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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Exodus

(Return to Old Testament Contents)




v.1-10 The Altar of Incense

v.11-16 Atonement Money

v.17-21 Basin for Washing

v.22-33 The Anointing Oil

v.34-38 Incense



v.1-10 The Altar of Incense (a second altar)


v.1-3 The altar

v.1   “Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense .

v.2 It is to be square, 1.5 feet (50cm) long and wide, and 3 feet (90cm) high—its horns of one piece with it.

v.3 Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it.

v.4,5 The means of transporting it

v.4 Make two gold rings for the altar below the molding—two on each of the opposite sides—to hold the poles used to carry it.

v.5 Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

v.6 It's location in front of the Most Holy Place

v.6 Put the altar in front of the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law—before the atonement cover that is over the tablets of the covenant law—where I will meet with you.

v.7-9 Its use

v.7 “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps.

v.8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come.

v.9 Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it.

v.10 Its annual consecration

v.10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord .”


[Notes: This is a second altar NOT for burning animals but for burning incense only. It is essentially a table with a rim, just eighteen inches square and three feet high. As with other ‘furniture' it has rings for carrying poles. It stood before the curtain separating off the Most Holy Place and incense was to be burned on it morning and night. It was to be consecrated for holy use once a year.]



v.11-16 Atonement Money


v.11 Then the Lord said to Moses,

v.12 “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.

v.13 Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs 1/5 ounce or about 5.8 grams. This half shekel is an offering to the Lord.

v.14 All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the Lord .

v.15 The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives.

v.16 Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord , making atonement for your lives.”


[Notes: Whenever there was a census it was to be seen in the light of the Exodus and the Passover with a realization that they only existed courtesy of God and the fact that a lamb (prefiguring Jesus) had died in their place. As a reminder of these facts, every person, rich or poor, is to give a half shekel offering to the Lord to acknowledge this. It was to act as a reminder and as an additional support for caring for the Tabernacle.]



v.17-21 Basin for Washing


v.17 Then the Lord said to Moses,

v.18 “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it.

v.19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it.

v.20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord ,

v.21 they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.”


[Notes: Handling meat etc. and burning it on an altar must have been messy from time to time, but the priest was to wash both hands and feet whenever they entered the Tent as well as when they went to offer sacrifices. It was more a matter of ‘holy' cleanliness.]



v.22-33 The Anointing Oil


v.22 Then the Lord said to Moses,

v.23,24 “Take the following fine spices: about 12.5 pounds or about 5.8 kilograms of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 6 1/4 pounds or about 2.9 kilograms ) of fragrant cinnamon, 6 1/4 pounds or about 2.9 kilograms of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and about 1 gallon or about 3.8 litres

of olive oil.

v.25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.

v.26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law,

v.27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense,

v.28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.

v.29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

v.30 “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.

v.31 Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come.

v.32 Do not pour it on anyone else's body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred.

v.33 Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.'”


[Notes: A carefully prescribed oil was to be made, used for anointing the tent and all its contents as well as the priest. Oil in scripture is often a symbol for the Holy Spirit and so the picture is that everything to do with the Tabernacle is to be seen as having a ‘God-touch' so to speak.]



v.34-38 Incense


v.34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts,

v.35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred.

v.36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.

v.37 Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord .

v.38 Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.”


[Notes: Likewise the incense to be burned on the altar inside the Tabernacle was carefully prescribed and was not to be used for anything else except burning in the Tabernacle.]



Continue to Chapter 31