Reading through the Bible together
After completing the tent frames and exterior coverings, the artists proceeded to work on the interior furnishings. Exodus 37 begins with Bezalel constructing the Ark of the Covenant. Here we find a description of the ark’s shape, measurements, the lid, and the cherubim which faced each other. Bezalel took personal responsibility in making the ark because it was the throne of God and the most important piece of furniture. On both sides of the lid Bezalel fashions the cherubim of beaten gold. This means that these were solid gold pieces that were sculpted (shaped) by the artist through beating the soft metal and creating the cherubim with the hammer.
When the living cherubim are mentioned in the Bible they seem to be guardians of holiness, often associated with God’s throne and the closest creatures in His presence (Ezek 28:14). In Genesis we are told that because of sin the cherubim protected the eastern entrance of the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24). Now they must guard and separate holiness from un-holiness, the sacred from the profane. In Rev 4:8 we see the cherubim again proclaiming God’s holiness as He sits upon the heavenly throne preparing for the final judgment and restoration of God’s kingdom. The cherubim’s presence in the tabernacle indicated God’s throne and judgment seat where He would forgive sins and restore His kingdom on earth.
Exodus 37 speaks of other furnishings made, but Bezalel’s name is not directly connected with the making of those as it is with the ark. Perhaps Bezalel was involved but depended upon other artists for assistance. These items included the table, the lampstand, and the altar of incense. All the furnishings were important as each were symbolic of God’s redemptive covenant.
Giselle Sarli Hasel
School of Visual Art and Design
Southern Adventist University