Exodus 35:1 – 40:38; Haftarah: I Kings 7:51 – 8:21
We have reached the end of the book of Exodus. Our study will offer an opportunity to review the two main themes of Exodus as we have studied them in our class: Creation and the Woman. This is in fact the theme that has been with us since Genesis 3 – and the promise of a Seed that would redeem the world from sin and from death – and gets a profound spiritual and, from a Christian perspective Christological and even Mariological treatment throughout Exodus. We study the tabernacle as a place of creation and how Moses, at the end of the book, plays the role of “god” to a people that is holy, obedient and full of love to God. Never before or since has an entire people been entirely dedicated to God as the people of Israel were at the feet of mount Sinai after Moses’ decent. This meditation will lead us into Leviticus.
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and wall the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
(Ex 35:30) Gregory of Nysa – Against Eunomius 11.5
For we are not wrong in saying just the same of Bezalel, that being entrusted by Moses with the building of the tabernacle, he became the constructor of those things there mentioned. He would not have taken the work in hand had he not previously acquired his knowledge by divine inspiration. He ventured upon the undertaking on Moses’ entrusting him with its execution. Accordingly the term entrusted suggests that his office and power in creation came to him as something adventitious, in the sense that before he was entrusted with that commission he had neither the will nor the power to act. But when he received authority to execute the works and power sufficient for the works, then he became the artificer of things that are, the power allotted to him on high being, as Eunomius1 says, sufficient for the purpose.
(Ex 36:33) Bede – On the Tabernacle 2.10
Here, therefore, we must assume that a bar was stretched across the ten cubits of the width of the tabernacle, from the top of the boards in front to the top on the other side. [It was] firmly positioned with a head on the boards on each side in such a way that by means of it that side of the tabernacle which rested not on boards but on pillars might also remain immovable, no less firmly fixed than the other [side], even when the wind was blowing against it.
If you should also wish to understand the sacrament of this bar, in a figurative manner it unambiguously signifies our Redeemer himself, who passed through from corner to corner, as it were. He reached out from the Jewish people, which he had previously chosen for himself, to make atonement also for the sake of the salvation of the multitude of the Gentiles. Hence, just as in the prophets he can for good reason be called the “cornerstone,” so also in the law can he be called the “corner bar.” He is “cornerstone,” evidently, in relation to the temple which is constructed for God out of living stones.6 He is “corner bar” in relation to the tabernacle which is built for him out of imperishable wood, that is, out of the souls of the elect, which are free from the stain of corruption.
(Ex 40:2) Theodoret of Cyr – Questions on Exodus 72
Why did God command Moses to erect the tabernacle on the first day of the first month? Because at that time he created the world. The sprouting of the trees attests to this fact. For Scripture says, “Let the earth sprout forth grass for fodder, and sow seed according to its kind and its likeness, and fruit-bearing trees that produce fruit, with its seed within it in its likeness, according to its kind upon the earth.”1 When spring begins, the meadows bloom, the fields grow like waves, and the trees germinate their fruit. So too in this very season God set Israel free from slavery under the Egyptians and the archangel Gabriel brought the holy virgin the good news of her mysterious childbearing. In this same season the Lord Christ underwent his saving passion. Most fittingly, the Lord God of all ordered the tabernacle to be erected on the first day of the first month because it was the image of the entire world, and also so that the people would prepare for the feast of Passover, which the law commanded the Jews to celebrate as the first feast. At that time, they were going to celebrate this feast for the first time in the desert, for this was the second year after their deliverance from slavery.