Don Isaac Abravanel, sometimes spelled Abarbanel, (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
commentator. Exodus chapter 31 introduces Bible students to the chief and assistant superintendents,
two men of renown to whom the Tabernacle’s construction was entrusted. Bezalel assumed the top
honors, Oholiab his most able assistant: “And I, behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of
Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan…”

“And God spoke unto Moses saying, See, I have called by name Bezalel
the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him
with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding…and in all
manner of workmanship, to devise skillful works, to work in gold and in
silver…and in cutting stones of setting and in carving wood…”

In putting together the Tabernacle dream team, Moses faced a daunting dilemma. Indeed, Abravanel
lays out the prophet’s predicament, regarding which men had the right stuff to take on the divine
mission, and construct the hallowed chambers that the Creator would call home.

Scores of men offered their services to Moses, each one yearning to be part of the Tabernacle project.
To be sure, altruism motivated them.

Moses, however, had been well aware of Bezalel’s genius and unimaginable capabilities. Herein was the
prophet’s quandary; Bezalel was his sister Miriam’s grandson. Moses feared a backlash, accusations of
nepotism coming from different quarters. One faction would charge: “Moses, you took kingship. You
appointed your brother and nephews to minister in the Tabernacle. And now, you choose Bezalel as
the Tabernacle’s chief superintendent?”

Another group of disgruntled folks would balk at Moses, saying: “How is it that a Hebrew who spent
years at the grindstone, working in Egyptian servitude picked up skills “in all manner of
workmanship…to work in gold and in silver and in cutting stones…?” Finally, a third gang of gripers had
this say: “Bezalel doesn’t hold a candle to Oholiab. Oholiab should be in charge!”

God forestalled a boisterous protest, leveled against Moses. “And God spoke unto Moses saying, See, I
have called by name Bezalel…” In so many words, the Creator assuaged the prophet and quieted all
potential troublemakers when He singled out Bezalel, and chronicled his lineage. I, the Maker said,
“called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.” By so doing, God diffused a
delicate matter: Heaven designated Bezalel to build a house to God.

God, according to Abravanel, imparted another fact of life. That is, man perceives only that which lies on
the surface and is skin deep. The Almighty, in contrast, penetrates man’s heart. He attested: “And I have
filled him with the spirit of God.”

See Abravanel’s World for an in-depth description of Bezalel’s brilliance and versatility.