Q: I am amazed at the amount of work this would have taken…in a desert…with primitive tools…the gold and silver work, weaving, embroidering. Making yarn and linen…how long did this all take to make?
A: The key to “calculating” (or better, guestimating) the time to build the tabernacle actually comes with the command to erect the structure in Exodus 40:1.
We remember that the Israelites began their year, according to the Lord’s instructions, with the Passover festival. The Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai “in the third month” after leaving Egypt (19:1). We know that Moses twice spent 40 days on Mount Sinai. Some time elapsed in preparing for the giving of the law, as well as between the first and second stay of Moses upon the mountain because of Israel’s worship of the golden calf.
From all this, we can estimate that it took the Israelites between 6-9 months to prepare the items for the tabernacle and its contents according to the Lord’s instructions.