Exodus 35:3 - Making Fire

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Puritan Board Senior
What direct and/or indirect implications do you think Exodus 35:3 has on your Lord’s Day Observance today? How do you see this verse as a help to encourage us to seek a holy resting in the Lord? I think it does, but I would like to read your thoughts.

A. General Equity?

B. Still fully binding today?

C. Leave your heat off in non-life threatening cold?

D. Or was it forbidden because of the physical labor required to kindle and keep a fire burning all day?

Please don’t read me as downplaying the verse. I am making a sincere study with my family through Exodus and we are on chapter 35. We profess to be faithful sabbatarian’s seeking the spiritual blessings of Lord’s Day observance.
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Puritan Board Sophomore
Here are John Gill's comments on the verse in question:

Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day. This law seems to be a temporary one, and not to be continued, nor is it said to be throughout their generations as elsewhere, where the law of the sabbath is given or repeated; it is to be restrained to the building of the tabernacle, and while that was about, to which it is prefaced; and it is designed to prevent all public or private working on the sabbath day, in anything belonging to that; having no fire to heat their tools or melt their metal, or do any thing for which that was necessary; for it can hardly be thought that this is to be taken in the strictest sense, as an entire prohibition of kindling a fire and the use of it on that day, which is so absolutely useful, and needful in various cases, and where acts of mercy and necessity require it; as in cold seasons of the year, for the warming and comforting of persons who otherwise would be unfit for religious exercises, and on the account of infants and aged persons, who could not subsist without it; and in cases of sickness, and various disorders which necessarily require it; and even for the preparation of food, which must be had on that day as on others, the sabbath being not a fast, but rather a festival, as it is with the Jews; and yet this law is interpreted by them in the most rigorous sense: they put kindling a fire among the principal works forbidden on that day, and that not only to bake bread and boil flesh, as Aben Ezra interprets it here, but to warm themselves with; nay, they think it unlawful to touch an hearth, or a coal of fire, or a firebrand, or anything that may give them any warmth in a cold season; and if, for the sake of infants or aged persons, there is need of a fire or heating a stove, they hire a Christian to do it, or so prepare and order matters the day before that it kindle of itself; and so Leo Modena says,"they do not meddle with any fire, nor touch any wood that is on fire, nor kindle any, nor put it out; nor do they so much as light a candle on the sabbath day: and if the place be cold where they dwell, except they have any stoves, or hot houses, or else have some one that is no Jew to kindle a fire for them; or had so ordered the matter before hand that the fire should kindle of itself at such a time; they must even be content to sit in the cold all that day:''but here they nicely distinguish and observe, that it is said:​
throughout your habitations; their private dwellings, but not the habitation of the Lord, or the house of the sanctuary; and on this score they allow of kindling a fire in Beth Moked, an apartment in the temple, where a fire was constantly kept for the priests that kept watch to warm themselves at.​
Here are Matthew Poole's comments:

Ver. 3. This command seems to be only temporary and extraordinary during the present season and condition, and not extending to succeeding generations. For,​
1. There are instances of temporary precepts both in the Old and New Testament, which yet are not in their places said to be so. Such were some of the precepts concerning the passover, Ex 12:11, as is confessed. And such was that law of abstaining from things strangled, and blood, Ac 15.​
2. This precept is nakedly proposed, and not called a perpetual statute, nor enjoined to be observed in their generations, as other precepts are, to whom those, or some like clauses, are frequently added.​
3. The sabbath is rather a feast day than a fast day. And the Jews did make feasts, and invited guests upon the sabbath day, which could not probably be without kindling a fire. And, which is more considerable, Christ himself, who fulfilled all righteousness, and therefore would not have joined in the violation of the sabbath, went to one of those feasts, Lu 14. And the Corinthians, as they received the Lord's supper upon that day, which none question, so they had their feasts, as is confessed and apparent from 1Co 11:21-22, &c.​
4. The kindling of a fire was no greater hinderance to the religious observation of the sabbath, than other things which were allowed upon that day, such as the washing and dressing of themselves, eating and drinking, &c.​
5. This prohibition doth not seem to concern the dressing of meat, as many understand it, by comparing this with Ex 16:23, (which place I humbly conceive is misunderstood, as I have there intimated, for that was lawful to be done upon, their most solemn days, Ex 12:16) but the service of the tabernacle, which is the subject of this chapter, and the occasion of these words; and the sense seems to be this, You shall kindle no fire for any handiwork throughout your habitation, no, not for the service of this tabernacle, for the heating of any tools, or the melting of any metals, or other things belonging to it, which being to be made for God's service, and deserving and requiring all expedition, they might probably conceive that such work might be done upon that day. And here also, as oft elsewhere, under one kind, all the rest are comprehended and forbidden.​



Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I was glad to see the quotation from Matthew Poole, as that was what I thought of saying with reference to this verse. Given its context, and that it isn't reiterated elsewhere, I think it shows a great principle that the command to rest applies even to sacred work like Tabernacle construction.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I was glad to see the quotation from Matthew Poole, as that was what I thought of saying with reference to this verse. Given its context, and that it isn't reiterated elsewhere, I think it shows a great principle that the command to rest applies even to sacred work like Tabernacle construction.
Matthew Henry makes a similar point with the passage Ex 31:12-18, which initially seems out of place, having just gone through all the details of building the tabernacle. In part, Matthew Henry says:

Orders were now given that a tabernacle should be set up and furnished for the service of God with all possible expedition; but lest they should think that the nature of the work, and the haste that was required, would justify them in working at it on sabbath days, that they might get it done the sooner, this caution is seasonably inserted, Verily, or nevertheless, my sabbaths you shall keep. Though they must hasten the work, yet they must not make more haste than good speed; they must not break the law of the sabbath in their haste: even tabernacle-work must give way to the sabbath-rest; so jealous is God for the honour of his sabbaths
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