Exodus 25:8
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
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(8) Let them make me a sanctuary.—The enumeration of the gifts (Exodus 25:3-7) has been subordinate to this. Hitherto Israel had had no place of worship, no structure dedicated to God. God now brings this state of things to an end, by requiring them to “make him a sanctuary.” In Egypt they had seen structures of vast size and extraordinary magnificence erected in every city for the worship of the Egyptian gods. They are now to have their own structure, their “holy place,” their “house of God.” As, however, they are still in a nomadic condition, without fixed abode, continually shifting their quarters, a building, in the ordinary sense of the word, would have been unsuitable. They must soon have quitted it or have foregone their hopes of Palestine. God therefore devised for them a structure in harmony with their condition—a “tent-temple”—modelled on the ordinary form of the better Oriental tents, but of the best materials and of an unusual size—yet still portable. It is this structure, with its contents and its adjuncts, which forms the main subject of the rest of the book of Exodus, and which is now minutely and elaborately described in six consecutive chapters (Exodus 25-30)

That I may dwell among them.—Compare Exodus 29:42-46; Exodus 40:34-38. Though God “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:48), is not confined to them, cannot be comprehended within them, yet since it pleases Him to manifest Himself especially in such abodes, He may be well said to “dwell there” in a peculiar manner. His dwelling with Israel was not purely spiritual. From time to time He manifested Himself sensibly in the Holy of Holies, where He dwelt continually, and might be consulted by the temporal ruler of the nation.

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

25:1-9 God chose the people of Israel to be a peculiar people to himself, above all people, and he himself would be their King. He ordered a royal palace to be set up among them for himself, called a sanctuary, or holy place, or habitation. There he showed his presence among them. And because in the wilderness they dwelt in tents, this royal palace was ordered to be a tabernacle, that it might move with them. The people were to furnish Moses with the materials, by their own free will. The best use we can make of our worldly wealth, is to honour God with it in works of piety and charity. We should ask, not only, What must we do? but, What may we do for God? Whatever they gave, they must give it cheerfully, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2Co 9:7. What is laid out in the service of God, we must reckon well bestowed; and whatsoever is done in God's service, must be done by his direction.sanctuary - i. e. a hallowed place. This is the most comprehensive of the words that relate to the place dedicated to Yahweh. It included the tabernacle with its furniture, its tent, and its court.

That I may dwell among them - The purpose of the sanctuary is here definitely declared by the Lord Himself. It was to be the constant witness of His presence among His people. Compare the marginal references.

8. a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them—In one sense the tabernacle was to be a palace, the royal residence of the King of Israel, in which He was to dwell among His people, receive their petitions, and issue His responses. But it was also to be a place of worship, in which God was to record His name and to enshrine the mystic symbols of His presence. A place of public and solemn worship,

that I may dwell among them; not by my essence, which is every where, but by my grace and glorious operations.

And let them make me a sanctuary,.... An holy place to dwell in, and so called from his dwelling in it, as follows:

that I may dwell amongst them; in the midst of them, where the tabernacle was always placed; and there he dwelt as their King and their God, to whom they might have recourse on all occasions, and whom they should serve and worship; this sanctuary was to be made of many of the materials before mentioned by the Israelites, whom Moses should employ, and to whom he should give directions for the making it, according to the pattern showed him: and so the Jewish writers interpret "make me", or "to me", i.e. of mine, of mine holy things, things sanctified and separated to his use; and they bring this passage to prove that the workmen in the temple were to be paid only out of the holy things, or money given for the repair of it (h): this was a type of the human nature of Christ, the true sanctuary and tabernacle which God pitched and not man, and in which the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily; and of the church of God, the temple of the living God, among whom he walks, and with whom he dwells, Hebrews 8:2.

(h) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Temurah, c. 7. sect. 1.

And let them make me a {e} sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

(e) A place both to offer sacrifice, and to hear the law.

8. sanctuary] about 12 times in H and P (as Leviticus 19:30; Leviticus 12:4); often in Ezek., of the Temple (as Ezekiel 5:11, Ezekiel 8:6, Ezekiel 44:1; Ezekiel 44:5, &c.), and occasionally besides (as ch. Exodus 15:17, Jeremiah 17:12, Psalm 73:17).

that I may dwell in their midst] Cf. Exodus 29:45 f., Numbers 5:3 : also Ezekiel 43:7; Ezekiel 43:9, Zechariah 2:10-11; Zechariah 8:3; and, in the ideal consummation, Revelation 21:3. This is the essential aim and object of the Tent of Meeting as conceived by P. Cf. the next note but one. The verb is the one from which Shekinah, ‘that which dwelleth,’ the post-Bibl. term for the Presence or Manifestation of Jehovah, is derived: see the Jewish Encycl. or DB. s.v. It is very common in the Targums: thus Deuteronomy 1:42 is in Onk. ‘for my Shekinah is not among you.’ For the idea of Jehovah’s being, or ‘dwelling,’ ‘in the midst’ (בתוך) of His people see also Leviticus 15:31; Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 22:32; Leviticus 26:11-12, Numbers 16:3; Numbers 18:20; Numbers 35:34 (all P or H).

Verses 8, 9. - GENERAL DIRECTIONS. After the gifts which God will accept have been specified, and the spirit in which they are to be offered noted (ver. 2), God proceeds to unfold his purpose, and declare the object for which the gifts are needed. He will have a "sanctuary" constructed for him, an habitation in which he may "dwell." Now, it is certainly possible to conceive of a religion which should admit nothing in the nature of a temple or sanctuary; and there are even writers who tell us that a religion has actually existed without one (Herod. 1:131, Strab. 15. pp, 1039-41) That God should "dwell" in a house, as a man does, is of course impossible; and the Hebrews were as deeply impressed with this truth as any other nation (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; Isaiah 56:1; Jeremiah 23:24, etc.). But a religion without a temple was probably unknown in the days of Moses; and, with such a people as the Hebrews, it is inconceivable that religion could have maintained its ground for long without something of the kind. "It was," as Kalisch says, "above all things necessary to create a firm and visible centre of monotheism, to keep perpetually the idea of the one omnipotent God alive in the minds of the people, and so to exclude for ever a relapse into the pagan and idolatrous aberrations" (Comment on Exodus, p. 365). A sanctuary was therefore to be constructed; but, as the nation was in the peculiar position of being nomadic, without fixed abode, that is, and constantly on the move, the usual form of a permanent building was unsuitable under the circumstances. To meet the difficulty, a tent-temple was designed, which is called mishkan, "the dwelling," or ohel, "the tent," which was simply an Oriental tent on a large scale, made of the best obtainable materials, and guarded by an enclosure. The details of the work are reserved for later mention. In the present passage two directions only are given: -

1. A sanctuary is to be constructed; and

2. Both it, and all its vessels, are to be made after patterns which God was about to show to Moses. Verse 8. - A sanctuary well expresses the Hebrew micdash, which is derived from cadash - "to be holy." It is a name never given to the temples of the heathen deities. That I may dwell among them. Compare Exodus 29:45; Numbers 35:34. There is a sense in which "God dwelleth not in temples made with hands"(Acts 7:48; Acts 17:24) - i.e., he is not comprehended in them, or confined to them; but there is another sense in which he may be truly said to dwell in them, viz., as manifesting himself in them either to the senses, or to the spirit. In the tabernacle he manifested himself sensibly (Exodus 40:34, 35, 38). Exodus 25:8With these freewill-offerings they were to make the Lord a sanctuary, that He might dwell in the midst of them (see at Exodus 25:22). "According to all that I let thee see (show thee), the pattern of the dwelling and the pattern of all its furniture, so shall ye make it." The participle מראה does not refer to the past; and there is nothing to indicate that it does, either in Exodus 25:40, where "in the mount" occurs, or in the use of the preterite in Exodus 26:30; Exodus 27:8. It does not follow from the expression, "which is showed thee in the mount," that Moses had already left the mountain and returned to the camp; and the use of the preterite in the passages last named may be simply explained, either on the supposition that the sight of the pattern or model of the whole building and its component parts preceded the description of the different things required for the completion of the building, or that the instructions to make the different parts in such and such a way, pointed to a time when the sight of the model really belonged to the past. On the other hand, the model for the building could not well be shown to Moses, before he had been told that the gifts to be made by the people were to be devoted to the building of a sanctuary. תּבנית, from בּנה to build, lit., a building, then a figure of anything, a copy of representation of different things, Deuteronomy 4:17.; a drawing or sketch, 2 Kings 16:10 : it never means the original, not even in Psalm 144:12, as Delitzsch supposes (see his Com. on Hebrews 8:5). In such passages as 1 Chronicles 28:11-12, 1 Chronicles 28:19, where it may be rendered plan, it does not signify an original, but simply means a model or drawing, founded upon an idea, or taken from some existing object, according to which a building was to be constructed. Still less can the object connected with תבנית in the genitive be understood as referring to the original, from which the תבנית was taken; so that we cannot follow the Rabbins in their interpretation of this passage, as affirming that the heavenly originals of the tabernacle and its furniture had been shown to Moses in a vision upon the mountain. What was shown to him was simply a picture or model of the earthly tabernacle and its furniture, which were to be made by him. Both Acts 7:44 and Hebrews 8:5 are perfectly reconcilable with this interpretation of our verse, which is the only one that can be grammatically sustained. The words of Stephen, that Moses was to make the tabernacle κατὰ τὸν τύπον ὅν ἑωράκει, "according to the fashion that he had seen," are so indefinite, that the text of Exodus must be adduced to explain them. And when the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews cites the words, "See that thou make all things κατὰ τὸν τύπον τὸν δειχθέντα σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει" (according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount), from Exodus 25:40 of this chapter, as a proof the Levitical priests only served the type and shadow of heavenly things (τῶν ἐπουρανίων); it is true, his words may be understood as showing that he regarded the earthly tabernacle with all its arrangements as only the counterpart and copy of a heavenly original. But this interpretation is neither necessary nor well founded. For although the author, by following the Sept., in which בּתניתם is rendered κατὰ τὸν τύπον, the suffix being dropped, leaves it just a possible thing to understand the τύπος shown to Moses as denoting a heavenly tabernacle (or temple); yet he has shown very clearly that this was not his own view, when he explains the "patterns of things in the heavens" (ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν οὐρανοῖς) and "the true" things (τὰ ἀληθινά) of both the tabernacle and its furniture as denoting the "heaven" (οὐρανός) into which Christ had entered, and not any temple in heaven. If the ἐπουράνια are heaven itself, the τύπος showed to Moses cannot have been a temple in heaven, but either heaven itself, or, more probably still, as there could be no necessity for this to be shown to Moses in a pictorial representation, a picture of heavenly things or divine realities, which was shown to Moses that he might copy and embody it in the earthly tabernacle.

(Note: The conclusion drawn by Delitzsch (Hebrerbrief, p. 337), that because the author does not refer to anything between the ἐπουράνια and their ἀντίτυπα (Exodus 9:24), the τύπος can only have consisted of the ἐπουράνια themselves, is a mistake. All that the premises preclude, is the intervention of any objective reality, or third material object, but not the introduction of a pictorial representation, through which Moses was shown how to copy the heavenly realities and embody them in an earthly form. The earthly tent would no more be a copy of the copy of a heavenly original in this case, than a palace built according to a model is a copy of that model. Moreover, Delitzsch himself thinks it is "not conceivable that, when Moses was favoured with a view of the heavenly world, it was left to him to embody what he saw in a material form, to bring it within the limits of space." He therefore assumes, both for the reason assigned, and because "no mortal has ever looked directly at heavenly things," that "inasmuch as what was seen could not be directly reflected in the mirror of his mind, not to mention the retina of his eye, it was set before him in a visible form, and according to the operation of God who showed it, in a manner adapted to serve as a model of the earthly sanctuary to be erected." Thus he admits that it is true that Moses did not see the heavenly world itself, but only a copy of it that was shown to him by God.)

If we understand the verse before us in this sense, it merely expresses what is already implied in the fact itself. If God showed Moses a picture or model of the tabernacle, and instructed him to make everything exactly according to this pattern, we must assume that in the tabernacle and its furniture heavenly realities were to be expressed in earthly forms; or, to put it more clearly, that the thoughts of God concerning salvation and His kingdom, which the earthly building was to embody and display, were visibly set forth in the pattern shown. The symbolical and typical significance of the whole building necessarily follows from this, though without our being obliged to imitate the Rabbins, and seek in the tabernacle the counterpart or copy of a heavenly temple. What these divine thoughts were that were embodied in the tabernacle, can only be gathered from the arrangement and purpose of the whole building and its separate parts; and upon this point the description furnishes so much information, that when read in the light of the whole of the covenant revelation, it gives to all the leading points precisely the clearness that we require.

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