Exodus 31

Exodus 31


The LordI spokeII to Moses,III “See,IV I have calledV by nameVI

Notes on verses 1-2a

I “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
II “spoke” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
III “Moses” = Mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
IV “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
V “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
VI “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.

BezalelVII sonVIII of UriIX

Notes on verse 2b

VII “Bezalel” = Betsalel. 9x in OT. Probably from tsel (shade in a literal or figurative sense; shadow, shade, protection, shelter, or defense); {from tsalal (to be or become dark, shade; this is the shade as during twilight or shadow as associated with something opaque)} + el (God, a god) OR from batsal (onion) + el (God, a god). This is Bezalel or Bezaleleel or Betsalel. It means “in the shadow of God” or “in the protection of God” or “onion of God.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Bezalel.html
VIII “son” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
IX “Uri” = Uri. 8x in OT. From or (to be or become light, shine). This is Uri, meaning “fiery” or “light” or “the Lord is light” or “flame of the Lord” or “my light is the Lord” or “my flame.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Uri.html  

son of Hur,X of the tribeXI of Judah,XII 

Notes on verse 2c

X “Hur” = Chur. 15x in OT. From chavar (to be or become white or pale) OR from the same as chur (white things, white, white linen) OR from the same as chur (hole; a hole that was bored; a crevice where a snake lives; the cell of a prison). This is Hur or Chur, its meaning is uncertain.
XI “tribe” = matteh. From natah (to stretch or spread out, extend, bend). This is a staff, rod, branch, or tribe. It could be a rod for discipline or correction. It could be a scepter to indicate authority, a throwing lance, or a walking staff. Figuratively, it could also be something that supports life (like bread).
XII “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”

and I have filledXIII him with a divineXIV spirit,XV with ability,XVI

Notes on verse 3a

XIII “filled” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
XIV “divine” = elohim. Related to “Bezalel” in v2. See note VII above.
XV “spirit” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
XVI “ability” = chokmah. From chakam (to be wise or teach wisdom; this is wisdom in thought, word, or action). This is wisdom, wit, or skillfulness.

intelligence,XVII and knowledge,XVIII and every kindXIX of skill,XX 

Notes on verse 3b

XVII “intelligence” = tebunah. From bin (to discern, consider, attend to; distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand). This is understanding, discernment, discretion, intelligence, skill, fruit, an argument.
XVIII “knowledge” = daat. From yada (to know, be aware, see and so understand – includes observation, care, recognition; can also be used as a euphemism). This is knowledge, unawares, cunning, wittingly.
XIX “every kind” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
XX “skill” = melakah. From the same as malak (messenger, an angel, or a deputy; human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God; also supernatural messengers i.e. angels). Properly, this is a deputyship or some kind of work. It can also be the product that comes from labor.

to deviseXXI artistic designs,XXII to workXXIII

Notes on verse 4a

XXI “devise” = chashab. This is properly to braid or interpenetrate. Literally it is to create or to wear. Figuratively, it can mean plotting – generally in a negative sense. More broadly, this can also mean think, consider, or make account of.
XXII “artistic designs” = machashabah. Related to “devise” in v4. From chashab (see note XXI above). This is thought, scheme, imagination, purpose, or a plan either good or evil.
XXIII “work” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.

in gold,XXIV silver,XXV and bronze,XXVI 

Notes on verse 4b

XXIV “gold” = zahab. Root may mean to shimmer. This is gold or something that has the color of gold like oil. It can also refer to a clear sky – to good weather.
XXV “silver” = keseph. From kasaph (to long for, be greedy; to become pale). This is silver or money.
XXVI “bronze” = nechosheth. Perhaps from nechushah (copper, bronze, brass – something made from this metal like a coin or fetter; something that is considered base in contrast to gold or silver.; from nachush (made of bronze or brass, coppery; figuratively, hard); from nachash (to divine, interpret omens, learn from experience, observe; to hiss). This is bronze, copper, steel, brass or something made from copper. So, it could be a coin or chains. It can also figuratively mean something considered lesser in contrast to gold or silver.

in cuttingXXVII stonesXXVIII for setting,XXIX and in carvingXXX wood,XXXI to work in every kind of craft.XXXII 

Notes on verse 5

XXVII “cutting” = charosheth. 4x in OT – in Exodus 31 and 35. From charash (to scratch, which implies etching or plowing; to manufacture regardless of materials used; figuratively, to devise or conceal; a sense of secrecy; hence, being silent or left alone; speechless). This is a cutting or carving – something done skillfully.
XXVIII “stones” = eben. This is a stone, weight, or mason. It is part of the word “Ebenezer.”
XXIX “setting” = male. Same as “filled” in v3. See note XIII above.
XXX “carving” = charosheth. Same as “cutting” in v5. See note XXVII above.
XXXI “wood” = ets. Perhaps from atsah (to shut, fasten, firm up, to close one’s eyes). This is tree or other things related to trees like wood, sticks, or stalks. It can also refer to wood products like a plank or staff or gallows. Additionally, this can refer to a carpenter.
XXXII “craft” = melakah. Same as “skill” in v3. See note XX above.

Moreover,XXXIII I have appointedXXXIV with him OholiabXXXV son of Ahisamach,XXXVI of the tribe of Dan,XXXVII

Notes on verse 6a

XXXIII “moreover” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
XXXIV “appointed” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XXXV “Oholiab” = Oholiab. 5x in OT – all in Exodus. From ohel (tent, covering, home, or side pillar); {perhaps from ahal (to shine, be clear)} + ab (father, ancestor, grandfather; father in a literal or figurative sense). This is Oholiab, meaning “father’s tent.”
XXXVI “Ahisamach” = Achisamak. 3x in OT – all in Exodus. From ach (brother, kindred, another, other, like) + samak (to lean, rest, support, brace, uphold, sustain, or establish; to lean on in a positive or negative sense). This is Ahisamach or Achisamak, meaning “my brother has supported” or “brother of support”
XXXVII “Dan” = Dan. From din (to judge, defend, dispute, govern, quarrel, plead). This is Dan or a Danite. It means “judge” and can refer to Dan, his tribe, or the lands of the tribe.

and I have given skill to all the skillful,XXXVIII so that they may makeXXXIX all that I have commandedXL you: 

Notes on verse 6b

XXXVIII “given skill to all the skillful” = leb + kol + chakam + leb + natan + chokmah. Literally, “in the hearts of all the wise I have put hearts of wisdom.” Leb may be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments. Kol is the same as “every kind” in v3. See note XIX above. Chakam is related to “ability” in v3. From chakam (see note XVI above). This is wise, skillful, cunning, or artful. Natan is the same as “appointed” in v6. See note XXXIV above.
XXXIX “make” = asah. Same as “work” in v4. See note XXIII above.
XL “commanded” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).

the tentXLI of meeting,XLII and the arkXLIII of the covenant,XLIV and the coverXLV that is on it, and all the furnishingsXLVI of the tent, 

Notes on verse 7

XLI “tent” = ohel. Related to “Oholiab” in v6. See note XXXV above.
XLII “meeting” = moed. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree). This is a meeting, assembly, fixed time. It can be used for a festival or feast. It can also refer to a meeting place.
XLIII “ark” = aron. Perhaps from arah (to gather or pluck). This is a chest, box, or coffin. It is used for the Ark of the Covenant.
XLIV “covenant” = eduth. From ed (witness, testimony, recorder); from ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is testimony, ordinance, decree, warning, or witness.
XLV “cover” = kapporeth. From the same as kopher (ransom, bribe, price of a life; something that covers something else; a village, bitumen as a coating, a henna plant that dyes, a ransom price); from kaphar (to appease, cover, pacify, cancel, cleanse, pardon). This is the lid on top of the ark – the mercy seat.
XLVI “furnishings” = keli. From kalah (to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed). This is something that was prepared – any implement, utensil, article, vessel, weapon, or instrument. Also includes jewels, weapons, bags, carriages, and furniture.

the tableXLVII and its utensils,XLVIII and the pureXLIX lampstandL, LI with all its utensils, and the altarLII of incense,LIII 

Notes on verse 8

XLVII “table” = shulchan. Perhaps from shalach (to send, send for, forsake). This is a table or meal.
XLVIII “utensils” = keli. Same as “furnishings” in v7. See note XLVI above.
XLIX “pure” = tahor. From taher (bright, which implies being pure or clean; to purge, cleanse, or purify; clean in a ritual sense or a moral one (i.e. moral or holy)). This is clean or pure in a literal, ritual, or ethical sense.
L “lampstand” = menorah. From the same as ner (properly, to glisten; a lamp, light, burner, candle; light literal or figurative). This is a lampstand or candlestick.
LI In Hebrew, the words “pure lampstand” rhyme and flow – hammenorah hattehorah.
LII “altar” = mizbeach. From zabach (to kill, slay, offer; slaughtering an animal to offer as a sacrifice). This is an altar.
LIII “incense” = qetoreth. From the same as qitor (thick smoke, vapor). This is smoke, incense, the scent of the sacrifice as it burned.

and the altar of burnt offeringLIV with all its utensils, and the basinLV with its stand,LVI 

Notes on verse 9

LIV “burnt offering” = olah. From alah (to go up, climb, approach, bring; to be high or actively climb; can be literal or figurative). This is a step, stairs, or some kind of ascent. It is also used for whole burnt offerings, being the offering in which the whole things is burned and rises as smoke. Burnt offerings were the least common of the offerings: most were eaten, shared with the priest and the one bringing the offering.
LV “basin” = kiyyor. From the same as kur (furnace, smelting pot). This is a firepot, basin, hearth, pulpit, scaffold.
LVI “stand” = ken. 16x in OT. From the same as ken (to set upright; generally used figuratively for thus, so, afterwards, rightly so); perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is a stand, place, right, honest, office.

10 and the finely workedLVII vestments,LVIII the holyLIX vestments

Notes on verse 10a

LVII “finely worked” = serad. 4x in OT – all in Exodus. Perhaps from sarad (to escape or remain; properly, this refers to a puncture, so figuratively it is remaining or escaping by slipping out). This is finely woven or braided or stitched.
LVIII “vestments” = beged. From bagad (to cover or conceal; figuratively, to act in a covert or treacherous way, to transgress or pillage). This is clothing, garment, robe, or some other kind of clothing. Figuratively, it can be treachery or pillaging.
LIX “holy” = qodesh. This is set apart and so sacred. God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart. Things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.

for the priestLX AaronLXI and the vestments of his sons, for their service as priests,LXII 

Notes on verse 10b

LX “priest” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.
LXI “Aaron” = Aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aaron
LXII “service as priests” = kahan. Related to “priest” in v10.  From kohen (see note LX above). This is officiating as a priest does over religious service. It can also figuratively mean donning regalia or formal ornamentation/attire.

11 and the anointingLXIII oilLXIV and the fragrantLXV incense for the holy place. They shall doLXVI justLXVII as I have commanded you.”

Notes on verse 11

LXIII “anointing” = mishchah. From mashach (to smear or anoint; to run oil on, to consecrate). This is the act of anointing, ointment, or a consecrated thing.
LXIV “oil” = shemen. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, oil, grease, olive oil – often with perfume. Used figuratively for fertile, lavish, rich.
LXV “fragrant” = sam. 16x in OT. This is spice, fragrant, a sweet smell.
LXVI “do” = asah. Same as “work” in v4. See note XXIII above.
LXVII “just” = kol. Same as “every kind” in v3. See note XIX above.

12 The Lord said to Moses, 13 “You yourself are to speak to the Israelites,LXVIII ‘You shall surelyLXIX keepLXX my Sabbaths,LXXI

Notes on verses 12-13a

LXVIII “Israelites” = ben + Yisrael. Literally, “children of Israel.” Ben is the same as “son” in v2. See note VIII above. Yisrael is related to “Bezalel” in v2 & “divine” in v3. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note VII above). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
LXIX “surely” = ak. Related to “stand” in v9. Related to aken (surely, truly, nevertheless); from kun (see note LVI above). This is a positive statement – surely, also, certainly, alone, only.
LXX “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
LXXI “Sabbaths” = shabbat. From shabath (to rest, stop, repose, cease working; by implication, to celebrate). This is sabbath, literally meaning rest or intermission.

for this is a signLXXII betweenLXXIII me andLXXIV you throughout your generations,LXXV given in order that you may knowLXXVI that I, the Lord, sanctifyLXXVII you. 

Notes on verse 13b

LXXII “sign” = oth. From avah (to mark, sign, point out); OR from uth (to agree). This is a sign in a literal or figurative sense. It could be a flag or monument. It could be evidence or a mark. It could also be an omen or a miracle. 
LXXIII “between” = bayin. Related to “intelligence” in v3. This is among, between, interval.
LXXIV {untranslated} = bayin. Same as “between” in v13. See note LXXIII above.
LXXV “generations” = dor. From dur (to move in a circle, which implies living somewhere or remaining there; it can also be the sense of piling or heaping up). This is a revolution of time, which is to say, an age or generation. It can also be a dwelling or one’s posterity.
LXXVI “know” = yada. Related to “knowledge” in v3. See note XVIII above.
LXXVII “sanctify” = qadash. Related to “holy” in v10. From qodesh (see note LIX above). This is set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified. This is something or someone that is set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean.

14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanesLXXVIII it shall be put to death;LXXIX whoeverLXXX

Notes on verse 14a

LXXVIII “profanes” = chalal. This is to pierce, which implies to wound. It is used figuratively for making someone or something profane or breaking your word. It can also mean to begin as though one opened a wedge. Also, to eat something as a common thing.
LXXIX “put to death” = mut + mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
LXXX “whoever” = kolnephesh. Kol is the same as “every kind” in v3. See note XIX above. Nephesh is related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

doesLXXXI any workLXXXII on it shall be cut offLXXXIII from amongLXXXIV the people.LXXXV 

Notes on verse 14b

LXXXI “does” = asah. Same as “work” in v4. See note XXIII above.
LXXXII “work” = melakah. Same as “skill” in v3. See note XX above.
LXXXIII “cut off” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
LXXXIV “among” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
LXXXV “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

15 SixLXXXVI daysLXXXVII shall work be done,LXXXVIII but the seventhLXXXIX day is a Sabbath of solemn rest,XC holy to the Lord; whoever doesXCI any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.XCII 

Notes on verse 15

LXXXVI “six” = shesh. This is six. Figuratively, it can be a surplus since it is one more than the number of fingers on the hand.
LXXXVII “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
LXXXVIII “done” = asah. Same as “work” in v4. See note XXIII above.
LXXXIX “seventh” = shebii. From sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness). This is seventh.
XC “solemn rest” = shabbaton. Related to “Sabbaths” in v13. 11x in OT. From shabat (see note LXXI above). This is a holiday, rest, a day to take a sabbath from work.
XCI “does” = asah. Same as “work” in v4. See note XXIII above.
XCII “put to death” = mut + mut. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”

16 Therefore the Israelites shall keep the Sabbath, observingXCIII the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetualXCIV covenant.XCV 17 It is a sign foreverXCVI between me andXCVII the Israelites that in six days the Lord made heavenXCVIII

Notes on verses 16-17a

XCIII “observing” = asah. Same as “work” in v4. See note XXIII above.
XCIV “perpetual” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
XCV “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
XCVI “forever” = olam. Same as “perpetual” in v16. See note XCIV above.
XCVII {untranslated} = bayin. Same as “between” in v13. See note LXXIII above.
XCVIII “heaven” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.

and earth,XCIX and on the seventh day he restedC and was refreshed.’”CI

18 When God finishedCII speaking with Moses on MountCIII Sinai,CIV

Notes on verses 17b-18a

XCIX “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
C “rested” = shabat. Related to “Sabbaths” in v13 & “solemn rest” in v15. See note LXXI above.
CI “refreshed” = naphash. Related to “whoever” in v14. 4x in OT. See note LXXX above.
CII “finished” = kalah. Related to “furnishings” inv 7. See note XLVI above.
CIII “Mount” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
CIV “Sinai” = Sinay. Probably from the same as Sin (Sin, a city meaning “clay” or “bush);{perhaps from asam (to gather, store) OR from seneh (thorn bush) OR related to Aramaic siyn (a god called Sin) OR perhaps Hebrew siyn (related to mud or clay)}. This is Sinai – a place whose name may mean “bush of the Lord” or “muddy.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Sinai.html

he gave him the twoCV tabletsCVI of the covenant, tablets of stone, writtenCVII with the fingerCVIII of God.CIX

Notes on verse 18b

CV “two” = shenayim. From sheni (double, again, another, second); from shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is two, both, second, couple.
CVI “tablets” = luach. Root likely means glistening, so this would refer to a tablet as being polished in some sense, whether it’s made of stone, wood, or metal.
CVII “written” = kathab. This is to inscribe, write, record, or decree.
CVIII “finger” = etsba. Perhaps from the same as tseba (dye, something dipped). This is finger or toe – something used to seize.
CIX “God” = Elohim. Same as “divine” in v3. See note XIV above.

Image credit: “Moses Receives the Law” from St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Photo by Lawrence OP, 2017.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply