Bible Commentary: Exodus 36:2-38

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Exodus 36:2-38

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The People Bring Too Much 

Even though many of the Israelites had stiff necks and hard hearts, those whose hearts were willing gave more than enough for the house of God, which was at that time the tabernacle. The Nelson Study Bible notes: "The offerings for the tabernacle are perhaps the most impressive offering ever taken from God's people for any endeavor! The key was the stirring of the heart and the willingness of the spirit of those who gave. Both men and women gave. Even in this patriarchal time, women participated actively in God's work. All people came with gifts that were sumptuous, varied, and abundant. At last they had to be told to stop giving (see Exodus 36:2-7)!" Perhaps they were inspired to be extra generous after receiving God's abundant forgiveness for their idolatry in the golden calf incident. This should give us the example we need to follow when God wants something done—we should have this same willingness of heart and generosity of spirit (see Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Like the Israelites, we should be stirred to give generously when we realize the abundance of mercy God has given to us.

Among the gifts the people brought was the wood for the tabernacle. The wood was from the acacia tree (shittim tree in the older King James). The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible makes some interesting comments about it. "Ideally suited for cabinet making, the hard orange-brown still common in the desert regions of the Negeb and Sinai. These acacias produce a very durable wood."

Although the account of the Israelites' generosity is inspiring, it didn't necessarily mean that they would be just as zealous about opportunities that were more spiritual in nature, and it didn't mean that such zeal would necessarily last for long. Indeed, as we will see, the people would sink into rebellion again and again. For this is the nature of human beings unaided by spiritual conversion from God.

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