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Bezaleel and Aholiab
“And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.” (Exodus 35:30-35)
Here are two men who were chosen and ordained of God to serve him in an extraordinary way, two men whose names are known only to a few, but two men who are held before us in Holy Scripture as eminent types of our Lord Jesus Christ: Bezaleel and Aholiab.
I remind you again that the tabernacle was typical of our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that is ours in him. It typified both the person of our blessed Savior and the work he performed. Therefore, when the Lord God gave commandment for it to be erected, every detail was arranged by divine purpose, revealed to a mediator (Moses), and provided for by the hand of God. And the whole work was executed precisely according to the revealed will of God in his Word. Nothing was left to chance. No vote was taken. No mortal was consulted. No man was allowed to add anything or take anything away. Everything was exactly as God himself said it must be. And everything was done exactly as God himself said it must be done. No exceptions!
Though skilled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, Moses was not left to draw the plans for Jehovah’s dwelling-place. Instead, he was required to make all things after the pattern shown him in the mount. Not even Moses was allowed to add anything or subtract anything. The pattern had been fully set before him, perfectly and clearly. There was no question about what was to be done or who was to do what. The Lord God even specified who would do the work, right down to who would carry the nails that were driven into the ground (Numbers 4:29-33).
So it is in all things relating to the salvation of our souls. It is God’s work alone. — “Salvation is of the Lord!” It is a work purposed and predestined from eternity (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:3-6). It is carried out exactly according to God’s purpose. Nothing is left to chance! Nothing is contributed by man! Even the man who brings the Word of God to the chosen sinner, the time it comes, the place and the circumstances, all are exactly according to the immutable, eternal, unalterable, irresistible will and purpose of God.
Here, in Exodus 35:30-35, the Lord God names two specific men who were to be the primary artisans by whom all things were to be accomplished: Bezaleel from the tribe of Judah and Aholiab from the tribe of Dan. God chose them. God equipped them. God identified them. The tabernacle is now to be built. And the Lord told Moses who must do the work. But, long before this, when God gave Moses the pattern of the tabernacle, he identified these two men in exactly the same words (Exodus 31:1-5).
Typical of Christ
Bezaleel and Aholiab are set before us here as very instructive pictures of our blessed Savior. They were typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. None but Christ was capable of building a house for God. And every detail given about these two men clearly establishes that fact. May the Spirit of God grant us eyes to see. In fact, that is the first thing Moses says about this revelation from God, “See,” — Ponder this awhile!
As is so often the case in Holy Scripture, the names given to these two men and their ancestors are highly significant. The first man named here is Bezaleel. His name means “in the shadow of God” or “the protection of God.” Bezaleel was the son of Uri, which means “light.” He was the grandson of Hur, which means “free.” He was from the tribe of Judah, which means “praise.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is that one who is the Shadow of God and Protection of God for his people (Psalms 17:8; 57:1; 63:7). Blessed are they who take refuge under the shadow of his wings!
Bezaleel was the son of Uri, — “Light.” And the Lord Jesus is “the Light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). The Urim of the high priest’s breastplate is the same word in the plural number. As Bezaleel was the son of light, so Christ is the Son of God who is Light, in whom is no darkness at all. He who is the “Son of Light” is the Son of God, our Savior (1 John 1:5). He is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3). He is “the Light of the world” (John 9:5). He is “the Sun of Righteousness” who arises upon the souls of men with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2).
Bezaleel was the son of Uri, the son of “Hur,” which means “free” or “at liberty.” What a great picture we have before us! Christ is our Salvation. He is the Refuge for our poor souls, the Shadow and Protection of God. The Lord Jesus is our Light, “the Light of the Lord,” in whom we walk. And Christ is our Liberty, the One who sets us free from sin, free from the curse, free from the law, free from guilt, free from religious tradition, free from death, and free from the fear of death.
Next, we are told that Bezaleel was “of the tribe of Judah.” Judah was Benjamin’s surety, portraying Christ our Surety (Genesis 43:9). Our Lord Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” Judah was the royal tribe of Israel from whom Christ our King descended (Genesis 49:10). Judah was the tribe God ordered to take the lead when Israel journeyed, just as Christ always goes before and leads the way for his Israel. The name Judah means “praise;” and our precious Christ shall have all the praise of his house (Revelation 5:11-14).
We are told that Bezaleel was divinely equipped for the work he was to do (vv. 31-35). As Bezaleel was equipped, miraculously and divinely equipped to build the tabernacle, so our Lord Jesus was miraculously and divinely equipped to be our Redeemer and Savior.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” (Isaiah 11:1-5)
Bezaleel was equipped “to work in gold.” Gold was used throughout the tabernacle to represent God. Only one filled with “the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding and in knowledge” was able to “work in gold.” And only One who is God is fit to work in divine things. Our Savior said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” — “I have manifested thy name.” — “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest.” — “I have kept them in thy name.” — “It is finished!”
Bezaleel, this divinely appointed builder of the tabernacle, was also divinely equipped to work “in silver.” Silver speaks of atonement. It speaks of redemption. And who was qualified to “work in silver?” None but Christ! The work of redemption was a work more stupendous and wondrous than the work of creation. It was a work far beyond the power of those who are redeemed (Psalm 49:7-8). The redemption of the soul is “precious,” so precious that nothing but the “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19) could avail to wash away our sins!
“And in brass.” — Brass is the symbol of divine judgment. No mere creature is capable of enduring the weight of God’s judgment upon the sins of his people. Therefore, our God laid help upon One that is mighty. He exalted One chosen out of the people (Psalm 89:19). This is unspeakably solemn! Let us ever think and speak of these things in reverence. None but Christ could have been made sin for us, born the wrath of God for our sins, and thereby redeem us from the curse of the law (Lamentations 1:12-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). As Moses lifted up the serpent of brass (John 3:14-16), Christ was crucified for us. The “work in brass” was completed when he cried, “It is finished,” bowed his head, and breathed out his life (John 19:30).
“And in cutting of stones.” — The reference is to the jewels which were to adorn the shoulders and breastplate of Israel’s high priest, as he appeared before God on their behalf, jewels on which were engraved the names of all their twelve tribes. Thus, those gems spoke of the people of God, presented before him in all the merits and excellency of that great and blessed High Priest of God’s Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And in carving of timber.” — It is the Lord Jesus who, by his Spirit, falls the tree which he sets as a beam in his holy temple and upon which he carves his own image with “cunning work.” The trees he falls by his grace he makes to be boards, standing upright in his tabernacle, boards of shittim wood, overlaid with pure gold, standing in fixed sockets of silver, made from the atonement money paid by our Substitute.
“Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan” (v. 34), portrays our Savior too. It takes more than one man to foreshadow the God-man. Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, and Solomon are all types of Christ, each one pointing to some distinct aspect of his person, offices, or work. Here in Exodus 35, Bezaleel and Aholiab together typify our Savior.
Aholiab means “the tent of the father”. When I learned the meaning of Aholiab’s name (tent of the father), John 1:14 immediately came to mind. — “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Just as Jehovah took up his abode in the tabernacle in the wilderness, so he found a dwelling-place on earth when God the Son became one of us. — “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). He is “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). So perfect and complete is that manifestation that he could say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Aholiab was the son of Ahisamach. Ahisamach means “brother of support.” And the Lord Jesus Christ is our Brother, our Brother born for adversity, and our Brother of Support (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16).
Aholiab was of the tribe of Dan. As Judah took the lead when Israel was on the march, so Dan brought up the rear. Thus, in these two men all Israel was represented. So, all God’s elect are in Christ and one with Christ. The Lord Jesus, both in his person and in the glorious work he accomplished, represented all God’s Israel. The tabernacle of God is a place for worship and praise, because therein is revealed God’s great act of judgment upon sin in the sacrifice of his dear Son, the Lamb of God. As Dan brought up the rear, so our Lord Jesus is both the Leader and the Rear Guard of his people (Isaiah 52:12; 58:8). He goes before; and he brings up the rear. That means all is well!
Both Bezaleel and Aholiab were “filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship…Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.” — And we are God’s “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10), God’s masterpieces created in Christ Jesus! It is in his heart to teach us (v. 34), to reveal the things of God, to reveal God to us. He knows how to work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. He will perform his work until his house is complete.
Thank God for our Lord Jesus Christ, our Bezaleel, the Shadow of God under whose wings we hide, the Light, the One who makes us free. He shall have our praise!
Blessed be our Lord Jesus, our Aholiab, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, our Brother of Support who both goes before and comes behind to gather all his chosen into heavenly glory!