Lesson 56: Exodus 35–40

“Lesson 56: Exodus 35–40,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 56,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 56

Exodus 35–40


The Israelites willingly provided the materials necessary to build the tabernacle, and skilled workers built each of its components. After all the items were ready, the Lord commanded Moses to erect and dedicate the tabernacle. Israel built the tabernacle, and Moses followed the Lord’s instructions to anoint and ordain Aaron and his sons. After Moses and Israel obeyed these commands, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

Suggestions for Teaching

Exodus 35–39

The Israelites obey the Lord’s command to build the tabernacle

Ask a student to leave the room for a minute or two. Invite two other students to the front of the room, and explain to them that they will each role-play giving a gift to the student who just left the room. Explain that you would like one student to offer his or her gift willingly and the other student to offer his or her gift grudgingly. Give them a few moments to think about how they could demonstrate these attitudes in an obvious way. Provide small gifts for them to give. (The gifts could be empty boxes or other small objects to symbolize gifts.) Invite the student waiting outside the room to come back in and stand at the front of the room. Ask each of the gift givers to offer his or her gift, one at a time.

Ask the receiver of the gifts the following questions:

  • What was the difference between how these two gifts were offered to you?

  • How did you feel when you were offered a gift grudgingly? How did you feel when a gift was offered willingly?

Thank the students for participating, and invite them to sit down. Then tell the class that in Exodus 35, we read that the children of Israel offered gifts to the Lord. Explain that in Exodus 35:1–3, Moses gathered the children of Israel together. After telling them to observe the Sabbath day, he asked the people to give of their substance in order to build the tabernacle. Invite a student to read Exodus 35:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord commanded the Israelites regarding the offerings they gave to build the tabernacle.

  • What did the Lord command regarding the offerings given to build the tabernacle?

Invite students to read Exodus 35:20–22, 29 silently, looking for how the people responded to the Lord’s command. You might want to suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What can we learn from these verses about how the Lord desires us to give offerings? (Students may use different words, but they should suggest a principle similar to the following: The Lord desires that we give our offerings to Him with a willing heart.)

  • What are some offerings we can give to the Lord?

  • Why do you think the Lord wants us to give these offerings willingly?

To help students think about how willingly they give offerings to the Lord, provide a copy of the following chart on a handout to each student, and invite students to fill it out. You could change any of the scenarios to better meet the needs of students.

Weighing My Willingness



Somewhat willingly

Not very willingly

  1. I attend and participate in my Church meetings and classes.

  1. I do service for others.

  1. I pay my tithing and fast offerings.

  1. I participate in activities with my family.

  1. I obey my parents.

After students fill out the chart, ask them to think about whether they give their offerings willingly or grudgingly. Then ask them to write down a specific offering they would like to give to the Lord. Invite them to set a goal to make that offering willingly. Encourage them to put their chart in a place where it will remind them to fulfill their goal.

Summarize Exodus 35:30–35 and 36:1–3 by explaining that a man named Bezaleel and other skilled workers were called to build the tabernacle. The people of Israel brought their offerings to these workers. Invite a student to read Exodus 36:4–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how much the Israelites offered for the building of the Lord’s house.

  • How much did the Israelites offer for the building of the tabernacle?

  • What does this tell you about the children of Israel?

Invite students to think of a time when they have seen someone willingly make offerings to the Lord. Ask a few students to share their observations with the class.

Invite three students to take turns reading aloud the chapter summaries at the beginning of Exodus 37, 38, and 39. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Bezaleel and the other skilled workers did with Israel’s offerings. Invite them to report what they find.

Explain that the workers then brought their completed work to Moses. Invite a student to read Exodus 39:43 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Moses recognized about their work. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What did Moses recognize about the way the parts of the tabernacle and each holy item were made?

Exodus 40:1–16

The Lord commands Moses to erect the tabernacle and to wash and anoint Aaron and his sons

Summarize Exodus 40:1–11 by explaining that the Lord told Moses to set up the tabernacle and place the newly built holy objects within it.

Show or draw the following illustration, and explain that the tabernacle would have looked something like this when set up.


Invite a student to read Exodus 40:12–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Moses was told to do with Aaron and his sons. Invite students to report what they find.

Explain that “instructions were revealed for setting up, equipping, and dedicating the tabernacle for worship services and for washing, anointing, and clothing priests ([Bible Dictionary], ‘Priests’) so that they could properly officiate in the ordinances to be performed in the tabernacle” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament [1993], 125). These washing, anointing, and clothing ceremonies helped prepare Aaron and his sons to officiate in the sacred ordinances to be performed in the tabernacle.

Invite students to read Exodus 40:16 silently, looking for how thoroughly Moses followed the Lord’s commands concerning the tabernacle. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

Exodus 40:17–38

The glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle

Invite students to read Exodus 40:19 silently, looking for wording that is similar to what they read in Exodus 40:16. You may want to suggest that they mark what they find.

  • What familiar wording did you find? (The similar phrase is “as the Lord commanded Moses.”)

Invite students to look for the same wording in Exodus 40:21. You might suggest that they mark it. Ask them to continue scanning Exodus 40:22–32 silently, looking for each time the phrase is repeated. You may want to suggest that students mark each instance that this phrase appears in these verses.

  • From what you have found (or marked), what might we learn from what Moses and the children of Israel did with the instructions the Lord gave them?

Invite a student to read the first word of Exodus 40:34 aloud. Explain that the word then here is a clue that can help students to identify a principle.

You may want to suggest that students draw lines in their scriptures from each occurrence of the phrase “as the Lord commanded Moses” to the word “then” at the beginning of verse 34. Then ask a student to read Exodus 40:34–38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened because of Israel’s obedience in building the tabernacle.

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  • What was the result of the Israelites’ obedience? (Help students understand that the cloud and fire, which symbolized the presence of the Lord, could help the children of Israel to know that their sacrifices were accepted by the Lord and that He would guide them in their journeys. [See Bible Dictionary, “Shechinah.”])

  • What principle can we learn from the Israelites’ example about how to invite the Lord to be with us? (Students may express a principle similar to the following: The Lord will be with us and guide us if we strive to keep His commandments with exactness. You may want to suggest that students write this principle in their scriptures.)

  • What blessings can come to us if the Lord guides our lives?

To help students understand why we want the Lord to guide our lives, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

Monson, Thomas S.

“My brothers and sisters, the Lord is in all of our lives. He loves us. He wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His help. As He guides us and directs us and as He hears and answers our prayers, we will find the happiness here and now that He desires for us” (“Consider the Blessings,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 89).

  • According to President Monson, what blessings do we receive from having the Lord guide our lives?

Ask students to think about a time when they or someone they know was guided by the Lord. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.

Encourage students to obey the commandments of the Lord so that they can be guided by Him and find happiness.

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Scripture Mastery Review

To help students review Exodus 20:3–17, provide ten pieces of paper for the class, each containing one large number (1–10) on it (or divide the board into ten sections and write one large number in each section).

Divide the papers among the students (or assign numbers on the board to them). Depending on the size of your class, you may need to assign students to work in groups or give each student more than one number. Invite students to draw a picture representing the commandment associated with their number, using the number as part of the picture. After sufficient time, ask students to show and explain their pictures to the class. Then quiz the class by asking them to state the commandments in order. You might display the pictures in your classroom for a few weeks and periodically review them to help students remember the Ten Commandments and their order.