Bamidbar Rabbah 15:10
When G‑d told Moses, “Make a menorah of pure gold,” Moses said: “How should it be made?” and was told that it should be hammered out of a solid block. Nonetheless Moses found it difficult to understand, and when he came down [from Mount Sinai] he forgot how to make it. He went back up and said, “My master, how should it be made?” to which G‑d replied, “It should be hammered out of a solid block.” Again Moses found it difficult to comprehend, and when he came down from the mountain he forgot the details.
He went back up yet again and said, “My master! I have forgotten it.” G‑d showed him the process again, but he still found it difficult. G‑d then said, “Watch and do the same,” and took a menorah of fire and showed him how to make it. Yet Moses still couldn’t understand.
So, G‑d said to him, “Go to Betzalel; he can make it.” And indeed, Moses asked Betzalel, and he immediately was able to make it. Moses was astonished: “G‑d showed it to me several times, yet I couldn’t understand how to make it; yet you, who never saw it, were able to make it on your own? Betzalel, you must have been standing betzel E‑l, in the shadow of G‑d, when He showed me how to make the menorah.”
Therefore, when the Temple was destroyed, the Menorah was hidden. And this is one of the five things that was hidden: the ark, the Menorah, the fire, the holy spirit, and the cherubs. When the Holy One Who is Blessed returns in [God]'s mercy and builds [God]'s house and sanctuary, [God] will bring them back to their place to make Jerusalem rejoice, as it says, "The arid desert shall be glad, The wilderness shall rejoice" (Isaiah 35:1), "It shall blossom abundantly, It shall also exult" (Isaiah 35:2).
When Moses came down, he relayed to the Jewish people the details of how the Mishkan, its beams, the altar and the table were to be built. They asked, “Who will make all of these?” He replied, “Betzalel.” The people then started criticizing Moses, saying: “G‑d didn’t tell Moses to have Betzalel be the architect of the Mishkan; Moses picked him himself, because Betzalel is his relative . . .” To which Moses replied, “I did nothing on my own initiative; it was G‑d who told me to appoint Betzalel.”
When the Israelites wished to do that deed, they said to Aaron, "Come make for us a lord." Hur, the son of Caleb, arose and chastised them. They immediately arose and killed him. [Tanchuma T'zaveh 10:10]
Why was Hur mentioned in this context (building the Mishkan)? When Israel wished to commit idolatry, he (Hur) offered his soul for the sake of God, and would not allow them (to sin). They rose against him and killed him. God said to him "By your life I will repay you." [Shmot Rabbah 48:3]
And King Shlomo sent and fetched Chiram from Tzor. He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naftali, and his father was a man of Tzor, a worker in brass, and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge to work all works in brass. And he came to King Shlomo, and wrought all his work. (I Melakhim 7:13-14)
In II Divrei Ha-yamim it says:
The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tzor, skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to engrave any manner of engraving, and to work all kinds of artistic work; to do whatever shall be put to him, with your skillful men, and with the skillful men of my lord David your father. (2:13)
Bereishit Rabbati in his Torah Sheleima:
"Nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the works of His hands" (Iyov34:19). This teaches that the great and the small are equal before him. And with respect to the Mikdash, Shlomo was from Yehuda and Chiram was from Dan. And similarly regarding the Messiah - his father is from Yehuda and his mother is from Dan. Therefore, Yehuda and Dan are called lion cubs, for the Messiah will issue from the two of them. (Shemot 31:3, no. 14)
And we know that for the building of the Mishkan two people were chosen, two tribes of Israel, from Yehuda and from Dan, the one likened to a lion cub, and the other to a serpent and a lion, teaching you how much the building of the Mishkan is likened to them. And also to allude to the attribute of mercy that is hinted at in the name Yehuda, and to the attribute of justice that is hinted at in the name of Dan. (An unkown Rishon)
Let him come and join him so that they not mock him, and so that nobody be arrogant, for the great and the small are equal before the Omnipresent, Betzalel from Yehuda and Aholiav from Dan, and he joins him. (Shemot Rabba 40:4)
Rabbi Johanan said: From where do we know that a man should not change his occupation from the occupation of his ancestors? As it is said: “And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass.”The Master taught on this verse: [Although his father was from the tribe of Naphtali,] his mother was of the tribe of Dan, of whom it is written: “And, behold, with him I have placed Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. (Arachin 16b).
The Gaon said: Why were Betzalel and Aholiav chosen? And he answered: Because Betzalel was from the descendants of Yehuda, whom Yaakov compared to a lion cub (Bereishit 49:9). And Aholiav was from the descendants of Dan, whom Moshe compared to a lion cub (Devarim 33:22). A lion is narrow from behind, and so was the Mikdash (Middot4:7). This is a homiletical answer, for Betzalel and Aholiav did not build the Temple, and the width of the Mishkan which they made was uniform. There is, however, no basis for his question, for they were chosen because there was nobody in Israel like them. (Shemot31:1)
"See, I have called by name Betzalel the son of Uri, the son of Chur." God said to Moshe: See, I have called by name. And Moshe said to Israel: See, God has called by name (Shemot 35:30). And the reason is that Israel in Egypt were crushed by work in mortar and in brick, and they never learned work in silver, gold, and precious stones; they never saw them at all.
It was a miracle that there was found among them someone who was of great knowledge in silver and gold and stone and wood, and artistry, and embroidery and weaving. For even among those who studied by masters, you will not find one who is proficient in all these arts. And those who know and are familiar with them, when their hands always come into contact with mortar and filth, they cannot do fine and intricate artwork.
And furthermore, he was a great authority in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge, to understand the mystery of the Mishkan and all its vessels, why they were commanded and what they allude to. It is for this reason that God said to Moshe that he should see this wondrous matter, and know that He had filled him with the spirit of God to know all these things so that he can make the Mishkan. For it was His desire to make the Mishkan in the wilderness, and He created him for the sake of His glory, for He calls the generations from the beginning (Yeshayahu 41:4), in the manner of "Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you did come out of the womb I sanctified you" (Yirmiyahu 1:5)…
And our Rabbis have a midrash about this: He showed him the book of Adam and said to him: I ordained each individual at that time, and Betzalel as well I ordained at that hour. As it says: See, I have called by name, Betzalel. And this is like what I have explained. They further said that Betzalel knew how to combine the letters with which heaven and earth were created. The idea is that the Mishkan alludes to these things, and he knows and understands His mystery. (Ramban, Commentary on Shemot 31:2)
"See, I have called by name." For he was given the name Betzalel because Moshe said to him: "You were in God's shadow (be-tzel El) and you knew," as Chazal have said. That is to say, the entire world is the shadow of God and an image of His wisdom. As I explained in Parashat Bereishit that the "image" (tzelem) of God is the "shadow" (tzel) of God… and the universe (the macrocosm), and corresponding to it, man (the microcosm), are shadows and images of God. And the Mishkan in which all the worlds were depicted, and so too all the pearls of man, was also a shadow of God. And all this was understood by Betzalel, and because of this it says that Betzalel knew how to join together the letters with which heaven and earth were created, and therefore he was called by the name Betzalel. God called him by this name, because he was prepared to build his holy edifice, as it says: "He lay up sound wisdom for the righteous" (Mishlei 2:7), that God prepared from the beginning righteous people who would arise in each generation, and be prepared for the great things that were to be done in their time.
"See, I have called by name Betzalel the son of Uri, the son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehuda." The idea is that total devotion must be without examination and excessive intellection. Yehuda risked his life at the Sea, as it is stated in Tosefta Sota, and so too Chur risked his life at the Golden Calf. For examination will block the inner will and prevent a person from offering his life for the sanctification of God's name… It therefore says that because they did not engage in excessive examination and intellection, therefore, "He has filled him [with the spirit of God] in wisdom, and in understanding, etc." (Shemot 35:31). Understand this.
1. The Spirit of God
"And I have filled him with the spirit of God" – from where is all this wisdom? From the Holy One, blessed be He, the spirit of God. And similarly you find regarding Yehoshua, who came from Yosef: "And Yehoshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom" (Devarim34:9). And similarly you find regarding Otniel the son of Kenaz, who came from Yehuda: "And the spirit of the Lord came upon him" (Shoftim 3:10). R. Chanina said: This is what it says: "But there is a spirit in man, [and the breadth of the Almighty gives them understanding]" (Iyov 32:8). All the understanding that Betzalel had came from the Almighty; thus: "And I have filled him with the spirit of God." (Shemot Rabba)
The Ibn Ezra writes in his long commentary:
"And I shall fill him," like "And Yehoshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom" (Devarim 34:9); and it is written: "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him" (Yeshayahu 11:2). And it explains what the spirit of the Lord is, namely, "the spirit of wisdom and understanding" (ibid.)… Now Betzalel was filled with all wisdom, with mathematics, and geometry… and astronomy and nature, and the mystery of the soul. And he had an advantage over all the people of his generation, for he knew all forms of workmanship, for many of those who are wise in heart do not know even a single workmanship. Therefore it says: "And in all manner of workmanship," with a vav.
"And I have filled him with the spirit of God," a prophetic spirit and a holy spirit, as Onkelos translates: "And I have filled him with a prophetic spirit from before God." Because for the building of the Mishkan, besides having to know all types of workmanship, he had to understand the hidden secret of the building, which involves the attainment of all perfection and connection with the spirit of the living God that gives life to them and dwells among them. For this reason, He clothed him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, which are the three highest levels with which the world was created, as it is written: "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth" (Mishlei 3:19), and it is written: "Through wisdom a house is built" (ibid. 24:3), and as I have explained these matters at length in my commentary to Mishlei. And this was to comprehend the great Mishkan and all its mysteries; "and in all manner of workmanship" refers to the crafts with which he will actually build the Mishkan.
2. Wisdom, understanding and knowledge
Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer
"In wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge." The world was created by means of ten utterances, etc. They are included in the following three: "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths were broken up" (Mishlei 3:19-20). And with these three, the Mishkan was built, as it says: "And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding and in knowledge" (Shemot 31:3). And with these three the Mikdash was built, as it says: "He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naftali, and his father was a man of Tzor, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge" (I Melakhim 7:14). And with these three it will be built in the future, as it says: "Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established: and by knowledge are the chambers filled" (Mishlei 24:3-4). And with the three of them He will in the future give three good gifts to Israel, as it says: "For the Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding" (Mishlei 2:6). And the three of them were doubly given to the messianic king, as it says: "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and the understanding, etc." (Yeshayahu11:2). (End of chapter 3)
"In wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge." It has already been explained (Shemot 25:8) that all of the worlds were included in the building of the Mishkan and its vessels. For this reason, the Shekhina rested within it, as it was at the beginning of the creation, when the Shekhina oversaw His world in general. Just as the world in general was created with these three attributes, as it is written: "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths were broken up" (Mishlei 3:19-20) – in this way the Mishkan had to be built with these three attributes, and similarly the Mikdash in which the Shekhina would rest. And this is what we find in Midrash Rabba that Betzalel knew how to join together the letters with which heaven and earth were created. Thus is explained the words, "And I have filled him with the spirit of God," this word sometimes meaning that He created heaven and earth, as I have written at the beginning of Parashat Bereishit (1:1) and in other places.