Bible References: Exodus 31:1-11; Exodus 35:30-35; Exodus 36:1-7
Heart of the Story: The work of construction the Tabernacle at Mt. Sinai soon after Israel left Egypt wasn’t hit or miss. God chose two men and filled them with his Spirit and with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts to oversee building the tabernacle and making the priest’s clothes.
Back Story: Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. In that time, God instructed Moses to make a sanctuary where He would dwell among the Israelites. God showed Moses the pattern for the tabernacle and all its furnishings (Exodus 25:8-9). The Israelite community was to give a free-will offering for the building of the Tabernacle and the priests’ clothing. Offerings included: gold, silver, bronze, colored yarn, dyed ram skins, acacia wood, olive oil, spices, and onyx and other gems.
Story Line: God chose Bezalel from the tribe of Judah and filled Bezalel with God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit gave Bezalel skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts to:
• make the artistic designs in gold, silver, and bronze
• to cut and set stones
• to work in wood
• engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship
God also chose Oholiab of the tribe of Dan. Both Bezalel and Oholiab were filled with the ability to teach others. The Spirit of God filled both men with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers, and weavers. Moses met with Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled craftsman whom God gave ability and who was willing to work on the Tabernacle. Moses gave them the offerings from the Israelite community. The problem was that the Israelite community would not stop giving for the work of the Tabernacle. There was an overabundance of materials. Finally, the skilled craftsmen who were doing the work on the sanctuary went to Moses and said the people had to stop giving materials. They had plenty to work use.
Pondering Relationships: The Bible doesn’t tell us how Moses identified Bezalel and Oholiab as men that the Spirit gave the skill to build the Tabernacle. Probably, God identified them to Moses. The Spirit may have given knowledge, ability, and skill to both men immediately before they began the task of building the Tabernacle. More likely, however, both men were skilled artisans in Egypt. Bezalel was the ultimate man in charge of constructing the Tabernacle according to God’s stipulations. Seemingly, Oholiab had the gift of teaching others. He was able to translate Bezalel’s designs to the men and women doing the work, i.e., weaving, embroidering.
Because of their skill set, Bezalel and Oholiab could have known each other in Egypt and even worked together. More likely they were unknown to each other. Bezalel was from the tribe of Judah; his mother was Leah. Oholiab was from the tribe of Dan whose mother was Bilhah, Rachel’s servant. Considering their mothers, Oholiab could have felt some animosity toward Judah; however, the Bible recorded no conflict between Bezalel and Oholiab.
Have you ever wondered about Moses’s role in construction of the Tabernacle? Did he tell Bezalel and Oholiab what God mandated and left the two men to direct the work? Alternatively, did Moses provide daily oversight for each stage of construction? Given what we know of Moses’s personality and other duties, I don’t think that he micro-managed the project.
Reflection: God gave Bezalel and Oholiab a job and they did it. Often times, I wish that when God wanted me to do something, that He would just put it in writing. Instead, I often have to figure out what direction He wants me to go in.
Both Bezalel and Oholiab were relatively obscure Bible characters, but had a huge role in the Tabernacle. To read about more characters such as them, check my book Lesser Known Bible Characters at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com.
Copyright October 16, 2015; Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.