Exodus Chapter 40
In this chapter, I. Orders are given for the setting up of the tabernacle and the fixing of all the appurtenances of it in their proper places (ver. 1-8), and the consecrating of it (ver. 9-11), and of the priests, ver. 12-15. II. Care is taken to do all this, and as it was appointed to be done, ver. 16-33. III. God takes possession of it by the cloud, ver. 34, &c.
B. C. 1491.
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 3 And thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the vail. 4 And thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof. 5 And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle. 6 And thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. 7 And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein. 8 And thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate. 9 And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy. 10 And thou shalt anoint the altar of the burnt offering, and all his vessels, and sanctify the altar: and it shall be an altar most holy. 11 And thou shalt anoint the laver and his foot, and sanctify it. 12 And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. 13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 14 And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: 15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
The materials and furniture of the tabernacle had been viewed severally and approved, and now they must be put together.
1. God here directs Moses to set up the tabernacle and the utensils of it in their places. Though the work of the tabernacle was finished, and every thing ready for rearing, and the people, no doubt, were very desirous to see it up, yet Moses will not erect it till he has express orders for doing so. It is good to see God going before us in every step, Ps. xxxvii. 23. The time for doing this is fixed to the first day of the first month (v. 2), which wanted but fourteen days of a year since they came out of Egypt; and a good year’s work there was done in it. Probably the work was made ready but just at the end of the year, so that the appointing of this day gave no delay, or next to none, to this good work. We must not put off any necessary duty under pretence of waiting for some remarkable day; the present season is the most convenient. But the tabernacle happening to be set up on the first day of the first month intimates that it is good to begin the year with some good work. Let him that is the first have the first; and let the things of his kingdom be first sought. In Hezekiah’s time we find they began to sanctify the temple on the first day of the first month, 2 Chron. xxix. 17. The new moon (which by their computation was the first day of every month) was observed by them with some solemnity; and therefore this first new moon of the year was thus made remarkable. Note, When a new year begins, we should think of serving God more and better than we did the year before. Moses is particularly ordered to set up the tabernacle itself first, in which God would dwell and would be served (v. 2), then to put the ark in its place, and draw the veil before it (v. 3), then to fix the table, and the candlestick, and the altar of incense, without the veil (v. 4, 5), and to fix the hanging of the door before the door. Then in the court he must place the altar of burnt offering, and the laver (v. 6, 7); and, lastly, he must set up the curtains of the court, and a hanging for a court-gate. And all this would be easily done in one day, many hands no doubt being employed in it under the direction of Moses.
2. He directs Moses, when he had set up the tabernacle and all the furniture of it, to consecrate it and them, by anointing them with the oil which was prepared for the purpose, ch. xxx. 25, &c. It was there ordered that this should be done; here it was ordered that it should be done now, v. 9-11. Observe, Every thing was sanctified when it was put in its proper place, and not till then, for till then it was not fit for the use to which it was to be sanctified. As every thing is beautiful in its season, so is every thing in its place.
3. He directs him to consecrate Aaron and his sons. When the goods were brought into God’s house, they were marked first, and then servants were hired to bear the vessels of the Lord; and those must be clean who were put into that office, v. 12-15. The law which was now ordered to be put in execution we had before, ch. xxix. Thus in the visible church, which is God’s tabernacle among men, it is requisite that there be ministers to keep the charge of the sanctuary, and that they receive the anointing.
– Matthew Henry Commentary