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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Exodus 36

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Building the Tent of Meeting

A. The people bring an offering.

1. (Exodus 36:2-3) The offering is asked for.

Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.

a. To come and do the work: The planning and preparation were over. It was time to actually do the work of building the tabernacle and its furnishings.

i. Then everyone came whose heart was stirred: “Literally, whose heart was lifted up-whose affections were set on the work, being cordially engaged in the service of God.” (Clarke)

b. They continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning: Again, even willing hearts need to be told, now is the time to give. Moses let them know, and the people started bringing their offering to the LORD.

2. (Exodus 36:4-7) The people bring more than enough.

Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.” So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done — indeed too much.

a. The people bring much more than enough: This shows how blessed giving can be when free from human manipulation and tricks. Willing hearts will always give enough as God blesses the work — indeed, the people were restrained from bringing.

i. “When the heart is truly stirred, and the spirit makes willing, giving is robbed of all meanness; indeed, it ceases to be calculating. Nothing is too precious to be given, no amount is too great.” (Morgan)

ii. “Compare the story of the anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:7), and the generosity of the Philippian church (Philippians 4:14-19).” (Cole)

iii. This also shows that Moses and the planners of the work knew how much was enough. They job was organized and planned to the extent that they understood what they needed, and when they had more than enough. When God’s people are asked to give to something, they should expect that it be well organized, planned, and managed.

b. And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient: Moses showed great integrity by not gathering more than the project needed. God told him to take an offering for the building of a tabernacle, and when the tabernacle was provided for the offering was over. The purpose wasn’t to amass endless resources, but to properly put those resources into action.

i. Indeed too much: This follows the pattern of God’s giving to us. God gives us much more than we ever need, and our giving is simply a response to His.

ii. “It must have been both a disappointment and a frustration to those who had delayed their gifts because they could not bear to part with their treasures, and who now found that God had no further need of them. His work was finished, but they had excluded themselves from any share in it: God deliver us from such a frustration.” (Cole)

B. The building and assembling of the curtains, boards, pillars, and veils of the tabernacle.

This begins a long section, almost to the end of the Book of Exodus, where the Tabernacle described in Exodus 26-31 is actually built. Cole rightly noted, “As an architect delights to pore over plans or blueprints, so the pious priest would have rejoiced in this meticulous re-listing of specifications already given.”

1. (Exodus 36:8-13) The curtains of an artistic design of cherubim (according to the command and description in Exodus 26:1-6).

Then all the gifted artisans among them who worked on the tabernacle made ten curtains woven of fine linen, and of blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim they made them. The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the curtains were all the same size. And he coupled five curtains to one another, and the other five curtains he coupled to one another. He made loops of blue yarn on the edge of the curtain on the selvedge of one set; likewise he did on the outer edge of the other curtain of the second set. Fifty loops he made on one curtain, and fifty loops he made on the edge of the curtain on the end of the second set; the loops held one curtain to another. And he made fifty clasps of gold, and coupled the curtains to one another with the clasps, that it might be one tabernacle.

2. (Exodus 36:14-18) The curtains of goat’s hair (according to the command and description in Exodus 26:7-13).

He made curtains of goats’ hair for the tent over the tabernacle; he made eleven curtains. The length of each curtain was thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains were the same size. He coupled five curtains by themselves and six curtains by themselves. And he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops he made on the edge of the curtain of the second set. He also made fifty bronze clasps to couple the tent together, that it might be one.

3. (Exodus 36:19) The curtains of ram’s skin dyed red and badger skins (according to the command and description in Exodus 26:14).

Then he made a covering for the tent of ram skins dyed red, and a covering of badger skins above that.

4. (Exodus 36:20-34) The boards and connecting bars for the frame and walls of the tabernacle (according to the command and description in Exodus 26:15-30).

For the tabernacle he made boards of acacia wood, standing upright. The length of each board was ten cubits, and the width of each board a cubit and a half. Each board had two tenons for binding one to another. Thus he made for all the boards of the tabernacle. And he made boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards for the south side. Forty sockets of silver he made to go under the twenty boards: two sockets under each of the boards for its two tenons. And for the other side of the tabernacle, the north side, he made twenty boards and their forty sockets of silver: two sockets under each of the boards. For the west side of the tabernacle he made six boards. He also made two boards for the two back corners of the tabernacle. And they were coupled at the bottom and coupled together at the top by one ring. Thus he made both of them for the two corners. So there were eight boards and their sockets — sixteen sockets of silver — two sockets under each of the boards. And he made bars of acacia wood: five for the boards on one side of the tabernacle, five bars for the boards on the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle on the far side westward. And he made the middle bar to pass through the boards from one end to the other. He overlaid the boards with gold, made their rings of gold to be holders for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.

5. (Exodus 36:35-38) The veil with its four pillars, and the screen with its five pillars (according to the command and description in Exodus 26:31-33, 36-37).

And he made a veil of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen; it was worked with an artistic design of cherubim. He made for it four pillars of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold, with their hooks of gold; and he cast four sockets of silver for them. He also made a screen for the tabernacle door, of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, made by a weaver, and its five pillars with their hooks. And he overlaid their capitals and their rings with gold, but their five sockets were bronze.

©2018 David Guzik — No distribution beyond personal use without permission


  1. Clarke, Adam "Clarke's Commentary: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with a Commentary and Critical Notes" Volume 1 (Genesis-Deuteronomy) (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1826)
  2. Cole, R. Alan "Exodus: An Introduction and Commentary" Volume 2 (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973)
  3. Morgan, G. Campbell "Searchlights from the Word" (New York: Revell, 1926)

Updated: August 2022

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