8 And all the craftsmen among the workmen made the tabernacle with ten curtains. They were made of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns, with cherubim skillfully worked. 9 The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. All the curtains were the same size.
10 He coupled five curtains to one another, and the other five curtains he coupled to one another. 11 He made loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain of the first set. Likewise he made them on the edge of the outermost curtain of the second set. 12 He made fifty loops on the one curtain, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set. The loops were opposite one another. 13 And he made fifty clasps of gold, and coupled the curtains one to the other with clasps. So the tabernacle was a single whole.
14 He also made curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle. He made eleven curtains. 15 The length of each curtain was thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains were the same size. 16 He coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves. 17 And he made fifty loops on the edge of the outermost curtain of the one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the other connecting curtain. 18 And he made fifty clasps of bronze to couple the tent together that it might be a single whole. 19 And he made for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and goatskins.
20 Then he made the upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 21 Ten cubits was the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 22 Each frame had two tenons for fitting together. He did this for all the frames of the tabernacle. 23 The frames for the tabernacle he made thus: twenty frames for the south side. 24 And he made forty bases of silver under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons. 25 For the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, he made twenty frames 26 and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame and two bases under the next frame. 27 For the rear of the tabernacle westward he made six frames. 28 He made two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear. 29 And they were separate beneath but joined at the top, at the first ring. He made two of them this way for the two corners. 30 There were eight frames with their bases of silver: sixteen bases, under every frame two bases.
31 He made bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, 32 and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 33 And he made the middle bar to run from end to end halfway up the frames. 34 And he overlaid the frames with gold, and made their rings of gold for holders for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.
35 He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it. 36 And for it he made four pillars of acacia and overlaid them with gold. Their hooks were of gold, and he cast for them four bases of silver. 37 He also made a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework, 38 and its five pillars with their hooks. He overlaid their capitals, and their fillets were of gold, but their five bases were of bronze. – Exodus 36:8-38 ESV
Like any other construction project, the Tabernacle was built in phases – literally from the ground up. Chapter 36 contains Moses’ description of the first stage of the project, when Bezalel orchestrated the fabrication of the Tabernacle’s structural frame, exterior walls, roofing membrane, and the more intricate veils that would form its interior rooms. Having already reintroduced Bezalel as the primary foreman for this massive project, Moses makes it sound as if this one man did all the work alone.
He coupled five curtains to one another… – vs 10
He made loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain… – vs 11
He also made curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle… – vs 14
But it is safe to assume that Bezalel had plenty of help. His role was supervisory in nature. While Bezalel was “filled him with the Spirit of God…with all craftsmanship…for work in every skilled craft” (Exodus 35:31, 33 ESV), he did not do all the work alone. Moses makes it clear that “all the craftsmen among the workmen made the tabernacle with ten curtains” (Exodus 36:8 ESV), but Bezalel was responsible for overseeing all the intricate details that God had specified for the Tabernacle’s construction. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, this one man served as the principal project manager with the responsibility of ensuring that God’s house was constructed according to God’s plans.
This one man was expected to safeguard the stockpile of gemstones, gold, silver, timber, fabric, and leather that the people had donated for the Tabernacle’s construction. The potential for theft would have been high. There would have been a constant temptation for workmen to pilfer some of the overstock of building materials. After all, they seemed to have far more inventory than the building plans required. But Bezalel would have understood that every single item the people had given belonged to the Lord. Nothing was to be lost, looted, or allowed to disappear from the inventory. Every gold bracelet, silver amulet, or yard of fabric was to be accounted for and reserved solely for its part in the completion of God’s earthly dwelling place.
Each item donated by the people of Israel was unique and necessary. Together they would form the completed sanctuary of God. Under the skilled hands of Bezalel and his team of gifted craftsmen, these ordinary objects would be transformed into a dwelling place fit for God Almighty. The apostle Paul picks up on this concept when he describes the believers in Corinth in a similar way.
Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT
In his second letter to the very same people, Paul reemphasized their status as God’s temple.
For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – 2 Corinthians 6:16 NLT
Paul was simply reiterating the promise God had made to the people of Israel.
“I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” – Leviticus 26:12 ESV
“My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” – Ezekiel 37:27-28 ESV
The Tabernacle would be compromised of tens of thousands of individual donations that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would be transformed into a single structure designed to serve as the temple of God. Bezalel and his craftsmen would melt down all the gold jewelry, melding them into loops that would hold up the beautiful woven tapestries that adorned the Holy Place. The individual donations of tanned rams’ skins and goat skins would be woven into a single unit that would serve as the outer walls of the Tabernacle, protecting its sacred interior from the elements. Every piece of acacia wood that was donated to the cause was painstakingly planed and finished so that it could become part of the support frame for the entire structure.
Everything had a purpose and a place in God’s plan. Each item, no matter how small or insignificant, was needed to complete God’s house. And when the Tabernacle was finished, every Israelite who had donated to the cause would know that their contribution had played a part. Their gift had been transformed by the Spirit of God into a house fit for Yahweh. And, once again, the apostle Paul uses the analogy of the Old Testament Tabernacle as a reminder to New Testament believers that they too have been formed into a dwelling place for God Almighty.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. – Ephesians 2:19-22 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.