Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. (Exodus 26:5 ESV)
He made fifty loops on the one curtain, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set. The loops were opposite one another. (Exodus 36:12 ESV)
The two verses above are a very small sampling of the repetition in the book of Exodus. The Ten Commandments are repeated. Various other laws are also repeated.
“The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. (Exodus 23:19 ESV)
The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Exodus 34:26 ESV)
I never have been able to find a good explanation for the instruction about not boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk, but the instruction is repeated. In both these examples the first recording of the instruction is before the incident with the golden calf. The second recording comes after the golden calf incident.
Writing anything took significant time and effort. I’m sitting at my computer and typing the words takes very little effort. Repetition is a matter of using copy and paste. Moses and Joshua did not have that capability. So, why all the repetition?
The most obvious reason is that God wanted the people to know that these instructions were important, both to Him and to them. God blessed the craftsmen who built the tabernacle with great skill, but He wasn’t open to creativity. I think that God was communicating important things about His character through all these instructions and any variation would distort the message.
We want to be creative and I think creativity is one of the things that shows us that we are made in God’s image. We just must avoid the temptation to get creative in defining God and what He expects. We definitely do not want to create a God in our image. The original authors of scripture did not have access to multiple fonts, bold, and underline. What they had to communicate emphasis was repetition. Watch for it as you read through the Bible. Rather than skipping over a repeated concept pause and think about why the concept is important enough to be repeated.
For my grandchildren:
When you see or hear something repeated, pay attention.