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Yellow Balloons Devotional Series: Advent

Exodus 36:14-19

The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.

In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.


Chapter 36 begins a long section that describes the actual construction of the tabernacle, its furniture, and its ornaments. This section continues through Exo. 39:43. The blueprints for this project were given to Moses while on Mount Sinai, as recorded in Exodus 25-31. This chapter records the construction of the tabernacle.


The roof curtains of the tabernacle were made a specific size along with loops and clasps. A covering for the tabernacle was also made. The plans for their construction were given by God to Moses on the mountain, as recorded in Exodus 26:7 – 14.

Along with the curtains that form the walls of the tabernacle, the craftsmen made curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; he made eleven curtains in all. These curtains made of goats’ hair were to serve as the ceiling of the tabernacle.

They made the curtains so that the length of each curtain was thirty cubits and four cubits the width of each curtain. This would make each curtain forty-five feet long (13.7 meters) and six feet wide (1.8 meters). All of the eleven curtains had the same measurements. To make the ceilings, the chief craftsman Bezalel joined five curtains by themselves and the other six curtains by themselves.

As described in Exodus 26:10, he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the first set, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second set. Like the other curtains (vv. 8 – 13), the loops were used to join the curtains together.

To fasten the loops together, he made fifty clasps of bronze to join the tent together so that it would be a unit [lit. “one”] (v. 18). These clasps were made of bronze, not gold as were the clasps of the curtains that comprised the tabernacle inner walls (see v. 13).

Finally, he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of porpoise skins above (v. 19). The meaning of the word for porpoise skins (Heb. “takhashim”) has been debated extensively. Some translations see the word as referring to “badger skins.” Others translate it as “fine leather.” Whatever the case, the material must have been a durable overlay on top of the goat skin curtains.

This covering went over the curtains that comprised the ceiling of the tabernacle. This gave extra protection and durability to the roof which was constantly exposed to the harsh elements of the wilderness.

Biblical Text

14 Then he made curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; he made eleven curtains in all. 15 The length of each curtain was thirty cubits and four cubits the width of each curtain; the eleven curtains had the same measurements. 16 He joined five curtains by themselves and the other six curtains by themselves. 17 Moreover, he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the first set, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second set. 18 He made fifty clasps of bronze to join the tent together so that it would be a unit. 19 He made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of porpoise skins above.