There are two definitions for “Work” in Exodus 35:2. 

     1.  The Hebrew word “MALACHAH,” which stresses creative work. This work, specifically has to do with work performed in the construction of the Tabernacle. 

     2.  The Hebrew word “AVODAH,” which stresses everyday work. This listing has become the basis of much of the common Sabbath laws practiced among the Orthodox Jews today.

Listed below are the 39 Categories of “MELACHAH” and the purpose used in the building of the Mishkan.

1)   Plowing

2)   Planting

3)   Harvesting

4)   Gathering

5)   Threshing

6)   Sifting

7)   Selecting

8)   Winnowing

9)   Grinding

10) Kneading *

11) Baking *

Purpose:  To grow and process plants needed to make dyes to color the wool and skins used in the Mishkan.

*The Jerusalem Talmud holds that the purpose of kneading and baking were to prepare the 12 “Show-Breads.”


12)  Shearing

13)  Bleaching

14)  Dyeing

15)  Spinning

16)  Weaving

17)  Combing

19)  Threading a Loom

20)  Threading a Harness

21)  Tying a Knot

22)  Untying a Knot

23)  Sewing

24)  Tearing

Purpose:  To prepare the wool and weave it into curtains.

25)  Trapping

26)  Slaughtering

27)  Skinning

28)  Tanning

29)  Smoothing

30)  Marking

31)  Cutting to a Shape

Purpose:  To prepare the Skins for the Mishkan Covering.

32)  Writing 2 Letters

33)  Erasing 2 Letters

  Purpose:  To rebuild the Mishkan properly, Letters were written on the courtyard pillars to identify their position. Letters were often erased and rewritten.

34)  Building

35)  Demolishing

  Purpose:  To assemble and disassemble the Mishkan when traveling.

36)  Kingling a Fire

37)  Extinguishing a Fire

  Purpose:  To light the fires needed for dyeing the wool and smelting the metals. Fire was also extinguished to produce charcoal
38)  Final Hammer Blow [Completing an Act] Purpose:  To complete the metal construction
39)  Carrying  

Purpose:  To move the pillars from the wagons to a public area and vice versa. To bring the Tithes from the tents to a public area.