35:1-40:38 CONSTRUCTION OF THE TABERNACLE
This section largely repeats the instruction given on the mountain in Chapters 25-31. It emphasizes that the people had to do God’s work according to his covenant requirements. Therefore, they were to keep the Sabbath (35:1-3; cf. 31:16). If they wanted God to accept their offerings for the building of the tabernacle, they had to present those offerings in a spirit of joy and willingness (35:4-29). Though all could give offerings, only those with the God-given ability and the right motivation were to do the work (35:30-36:1). The people responded so generously in bringing materials for the work, that Moses asked them to stop giving (36:2-7).
The workmen then started on the tabernacle, making the double layer of inner coverings and the double layer outer tent (36:8-19), the wooden framework, the pillars and the curtains (36:20-38), the ark and the mercy seat (37:1-9), and the table, lampstand and altar of incense (37:10-29). They also made the articles for the court area, namely, the altar of burnt offering (38:1-7), the laver (38:8) and the fence that surrounded the court (38:9-20). Then follows a list of the offerings (38:21-31) and an account of the priests’ clothing (39:1-31).
With much satisfaction and thanks, Moses inspected the completed, but as yet unassembled, parts of the tabernacle (39:32-43). He then supervised the erection of the entire complex, and dedicated the tabernacle and the priests as God had instructed him (40:1-33).
Exactly one year after leaving Egypt, or nine months after arriving at Sinai, the Israelites set up the newly made tabernacle (see 12:2; 19:1; 40:17). The cloud then rested on it as the visible evidence of God’s dwelling among his people as the centre of their life and the object of their worship. This same cloud guided them on their journey through the wilderness to Canaan. Whether they camped or travelled, Yahweh, their covenant Redeemer, was with them (40:34-38).