Commissioned to Construct the Tabernacle

Exodus 31:1-17

God appoints Bezalel, grandson of Hur (who in turn is the nephew of Aaron and Moses and whom Moses appointed to take his place alongside Aaron when he went up Mount Sinai) to oversee the actual Tabernacle construction, in accordance with everything God laid out for Moses. He partners Bezalel with Oholiab of the tribe of Dan.


Juxtaposed with this appointment, God commands the people to refrain from working on the Sabbath day. This is to serve as witness to the fact the God created the world over six days, and on the seventh day, He rested. Anyone who transgresses the Sabbath is liable for the death penalty. In fact, as the Israel Bible points out, this verse is repeated every Sabbath by Jews worldwide as they sanctify the Sabbath day.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Two seemingly separate ideas, the command to build the Tabernacle and the command to keep the Sabbath, are presented one after the other. What do you think is the connection between the Tabernacle and the Sabbath?

Comments ( 11 )

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  • Herman Arentsen

    Looking back at the goals of both (Shabbat and Tabernacle) both are meant to be in communion with HaShem. Shabbat is meant to have a day with THE HOLY ONE, just as the first humans had all the time to walk in Gan Eden with HIM. The Mishkan was a sign of direct contact with HaShem and the vivibility of His Presence. Shabbat is a more personal sign of commitment to HaShem, involving your own heart.

  • Angela B

    I love 🙂 all the comments above, they're good and refreshing, thank you all. Kevin though, I think you meant that the command to honor the Shabbat was to supersede work on the visible representation of His presence on the earth. Otherwise,

  • Kevin

    It would seem that the message, among others, God wanted to get across to His people that even the visible representation of His presence on the Earth, typified by the Tabernacle and its service, was to supersede His Commandment, namely in this case to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (set apart for God and no other purpose).

  • Rita

    I believe the Torah is indicating that the holiness of the Shabbat even supercedes that of the work of building the Tabernacle. This principle plays an important part in our lives. No matter how important or beneficial we may esteem a project or work, we must rest from it during the Shabbat.

    • So interesting. The truth is, in the Oral law we learn some of the laws of Sabbath from this juxtaposition. The types of work that were involved in the building of the Tabernacle are the types of work that are forbidden on Shabbat.

  • There are different realms of our life, but through these commandments, we are told that God is present and a part of all realms of our life. The Tabernacle symbolizes the holiness of place, and Shabbat, the holiness of time.

  • Diana Brown

    The Lord God said he was betrothed to Israel forever. The Feasts, including the Sabbath, are in the feminine gender of the soul because they are gifts to the Bride from the Bridegroom. So Shabbat and the Feasts are “date nights” if you will for the souls and their Creator. In His Presence, that’s where we belong and then our souls are free to breathe and rise higher.

    • I like that idea of Shabbat as ‘date night.’ Marriage counselors talk about the importance of dating your spouse. Marriage is different than the courtship/dating time period. There is less time for romance, and is more routine. Date night can help restore some of the emotional and romantic connections lost in the day to day routines. Shabbat can help us with our spiritual connection to God, and not just get stuck in the day to day routine of life.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    The Tabernacle is the means whereby the priests go through the acts of atonement and sanctification. These are God given activities of men. But God is the one who does the actual sanctification.
    As a regular reminder he tells Moses, “for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the LORD who sanctify you.”
    I find it interesting the penalty of disobeying is the same penalty as given to Adam. מוֹת יוּמָת
    Genesis 2:17
    יז וּמֵעֵץ, הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע–לֹא תֹאכַל, מִמֶּנּוּ: כִּי, בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ–מוֹת תָּמוּת. 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’
    Could it be that when Adam and Eve (created on day 6) disobeyed, they ate of the tree of good and evil and disobeyed on day 7.

  • Jesse

    Both are connections to God and both are meant to refresh us. While the tabernacle was primarily a place of sacrifice for sin and restoration of fellowship with him, Shabbat is made to connect us with him on an eternal level. Both are patterns of heavenly realities. The earthly tabernacle was made after the heavenly one. Likewise, when we celebrate Shabbat, we imitate God in resting from our works and to enjoy our blessings and the work of our hands.

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