Question and Answer: Did the men Bezalel and Oholiab have skills only after God filled them with his Holy Spirit? (Exodus 31:1-6)


Question:  “Did the men Bezalel and Oholiab have skills in these trades prior to this text or only after God filled them with the “Spirit of God in wisdom” according to Exodus 31:3?”

Exodus 31:1-6 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)
31 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you.

 ספר שמות פרק לא:א-ו

א   וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ב   רְאֵה קָרָאתִי בְשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן-אוּרִי בֶן-חוּר לְמַטֵּה יְהוּדָה: ג   וָאֲמַלֵּא אֹתוֹ רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים בְּחָכְמָה וּבִתְבוּנָה וּבְדַעַת וּבְכָל-מְלָאכָה: ד   לַחְשֹׁב מַחֲשָׁבֹת לַעֲשֹוֹת בַּזָּהָב וּבַכֶּסֶף וּבַנְּחֹשֶׁת: ה   וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת אֶבֶן לְמַלֹּאת וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת עֵץ לַעֲשֹוֹת בְּכָל-מְלָאכָה: ו   וַאֲנִי הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי אִתּוֹ אֵת אָהֳלִיאָב בֶּן-אֲחִיסָמָךְ לְמַטֵּה-דָן וּבְלֵב כָּל-חֲכַם-לֵב נָתַתִּי חָכְמָה וְעָשֹוּ אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִךָ:


I believe Exodus 31:6 says it all:  “…and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you.”  In Hebrew it says “in the heart of all who have wisdom of heart” (וּבְלֵב כָּל-חֲכַם-לֵב) “I give wisdom” (נָתַתִּי חָכְמָה) the word “wisdom” (חֲכַם) is translated as “skill” in the NASB and NIV versions, and as “wisdom” in the KJV version.  The root word here for skill is חֲכַם (wisdom) and when used as a noun or adjective has various meanings “wise, clever, shrewd, sage, scholar, scribe” and when used as a verb can mean “become wise or become educated.”  The way this is worded, it looks like this is describing the kind of people who have a certain amount of natural talent and aptitude in their hearts to perform a certain task, and it is God who gives this ability (skill or wisdom).  Since God is the author of life, and the giver of good gifts (James 1:17) all of these things certainly come from the Lord, and the Lord specifically here in the Scriptures (Exodus 31:3) filled these men with His Holy Spirit to enable them to work on the Tabernacle.  Moses gave those men the design in a general sense, but I am certain that the final design was left to each individual’s opinion on the details, the sculpting, sewing, cutting, the sizes, shapes, and layout of sculpture etc the things of the tabernacle.  This required the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God to get it right in the way the Lord wanted.  I do not believe that these men were totally unskilled and that God miraculously gave them skill to do these works without having any prior knowledge of craftsmanship.