A candlestick of pure gold - (Compare Exodus 37:17-24.) A lampstand rather than a candlestick. Its purpose was to support seven oil-lamps. Its height appears to have been about three feet, and its width two feet. The original foot was lost or stolen when the candlestick was taken out of the temple, and the pedestal in the sculpture was added by some Roman artist to set off the trophy.
His shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers - Or, its base, its stem, its flower cups, its knobs, and its lilies.
Three bowls made like unto almonds - Three cups of almond flowers. These appear to be the cups in immediate contact with the knobs as shown in the sculpture.
A flower - A lily; and this rendering well agrees with the sculpture.
The candlestick - Here, and in the two following verses, the word appears to denote "the stem," as the essential part of the candlestick. It would seem from Exodus 25:33-35 that the ornamentation of the candlestick consisted of uniform members, each comprising a series of an almond flower, a knob and a lily; that the stem comprised four of these members; that each pair of branches was united to the stem at one of the knobs; and that each branch comprised three members. In comparing the description in the text with the sculptured figure, allowance must be made for some deviation in the sculptor' s copy.
Seven lamps - These lamps were probably like those used by the Egyptian and other nations, shallow covered vessels more or less of an oval form, with a mouth at one end from which the wick protruded. The candlestick was placed on the south side of the holy place Exodus 26:35, with the line of lamps parallel with the wall, or, according to Josephus, somewhat obliquely. If the wick-mouths of the lamps were turned outwards, they would give light over against the candlestick; that is, toward the north side (see Numbers 8:2).
Light was of necessity required in the tabernacle, and wherever light is used in ceremonial observance, it may of course be taken in a general way as a figure of the Light of Truth; but in the sanctuary of the covenanted people, it must plainly have been understood as expressly significant that the number of the lamps (seven) agreed with the number of the covenant. The covenant of Yahweh was essentially a covenant of light.
They shall light - See the margin and the note at Leviticus 1:9.
The tongs - Used to trim and adjust the wicks. (Compare Isaiah 6:6.)
The snuff-dishes - These were shallow vessels used to receive the burnt fragments of wick removed by the tongs. The same Hebrew word is translated, in accordance with its connection, "fire pans," Exodus 27:3; Exodus 38:3; and "censers," Numbers 4:14; Numbers 16:6.
A talent of pure gold - about 94 lbs.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Exodus 25:31:
1 Kings 7:49-50
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