The Meaning of the Hebrew Name Betzalel

When God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle and its vessels He told Moses:

“See, I have called by name Betzalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.” (Exodus 31:2)

An old Jewish legend explained the meaning of the phrase ‘I have called by name’ as follows:

According to the legend, God told Moses to build the Tabernacle and then the Ark of the Covenant and finally the rest of the sacred vessels. When Moses came to Betzalel he ‘changed’ the order and asked Betzalel to build the Ark of the Covenant, the rest of the sacred vessels and finally the Tabernacle itself. Then Betzalel said to Moses: “First the house (Tabernacle) needs to be built and only then the furniture (vessels) –otherwise where should the furniture go? Then Moses replied: “You are right, that is indeed what the Lord said and you know that because you have been ‘in the shadow of God’ The Hebrew translation of the phrase ‘in the shadow of God’ is ‘BE-TZEL-EL’ {בצלאל} and that is the Hebrew meaning of Betzalel’s name.