Bible Book List
Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 20–29
Verses 20–29

Moses having made known to them the will of God, they went home and immediately put in practice what they had heard, Exod. 35:20. O that every congregation would thus depart from the hearing of the word of God, with a full resolution to be doers of the same! Observe here,

I. The offerings that were brought for the service of the tabernacle (Exod. 35:21), concerning which many things may be noted. 1. It is intimated that they brought their offerings immediately; they departed to their tents immediately to fetch their offering, and did not desire time to consider of it, lest their zeal should be cooled by delays. What duty God convinces us of, and calls us to, we should set about speedily. No season will be more convenient than the present season. 2. It is said that their spirits made them willing (Exod. 35:21), and their hearts, Exod. 35:29. What they did they did cheerfully, and from a good principle. They were willing, and it was not any external inducement that made them so, but their spirits. It was from a principle of love to God and his service, a desire of his presence with them in his ordinances, gratitude for the great things he had done for them, faith in his promise of what he would further do (or, at least, from the present consideration of these things), that they were willing to offer. What we give and do for God is then acceptable when it comes from a good principle in the heart and spirit. 3. When it is said that as many as were willing-hearted brought their offerings (Exod. 35:22), it should seem as if there were some who were not, who loved their gold better than their God, and would not part with it, no, not for the service of the tabernacle. Such there are, who will be called Israelites, and yet will not be moved by the equity of the thing, God’s expectations from them, and the good examples of those about them, to part with any thing for the interests of God’s kingdom: they are for the true religion, provided it be cheap and will cost them nothing. 4. The offerings were of divers kinds, according as they had; those that had gold and precious stones brought them, not thinking any thing too good and too rich to part with for the honour of God. Those that had not precious stones to bring brought goats’ hair, and rams’ skins. If we cannot do as much as others for God, we must not therefore sit still and do nothing: if the meaner offerings which are according to our ability gain us not such a reputation among men, yet they shall not fail of acceptance with God, who requires according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not, 2 Cor. 8:12; 2 Kgs. 5:23. Two mites from a pauper were more pleasing than so many talents from a Dives. God has an eye to the heart of the giver more than to the value of the gift. 5. Many of the things they offered were their ornaments, bracelets and rings, and tablets or lockets (Exod. 35:22); and even the women parted with these. Can a maid forget her ornaments? Thus far they forgot them that they preferred the beautifying of the sanctuary before their own adorning. Let this teach us, in general, to part with that for God, when he calls for it, which is very dear to us, which we value, and value ourselves by; and particularly to lay aside our ornaments, and deny ourselves in them, when either they occasion offence to others or feed our own pride. If we think those gospel rules concerning our clothing too strict (1 Tim. 2:9, 10; 1 Pet. 3:3, 4), I fear we should scarcely have done as these Israelites did. If they thought their ornaments well bestowed upon the tabernacle, shall not we think the want of ornaments well made up by the graces of the Spirit? Prov. 1:9. 6. These rich things that they offered, we may suppose, were mostly the spoils of the Egyptians; for the Israelites in Egypt were kept poor, till they borrowed at parting. And we may suppose the rulers had better things (Exod. 35:27), because, having more influence among the Egyptians, they borrowed larger sums. Who would have thought that ever the wealth of Egypt should have been so well employed? but thus God has often made the earth to help the woman, Rev. 12:16. It was by a special providence and promise of God that the Israelites got all that spoil, and therefore it was highly fit that they should devote a part of it to the service of that God to whom they owed it all. Let every man give according as God hath prospered him, 1 Cor. 16:2. Extraordinary successes should be acknowledged by extraordinary offerings. Apply it to human learning, arts and sciences, which are borrowed, as it were, from the Egyptians. Those that are enriched with these must devote them to the service of God and his tabernacle: they may be used as helps to understand the scriptures, as ornaments or handmaids to divinity. But then great care must be taken that Egypt’s gods mingle not with Egypt’s gold. Moses, though learned in all the learning of the Egyptians, did not therefore pretend, in the least instance, to correct the pattern shown him in the mount. The furnishing of the tabernacle with the riches of Egypt was perhaps a good omen to the Gentiles, who, in the fulness of time, should be brought into the gospel tabernacle, and their silver and their gold with them (Isa. 60:9), and it should be said, Blessed be Egypt my people, Isa. 19:25. 7. We may suppose that the remembrance of the offerings made for the golden calf made them the more forward in these offerings. Those that had then parted with their ear-rings would not testify their repentance by giving the rest of their jewels to the service of God: godly sorrow worketh such a revenge, 2 Cor. 7:11. And those that had kept themselves pure from that idolatry yet argued with themselves, “Were they so forward in contributing to an idol, and shall we be backward or sneaking in our offerings to the Lord?” Thus some good was brought even out of that evil.

II. The work that was done for the service of the tabernacle (Exod. 35:25): The women did spin with their hands. Some spun fine work, of blue and purple; others coarse work, of goats’ hair, and yet theirs also is said to be done in wisdom, Exod. 35:26. As it is not only rich gifts, so it is not only fine work that God accepts. Notice is here taken of the good women’s work for God, as well as of Bezaleel’s and Aholiab’s. The meanest hand for the honour of God, shall have an honourable recompence. Mary’s anointing of Christ’s head shall be told for a memorial (Matt. 26:13); and a record is kept of the women that laboured in the gospel tabernacle (Phil. 4:3), and were helpers to Paul in Christ Jesus, Rom. 16:3. It is part of the character of the virtuous woman that she layeth her hands to the spindle, Prov. 31:19. This employment was here turned to a pious use, as it may be still (though we have no hangings to make for the tabernacle) by the imitation of the charity of Dorcas, who made coats and garments for poor widows, Acts 9:39. Even those that are not in a capacity to give in charity may yet work in charity; and thus the poor may relieve the poor, and those that have nothing but their limbs and senses may be very charitable in the labour of love.