Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
We come now to the long section of P, which contains the instructions stated to have been given by God to Moses on the mount for the construction and equipment of a sanctuary, and for the vestments and consecration of a priesthood. These instructions fall into two parts: (1) chs. 25–29; (2) chs. 30–31. The instructions contained in chs. 25–29 relate to (a) the vessels of the sanctuary, viz. the ark, the table of Presence-bread, and the candlestick,—named naturally first, as being of primary interest and importance (ch. 25); (b) the curtains, and wooden framework supporting them, to contain and guard the sacred vessels (ch. 26); (c) the court round the Sanctuary, and the Altar of Burnt offering, standing in it (ch. 27); (d) the vestments (ch. 28) and the consecration (ch. 29) of the priests who are to serve in the sanctuary (Exodus 29:1-37); (e) the daily burnt-offering, the maintenance of which is a primary duty of the priesthood (Exodus 29:38-42), followed by what is apparently the final close of the whole body of instructions, Exodus 29:43-46, in which Jehovah promises that He will bless the sanctuary thus established with His presence. Chs. 30–31 relate to (a) the Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10); (b) the monetary contributions for the maintenance of public service (Exodus 30:11-16); (c) the Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:17-21); (d) the holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30:22-33); (e) the Incense (Exodus 30:34-38); (f) the nomination of two skilled artificers, Bezal’el and Oholiab, to make the sanctuary and its appurtenances Exodus 31:1-11); (g) the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17).
The principal names of what we—adopting a rendering based upon Jerome’s tabernaculum (i.e. ‘tent’)—commonly call the ‘Tabernacle’ are the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 27:21), the Tent where God ‘met’ and talked with Moses; the Tent; the Tent of the Witness or Testimony, i.e. (see on Exodus 25:16) the Tent containing the Ark, in which were deposited the two tables of the Decalogue; the Dwelling (Exodus 25:9 al.), the Dwelling of Jehovah (Numbers 16:9 al.), or the Dwelling of the Testimony (Exodus 38:21 al.); and the Sanctuary (see on Exodus 25:8). The first two these designations are found in both JE and P; the others are used exclusively by P. If the passages in which E and J speak of the ‘Tent of Meeting’ or the ‘Tent’—viz. Exodus 33:7-11, Numbers 11:16 f., 24, 26, Exodus 12:5; Exodus 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:14 f.—are read carefully, it will be found that the representation which they give of it differs in several respects very materially from that given by P. In E the Tent of Meeting is outside the camp (Exodus 33:7, Numbers 11:26 f., cf. v. 30, Exodus 12:4 : on Numbers 14:44, see p. 428); it is guarded by one attendant, Joshua, who never leaves it Exodus 33:11; cf. Numbers 11:28); though it had probably some decoration (cf. on Exodus 33:6), it was obviously a much simpler, less ornate structure than that described by P; Moses used to go out to it, and enter into it speak with God, and the pillar of cloud then descended, and stood at the entrance of the Tent, and Jehovah spoke to him from it (Exodus 33:8-11; cf. Numbers 11:17; Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5; Numbers 12:10, Deuteronomy 31:14 f.); on the march also, the ark precedes the host, to seek out a camping-place for it (Numbers 10:33). In P, on the contrary, the Tent of Meeting is in the centre of the camp, with the Levites around it on the west, south, and north, and Aaron and his sons on the east, and the other tribes, three on each side, outside them (Numbers 2; Numbers 3:23; Numbers 3:29; Numbers 3:35; Numbers 3:38); it is served by Aaron and his sons, and a large body of Levites (in Numbers 4:48, 8580); it is a highly decorated, costly structure (chs. 25–27); the cloud (which is not in P spoken of as a ‘pillar’), instead of descending from time to time, as occasion requires, to the entrance of the Tent, that Jehovah may speak with Moses, rests upon the Tent always, when the camp is stationary (Exodus 40:35-38, Numbers 9:15-23), and Jehovah, instead of speaking to Moses at its ‘entrance,’ speaks to him from between the cherubim above the ark (Exodus 25:22, Numbers 7:89); on the march, also, the ark, borne, covered up, by the Kohathites, with the other sacred vessels, is in the centre of the long procession of Israelites, six tribes preceding it, and six following it (Numbers 2:17; Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:5 ff; Numbers 10:21). Lastly in P the Tent of Meeting is the centre of an elaborate sacrificial and ceremonial system (Leviticus 1-27, &c.), such as is nowhere mentioned in connexion with the Tent of Meeting of J and E, and, in view of the subsequent history (Judg., Sam.), not historically probable,—at least on anything like the same scale. Unquestionably (cf. p. 359) both representations have common features: in both, in particular, the Tent is the place where God speaks with Moses, and communicates to him His will; nor need it be doubted, though it is no stated in so many words, that the Tent of JE, like that of P, sheltere the ark (though a much simpler ark than P’s): but there are also wide differences between them. Here it will be sufficient to have noted these differences: in explanation of them see p. 430 ff.
The Tabernacle, with its various appurtenances, is described to having been made by Bezal’el and Oholiab, and other skilled workmen acting under them, in accordance with detailed specifications given by God to Moses (chs. 25–31), and a ‘pattern,’ or model, shewn Moses in the mount (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40, Exodus 26:30, Exodus 27:8). It is designed as a ‘dwelling’ (Exodus 25:8-9) in which God may permanently dwell among His people (Exodus 29:45); and after it has been erected and consecrated, He gives manifest tokens of His presence in it, He fills it with His glory (Exodus 40:34-38), He habitually speaks in it with Moses (Exodus 25:22), and He gives him many of His instructions from it (Leviticus 1:1, Numbers 1:1). It is also the centre at which all sacrifices are to be offered (Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 3:2, &c.).
In its general principle the ‘Tabernacle’ of P is a portable Temple (so Jos. Ant. iii. 6. 1 μεταφερόμενος καὶ συμπερινοστῶν ναός). On the one hand, it is a tent, and is repeatedly so called, formed of tent-hangings, or curtains, held in their places by cords and tent-pins, of oblong shape, and with a flat upper surface (without a ridge pole), like the tents of Bedawin at the present day (see ill. in Smith, DB. iii. 1467; Judges in SBOT. (Engl. vol.), p. 63; Doughty, i. 226; or (best) Benzinger, Bilderatlas zur Bibelkunde, 1905, No. 287, or Arch.2 89), and divided into two compartments, in this respect also (Kn. on Exodus 26:37) resembling the tents of Bedawin, in which a separate compartment is formed by a curtain for the women (Burckh. Bed. i. 39 f.; EB. iv. 4972); on the other hand, the Tabernacle has also the form of a temple of a type very common in antiquity, and in fact represented by Solomon’s temple, consisting of an oblong rectangular structure, with pillars on its front, standing in a large court, and divided into two parts, the hall (in Greek πρόναος, ‘fore-shrine’; in Solomon’s temple, the hêkâl, 1 Kings 6:3; 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:17, &c. [in EVV. rendered badly ‘temple,’ suggesting the whole building]), corresponding to the Holy Place, and the shrine (ναός Hdt. i. 183, or ἄδυτον, the ‘part not to be entered,’ Lat. cella; Heb. debîr, the ‘hindmost part,’ 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:16, &c. [in EVV., through a false etymology, the ‘oracle’]), corresponding to the Most Holy Place,—both without windows, and the latter containing, if there was one, the image of the deity to whom the temple was sacred, and usually entered only by the priests. The ‘Tabernacle’ was however primarily and essentially a tent; it was the tapestry curtains alone which formed the real ‘Dwelling’ of Jehovah (see on Exodus 26:1); the ‘boards,’ or framework, were merely intended to give the tent greater stability and security than ordinary tent-poles would do. An altar, a priesthood, with regulations determining who might hold it, and prescribing the sacrifices and other religious offices to be maintained, often also an ark containing some sacred object, a table on which food was laid out for the deity, lavers for ceremonial ablutions, &c., were likewise, in one form or other, the necessary elements in an ancient Temple establishment. The Tabernacle of P was an elaborate and ornate structure. Metals more or less precious, and woven materials more or less ornamented, and more or less richly coloured, were employed; the general distinction observed being that the nearer an object was to the Presence of Jehovah in the Holy of holies, the costlier and more beautiful it was, the commoner materials, such as bronze and ordinary woven stuff, being reserved for the objects further off (cf. on Exodus 25:3). In the same way, the high priest had a specially gorgeous and splendid attire, while that of the ordinary priests was much plainer.
In their dimensions, both the ‘Tabernacle’ and the court display great symmetry. The ruling numbers are 3, 4, 7, 10, their parts (1½, 2, 2½, 5), and their multiples (6, 9, 12, 20, 28, 30, 42, 48, 50, 60, 100). If, without indulging in fantastic extravagances, we may discern a symbolism in numbers, we may perhaps see in three a symbol of the divine, in four—suggesting the four quarters of the earth—the totality of what is human, in seven and twelve numbers which, deriving their original significance from astronomy, came to be regarded as symbols of completeness, and in ten and its multiples numbers specially suggestive of symmetry and perfection. In the prominence given to the numbers mentioned, we may perhaps recognize an effort ‘to give concrete expression—in a manner, it is true, which our Western thought finds it difficult to appreciate—to the sacred harmonies and perfection of the character of the Deity for whose “dwelling” the sanctuary is destined’ Kennedy, DB. iv. 667b). The Holy place Isaiah 20 cubits (30 ft.) long, 10 cubits (15 ft.) high and broad, and the Holy of holies a perfect cube of 10 cubits (exactly half the dimensions of the Holy of holies in Solomon’s temple); and these ratios, a perfect cube, or two cubes placed side by side, are, we are told (Enc. Brit.9 Architecture, cited ibid.), still considered the most pleasing in architectural art; while the perfect cube, forming the Holy of holies, may be intended to represent symbolically the ‘perfection of Jehovah’s character and dwelling place, the harmony and equipoise of all His attributes.’ Comp. how, in Revelation 21:16, the ideal perfection of the New Jerusalem is expressed in the fact that ‘the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.’
The ‘Tabernacle,’ moreover, symbolizes directly, and gives visible expression to, various theological and religious truths. It must, however, be clearly understood that in the text itself no symbolism or significance whatever is attributed either to the Tabernacle or to any of its appurtenances; so that, if we go beyond what is suggested directly by the names or uses of the Tabernacle, or its parts, we are in danger of falling into what is arbitrary or baseless. Bearing this in our minds, we may however observe that by one of its principal names, the mishkân, or ‘Dwelling’ (see on Exodus 25:9), the Tabernacle expresses in a sensible form the truth of God’s presence in the midst of His people; by another of its principal names, the ‘Tent of Meeting’ (Exodus 27:21), it gives expression to the truth that God is not only present with His people, but that He reveals Himself to them; by its third name, the ‘Tent (or Dwelling) of the Witness or Testimony,’ it reminded the Israelite that in the Decalogue, inscribed on the Tables in the Ark, it contained an ever-present witness to the claims of God and the duty of man. These three, especially the first, are the fundamental ideas symbolized by the Tabernacle. But there are also other ideas. Thus the gold, and costly, beautifully worked fabrics, which decorated, especially, the Holy of holies, and were also conspicuous in the gorgeous vestments of the high priest, give expression to the thought that the Dwelling, and the most responsible ministers of God, should be decked, or apparelled, with becoming splendour and dignity. The Bronze Altar, standing midway between the entrance to the court and the Tent, emphasized the importance of sacrifice in general under the old Dispensation (see further on Leviticus 1-5.), and taught the truth that ‘apart from shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22); while the burnt-offering, offered daily upon it on behalf of the community, gave expression to the spirit of worship which Israel as a whole should ever be actuated, and symbolized its constant sense of the devotion due from it to its divine Lord. The Laver, standing probably directly in front of the entrance to the Tent, in which the priests washed their hands and feet before their ministrations, secured the ceremonial purity, which was an emblem of the moral purity, that should belong to those who are the ministers of God. The Presence-bread—whatever it may have denoted originally (see on Exodus 25:30)—is an expression of thankfulness, and an acknowledgement that man’s daily bread,—is a like all other ‘blessings of this life,’—divine gift. The symbolism of the Candlestick is less obvious: none is suggested by the text; and any that may be proposed is in danger of being far-fetched, or of being read into the description as an afterthought: but—whether this was its original intention, or not—the candlestick may perhaps be most easily regarded as symbolizing the people of Israel, shining with the light of divine truth (cf. the figure of ‘light’ in Isaiah 51:4, Matthew 5:16 f., Php 2:15; and Revelation 1:12; Revelation 1:20, where the seven golden candlesticks seen in vision are said to denote the seven churches). The interpretation of Zechariah 4:1-4; Zechariah 4:11-13 is too uncertain to be used in explaining the symbolism of the candlestick in the Tabernacle (see the Century Bible, p. 203 f.): moreover, the candlestick there is differently constructed, and the lamps are differently supplied with oil. The Altar of Incense symbolized a higher form of devotion than the altar of burnt-offering: the smoke of incense was finer and choicer than that of animal victims; and it symbolized the devotion not of action, but of aspiration and prayer (cf. Psalm 141:2, Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3 f.): the blood of the sin-offering was also applied to the altar of incense, when it was offered for the high priest or the community (Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18 : see also Exodus 30:10). The ark itself, sacred though it is, does not in P enshrine or symbolize the divine Presence: it contains the Decalogue, which is the ‘witness’ to God’s claims and man’s duty: but the Presence is symbolized by the golden cherubim upon it—which are regularly the emblems of the nearness of deity (see on Exodus 25:18-20)—‘from between’ which, and above the ark, Jehovah speaks with Moses. And the cherubim rest upon the golden mercy-seat, or ‘propitiatory,’ symbolizing, with special emphasis and clearness, the mercifulness of God (Exodus 34:6 f.), and His readiness to forgive sin which has been repented of, and duly purged away (p. 332) by a propitiatory rite. The purification of the altar of burnt-offering (see on Exodus 29:36 f.), and the anointing of the Tabernacle and its vessels after their completion (Exodus 30:26-29), signified that objects designed for sacred purposes must be properly consecrated before being actually used in the service of Jehovah. And the ascending degrees of sanctity, attaching to the court, the Holy place, and the Holy of holies, marked both by the materials of which they were constructed, and by the fact that while the people generally might enter the court, only the priests could enter the Holy place, and only the high priest, and he only once a year, and that ‘not without blood,’ the Holy of holies, safeguarded, in an impressive and significant manner, the holiness of God; and shewed that, though the way to Him was open, it was open only under restrictions (Heb Exo 9:8), and especially that the Presence of God Himself could be approached only by those who were, in a special sense, ‘holy’ (cf. Lev Exo 19:2), and who carried with them the blood of atonement. According to the historical view of the Old Testament, these truths and principles do not date from Moses’ time, but were acquired gradually as the result of divinely guided meditation and reflection upon sacred things: but the question the actual date at which they were acquired does not affect their reality and value.
The symbolical meanings attached to the Tabernacle and its vessels, vestments of the high priest, &c., by Josephus and Philo (see Westcott, Hebrews, p. 238 f.), are cleverly drawn out, and testify to the reverence and regard with which the Tabernacle was viewed, but are too remote to possess probability.
In the NT. the Tabernacle is explained symbolically from a different point of view. In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is represented as constructed so as to reproduce a heavenly archetype—not a mere architect’s model, such as Exodus 25:9 would naturally suggest, but—a real and eternal heavenly original, the genuine ‘tent,’ pitched by God, not man (Exodus 8:2),—‘a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, and not of this creation,’ i.e. not of this visible order of things (Exodus 9:11),—whether by this is meant heaven itself, or an ideal celestial temple in heaven,—of which the earthly tabernacle is merely a secondary representation, a copy (ὑπόδειγμα, Exodus 8:5, Exodus 9:23 : cf. Wis 9:8) and shadow (Exodus 8:5), or counterpart (ἀντίτυπα τῶν ἀληθινῶν). And into this heavenly Temple, the archetype of the earthly tabernacle, Christ, the ideal and perfect High Priest, entered, like the Jewish high priest, only not with the blood of animal victims, but with His own blood, to appear before God, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Exodus 9:12; Exodus 9:23-26; cf. on Leviticus 16). Thus while Josephus and Philo regarded the Tabernacle as a microcosm, or ‘epitome of that which is presented on a larger scale in the world of finite being’ (Westcott, p. 240), the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews regards it as the temporal and material counterpart of an eternal and invisible temple in heaven. The Tabernacle further corresponds to Christ’s humanity. God ‘dwelt’ in the midst of His people in the ‘Dwelling’ (Exodus 25:9) of a tent; and the Word, when He took flesh, ‘dwelt as in a tent or tabernacle’ (ἐσκήνωσεν) among us, and manifested His ‘glory’ to the world (John 1:14). And entrance into (the presence of God, which was all but closed under the older Dispensation, is now opened, by the blood of Jesus, ‘through a new and living way, which he hath dedicated for us, through the veil, that is to say, through his flesh’ (Hebrews 10:20); on which A. B. Davidson (ad loc.) remarks, ‘This beautiful allegorizing of the veil cannot of course be made part of a consistent and complete typology. It is not meant for this. But as the veil stood locally before the holiest in the Mosaic Tabernacle, the way into which lay through it, so Christ’s life in the flesh stood between Him and His entrance before God, and His flesh had to be rent ere He could enter.’
There is no question that the Tent of Meeting, as described by J and E, is historical; but there are strong reasons for holding that the Tent of Meeting, as described by P, represents an ideal, and had no historical reality. See on this question p. 426 ff.
The execution of the directions given in chs. 25–31 is narrated in chs. 35–40, and (Exodus 29:1-37) Leviticus 8,—mostly in the same words, with merely the future tenses changed into pasts, but with a few cases of abridgment, omission, and transposition. In the notes on 25–31 the passages in 35–40 which correspond are noted at the beginning of each paragraph by ‘cf.’
The general structure and character of the Tabernacle are perfectly clear: but great difficulty and uncertainty attach to some of the details. It is impossible within the limits of the present commentary to discuss the doubtful or disputed points. The following notes are indebted frequently to Kennedy’s full and illuminative art. Tabernacle in DB.; a statement and criticism of divergent views upon the principal doubtful points will be found in Benzinger’s ably written art. Tabernacle in EB.
Contents:—The altar of Incense, Exodus 30:1-10; the maintenance of public service, Exodus 30:11-16; the Bronze Laver, Exodus 30:17-21; the composition of the holy Anointing Oil, Exodus 30:22-23; the composition of the Incense, Exodus 30:24-38; the nomination of Bĕẓal’çl and Oholiab to construct, or take the chief part in constructing, the Tabernacle, and its appurtenances, Exodus 31:1-11; the observance of the Sabbath, Exodus 31:12-17; Moses receives from God the two tables of stone, preparatory to descending from the mount, Exodus 31:18. The whole, except Exodus 31:18 b, belongs to P. There are, however, strong reasons for holding that it does not belong to P proper, but to a posterior and secondary stratum of P (P2), of which there are indications also in other parts of the Pentateuch. It is surprising to find the Altar of Incense, which from its importance might have seemed to demand a place in ch. 25, among the other sacred vessels of the Tabernacle, mentioned for the first time in Exo Exodus 30:1-10, when the directions respecting the Tabernacle seem to be complete, and brought to a solemn close by the promise in Exodus 29:43-46 that Jehovah will take up His abode in the sanctuary so constructed: even in Exodus 26:34 f., where the position of the vessels in the Tabernacle is defined, the Altar of Incense is not named. In Exodus 30:10 an annual rite of atonement is prescribed to be performed upon it; but in Leviticus 16, where the ceremonial of the day of atonement is described in detail, no notice of such a rite is to be found; and only one altar, the altar of Burnt-offering, is mentioned throughout the chapter (on v. 18 see Dillm. and Keil, who agree that the order of the ceremonial in vv. 16b–18 shews the altar of Burnt-offering to be here meant). Further, a number of passages occur, in which the altar of Burnt-offering is referred to as ‘the altar,’ implying apparently that there was no other (e.g. chs. 27–29; Leviticus 1-3, 5-6, 8, 9, 16). Hence it seems that the Tabernacle, as pictured in the original legislation of P, contained no incense altar (incense being offered on pans or censers, Leviticus 10:1; Leviticus 16:12, Numbers 16:6-7, &c.), and that both this and other passages in which it is spoken of (Exodus 30:27, Exodus 31:8, Exodus 35:15, Exodus 37:25, Exodus 39:38, Exodus 40:5; Exodus 40:26, Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18, Numbers 4:11), or which term ‘the Altar’ of Exodus 27:1, &c., as though for distinction, ‘the altar of Burnt-offering’ (as Exodus 30:28, Exodus 31:9, Exodus 35:16, Exodus 38:1, Exodus 40:6; Exodus 40:10; Exodus 40:29, Leviticus 4), or ‘the Bronze altar’ (Exodus 38:30, Exodus 39:39), belong to a secondary stratum of P. The other subjects treated in chs. 30–31 are such as would naturally find place in an Appendix, or (remarkably enough) occasion similar difficulties. Thus in Exodus 29:7 (cf. 29), Leviticus 8:12, the ceremony of anointing is confined to the high priest (Aaron): in Exodus 30:30 it is extended to the priests (his ‘sons’). The same extension recurs in Exodus 28:41, Exodus 40:15, Leviticus 7:36; Leviticus 10:7, Numbers 3:3. That the ceremony was regarded originally as limited to the high priest seems, however, to be confirmed by the title ‘the anointed priest’ applied to him (Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:5; Leviticus 4:16; Leviticus 6:22; cf. Leviticus 16:32; Leviticus 21:10; Leviticus 21:12, Numbers 35:25), which, if the priests generally were anointed, would be destitute of any distinctive significance.
 Secondary strata of P (see p. xii top; pp. 328f., 378).
And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.1. incense] Heb. ḳeṭôreth, ‘sweet smoke’ (see on Exodus 29:13), which may denote, according to the context, either the ‘sweet smoke’ rising from animal sacrifices (Psalm 66:15; and perhaps usually in the earlier literature, Deuteronomy 33:10, 1 Samuel 2:28, Isaiah 1:13), or the sweet smoke rising from ‘incense’ (so always in P and Chron.).
1–10. The Altar of incense: its construction and place (vv. 1–6), and its use (vv. 7–10).
1–6 (cf. Exodus 37:25-28, Exodus 40:26). The altar of incense was to be of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, a cubit (1½ ft.) broad and long, and 2 cubits (3 ft.) high; at its upper corners were to be four horns (cf. Exodus 27:2); a rim or moulding of gold was to run round it, probably near its top; and close under this moulding, on two of the opposite sides, there were to be two gold rings to receive the poles for carrying it. It was to stand in the Holy place, directly in front of the mercy-seat. A remarkable incense-altar, decorated with lions and composite animal figures, has been found at Taanach (see the writer’s Schweich Lectures, p. 84 f., with an illustration); but it bears no resemblance to the altar here described.
A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.2. the horns, &c.] see on Exodus 27:2; also, for of one piece with it, Exodus 25:31. The blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled upon the horns of this altar in the cases specified in Exodus 30:10, Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.3. pure gold] see on Exodus 25:3. From being thus overlaid wholly (except at the bottom) with gold, it was also called the golden altar (Exodus 39:38, Exodus 40:5; Exodus 40:26, Numbers 4:11).
sides] Heb. walls: so of the Bronze altar, Leviticus 1:15; Leviticus 5:9.
a crown] a rim or moulding: see on Exodus 25:11, and cf. Exodus 25:24.
And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.4. upon the two ribs thereof] i.e. upon its flanks or sides, a common metaph. sense of ‘rib’ in Heb. (see on Exodus 25:12). The words seem tautologous beside the following ‘upon the two sides of it’; either they have come in here by error, through a recollection of Exodus 27:12, or (Di.) the expression denotes the extreme ends of the two sides, near the corners.
sides] not as v. 3, but the usual word for ‘side,’ Exodus 26:13, &c.
4, 5. The rings and acacia-wood poles, for the transport of the altar, as in the case of the ark (Exodus 25:12-15), the table of Presence bread (Exodus 25:26-28), and the Bronze altar (Exodus 27:4-7).
And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.5. Cf. Exodus 25:13; Exodus 25:28, Exodus 27:6.
And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.6. the veil, &c.] See Exodus 26:31; Exodus 26:33.
by] before (as Exodus 27:21 for the same Heb.) would be clearer: in front of might then be used instead of ‘before’ (twice).
the testimony] i.e. the commandments written on the two tables of stone: see on Exodus 25:16.
meet with thee] cf. Exo Exodus 25:22, Exo Exodus 29:42.
And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.7. burn] properly, make to exhale (or make into) sweet smoke, as Exodus 29:13 (see the note).
sweet spices] see on v. 34.
when he dresseth the lamps] cf. on Exodus 27:21.
7–10. Incense is to be burnt upon the altar twice a day by the high priest, in the morning when the lamps are removed from the candlestick for trimming, and in the evening when they are replaced and lighted. Atonement is to be made for it once a year by the blood of the sin-offering (Leviticus 16:15-19) being applied to its horns.
And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.8. lighteth] fixeth on: see on Exodus 25:37.
at even] between the two evenings, as Exodus 29:39 : see on Exodus 12:6.
perpetual] better, continual: the expression is a standing one; see on Exodus 29:42.
before Jehovah] as Exodus 29:25, and constantly in the priestly laws.
Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.9. The altar is to be reserved exclusively for incense, and for incense moreover made from the authorized prescription (v. 34 ff.).
strange] i.e. strange to the law, unauthorized; cf. ‘strange fire,’ Leviticus 10:1, Numbers 3:4; Numbers 26:61. Comp. on Exodus 29:33; and see DB. iv. 623.
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.10. An annual rite of atonement to be performed for it. The law presupposes Leviticus 16 (which prescribes the ceremonial of the annual Day of Atonement), and is thus later than it. Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 16:18; Leviticus 16:20 prescribes a rite of atonement for the Holy place, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar of burnt-offering, but none for the altar of incense: the present verse supplies the deficiency.
upon the horns of it] by putting some of the blood of the sin-offering of atonement (the goat for the people of Leviticus 16:5; Leviticus 16:15-19) upon them: cf. Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18. The marg. for may be disregarded.
for it] to preserve it, like the other sacred objects, in its ideal holiness: cf. Exodus 29:36, with the note.
most holy] see on Exodus 29:37.
make atonement] both here and elsewhere make propitiation would be a better rend. of kipper, and propitiation, &c., of its derivatives (cf. propitiatory, suggested on Exodus 25:17 for kappôreth): not only is this the idea of the word, but kipper and its derivatives are usually represented in LXX. by (ἐξ)ιλάσκομαι‚ ἱλασμός, &c., which in the NT. are expressed in English by ‘(make) propitiation’ (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Hebrews 2:17 RV.): an important link of connexion between OT. and NT. is thus lost, when, of the two corresponding terms, the rend. is atonement in the OT. and propitiation in the NT. (note that in NT. ‘atonement’ occurs in AV. Romans 5:11 only, RV. reconciliation; in RV. never). For a fuller discussion of the meaning and use of the Heb. term, reference must be made to the notes on Leviticus 4, and to the writer’s art. Propitiation in DB.; see also H. M. P. Smith’s arts. in the Biblical World (Chicago), Jan., Feb., Mar., 1908. Here it can only be briefly explained that kipper is used in two applications: (1) with a human subject, to make appeasement or propitiation, Exodus 32:30 (see the note), Genesis 32:20, 2 Samuel 21:3 (cf. in the passive, the implicit subject being some act or rite, 1 Samuel 3:14, Deuteronomy 21:8 b, Isaiah 6:7; Isaiah 22:14; Isaiah 27:9, Proverbs 16:6); so in P, where the subject is always either the priest, or (rarely) an offering, and the means of effecting the propitiation usually a sacrifice (as ch. Exodus 29:36-37, Leviticus 1:4), but occasionally some other act or offering (as below, vv. 15, 16, Numbers 25:13 : see further details in DB. iv. 130); (2) with God as subject, to treat propitiously (EVV. to be merciful, forgive, &c.) either an offender (Deuteronomy 21:8 a, Deuteronomy 32:43, Ezekiel 16:63, 2 Chronicles 30:18) or an offence (Jeremiah 18:23, Psalm 65:3; Psalm 78:38; Psalm 79:9, Daniel 9:24). The actual meanings, and usages, of kipper can be determined from the OT. itself (see DB. l.c.). Whether, however, as used to be supposed, its primary meaning was either (Arab.) to cover, or (Syr.) to wipe away, is very doubtful. In Ass. kapâru, it seems, means properly to remove; kuppuru is to remove ritual impurity from a person or thing; and the word appears to have come into Heb. with the sense of ritual purgation attaching to it, and to have been developed there so as to express the ideas of purge away (sin) ritually, declare purged, remove guilt or cause of offence, appease, &c. See Langdon, Exp. Times, April 1911, p. 320 ff.; cf. Zimmern, KAT.3 601 f.
 Die Keilinschriften und das A T., 1903, by H. Zimmern (pp. 345–653) and H. Winckler (pp. 1–342).
11–16 (cf. Exodus 38:24-31). The ransom of souls at a census. When a census of the people is taken, every man is to pay half a (silver) shekel to Jehovah as a ransom for his life, that no ‘plague’ break out among the people: the proceeds of the tax to be applied to the maintenance of the daily services in the sanctuary. It must have been a popular belief, current at the time when this law was drawn up, that a census was dangerous to the lives of the persons numbered (cf. 2 Samuel 24), whether because it was likely to give rise to feelings of self-satisfaction and pride, or because it tended to bring the sins and imperfections of individuals prominently before God’s notice: every adult male of the community was therefore to pay a ‘ransom’ (Exodus 21:30) for his life, by which he, as it were, purchased it for himself and secured it against peril of death. The Gallas of E. Africa believe that to count their cattle impedes the increase of the flock; and the Lapps, at least formerly, would not count themselves, for fear of the great mortality which they supposed would ensue (Frazer, p. 174 of the volume cited on Exodus 23:19 b). And an Arab is averse to counting the tents, or horsemen, or cattle of his tribe, lest some misfortune befal them (Burckhardt, Travels, p. 74 f.). In 2 Chronicles 24:6; 2 Chronicles 24:9 (in two passages added by the Chronicler to the original narrative of 2 Kings 12:7-9) it is stated that the tax here imposed was enforced—though not apparently upon occasion of a census—by Joash.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.12. takest the sum] so Numbers 1:2; Numbers 1:49.
numbered … numberest] The verb means lit. to visit (viz. to see how many they are), i.e. to review, muster, inspect. So vv. 13, 14, Numbers 1:3; Numbers 1:19, and often in Nu. 1.–4, 26; 2 Samuel 18:1; 2 Samuel 24:2.
a ransom for his soul] i.e. for his life (‘soul’ as the seat of life, as Exodus 21:23; Exodus 21:30, and constantly): ‘ransom’ (kôpher), in the sense of price for a life, as Exodus 21:30, where see the note.
that there be no plague (Exodus 12:13) &c.] cf. Numbers 8:19.
This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.13. passeth over, &c.] viz. before the officer who took the census, to those that are numbered, and who stand on the other side. Cf. to ‘pass over’ (of sheep being numbered) Leviticus 27:32, Jeremiah 33:13; and in 2 Samuel 2:15 Heb.
half] not the usual Heb. word for ‘half’; in the Hex, found only in P (11 times), and only 4 times elsewhere. So Exodus 30:15; Exodus 30:23, Exodus 38:26.
the shekel of the sanctuary] Exodus 38:24-26, Leviticus 5:15; Leviticus 27:3; Leviticus 27:25, Numbers 3:47; Numbers 3:50; Numbers 3:7 (14 times), Exodus 18:16† (all P). Some standard (silver) ‘shekel’ is plainly alluded to: it is not known certainly what. A standard (silver) shekel, of full weight (as opposed to worn shekels in common use), preserved in the sanctuary, has been thought of. Or, as the expression may be rendered with equal, not to say, greater propriety, the sacred shekel (LXX. σίκλος ὁ ἅγιος), and as moreover the Mishnah (Bekhôrôth viii. 7) expressly enjoins that ‘all payments according to the sacred shekel are to be made in Tyrian (i.e. Phoenician) money,’ in which the silver shekel weighed 224 grs., it may (Kennedy, DB. iv. 422; G. F. Hill, EB. Shekel, § 5) denote the ancient Hebrew silver shekel (which had the same weight as the Phoenician silver shekel), called ‘sacred’ because it was the traditional standard by which sacred dues were paid (see further ll.cc.). A silver shekel of 224 grains would weigh just 6 grains more than an English half-crown: at the present value of silver (2 Samuel 3 d. an oz.) it would be worth about 1 Samuel 1 d.
the shekel is twenty gerahs] The same definition recurs Leviticus 27:25, Numbers 3:47; Numbers 18:16; and in Ezekiel 45:12 (of his shekel, though not called ‘sacred’). The gçrâh (only in these passages) is rendered ὀβολὸς by LXX., and by Onk. mâ‘âh, also = an obol, the weight of which in 4–3 cent. b.c. was c. 11.21 grs.: this would make the ‘sacred’ shekel (=20 gçrâhs) c. 224.2 grs.
The later institution of an annual Temple-tax of a half-shekel (Matthew 17:24 RV.: Gk. τὰ δίδραχμα, ‘the double drachm’) is based ultimately on this passage. The drachm was worth 6 obols: and the double drachm (= 12 obols) was taken as the equivalent of a half-shekel (= 10 obols): cf. DB. iii. 422b, 428b; EB. iv. 4446, 4786.
an offering] a contribution, Heb. terûmâh (see on Exodus 25:2); here of a contribution levied on,—or, to preserve the figure of the original, taken off,—the whole of a man’s property for sacred purposes. So vv. 14, 15.
Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.14. from twenty years old and upward] i.e. from adult age.
The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.15. Rich and poor are to contribute alike, for both stand in the same relation towards Jehovah.
And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.16. for the service, &c.] i.e. for the maintenance of the daily worship in the Tent of Meeting, the morning and evening sacrifices, &c. The reference cannot be to the work of erecting the sanctuary; for (1) the injunction is general (When thou takest the sum, &c.), not specific (And thou shalt take, &c.); and (2) even supposing it were specific, the first census according to P is the one in Numbers 1, which (v. 1 compared with Exodus 40:2; Exodus 40:17) took place a month after the sanctuary was completed and put up.
be a memorial, &c.] to keep Jehovah in continual remembrance of the ransom which had been paid for their lives: cf. Exodus 28:12; Exodus 28:29, Numbers 10:10; Numbers 31:54.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,17–21. The bronze Laver (cf. Exodus 38:8, Exodus 40:30). This was for the priests to wash their hands and feet in, before entering into the Tent of Meeting, or offering sacrifice: it was to stand in the court, in front of the Tent of Meeting, between it and the (bronze) altar. The shape and dimensions of this laver are not prescribed. In Solomon’s Temple there were ten lavers, each of large size, for the same purpose (1 Kings 7:38 f.).
Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.18. Thou shalt also make] Heb. And thou shalt make.
brass] bronze or copper, as always: see on Exodus 25:3. The metal, according to Exodus 38:8, was obtained from the mirrors of the women who ‘served in the host’ (see the note).
base] some kind of pedestal, upon which it rested.
For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:
When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:20. that they die not] cf. Exodus 28:35, with the note.
So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.21. a statute for ever, &c.] see on Exodus 12:14, and Exodus 28:43.
22–33 (cf. Exodus 37:29 a). The holy Anointing Oil. An aromatic oil to be prepared, by mixing, in stated proportions, olive oil with (probably) the essences of myrrh, cinnamon, sweet-smelling cane, and cassia; and the Tent of Meeting, with its appurtenances, as also Aaron and his sons, to be anointed with it, as a mark of consecration to Jehovah. The oil thus prepared to be reserved exclusively for sacred purposes.
Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,22. Moreover] Heb. And.
Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,23. Take thou also] And thou (emph.), take: cf. on Exodus 27:20.
spices] such as were brought to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, and others (1 Kings 10:2; 1 Kings 10:10; 1 Kings 10:15), and prized by the Hebrews (Song of Solomon 4:10; Song of Solomon 4:14; Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 5:13; Isaiah 39:2). For chief (i.e. finest, best), cf. Song of Solomon 4:14, Ezekiel 27:22; and for the Heb. idiom here, G.-K. § 131d.
flowing myrrh] cf. Song of Solomon 5:5; Song of Solomon 5:13, which likewise imply a liquid. Modern ‘myrrh’ (the produce of Balsamodendron Myrrha, indigenous in Yemen and E. Africa) is, however, a solid, and also devoid, or nearly so, of aroma: the liquid môr of the Hebrews appears to have been what is now called the ‘Balsam of Mecca,’ a ‘greenish turbid fluid of syrupy consistence, having a very grateful odour, something like oil of rosemary,’ the product of Balsamodendron opobalsamum, a tree which grows abundantly on the coast territory of Arabia, and for which in ancient times Jericho was especially celebrated (see Sir W. Thiselton-Dyer’s art. Balsam in EB.: the art. Myrrh is briefer).
five hundred shekels] probably about 16 lbs. av. (DB. iv. 906a).
sweet-smelling cinnamon] Cinnamon is mentioned also in Proverbs 7:17, Song of Solomon 4:14, Revelation 18:13†. Modern cinnamon is the fragrant inner bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum, a plant of the laurel family, and is obtained from Ceylon. The cinnamon of the ancients, however, came from S. China (the Indians, Persians, and Arabians called it Chinese wood), and was probably the Cinnamomum cassia (see EB. s.v.). ‘The Greeks and Romans used cinnamon as an unguent: the cinnama rara was highly prized by them (Theophr. plant. ix. 7; Diosc. i. 13; Martial iv. 13. 3); and the unguentum cinnamomimum was very costly (Plin. xiii. 2; Athen. p. 439, 690)’ (Kn.). ‘Sweet-smelling’ cinnamon would be cinnamon of the best kind: there were other kinds which yielded an inferior fragrance (Diosc. l.c., Theophr. ix. 5, cited by Kn.).
sweet calamus] better, sweet-smelling cane (the word is the ordinary Heb. one for ‘cane’ or ‘reed’), elsewhere called ‘the goodly cane from a far country’ (Jeremiah 6:20), or cane alone, Isaiah 43:14, Ezekiel 27:19, Song of Solomon 4:14 : the κάλαμος ἀρωματικός, calamus odoratus of the classical writers, which ‘came from India (cf. the ‘far country’ of Jer.), and was used both as incense and medicinally (Diosc. i. 17), and also as an ingredient in unguents (Theophr. ix. 7, Plin. xiii.2, xii. 48)’ (Kn.). It may have been what is now known in India as the Lemon grass (cf. NHB. 439; DB. iv. 213a). Cf. in Ass. ritual, EB. iv. 4123.
And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:24. cassia] Ezekiel 27:19†: Heb. ḳiddâh, prob. the same as the κιττώ, spoken of by Diosc. (i. 12) as one species of κασία; Vulg. cassia. The word in Psalm 45:8† is different (ḳeẓî‘ôth, things scraped off, i.e. scraped or powdered bark); but doubtless denotes either the same or a kindred substance. The κασία, cassia of the ancients (Theophr. ix. 5; Plin. xii. 19) is probably the same as the modern ‘cassia,’ viz. the inner bark, peeled off and dried in the sun, of a species of cinnamon tree, found in S. India and Malacca, which yields an inferior kind of cinnamon (see further EB. s.v.). Costus (RVm.; also written above the text in one MS. of LXX., Graec. Ven., and Saad.) is another oriental aromatic plant (Costus Arabicus, L.), used in the preparation of unguents: Hor. Carm. iii. 1, 44; Plin. xii. Exodus 12, 25, xiii. 1, 2). All these foreign aromatic substances would come by trade-routes from the distant East, whether over-land by way of Babylon, or by sea, round Arabia (see G. A. Smith, Trade and Commerce in EB. §§ 30, 40, 56, 58, 63, 71).
the shekel of the sanctuary] or the sacred shekel: see on v. 13.
an hin] prob. 1 1/3 gallon: see on Exodus 29:40.
And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.25. it] i.e. the olive oil of v. 24, by mixing it viz. with the other ingredients specified. ‘According to the Rabbis, the essences of the different spices were first extracted, and then mixed with the oil’ (Kn.).
a perfume, &c.] lit. a perfume of perfumery, the work of the perfumer (like the ‘work of the weaver,’ &c., see on Exodus 26:1 : so v. 35, Exodus 37:29). 1 Chronicles 9:30 (render ‘compounding the perfume of the spices’) shews that in the age of the Chronicler (c. 300 b.c.) the anointing oil was made by the ‘sons of the priests.’ For other allusions to perfumers or perfumery, see 1 Samuel 8:13 (RVm.), Isaiah 57:9, Nehemiah 3:8 (RVm.), Song of Solomon 5:13 (RVm.).
26–28 (cf. Leviticus 8:10 b–11). The Tent of meeting, the ark and other articles belonging to it, with their various vessels, to be all anointed with the aromatic oil thus produced. The command is repeated in Exodus 40:9-11 : cf. also Leviticus 8:10 b–11, Numbers 7:1, and (specially of the altar) Exodus 29:36, Numbers 7:10; Numbers 7:84; Numbers 7:88.
And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.29. The effect of the anointing is to sanctify the objects to which the process is applied (cf. Exodus 29:36).
most holy] See on Exodus 29:37.
shall become holy] i.e. be forfeited to the sanctuary, or, if a person (marg.), be given over to the Deity, that He may deal with him as He pleases. See further on Exodus 29:37.
Anointing1, in a religious sense, is in the OT. a symbolical act, denoting (1) the divine appointment, or consecration, of a person for a particular purpose, esp. a king (1 Samuel 10:1 and often), the high priest (Exodus 29:7), later also the ordinary priests (see on v. 30), and, at least once, a prophet, 1Ki Exo 19:16 b (cf., in a fig. sense, Isaiah 61:1); it is followed by, and is sometimes a figure of, the outpouring of the Spirit upon the person anointed (1 Samuel 10:6, cf. v. 1, Exodus 16:13; Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18), Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38, 2 Corinthians 1:21, 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27): (2) the consecration of a thing, viz. a sacred stone, Genesis 31:13 (see Exodus 28:18), Exodus 35:14 (so among the Greeks; see the writer’s Genesis, p. 267), the Tabernacle and its appurtenances (see on vv. 26–28), a future Altar of burnt-offering, Daniel 9:24 (see the note in the Camb. Bible). The practice of anointing is widely diffused in the world: the unguent—originally fat, regarded in primitive thought as an important seat of life—was regarded, it seems, at least primitively, as a vehicle transferring to the person or object anointed a Divine life or potency. See art. Anointing (Crawley and Jastrow) in Hastings’ Encycl. of Rel. and Ethics, i. (1908), 549–557, esp. 550, 554, 556 (cf. EB. s.v. i. 175); and for the anointing of priests, p. 552b, and of temples and other sacred objects, p. 553 f.
 Heb. mâshaḥ (whence ‘Messiaḥ’), to be carefully distinguished from anointing the head or person for the toilet (Heb. sûk) Deuteronomy 28:40, 2 Samuel 14:2 al. In NT. χρίω (fig., never lit.) corresponds to the former, and ἀλείφω (e.g. Matthew 6:17) to the latter.
And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.30. Aaron and his sons] In Exodus 29:7 (cf. Leviticus 8:12), 29 anointing is prescribed only for Aaron (the high priest), and his successors in the same office: and that originally it was only the high priest who was anointed seems to follow from the fact that he is called distinctively ‘the anointed priest,’ Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:5; Leviticus 4:16; Leviticus 6:22 (cf. Exodus 16:32, Exodus 21:10; Exodus 21:12, Numbers 35:25). The extension of the ceremony to his ‘sons’ (the ordinary priests) must represent a later usage: it is found here, Exodus 28:41, Exodus 40:15, Leviticus 7:36; Leviticus 10:7, Numbers 3:3. It is difficult to resist the inference that these passages belong to a later stratum of P. The reference can hardly be to the sprinkling with oil and blood noticed in Exodus 29:21, Leviticus 8:30; for this is not termed ‘anointing,’ and is subsequent to the anointing proper (Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 8:12).
And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.31. throughout your generations] See on Exodus 12:14.
31–33. The oil thus prepared to be reserved exclusively for the sacred purposes thus specified.
Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.32. of man] i.e. of ordinary men (cf. Psalm 82:7, Isaiah 8:1, Hosea 6:7 [2nd marg.]).
poured] poured for anointing, viz. for the toilet; the Heb. word (sûk) being the one used distinctively in this connexion (footnote, p. 337).
Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.33. a stranger] i.e. one not authorized to be anointed with it = one not of the seed of Aaron: cf. on Exodus 29:33.
shall be cut off, &c.] a formula signifying emphatically the Divine disapproval: see on Exodus 12:15.
from his father’s kin] The word, though it is externally the same as the ordinary Heb. word for ‘a people,’ is plural: as it is impossible to speak of a man’s ‘peoples,’ the word, when it is so used, must have some different meaning; and this is shewn by Arabic (where ‘am means both patruus and patruelis) to be father’s kin (cf. EB. iii. 3289). The word, in this sense, is almost entirely confined to P: with to be cut off from it occurs in it 12 times, and with to be gathered to (Genesis 25:8 al.) 9 times.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:34. sweet spices] In the Heb. one word, sammim (plur.),—from the same root as the Arab. shamma, to ‘smell,’—not the one rendered ‘spices’ (besâmim) in v. 3, and, to judge from Exodus 25:6 (‘besâmim for …, and for the incense of sammim’), a narrower term than that: used exclusively (but only in P and Chr.) of the materials of which the incense was made, and mostly in the expression ‘incense of sweet spices’ (sometimes rendered ‘sweet incense’) v. 7, Exodus 25:6, Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 16:12 al.; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 13:11 (both passages written by the Chronicler himself). It might be rendered for distinctness (cf. EB. iv. 4746), fragrant powders.
stacte] Heb. nâṭâph†, from nâṭaph, to drip. Some fragrant oil or resin is evidently meant; it is uncertain what. ‘Stacté’ is a transliteration of LXX. στακτη, Vulg. stacte, meaning also something that drips or trickles. Stacte was the Gk. and Lat. name of a very fragrant and costly kind of myrrh (σμύρνα), variously described by the ancients as an oil ‘dripping’ from crushed myrrh, either alone (Theophr. Odor. 29; on the text, see Schneider’s note: cf. Diosc. i. 77) or mixed with a little water (Diosc. i. 73), or as prepared from crushed myrrh dissolved in oil (Theophr. l.c.), or as exuding spontaneously from the tree (Plin. H.N. xii. 15, § 68). Myrrh-oil would be a clearer rend. Lucr. (ii. 847) mentions the ‘blandum stactaeque liquorem’; and Plautus (Truc. ii. 5, 23) speaks of it as burnt on the altar to Lucina. This rend, of LXX. seems probable: still we do not know that it is right: it may be founded merely on the agreement of meaning between nâṭâph and ‘stacte.’ Ges. (Thes.) identified nâṭâph with the gum of the storax tree (NHB. 395 f.), a beautiful perfumed shrub, abundant on the lower hills of Palestine, the gum of which (Diosc. i. 79) is still used in Syria as a perfume. The Rabbis identified it with ẓŏri (EVV. ‘balm’), and said that it was so called because it ‘dripped’ from the tree called ḳeṭâph, i.e. (Kimchi, Book of Roots, s.v.) the balsam-tree: hence, no doubt, RVm. opobalsamum (‘juice-balsam,’ as opposed to xylobalsamum, ‘wood-balsam,’ the scented twigs of the balsam-tree), an aromatic gum obtained (Diosc. i. 18; Plin. H.N. xii. 25, § 116, cf. § 118) from the Judaean balsam-tree by incisions in the bark. If however the môr of v. 23 (see the note there) was really the juice or gum of the balsam-tree, it is hardly likely to have been called here by a different name.
onycha] Heb. sheḥçleth†; LXX. ὄνυξ, Vulg. onyx, whence EVV. onycha (cf. Sir 24:15); i.e. unguis odoratus, the ‘operculum,’ or closing flap, called ὄνυξ from its resemblance to the nail, of certain molluscs, which, when burnt, emits a strong aromatic odour1. Onycha is still gathered along the coasts of the Red Sea; and is largely used as an ingredient in the perfumery of Arab women (EB. s.v.); it is also said to be the principal component of incense in India and elsewhere (Kn.).
 Cf. Diosc. ii.10, as cited by Röd. in Ges. Thes. p. 1388: Ὄνυξ ἐστὶ πῶμα κογχυλίου ὅμοιον τῷ τῆς πορφύρας, εὑρισκόμενον ἐν τῇ Ἰνδίᾳ ἐν ταῖς ναρδοφόροις λίμναις (and also, he adds, though of a different kind, in the Red Sea): ἀμφότεροι δὲ εὐώδεις θυμιώμενοι, καστορίζοντες ποσῶς τῇ ὀσμῇ.
galbanum] Heb. ḥelbenâh†; LXX. χαλβάνη, Vulg. galbanum. This was the resin of an umbelliferous plant, used by the ancients medicinally, and also, from its pungent odour, when burnt, to keep off insects (Plin. xix. 58 al.), to expel serpents from stables (Verg. G. iii. 415 ‘Galbaneoque agitare graves nidore chelydros’), and revive sick bees (ib. iv. 264 ‘Hic iam galbaneos suadebo incendere odors’). Diosc. (iii. 87) and Theophr. (ix. 7) speak of galbanum as obtained from a Syrian νάρθηξ: but in modern times it seems to be almost entirely a product of Persia (EB.).
sweet spices, with] (even) fragrant powders, and. But probably the tautologous ‘fragrant powders’ is merely repeated by error from the previous line.
frankincense] Heb. lěbônâh (‘whiteness,’ with reference doubtless to the milky form in which it exudes from the tree), a fragrant gum-resin, obtained, by means of incisions, from trees belonging to certain species of the genus Boswelliana. These are now found mostly in Somali-land; but the most famous growth in ancient times was in the mountains of Shĕbâ, or the Sabaeans, in S. Arabia (EB. s.v.: cf. Bent, S. Arabia, 1900, pp. 89, 91, 234 f., &c.: comp. Jeremiah 6:20 (‘frankincense from Shĕbâ’), Isaiah 60:6; Verg. G. i. 117 ‘solis est turea virga Sabaeis,’ Aen. i. 416 f. ‘centumque Sabaeo Ture calent arae’). Frankincense is mentioned first in Jer. (Jeremiah 6:20, Jeremiah 17:26, Jeremiah 41:5); elsewhere only in P (here; Leviticus 2:1 f., Leviticus 2:15 f., Exodus 6:15 as a concomitant of the meal-offering, cf. Exodus 5:11, Numbers 5:15; Leviticus 24:7 as placed on the Presence-bread), II Isaiah (Isaiah 43:23, Isaiah 60:6, Isaiah 66:3), 1 Chronicles 9:29; and, for its fragrance, Song of Solomon 3:6; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 4:14. The epithet pure, or better, clear (zakkâh; LXX. διαφανῆ), is meant probably to denote the superior kind called by Theophr. (ix. 4) καθαρὸν καὶ διαφανῆ, ‘pure and transparent,’ and said by Pliny (xii. 32) to be that gathered in autumn. Knobel states that he had some incense prepared according to this receipt in the laboratory of a colleague at Giessen, and that its odour was ‘strong, refreshing, and very agreeable.’
34–38. The holy Incense (cf. Exodus 37:29 b). Incense to be made, of, four specified ingredients, mixed together in equal proportions, and tempered with salt, for use upon the altar of incense (vv. 7 f.). Incense of the same composition to be used for no other purpose.
And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:35. a perfume, the work of the perfumer] as v. 25.
seasoned with salt] salted (cf. Sir 49:1 Heb.). In spite of the Versions (‘mixed’; and so RVm. = AV. tempered together [without ‘with salt’]), this is the only rend. which philology permits (so Ges. Di. Bä. &c.). ‘Seasoned with salt’ is, however, a doubtful paraphrase; for the incense was not a food. Salt, from its purifying and antiseptic properties, may have been added to the other ingredients, as symbolical of what was wholesome and sound; it has also been supposed (J. D. Michaelis, as cited by Di. and Bä.) that it may have been used, as causing the incense to kindle more rapidly, for the purpose of diffusing a wider cloud of smoke. The incense used in the Herodian temple is stated by Jos. (B.J. v. 5. 5) and the Talm, to have consisted of thirteen ingredients: see EB. ii. 2167.
pure] a different word from the ‘pure’ of v. 34, and meaning free from adulteration, or other impurities.
And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.36. beat some of it very small] cf. Leviticus 16:12 ‘incense beaten small.’ The ingredients named in v. 34 were mixed together, and then apparently melted down into a solid mass: small portions of this were broken off, from time to time, and beaten into a powder, which was then placed ready for use, every morning and evening (v. 7), outside the veil, near the altar of incense. Or (Di.) ‘put’ may mean, put upon the altar and burn.
before the testimony] i.e. before the ark, as Exodus 16:34 : see on Exodus 25:16.
meet with thee] See on Exodus 25:22.
most holy] See on Exodus 29:37. The anointing oil, not being brought into such close proximity to Jehovah, was only ‘holy’ (v. 32).
And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.37. thereof] i.e. of the incense described in v. 34.
37, 38. Incense of this composition to be used exclusively in the service of Jehovah. Cf. v. 32 f.
Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.38. cut off from his father’s kin] See on v. 33.
The use of incense in religious ceremonies is very widespread, and many different substances have been used for the purpose—woods, barks, dried flowers, grasses, seeds, resins, gums (Enc. Brit. ed. 9, xii. 718). On Egyptian monuments the references to incense are numerous (Wilk.-B. iii. 398 f., with illustr. of censers,—bronze cups supported by long handles); large quantities of it were consumed in the temples (Erman, 300 f.,—with fabulous figures); and expeditions were constantly sent to the land of ‘Punt’ (Somali) to procure fragrant gums (ibid. 505–514). Plutarch (de Isid. et Osir. p. 383) describes the Eg. perfume called kyphi, which was used both for the toilet and as incense, consisting of sixteen ingredients (Erm. 232; Wilk.-B. iii. 398). There are also many references to incense (ḳuṭrinnu; cf. Heb. ḳeṭôreth) in Ass. and Bab. inscriptions. The use is also often alluded to by the classical writers. See further Incense in EB.; or, most fully, Atchley, Hist. of the use of Incense in Divine worship (1909), pp. 1–77 (on the pre- and non-Christian use of it).
The origin of this use of incense is uncertain. The Oriental has a partiality for aromatic odours: he enjoys them himself; he perfumes his person, his garments, and his house with them; and he offers them to guests and rulers whom he desires to honour (DB. ii. 468a; Lane, Mod. Eg. i. 175, 256: cf. Proverbs 7:17, Song of Solomon 3:6, Psalm 45:9). Men naturally believe that what is grateful to themselves is also pleasing to the deity. If, however, the use of incense originated in a primitive, or semi-primitive people, another motive may have contributed to its adoption: it may have been regarded as a means of driving away evil spirits (cf. Tob 6:7; Tob 8:2 f.) from the precincts of a sanctuary. Cf. Atchley, pp. 61–77. In Numbers 16:46 P (cf. Wis 18:21) an atoning efficacy is attributed to the burning of incense. And in later times incense, rising heavenwards in a cloud, came to be regarded as a spiritual symbol of prayer (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 8:3 f., Exodus 5:8).