Counting the materials (Ex 38:21-38:31)

“These are the records of the tabernacle.  The tabernacle of the Covenant  was drawn up at the commandment of Moses.   The work of the Levites was under the direction of Ithamar son of the priest Aaron.  Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that Yahweh commanded Moses.  With him was Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, engraver, designer and embroiderer in blue, purple and crimson yarn and fine linen.”

We now have the records about the tabernacle. Moses led the construction but the Levites under the directions of Ithamar, the son of Aaron, were in charge.  The skilled work of Bezalel and Oholiab led to the completion of this task, the building of the holy places.

“All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and seven hundred and thirty shekels, measured by the sanctuary shekel. The silver from those of the congregation who were counted was one hundred talents and one thousand seven hundred seventy-five shekels, measured by the sanctuary shekel.   A beka a head, that is half a shekel, measured by the sanctuary shekel, for everyone who was counted in the census, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred and three thousand, five hundred fifty men. The hundred talents of silver were for casting the bases of the sanctuary, and the bases of the curtain.  One hundred bases were for the hundred talents, a talent for a base.  Of the thousand seven hundred seventy-five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their calyxes and made bands for them.   The bronze that was contributed was seventy talents, and two thousand four hundred shekels.  With it he made the bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting, the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, the bases all around the court, and the bases of the gate of the court, all the pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court.”

Here then is an accounting of the gold, silver, and bronze used in this construction:

1)      29 talents, 730 shekels of gold;

2)      100 talents,1775 shekels of silver;

3)      70 talents, 2400 shekels of bronze.

According to the ancient Babylonian scales, a talent was the equivalent to 360 shekels, so that it was the highest value.  The problem of course is that they were coming from Egypt, and obviously they had no minting process.  The shekel was a silver coin of about ½ once of silver.  Somehow they took a census where everyone had to give half a shekel, a beka, or a quarter ounce of silver, probably worth about 20 cents.  According to the text, there were 603,550 males all over the age of twenty counted in this census, about the same as the 600,000 who left Egypt. I wonder why they needed this beka, since they had too much stuff in offerings in chapter 36.

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