Exodus 30


The altar of burnt incense, 1.

Dimensions, 2.

Golden crown, 3.

Rings and staves, 4, 5.

Where placed, 6, 7.

Use, 8-10.

The ransom price of half a shekel, 11-13.

Who were to pay it, 14.

The rich and the poor to pay alike, 15.

The use to which it was applied, 16.

The brazen laver, and its uses, 17-21.

The holy anointing oil, and its component parts, 22-25.

To be applied to the tabernacle, ark, golden table, candlestick,

altar of burnt-offerings, and the laver, 26-29.

And to Aaron and his sons, 30.

Never to be applied to any other uses, and none like it ever to

be made, 31-33.

The perfume, and how made, 34, 35.

Its use, 36.

Nothing similar to it ever to be made, 37, 38.


Verse 1. Altar to burn incense] The Samaritan omits the ten

first verses of this chapter, because it inserts them after the

32d verse of chap. xxvi. See Clarke on Ex 26:32.

Shittim wood] The same of which the preceding articles were

made, because it was abundant in those parts, and because it was

very durable; hence everywhere the Septuagint translation, which

was made in Egypt, renders the original by ξυλονασηπτον,

incorruptible wood.

Verse 2. Four-square] That is, on the upper or under surface,

as it showed four equal sides; but it was twice as high as it was

broad, being twenty-one inches broad, and three feet six inches

high. It was called, not only the altar of incense, but also the

golden altar, Nu 4:11. For the

crown, horns, staves, &c., see on the altar of burnt-offering,

chap. xxvii. See Clarke on Ex 27:1, &c.

Verse 6. Before the mercy-seat that is over the testimony]

These words in the original are supposed to be a repetition, by

mistake, of the preceding clause; the word happarocheth, the

veil, being corrupted by interchanging two letters into

haccapporeth, the mercy-seat; and this, as Dr. Kennicott

observes, places the altar of incense before the mercy-seat, and

consequently IN the holy of holies! Now this could not be, as the

altar of incense was attended every day, and the holy of holies

entered only once in the year. The five words which appear to be

a repetition are wanting in twenty-six of Kennicott's and De

Rossi's MSS., and in the Samaritan. The verse reads better

without them, and is more consistent with the rest of the account.

Verse 7. When he dresseth the lamps] Prepares the wicks, and

puts in fresh oil for the evening.

Shall burn incense upon it.] Where so many sacrifices were

offered it was essentially necessary to have some pleasing perfume

to counteract the disagreeable smells that must have arisen from

the slaughter of so many animals, the sprinkling of so much blood,

and the burning of so much flesh, &c. The perfume that was to be

burnt on this altar is described Ex 30:34. No blood was ever

sprinkled on this altar, except on the day of general expiation,

which happened only once in the year, Ex 30:10. But the

perfume was necessary in every part of the tabernacle and its


Verse 9. No strange incense] None made in any other way.

Nor burnt-sacrifice] It should be an altar for incense, and for

no other use.

Verse 10. An atonement-once in a year] On the tenth day of the

seventh month. See Le 16:18, &c., and the notes there.

See Clarke on Le 16:21, &c.

Verse 12. Then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul]

This was a very important ordinance, and should be seriously

considered. See the following verse.

Verse 13. Half a shekel] Each of the Israelites was ordered to

give as a ransom for his soul (i.e., for his life) half a shekel,

according to the shekel of the sanctuary. From this we may learn,

1. That the life of every man was considered as being forfeited

to Divine justice. 2. That the redemption money given, which was

doubtless used in the service of the sanctuary, was ultimately

devoted to the use and profit of those who gave it. 3. That the

standard by which the value of coin was ascertained, was kept in

the sanctuary; for this appears to be the meaning of the words,

after the shekel of the sanctuary. 4. The shekel is here said

to be twenty gerahs. A gerah, according to Maimonides, weighed

sixteen barleycorns, a shekel three hundred and twenty of pure

silver. The shekel is generally considered to be equal in value

to three shillings English; the redemption money, therefore, must

be about one shilling and sixpence. 5. The rich were not to

give more, the poor not to give less; to signify that all souls

were equally precious in the sight of God, and that no difference

of outward circumstances could affect the state of the soul; all

had sinned, and all must be redeemed by the same price. 6. This

atonement must be made that there might be no plague among them,

intimating that a plague or curse from God must light on those

souls for whom the atonement was not made. 7. This was to be a

memorial unto the children of Israel, Ex 30:16, to bring to

their remembrance their past deliverance, and to keep in view

their future redemption. 8. St. Peter seems to allude to this, and

to intimate that this mode of atonement was ineffectual in itself,

and only pointed out the great sacrifice which, in the fulness of

time, should be made for the sin of the world. "Ye know," says

he, "that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver

and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from

your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb

without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained

before the foundation of the world," &c.; 1Pe 1:18-20. 9.

Therefore all these things seem to refer to Christ alone, and to

the atonement made by his blood; and upon him who is not

interested in this atonement, God's plagues must be expected to

fall. Reader, acquaint now thyself with God and be at peace, and

thereby good shall come unto thee.

Verse 18. A laver of brass] kiyor sometimes signifies a

caldron, 1Sa 2:14; but it seems to signify any large round vessel

or basin used for washing the hands and feet. There were

doubtless cocks or spigots in it to draw off the water, as it is

not likely the feet were put into it in order to be washed. The

foot of the laver must mean the pedestal on which it stood.

Verse 20. They shall wash with water, that they die not] This

was certainly an emblematical washing; and as the hands and the

feet are particularly mentioned, it must refer to the purity of

their whole conduct. Their hands-all their works, their feet-all

their goings, must be washed-must be holiness unto the Lord. And

this washing must be repeated every time they entered into the

tabernacle, or when they came near to the altar to minister. This

washing was needful because the priests all ministered barefoot;

but it was equally so because of the guilt they might have

contracted, for the washing was emblematical of the putting away

of sin, or what St. Paul calls the laver of regeneration and the

renewing of the Holy Ghost, (Tit 3:5,) as the influences of the

Spirit must be repeated for the purification of the soul, as

frequently as any moral defilement has been contracted.

Verse 21. And it shall be a statute for ever] To continue, in

its literal meaning, as long as the Jewish economy lasted, and, in

its spiritual meaning, to the end of time. What an important

lesson does this teach the ministers of the Gospel of Christ!

Each time they minister in public, whether in dispensing the WORD

or the SACRAMENTS, they should take heed that they have a fresh

application of the grace and spirit of Christ, to do away past

transgressions or unfaithfulness, and to enable them to minister

with the greater effect, as being in the Divine favour, and

consequently entitled to expect all the necessary assistances of

the Divine unction, to make their ministrations spirit and life to

the people. See Clarke on Ex 29:20.

Verse 23. Take-unto thee principal spices] From this and the

following verse we learn that the holy anointing oil was

compounded of the following ingredients:-

|500 shekels-Myrrh is

| the produce of an

| oriental tree not well

| known, and is col-

Pure myrrh, mar || lected by making an

deror................ || incision in the tree.

| What is now called

| by this name is pre-

| cisely the same with

|that of the ancients.

Sweet cinnamon, |

kinnemon besem, (probably 250 shekels.

from Arabia).............|

Sweet calamus, |

keneh bosem, or sweet 250 shekels.

cane, Jer 6:20.- |

Calamus aromaticus.......|

Cassia, kildah, |

(cassia lignea,) brought 500 shekels.

also from Arabia.........|

Olive oil, shemen |

sayith, one hin, about.... 5 quarts.

lbs. oz. dwts. grs.

500 shekels of the first and last, make 48 4 12 21 21/31

250 of the cinnamon and calamus........ 24 2 6 10 26/31

Olive oil is supposed to be the best preservative of odours. As

the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are termed the anointing

of the Holy Ghost, therefore this holy ointment appears to have

been designed as emblematical of those gifts and graces. See

Ac 1:5; 10:38; 2Co 1:21; 1Jo 2:20,27.

Verse 25. After the art of the apothecary] The original,

rokeach, signifies a compounder or confectioner; any person who

compounds drugs, aromatics, &c.

Verse 30. Thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons] For the reason

of this anointing, See Clarke on Ex 29:7. It seems that

this anointing oil was an emblem of Divine teaching, and

especially of those influences by which the Church of Christ was,

in the beginning, guided into all truth; as is evident from the

allusion to it by St. John: "Ye have an unction from the HOLY ONE,

and ye know all things. The anointing which ye have received

from him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you;

but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is

truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall

abide in HIM; 1Jo 2:20, 27.

Verse 34. Take unto thee sweet spices] The holy perfume was

compounded of the following ingredients:

Stacte] nataph, supposed to be the same with what was

afterwards called the balm of Jericho. Stacte is the gum which

spontaneously flows from the tree which produces myrrh.

See Clarke on Ex 30:23.

Onycha] shecheleth, allowed by the best critics to be

the unguis odoriferans described by Rumph, which is the external

crust of the shell-fish purpura or murex, and is the basis of the

principal perfumes made in the East Indies.

Galbanum] chelbenah, the bubon gummiferum or

African ferula; it rises with a ligneous stalk from eight to ten

feet, and is garnished with leaves at each joint. The top of the

stock is terminated by an umbel of yellow flowers, which are

succeeded by oblong channelled seeds, which have a thin membrane

or wing on their border. When any part of the plant is broken,

there issues out a little thin milk of a cream colour. The gummy

resinous juice which proceeds from this plant is what is commonly

called galbanum, from the chelbench of the Hebrews.

Pure frankincense] lebonah zaccah. Frankincense

is supposed to derive its name from frank, free, because of its

liberal or ready distribution of its odours. It is a dry

resinous substance, in pieces or drops of a pale yellowish white

colour, has a strong smell, and bitter acrid taste. The tree

which produces it is not well known. Dioscorides mentions it as

gotten in India. What is called here pure frankincense is no

doubt the same with the mascula thura of Virgil, and signifies

what is first obtained from the tree-that which is strongest and

most free from all adventitious mixtures.

See Clarke on Ex 30:7.

THE Israelites were most strictly prohibited, on the most awful

penalties, from making any anointing oil or perfume similar to

those described in this chapter. He that should compound such, or

apply any of this to any common purpose, even to smell to,

Ex 30:38, should

be cut off, that is, excommunicated from his people, and so lose

all right, title, and interest in the promises of God and the

redemption of Israel. From all this we may learn how careful the

Divine Being is to preserve his own worship and his own truth, so

as to prevent them from being adulterated by human inventions; for

he will save men in his own way, and upon his own terms. What

are called human inventions in matters of religion, are not only

of no worth, but are in general deceptive and ruinous. Arts and

sciences in a certain way may be called inventions of men, for the

spirit of a man knoweth the things of a man-can comprehend, plan,

and execute, under the general influence of God, every thing in

which human life is immediately concerned; but religion, as it is

the gift, so it is the invention, of God: its doctrines and its

ceremonies proceed from his wisdom and goodness, for he alone

could devise the plan by which the human race may be restored to

his favour and image, and taught to worship him in spirit and in

truth. And that worship which himself has prescribed, we may rest

assured, will be most pleasing in his sight. Nadab and Abihu

offered strange fire before the Lord; and their destruction by the

fire of Jehovah is recorded as a lasting warning to all

presumptuous worshippers, and to all who attempt to model his

religion, according to their own caprice, and to minister in

sacred things without that authority which proceeds from himself

alone. The imposition of hands whether of pope, cardinal, or

bishop can avail nothing here. The call and unction of God alone

can qualify the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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