Exodus 25 Commentary

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Irving Jensen (Online) - Used by Permission
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Summary Chart of
The Book of Exodus
Redemption from Egypt
Ex 1:1-18:27
Revelation from God
Ex 19:1-40:38
Getting Israel Out of Egypt Getting Egypt Out of Israel!
Narration Legislation
Birth of
Ex 1-2
Call of
Ex 3-6
Conflict with Pharaoh
Ex 7-10
Ex 11-12
Ex 13-15
Ex 16-18
Ex 19-24
Ex 25-31
Ex 32-34
Ex 35-40
Subjection Redemption Instruction
Suffering and Liberation
of People of God
of God
of God
Moses and
Burdens of Israel
Pharaoh and
Plagues Upon Egypt
Red Sea
and Oppression
and Provision
Law Pattern
and Construction
Israel in Egypt
Ex 1:1-13:16
Israel to Sinai
Ex 13:17-18:27
Israel at Sinai
Ex 19:1-40:38
God's People
God's Grace
in Redemption
God's Glory
in Worship
430 Years

(15% of Exodus)
2 Months

(30% of Exodus)
Mt Sinai
10 Months

(55% of Exodus)

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human effort and failure divine power and triumph
word of promise work of fulfillment
a people chosen a people called
God’s electing mercy God’s electing manner
revelation of nationality realization of nationality

(from Believer's Study Bible)

Exodus 25:1  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,


Irving Jensen - This is the section of Exodus which contains the familiar Ten Commandments. Chapter 19 begins the last half of the book which we have called worship (see chart at top of page). Worship is intimately related to law. For, to worship is to acknowledge a higher authority, and there is no authority where there is no law. So after God delivered His people from bondage, He began to spell out in detail how they should worship Him publicly, privately, and even in everyday living. These instructions were His laws. Their importance to Israel is seen by the space devoted to them in the Pentateuch: about half of Exodus, most of Leviticus, the first part of Numbers, and much of Deuteronomy. The importance of the Ten Commandments to the world is demonstrated by the fact that the legal codes of every civilized nation are based upon them. (Survey of OT-online)

John Mackay entitles Exodus 25:1-31:18 "Instructions for Worship."  (Exodus: A Mentor Commentary)

Walter Kaiser writes that "The sheer amount of text devoted to the topic of worship ought to demonstrate its importance."

Henrietta Mears - Exodus 25–40 gives us one of the richest veins in inspiration’s exhaustless mines. We must use our imagination and reason as we enter the holy precincts and gaze upon the significant furniture. God told Moses He wished a sanctuary, or holy dwelling place, that should point to Christ and tell of His person and work. POINTS TO REMEMBER

    •  Redemption was not an afterthought with God (see Ephesians 1:4).
    •  The Law was broken in the people’s hearts before it was broken by Moses’ hand.
    •  Over against Sinai is Calvary!
    •  God’s mirror reveals but never cleanses.
    •  The blood of the Lamb makes us safe; our trust in God’s Word makes us sure.
    •  God’s plan will never be frustrated.

J Sidlow Baxter - The third of the three main parts of Exodus covers chapters 25 to 40, where the book ends. It is occupied with the construction and appointments of the Tabernacle. First, the pattern of the Tabernacle is given to Moses during his forty days in the Mount (25-31). Then, in the episode of the golden calf, we see the execution of the plan temporarily suspended through Israel's lapse into idolatry (32-34), during which interval a temporary substitute for the Tabernacle is provided in a tent pitched "without the Camp" (33:7). Finally, the Tabernacle is completed and erected (exactly one year after the Exodus - 40:2), and the glory of the Divine Presence descends upon it (35-40). The chapters thus naturally break up into three groups (for fuller analysis see end of lesson): The Scriptures devote more room to the description of the Tabernacle and its appurtenances than to any other single subject. Its details are described with noticeable particularity; and no less than seven times in Scripture we find reference to God's solemn charge to Moses that he should make all things according to the "pattern" which was shown to him "in the Mount" (Ex 25:9,40; 26:30; 27:8; Num 8:4; Acts 7:44; Heb 8:5). Must there not be some special meaning behind this? There must; and there is. The Tabernacle was not designed with a view to any merely architectural impressiveness. It was designed to be a symbolical and typical expression of wonderful spiritual truth; and herein lies its significance. What, then, are the principal features pertaining to the Tabernacle? They are four –The Structure; The Furniture; The Priesthood; The Offerings.


Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying - Moses is still on Mt Sinai when he receives God's instructions for the Tabernacle and these instructions will continue through the end of Exodus 31. 

HCSB Study Bible makes an interesting observation - The statement The Lord spoke to Moses divides Exodus 25-31 into seven unequal segments, ending with instructions about the Sabbath, as if to show a connection between creation and this new building where God would meet with human beings (Ex 25:1; 30:11,17,22,34; 31:1,12; cp. Rev 21:1-3). Recording the instructions as they came in the voice of the Lord Himself, rather than in a narrative summary, helps reinforce God's personal interest in these matters and His personal offense at the worship of the golden calf.

Third Millennium notes - Christians recall that Jesus came to fulfill the symbolism of the Tabernacle and the Temple (see Heb 8-10). As God dwelling with man (John 2:19, 21), he told the Samaritan woman that the hour was coming when worship would no longer be centered around the earthly temple (John 4:21). He who is both the great high priest and the sacrifice brings us with himself into the true Most Holy Place in heaven.

Exodus 25:2  "Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.

  • sons of Israel: Ex 35:5-29 Nu 7:3-88 De 16:16,17 1Ch 29:1-30 
  • raise a contribution, Nu 18:24 
  • whose heart moves him: Ex 35:5,21 Jdg 5:9 1Ch 29:3,5,9,14,17 Ezr 1:6 2:68 3:5 7:16 Ne 11:2 Ps 110:3 2Co 8:12 9:7 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me - Moses is given the command to speak to the entire congregation. The contribution is clearly (from context) a free will offering. Young's Literal calls the contribution a "heave offering." The Hebrew word for contribution (teruwmah) is translated in the Septuagint with the word aparche which means firstfruits, a technical term for the first portion of grain and fruit harvests and flocks offered to God first. 

THOUGHT - God does not need their gifts or ours, but gives fallen men the privilege of being part of His grand plan of redemption. We call that amazing grace! He wants us to give with open hearts and hands, and not as if He is trying to pry open our fingers to loosen our grip on what we possess (which by the way He gave us!). Freewill offerings are also a reflection of our trust in God -- if we give as His Spirit leads, will He provide for my needs? In short, giving is a matter of worship of God and faith in God. 

From every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution - Cole says the Hebrews is every man "whose heart makes him vow."  God does not want people to give because of manipulation. God desires our heart (leb) response, a response motivated by love not legalism. This same description is found in Ex 35:21 and Ex 35:29. So not only is this to be voluntary but no specific amount is stated. That leaves it open to our heart's response. All of our giving to the LORD should be motivated by a willing heart. God does not need men's contribution but gives men the privilege of giving. 

David Thompson - It is interesting how this begins. God does not show them the design and say this is how much we will need; He first says we need contributions. Now most congregations want to see a design first before they contribute. But not here. They are told that they need contributions and the people start bringing them. (Sermon)

Paul wrote "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Guzik says "When we become givers we become more like God, who is the greatest giver: For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16)." (Exodus 25)

Cole - God’s grace will prompt men to give: and man will then give his most costly treasures gladly to God. (TOTC-Ex)

Currid - There is a story of a woman who unexpectedly received a large inheritance; she immediately gave a tenth of it to her church. Later, after her death, an entry was found in her diary for the day on which she received her inheritance: ‘Quick, quick, before my heart gets hard!’ May the Holy Spirit work upon our hearts so that we may give abundantly to God’s work! May he make these hearts of stone into ones of flesh! (Exodus - EPSC)

NET Note - The message here is that God calls his people to offer of their substance willingly so that his sanctuary may be made.

Contribution (08641)(teruwmah from rum = to be high or lifted up) means to present (as offered up), especially in sacrifice or as tribute to be lifted up toward heaven by the priest (thus the name heave offering. It is used of an amount taken from a larger quantity for a sacred purpose: it can include sacrifice (Ex 29:27), money (Ex 30:13), or produce (Nu 15:19). It is perhaps better understood as a contribution since it was a freewill offering. The traditional meaning of "heave-offering" derives from the idea of "elevation," a root (rum) meaning "to be high" lying behind the word. Teruwmah is used of contribution of materials for building (Ex. 25:2; 35:5); offering of an animal for sacrifice (Ex. 29:27; Nu 6:20); financial offering for the priests (Nu 31:52); an allotment of land for the priests (Ezek. 45:6, 7); or even the materials for an idol (Isa. 40:20). In one instance, this word is used to describe a ruler who received bribes (Pr 29:4).

Gilbrant - This offering was ultimately a gift from Yahweh to the priests. The worshiper was required to sacrifice a quantity of foodstuff which was then presented to Yahweh for acceptance. In turn, Yahweh allocated this sacrifice to the priesthood for their livelihood (cf. Num. 18:8). The terûmāh offerings were given to the priest who performed the particular ritual." (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Teruwmah - 76x in 63v -  allotment(15), contribution(20), contributions(10), heave offering(4), offered by lifting(2), offering(20), offerings(4), who takes bribes(1). Exod. 25:2; Exod. 25:3; Exod. 29:27; Exod. 29:28; Exod. 30:13; Exod. 30:14; Exod. 30:15; Exod. 35:5; Exod. 35:21; Exod. 35:24; Exod. 36:3; Exod. 36:6; Lev. 7:14; Lev. 7:32; Lev. 7:34; Lev. 10:14; Lev. 10:15; Lev. 22:12; Num. 5:9; Num. 6:20; Num. 15:19; Num. 15:20; Num. 15:21; Num. 18:8; Num. 18:11; Num. 18:19; Num. 18:24; Num. 18:26; Num. 18:27; Num. 18:28; Num. 18:29; Num. 31:29; Num. 31:41; Num. 31:52; Deut. 12:6; Deut. 12:11; Deut. 12:17; 2 Sam. 1:21; 2 Chr. 31:10; 2 Chr. 31:12; 2 Chr. 31:14; Ezr. 8:25; Neh. 10:37; Neh. 10:39; Neh. 12:44; Neh. 13:5; Prov. 29:4; Isa. 40:20; Ezek. 20:40; Ezek. 44:30; Ezek. 45:1; Ezek. 45:6; Ezek. 45:7; Ezek. 45:13; Ezek. 45:16; Ezek. 48:8; Ezek. 48:9; Ezek. 48:10; Ezek. 48:12; Ezek. 48:18; Ezek. 48:20; Ezek. 48:21; Mal. 3:8

Moves (05068)(nadab) means to incite (willingly), impel. It describes the devotion of person or property completely to Yahweh. It is an act motivated by love or devotion to the LORD. Nadab is used of volunteering for military campaigns (Judg 5:2, 9) and the willing offerings for both the first and second temples (see 1 Chr 29:5, 6, 9, 14, 17).TWOT says nadab "connotes an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice. The verb nādab occurs three  times in the Qal and each time describes the inner state of those contributing to the construction of the tabernacle. Such offerings were to be one's own goods and given voluntarily. The rest of the occurrences are in the Hithpael and, hence, are reflexive. The building (1 Chr 29:5) and rebuilding  (2 Chr 35:8; Ezra 1:6) of the temple elicited abundant voluntary giving and sacrifice (Ezra 3:5) from God's people. Interestingly, Deborah commends the people (Judges 5:2) and leaders (Judges 5:9) of Israel for liberally and voluntarily offering themselves to God in the holy war. David addresses God concerning the freewill contributions toward building the temple, confessing that he owned everything including their stewardship, and he was gracious in accepting them (1 Chr 29:5,6, 14, 17)."

Nadab - 19x in 15v - freewill offering(1), given as a freewill offering(1), made offering(1), make offerings willingly(1), moved(2), moves(1), offer(1), offered(1), offered willingly(3), offerings willingly(1), volunteered(3), volunteers(1), willing(1), willingly offered(1).Exod. 25:2; Exod. 35:21; Exod. 35:29; Jdg. 5:2; Jdg. 5:9; 1 Chr. 29:5; 1 Chr. 29:6; 1 Chr. 29:9; 1 Chr. 29:14; 1 Chr. 29:17; 2 Chr. 17:16; Ezr. 1:6; Ezr. 2:68; Ezr. 3:5; Neh. 11:2

Exodus 25:3  "This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze,


This is the contribution which you are to raise from them: gold, silver and bronze - Gold is the most expensive and bronze the least expensive. " In the tabernacle, the closer an object was to the Holy of Holies, the more valuable was the metal used in its construction." (Currid) Or stated another way, the closer the presence to God, the more costly the metal. 

Gold, silver and bronze (especially gold) as well as other items in this list were all items of significant value which reflected the people's valuing of the LORD and their desire to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Recall that when Israel left Egypt they were given many of these items - see  Ex 3:22; Ex 11:2; Ex 12:35–36.

Bronze (05178)(nechosheth) means copper or bronze and is "the word for copper as ore (Deut. 8:9) and for the refined metal probably alloyed with other metals, such as tin to form bronze. The metal was cast in molds (1 Ki. 7:14) and sometimes polished (v. 45), at times to a smooth surface used as a mirror (Exo. 38:8). The metal was worked by a metalsmith (Gen. 4:22; 1 Ki. 7:14; 2 Chr. 24:12) into various objects such as armor (1 Sam. 17:5), utensils (2 Ki. 25:14), the altar of the Tabernacle (Exo. 38:30) and of the Temple (2 Ki. 16:14), the serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness (Num. 21:9), the gate-bars of a city (1 Ki. 4:13), the sockets for the pillars of the Tabernacle (Exo. 26:37), the laver of the Tabernacle (Exo. 30:18), the pillars of the Temple (1 Ki. 7:15) and the censers used by the priests (Num. 16:39). In the dual form, nechōsheth means "bronze fetters" such as those that bound Samson in his imprisonment (Judg. 16:21). Along with other valuable metals, bronze was taken as the spoil of war (2 Sam. 8:8; 2 Ki. 25:13); it was of less value than gold, greater than wood (Isa. 60:17), and of less value than silver, but greater than iron. This is implied by the order in which metals are usually listed: gold, silver, bronze, iron (Num. 31:22; 1 Chr. 22:14, 16; 29:2). Figuratively, the metal symbolized the impenetrable heavens in time of judgment (Deut. 28:23), indestructible sandals in the time of blessing (33:25) and the heaviness of grief in time of sorrow (Lam. 3:7). (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Nechosheth -118v-  brass(2), bronze(130), bronze chains(1), bronze fetters(2), chain(1), copper(1), fetters(1), fetters of bronze(1). Gen. 4:22; Exod. 25:3; Exod. 26:11; Exod. 26:37; Exod. 27:2; Exod. 27:3; Exod. 27:4; Exod. 27:6; Exod. 27:10; Exod. 27:11; Exod. 27:17; Exod. 27:18; Exod. 27:19; Exod. 30:18; Exod. 31:4; Exod. 35:5; Exod. 35:16; Exod. 35:24; Exod. 35:32; Exod. 36:18; Exod. 36:38; Exod. 38:2; Exod. 38:3; Exod. 38:4; Exod. 38:5; Exod. 38:6; Exod. 38:8; Exod. 38:10; Exod. 38:11; Exod. 38:17; Exod. 38:19; Exod. 38:20; Exod. 38:29; Exod. 38:30; Exod. 39:39; Lev. 6:28; Num. 16:39; Num. 21:9; Num. 31:22; Deut. 8:9; Deut. 28:23; Deut. 33:25; Jos. 6:19; Jos. 6:24; Jos. 22:8; Jdg. 16:21; 1 Sam. 17:5; 1 Sam. 17:6; 1 Sam. 17:38; 2 Sam. 3:34; 2 Sam. 8:8; 2 Sam. 8:10; 2 Sam. 21:16; 1 Ki. 4:13; 1 Ki. 7:14; 1 Ki. 7:15; 1 Ki. 7:16; 1 Ki. 7:27; 1 Ki. 7:30; 1 Ki. 7:38; 1 Ki. 7:45; 1 Ki. 7:47; 1 Ki. 8:64; 1 Ki. 14:27; 2 Ki. 16:14; 2 Ki. 16:15; 2 Ki. 16:17; 2 Ki. 18:4; 2 Ki. 25:7; 2 Ki. 25:13; 2 Ki. 25:14; 2 Ki. 25:16; 2 Ki. 25:17; 1 Chr. 15:19; 1 Chr. 18:8; 1 Chr. 18:10; 1 Chr. 22:3; 1 Chr. 22:14; 1 Chr. 22:16; 1 Chr. 29:2; 1 Chr. 29:7; 2 Chr. 1:5; 2 Chr. 1:6; 2 Chr. 2:7; 2 Chr. 2:14; 2 Chr. 4:1; 2 Chr. 4:9; 2 Chr. 4:16; 2 Chr. 4:18; 2 Chr. 6:13; 2 Chr. 7:7; 2 Chr. 12:10; 2 Chr. 24:12; 2 Chr. 33:11; 2 Chr. 36:6; Ezr. 8:27; Ps. 107:16; Isa. 60:17; Jer. 1:18; Jer. 6:28; Jer. 15:12; Jer. 15:20; Jer. 39:7; Jer. 52:11; Jer. 52:17; Jer. 52:18; Jer. 52:20; Jer. 52:22; Lam. 3:7; Ezek. 1:7; Ezek. 9:2; Ezek. 22:18; Ezek. 22:20; Ezek. 24:11; Ezek. 27:13; Ezek. 40:3; Dan. 10:6; Zech. 6:1

A Little Piece Of Heaven

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? —1 Corinthians 3:16

Today's Scripture: Exodus 25:1-9

A couple of weeks ago my wife met a woman who needed a ride. She sensed that this could be from God, so she agreed to take her to her destination. During the ride, the woman revealed to my wife that she was a believer but she struggled with drug addiction. My wife listened to and talked with this hurting woman. As she gave her hope for a better tomorrow, I believe that the woman experienced in some small way a little piece of heaven on earth.

When God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle according to His specifications, it was so that God’s people would sense His presence. I like to think of it as a little piece of heaven on earth. The temple was a physical example of God’s presence on earth also (1 Kings 5–8). The purpose of these holy places was for God to dwell among His people. This was God’s plan when Jesus, the perfect temple, “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14).

When Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers (John 14:16-17), so that we would be God’s tabernacles and temples in the world (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). As God’s representatives of His presence, let’s find ways to bring the peace and hope of heaven to others on earth. By:  Marvin Williams (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

For Further Thought
Ask God to use you in the lives of others and to show you some ways to apply this devotional at work, in your home, and in your neighborhood.

A Christian who is willing to do little things for others can do great things for the Lord.

Exodus 25-27 House Of Symbols

Our neighbor was startled when two young men walked into her home uninvited. She screamed, and they ran out. Yet no one would accuse her of failing to be hospitable. If you enter someone’s house, you come in on that person’s terms.

We sometimes forget that the same principle applies to our entering into the presence of God. This was made clear in the Old Testament "house of symbols" known as the tabernacle (Exodus 25–27). Its construction and the arrangement of the objects within it teach us that we come into God’s presence only on His conditions.

Consider, for example, the bronze altar of sacrifice (Ex 27:1-8). Bronze in Scripture stands for divine judgment of sin. The slaughtering of sheep and goats on the altar symbolized the results of sin. An unmerciful death for innocent animals pointed forward to a coming substitute, the sinless "Lamb of God." When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, His sacrifice was more than adequate to atone for the sin of all people (John 1:29). The only way to approach God is on His terms. We must receive the forgiveness He offers to us through Christ.

Have you accepted Jesus, the Lamb of God, as your Savior from sin? —Mart De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Now ransomed from sin and a new work begun,
Sing praise to the Father and praise to the Son—
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

Christ will receive you if you will believe Him.

Exodus 25:4  blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair,

  • fine linen Ge 41:42 Eze 16:10 Rev 19:8 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


blue, purple and scarlet material, fine linen, goat hair - These materials were used for curtains and priest's clothing. The lists is from most costly to least costly. Pharaoh clothed Joseph "in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck." (Ge 41:42). Goat hair was the least costly and most readily available.

THOUGHT - Fine linen is associated with meeting with God in the sanctuary on earth and in the consummation of all things will be associated with the meeting of the Bride, the Church, with her Bridegroom at the marriage supper of the Lamb, John writing "“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." (Rev 19:7-8+)

Alan Cole - Egypt excelled in the production of linen, especially twined linen, where every thread was twisted from many strands.  (TOTC-Ex)

George Bush - These are merely the names of certain colors, while no mention is made of the thing or things colored. But as we find from the apostle, Heb. 9:19, that scarlet wool was employed in the sprinkling of blood, the probability is that wool of those colors is intended which was afterward fabricated by the women into the curtains of the Tabernacle; for however difficult it may be to conceive that they should have had in the wilderness the implements necessary to such a process, the following passage, Ex. 35:26, puts it beyond a doubt... The Hebrew doctors: ‘The blue spoken of in any place was wool dyed like the body of heaven Blue. Heb. תכלת tekëleth, blue, azure, sky-color. So Maimonides; ‘This color is like the firmament.’ Thus too in the Gemara (Menach. 4.) Rab. Meyr says, ‘Wherein differs the תכלת tekeleth from the other colors? Answer, because the תכלת tekeleth is like the sea, and the sea like the firmament, and the firmament like the throne of glory, as it is said, Ex. 24:10, ‘Under his feet as it were sapphire bricks such as is the aspect of the serene heavens.” Gr. ὑακινθος, hyacinth. This was a color distinguishing the dress of princes and potentates among the ancients, with whom the art of dyeing was carried to a high degree of perfection. The splendor and magnificence of dress seem to have consisted very much in the richness of colors, and the blue, which we learn from many passages of the Scriptures to have been in great request, was imported from remote countries as an article of expensive and elegant luxury.  (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 1).((Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Blue - 49x in 49v - Exod. 25:4; Exod. 26:1; Exod. 26:4; Exod. 26:31; Exod. 26:36; Exod. 27:16; Exod. 28:5; Exod. 28:6; Exod. 28:8; Exod. 28:15; Exod. 28:28; Exod. 28:31; Exod. 28:33; Exod. 28:37; Exod. 35:6; Exod. 35:23; Exod. 35:25; Exod. 35:35; Exod. 36:8; Exod. 36:11; Exod. 36:35; Exod. 36:37; Exod. 38:18; Exod. 38:23; Exod. 39:1; Exod. 39:2; Exod. 39:3; Exod. 39:5; Exod. 39:8; Exod. 39:21; Exod. 39:22; Exod. 39:24; Exod. 39:29; Exod. 39:31; Num. 4:6; Num. 4:7; Num. 4:9; Num. 4:11; Num. 4:12; Num. 15:38; 2 Chr. 2:7; 2 Chr. 2:14; 2 Chr. 3:14; Est. 1:6; Est. 8:15; Jer. 10:9; Ezek. 23:6; Ezek. 27:7; Ezek. 27:24

NET on blue, purple - The blue refers to dye made from shellfish. It has a dark blue or purple-blue, almost violet color. Purple was imported from Phoenicia, where it was harvested from the shellfish or snail. It is a deep purple-red color.

Scarlet (08144)(saniy/shaniy) is made from the eggs and bodies of the worm coccus ilicus, which is found with the holly plant—so Heb “worm of brilliance.” The powder made from the dried maggots produces a bright red-yellow color. In Isa 1:18 God says Israel's "sins are as scarlet" but promised that "They will be as white as snow." (the implication being that they would be forgiven if they repented and believed in the Messiah). See discussion of Tola above where we note these two Hebrew words occur juxtaposed in many of the passages in Exodus that describe the scarlet decorations of the Tabernacle. Scarlet is translated in the Lxx with the adjective kokkinos.

Saniy/shaniy describes the scarlet thread on the twin Zerah, who was listed with his twin Perez in the line of Messiah, these twins being born to Tamar after Judah had illicit relations with her, thinking she was a harlot (Mt 1:3). In Josh 2:18 we see another harlot Rahab, where saniy/shaniy described the scarlet thread she was to show from her window so that she would be spared ("redeemed" so to speak) by the Israelites when they sacked the rest of Jericho. So in both of these uses we see the scarlet is part of the so-called "scarlet thread of redemption" which many writers see beginning in Genesis 3:15 (although there is no specific mention of a scarlet color, there is an implication that blood was spilled to prepare animal skin coverings for Adam and Eve). The uses of saniy/shaniy in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers are essentially identical to the uses described in more detailed under the word study of tola. In Isaiah 1:18 Jehovah refers to Israel's "sins are as scarlet (saniy/shaniy)."

Saniy - 42v - Gen. 38:28; Gen. 38:30; Exod. 25:4; Exod. 26:1; Exod. 26:31; Exod. 26:36; Exod. 27:16; Exod. 28:5; Exod. 28:6; Exod. 28:8; Exod. 28:15; Exod. 28:33; Exod. 35:6; Exod. 35:23; Exod. 35:25; Exod. 35:35; Exod. 36:8; Exod. 36:35; Exod. 36:37; Exod. 38:18; Exod. 38:23; Exod. 39:1; Exod. 39:2; Exod. 39:3; Exod. 39:5; Exod. 39:8; Exod. 39:24; Exod. 39:29; Lev. 14:4; Lev. 14:6; Lev. 14:49; Lev. 14:51; Lev. 14:52; Num. 4:8; Num. 19:6; Jos. 2:18; Jos. 2:21; 2 Sam. 1:24; Prov. 31:21; Song. 4:3; Isa. 1:18; Jer. 4:30

NET on fine linen -This is generally viewed as a fine Egyptian linen that had many more delicate strands than ordinary linen.

Alan Cole on fine linen - Fine twined linen: šēš is an Egyptian word. Egypt excelled in the production of linen, especially twined linen, where every thread was twisted from many strands. The Hebrew slaves must have learned many Egyptian arts and crafts, such as metalwork, spinning, weaving and embroidery during their stay in Egypt. Linen was the dress of the noble and the priest in Egypt, chosen both for coolness and cleanliness.   (TOTC-Ex)

NET on goat hair - Goat’s hair was spun into yarn (35:26) and used to make the material for the first tent over the dwelling. It is ideal for tenting, since it is loosely woven and allows breezes to pass through, but with rain the fibers expand and prevent water from seeping through.


Isaiah uses the same word scarlet (saniy/shaniy) when he wrote

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet (saniy/shaniy), They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. ” Isa. 1:18.

That scarlet thread in the story of Rahab (Joshua 2:18, 21) represents something else as well. Scarlet, or crimson, is the color of blood. The scarlet thread that hung from Rahab's window was the color of blood. It is interesting to note that the means of her salvation took the same form as her sin. Her lifestyle could be represented by the color scarlet. The color scarlet was also the color of the very thing that promised to save her from certain death. That scarlet thread that hung from Rahab's window represents the blood. It represents the scarlet thread of blood that runs throughout the Bible. It enters the picture in Gen. 3:21 when God slew an innocent animal to provide a covering for the naked bodies of Adam and Eve. The scarlet thread makes itself visible in the contrast between the offering of Cain and the offering of Abel. The scarlet thread shows up in the sacrifices of Abraham. It shows up at the Tabernacle, in the Temple and in the Law of God. It shows up every time a sacrifice is given and an offering is made in the Bible. It shows up on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest would sacrifice a goat to atone for the sins of the people.

The scarlet thread of redemption weaves itself into the very fabric of the Bible, so that the book would unravel if the scarlet thread were removed. I see it in the sacrifices in Genesis. I see it in the demands of the Law. I see it in the daily life of the people of Israel. I see it in the preaching of the prophets. I see it as it weaves itself in and out of the characters, the places and the events of the Old Testament. I see it as it weaves its way from Genesis to Malachi, and on into the Gospels. Then, I see it as it reaches its culmination at a place called Calvary, where the very Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, took upon Himself the sins of the world and died in the place of sinners, 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2.

That scarlet thread was a picture of redemption. It was a picture of salvation that comes to the sinner through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, the Bible is a bloody book. All the way from Genesis to Revelation, there is a river of blood that flows from page to page. That mighty river of blood teaches us the only way of salvation.

Salvation does not come through the works of our hands. It does not come through dead religion. It does not come from professions and promises. Salvation always comes through the shedding of the blood, Heb. 9:22. When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary, His was the ultimate and final sacrifice for sins forever, Heb. 9:12-14, 24-28; 10:11-14. (Excerpt from The Scarlet Thread by Pastor Alan Carr).

Related Resources:

George BushPurple. Heb. ארגמן argaman, rendered purple by all the ancient versions. This is the name of a very precious color extracted from the purpura, or murex, a species of shell-fish, called in English the purple. This color, the same with the famous Tyrian dye, and the most celebrated of all the ancient dyes, is now lost, and it is doubted by many whether the moderns have any thing which equals it in richness and brilliancy. It is known, however, that the coloring juice of the purple was contained in a vessel found in the throat of the murex, and that only one drop of liquid was obtained from each. A sacred character was very early attached to the purple, and it was the predominant color in things pertaining to the worship of God among heathen nations. In modern times, although the Tyrian purple has been long lost, yet the pride of the name is still preserved in the sacerdotal hierarchy. It was also an attribute of exalted birth and of dignities. It served as a decoration to the first magistrates of Rome, and finally became a symbol of the inauguration of the emperors. To assume the ‘imperial purple’ was but another name for succeeding to the throne, and the punishment of death was at length decreed against any of inferior grade who should presume to wear the royal color. To this penalty it was undoubtedly owing that the art of dyeing purple gradually disappeared from among the nations of Europe. From the epithet ‘purple’ being applied by Homer and Virgil to blood, it is probable that this color anciently approached much nearer to scarlet than the modern purple. Indeed the two, in the writings of the ancients, are frequently confounded together. And so also in the New Testament we find them inter changed, as Mark, 15:17, ‘they clothes him with purple,’ compared with Mat. 27:28, ‘they put on him a scarlet robe. See also John, 19:2. ‘It is important, says the Editor of the Pictorial Bible ‘to understand, that the word’ purple in ancient writings does not denote on-particular color. Pliny mentions the difference between some of the purples; one was faint, approaching to our scarlet, and this was the least esteemed; another was very deep approaching to violet; and a third was of a color compared to coagulated bullock’s blood. The most esteemed Tyrian purple seems to have been of this last color. We say ‘the most esteemed,’ because it appears that even the Tyrian purple was not one particular color, but a class of animal dyes, as distinguished from vegetable, varying in shade from the most faint to the most intense.’ The purple has been styled the most sublime of all earthly colors, having the gaudiness of the red, of which it retains a shade, softened with the gravity of the blue. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Scarlet. Heb. תולעת שני tolaath shani, worm of repetition. This tincture or color is expressed by a word which signifies ‘worm-color,’ as ‘Vermillion,’ comes from vermiculus, a little worm, from its being produced from a worm or insect which grew in a coccus, or excrescence of a shrub of the oak kind. This shrub is sometimes called the ‘kermez-oak,’ from ‘kermez,’ the Arabic word both for the worm and the color; whence the Latin ‘carmasinus,’ the French ‘cramoisi,’ and the English ‘crimson.’ The color produced from the coccus was a lively bright red, approaching to the hue of fire. In the original of the passage before us, the Heb. word תולעת tolaath, for the worm or coloring matter, is connected with ‘Shani,’ which signifies repeated or double, implying that to strike this color the wool or cloth was twice dipped, hence the Vulgate renders the original ‘coccum bis tinctum,’ scarlet twice dyed. The scarlet also was an honorable color, being that of the Roman emperors in time of war, while the purple was the raiment of peace. Accordingly in the book of Revelation the scarlet color, being that of blood, is a symbol of slaughter, and attributed especially to the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, who is represented, Rev. 18:3, riding upon a beast of the same color, another symbol of a persecuting and sanguinary power. ‘Professor Tyohsen, supposing the identity of the Scripture ‘scarlet’ with the kermes established, properly concludes that the kermes dye was known before the time of Moses;—that the dye was known to the Egyptians in the time of Moses; for the Israelites must have carried it along with them from Egypt;—that the Arabs received the name ‘kermes,’ with the dye, from Armenia and Persia, where it was indigenous, and had been long known; and that; name banished the old name in the east, as the name ‘scarlet’ has in the west. Kermes signifies always red dye; and when pronounced short it becomes deep red. Beckmann thinks that in later times the Tyrian purples were superseded by the improvements of this dye; but we do not feel satisfied with his authorities for this conclusion. The kermes itself has now long been superseded by the American cochineal, which is far superior to any pigment employed in ancient times for dyeing reds. Indeed we have perhaps little cause to regres the loss or disuse of any ancient dye, particulary in bright reds, which owe so much to discoveries of chemistry, that we have every reason to conclude them infinitely superior to any which ancient art could produce. Pliny complains that scarlet dyes could not be made sufficiently durable and adhesive; and the statements in ancient authors as to the brilliancy of scarlet may be admitted by recollecting that they had nothing better with which to compare it.’ Pict. Bible. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Fine linen. Heb. שש shesh; denoting the fabric made from the plant of that name which grew in Egypt and Palestine, and which is rendered by the Gr. and Chal. ‘Byss,’ from the Heb. בוץ butz. It was either a species of soft, delicate, and downy cotton, or a superior kind of flax, from which garments were made of the most pure and exquisite white. Moses indeed does not employ the term ‘Butz’ in speaking of linen, which appears in no author prior to the age of the books of Esther and Chronicles, but the words ‘Bad’ and ‘Shesh’ rendered ‘Byssos,’ linen, by the Sept. appear to have been the only ones in use in his day. That which is of most importance in respect to the ‘Shesh’ or ‘Byss’, is the fact here mentioned, that it was the material of which the priestly garments were made which we are told were designed for ‘glory and for honor’ to the wearers. They were in fact the garments of kings and of nobles. In Gen. 41:42, we see that Joseph in his exaltation was clothed in one of them, rendered by the Gr. ‘stole of byss.’ So likewise David appeared in a similar robe on a day of solemnity, 1 Chron. 15:27. In short, the byss garments were the most resplendent and valuable of all the white apparel in use among the Israelites. Our Savior, therefore, in the parable of the rich man describes him as clad ‘in purple and fine linen, Gr. ‘byss.’ Again, when the marriage of the Lamb is described in the Apocalypse, ch. 19:8, it is said of the bride, that ‘it was granted to her that she should be arrayed in fine linen (byss) clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.’ From what we have already said the symbolical import of this will not be of difficult solution. The byss being the most valuable species of white garments, constitutes a significant emblem of the highest and most perfect holiness. The resurrection is the state of perfect holiness; the byss, therefore, is the attribute of the saints in a state of resurrection. In like manner we suppose the ‘man clothed in linen,’ so frequently mentioned by Ezekiel, ch. 9 and 10, to be a symbolical designation of Christ in his post-resurrection state, in which state we know he is for the most part represented as clothed in white raiment. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Fine linen - shesh - 37x in 35v - Gen. 41:42; Exod. 25:4; Exod. 26:1; Exod. 26:31; Exod. 26:36; Exod. 27:9; Exod. 27:16; Exod. 27:18; Exod. 28:5; Exod. 28:6; Exod. 28:8; Exod. 28:15; Exod. 28:39; Exod. 35:6; Exod. 35:23; Exod. 35:25; Exod. 35:35; Exod. 36:8; Exod. 36:35; Exod. 36:37; Exod. 38:9; Exod. 38:16; Exod. 38:18; Exod. 38:23; Exod. 39:2; Exod. 39:3; Exod. 39:5; Exod. 39:8; Exod. 39:27; Exod. 39:28; Exod. 39:29; Prov. 31:22; Ezek. 16:10; Ezek. 16:13; Ezek. 27:7

Goat’s hair. Heb. עזים izzim. That is, the down or finest part of the hair; of which much finer cloth was made in those countries than of the wool of the lamb or the sheep. The hair of the eastern goats, particularly of the Angola species, is of the most delicate and silky softness, and wrought into the kind of cloth known by the name of camlets. The word ‘hair’ does not occur in the Hebrew, but the sense evidently requires its insertion.

Goats hair - 83x in 80v - female goat(2), female goats(3), goat(44), goat*(2), goats(13), goats'(9), young goat*(5), young goats*(3). Gen. 15:9; Gen. 27:9; Gen. 27:16; Gen. 30:32; Gen. 30:33; Gen. 30:35; Gen. 31:38; Gen. 32:14; Gen. 38:17; Gen. 38:20; Exod. 12:5; Exod. 25:4; Exod. 26:7; Exod. 35:6; Exod. 35:23; Exod. 35:26; Exod. 36:14; Lev. 1:10; Lev. 3:12; Lev. 4:23; Lev. 5:6; Lev. 7:23; Lev. 9:3; Lev. 9:15; Lev. 10:16; Lev. 16:5; Lev. 16:9; Lev. 16:10; Lev. 16:15; Lev. 16:18; Lev. 16:20; Lev. 16:21; Lev. 16:22; Lev. 17:3; Lev. 22:19; Lev. 22:27; Num. 7:16; Num. 7:22; Num. 7:28; Num. 7:34; Num. 7:40; Num. 7:46; Num. 7:52; Num. 7:58; Num. 7:64; Num. 7:70; Num. 7:76; Num. 7:82; Num. 7:87; Num. 15:11; Num. 15:24; Num. 15:27; Num. 18:17; Num. 28:15; Num. 28:30; Num. 29:5; Num. 29:11; Num. 29:16; Num. 29:19; Num. 29:25; Num. 31:20; Deut. 14:4; Jdg. 6:19; Jdg. 13:15; Jdg. 13:19; Jdg. 15:1; 1 Sam. 16:20; 1 Sam. 19:13; 1 Sam. 19:16; 1 Sam. 25:2; 1 Ki. 20:27; 2 Chr. 29:21; 2 Chr. 35:7; Prov. 27:27; Song. 4:1; Song. 6:5; Ezek. 43:22; Ezek. 45:23; Dan. 8:8; Dan. 8:21

Exodus 25:5  rams' skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood,

  • Ex 26:14 
  • acacia wood: Ex 26:15,26,37 Ex 27:1 36:20 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Rams' skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood - Acacia wood was almost always associated with the construction of the tabernacle. It was a desert wood which was aromatic, hard, durable and darker than the oak. 

Clarke - This acacia is known to have been plentiful in Egypt, and it abounds in Arabia Desert, the very place in which Moses was when he built the tabernacle; and hence it is reasonable to suppose that he built it of that wood, which was every way proper for his purpose.” (Clarke)

Porpoise - (Wikipedia) - Porpoises are common in the Red Sea; their skins are used for clothing by the bedouin. (NET)

Porpoise - 14x in 14v - Exod. 25:5; Exod. 26:14; Exod. 35:7; Exod. 35:23; Exod. 36:19; Exod. 39:34; Num. 4:6; Num. 4:8; Num. 4:10; Num. 4:11; Num. 4:12; Num. 4:14; Num. 4:25; Ezek. 16:10

Acacia - 28x in 28v - Exod. 25:5; Exod. 25:10; Exod. 25:13; Exod. 25:23; Exod. 25:28; Exod. 26:15; Exod. 26:26; Exod. 26:32; Exod. 26:37; Exod. 27:1; Exod. 27:6; Exod. 30:1; Exod. 30:5; Exod. 35:7; Exod. 35:24; Exod. 36:20; Exod. 36:31; Exod. 36:36; Exod. 37:1; Exod. 37:4; Exod. 37:10; Exod. 37:15; Exod. 37:25; Exod. 37:28; Exod. 38:1; Exod. 38:6; Deut. 10:3; Isa. 41:19

George BushRams’ skins dyed red. Heb. ערת אלם מאדְים oroth ëlim meoddamim, skins of red rams. That is, either those which were naturally of this color, for such are found in the Levant, or those which were made so by dyeing, and thus converted to a kind of red morocco. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Badgers’ skins (porpoise skins). Heb. ערת תחשים oroth tehashin. It is very uncertain what is intended by the original word תחש tahash here rendered ‘badger.’ The ancient versions for the most part evidently consider it as designating some kind of color, either purple or violet. But as it appears from Ezek. 16:10, that it denotes a substance from which shoes were made, it is probably safer to consider it as the appellation of some of the animal tribes whose skins would serve for a rough exterior covering of the Tabernacle to protect the more delicate work of the inner curtains from injury by the weather. Yet that it could not have been the animal now called ‘badger,’ there is the strongest reason to believe. The badger is an inhabitant of cold countries, nor can any evidence be adduced that it ever existed in Palestine, Arabia, or Egypt. Whence then could the Israelites have procured its skin to cover the Tabernacle, especially in such quantities as would be requisite? It is by no means a prolific animal, and in the countries in which it breeds, as in England, it is comparatively rare. Moreover, as it is pronounced unclean by the Mosaic law, it would scarcely have been employed for such a sacred purpose. But if it were an animal at all, of what species was it? Aben Ezra thinks, from the force of the term, that it was some animal which was thick and fat, and ‘in this sense the word appears to be the same as the Arabic dasash, fat, oily. The conjecture, then, of those who refer the tahash to the seal, is every way credible; as in our own island the seal is famous for its fat or oil, which, in default of whale oil, is used for similar purposes. Moreover, seal-skins, on account of their durability, are used to cover trunks and boxes, to defend them from the weather; and as the skin of the tahash was used for making shoes, (Ezek. 16:10), so the skin of the seal may be, and is, tanned into as good leather as calf-skin itself. It remains then, to be proved that an animal, fit for the purpose, was readily procurable by the Israelites in the wilderness; for this we quote Thevenot (p. 166.), who, being at Tor, a port on the Red Sea, says, ‘But they could not furnish me with any thing of a certain fish, which they call a sea-man. However, I got the hand of one since. This fish is taken in the Red Sea, about little isles, that are close by Tor. It is a great, strong fish, and hath nothing extraordinary but two hands, which are indeed like the hands of a man, saving that the fingers are joined together with a skin like the foot of a goose; but the skin of the fish is like the skin of a wild goat, or chamois. When they spy that fish, they strike him on the back with harping irons, as they do whales, and so kill him. They use the skin of it for making bucklers, which are musket proof.’ Whether this be a species of seal must be left undetermined; as nothing is said of its coming ashore, or being amphibious; nevertheless, it may be the tahash of the Hebrews. Niebuhr says (p. 157, Fr. edit.), ‘A merchant of Abushahr called dahash that fish which the captains of English vessels called porpoise, and the Germans sea-hog, or dolphin. In my voyage from Maskat to Abushahr, I saw a prodigious quantity together, near Ras Mussendom, who all were going the same way, and seemed to swim with great vehemence.’ Gesenius adopts the same opinion, on account of the similarity of the Arabic name dahash, which means, properly, the dolphin, but is also applied to the seal genus. On many of the small islands of the Red Sea, around the peninsula of Sinai, are found seals; (hence insula phocarum, Strab. 16. p. 766.) likewise, a species of sea-cow, called also sea-man or sea-camel, the skin of which is an inch thick, and is used by the Arabs of the present day for shoe-leather. Burckhardt remarks that he ‘saw parts of the skin of a large fish, killed on the coast, which was an inch in thickness, and is employed by the Arabs instead of leather for sandals.’ Robinson’s Calmet.

Shittim-wood. (acacia wood) Heb. עצי שטים atzë shittim, wood of the shittah tree, mentioned Is. 41:19. It is rendered by the Gr. ξυλαασηπτα, incorruptible wood. Though not certainly known, it is supposed, with great probability, to be the acacia, or species of thorn that still grows in great abundance in the deserts of Arabia; the wood of which, according to Jerome, is extremely light, solid, strong, and smooth; qualities rarely found together in any one wood. The tree is of the size of a large mulberry-tree, large enough, says the father above mentioned, to furnish very long planks. ‘The Acacia-tree,’ says Dr. Shaw, ‘being by much the largest and most common tree in these deserts (Arabia Petrea), we have some reason to conjecture that the shittim-wood was the acacia.’

Exodus 25:6  oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense,

  • Oil for: Ex 25:37 27:20 40:24,25 
  • spices: Ex 30:23-38 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

oil for lighting - "For the lamp that was to burn continually in the sanctuary. This it appears, from Ex. 27:20, was to be ‘pure olive oil beaten.’" (Bush)

Spurgeon on oil for lighting - Not every kind of oil could be used in the Lord’s service. Neither the petroleum that exudes so plentifully from the earth, nor the produce of fish, nor that extracted from nuts would be accepted; only one oil was selected, and that was the best olive oil. Pretended grace from natural goodness, fancied grace from priestly hands, or imaginary grace from outward ceremonies will never serve the true child of God; he knows the Lord would not be pleased with rivers of such oil. He goes to the olive press of Gethsemane and draws his supplies from him who was crushed there. The oil of gospel grace is pure and free from sediment and dregs, and so the light that is fed by it is clear and bright. Our churches are the Savior’s golden candelabra, and if they are to be lights in this dark world, they must have plenty of holy oil. Let us pray for ourselves, our ministers, and our churches that they may never lack oil for the light. Truth, holiness, joy, knowledge, love—these are all beams of the sacred light; but we cannot send them out into the darkness unless in private we receive oil from God the Holy Spirit.

spices - Heb. בשמים besamim. Gr. θυμιαματα, incenses. The term includes all the odoriferous ingredients which were employed in the composition of the ‘anointing oil’ or the ointment by which the altar of incense and all the vessels of the ark were hallowed, and lastly, in the incense which was burnt upon the altar. (Bush)

NIV Study Bible. Those used in the anointing oil are identified in Ex 30:23-24 as myrrh (balsam sap), cinnamon (bark of the cinnamon tree, a species of laurel), cane (pith from the root of a reed plant) and cassia (made from dried flowers of the cinnamon tree). Those used in the fragrant incense are identified in Ex 30:34 as gum resin (a powder taken from the middle of hardened drops of myrrh—rare and very valuable), onycha (made from mollusk shells) and galbanum (a rubbery resin taken from the roots of a flowering plant that thrives in Syria and Persia). (Balsam spices were a mixture of three ingredients in Ex 30:34 that were added to pure frankincense and salt to create a special formula used only on the golden altar of incense.)

for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense - "Heb. לקטרת הסמים liktoreth hassammim, for the burning of sweet odors; i. e. upon the golden altar that stood in the holy place. Comp Ex. 30:22–28." (Bush)

Spurgeon - Morning and Evening - “Oil for the light.”—Exodus 25:6

My soul, how much thou needest this, for thy lamp will not long continue to burn without it. Thy snuff will smoke and become an offence if light be gone, and gone it will be if oil be absent. Thou hast no oil well springing up in thy human nature, and therefore thou must go to them that sell and buy for thyself, or like the foolish virgins, thou wilt have to cry, “My lamp is gone out.” Even the consecrated lamps could not give light without oil; though they shone in the tabernacle they needed to be fed, though no rough winds blew upon them they required to be trimmed, and thy need is equally as great. Under the most happy circumstances thou canst not give light for another hour unless fresh oil of grace be given thee.

It was not every oil that might be used in the Lord’s service; neither the petroleum which exudes so plentifully from the earth, nor the produce of fishes, nor that extracted from nuts would be accepted; one oil only was selected, and that the best olive oil. Pretended grace from natural goodness, fancied grace from priestly hands, or imaginary grace from outward ceremonies will never serve the true saint of God; he knows that the Lord would not be pleased with rivers of such oil. He goes to the olive-press of Gethsemane, and draws his supplies from him who was crushed therein. The oil of gospel grace is pure and free from lees and dregs, and hence the light which is fed thereon is clear and bright. Our churches are the Saviour’s golden candelabra, and if they are to be lights in this dark world, they must have much holy oil. Let us pray for ourselves, our ministers, and our churches, that they may never lack oil for the light. Truth, holiness, joy, knowledge, love, these are all beams of the sacred light, but we cannot give them forth unless in private we receive oil from God the Holy Ghost.

Exodus 25:7  onyx stones and setting stones for the ephod and for the breastpiece.

  • Onyx stones: Ex 28:9-21 
  • ephod: Ex 28:4,6,15 


Onyx stones Onyx stones. Heb. אבני שחם abne shoham, stones of shoham. The stones set in the two shoulder pieces of the ephod (Exod 28:9-12; 39:6-7) were of a substance such as carnelian, onyx or lapis lazuli, which could be engraved.

Bush - It is acknowledged that there is great difficulty in ascertaining what stone is meant by the ‘shoham.’ The Gr. translates the word in different places by no less than six different terms. In the three Chaldee Targums, as also in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, it is rendered by ‘beryl,’ which Ainsworth adopts in his Annotations. As it was one of the jewels is the breastplate, and as two of them were borne on the High Priest’s shoulders, each containing the names of six of the twelve tribes of Israel, it must have been a stone of very considerable size. On this account it is less likely to have been the onyx which is a very small stone. There were several kinds of ‘beryls,’ the most approved of which were of a sea-green color, though Pliny describes one as inclining to a hyacinthine or azure color. But of the ‘beryl’ see Note on Ex. 28:9, 20." 

and setting stones - Stones to be set. Heb. אבני מלאים abnë milluïm, stones of fillings; i. e. stones to be set in, or, as artists say, enchased in the cavities of gold of the ephod. For a description of the Ephod and Breastplate, see on Ex. 28:4, and 15. (Bush)

for the ephod - These stones were on these aspects of the priestly apparel. 

Ephod (0646)(ephod) "represents a close-fitting outer garment associated with worship. It was a kind of long vest, generally reaching to the thighs. The "ephod" of the high priest was fastened with a beautifully woven girdle (Ex 28:27-28) and had shoulder straps set in onyx stones, on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes. Over the chest of the high priest was the breastplate, also containing twelve stones engraved with the tribal names. Rings attached it to the "ephod." The Urim and Thummin were also linked to the breastplate. Apparently, this "ephod" and attachments were prominently displayed in the sanctuary. David consulted the "ephod" to learn whether the people of Keilah would betray him to Saul (1 Sam. 23:9-12); no doubt the Urim and Thummim were used. The first biblical occurrence of the word refers to this high priestly ephod: "Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate" (Ex 25:7). So venerated was this "ephod" that replicas were sometimes made (Jdg. 8:27; Jdg. 17:1-5) and even worshiped. Lesser priests (1 Sa 2:28) and priestly trainees wore less elaborate "ephods" made of linen whenever they appeared before the altar." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words)

Ephod - 49x in 39v  - Exod. 25:7; Exod. 28:4; Exod. 28:6; Exod. 28:12; Exod. 28:15; Exod. 28:25; Exod. 28:26; Exod. 28:27; Exod. 28:28; Exod. 28:31; Exod. 29:5; Exod. 35:9; Exod. 35:27; Exod. 39:2; Exod. 39:7; Exod. 39:8; Exod. 39:18; Exod. 39:19; Exod. 39:20; Exod. 39:21; Exod. 39:22; Lev. 8:7; Jdg. 8:27; Jdg. 17:5; Jdg. 18:14; Jdg. 18:17; Jdg. 18:18; Jdg. 18:20; 1 Sam. 2:18; 1 Sam. 2:28; 1 Sam. 14:3; 1 Sam. 21:9; 1 Sam. 22:18; 1 Sam. 23:6; 1 Sam. 23:9; 1 Sam. 30:7; 2 Sam. 6:14; 1 Chr. 15:27; Hos. 3:4

Naves Topic - Ephod A sacred vestment worn by the high priest

  • Described Exodus 28:6-14,31-35 ; 25:7
  • The making of Exodus 39:2-26
  • Breastplate attached to Exodus 28:22-29
  • Worn by Aaron Exodus 39:5
  • Used as an oracle 1 Samuel 23:9,12 ; 30:7,8
  • An inferior, was worn by the ordinary priests 1 Samuel 22:18
  • Worn by Samuel 1 Samuel 2:18
  • Worn by David 2 Samuel 6:14
  • It was called COAT Exodus 28:40 ; 29:8 ; 39:27 ; 40:14 ; Leviticus 8:13 ; 10:5
  • Made by Gideon, became an idolatrous snare to Israel Judges 8:27 ; 17:5 ; 18:14
  • Prophecy concerning the absence of the Ephod from Israel Hosea 3:4

Related Resources:

and for the breastpiece - :The descriptions of its composition and particularly the directions with regard to wearing it are exceedingly obscure. According to Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65 the Urim and Thummim, which were called in the priestly pouch, were lost during the Babylonian exile. The actual pouch was a "span in length and a span in breadth," i.e. about 9 inch square. It was made, like the ephod, of "gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen" ( Exodus 28:15 f). In it were twelve precious stones, in rows of four, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Apparently the pouch had two rings (perhaps four) through which passed two gold chains by which it was fastened to the ephod supplied for the purpose with ouches or clasps. The pouch was worn by the high priest over his heart when he entered the "holy place" "for a memorial before Yahweh." The presence of the high priest, the representative of the people, with the names of the separate tribes on his person, brought each tribe before the notice of Yahweh and thereby directed His attention to them. The full designation was ḥōshen mishpāṭ , "pouch of judgment" or "decision." It was the distinctive symbol of the priest in his capacity as the giver of oracles. As already suggested the priestly pouch contained the Urim and Thummim which were probably precious stones used as lots in giving decisions. In all probability the restored text of 1 Samuel 14:41 preserves the true custom. On one side stood Saul and Jonathan, and the people on the other side. If the result was Urim, Saul and Jonathan would be the guilty parties. If the result was Thummim, the guilt would fasten on the people. (ISBE)

Breastpiece (breastplate)((02833)(hosen/choshen) is "always used in the OT for the breast piece of the high priest. Some translate the word "sacred pouch." Arabic cognates suggest that it may have an underlying meaning of "beauty." All twenty-five references occur in Exo. 25-29, 35, 39, and Lev. 8, which record the instructions for making the high priest's garments, the actual execution of those orders, and the installation ceremony where the priest first wore the garments publicly. The breast piece was made of fine linen fabric, woven with gold, blue, purple and scarlet material, like the high priest's ephod or priestly garment (Exo. 28:15). It was square, and measured a span (about 3 inches) on each side, with a gold ring at each corner. Twelve gem stones were attached to it, each engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes. Gold chains ran from the corner rings to attach it firmly to the onyx stones on the priest's shoulders, and to a cord attached to the bottom of the ephod at waist level by other gold rings. It was called a "breast piece of judgment" (Ex 28:15, 29f), because its double fabric formed a pouch which held the Urim and Thummim, items used to discern God's will. The Septuagint calls it the "oracle of judgment." Josephus (Antiquities, 3:7:5) gives an elaborate, but not totally accurate description of the breast piece. Charles Feinberg (TWOT 1:332) says that the breast piece symbolizes the unity of the nation Israel, the dependence of the people on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the place of the high priest as a channel of revealing God's will. (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Torrey' Topic Breastplate

  • A part of defensive armour 1 Kings 22:34
  • A part of the high priest's dress Exodus 28:4
    • Made of iron Revelation 9:9
    • Bright and shining Revelation 9:17
    • Materials of Exodus 28:15 ; 39:8
    • Form and dimensions of Exodus 28:16 ; 39:9
    • Made from the offering of the people Exodus 35:9
  • Had names of the tribes engraved on precious stones Exodus 28:17-21 ; 39:10,14
  • Inseparably united to the ephod Exodus 28:22-28 ; 39:15-21
  • The Urim and Thummim placed in Exodus 28:30 ; Leviticus 8:8
  • Worn as a memorial Exodus 28:29 ; Isaiah 49:16
    • Righteous judgment of Christ Isaiah 59:17
    • Defence of righteousness Ephesians 6:14
    • Defence of faith and love 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Related Resources:

Questions What was the significance of the ephod?

Answer: In the Old Testament, the ephod has two meanings. In one group of passages, it signifies a garment; in another, very probably an image. As a garment the ephod is referred to in the priestly ordinances as a part of the official dress of the high priest. It was to be made of threads “of blue and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen” and embroidered in gold thread “with cunning work” (Exodus 28:4; 29:5; 39:2; Leviticus 8:7).

The ephod was held together by a girdle of similar workmanship sewed on to it. It had two shoulder pieces, which, as the name implies, crossed the shoulders, and were apparently fastened or sewed to the ephod in front. In dressing, the shoulder pieces were joined in the back to the two ends of the ephod. Nothing is said of the length of the garment. At the point where the shoulder pieces were joined together in the front “above the girdle,” two golden rings were sewed on, to which the breastplate was attached.

The word ephod has an entirely different meaning in the second group of passages, all of which belong to the historical books. It is certain that the word cannot here refer to a garment. This is evident in Judges 8:26–27, where it is recorded that Gideon took from the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite allies, golden earrings, weighing 1,700 shekels of gold, and made an “ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah,” where it was worshiped by all Israel. In Judges 17:5, Micah made an ephod and teraphim, or idol, for his sanctuary. The most natural inference from all these passages is that “ephod” here signifies an image that was set up in the sanctuary, especially since the word is cited with teraphim, which undoubtedly refers to graven images (Hosea 3:4). The conclusion is that ephod, in these cases, refers to a portable idol. Some scholars have suggested that the connection between the idol and the garment is that the idol was originally clothed in a linen garment, and the term ephod gradually came to describe the idol as a whole. (GotQuestions.org)

Exodus 25:8  "Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.

NET  Exodus 25:8 Let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them.

NLT  Exodus 25:8 "Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.

ESV  Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

NIV  Exodus 25:8 "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

  • sanctuary: Ex 15:2 36:1-4 Lev 4:6 10:4 21:12 Heb 9:1,2 
  • I may dwell: Ex 29:45 1Ki 6:13 Isa 12:6 Zec 2:10 8:3 2Co 6:16 Heb 3:6 Rev 21:3 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Related Passages: 

John 1:14+ And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (TABERNACLED) among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Rev 21:3+ And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell (TABERNACLE) among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them - Sanctuary (miqdash) is a holy place set apart for Jehovah. It is translated in Septuagint with hagiasma which means a space set aside for devotion. (cf Ex 15:17). The purpose of constructing the Tabernacle is so that Yahweh may dwell or live in the midst of the sons of Israel. Dwell (shakan) "conveys the idea of temporary lodging in a tent and characterizes the nomadic style of life. In Ex 25:8 shakan is translated in the Septuagint with the verb horao which is in the passive voice meaning to become visible or appear, which emphasizes that not only will Jehovah dwell there but that He will be visible (most likely in the Shekinah glory cloud). And so the tabernacle symbolizes the visible presence of Jehovah in the midst of the people symbolizing that He has chosen Israel as His people.

Recall that in Ex 3:5+ Moses was told “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Now God ordains a sanctuary, a holy place, holy ground if you will, where Moses can come to meet with God. The sanctuary was holy because it was indwelt by the thrice holy God! 

Thompson - in Hebrew we could read this sentence, “They will make Me a Holy Place and I will locate among them.” Now let us think about this for a moment. God did not require some building in order to dwell with His people. Obviously He has been with this people all the way out of Egypt. However, what this new building would do would be to make a statement to God that His people wanted a special, sacred place where His presence would be specifically there. In other words, if people were willing to actually build this place through their voluntary gifts, they are making a statement to God that we want you to be present in this very special place we are building.

Third Millennium notes on the Tabernacle - E.F. Willis in The Biblical Illustrator, says: It is called the House of Jehovah (Exod 23:19; Josh 6:24; 1 Sam 3:15); The Temple of Jehovah (1 Sam 3:3), the Sanctuary (Exod 25:8; Lev 12:4; 16:33; 19:30; 20:3; Lev 21:12; Num 3:38, etc.); or simply, the Tabernacle (Exod 25:9; 26:16; 27:9, 19, etc.); or Dwelling, i.e., of God. The two most characteristic names, however, are, the Tent or Tabernacle of the Testimony (Num 9:15; 17:22, etc.), and the Tent or Tabernacle of Meeting (Ex 27:21; 39:32, 40; 40:7, 34, 35, etc.). The name Tent or Tabernacle of the Testimony had reference to that which was one of the two chief objects of the Tabernacle, viz., to serve as a shrine for "the Testimony" - the two tables of stone on which were engraved the ten words of the Divine Law. The other characteristic name, that of Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting, speaks of the other chief end for which the Tabernacle existed, viz., to be a place of meeting between God and His people (Ex 25:8, 22; 29:42-45; 30:6, 36).

Currid says this passage "underscores the doctrine of the immanence of God, that he is working among his people."  (Exodus - EPSC)

Bush - The term miqdash denotes a holy habitation expressly consecrated to the residence of the visible divine majesty in the midst of them. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Guzik has an interesting note - In the proportion of the finished tabernacle, the present day value of these materials total more than $13 million (DeWitt). Their combined weight would be almost 19,000 pounds (8,600 kilos). (Exodus 25)

Cassuto reminds the reader that God did not need a place to dwell, but the Israelites needed a dwelling place for him, so that they would look to it and be reminded that he was in their midst

God's words "I may dwell among them" recall the promise of God in 2 Cor 6:16 

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 

And even more intimate dwelling is described in 1 Cor 6:19-20+

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

American Tract Society on sanctuary - A holy place devoted to God. It appears to be the name sometimes of the entire temple, Psalm 73.17 ; Hebrews 9.1 ; sometimes of the "Holy place," where the altar on incense, the golden candlestick, and the showbread stood, 2 Chronicles 26:18 Hebrews 9:2 ; and sometimes of the "Holy of Holies," the most secret and retired part of the temple, in which was the ark of the covenant, and where none but the high priest might enter, and he only once a year on the day of solemn expiation. The same name was also given to the most sacred part of the tabernacle set up in the wilderness, Leviticus 4:6 .

Sanctuary (holy place) (04720)(miqdash from qadash = to set apart, to separate) describes that which is set apart from all common or secular purposes to some religious use. Specifically it means a holy place or sanctuary. The sanctuary (the tabernacle - Lev 12:4, 21:12 or later the Temple 1Chr 22:19, 2Chr 29:21, Da 11:31) was not just the dwelling place of Jehovah (Ex 25:8, Ps 68:35, His throne = Jer 17:12) but was also the place where atonement for sin was accomplished (Lev 16:33). Therefore the sanctuary was to be revered (Lev 19:30, 26:2) and was not to be profaned (Lev 21:12, 23). Although His sanctuary, the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Babylonians (God allowed it, even caused it Ezek 24:21), He promises a future sanctuary in their midst forever, a promise to Israel that has not yet been fulfilled but awaits the triumphal return of the King of the Jews, at which time He will establish His Millennial Kingdom and rule in the sanctuary from Jerusalem (Ezek 37:26-28). In fact, this promise is why there is such emphasis (18 uses of miqdash) in Ezekiel 40-48 which provide a detailed description of the glorious Millennial sanctuary. How tragic it is to take these promises in Ezekiel as allegorical or specifically given to the church and to miss the glorious truth that God is a promise keeping God and even in the midst of wrath He remembers mercy for His chosen (undeserving to be sure) people!

Miqdash - holy(1), holy place(2), holy places(1), places(1), sacred part(1), sanctuaries(5), sanctuary(65). Ex 15:17; Ex 25:8; Lev. 12:4; Lev. 16:33; Lev. 19:30; Lev. 20:3; Lev. 21:12; Lev. 21:23; Lev. 26:2; Lev. 26:31; Num. 3:38; Num. 10:21; Num. 18:1; Num. 18:29; Num. 19:20; Jos. 24:26; 1 Chr. 22:19; 1 Chr. 28:10; 2 Chr. 20:8; 2 Chr. 26:18; 2 Chr. 29:21; 2 Chr. 30:8; 2 Chr. 36:17; Neh. 10:39; Ps. 68:35; Ps. 73:17; Ps. 74:7; Ps. 78:69; Ps. 96:6; Isa. 8:14; Isa. 16:12; Isa. 60:13; Isa. 63:18; Jer. 17:12; Jer. 51:51; Lam. 1:10; Lam. 2:7; Lam. 2:20; Ezek. 5:11; Ezek. 7:24; Ezek. 8:6; Ezek. 9:6; Ezek. 11:16; Ezek. 21:2; Ezek. 23:38; Ezek. 23:39; Ezek. 24:21; Ezek. 25:3; Ezek. 28:18; Ezek. 37:26; Ezek. 37:28; Ezek. 43:21; Ezek. 44:1; Ezek. 44:5; Ezek. 44:7; Ezek. 44:8; Ezek. 44:9; Ezek. 44:11; Ezek. 44:15; Ezek. 44:16; Ezek. 45:3; Ezek. 45:4; Ezek. 45:18; Ezek. 47:12; Ezek. 48:8; Ezek. 48:10; Ezek. 48:21; Dan. 8:11; Dan. 9:17; Dan. 11:31; Amos 7:9; Amos 7:13

Dwell (07931)(shakan) to settle down = from which is derived rabbinic word shekinah or shechinah lit, “that which dwells” ~"residence" the light on the mercy-seat which symbolized the Divine presence (Ex 25:8). In order to avoid appearing to localize the Divine Being, wherever God is said to “dwell” in a place, the Targum renders that He “causes His Shekinah to dwell” there. God is the subject of shakan 43 times - . He may dwell on Mount Zion (Psalm 74:2). He dwells among his people (Exodus 25:8). He will dwell in Jerusalem (Zech. 8:3). Baker - First, it simply means to settle down (Ex. 24:16; Num. 24:2; Ps. 102:28[29]). Second, it can mean to lie down or rest. When used this way, it can refer to objects (Num. 9:17; Job 3:5); animals (Isa. 13:21); and people (Jer. 23:6; 33:16). When people are the object of the verb, it means that they are resting in peace and security. Third, it may mean to dwell or abide. Again, this can have several referents such as people (Ps. 37:27; Pr 2:21); the dead (Job 26:5); God (1 Ki. 8:12; Isa. 8:18); or objects such as the Tabernacle (Josh. 22:19). In the intensive form, it means to establish. The word is used in this way in Deuteronomy 12:11 and Psalm 78:60 to describe how God set up a dwelling place for His name, establishing Himself in Israel. Finally, the causative form means to lay, to place, to set (Gen. 3:24; Josh. 18:1); or to cause to dwell (Job 11:14; Ps. 78:55). (Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament)

Shakan - 131x in 124v - abide(1), abide*(1), abides(1), camping(1), continue(1), dwell(56), dwellers(1), dwelling(7), dwells(11), dwelt(5), establish(5), inhabitants(1), inhabited(1), lay(1), lie(1), lies down(1), live(9), lived(3), lives(1), living(1), lying down(1), nest(2), pitched(1), remain(1), remained(2), remains(1), rest(1), rested(1), set(1), settle(2), settled(3), settled down(2), stands(1), stationed(1), stay(1), staying(1). Gen. 3:24; Gen. 9:27; Gen. 14:13; Gen. 16:12; Gen. 25:18; Gen. 26:2; Gen. 35:22; Gen. 49:13; Exod. 24:16; Exod. 25:8; Exod. 29:45; Exod. 29:46; Exod. 40:35; Lev. 16:16; Num. 5:3; Num. 9:17; Num. 9:18; Num. 9:22; Num. 10:12; Num. 14:30; Num. 23:9; Num. 24:2; Num. 35:34; Deut. 12:5; Deut. 12:11; Deut. 14:23; Deut. 16:2; Deut. 16:6; Deut. 16:11; Deut. 26:2; Deut. 33:12; Deut. 33:16; Deut. 33:20; Deut. 33:28; Jos. 18:1; Jos. 22:19; Jdg. 5:17; Jdg. 8:11; 2 Sam. 7:10; 1 Ki. 6:13; 1 Ki. 8:12; 1 Chr. 17:9; 1 Chr. 23:25; 2 Chr. 6:1; Neh. 1:9; Job 3:5; Job 4:19; Job 11:14; Job 15:28; Job 18:15; Job 26:5; Job 29:25; Job 30:6; Job 37:8; Job 38:19; Job 39:28; Ps. 7:5; Ps. 15:1; Ps. 16:9; Ps. 37:3; Ps. 37:27; Ps. 37:29; Ps. 55:6; Ps. 65:4; Ps. 68:6; Ps. 68:16; Ps. 68:18; Ps. 69:36; Ps. 74:2; Ps. 78:55; Ps. 78:60; Ps. 85:9; Ps. 94:17; Ps. 102:28; Ps. 104:12; Ps. 120:5; Ps. 120:6; Ps. 135:21; Ps. 139:9; Prov. 1:33; Prov. 2:21; Prov. 7:11; Prov. 8:12; Prov. 10:30; Isa. 8:18; Isa. 13:20; Isa. 13:21; Isa. 18:3; Isa. 26:19; Isa. 32:16; Isa. 33:5; Isa. 33:16; Isa. 34:11; Isa. 34:17; Isa. 57:15; Isa. 65:9; Jer. 7:3; Jer. 7:7; Jer. 7:12; Jer. 17:6; Jer. 23:6; Jer. 25:24; Jer. 33:16; Jer. 46:26; Jer. 48:28; Jer. 49:16; Jer. 49:31; Jer. 50:39; Jer. 51:13; Ezek. 17:23; Ezek. 31:13; Ezek. 32:4; Ezek. 43:7; Ezek. 43:9; Joel 3:17; Joel 3:21; Obad. 1:3; Mic. 4:10; Mic. 7:14; Nah. 3:18; Zech. 2:10; Zech. 2:11; Zech. 8:3; Zech. 8:8

Bush - That I may dwelt among them. Heb. ושכנתי veshakanti, and I will dwell. Gr. οφθησομαι (horao - in passive means to become visible, appear) εν ὑμιν, I will be seen among you. Chal. ‘I will make my Glory to dwell in the midst of them.’ Arab. ‘That I may make my Splendor to inhabit among them.’ The import plainly is, that God would dwell among them by the signal manifestations of his glory in the Shekinah, the visible token of his presence. The original word שכנתי shakanti comes from שכן shakan, to dwell in a tent or tabernacle, and from the same root comes both שכינה shekinah, and the Gr. skenoo, to tabernacle, from which latter is the derivative skene, a tent or tabernacle. The radical consonants (sh)s, k, n, are the same in both languages, to which the vowels are mere factitious append ages. In express allusion therefore to the mode of the divine residence among the Israelites, it is said of Christ, John 1:14+, ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt (εσκηνωσε tabernacled or shekinized) among us, and we beheld his glory;’ i. e. at the transfiguration, when the cloud or veil of his flesh, by being temporarily rent asunder, disclosed the true inner glory of his Godhead, answering to the luminous cloud of the Shekinah, which is in numerous instances called  doxa, glory. In like manner, in allusion to the sensible mode in which God manifested himself to his peculiar people. Christ is said to be ‘the radiance of His glory ,’ Heb. 1:3+, language which goes to identify the person of the Son with the glorious apparition of the Shekinah. The term again occurs in evident allusion to these words of Moses, Rev. 21:3+, ‘ And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,’ This is the fulfilment of the prediction uttered by Ezekiel 37:26, 27+, ‘And I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore; my tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people,’ announcing a period yet future when this earth shall again be distinguished by some visible manifestation of the divine presence under circumstances of far more glory than those in which he appeared of old to the chosen people, and answering the same purpose in respect to the whole human race which the Shekinah of the Tabernacle did in respect to a single nation.  (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Inner Beauty

The tabernacle in the wilderness was a tent where the glory of God dwelt. The structure was made of badger skins and was plain on the outside. But inside it was exquisitely beautiful (Exodus 25–27).

We can compare the tabernacle with Jesus’ human form. John said, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The word dwelt means He “pitched His tent with us,” the same word that ancient Greek versions of the Old Testament used for the tabernacle.

Jesus looked like an ordinary man: He had “no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). No one gave Him a second look. Yet John “beheld His glory,” the glory of God Himself. Occasionally, the tent flap was lifted and he caught a glimpse of Jesus’ inner beauty and majesty.

We are tabernacles too, made of skin, made to contain God’s Spirit. Most of us are very plain, not like the made-up actors we see in the movies or the air-brushed models we view in the ads. But God is even now—at this moment—in the process of making us radiantly beautiful within.

We may be very plain and ordinary on the outside—but as we allow God’s Spirit to work within us, the beauty of God’s indwelling presence will shine from our faces.

So, is the world seeing Jesus in you? —David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

A righteous heart is the fountain of beauty.

Exodus 25:9  "According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern o f the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

Pattern of the Tabernacle


According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle - Scripture repeatedly alludes to the pattern of the Tabernacle - Ex 25:9,40; Ex 26:30; Ex 27:8; Nu 8:4; Acts 7:44; Heb 8:5. In Ex 35:10-19 the instructions for building the tabernacle are in great detail. The point of this being God's pattern signifies that men are to build this according to God's specifications and not man's imagination. Show you indicates God did not just tell Moses the plans but actually showed them to him. Cole suggests the word pattern here "means almost architect's model." Obedience to God's plan was absolutely essential and this is doubly emphasized by the great detail in the description in Exodus 35-40. This attention to detail would indicate that there is some significance associated with the pattern. As the writer of Hebrews says 

David saw a pattern for the Temple

Then David gave to his son Solomon the plan (tabnith) of the porch of the temple, its buildings, its storehouses, its upper rooms, its inner rooms and the room for the mercy seat; 12 and the plan (tabnith) of all that he had in mind, for the courts of the house of the LORD, and for all the surrounding rooms, for the storehouses of the house of God and for the storehouses of the dedicated things; (1 Chr. 28:11-12)

“All this,” said David, “the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern.” (1 Chr 28:19).

Comment: NIV has "He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. (1Ch 28:12 NIV)"  George Bush comments "David, it seems, was furnished by divine inspiration with a visionary archetype of the Temple which he would have Solomon build to the Lord, and in accordance with this vision he procured a pattern or model to be executed, which should answer the purpose of guiding his son in the construction of the sacred edifice. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

A pattern means a design to serve as a model for something else, in this case a copy and shadow of the heavenly things as explained to by the writer of Hebrews...

Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN (tupos) WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.” (Heb 8:5+, see Heb 9:23, 24+)

Comment - The verb warned is chrematizo which signifies a divine injunction as in Hebrews 12:25. Shown is deiknumi which means to draw attention to something, to point out, to exhibit something that can be apprehended by one or more of the senses

Given the fact that the Tabernacle was a temporary structure F B Meyer writes The Hebrews were meant to feel that the God of their fathers was a fellow-pilgrim, that where they pitched He pitched, that their enemies, difficulties, and long toilsome marches were His.”

Currid states: Later, we see that every individual aspect of the design is spelt out (Exod 35:10-19) and these instructions are exhaustive in detail. The erection of the structure thus reflects the divine will alone, with nothing left to the imagination of the builders. It is often assumed, then, that God merely provided for Moses, in a sense, exact blueprints for what is to be built. But, in reality, it was much more than that - the word 'pattern' almost exclusively refers to an imitation of something that already exists in reality. The tabernacle, then, is modelled upon something else. It is a replica of a celestial archetype - that is, the heavenly sanctuary. (For further textual support of this idea, see Micah 1:2-3 and, especially, Heb. 9:23-24.)  (Exodus - EPSC)

George Bush on pattern - In the present instance, we do not indeed imagine that there was any miniature model in wood or stone of the Tabernacle made by Omnipotence and shown to Moses; but we do suppose that the supernatural spectacle presented to his view was so ordered as to convey to his mind all the impression which would have been produced by an actual objective presentation of the scenery to his outward senses in the form of substantial realities. On this strong, clear, and vivid impression of the objects seen, we suppose the use of the term model or pattern was founded. The vision was to him in the place of a pattern. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Phillip Ryken - The reason God was so attentive to detail was that this building was designed to teach something about his character and about what it means to have a relationship with him. Furthermore, the tabernacle was used for his holy worship, and God always has the right to determine exactly how he wants to be worshiped....how can we gain access to God? The answer is that he has come to live with us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. This was the purpose of his incarnation. According to the Gospel of John, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a).The word John uses for “dwelling” is central to our whole understanding of Exodus. It is the Greek word for tabernacle (skene). Thus the Bible makes an explicit connection between the tabernacle in Exodus and the coming of Christ. Jesus Christ is the tabernacle of God. God gave us his Son, just as he gave Israel the tabernacle, so that he could come and live with us. Only this time he didn’t just pitch his tent—he took on our own flesh and blood! The old tabernacle was a visual aid to show what kind of relationship God wants to have with his people.  (PW-Ex)

Currid - the word ‘pattern’ almost exclusively refers to an imitation of something that already exists in reality. The tabernacle, then, is modeled upon something else. It is a replica of a celestial archetype—that is, the heavenly sanctuary. (For further textual support of this idea, see Micah 1:2–3 and, especially, Heb. 9:23–24.)  (Exodus - EPSC)

Tabernacle (Dwelling) (04908)(mishkan from verb shakan = to settle down, to abide, to dwell) is a masculine noun which means dwelling place or sanctuary and is most often translated "tabernacle." And in over half of the uses mishkan was preceded by the definite article which conveyed the sense that it was "the tabernacle," not just any tabernacle, but is the one where Jehovah dwelt. In the first use Jehovah declares His intent to dwell (Hebrew = shakan) among Israel (Ex 25:8, Lev 26:11), for which He instructs them to construct the tabernacle (Ex 25:9). This word is rarely used of human dwellings. 

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates mishkan here with the noun skene which describes a temporary lodging place. The related verb skenoo is used to describe Jesus "tabernacling" with men - "And the Word (Jn 1:1-3) became flesh, and dwelt (skenoo) among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (Jn 1:14+) The verb from which mishkan is derived is shakan which gives rise to the term Shekinah (wikipedia), not found in the Bible but introduced in the Talmudic literature to describe the cloud of glory over the Holy of holies in the Tabernacle (and later the Temple), which was the visual manifestation of the presence of Jehovah (See on site discussion of the Shekinah glory cloud)

Tabernacle - 130x in 129v - dwelling(1), dwelling place(8), dwelling places(9), dwellings(9), resting place(1), tabernacle(109), tents(1), where...dwells(1). Ex 25:9; Ex 26:1; Ex 26:6; Ex 26:7; Ex 26:12; Ex 26:13; Ex 26:15; Ex 26:17; Ex 26:18; Ex 26:20; Ex 26:22; Ex 26:23; Ex 26:26; Ex 26:27; Ex 26:30; Ex 26:35; Ex 27:9; Ex 27:19; Ex 35:11; Ex 35:15; Ex 35:18; Ex 36:8; Ex 36:13; Ex 36:14; Ex 36:20; Ex 36:22; Ex 36:23; Ex 36:25; Ex 36:27; Ex 36:28; Ex 36:31; Ex 36:32; Ex 38:20; Ex 38:21; Ex 38:31; Ex 39:32; Ex 39:33; Ex 39:40; Ex 40:2; Ex 40:5; Ex 40:6; Ex 40:9; Ex 40:17; Ex 40:18; Ex 40:19; Ex 40:21; Ex 40:22; Ex 40:24; Ex 40:28; Ex 40:29; Ex 40:33; Ex 40:34; Ex 40:35; Ex 40:36; Ex 40:38; Lev. 8:10; Lev. 15:31; Lev. 17:4; Lev. 26:11; Nu 1:50; Nu 1:51; Nu 1:53; Nu 3:7; Nu 3:8; Nu 3:23; Nu 3:25; Nu 3:26; Nu 3:29; Nu 3:35; Nu 3:36; Nu 3:38; Nu 4:16; Nu 4:25; Nu 4:26; Nu 4:31; Nu 5:17; Nu 7:1; Nu 7:3; Nu 9:15; Nu 9:18; Nu 9:19; Nu 9:20; Nu 9:22; Nu 10:11; Nu 10:17; Nu 10:21; Nu 16:9; Nu 16:24; Nu 16:27; Nu 17:13; Nu 19:13; Nu 24:5; Nu 31:30; Nu 31:47; Jos. 22:19; Jos. 22:29; 2 Sam. 7:6; 1 Chr. 6:32; 1 Chr. 6:48; 1 Chr. 16:39; 1 Chr. 17:5; 1 Chr. 21:29; 1 Chr. 23:26; 2 Chr. 1:5; 2 Chr. 29:6; Job 18:21; Job 21:28; Job 39:6; Ps. 26:8; Ps. 43:3; Ps. 46:4; Ps. 49:11; Ps. 74:7; Ps. 78:28; Ps. 78:60; Ps. 84:1; Ps. 87:2; Ps. 132:5; Ps. 132:7; Song 1:8; Isa. 22:16; Isa. 32:18; Isa. 54:2; Jer. 9:19; Jer. 30:18; Jer. 51:30; Ezek. 25:4; Ezek. 37:27; Hab. 1:6

Bush - The term תבנית tabnith, comes from בנה banah, to build, and properly signifies in this connexion a model, a prototype, an exemplar, implying something sensible, corporeal, or substantial in contradistinction from דמות demuth, a likeness, which is applied rather in the general sense of representation, picture, or image, than of a framed model of any kind of structure. The distinction is very clearly indicated in 2 Kings, 16:10, ‘And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion (דמות demuth) of the altar, and the pattern (תבנית tabnith) of it, according to all the workmanship thereof;’ where תבנית undoubtedly signifies a model, and דמות some other kind of representation, either verbal or pictorial. In like manner we find a striking parallel, not only to the phrase, but to the general fact here recorded, in the history of the building of the Temple, 1 Chr 28:11, 12, ‘Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern (תבנית) of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasures thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlors thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, and the pattern (תבנית) of all he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things.’  (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

And the pattern of all its furniture - So not just the tabernacle enclosure but the furnishing are all clearly specified to Moses by God. 

Pattern (08403)(tabnith from banah = to build) construction, pattern, figure. Baker - Tabnith refers to the plans of a building or an object, such as the pattern of the Tabernacle and its contents (Ex. 25:9, 40); an altar (Josh. 22:28; 2 Ki. 16:10); and the Temple and its contents (1 Chr. 28:11, 12, 18, 19). However, in other contexts, it refers to an image that was patterned after something else, such as a graven image of a god (Deut. 4:16-18); the calf at Horeb (Ps. 106:20); pillars (Ps. 144:12); or a person (Isa. 44:13). In a few contexts, it refers to something in the form of an animal (Ezek. 8:10); or a hand (Ezek. 8:3; 10:8). (Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament)

Tabnith - 19x in 16v - copy(1), form(4), image(1), likeness(5), model(2), pattern(4), plan(2). Exod. 25:9; Exod. 25:40; Deut. 4:16; Deut. 4:17; Deut. 4:18; Jos. 22:28; 2 Ki. 16:10; 1 Chr. 28:11-12; 1 Chr. 28:18; 1 Chr. 28:19; Ps. 106:20; Isa. 44:13; Ezek. 8:3; Ezek. 8:10; Ezek. 10:8

Just so you shall construct it - The attention to detail is emphasized. 

O joy of joys, O grace of grace,
That God should condescend
To make my heart His dwelling-place
And be my dearest Friend!

M. R. DeHaan writes: The only building ever constructed upon this earth which was perfect from its very beginning and outset in every detail, and never again needed attention, addition or alteration, was the tabernacle in the wilderness. The blueprint, the pattern and the plan, the design, and all of its specifications, were minutely made in heaven, committed unto Moses for the children of Israel, while he was in the mountain, shortly after their deliverance from Egypt. Every single detail was designed by Almighty God, every part had a prophetic, redemptive, and typical significance. There is no portion of Scripture richer in meaning, more perfect in its teaching of the plan of redemption, than this divinely designed building. God Himself was the architect, and every detail points to some aspect of the character and work of the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, and, in its complete form, it is probably the most comprehensive, detailed revelation of Jesus the Son of God, and the plan of salvation in the entire Old Testament.

F B Meyer -    Exodus 25:9   According to all that I shew thee,... even so shall ye make it.
It was clear that God would only be responsible for the material that was needed for his plan. If Moses, or the people, insisted on putting in more than was in his original plan, they would have to bear the anxiety of securing the stuff. This is our mistake. We incur responsibilities that God does not put on us; we burden our hearts with anxiety and care because we insist on introducing so many items into our daily life, which would not have been there if we had but been content with God’s pattern, and acquiesced in his program.
This injunction is repeated in four different passages, showing the importance with which God regards it. Indeed, to be on God’s plan is the only place of rightness, safety, and joy.
God’s plan in our character. — It is presented in the human life of Jesus. We are to walk as He walked. Having been called according to his purpose, let us never rest content with anything less than being conformed to the image of God’s Son.
God’s plan in our Christian service. — Not seeking to resemble some other devoted life; but endeavoring to be as God would have us, the embodiment of his thought, the expression of his conception. Then our efforts will be crowned with success, and we shall bear much fruit to the glory of God.
God’s plan for every day. — He has prepared a scheme for the employment of every hour, and will show it to us by the indication of his Spirit, or by the trend of circumstances. Let us abide in Him, doing nothing that He does not teach, doing all He does. So life will become a tabernacle, in which the Shechinah will shine and sacrifices be offered. 

Exodus 25:10  "They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.

  • an ark: Ex 37:1-3 De 10:1-3 2Ch 8:11 Heb 9:4 Rev 11:19 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Ark of the Covenant


The first article within the Tabernacle is clearly the most important as it symbolizes God's presence in their midst. Ex 25:10-15 give instructions concerning the Ark, Ex 25:16 the placement of the Ark, Ex 25:17-21 the mercy seat on the Ark and Ex 25:22 God's promise to meet above the mercy seat. Note that that Noah's ark (Ge 6:14) and the "ark" Moses floated in as a baby (Ex 2:3) is a different word (tebah) then used here (aron) which actually is more accurately described as a "chest."

NET Note on the Ark - The point of this item in the tabernacle is to underscore the focus: the covenant people must always have God’s holy standard before them as they draw near to worship. A study of this would focus on God’s nature (he is a God of order, precision, and perfection), on the usefulness of this item for worship, and on the typology intended.

They shall construct an ark of acacia wood  - The Ark would eventually be within the inner room, the Holy of Holies and would contain the tablets of law (Ex 25:16), Aaron's rod that budded (Nu 17:5-9,10, Heb 9:4) and a golden pot of manna (Ex 16:33-34+). It should be noted that by the time of King Solomon we discover "There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt." (1 Ki 8:9) The other two items had either been lost or removed for unknown reasons. This is one of those many questions we may have answered in Heaven some day! 

Currid has an interesting comment (and see Bush's comment below) - It is widely recognized that the design of the ark (and the entire tabernacle, for that matter) is distinctly Egyptian. That is not a problem, since God may have used a pattern, or model, which the Hebrews were accustomed to seeing, and making, as artisans in Egypt.  (Exodus - EPSC)

Third Millennium notes - MacKay comments saying, "'Ark' is an older English word for a chest or box, and that is what the Ark itself basically was."  (Exodus: A Mentor Commentary) Enns adds, "The ark is the focus of God's presence with his people, the central point of contact between heaven and the tabernacle, the earthly symbol of heaven." It contained the Ten Commandment, the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod (Exod 16:33; 25:16; Num 17:10; Deut 10:15; Heb 9:4). The cover of the ark was viewed as the royal footstool of the Lord (1 Chron 28:2). Thus the Lord was the one "enthroned between the cherubim" (1 Sam 4:4; see Exod 29:43-46; 2Sa 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; Psa 80:1; 99:1; Isa 37:16).

Thompson - The ark is referred to over 200 times in the O. T. by different titles: the ark; the ark of Jehovah; the ark of God; the ark of the covenant; and the ark of the testimony. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW SANCTUARY, THE FIRST THING GOD WANTED MADE WAS THE ARK-BOX-CHEST THAT WOULD CAUSE ALL OF HIS PEOPLE TO FOCUS ON HIS WRITTEN WORD AND HIS GREAT MERCY . (Sermon)

Spurgeon on construct an ark of acacia wood  - The ark of the covenant was the most sacred object in the tabernacle in the wilderness. It stood at the extreme end of the most holy place. It was the place over which the bright shining light called the Shekinah, which was the token of God’s presence, shone forth. The ark was doubtless a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a sacred chest made to contain the law of God. Blessed are they who know the law in Christ. Out of Christ the law condemns. In Christ it becomes a blessed guide to us. This ark was made of wood, perhaps to typify the human nature of our blessed Lord. But it was of wood which did not rot—acacia, which resists the worm. Truly in him there was no corruption in life by way of sin, and no corruption sullied him in death when he slept for a while in the grave. Wood is a thing that grows out of the earth, even as Jesus sprang up like a root out of a dry ground. The ark must be made of the best kind of wood—no presence of rot and untainted. Yet the ark, though made of wood, did not appear to be so, for it was completely overlaid with pure gold so that the deity or perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ could be seen. The ark was of acacia wood, yet it was an ark of gold—and he, who was truly man, was just as truly God.

Thompson on acacia wood - (see sample of floor of acacia) Acacia wood is a wood that comes from a shrub/tree that is found in warm, hot regions of the world. It has very deep roots that are capable of drawing moisture and water from deep in the ground, something other plants and trees cannot do. This type of wood came from a shrub/tree that grew plentifully in the desert regions of the Sinai Peninsula and Israel. Acacia wood is known to be an extremely strong and dense wood. One writer said this is a “great option” of wood for “any type of construction.” This wood is resistant to decay; it is not a palatable wood to insects and it is so dense that it cannot be penetrated by water. Now some types of woods can splinter and crack, but acacia wood was a type of wood that could be cut and shaped and it would maintain its integrity. Now to give us an idea of how tough this wood is, we would do well to realize that this tabernacle that was about to be constructed would last for the next 400-500 years until the Temple would be built by Solomon. Frankly, there are not too many types of wood in the world that could hold up for 400-500 years. Since God made the trees and knew about all types of wood, He is the One who deemed that His ark/chest be made from this wood.

Two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high - The cubit is thought to be about 18 inches, so the dimensions of the are are approximately 3 ft. 9 in. (1.1 metres) long, 2 ft. 3 in. (0.7 meter) wide, and 2 ft. 3 in. (0.7 meter) high.

Ark (0727)(aron) means a chest, a box (first use was coffin for Joseph's body - Ge 50:26), a container for funds to repair the Temple in (2 Ki 12:10-11, 2 Chr 24:8, 10-11). It is used most often of the Ark in the Holy of Holies and is first called the Ark of the Covenant in Nu 10:33. 

Jack Lewis on aron -  As described in Exodus, Bezaleel made the ark of acacia wood. There were gold rings on the corners through which staves were placed for carrying it (Exodus 25:10-21; Exodus 37:1-9). In size the ark was 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 cubits, and was overlaid inside and out with gold (Exodus 25:11). It was surmounted by the mercy seat (kappōret) and cherubim with outstretched wings. The ark contained the tables of stone with the law (Deut. 10:1-5; Exodus 40:20), a pot of manna, and Aaron's rod which budded (Hebrews 9:4). The Damascus Document, fragments of which were found at Qumran, has the peculiar tradition that a copy of the Law was in the ark and it was sealed, which explains why David had not read it! (C.D.C. 5, 3). The ark was set in the most holy place in the tabernacle.

In the wilderness the ark was carried by the Levites (Deut. 10:8) before the line of march. A liturgical formula was recited when it was transported (Numbers 10:35-36). The ark was prominent at the crossing of the Jordan (Joshua 3-4) and in the capture of Jericho (Joshua 6-7). It was at Gilgal (Joshua 7:6), Shechem (Joshua 8:33), Bethel (Judges 20:27-28), and later Shiloh (1 Samuel 3:3). It was carried into battle against the Philistines at Aphek. They captured it (1 Samuel 4:3-11) but it caused plagues in the Philistine cities (1 Samuel 6:3-4). It was returned to Israel and for twenty years remained in the house of Abinadab at Kiriathjearim. Finally David brought it up to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 7:1-2; 2 Samuel 6:1ff.; Psalm 132:18). Helping move the ark, Uzzah fell dead for touching it (2 Samuel 6:6-11). After that incident, it remained three months at the house of Obed edom. Later it was carried on a military expedition against the Ammonites (on one interpretation of 2 Samuel 11:11), but it remained in Jerusalem at Absalom's revolt (2 Samuel 15:24f.). Solomon placed it in the holy of holies of the temple (1 Kings 8). The ultimate fate of the ark is a mystery. Jeremiah 3:16-17 may imply its existence as late as the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It was the subject of later Jewish legend (2 Macc. 2:4f.; T. Sota 13:1; The Lives of the Prophets, ed. Torrey, I, p. 36). There was no ark in either Zerubbabel's or Herod's temple (cf. Josephus, Wars 5.5.5).

Often designated "the ark" (hā-ʾārôn), it is also "the ark of the Lord" (Joshua 4:11, etc.) and "the ark of God" (1 Samuel 3:3, etc.). It is called "the ark of the God of Israel" by the Philistines (1 Samuel 5:2-11, etc.). The ark is most often "the ark of the covenant" (’ārôn habberît, Numbers 10:33, etc., 184 times), "the ark of the testimony" (ʾārôn ha-ʿēdût, Exodus 25:22, etc.; 13 times); "the ark of thy might" (Psalm 132:8), and once "the holy ark" (ʾārôn haqqōdesh; 2 Chron. 35:3). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

Aron -201x in 174v -  ark(194), chest(6), coffin(1). Gen. 50:26; Exod. 25:10; Exod. 25:14; Exod. 25:15; Exod. 25:16; Exod. 25:21; Exod. 25:22; Exod. 26:33; Exod. 26:34; Exod. 30:6; Exod. 30:26; Exod. 31:7; Exod. 35:12; Exod. 37:1; Exod. 37:5; Exod. 39:35; Exod. 40:3; Exod. 40:5; Exod. 40:20; Exod. 40:21; Lev. 16:2; Num. 3:31; Num. 4:5; Num. 7:89; Num. 10:33; Num. 10:35; Num. 14:44; Deut. 10:1; Deut. 10:2; Deut. 10:3; Deut. 10:5; Deut. 10:8; Deut. 31:9; Deut. 31:25; Deut. 31:26; Jos. 3:3; Jos. 3:6; Jos. 3:8; Jos. 3:11; Jos. 3:13; Jos. 3:14; Jos. 3:15; Jos. 3:17; Jos. 4:5; Jos. 4:7; Jos. 4:9; Jos. 4:10; Jos. 4:11; Jos. 4:16; Jos. 4:18; Jos. 6:4; Jos. 6:6; Jos. 6:7; Jos. 6:8; Jos. 6:9; Jos. 6:11; Jos. 6:12; Jos. 6:13; Jos. 7:6; Jos. 8:33; Jdg. 20:27; 1 Sam. 3:3; 1 Sam. 4:3; 1 Sam. 4:4; 1 Sam. 4:5; 1 Sam. 4:6; 1 Sam. 4:11; 1 Sam. 4:13; 1 Sam. 4:17; 1 Sam. 4:18; 1 Sam. 4:19; 1 Sam. 4:21; 1 Sam. 4:22; 1 Sam. 5:1; 1 Sam. 5:2; 1 Sam. 5:3; 1 Sam. 5:4; 1 Sam. 5:7; 1 Sam. 5:8; 1 Sam. 5:10; 1 Sam. 5:11; 1 Sam. 6:1; 1 Sam. 6:2; 1 Sam. 6:3; 1 Sam. 6:8; 1 Sam. 6:11; 1 Sam. 6:13; 1 Sam. 6:15; 1 Sam. 6:18; 1 Sam. 6:19; 1 Sam. 6:21; 1 Sam. 7:1; 1 Sam. 7:2; 1 Sam. 14:18; 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Sam. 6:3; 2 Sam. 6:4; 2 Sam. 6:6; 2 Sam. 6:7; 2 Sam. 6:9; 2 Sam. 6:10; 2 Sam. 6:11; 2 Sam. 6:12; 2 Sam. 6:13; 2 Sam. 6:15; 2 Sam. 6:16; 2 Sam. 6:17; 2 Sam. 7:2; 2 Sam. 11:11; 2 Sam. 15:24; 2 Sam. 15:25; 2 Sam. 15:29; 1 Ki. 2:26; 1 Ki. 3:15; 1 Ki. 6:19; 1 Ki. 8:1; 1 Ki. 8:3; 1 Ki. 8:4; 1 Ki. 8:5; 1 Ki. 8:6; 1 Ki. 8:7; 1 Ki. 8:9; 1 Ki. 8:21; 2 Ki. 12:9; 2 Ki. 12:10; 1 Chr. 6:31; 1 Chr. 13:3; 1 Chr. 13:5; 1 Chr. 13:6; 1 Chr. 13:7; 1 Chr. 13:9; 1 Chr. 13:10; 1 Chr. 13:12; 1 Chr. 13:13; 1 Chr. 13:14; 1 Chr. 15:1; 1 Chr. 15:2; 1 Chr. 15:3; 1 Chr. 15:12; 1 Chr. 15:14; 1 Chr. 15:15; 1 Chr. 15:23; 1 Chr. 15:24; 1 Chr. 15:25; 1 Chr. 15:26; 1 Chr. 15:27; 1 Chr. 15:28; 1 Chr. 15:29; 1 Chr. 16:1; 1 Chr. 16:4; 1 Chr. 16:6; 1 Chr. 16:37; 1 Chr. 17:1; 1 Chr. 22:19; 1 Chr. 28:2; 1 Chr. 28:18; 2 Chr. 1:4; 2 Chr. 5:2; 2 Chr. 5:4; 2 Chr. 5:5; 2 Chr. 5:6; 2 Chr. 5:7; 2 Chr. 5:8; 2 Chr. 5:9; 2 Chr. 5:10; 2 Chr. 6:11; 2 Chr. 6:41; 2 Chr. 8:11; 2 Chr. 24:8; 2 Chr. 24:10; 2 Chr. 24:11; 2 Chr. 35:3; Ps. 132:8; Jer. 3:16

Related Resources:

Torrey's Topic the Ark of the Covenant

  • Dimensions, &c of Exodus 25:10 ; 37:1
  • Entirely covered with gold Exodus 25:11 ; 37:2
  • Surrounded with a crown of gold  Exodus 25:11
  • Furnished with rings and staves Exodus 25:12-15 ; 37:3-5
  • Tables of testimony alone placed in Exodus 25:16,21 ; 1 Kings 8:9,21 ; 2 Chronicles 5:10 ; Hebrews 9:4
  • Mercy-seat laid upon Exodus 25:21 ; 26:34
  • Placed in the Holy of Holies Exodus 26:33 ; 40:21 ; Hebrews 9:3,4
  • The pot of manna and Aaron's rod laid up before Hebrews 9:4 ; Exodus 16:33,34 ; Numbers 17:10
  • A copy of the law laid in the side of Deuteronomy 31:26
  • Anointed with sacred oil Exodus 30:26
  • Covered with the vail by the priests before removal Numbers 4:5,6
    • Ark of God 1 Samuel 3:3
    • Ark of God's strength 2 Chronicles 6:41 ; Psalm 132:8
    • Ark of the covenant of the Lord Numbers 10:33
    • Ark of the testimony Exodus 30:6 ; Numbers 7:89
  • A symbol of the presence and glory of God Numbers 14:43,44 ; Joshua 1:6 ; 1 Samuel 14:18,19 ; Psalm 132:8
  • Esteemed the glory of Israel 1 Samuel 4:21,22
  • Was holy 2 Chronicles 35:3
  • Sanctified its resting place 2 Chronicles 8:11
  • The Israelites enquired of the Lord before Joshua 7:6-9 ; Judges 20:27 ; 1 Chronicles 13:3
    • By priests of Levites alone Deuteronomy 10:8 ; Joshua 3:14 ; 2 Samuel 15:24 ; 1 Chronicles 15:2
    • Before the Israelites in their journeys Numbers 10:33 ; Joshua 3:6
    • Sometimes to the camp in war 1 Samuel 4:4,5
  • Profanation of, punished Numbers 4:5,15 ; 1 Samuel 6:19 ; 1 Chronicles 15:13
  • Protecting of, rewarded 1 Chronicles 13:14
  • Captured by the Philistines 1 Samuel 4:11
    • Jordan divided Joshua 4:7
    • Fall of the walls of Jericho Joshua 6:6-20
    • Fall of Dagon 1 Samuel 5:1-4
    • Philistines plagued 1 Samuel 5:6-12
    • Manner of its restoration 1 Samuel 6:1-18
  • At Kirjath-jearim twenty years 1 Samuel 7:1,2
  • Removed from Kirjath-jearim to the house of Obed-edom 2 Samuel 6:1-11
  • David made a tent for 2 Samuel 6:17 ; 1 Chronicles 15:1
  • Brought into the city of David 2 Samuel 6:12-15 ; 1 Chronicles 15:25-28
  • Brought by Solomon into the temple with great solemnity 1 Kings 8:1-6 ; 2 Chronicles 5:2-9
  • A type of Christ Psalm 40:8 ; Revelation 11:19


"(God) has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts.-- 2 Corinthians 1:22

There has always been an element of mystery and intrigue surrounding the ark of the covenant. This carefully crafted box was built by the Israelites to be placed in the tabernacle during their wandering years in the wilderness. Inside it were the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron's staff that had budded, and a golden jar of manna (Heb. 9:4). Atop the ark, on what was called the mercy seat, were two golden cherubim. The ark was situated inside the Most Holy Place, where once a year the high priest would stand in the very presence of God.

We don't know what eventually happened to the ark and its contents, but it is intriguing to hear various reports claiming that it could still be in existence.

As interesting as those unproven reports are, the real intrigue of the ark is its symbolism of God's presence. The people of Israel could experience God's presence vicariously through the high priest. That must have been a heart pounding encounter! Yet we have it better. When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, we have the very presence of God in our heart -- through the Holy Spirit (2Cor. 1:21, 22).

Yes, the ark is surrounded by intrigue, but it doesn't compare with God's presence in our lives.-- J. David Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Almighty, matchless, glorious God,
Inhabiting eternity,
I bow to you and give You praise,
In awe that You can live in me.
-- Sper

To know God's presence is to know God's power.

George Bush  - They shall make an ark of Shittimwood. Heb. ארון aron. From the identity of rendering, it might be thought that the ark of the Tabernacle and that of Noah were expressed by the same term in Hebrew. But such is not the case. The former is called ארון aron, and the latter תבה tebah; but the Greek having rendered both terms by κιβωτος, this has been followed by our own and many other versions. The object itself was properly a chest or coffer of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold, in which was deposited the tables of the ten commandments, together with Aaron’s rod that budded, and the golden pot of preserved manna. This chest seems to have been of the dimensions of three feet nine inches in length, by two feet three inches in breadth and depth, according to the common cubit of eighteen inches. Around the upper edge was a rim or cornice—called in the text ‘a crown’—of pure gold; and on each side were fixed rings of gold to receive the poles of shittim-wood covered with gold, by which the ark was carried from place to place. The staves always remained in the rings, even when the ark was at rest. The ark had at top a lid or cover of solid gold; for such was what the text calls ‘the mercy-seat,’ and which the Septuagint renders ἱλαστήριον or the propitiatory, by which name it is mentioned by St. Paul in Heb. 9:4, and which was probably so called, because, on the great day of atonement, the blood of the expiatory sacrifice was sprinkled on or before it. Upon the two ends of this lid, and of the same matter with it, that is, solid gold, were placed two figures of cherubim which looked towards each other, and whose outstretched wings, meeting over the centre of the ark, overshadowed it completely. It was here that the Shekinah or Divine Presence more immediately rested, and both in the Tabernacle and Temple was indicated by a cloud, from the midst of which responses were delivered in an audible voice whenever the Lord was consulted in behalf of the people. Hence God is sometimes mentioned as he that ‘dwelleth’ or ‘sitteth between the cherubim.’ In its removals the ark was covered with a vail, Num 4:6, and might only be carried on the shoulders of the priests or Levites. The Rabbins think, with some reason, that it was only carried by the priests on extraordinary occasions, being ordinarily borne by the Levites. No other form of conveyance was allowed, nor were any other persons permitted to interfere with it. The fate of Uzzah, 2 Sam. 6:3, admonished the Israelites, in a very solemn manner, of the consequences of even a well meant officiousness in a matter where the divine will had been so clearly expressed to the contrary.

After the Israelites had passed the Jordan, the ark generally occupied its proper place in the Tabernacle, and was afterwards placed in the Temple built by Solomon. From the direction given by Josiah to the Levites, 2 Chron. 35:3 to restore the ark to its place, it would seem to have been previously removed, but it is not known whether this was done by the priests, to preserve it from profanation, or by the idolatrous kings Manasseh or Amon, to make room for their idols. It seems that the ark, with the other precious things of the Temple, became the spoil of Nebuchadnezzar, and was taken to Babylon; and it does not appear that it was restored at the end of the captivity, or that any new one was made. What became of the ark after the captivity cannot be ascertained. Some of the Rabbins think that it was concealed, to preserve it from the Chaldeans, and that it could not again be discovered, nor will be till the Messiah comes and reveals it. Others say that it was indeed taken away by the Chaldeans, but was afterwards restored, and occupied its place in the second Temple: but the Talmud and some of the Jewish writers confess, that the want of the ark was one of the points in which the second Temple was inferior to that of Solomon: to which we may add that neither Ezra, Nehemiah, the Maccabees, nor Josephus, mention the ark as extant in the second Temple, and the last authority expressly says that there was nothing in the sanctuary when the Temple was taken by Titus. It certainly does not appear in the Arch erected at Rome in honor of that conqueror, and in which the spoils of the Temple are displayed; although some writers have attempted to identify it with the table of shewbread which is there represented.

Egyptian Ark Borne by Priests

(ED NOTE: WHAT A PATHETIC COUNTERFEIT - THE PICTURE OF THE PAGAN ARK HAS A COW WHERE THE HEBREW ARK IS WHERE GOD WOULD DWELL!) It is to be remarked that similar arks or chests, containing the mysteries of their religions, were common among nearly all the ancient heathen nations, the hint of which was probably taken from that of the Jews. The Egyptians, for instance, carried in solemn processions a sacred chest, containing their secret things and the mysteries of their religion, of which the following cut, from the hieroglyphic remains of that country, shows a very remarkable conformity to the Hebrew model.

The Trojans also had their sacred chest; and the palladium of the Greeks and Romans was something not very unlike. It is remarkable too, that as the Hebrew Tabernacle and Temple had a holy of holies, in which the ark was deposited, so had the heathen, in the in most part of their temples, an adytum or penetrale, which none but the priests might enter. Something very similar may also be traced among barbarous and savage nations. Thus, Tacitus, speaking of the nations of Northern Germany, of whom our Saxon ancestors were a branch, says that they generally worshipped Hertham, or the Mother Earth (Terram matrem); believing her to interpose in the affairs of men, and to visit nations; and that to her, within a grove in a certain island, was consecrated a vehicle covered with a vestment, and which none but the priests were allowed to touch. The same thing has been frequently noticed in connexion with the religious systems of other heathen nations, and among the inhabitants of Mexico and the South Sea Islands, very curious analogies with the Mosaic ark have been discovered, of which the reader will find an account in Parkhurst’s Heb. Lex. Art. רן. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Exodus 25:11  "You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.

NET  Exodus 25:11 You are to overlay it with pure gold– both inside and outside you must overlay it, and you are to make a surrounding border of gold over it.

NLT  Exodus 25:11 Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and run a molding of gold all around it.

ESV  Exodus 25:11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it.

NIV  Exodus 25:11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it.

You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it. - Cole points out that "Pure gold was used for anything closely connected with God’s immediate presence."  (TOTC-Ex)

Pure gold is gold that is uncontaminated with any other metal or any impurities and surely speaks of the perfection and purity of God. The Septuagint renders the word pure with katharos which means literally free from dirt and thus clean and figuratively as here means that which is undefiled and is the opposite of that which is common. 

Thompson - One Jewish scholar estimated that if the gold were overlaid 1/64th an inch over the entire dimensions, the total weight of gold on this one box would be 82.86 pounds. He said if you add the rings and the poles to this we must add another 3 pounds of gold. He claimed that the cherubim would need to be at least twice the thickness to maintain stability overlaid with 1/32nd of an inch. If you add the wings and the bodies, the total is about 92.25 pounds. This Jewish scholar said that to build the entire ark of gold we are looking at about 177.61 pounds. Now it is estimated that today one pound of gold is worth over $22,000 dollars. If we take and multiply this number by 177 pounds the total dollar value for this small box/chest is nearly 4 million dollars (3,894,000). Why did God want such an expensive box built? This box would house His precious Word. Do you see how valuable God’s Word is to Him and should be to us?

NET Note on gold molding - The word זֵר (zer) is used only in Exodus and seems to describe something on the order of a crown molding, an ornamental border running at the top of the chest on all four sides. There is no indication of its appearance or function.

Bush - Make upon it a crown of gold round about. Heb. זר זחב סביב zër zahab sabib, a golden border round about. Gr. κυματια χρυσα στρεπτα, golden wreathed waves round about. This ‘crown’ was an ornamental cornice, moulding, or border, which went round the top, as a kind of enclosure serving to make firm the propitiatory in its place, and called a ‘crown’ from its encompassing the whole outer extremities of the upper side of the ark somewhat as a crown encircles the temples of the head. The term is only employed in reference to the rims or crowns of gold made round the ark of the covenant, the table of shew-bread, and the altar of incense. From the rendering of the Greek it would appear that the work of this cornice was somehow exquisitely wrought in graceful flexures or undulations, resembling the waves of the sea. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Exodus 25:12  "You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.

  • Ex 25:15,26 Ex 26:29 Ex 27:7 Ex 37:5 Ex 38:7 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Rings with Poles

The depiction above may not be entirely accurate as the text says the rings are attached at the feet which are not shown. 

You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it - As noted in Ex 25:1. Currid notes "It is likely that the ark was to be constructed with four short legs, or feet, ‘to prevent [it] from resting directly on the ground’."  (Exodus - EPSC)

Bush - Thou shall cast four rings of gold, &c. Doubtless of solid gold, as they were to sustain a very considerable weight when the staves were inserted and the ark borne by the priests. Whether these rings were placed lengthwise or breadthwise of the ark is not clear. We infer the latter, however, as otherwise, when carried, the front part of the ark with its cherubim would be sideways, which is not likely. Besides we are told, 1 Kings, 8:8, that in the Temple ‘the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place, before the oracle;’ consequently, as the ark fronted the entrance, the staves must have run along the extremity of its breadth instead of its length. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Exodus 25:13  "You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

  • Ex 25:28 27:6 30:5 37:4 40:20 Nu 4:6,8,11,14 1Ch 15:15 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold - As previously note acacia was strong and durable wood easily found in the desert. 

Exodus 25:14  "You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.


You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them - I am reminded of carrying the Ark of God in 2 Sa 6:4-7  (1 Chr. 13:9-10) where the oxen had upset it and Uzzah reached out to touch it and died! To touch the ark was to treat God's footstool as a common thing and thus to defy His holiness  The point is that we need to be careful not to trifle with the holy things of God (Name, Word, worship).

Related Resource:

Exodus 25:14-15 Showing Respect

In Myanmar (Burma), children are taught to give objects to their parents and elders with both hands. I live in nearby Singapore, and I know that in Asia it isn't polite to use only one hand to give a business card to someone. And it's extremely rude to toss it across the table to the recipient. To show respect, I should use both hands to give my business card to a person.

In 1 Chronicles 13, we see how important it is to show respect to God. David had good intentions when he decided to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. During the process, however, Uzzah touched the ark in an attempt to prevent it from falling off the cart. God struck him dead. David was stunned and upset by God's anger. Why did the Lord respond so severely?

David came to realize that what he wanted to do for God had to be done with respect for Him and His specific instructions. God had commanded that the ark be carried by the sons of Kohath on poles, not on a cart, nor was anyone to touch it (Ex 25:14, 15; Nu 3:30, 31; 4:15).

What David learned is something we too must take to heart. Showing respect for God means learning what He wants us to do and then obeying Him completely. To please the Lord, we must do His work His way. —Albert Lee (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

O help me, Lord, to show respect,
To always honor You;
And may I bring You highest praise
In everything I do.

We respect God when we obey God.

Exodus 25:15  "The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.


The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it. - Clearly this way the ark would be ready to move at anytime and would not need to be touched as Uzzah did (see above) and lost his life! 

Exodus 25:16  "You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.

NET  Exodus 25:16 You are to put into the ark the testimony that I will give to you.

NLT  Exodus 25:16 When the Ark is finished, place inside it the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you.

ESV  Exodus 25:16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

NIV  Exodus 25:16 Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you.

  • Ex 16:34 27:21 30:6,36 31:18 32:15 34:29 38:21 Nu 17:4 De 10:2-5 31:26 1Ki 8:9 2Ki 11:12 2Ch 34:14,15 Ac 7:44 Ro 3:2 Heb 9:4 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you - The testimony was the stone tablets which Moses "wrote...the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments." (Ex 34:28). This would serve as a constant reminder ("testimony" or "witness") to Israel that they were in a covenant bond with Yahweh and needed to remain faithful something they did not do through most of the Old Testament. 

George Bush on the testimony - That is, the two tables of stone on which the Law of the ten Commandments was written; called ‘the testimony,’ because God did in them testify his authority over the Israelites, his regard for them, his presence with them, and his displeasure against them in case they transgressed; while they on the other hand by accepting and depositing this Law in its appointed place, testified their professed subjection and obedience to its requirements (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

NET Note - The “testimony” is the Decalogue (Exod 24:12; 31:18; Deut 4:13; 9:9; 1 Kgs 8:9); the word identifies it as the witness or affirmation of God’s commandments belonging to his covenant with Israel. It expressed God’s will and man’s duty. In other cultures important documents were put at the feet of the gods in the temples.

Related Resource:

Testimony (05715)(eduth from ed = witness in turn from the word ud = to return, repeat) means testimony, precept, warning, sign. This word refers to the Ten Commandments as a solemn divine charge or duty. In particular, it represents those commandments as written on the tablets and existing as a reminder and "testimony" of Israel's relationship and responsibility to God (Ex 31:18). Because of the importance of the covenant, the tabernacle itself was even called the Tabernacle of the Testimony (Ex 38:21, Nu 1:50, 53) Eduth is also used alone to represent the ark (Ex. 16:34; 27:21; 30:36; Lev. 16:13). In some contexts eduth stood for the entire law of God (Ps. 19:7; cf Ps 119:88). In Ps 122:4 the annual pilgrimage feasts are called the "ordinance of Israel."

NIV Study Bible - The Hebrew word for "Testimony" is related to a Babylonian word meaning "covenant stipulations."

Baker Eduth is always used in connection with the testimony of God and most frequently in association with the Tabernacle (Ex. 38:21; Num. 1:50, 53). The stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments are identified as God's testimony (Ex. 25:16; 31:18; 32:15). Because the Ten Commandments represent the covenant that God made with Israel (see Ex. 34:27, 28), they are also called the "tables of the covenant" (see Deut. 9:9; 11:15); and they were preeminent in the Tabernacle. As a result, the Tabernacle is sometimes called the Tabernacle of the testimony (Ex. 38:21; Num. 1:50, 53); and the ark is sometimes called the ark of the testimony (Ex. 25:22; 26:33, 34; 30:6, 26). This term is also used alone to represent the ark (Ex. 16:34; 27:21; 30:36; Lev. 16:13). In time, this term came to stand for the laws or precepts that God had delivered to humanity (Ps. 19:7[8]; 119:88; 122:4). (Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament)

Eduth - 59x in 57v - (1), ordinance(1), testimonies(13), testimony(43), warnings(1). Exod. 16:34; Exod. 25:16; Exod. 25:21; Exod. 25:22; Exod. 26:33; Exod. 26:34; Exod. 27:21; Exod. 30:6; Exod. 30:26; Exod. 30:36; Exod. 31:7; Exod. 31:18; Exod. 32:15; Exod. 34:29; Exod. 38:21; Exod. 39:35; Exod. 40:3; Exod. 40:5; Exod. 40:20; Exod. 40:21; Lev. 16:13; Lev. 24:3; Num. 1:50; Num. 1:53; Num. 4:5; Num. 7:89; Num. 9:15; Num. 10:11; Num. 17:4; Num. 17:7; Num. 17:8; Num. 17:10; Num. 18:2; Jos. 4:16; 1 Ki. 2:3; 2 Ki. 11:12; 2 Ki. 17:15; 2 Ki. 23:3; 1 Chr. 29:19; 2 Chr. 23:11; 2 Chr. 24:6; 2 Chr. 34:31; Neh. 9:34; Ps. 19:7; Ps. 78:5; Ps. 81:5; Ps. 119:14; Ps. 119:31; Ps. 119:36; Ps. 119:88; Ps. 119:99; Ps. 119:111; Ps. 119:129; Ps. 119:144; Ps. 119:157; Ps. 122:4; Jer. 44:23

Exodus 25:17  "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide.

NET  Exodus 25:17 "You are to make an atonement lid of pure gold; its length is to be three feet nine inches, and its width is to be two feet three inches.

NLT  Exodus 25:17 "Then make the Ark's cover-- the place of atonement-- from pure gold. It must be 45 inches long and 27 inches wide.

ESV  Exodus 25:17 "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth.

NIV  Exodus 25:17 "Make an atonement cover of pure gold--two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.

  • mercy seat: Ex 26:34 37:6 40:20 Lev 16:12-15 1Ch 28:11 Ro 3:25 Heb 4:16 9:5 1Jn 2:2 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The Mercy Seat with Two Cherubim


Related Passages:

Romans 3:25+ (Christ) whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation (hilasterion) in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

1 John 2:2+ and He Himself is the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide - The mercy seat was the site the high priest would sprinkle blood once per year on the Day of Atonement (see Lev 16:12-15+). And thus one version renders it "an atonement lid" (NET) Notice this very unique place was made with solid gold. The Septuagint translated mercy seat with hilasterion. The mercy seat or ark cover is sometimes distinguished from the ark itself as the place where atonement was made (Lev 16:14-15+).

NIV Study Bible on NIV rendering ""Make an atonement cover of pure gold" -  atonement. Reconciliation, the divine act of grace whereby God draws to himself and makes "at one" with him those who were once alienated from him. In the OT, the shed blood of sacrificial offerings effected atonement (see Lev 17:11); in the NT, the blood of Jesus, shed once for all time (see Heb 9:12), does the same (see Ro 3:25+; 1Jn 2:2+). atonement cover. That God's symbolic throne was capped with an atonement cover signified his great mercy toward his people—only such a God can be revered.

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  
But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. (Ps 130:3-4).

Currid says: In the Epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul speaks of Jesus Christ 'whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith' (Ro 3:25+). The Greek word for 'propitiation' is hilasterion; that is the same word that is used in the Septuagint for 'mercy seat'. In fact, of all its occurrences in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is used mostly to refer to the mercy seat, or lid of the ark. Perhaps Paul had in mind the mercy seat of the ark and the ritual of atonement that took place there when he used this word for the work of Christ. Thus, the entire act of the high priest in sprinkling blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:14, 15, 19+) may typify Christ's atoning work for his people.  (Exodus - EPSC)

Kaiser on the "atonement cover" - “The ark was the place of atonement or propitiation, hence the place where God was rendered favorable to his people.”

NET Note - The value of this place was that Yahweh sat enthroned above it, and so the ark essentially was the “footstool.” Blood was applied to the lid of the box, for that was the place of atonement

NIV Study Note - From the cover of the ark (God's symbolic throne) the Lord gave directions to Moses (see v. 22). Later the ark's presence in the temple at Jerusalem would designate it as God's earthly royal city (see Ps 9:11= "Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds." ).

This was the place that God would meet and speak with Moses...

Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him. (Nu 7:89)

Mercy Seat (03727)(kapporet) always refers to the golden cover of the sacred chest in the Holy of holies. Recall that it was here (above the mercy seat) that God had promised to meet with men (Nu 7:89). The word is derived from the root "to atone." The Greek equivalent in the Lxx is hilasterion, the "place or object of propitiation," a word which is applied to Christ Whom "God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith." (Romans 3:25+). 1 John 2:2+ adds Christ "Himself is the propitiation (related noun hilasmos) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." In Heb 9:5+  The translation "mercy seat" does not sufficiently express the fact that the lid of the ark was the place where the blood was sprinkled on the day of atonement. "Place of atonement" would perhaps be more expressive.

Kapporet - 22v - Exod. 25:17; Exod. 25:18; Exod. 25:19; Exod. 25:20; Exod. 25:21; Exod. 25:22; Exod. 26:34; Exod. 30:6; Exod. 31:7; Exod. 35:12; Exod. 37:6; Exod. 37:7; Exod. 37:8; Exod. 37:9; Exod. 39:35; Exod. 40:20; Lev. 16:2; Lev. 16:13; Lev. 16:14; Lev. 16:15; Num. 7:89; 1 Chr. 28:11

Related Resources:

Question: "What is the mercy seat?"

Answer: The writer to the Hebrews talks about the arrangement of the tabernacle of the Old Testament. The tabernacle was the portable sanctuary used by the Israelites from the time of their wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt to the building of the temple in Jerusalem (see Exodus 25–27). Within the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant which included the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:3-5 NKJV).

The ark of the covenant, the chest containing the two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, was the most sacred object of the tabernacle and later in the temple in Jerusalem, where it was placed in an inner area called the Holy of Holies. Also within the ark were the golden pot of manna, such as was provided by God in the wilderness wanderings (Exodus 16:4) and Aaron’s almond rod (Numbers 17:1-13). On top of the ark was a lid called the mercy seat on which rested the cloud or visible symbol of the divine presence. Here God was supposed to be seated, and from this place He was supposed to dispense mercy to man when the blood of the atonement was sprinkled there.

In a manner of speaking, the mercy seat concealed the people of God from the ever-condemning judgment of the Law. Each year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood of animals sacrificed for the atonement of the sins of God’s people. This blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. The point conveyed by this imagery is that it is only through the offering of blood that the condemnation of the Law could be taken away and violations of God’s laws covered.

The Greek word for “mercy seat” in Hebrews 9:5 is hilasterion, which means “that which makes expiation” or “propitiation.” It carries the idea of the removal of sin. In Ezekiel 43:13-15, the brazen altar of sacrifice is also called hilasterion (the propitiatory or mercy seat) in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) because of its association with the shedding of blood for sin.

What is the significance of this? In the New Testament, Christ Himself is designated as our “propitiation.” Paul explains this in his letter to the Romans: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:24-25 NKJV). What Paul is teaching here is that Jesus is the covering for sin, as shown by these Old Testament prophetic images. By means of His death, and our response to Christ through our faith in Him, all our sins are covered. Also, whenever believers sin, we may turn to Christ who continues to be the propitiation or covering for our sins (1 John 2:1, 4:10). This ties together the Old and New Testament concepts regarding the covering of sin as exemplified by the mercy-seat of God. (Source: Gotquestions)

Exodus 25:18  "you shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat.

  • two cherubim of gold: Ex 37:7-9 Ge 3:24 1Sa 4:4 1Ki 6:23-28 8:6,7 1Ch 28:18 Eze 10:2,20 41:18,19 Heb 9:5 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The Two Cherubim


Related Passages:

Hebrews 9:5+ and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 

Genesis 3:24+ So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat - After Adam's sin the cherubim guarded him from coming back to eat of the tree of life and be separated from God forever, but now the cherubim guard the place of propitiation by which man can now have life with God, the atonement cover foreshadowing of the final "atonement cover" provided by God in the crucifixion of the Lamb of God and the shedding of His blood thus becoming "a propitiation in His blood." (Ro 3:25+). 

The Psalmist writes "The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!" (Ps 99:1) 

Hezekiah prayed "Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth." (2 Kings 19:15) 

Mercy Seat (03727) see above on kapporet translated with hilasterion, the "place or object of propitiation,"

Cherubim (03742)(kerub) are angelic heavenly beings who dwell in God's presence and minister to Him. Note that cherubim which are frequently depicted as chubby infants with wings or as feminine creatures has absolutely no scriptural support (Which makes the point again that one should not glean his theology from Biblical art but from the Bible - in fact the first use in Ge 3:24 hardly depicts them as "chubby little babies" but as fearful beings!) In other cultures of the ancient world, cherubim were minor deities protective of palaces and temples; in Israel they symbolized angelic guardians (Gen 3:24).

In the OT the cherubim were symbolic attendants that marked the place of the Lord's "enthronement" in his earthly kingdom

  • 1Sa 4:4 = "the LORD of hosts who sits above the cherubim";
  • 2Sa 6:2 = "the LORD of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim";
  • 2Ki 19:15 = "the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim";
  • Ps 99:1 = "The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!"

Gilbrant notes that "They are referred to ninety-one times in the OT (thirty-one times in Ezekiel), generally in the plural. The tri-consonantal root (krb) appears throughout the Semitic world. An etymology, though, is difficult. Cherubim are first mentioned in Gen. 3:24 as guarding Eden. Afterward, they are presented as just below, or supporting, the throne of God (Ps. 18:10; Ezek. 10:20). Scripture contains no clear description of their appearance, with the exception that they have faces, hands and wings. It is unlikely that they resemble the Assyrian winged-bulls or any other winged heavenly creature depicted elsewhere in ancient Near Eastern art and literature. The imagery of Ezek. 1:5-25 portrays unhesitancy and directness in their movement ("they went everyone straight forward... and they turned not when they went," v. 12), and associates them with wheels having rims full of eyes (v. 18). Symbolized is God's complete awareness of all that transpires and his ability to act decisively. References where Yahweh is seen enthroned between the cherubim (2 Sam. 4:4; 1 Chr. 13:6) are allusions to the Ark of the Covenant. In Solomon's temple, the Ark, with its cherubim, stood beneath the large statues of cherubim whose wings extended across the entire inner chamber (1 Kings 6:23ff). Ezekiel's temple has no such sculptures. Its inner walls are covered alternately with figures of palm trees and cherubim (Ezek. 41:18ff, 25). Cherubim vary in their biblical representations. Ezekiel 41:19 depicts them with two faces (a man and a lion), not four as earlier. Certainly, the Bible writers had difficulty in describing these extra-dimensional beings from the heavenly realm. There is possible overlap between cherubim which have an "appearance like coals of fire" (Ezek. 1:13) and seraphim (the "burning ones" of Isa. 6:2f, 6). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Kerub - 90x in 66v - Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:18; Exod. 25:19; Exod. 25:20; Exod. 25:22; Exod. 26:1; Exod. 26:31; Exod. 36:8; Exod. 36:35; Exod. 37:7; Exod. 37:8; Exod. 37:9; Num. 7:89; 1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Sam. 22:11; 1 Ki. 6:23; 1 Ki. 6:24; 1 Ki. 6:25; 1 Ki. 6:26; 1 Ki. 6:27; 1 Ki. 6:28; 1 Ki. 6:29; 1 Ki. 6:32; 1 Ki. 6:35; 1 Ki. 7:29; 1 Ki. 7:36; 1 Ki. 8:6; 1 Ki. 8:7; 2 Ki. 19:15; 1 Chr. 13:6; 1 Chr. 28:18; 2 Chr. 3:7; 2 Chr. 3:10; 2 Chr. 3:11; 2 Chr. 3:12; 2 Chr. 3:13; 2 Chr. 3:14; 2 Chr. 5:7; 2 Chr. 5:8; Ps. 18:10; Ps. 80:1; Ps. 99:1; Isa. 37:16; Ezek. 9:3; Ezek. 10:1; Ezek. 10:2; Ezek. 10:3; Ezek. 10:4; Ezek. 10:5; Ezek. 10:6; Ezek. 10:7; Ezek. 10:8; Ezek. 10:9; Ezek. 10:14; Ezek. 10:15; Ezek. 10:16; Ezek. 10:18; Ezek. 10:19; Ezek. 10:20; Ezek. 11:22; Ezek. 28:14; Ezek. 28:16; Ezek. 41:18; Ezek. 41:20; Ezek. 41:25

Ryken comments "that the ark of the covenant was an earthly symbol of a heavenly reality. Its cover was a three-dimensional picture of a scene from Heaven, where God is surrounded by his holy angels. The cherubim on the ark represented the burning angels beneath God’s throne....The space above the cherubim was empty. God did not tell Moses to make any representation of his divine being. Any such representation would have been a graven image, an idol of a false god. Instead, the space between the cherubim was left empty, only to be filled with the living presence of God. This is where Moses met with God and received his commands. Another name for the tabernacle was “the Tent of Meeting” (see Exod. 29:42; 30:36). The specific place where Moses went to meet with God was the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. There, between the cherubim, was the glorious presence of God. The Bible says, “When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him” (Num. 7:89). This is what the tabernacle was all about: gaining access to God, who sits enthroned above the cherubim." (PW-Ex)

Currid on cherubim - The cherubim are intended to represent ‘nothing less than the throne of God’. Their upraised wings signify that they bear his throne; and their downcast faces demonstrate that even they may not gaze upon God in his majesty and splendour. That these cherubim are supporters of God’s throne is confirmed by the frequent Old Testament idiom that Yahweh is ‘enthroned on the cherubim’ (1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2). It is here that the glory of Yahweh descends and dwells (40:34–38), and it is here that he meets with his people. As Yahweh says at the beginning of verse 22, ‘And I will meet with you there.’ No description is given here of the cherubim. However, a detailed one is provided in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10.  (Exodus - EPSC)

NET Note on cherubim - The evidence suggests that the cherubim were composite angelic creatures that always indicated the nearness of God. So here images of them were to be crafted and put on each end of the ark of the covenant to signify that they were there. Ezekiel 1 describes four cherubim as each having human faces, four wings, and parts of different animals for their bodies. Traditions of them appear in the other cultures as well. They serve to guard the holy places and to bear the throne of God. Here they were to be beaten out as part of the lid.

Related Resources:

Exodus 25:19  "Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends.


Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends - NET Note says "The angels were to form one piece with the lid and not be separated. This could be translated “of one piece with” the lid, but it is likely the angels were simply fastened to it permanently."

Alan Cole - In Israel, cherubim symbolized God’s attendant and messenger spirits (Psalm 104:3,4) and so were not considered a breach of Exodus 20:4, since no man worshipped them.” (TOTC-Ex)

Mercy Seat (03727) see above on kapporet translated with hilasterion, the "place or object of propitiation,"

Exodus 25:20  "The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat.

NET  Exodus 25:20 The cherubim are to be spreading their wings upward, overshadowing the atonement lid with their wings, and the cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the atonement lid.

NLT  Exodus 25:20 The cherubim will face each other and look down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they will protect it.

ESV  Exodus 25:20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.

NIV  Exodus 25:20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover.

  • cherubim: Ex 25:18 1Ki 8:7 1Ch 28:18 2Ch 3:10 
  • covering: Eze 28:14 
  • toward: Ge 28:12 Isa 6:1-5 Eze 1:20 Mt 24:31  Joh 1:51 1Co 4:9 11:10 Eph 3:10 Col 2:10 Heb 1:14 1Pe 1:12 3:22 Rev 5:11,12 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another - The verb covering gives a sense of guarding. The Septuagint translates sakak with the verb suskiazo which to to throw a shade over and thus to overshadow. 

NET Note - The verb (sakak) mean s“overshadowing, screening” in the sense of guarding (see 1 Kgs 8:7; 1 Chr 28:18; see also the account in Ge 3:24). The cherubim then signify two things here: by their outstretched wings they form the throne of God who sits above the ark (with the Law under his feet), and by their overshadowing and guarding they signify this as the place of atonement where people must find propitiation to commune with God. Until then they are barred from his presence. 

Currid - That these cherubim are supporters of God’s throne is confirmed by the frequent Old Testament idiom that Yahweh is ‘enthroned on the cherubim’ (1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2). It is here that the glory of Yahweh descends and dwells (40:34–38), and it is here that he meets with his people.  (Exodus - EPSC)

Covering (05526)(sakak) means to cover, hide something or to shield something: the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant was covered by the wings of cherubim (Ex. 25:20); God's hand covered and protected Moses (Ex. 33:22). It is used of separating off an area with a curtain or hanging (Ex. 40:3, 21). It was used to describe Satan "“You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire." Figuratively, it shows God shielding those who trust Him (Ps. 5:11 = " And may You shelter them"; Ps 91:4 = "He will cover you with His pinions"); He covers Himself in anger (Lam. 3:43) or with a cloud (Lam. 3:44).

Sakak - 18x in 18v - cover(2), covered(4), covering(3), covers(1), incite(1), made a covering(1), relieve*(1), relieving*(1), screen(1), screened off(1), shelter(1), spurs(1). Exod. 25:20; Exod. 37:9; Exod. 40:3; Exod. 40:21; Jdg. 3:24; 1 Sam. 24:3; 1 Ki. 8:7; 1 Chr. 28:18; Job 40:22; Ps. 5:11; Ps. 91:4; Ps. 140:7; Isa. 9:11; Isa. 19:2; Lam. 3:43; Lam. 3:44; Ezek. 28:14; Ezek. 28:16

The faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat - In other words downward.

Mercy Seat (03727) see above on kapporet translated with hilasterion, the "place or object of propitiation,"

Exodus 25:21  "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.

NET  Exodus 25:21 You are to put the atonement lid on top of the ark, and in the ark you are to put the testimony I am giving you.

NLT  Exodus 25:21 Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then put the atonement cover on top of the Ark.

ESV  Exodus 25:21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.

NIV  Exodus 25:21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you.

  • mercy seat: Ex 25:17 Ex 26:34 Ro 10:4 
  • in: Ex 25:16 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


What a beautiful picture God presents in His lovingkindness. He is enthroned above the cherubim and beneath His "feet" is the mercy seat, the "atonement lid," which separates His holy presence from the stone tablets of the Law!  As John Mackay explains “It was not merely the presence of the atonement cover that effected atonement for the sinner. It indicated the divine provision of a facility for implementing reconciliation, but it was only when the payment that divine justice regarded as sufficient to cover the sinner’s debt was made that atonement was actually effected. The beautiful atonement cover on its own was not sufficient; it had to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice.”  (Exodus: A Mentor Commentary)

You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you - So Moses receives the pattern for the Tabernacle and the furniture before he receives the Ten Commandments on stone tablets. 

Mercy Seat (03727) see above on kapporet translated with hilasterion, the "place or object of propitiation,"

Robert Rayburn -  the main function of the chest we know as the ark is to hold the law of God.  We cannot know God’s presence apart from submission to his law. (Studies in Exodus 24:12-25:40)

Exodus 25:22  "There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.

  • I will: Ex 20:24 30:6,36 31:18 Ge 18:33 Lev 1:1 16:2 Nu 7:89 17:4 De 5:26-31 Jud 20:27 
  • between: Ex 29:42,43 31:6 1Sa 4:4 2Sa 6:2 2Ki 19:15 Ps 80:1 90:1 99:1 Isa 37:16 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony - The pronoun you is singular, speaking to Moses. The phrase I will meet reflects the name Tent of Meeting. God would meet with Moses and speak with him from above the ark cover between the cherubim.  I will meet with you in the Septuagint uses the verb ginosko which could be translated "I will be known to you there." Ginosko can mean to know by experience, and what an experience Moses would have! 

Guzik on above the mercy seat - It was as if God, looking down from His dwelling place between the cherubim, saw the law in the Ark—and knew we were guilty of breaking His law. But atoning blood of sacrifice was sprinkled on the mercy seat, so that God saw the blood covering the breaking of His law—and forgiveness could be offered. It is remarkable that even before God gave Moses the tablets of the Ten Commandments, God made provision for Israel’s failure under the law. (Exodus 25)

Bush - Here the visible Glory of Jehovah was to reside and to give audience, as a sovereign on his throne, having the ark as his footstool, as it seems to be termed. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Phillip Ryken - In effect, these tablets were placed under God’s feet. If the top of the ark was God’s throne, then the ark itself was God’s footstool, and the Bible sometimes describes it this way. When the pilgrims went up to worship God in Jerusalem, they sang, “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool—arise, O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might” (Ps. 132:7, 8). This is where Moses deposited the covenant: in the footstool of God. (PW-Ex)

Cassuto has an interesting comment - It was the custom in the ancient East to deposit the deeds of a covenant made between human kings in the sanctuaries of the gods, in the footstool of the idols that symbolized the deity, so that the godhead should be a witness to the covenant and see that it was observed.… This custom makes it clear why the testimony to the covenant made between the Lord and Israel was enshrined in the ark. Among the Israelites there was no image to symbolize the God of Israel, but there was His footstool, and therein the testimony of the covenant was placed and preserved. (A Commentary on the Book of Exodus,)

S. R. Driver on meet says the verb meet (yaad) is not the word that means “to meet by chance” (as in Ex 3:18), but to meet by appointment for a purpose (וְנוֹעַדְתִּי, véno’adti).

Alan Cole - The chest was always regarded as the visible symbol of God’s presence and, as such, in Mosaic days it was hailed when going out or coming in (Num. 10:35, 36). Under Eli, it was wrongly regarded as a magic ‘charm’ ensuring divine protection (1 Sam. 4:4). David refused to abuse its protection in this way (2 Sam. 15:25) and Jeremiah foresaw the day when such a symbol would no more be needed (Jer. 3:16). It presumably perished in the sack of Jerusalem in 586 BC. In later temples a symbolic block of stone took its place, and in modern Jewry the carved wooden cupboard that houses the scroll of the law bears its name. The holiest place of all in the tent was the resting-place of this sacred chest, which to touch was death to a commoner (2 Sam. 6:7). It is however typical of Israel’s faith that neither chest nor cherub was an object of worship: the chest, by containing the law, merely witnessed to the nature of the God who was worshipped there.

NET Note - The parallel in the NT is Jesus Christ and his work. The theology is that the Law condemns people as guilty of sin, but the sacrifice of Christ makes atonement. So he is the “place of propitiation (Rom 3:25) who gains communion with the Father for sinners. A major point that could be made from this section is this: At the center of worship must be the atoning work of Christ—a perpetual reminder of God’s righteous standard (the testimony in the ark) and God’s gracious provision (the atonement lid).

NET - "Here then is the main point of the ark of the covenant, and the main point of all worship—meeting with God through atonement. The text makes it clear that here God would meet with Moses (“you” is singular) and then he would speak to the people—he is the mediator of the covenant." (NET)

Mercy Seat (03727) see above on kapporet translated with hilasterion, the "place or object of propitiation,"

I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel - God is telling Moses he would have in essence a private tutoring session concerning the commandments. In Ex 33:11 we read "the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." "Prior to written Scripture, God used Moses to be the mediator of His word. Unlike the later prophets, who would receive that word in dreams and visions, Moses spoke with God "face to face," i.e., directly or immediately. The expression does not mean that Moses saw God's face or pure essence (cf Nu 12:6-8)." (BSB)

Thompson - What happened to the ark is a mystery. In Jeremiah 3:16-17, it seems to present the idea that it could have been destroyed or taken captive by the Babylonians. Jeremiah says there will come a day when it will not be missed or remembered because Jerusalem will be called the Throne of God.

THE MEETING PLACE EXODUS 25:22 - James Smith in Handfuls of Purpose

1. Where? “At the Mercy Seat.” The place where God rests in mercy. The Cross.
2. Why? Under the “Mercy Seat” was the “Testimony—the Law.” Atonement.
3. Whom? “I will meet with thee.” Mercy.
4. How? “I will commune with thee there.” Fellowship.

John MacKay summarizes the importance of the ark saying:

The Ark was at the heart of the sanctuary, and the atonement cover was the most prominent feature of the Ark. We ought therefore to try to have as clear a view as possible of the significance of the atonement cover. The word 'atonement' is one of the few theological terms that originates in the English language, indicating a process by which estranged parties are 'made as one'. But what matters here is the meaning of the Hebrew root kipper that it translates. There is much evidence to suggest that the root meaning of the word is 'to cover'. One form of the word is used for Noah's action in coating the ark inside and out with pitch to make it leakproof (Gen. 6:14). But what is it that is being covered in the theological use of the term?

The position of the atonement cover above the tables of the law makes clear that what is being covered is the penalty that is demanded for infringements of the sovereign commands of the covenant King. Those who have broken his law are justly condemned, but the atonement cover points to the possibility of this sentence being dealt with in another way.

To determine what is being said about the way in which sin is dealt with requires consideration of a closely related word, 'ransom', used in the later passage about atonement money being paid when a census was held (Exod 30:11-16). Payment of the ransom effected the deliverance of the life that was under threat. So the concept of atonement behind the Biblical word, kipper, is not of an easy or forgetful covering of the offence of sin, as if it were some light thing that did not matter much. The atonement money paid at the time of a census 'covered' the debt that the Israelite owed the LORD for his preservation. So too it was not merely the presence of the atonement cover that effected atonement for the sinner. It indicated the divine provision of a facility for implementing reconciliation, but it was only when the payment that divine justice regarded as sufficient to cover the sinners debt was made that atonement was actually effected. The beautiful atonement cover on its own was not sufficient; it had to be sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice (Exod 30:10; Lev. 16:15).

In this way the work of Christ was taught in symbolic form to Israel. Christ presented himself as the Son of Man who had come "to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). His blood is that "which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:24). He died as the perfect and final sacrifice that the ransom price might be paid and going into "the greater and more perfect tabernacle . . . he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:11-12). (Exodus: A Mentor Commentary)

Exodus 25:23  "You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high.

  • a table: Ex 37:10-16 40:22,23 Lev 24:6 Nu 3:31 1Ki 7:48 1Ch 28:16 2Ch 4:8,19 Eze 40:41,42 Heb 9:2 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Table of Show Bread

Now Yahweh begins to describe the furniture in the Holy Place. This table is commonly referred to as the Table of Shewbread. Notice that there are no chairs in the Holy Place which is alluded to by the writer of Hebrews in contrasted the continual work of the earthly priests with the finished work of our Great High Priest Jesus Christ

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins (THAT WAS THE MAJOR DEFICIENCY OF THE OT SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM) 12 but  (STRATEGIC TERM OF CONTRAST!) He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, (cf John 19:30+ =  tetelestaiSAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.(Hebrews 10:11-13+)

You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long and one cubit wide and one and a half cubits high - The table was 3 feet long, 1 foot, 6 inches wide, and 2 feet, 3 inches high.

Ryken says: Like most of the tabernacle furnishings, the table for the bread was not large. This helps us realize that the tabernacle was not built on a grand scale. The building's true magnificence was its message, not how massive it was. This was also true of the table, which was roughly the size of a coffee table: three feet long, a foot and a half wide, less than three feet tall.  (PW-Ex)

Third Millennium notes - The Lord gave instruction to "make a table" (Exod 25:23). The table was called variously "the table of pure gold" (Lev 24:6), "the table of the Presence" (Num 4:7), "the ceremonially clean table" (2 Chron 13:11), and "the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence" (1 Kings 7:48). The table stood on the north side of the Holy Place (Exod 40:22).

David Thompson - We must assume that this piece of furniture was extremely important because, as Victor Hamilton observed, it is “always the first item mentioned after the ark” (Exodus, p. 462). Also this is the only item that had three coverings on it when it was moved–blue cloth, scarlet cloth and porpoise skins (Num. 4:7-8). All other items of furniture had only two coverings (Num. 4:9- 14). There are five similarities between the table and the ark. 1) Both items were rectangular. 2) Both items were overlaid with gold. 3) Both items had decorative molding around the top.4) Both items were identical in height–both were 27 inches high. 5) Both items had rings attached to the legs so they could be moved. But there are also three differences between these two items. 1) The dimensions of the ark are larger than the dimensions of the table. 2) The ark was a chest that had greater depth and shorter legs, whereas the table had no body depth and longer legs. 3) Things were to be put in the ark but things were to be put on top of the table.

NET Note - The Table of the Bread of the Presence (Tyndale’s translation, “Shewbread,” was used in KJV and influenced ASV, NAB) was to be a standing acknowledgment that Yahweh was the giver of daily bread. It was called the “presence-bread” because it was set out in his presence. The theology of this is that God provides, and the practice of this is that the people must provide for constant thanks. So if the ark speaks of communion through atonement, the table speaks of dedicatory gratitude.

Exodus 25:24  "you shall overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it.

you shall overlay it with pure gold and make a gold border around it. - Like the ark of the testimony (Ex 25:11). 

Thompson suggests that "The acacia wood was to be overlaid with pure gold. This is very important and very symbolic because it represents the two natures of Jesus Christ–human and Divine. The key to any relationship with God is Jesus Christ."

Exodus 25:25  "You shall make for it a rim of a handbreadth around it; and you shall make a gold border for the rim around it.

You shall make for it a rim of a handbreadth around it; and you shall make a gold border for the rim around it  --  The rim a handbreadth (about 3") is different from the ark's construction and Currid thinks it probably represented a lip protruding above the surface of the table and going all around. 

Exodus 25:26  "You shall make four gold rings for it and put rings on the four corners which are on its four feet.

You shall make four gold rings for it and put rings on the four corners which are on its four feet - Obviously where the poles would be inserted. 

Bush - It was also furnished with rings or staples, through which were passed the staves by which it was carried, in the same way as the Ark. These staves, however, did not remain in the rings when at rest, like those of the Ark, v. 15, but were, as Josephus informs us, removed, that they might not be in the way of the priests in their weekly ministrations at the table. The table was inferior to the Ark in breadth by half a cubit; but it was of the same height, and stood lengthwise, east and west, at the north side of the Holy Place. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Exodus 25:27  "The rings shall be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table.

The rings shall be close to the rim as holders for the poles to carry the table.

Exodus 25:28  "You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that with them the table may be carried.

  • table: Ex 25:14,27 Nu 10:17 Ac 9:15 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, so that with them the table may be carried - The purpose of the poles was to allow the table to be carried without having to touch the table, which would profane it. Currid adds that "Yet there is one major difference: the poles of the table are not permanently set in the rings, as was the case for the ark. The table of shewbread is clearly holy, but it does not possess the same level of holiness as the ark, which is most holy." 

Exodus 25:29  "You shall make its dishes and its pans and its jars and its bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold.

  • the: Ex 37:16 Nu 4:7 7:13,19,31-33 1Ki 7:50 2Ch 4:22 Ezr 1:9-11 Jer 52:18,19 
  • pour, Lev 24:5-9 Song 5:1 Rev 3:20 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


You shall make its dishes and its pans and its jars and its bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold - Currid notes that "these are technical terms that describe very specialized utensils for use in worship—they are set apart as holy vessels, and therefore they are to be made of pure gold."

David Thompson - Now part of the reason for having these utensils is so that they could be used in pouring drink offerings (What is a drink offering?). In fact, God emphasizes the drink offering aspect right here. God wanted His people to offer Him drink offerings. There were various drink offerings that were to be poured out to the Lord at worship services and much to the chagrin of a prohibitionist-type, those drink offerings or libation offerings featured real wine (Nu 6:17-20; Nu 28:14).

George BushDishes. Heb. קערת ke-aroth, dishes, or chargers, as the word is translated Num. 7:13. Gr. τρυβλια, plates or platters, on which it is supposed by some, that the loaves of bread were placed. Others, however, assign different uses to these dishes. It is a point which cannot be positively determined. (Notes Critical and Practical on the Book of Exodus Volume 2)

Spoons. Heb. כפת kappoth, more properly cups or censers of concave form like spoons, or like the hollow of the hand, which is the primitive meaning of the original כף kaph. They were for holding incense (Num. 7:14), which it is evident from Lev. 24:7, was employed in conjunction with the holy bread. It is supposed there were two of them, one placed on each pile of loaves.

Covers. Heb. קשות kesoth; probably for covering both the loaves and the incense. The Gr. renders the word wherever it occurs by σπονδεια, libation-vessels.

Bowls. Heb. מנקית menakkiyoth. Gr. κυαθοι, wine-cups. ‘For though we do not read that any wine was set upon this table, yet as libations were made to God by pouring out wine before him in the Holy Place, there is nothing improbable in the Jewish tradition, that a bowl of excellent wine was always kept upon the table; and that once a week, when the bread was changed, the contents were poured out as a libation before the Lord. Josephus confirms this tradition by relating that when Pompey went into the Holy Place, he saw there cups for libation among the sacred vessels.’ Pict. Bible.
To cover withal. Heb. אשר יסך בהן asher yussak bahën, with which it was poured out; with which the drink-offerings were made. This sense agrees better with the meaning of the original נסך nasak, and with the probable uses of the ‘bowls.’ There is no sufficient authority for rendering the original by ‘cover.’

Exodus 25:30  "You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times.

  • Ex 35:13 39:36 Lev 24:5,6 Nu 4:7 1Sa 21:6 1Ch 9:32 23:29 2Ch 13:11 Mal 1:7,12 Mt 12:4 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Bread of the Presence on the Table

Related Passages:

Leviticus 24:5-9+ Then you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. 6 “You shall set them in two rows, six to a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. 7 “You shall put pure frankincense on each row that it may be a memorial portion for the bread, even an offering by fire to the LORD. 8 “Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel. 9 “It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the LORD’S offerings by fire, his portion forever.” 

You shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times - Presence is  panim which means face, so literally this is "bread of faces!" The Septuagint renders panim with enopios meaning "face to face," and thus describes bread put in the presence of the LORD. See the Leviticus passage above for more detail on setting out the bread. When new loaves were placed on the Sabbath the old ones were to be eaten by the priests in the holy place.

John MacArthur - “Bread of His Presence” was not set out in order to feed Israel’s God, unlike food placed in pagan shrines and temples, but to acknowledge that the 12 tribes were sustained constantly under the watchful eye and care of their Lord. The bread was eaten in the Holy Place each Sabbath by the priests on duty (Lev 24:5–9+). The bread of the Presence is understood to typify the Lord Jesus Christ as the Bread which came from heaven

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”  35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (Jn 6:32–35).

David Thompson - It is interesting that this (BREAD) is the only food that was to ever be placed on this elaborate table. The utensils were used for other things but this was the only food item ever to be put on this table. We may assume that the bread would only be unleavened bread, although that is not specifically stated here. The point of this is to build the table to Divine specs. The bread was actually called “the bread of the Presence.” What this means is that this bread was set in the presence of God and God would fellowship with His people. Now most of the food that was offered to God was given outside the tent in the tabernacle courtyard. It was sacrificed and burned on the altar. But this bread was inside and close to the ark. That bread was to be on that table “before Me at all times.” So when the table was being moved from one place to another, the bread was to go along with it. This bread on the table at all times depicted the presence of God with His people at all times (Ex. 33:14-15). We know that one key reason why this bread is so important at all times is that this bread is a type of Christ. Jesus Christ is the bread of life (John 6:35). In fact, he took bread and said this is My body which is broken for you. Jesus Christ is the very key to us have a continual relationship with God and without Christ we do not have a relationship with God.

Ryken adds: The showbread - or "shewbread," as William Tyndale called it when he translated the Bible into English - was baked the day before the Sabbath. Then on the Sabbath the priests ate the old bread and set the new bread on the table in twelve loaves (see 1 Sam. 21:6; 1 Chron. 9:32). These were not loaves in the modern sense but more like large round cakes. The bread was made of fine wheat flour, doubtless unleavened, but beaten up light, baked in twelve loaves, containing each one fifth of an ephah of flour (or about four quarts) . . . probably . . . twelve inches in diameter and four inches thick - still a large family loaf. Most modern translations say the bread was lined up in two rows, but it may have been stacked in two piles. This was the bread of the Presence on the golden table in the tabernacle. (PW-Ex)

G C Morgan - “In the East a table was always the symbol of fellowship. Thus the people were reminded of the possibility created of constant communion with God.”

Currid says the bread of the Presence "probably means that God is present with his people. There are twelve loaves, certainly symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel, and they are all present before the Creator. It is an example of the Immanuel principle: ‘I will be your God, and you will be my people!’"  (Exodus - EPSC)

NET Note - The name basically means that the bread is to be set out in the presence of Yahweh. The custom of presenting bread on a table as a thank offering is common in other cultures as well. The bread here would be placed on the table as a symbol of the divine provision for the twelve tribes—continually, because they were to express their thanksgiving continually. Priests could eat the bread after certain times. Fresh bread would be put there regularly.

QuestionWhat was the bread of the Presence?

Answer: The bread of the Presence (also called the showbread or shewbread in some translations) was special bread always present on a table in the tabernacle (and later in the temple). Leviticus 24:5–7 describes this bread:

“You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf. And you shall set them in two piles, six in a pile, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. And you shall put pure frankincense on each pile, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion as a food offering to the Lord.”

This bread of the Presence was 1) made of fine flour, 2) baked in 12 loaves, 3) arranged in two piles of six loaves each on a table of pure gold, 4) covered with frankincense, and 5) served as a memorial food offering to the Lord. The bread could only be eaten by Aaron and his sons in a holy place and was set out every Sabbath day (Leviticus 24:8–9).

The bread of the Presence is first mentioned in Exodus 25:30. God instructed for it to be placed on the golden table in the tabernacle. The bread is also listed in the contributions for the tabernacle in Exodus 35:13 and noted as part of the completed tabernacle in Exodus 39:36. In Numbers 4 the Kohathites, who were sons of Levi, were given responsibility for the care of the table of showbread.

First Chronicles 9:32 says, “Also some of their kinsmen of the Kohathites had charge of the showbread, to prepare it every Sabbath.” This bread was likely prepared on each Friday and placed in the tabernacle on each Sabbath in two piles of six. It would be replenished each week, allowing the priests to eat fresh bread in the holy place.

At one point in David’s life, when he was on the run from Saul, he asked the priest Ahimelech for food. The priest gave David the bread of the Presence, since it was the only bread available (1 Samuel 21:1–6). David was not a priest, so it was technically unlawful for him to eat the showbread. Jesus later refers to this event, using it as proof that the Law was designed for man’s benefit, and that Christ is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1–8; Mark 2:25–27; Luke 6:3–5).

The Old Testament showbread placed on the table in the tabernacle provides a wonderful picture of Jesus, the Bread of Life. Jesus is holy before God, He provides true sustenance, and He is always present. “Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry’” (John 6:35).

One other New Testament reference, Hebrews 9:1–2, mentions the table of showbread as one of the items in the first section of the tabernacle. Also included in that place was the lampstand. Verse 15 notes, “Therefore [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” The context explains that the important aspects of the Jewish law were no longer necessary since Christ has become high priest once and for all. (Source: GotQuestions.org)

Exodus 25:31  "Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it.

  • a lampstand: Ex 35:14 37:17-24 40:24,25 1Ki 7:49 2Ch 13:11 Zec 4:2 Heb 9:2 Rev 1:12,20 2:1,5 4:5 
  • bulbs: 1Ki 6:18 7:24 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

A Menorah

Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold - This is the second piece of furniture in the Holy Place (See schematic above). Again the purity of God and all that is associated with His worship is emphasized by the pure gold.

Lampstand (04501)(menorah from ner = a lamp) refers to a stand, not the candlestick itself. These were used to hold candlesticks or wicks and were in common use in a house (2 Ki. 4:10). Literal lampstand in the Tabernacle and Temple (Ex. 25:31-35; 26:35; 30:27; 31:8; 1 Ki. 7:49) and figuratively of Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:2, 11). TWOT says "This mem-preformative noun represents the stand upon which a lamp was placed (special lamp place")."

See image of Lamp, Lampstand - from Dictionary of Biblical Imagery

Menorah - 40x in 31v - each lampstand(1), lampstand(33), lampstands(6). Exod. 25:31; Exod. 25:32; Exod. 25:33; Exod. 25:34; Exod. 25:35; Exod. 26:35; Exod. 30:27; Exod. 31:8; Exod. 35:14; Exod. 37:17; Exod. 37:18; Exod. 37:19; Exod. 37:20; Exod. 39:37; Exod. 40:4; Exod. 40:24; Lev. 24:4; Num. 3:31; Num. 4:9; Num. 8:2; Num. 8:3; Num. 8:4; 1 Ki. 7:49; 2 Ki. 4:10; 1 Chr. 28:15; 2 Chr. 4:7; 2 Chr. 4:20; 2 Chr. 13:11; Jer. 52:19; Zech. 4:2; Zech. 4:11

Coppes has a lengthy note on lampstand - These seven lamps represent God's perfect (PTOT. p. 362f.) leadership over his people. These "lights" were to burn always being trimmed morning and evening (Leviticus 24:2). While they were being trimmed the attendant was to burn incense representing the prayers of God's people (Exodus 30:7-8; cf qāṭar). In 2 Samuel 21:17 (nēr; cf. 1 Kings 11:36), David's death is represented as the quenching of Israel's lamp. Hence, he is viewed as the one who leads Israel into a blessed state (cf. nûaḥ). David, in turn, confessed that Jehovah was his lamp (2 Samuel 22:29), i.e. the one who enlightened his path through darkness (cf. John 3:20-21) and led him into a state of blessedness nûaḥ; cf. Proverbs 13:9; Job 29:3). Psalm 119:105 (cf. Proverbs 6:23) celebrates the word of God as the lamp to the feet of the godly. Christian readers will recognize this "leadership" of "word" and "light" as a foreshadow of Christ (John 1:1-13). As K-D shows, Psalm 132:17 uses "lamp" as a figure of the Messiah (it is parallel to the well-known figure "branch"). Thus, "lamp" is a symbol of God's personal leading (2 Samuel 22:29), through his word, through his chosen king and, ultimately, through his messiah. God's leader was to lead his people as a priestly nation, i.e. a nation which was to lead all nations to God in worship. In Zech. 4 the prophet speaks of a lampstand (i.e. the OT church: cf. KD) attached to an uninterrupted and unceasing supply of oil (i.e. the Holy Spirit; cf. KD). The interpretation (Zech. 4:6ff.) applies the figure to Zerubbabel (and his followers), but it seems obvious that the figure extends well beyond his day to the messianic era, indeed, cf. Rev. 1:20. This symbolism underlies the NT statements that Christians are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) whose lamps are always to burn (Luke 12:35; Phil. 2:15) and shine before men (Matthew 5:16) leading the ungodly to God and basking in a state of blessed expectation of and preparation for Christ's return.[That the lampstand stands for the church also in the NT must be granted (Rev. 1:20). However, the symbolism of the lampstand apparently is double. Zech. 4:6 strongly implies that the lampstand symbolizes also the Spirit of God. Rev. 4:5 seems to build on this when it calls the lamps the "seven spirits of God" (cf. Rev. 5:6). That the seven spirits of God are not seven different spirits, but the one Spirit seven-fold in his perfection seems to be proved by the position of the seven spirits of God bracketed between the Father and the Son as a source of benediction in Rev. 1:4. r.l.h.] (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

David Thompson - J. Vernon McGee believes that this lampstand does represent Jesus Christ, which is why there is no measurement to it. You cannot measure deity. You cannot measure Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He is beyond mathematical comprehension (Exodus, p. 284). In fact, I think this lampstand actually represents the entire Trinity.

The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it - One piece emphasizes unity. The truth is there is no place where the base is described, but we may assume from verse 40 that Moses knew what the base was to look like.

Thompson on one piece - To make a one piece unit would not be easy, but then doing quality work for God is not easy. It takes time. This particular lampstand would require amazing precision and detail. Why is it important to have this made out of one piece? The reason is because all light comes from the One God and the One Person, Jesus Christ. Becoming a quality light for God is not a simple task. It requires great attention to the details of God’s Word and great precision in applying them.

NET Note -  The stem and the branches were ornamented every so often with gold that was formed into the shape of the calyx and corolla of the almond flower. On top of the central shaft and the six branches were the lamps.

Currid feels that the lampstand "signifies life—continued existence and productivity for the people of God as they stand before him. In one sense, then, the lampstand is a metaphor for the tree of life that was in the Garden of Eden. God gives life to his people....The first part mentioned is the ‘base’; the Hebrew term literally means ‘thigh’, signifying the thickest part of the leg. It probably indicates that the central shaft of the lampstand gradually increases in thickness towards its base. The second item is the ‘shaft’, a term that literally means ‘stalk / reed’. The word translated ‘knobs’ is normally used of ornate capitals on top of pillars."  (Exodus - EPSC)

Cassuto says that the description “the cups, knobs and flowers” is explained in vv. 32–36 as three decorations in the form of a cup, shaped like an almond blossom, to be made on one branch. Every cup will have two parts, (a) a knob, that is, the receptacle at the base of the blossom, and (b) a flower, which is called the corolla, so that each lamp rests on top of a flower."

Related Resources:


(If this doesn't make you tap your feet, I don't know what will!)

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Give me oil in my lamp I pray
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Keep me burning till the break of day

Sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna
Sing Hosanna to the King of Kings
Sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna
Sing Hosanna to the King!

Make me a fisher of men keep me seeking,
Make me a fisher of men I pray
Make me a fisher of men keep me seeking,
Seeking souls 'till Jesus comes again.

Give me joy in my heart keep me praising
Give me joy in my heart I pray
Give me joy in my heart keep me praising
Keep me praising till the break of day.

Give me love in my heart keep me serving
Give me love in my heart I pray
Give me love in my heart keep me serving
Keep me serving till the break of day.

Exodus 25:32  "Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side.

Six branches shall go out from its sides; three branches of the lampstand from its one side and three branches of the lampstand from its other side - See the depiction above which show one central shaft and 3 branches from either side for a total of seven. Since there are no measurements given, it is impossible to reconstruct an exact replica. 

David Thompson - Now the light in this sanctuary would do a couple of things. First, it would enable those who were ministering to see what they were doing. In this specific tabernacle, only the Levitical priests would ever go into this holy place and when they went in to perform duties, they would need light to see so they could carry out their ministries. Second, when the people would look toward the sanctuary at night, it would be the brightest thing that would shine. What this certainly would suggest is God’s presence was at this place during the day and all through the night. It is impossible to worship God and be walking in darkness in any context at any time. To worship God, one must walk in light and minister in light. This is true in the O.T. and this is also true in the N.T.

Exodus 25:31-40 The Right Light

He put the lampstand in the tabernacle of meeting, across from the table, on the south side of the tabernacle. —Exodus 40:24

Eating in the dark is no fun. Low light in a restaurant is one thing; eating in a room with no light at all is another. The same is true in our walk with God. Unless we take advantage of the light He gives, we will miss seeing what He is doing for us.

We have an Old Testament picture of this—the tabernacle. As the priest entered a room called the Holy Place, he could see only by the light of a golden lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40). Like everything else in the room, it had been carefully fashioned according to the pattern God gave Moses (v.40).

The lampstand is a picture of spiritual light. The gold speaks of value. The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The six branches coming out from the center shaft portray unity in plurality. The symbol of the almond blossom is linked to God’s anointed priesthood (Numbers 17:1-8). When all this is combined with a New Testament reference that uses a golden lampstand to represent the church (Revelation 1:20), we have the complete picture. God gives light through the Spirit, who works through His congregation of anointed people (1 Peter 2:9).

Yes, the Holy Spirit provides us with the light we need. Are we daily spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word so that we can take advantage of it? (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Holy Ghost, with light divine,
Shine upon this heart of mine;
Chase the shades of night away,
Turn my darkness into day.

The light of God's holiness convicts the sinner and guides the saint.

QuestionWhat is the significance of the lampstand in the Bible?

Answer: The first time we see the word lampstand in the Bible is in Exodus 25:31, as God gives detailed instructions about the golden lampstand to be placed in the tabernacle the Israelites were building. It’s interesting to note just how precise God is in explaining how He wanted the lampstand to look. Since we can be assured there are no “wasted words” in the Bible, we know each detail and specification are important for some reason.

The lampstand was to be made of pure gold, hammered out to the perfect accuracy of God’s decree (Exodus 25:31). Gold was the most valuable of all metals (Psalm 119:127; 19:10). Gold is often spoken of in terms of being “tested by fire”; the Bible compares the testing of gold with the testing of the church in 1 Peter 1:7. Out of testing, or refining, will come the true people of God (see Zechariah 13:7–9; Job 23:10). Those who withstand the “fire” will be purified (see Numbers 31:23).

The lampstand as a whole was to be fashioned as a tree with the base and center shaft representing the trunk and with three “branches” on each side. The top of the shaft and of each branch was to be made like an open almond flower; each flower held an oil lamp (Exodus 25:32, 37). There are several passages in the Bible that speak about the almond tree, which was always the first tree to blossom and bear fruit in the spring, as early as February. The apostle Paul calls Christ the “firstfruits” because Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to everlasting life, and because of His resurrection all believers will also be raised (1 Corinthians 15:20–23; Romans 8:23).

God used Aaron’s rod as a sign to the Israelites of his unique priesthood. At one time, when Aaron’s priesthood was being challenged, God caused Aaron’s rod to bud and grow ripe almonds overnight; this miracle reaffirmed that the privilege of being chosen as High Priest only came through God’s appointment (Numbers 16:3;17:10). This was a “shadow of things to come” experience that pointed to Jesus, our God-ordained, life-giving High Priest forever (Hebrews 7:21).

In the tabernacle, the lampstand was to be placed in the first section, called the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2). The lamp was to be tended by Aaron and his sons so that its light never went out. The lampstand was to give forth light day and night (Exodus 27:20–21). The lampstand’s being the only source of light points directly to Christ as being the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). Jesus is the “true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) and the only way anyone can come to the Father (John 14:6).

Jesus also calls His church the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), not of their own doing but because Christ is abiding in the church (John 1:4–5). A Christian who is shining with the light of Christ will live a godly life (1 Peter 2:9). Scripture is overflowing with references that compare and contrast light and darkness, believer and unbeliever, right up through the book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:20 Christ says the “seven lampstands are the seven churches.” The churches of Christ are to walk in the light of God (1 John 1:7) and spread the light of the gospel so that all people will glorify God (Matthew 5:16).

There is other symbolism in the lampstand: it was made of one piece, as Christ is one with His church (Colossians 1:8); the six branches (6 being the number of man) plus the main shaft equals seven lights (7 being the number of completion)—man is only complete in Christ (John 15:5).

The most important thing to note about the lampstand is that it points to Christ, as do all the elements of the tabernacle. The Bible is from beginning to end a testimony about Christ and God’s merciful plan of redemption. Praise the Lord, He has taken His children out of the darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). (SourceGotQuestions.org)

Exodus 25:33  "Three cups shall be shaped like almond blossoms in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bulb and a flower--so for six branches going out from the lampstand;

NET  Exodus 25:33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, and three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on the next branch, and the same for the six branches extending from the lampstand.

NLT  Exodus 25:33 Each of the six branches will have three lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals.

ESV  Exodus 25:33 three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almond blossoms, each with calyx and flower, on the other branch-- so for the six branches going out of the lampstand.

NIV  Exodus 25:33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand.

  • like: Nu 17:4-8 Jer 1:11,12 
  • three: Ex 37:19,20 Zec 4:3 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Three cups shall be shaped like almond blossoms in the one branch, a bulb and a flower, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bulb and a flower--so for six branches going out from the lampstand

MacKay states: Almond trees were common throughout the eastern Mediterranean, and were known for their early white blossom which appears before the trees come into leaf (Jer. 1:11-12) and which made them a symbol of hope as well as fruitfulness. Perhaps we can trace here the idea of divine watchfulness and care over the people with whom the LORD dwells. Jewish tradition understood the topmost flower to act as a support for the lamp above it, and the other two were found lower down the branch as ornaments.  (Exodus: A Mentor Commentary)

Third Millennium notes - In Zechariah's vision the oil of the lampstand symbolized the anointing of the Spirit (Zech 4:6, 12, 14). John saw Jesus ministering among the lampstands (representing the churches) of the heavenly sanctuary (Rev 1:12, 20). The light and the fire of the lamps were symbols related to God's presence.

Thompson on three cups shaped like almond blossoms - This would be a beautiful piece of furniture. The question arises, why is there this emphasis on three plus three? The reason is because the number three is critical to the Trinity . All of the Trinity is involved in giving any light. It is to have these things for a total of six , one for each branch. After stressing the three plus three, we learn that there are a total of six, so there is no misunderstanding on this point.

Exodus 25:34  and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers.

NET  Exodus 25:34 On the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms,

NLT  Exodus 25:34 Craft the center stem of the lampstand with four lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals.

ESV  Exodus 25:34 And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers,

NIV  Exodus 25:34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms.

and in the lampstand four cups shaped like almond blossoms, its bulbs and its flowers.

David Thompson - So not only are each branch to have flower cups, but there are to be four put on the main lamp shaft or beam. So this would be similar to a floor lamp. You have one central beam that extends up to the light. So what we have is a lampstand that features a total of seven different supports for oil lamps.

Exodus 25:35  "A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand.

NET  Exodus 25:35 with a bud under the first two branches from it, and a bud under the next two branches from it, and a bud under the third two branches from it, according to the six branches that extend from the lampstand.

NLT  Exodus 25:35 There will also be an almond bud beneath each pair of branches where the six branches extend from the center stem.

ESV  Exodus 25:35 and a calyx of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lampstand.

NIV  Exodus 25:35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair--six branches in all.

A bulb shall be under the first pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the second pair of branches coming out of it, and a bulb under the third pair of branches coming out of it, for the six branches coming out of the lampstand

David Thompson - Now the bulbs were attached to the main beam. So what we have are a total of seven bulbs–a total of three under each branch and a total of four under each cup on the stand. Now seven is a very important number because it is a number that specifically does relate to God. It is the number of completion. So clearly this lamp was to reflect that all complete light comes from God.

Exodus 25:36  "Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold.

  • hammered: Ex 25:18 Nu 8:4 1Ki 10:16,17 2Ch 9:15 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Their bulbs and their branches shall be of one piece with it; all of it shall be one piece of hammered work of pure gold - It was a one piece unit that featured seven lamps all made of gold. Why one piece? God is One God. Why three branches? Because there is One God, and three distinct Persons to the One God. (Thompson)

Exodus 25:37  "Then you shall make its lamps seven in number; and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it.

  • seven: Ex 37:23 Zec 4:2 Rev 1:4,12,20 2:1 4:5 
  • they shall: Ex 27:21 30:8 Lev 24:2-4 2Ch 13:11 
  • shed: Ex 40:24 Nu 8:2 Ps 119:105 Pr 6:23 Isa 8:20 Mt 5:14 Lu 1:79 Joh 1:9 8:12 12:5 Ac 26:18 Rev 21:23-25 22:5 
  • it: Nu 8:2 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Then you shall make its lamps seven in number - These are the lamps to go upon the 7 branched lampstand. One of the best descriptions that we may see of this lampstand is seen in Zechariah 4:2.

Zechariah 4:2 He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it;

NET Note says "The word for “lamps” is from the same root as the lampstand, of course. The word is נֵרוֹת (nerot). This probably refers to the small saucer-like pottery lamps that are made very simply with the rim pinched over to form a place to lay the wick. The bowl is then filled with olive oil as fuel." 

Guzik has an interesting thought - The tabernacle represented the court of God’s throne, and Revelation 4:5 describes Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. The seven lamps represent the presence of the Holy Spirit in heaven. (Exodus 25)

Thompson - There would be a lamp on top of each branch totaling six, and then one more at the top of the center beam totaling seven. This lampstand was to burn continually and was to be serviced by the temple priests every morning and every evening (Ex. 27:20-21).

and they shall mount its lamps so as to shed light on the space in front of it - In front of it is literally "the face of it."

Currid - For the believer today the menorah is an unnecessary object because Jesus proclaimed, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life’ (John 8:12).  (Exodus - EPSC)

Exodus 25:38  "Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold.

  • snuffers: 2Ch 4:21 Isa 6:6, snuff dishes, Ex 37:23 Nu 4:9 1Ki 7:50 2Ki 12:13 25:14 Jer 52:18 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Its snuffers and their trays shall be of pure gold - "The first word refers to something like small tongs or tweezers used to pull up and trim the wicks; the second word refers to fire-pans or censers." (NET)

Exodus 25:39  "It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils.

NET  Exodus 25:39 About seventy-five pounds of pure gold is to be used for it and for all these utensils.

NLT  Exodus 25:39 You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories.

ESV  Exodus 25:39 It shall be made, with all these utensils, out of a talent of pure gold.

NIV  Exodus 25:39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories.

It shall be made from a talent of pure gold, with all these utensils - Currid explains that "The talent equals three thousand shekels (Ex 38:24–31). Recovered shekel weights from Palestine leave room for conjecture regarding the precise weight of the measure: they weigh anything from eight to twelve grams. In pounds, 3,000 shekels equal anything from 52.8 lbs. to 79.2 lbs. of pure gold."   (Exodus - EPSC)

Thompson - Now this lampstand has several significant applications:

(Application #1) - To have any true light in order to worship God or have a relationship with God, one must be connected to the Trinity.

(Application #2) - Jesus Christ is the light of the whole world and without a relationship with Him, no one can worship God (Jn. 1:4, 9; Jn 9:5).

(Application #3) - Jesus Christ will give great light to one who follows Him and His Word (Jn. 8:12).

(Application #4) - A church has the privilege and responsibility to grow in the light of God’s Word and reflect it and if a church does not do that, God will remove the lampstand and stop it from shining (Rev. 2:1, 5)

Exodus 25:40  "See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.

  • that you make: Ex 26:30 Ex 39:42,43 Nu 8:4 1Ch 28:11,19 Eze 43:11,12 Ac 7:44 Heb 8:5 
  • Exodus 25 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain - These commands  are virtually identical to the instructions in Ex 26:30. God is strongly making the point clear that Moses was to construct the tabernacle and the furniture exactly as he had been shown, which implies in some way God has given Moses the architectural plan and plan for the details of the furniture. 

The writer of Hebrews Hebrews 8:5 says that the earthly priests

"who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.” (Hebrews 8:5)

Currid comments - Hebrews 8:5 quotes verse 40 of the present passage. It does so in the context of arguing that the offerings brought to the tabernacle according to the Torah are merely shadows and copies of the heavenly sacrifices. And, furthermore, the tabernacle itself is seen as a mere model of a heavenly tabernacle where Jesus now serves as High Priest. He is there now, having offered his own body as a once-and-for-all sacrifice for his people. The quote from Exodus 25:40 is used to confirm that there is a heavenly sanctuary, and the tabernacle was merely patterned after it. What was given to Moses on Mount Sinai was not merely blueprints for a new structure, but the plans of the tabernacle that already existed in the heavenly realms. (Exodus - EPSC)

NET Note - The message of this section surely concerns access to God. To expound this correctly, though, since it is an instruction section for building the lampstand, the message would be: God requires that his people ensure that light will guide the way of access to God. The breakdown for exposition could be the instructions for preparation for light (one lamp, several branches), then instructions for the purpose and maintenance of the lamps, and then the last verse telling the divine source for the instructions. Naturally, the metaphorical value of light will come up in the study, especially from the NT. So in the NT there is the warning that if churches are unfaithful God will remove their lampstand, their ministry (Rev 2–3).

Morris - The details of the design and building of this very temporary dwelling of God, the wilderness tabernacle, occupies most of thirteen chapters of Exodus, indicating the importance of its symbology. Some of the latter is explained in the book of Hebrews (especially Hebrews 8 and 9). The tabernacle was actually to be a model of God's "true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Hebrews 8:2), where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). At that time, no doubt, we shall comprehend the full meaning of all its beauties.

Robert Rayburn - These are the boring parts of the Bible only if you think it a small thing to draw near to God’s throne, to find from him the forgiveness of your sins, to reaffirm your commitment to living according to his law, to find yourself already in heaven – at least in anticipation – and to look to him for light and for the provision of your daily bread.  That is what the tabernacle was to God’s people and what true worship is for us today. No wonder the attention paid to it in Holy Scripture! (Studies in Exodus 24:12-25:40)