Chapter 37

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According to the pattern Moses had been shown on Mount Sinai, Bezalel constructed the ark of the covenant. It consisted of a rectangular (decay-resistant [LXX]) wooden chest that measured 2.5 cubits (45 inches [c. 114 centimeters] in length, 1.5 cubits (27 inches [c. 69 centimeters]) in width, and 1.5 cubits (27 inches [c. 69 centimeters]) in height. Both the inside and the outside of the ark was overlaid with pure gold. At the top, Bezalel made a beautiful border. (37:1, 2 [38:1, 2, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

Bezalel cast four gold rings, attaching two of these to one side of the ark and the other two to the other side. He positioned carrying poles in these rings. The poles had been made of the same wood as the ark and were overlaid with gold. According to the Hebrew text, the ark did not rest on the ground but was fashioned with “four feet” or four supports at the four corners. The Hebrew text also indicates that the rings were to be attached on the four feet, which possibly means that the rings were just above the feet. In the Septuagint, however, there is no reference to “feet.” (37:3-5 [38:3, 4, LXX])

Bezalel fashioned the cover (or propitiatory) of the ark from pure gold. It measured 2.5 cubits in length and 1.5 cubits in width (45 inches [c. 114 centimeters] by 27 inches [c. 69 centimeters]). On the cover, he placed two cherubs of gold consisting of hammered work, with one cherub at one end and the other one at the other end. Their outspread wings overshadowed the cover, and their faces were toward one another and looked down, evidently in an attitude of worship. (37:6-9 [38:5-8, LXX])

Bezalel constructed the table for the display of the showbread from wood and overlaid it with pure gold. This table was 2 cubits (36 inches [c. 92 centimeters]) long, one cubit (18 inches [c. 46 centimeters] wide, and 1.5 cubits (27 inches [c. 69 centimeters]) high. Gold molding beautified the rim or border that measured one handbreadth (3 inches [c. 8 centimeters]). Bezalel attached a gold ring to each one of the four corners at the four legs of the table, positioning two gold-covered wooden poles through these rings. He made various other gold utensils, including the ones to be used on the table. (37:10-16 [38:9-12)

With hammered work, Bezalel made a pure gold lampstand and all of its parts. One lamp was positioned on top of the central shaft and on top of the three branches on each of its sides. Alternating knobs and flowers (possibly almond blossoms) provided the decorative elements for the central shaft and the six branches. Bezalel fashioned gold fire pans and gold snuffers or tongs for the lampstand. The gold tongs may have been used to remove the burnt lampwicks that would be deposited in the gold fire pans. With its utensils and lamps, the lampstand was to be made from one gold talent (about 92 pounds troy or about 75.5 pounds avoirdupois [c. 34 kilograms]). (37:17-24 [38:13-17, LXX])

Bezalel constructed the altar of incense and its two carrying poles from (decay-resistant [LXX]) wood and overlaid it with gold. He made two gold rings on opposite sides of the altar just below the molding or border at its top for inserting the carrying poles. The altar was designed with a horn at each of its four corners, and the altar dimensions were one cubit (18 inches [c. 46 centimeters]) in width on each side and two cubits (36 inches [c. 92 centimeters]) in height. For use at the altar of incense, Bezalel made pure incense with specific spices. He also made the anointing oil with which Aaron and his sons were anointed as priests. (37:25-29 [38:25, LXX])


Although all the construction of the furnishings for the tabernacle is ascribed to Bezalel, he doubtless had the assistance of other skilled craftsmen who worked under his direction.

Exodus 25:10-40 and 30:1-5 contain YHWH’s directions to Moses regarding the construction of the ark of the covenant, the table for the showbread, the lampstand, and the altar of incense. Chapter 37 narrates how Bezalel (or how he with the assistance of other skilled artisans) did the work exactly according to the pattern that had been provided to Moses.

The wood used is commonly considered to have been acacia wood because of its suitability for the purpose it would serve and its availability on the Sinai Peninsula.

There is archaeological evidence for a cubit of approximately 17.5 inches (44.5 centimeters), but 18 inches (c. 46 centimeters) for a cubit (as commonly found in many reference works) is used in Werner Bible Commentary because it reduces the number of fractions involved when calculating cubit measurements in inches, feet, centimeters, and meters.

The arrangement of the text in the Septuagint differs from that of the Masoretic Text.