Oholiab was the tabernacle’s craft man during Moses’s time Being renowned for one’s skill in embroidery may seem like a strange way to be remembered in the Bible. Yet this was Oholiab’s legacy, a fleeting yet powerful reminder that the Creator—the grand designer of the universe—values artistry and beauty.
Oholiab is mentioned just three times in the book of Exodus—each time in connection with the tabernacle that was to be built so Israel could worship God in the wilderness. Oholiab was made assistant to Bezalel, who was in charge of making artistic designs for God’s tabernacle using gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood. Both men were handpicked by God—the raw talent they possessed was said to be divinely inspired.
Oholiab was identified as a “craftsman and designer, and an embroiderer” (Exodus 38:23). His media were fine linen and brightly colored, expensive yarn. Elsewhere, the text noted that Oholiab and Bezalel were blessed with the talent for sharing their knowledge with others, too (Exodus 35:34). Rather than keeping his skills to himself, Oholiab apprenticed other craftsmen so they could join him and Bezalel in creating a beautiful space for worship.
In a story where the most popular figures are mighty deliverers like Moses or valiant warriors like Joshua, Oholiab stands out as another kind of hero—one who understands that the God who invented beauty in the first place values artistry and excellence in humanity’s worship of Him. Oholiab gave the very best of his artistic abilities to create an aesthetically pleasing space that would inspire the hearts of his fellow Israelites to exalt their Lord and Master.
Oholiab belonged to the tribe of Dan, an otherwise obscure clan in Israel’s story. Dan was so marginal, in fact, that it did not appear at all in the list of tribes in Revelation 7.
Oholiab, however, stood out as a shining example of brilliance.