Exodus 30

1 “You shall make an altar to burn incense on. You shall make it of acacia wood. 2 Its length shall be a cubit, and its width a cubit. It shall be square, and its height shall be two cubits. Its horns shall be of one piece with it. 3 You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top, its sides around it, and its horns; and you shall make a gold molding around it. 4 You shall make two golden rings for it under its molding; on its two ribs, on its two sides you shall make them; and they shall be for places for poles with which to bear it. 5 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 You shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you. 7 Aaron shall burn incense of sweet spices on it every morning. When he tends the lamps, he shall burn it. 8 When Aaron lights the lamps at evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. 9 You shall offer no strange incense on it, nor burnt offering, nor meal offering; and you shall pour no drink offering on it. 10 Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once in the year; with the blood of the sin offering of atonement once in the year he shall make atonement for it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.” 11 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “When you take a census of the children of Israel, according to those who are numbered amongst them, then each man shall give a ransom for his soul to the LORD, when you number them; that there be no plague amongst them when you number them. 13 They shall give this, everyone who passes over to those who are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs); half a shekel for an offering to the LORD. 14 Everyone who passes over to those who are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the offering to the LORD. 15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the LORD, to make atonement for your souls. 16 You shall take the atonement money from the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the Tent of Meeting; that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for your souls.” 17 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “You shall also make a basin of brass, and its base of brass, in which to wash. You shall put it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in it. 20 When they go into the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water, that they not die; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD. 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die: and it shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.” 22 Moreover the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Also take fine spices: of liquid myrrh, five hundred shekels; and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, even two hundred and fifty; and of fragrant cane, two hundred and fifty; 24 and of cassia five hundred, after the shekel of the sanctuary; and a hin of olive oil. 25 You shall make it a holy anointing oil, a perfume compounded after the art of the perfumer: it shall be a holy anointing oil. 26 You shall use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the testimony, 27 the table and all its articles, the lamp stand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin with its base. 29 You shall sanctify them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them shall be holy. 30 You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and sanctify them, that they may minister to me in the priest’s office. 31 You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to me throughout your generations. 32 It shall not be poured on man’s flesh, and do not make any like it, according to its composition. It is holy. It shall be holy to you. 33 Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on a stranger, he shall be cut off from his people.’” 34 The LORD said to Moses, “Take to yourself sweet spices, gum resin, and onycha, and galbanum; sweet spices with pure frankincense: there shall be an equal weight of each; 35 and you shall make incense of it, a perfume after the art of the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy: 36 and you shall beat some of it very small, and put some of it before the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be to you most holy. 37 The incense which you shall make, according to its composition you shall not make for yourselves: it shall be to you holy for the LORD. 38 Whoever shall make any like that, to smell of it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–10

The altar of incense represented the Son of God in his human nature, and the incense burned thereon typified his pleading for his people. The continual intercession of Christ was represented by the daily burning of incense thereon, morning and evening. Once every year the blood of the atonement was to be applied to it, denoting that the intercession of Christ has all its virtue from his sufferings on earth, and that we need no other sacrifice or intercessor but Christ alone.

Verses 11–16

The tribute was half a shekel, about fifteen pence of our money. The rich were not to give more, nor the poor less; the souls of the rich and poor are alike precious, and God is no respecter of persons, Ac 10:34; Job 34:19. In other offerings men were to give according to their wordly ability; but this, which was the ransom of the soul, must be alike for all. The souls of all are of equal value, equally in danger, and all equally need a ransom. The money raised was to be used in the service of the tabernacle. Those who have the benefit, must not grudge the necessary charges of God’s public worship. Money cannot make atonement for the soul, but it may be used for the honour of Him who has made the atonement, and for the maintenance of the gospel by which the atonement is applied.

Verses 17–21

A large vessel of brass, holding water, was to be set near the door of the tabernacle. Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet at this laver, every time they went in to minister. This was to teach them purity in all their services, and to dread the pollution of sin. They must not only wash and be made clean, when first made priests, but must wash and be kept clean, whenever they went to minister. It teaches us daily to attend upon God, daily to renew our repentance for sin, and our looking to the blood of Christ for remission; for in many things we daily offend.

Verses 22–38

Directions are here given for making the holy anointing oil, and the incense to be used in the service of the tabernacle. To show the excellency of holiness, there was this spiced oil in the tabernacle, which was grateful to the sight and to the smell. Christ’s name is as ointment poured forth, So 1:3, and the good name of Christians is like precious ointment, Ec 7:1. The incense burned upon the golden altar was prepared of sweet spices. When it was used, it was to be beaten very small; thus it pleased the Lord to bruise the Redeemer, when he offered himself for a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour. The like should not be made for any common use. Thus God would keep in the people’s minds reverence for his own services, and teach us not to profane or abuse any thing whereby God makes himself known. It is a great affront to God to jest with sacred things, and to make sport with his word and ordinances. It is most dangerous and fatal to use professions of the gospel of Christ to forward wordly interests.

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