The Appointment of Bezalel and Oholiab

31:1-11; 35:10-19, 30 to 36:3a and 38:22-23

    DIG: What skills did Bezalel and Oholiab possess? What does this say about the way the Spirit of God equips people for leadership? Why might God have equipped them with people skills as well as artistic and practical skills? How would each be needed in building the Tabernacle?

    REFLECT: When told everything to do and exactly how to do it, how do you typically respond? If given the spiritual and physical resources to do it, and protected from overworking, how do you respond?

    Not only does ADONAI give the details and specifications for the building of the Tabernacle, but He also personally selected who would oversee the work. Bezalel was to have overall charge of the building with Oholiab as his assistant. Without a doubt these men were selected because of their superior talent and previous experience. God promised that Bezalel would be filled with the Spirit of God. The construction of the Tabernacle was no small task. It would take skill and imagination. For this responsibility the LORD chose the best and gave them divine help.504

    Then ADONAI said to Moses His prophet: See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. It is unusual to mention the names of both a father and grandfather together. But the rabbis teach that Hur was murdered for opposing the making of the golden calf. If true, Hur’s life was redeemed in the work of his grandson, who fashioned gold into the dwelling of the living God.505 And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship (31:1-5, 35:30-33, 38:22). Bezalel was filled, or controlled, by the Holy Spirit to do his ministry. The rabbis also teach that Bezalel was only thirteen when selected by God to do the work of constructing the Tabernacle.

    In addition to Bezalel, ADONAI appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan to help him. It is interesting to notice that Hiram, the chief artist Solomon employed to make the ornamental work of the Temple was also from the tribe of Dan (Second Chronicles 2:13-14). And God gave both of them the ability to teach others (35:34). Although all of the craftsmen possessed skill, literally wise of heart, but only Bezalel was filled with the Spirit of God. The supervisors’ names were appropriate indeed, since Bezalel means, in the Shadow of God, and Oholiab means, God the Father is My Tent.506

    In His sovereignty, ADONAI chose both men. Other than their names, we know precious little about these two men. However, we do know that Bezalel was from the tribe of Judah (First Chronicles 2:20; Second Chronicles 1:5), while Oholiab was from the tribe of Dan. The history of those two tribes could not be more striking. Judah was the one from which Christ would come. But Dan was the first tribe to introduce idolatry into the nation of Israel on a regular official basis (Judges 18:1-31). It was also in Dan that Jeroboam, who led the rebellion that culminated in the divided kingdom, set up one of his two golden calves (First Kings 12:28-30). God knew that all this would come to pass.

    So it would seem that Dan would be the last tribe from which a man would be selected to supervise the building of the Tabernacle. From Judah we can understand, but from Dan? Ah, but God’s thoughts are very different from man’s thoughts. The one called to deliver Egypt from seven years of drought was taken from a dungeon. He who was called to lead Israel across the desert was found on the backside of the desert. And a boy after God’s own heart would be chosen to sit on Israel’s throne. Those who are rated lowest by the world are often the ones through whom God performs His greatest wonders. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (First Corinthians 1:27-28).507

    To the others that Bezalel and Oholiab would supervise, ADONAI said: I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you (31:6), embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers – all of them master craftsmen and designers (35:35, 38:23). The items to be made by the craftsmen were then listed. The Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the Tabernacle – the table of the bread of the Presence and its articles, the pure gold Lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the Bronze Altar, and all its utensils, the Bronze Basin with its stand – and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments form Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you (31:7-11). The listing of the various items serves as a summary statement of what has been described in Chapters 25-30. In fact, the order in which the items are listed is almost the same as that of the descriptions in those chapters.508

    So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person among the Israelites to whom the Lord has given skill and ability were commissioned to carry out all the work of constructing the Tabernacle as ADONAI had commanded (36:1). Although a large number of skilled and dedicated men and women would share in doing the work, Bezalel and his helper, Oholiab, would supervise them. They were to construct the Tabernacle and the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and his sons (35:10-19).

    Bezalel could have been very much like some laymen today. He could have said, “Look here, God, I want to wear these high priestly garments like Aaron. That’s how I want to serve you.” But ADONAI would have said, “That is not what I had in mind.” In one sense Bezalel’s gift was more important than Aaron’s. His gift was essential for the building of the Tabernacle. The LORD will give you a gift, friend, which will develop the talents that you have. The Spirit of God gives us talents, but He wants us to dedicate them to Him.

    We do not all have the same talents and gifts. There is a wrong impression circulating by some today that if you cannot sing, dance, teach, speak publicly, or be an usher, you are pretty much out of the picture. But there are many other gifts that the LORD gives to men and women to serve Him. It is up to us to determine what His gift is for us. Whatever gift God has given you, use it for His service.509

    Then ADONAI summoned them and they received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the Tabernacle (36:2-3a). The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us that the Tabernacle in Exodus was man made and is a part of this creation (Hebrews 9:11). And even though it was set up by ADONAI (Hebrews 8:2), it was still a mere shadow of the true, heavenly Tabernacle. One day we shall worship in that eternal Tabernacle, and it is there that Jesus serves as High Priest. For Christ did not enter a man-made Tabernacle that was only a copy of the true one, He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence (Hebrews 9:8). Not much can be said of the heavenly Tabernacle because we know so little about it. Yet, one day we shall know it well.510


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