Thursday, August 12, 2004

Exodus 40

This chapter completes the construction of the Tabernacle and the story of Exodus, sealing God's Covenant with the Chosen people.

The construction of the Tabernacle is presented as two recapitulations, one reminding us of God's instructions on the construction and the second confirming that Moses fulfilled the instructions precisely as presented. Notice that the construction and then the sacramental anointing proceed from the inside out. And notice the seven repetitions of "just as the Lord commanded him." (

Interestingly, once Moses had finished the work, he could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud covered it and the glory of God (kavod) filled the Tabernacle. This scene recurs in 1 Kings 8:10-12, as Solomon completes his temple ( So, what exactly prevented Moses from entering? If we recall that the kavod is connected with weight, one possible supposition is that God was present as a physical being, with the cloud (which we might regard, perhaps, as the angel of the Lord)stood guard outside.

The chapter closes with the clear reminder that God's Covenant was evident to everyone, even from a distance, with His fire dispelling the darkness and desert cold by night, and His cloud providing shade and guidance by day.


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