Construct Except on the Sabbath (Ex 31)
Artisans in charge of Building the Tabernacle 31:1-11
31:1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, 5 and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds ofcraftsmanship. 6 And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, and the ark of testimony, and the mercy seat upon it, and all the furniture of the tent, 8 the table also and its utensils, and the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering also with all its utensils, and the laver and its stand, 10 the woven garments as well, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, with whichto carry on their priesthood; 11 the anointing oil also, and the fragrant incense for the holy place, they are to make them according to all that I have commanded you.”
31:1 Who is speaking? To whom? Still the Lord to Moses. Repeating the speaker here is indicative of a change of subject, now we are moving to the artisans who will construct the tabernacle.
31:2 Who has God called by his name? Bezalel. What do we learn of him? He of son of Uri, Grandson/descendant of Hur, and of the tribe of Judah. Who was Hur? Why would he have been mentioned? Hur played a couple noteworthy roles: “There appears to be sufficient reason for identifying Hur, the grandfather of Bezaleel, with the Hur who assisted Aaron in supporting the hands of Moses during the battle with Amalek at Rephidim Ex. 17:10, and who was associated with Aaron in the charge of the people while Moses was on the mountain Ex. 24:14.” (Barnes)
31:3 How has God prepared Bezalel? God gave him the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship. What is important about having wisdom, understanding, and knowledge? he has the knowledge and discernment necessary to carry out God’s instructions the way God intended.
“God supernaturally enabled Bezalel to do the work of building the Tabernacle. God saw this work as just as spiritual, and just as dependent on the Holy Spirit’s power, as the work Moses and Aaron did.” (Guzik)
31:4 What was Bezalel to do enabled by the holy spirit? To make artistic or intricate designs in Gold, silver, and bronze, metal-working.
31:5 What else was Bezalel to do? Cutting gem-stones to be placed in settings, and carving wood, other types of craftsmanship. What might other types of craftsmanship have encompassed in this context? Based on the things used to construct th tabernacle, spinning, weaving, embroidery, dying things colors, compounding perfumes, etc. might have been needed?
31:6 Who else did God appoint? Oholiab. What details are we told about him? Son of Ahisamach, tribe of Dan. What did God apppoint Oholiab to do? Assisting bezalel. Was anyone else called? The passage implies so, but doesn’t name the individuals by name, “in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill”. What would the skill God placed in these artisans enable them to do? Make all that God commanded for the tabernacle.
“Even as God specifically chose Moses and Aaron, He also specifically chose these craftsmen for His service.” (Guzik)
31:7-11 What were the craftsmen to make? The tent of meeting, ark of the testimony & its mercy seat, the furniture of the tent, a table & its utinsels, a lampstand and utinsels, altar of incense, a second altar for burnt offerings and its utinsels, the laver/washbasin, woven garments, holy garments for the high priest and his sons, annointing oil, incense. All the things needed for the tabernacle. This appears to be a fairly specific inventory of the items needed for the tabernacle.
31:10 What kinds of clothes were they to make? (1) Woven garments – The colorful richly adorned robes for the high priest (2) holy garments for Aaron the high priest, the holy garments made of white linen for day of atonement (3) garments for Aaron’s sons, aka, white linen garments for all the priests for their normal duties.
The Sabbath Law 31:12-18
12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.16 So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lordmade heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”
18 When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.
31:12 Who is speaking? To Whom? God to Moses, same as the previous paragraph.
31:13 This verse begins with “But as for you”, why? This transition indicated a change here from how it was previously talking about what the artisans would to to what God is to have Moses instruct the sons of Isreal to do. What is Moses to say? Observe the sabbath. To whom? The sons of Isreal. Why were the sons of Isreal instructed to keep the sabbath? As a sign. What is the effect of the sign? that they may know the Lord sanctifies them
Application (from the Life Application Study Bible Notes): “The Sabbath had two purposes: It was a time to rest and a time to remember what God had done. […] God reminds us that without Sabbaths we will forget the purpose for all of our activity and lose the balance crucial to a faithful life. Make sure your Sabbath provides a time of both refreshment and remembrance of God.”
31:14 This verse begins with therefore, what is the cause and effect? Cause: Observing the sabbath will cause them to know the Lord sanctifies them. Effect: Observe the sabbath, treat it as holy. What were the consequences if they fail to keep the sabbath? Death, being cut off from his people. Is this a serious concequence or minor concequence? Seems pretty serious. God doesn’t seem to be joking around here about obeying it.
31:15 What is repeated here from the previous verse? The negative effects of not following the sabbath. Why is it repeated? Perhaps to emphasize the point that this is important. Important things are repeated in the bible. How frequently should the sabbath be observed? Once a week, every seventh day. What else do we learn about how to observe the sabbath? All work must be done in the six other days per week, the sabbath must be a complete rest. How is the sabbath described? 1) A complete rest. Partial rest or half-hearted effort to observe the sabbath isn’t enough, must fully embrace rest. 2) Holy to the Lord. “separated from other days, and entirely devoted to the worship and service of God, and to be kept holy to the Lord in all holy and religious exercises, as hearing and reading the word, praying, praising, etc.” (Gill)
31:16 Who was to observe the sabbath? The “children of Isreal”. For how long should they continue to observe the sabbath? Throughout their generations. The covenant was perpetual.
31:17 What parallel is drawn to the sabbath for Isreal? How God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day. What was the effect of God’s Sabbath? He stopped working and felt refreshed.
31:18 What did God give Moses? Tablets of the Testimony, stone tablets written by God’s finger. When did he give them to Moses? After he finished speaking to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Who wrote the writing on the tablets? How? God, using his finger. What is the significance of God’s words being etched in stone? Permanance, something that can be passed on between generations. “We often say that something can be changed because “it’s not written in stone.” These commandments were written in stone.” (Guzik)
Related verse: 1 cor 3:2-3: “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.“ God writes on our hearts the way he wrote on these tablets.