25 tn The word “oil” is an adverbial accusative, indicating the product that results from the verb (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, §52).
  62. Exodus 30:25 tn The somewhat rare words rendered “a perfumed compound” are both associated with a verbal root having to do with mixing spices and other ingredients to make fragrant ointments. They are used with the next phrase, “the work of a perfumer,” to describe the finished oil as a special mixture of aromatic spices and one requiring the knowledge and skills of an experienced maker.
  63. Exodus 30:29 tn The verb is a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; in this verse it is summarizing or explaining what the anointing has accomplished. This is the effect of the anointing (see Exod 29:36).
  64. Exodus 30:29 tn This is the superlative genitive again, Heb “holy of holies.”
  65. Exodus 30:29 tn See Exod 29:37; as before, this could refer to anything or anyone touching the sanctified items.
  66. Exodus 30:30 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive follows the imperfect of instruction; it may be equal to the instruction, but more likely shows the purpose or result of the act.
  67. Exodus 30:32 tn Without an expressed subject, the verb may be treated as a passive. Any common use, as in personal hygiene, would be a complete desecration.
  68. Exodus 30:33 tn Heb “a stranger,” meaning someone not ordained a priest.
  69. Exodus 30:33 sn The rabbinic interpretation of this is that it is a penalty imposed by heaven, that the life will be cut short and the person could die childless.
  70. Exodus 30:34 tn The construction is “take to you,” which could be left in that literal sense, but more likely the suffix is an ethical dative, stressing the subject of the imperative.
  71. Exodus 30:34 sn This is from a word that means “to drip”; the spice is a balsam that drips from a resinous tree.
  72. Exodus 30:34 sn This may be a plant, or it may be from a species of mollusks; it is mentioned in Ugaritic and Akkadian; it gives a pungent odor when burnt.
  73. Exodus 30:34 sn This is a gum from plants of the genus Ferula; it has an unpleasant odor, but when mixed with others is pleasant.
  74. Exodus 30:34 tn The word “spice” is repeated here, suggesting that the first three formed half of the ingredients and this spice the other half—but this is conjecture (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 400).
  75. Exodus 30:34 tn Heb “of each part there will be an equal part.”
  76. Exodus 30:35 tn This is an accusative of result or product.
  77. Exodus 30:35 tn The word is in apposition to “incense,” further defining the kind of incense that is to be made.
  78. Exodus 30:35 tn The word מְמֻלָּח (memullakh), a passive participle, is usually taken to mean “salted.” Since there is no meaning like that for the Pual form, the word probably should be taken as “mixed,” as in Rashi and Tg. Onq. Seasoning with salt would work if it were food, but since it is not food, if it means “salted” it would be a symbol of what was sound and whole for the covenant. Some have thought that it would have helped the incense burn quickly with more smoke.
  79. Exodus 30:38 tn Or to smell it, to use for the maker’s own pleasure.