Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Exodus 25

By Joseph Benson


Verse 2
Exodus 25:2. Speak unto the children of Israel — Doubtless when Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and abode there so long, he saw and heard glorious things, but they were things which it was not lawful or possible to utter, and therefore in the records which he kept of the transactions there, he saith nothing to satisfy curiosity, but writes that only which he was to deliver to the people. And God, having now solemnly ratified his covenant with Israel to be their God, and that they should be his subjects and servants, gives orders next concerning a place for his solemn worship, where by visible symbols of his divine presence he might reside among them as their Deliverer, Protector, and the great object of their worship, and might keep his court as their King, that while they had that place in the midst of them they might never again ask, “Is the Lord among us or not?” And because in the wilderness they dwelt in tents, even this royal palace was to be a tabernacle too, a kind of portable temple suitable to their travelling condition, that it might move with them. Probably there never was any house or temple built for sacred uses before this tabernacle was erected by Moses. And the frame, fashion, utensils, ministers, and services of it were to be such as would be a model of that more magnificent temple, its furniture and service, which was to be afterward erected in the land of Canaan, even as that temple itself, with its whole economy, was to be but a figurative resemblance of a more complete and spiritual dispensation under the Messiah. For these holy places made with hands were the figures of the true, Hebrews 9:24. The gospel church is the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man, Hebrews 8:2. And the body of Christ, in and by which he made atonement, was the greater and more perfect tabernacle, Hebrews 9:11. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us as in a tabernacle. That they bring me an offering — This offering was to be given willingly, and with the heart. It was not prescribed to them what or how much they must give, but it was left to their generosity, that they might show their good-will to the house of God, and the offices thereof.

Verse 4-5
Exodus 25:4-5. Blue, and purple, and scarlet — Materials of those colours. Shittim-wood — A kind of wood growing in Egypt and the deserts of Arabia, very durable and precious.

Verse 8
Exodus 25:8. A sanctuary — A place of solemn worship; that I may dwell among them. Not by my essence, which is every where; but by my grace and glorious operations.

Verse 9
Exodus 25:9. According to all that I show thee — God showed him an exact plan of it in little, which he must conform to in all points. And God did not only show him the model, but gave him also particular directions how to frame the tabernacle, according to that model, in all the parts of it. When Moses was to describe the creation of the world, though it be such a stately and curious fabric, yet he gave a very short and general account of it; but when he comes to describe the tabernacle, he doth it with the greatest niceness and accuracy imaginable; for God’s church and instituted religion are more precious to him than all the rest of the world. And all the Scriptures were written, not to describe to us the works of nature, (a general view of which is sufficient to lead us to a knowledge of the Creator,) but to acquaint us with the methods of grace, and those things which are purely matters of revelation.

Verses 10-16
Exodus 25:10-16. The ark was a chest or coffer, in which the two tables of the law, written by the finger of God, were to be placed. If the Jewish cubit was, as some learned men compute, three inches longer than our half yard, (twenty-one inches in all,) this chest or cabinet was about fifty-two inches long, thirty-one broad, and thirty-one deep; it was overlaid within and without with thin plates of gold; it had a crown or cornice of gold round it; rings and staves to carry it with; and in it he must put the testimony. The tables of the law are called the testimony, because God did in them testify his will; his giving them that law was in token of his favour to them, and their acceptance of it was in token of their subjection to him. This law was a testimony to them to direct them in their duty, and would be a testimony against them if they transgressed. The ark is called the ark of the testimony, (Exodus 30:6,) and the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, Numbers 10:11. The tables of the law were carefully preserved in the ark, to teach us to make much of the word of God, and to hide it in our inmost thoughts, as the ark was placed in the holy of holies. It intimates likewise the care which Divine Providence ever did, and ever will take to preserve the records of divine revelation in the church, so that even in the latter days there shall be seen in his temple the ark of his testament. See Revelation 11:19.

Verse 17
Exodus 25:17. The mercy-seat was the covering of the ark, made exactly to fit the dimensions of it. This propitiatory covering, as it might well be translated, was a type of Christ the great propitiation, whose satisfaction covers our transgressions, and comes between us and the curse we deserve.

Verses 18-22
Exodus 25:18-22. The cherubim (cherubim is the plural of cherub, not cherubims) were fixed to the mercy-seat, and of a piece with it, and spread their wings over it. It is supposed these were designed to represent the holy angels, (who always attend the Shechinah, or divine majesty,) not by any effigies of an angel, but some emblem of the angelical nature, probably one or more of those four faces spoken of Ezekiel 1:10. Whatever the faces were, they looked one toward another, and both downward toward the ark, while their wings were stretched out so as to touch one another. This denotes their attendance upon the Redeemer, their readiness to do his will, their presence in the assemblies of saints, (Psalms 68:17; Psalms 1

Corinthians Exodus 11:10,) and their desire to look into the mysteries of the gospel, which they diligently contemplate, 1 Peter 1:12. God is said to dwell or sit between the cherubim, on the mercy-seat, Psalms 80:2; and from thence he here promiseth for the future to meet with Moses, and to commune with him. Thus he manifests himself willing to keep up communion with us, by the mediation of Christ.

Verse 23
Exodus 25:23. Thou shalt make a table of shittim-wood — This table was to stand, not in the holy of holies (nothing was in that but the ark with its appurtenances) but in the outer part of the tabernacle, called the sanctuary, or holy place.

Verse 30
Exodus 25:30. Thou shalt set upon the table the show bread — Hebrew, Bread of the face or presence, because it was set before the ark, where God was peculiarly present. We call it show bread, because it was showed, or exhibited before God upon the sacred table, as a national weekly oblation, in the name of all the twelve tribes, for the loaves were twelve in number, and being an offering to God were to be eaten only by the priests in the holy place, Leviticus 24:5-9. Every loaf must have been of considerable size, since two-tenth deals, or two homers of flour were used for each, which are about six quarts English. This bread, set in two rows, six loaves in a row, was designed to be a thankful acknowledgment of God’s goodness to them in giving them their daily bread, a token of their communion with God, this bread on God’s table being made of the same corn with the bread on their own tables. And it was a type of the spiritual provision which is made in the church, by the gospel of Christ, for all that are made priests to our God.

Verse 31
Exodus 25:31. This candlestick had many branches drawn from the main shaft, which had not only bowls to put the oil and the kindled wick in for necessity, but knops made in the form of a pomegranate and flowers for ornament. The tabernacle had no windows, all its light was candle-light, which denotes the comparative darkness of that dispensation, while, the Sun of righteousness was not as yet risen, nor had the Day-star from on high visited his church. Yet God left not himself without witness, nor them without instruction; the commandment was a lamp, and the law a light, and the prophets were branches from that lamp, which gave light in their several ages. The church is still dark, as the tabernacle was, in comparison with what it will be in heaven: but the word of God is the candlestick, a light shining in a dark place.