Matthew Poole's Commentary
And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.He commands to make an altar for incense, and of what, Exodus 30:1. The length and breadth of it, Exodus 30:2. The form of it, Exodus 30:3-6. Whereon the priest was to kindle incense every morning, being commanded, Exodus 30:7. All the children of Israel to bring half a shekel for their souls, Exodus 30:11-16. A laver of brass, Exodus 30:17,18; wherein Aaron and his sons wash their hands and their feet, Exodus 30:19-21. The making the oil of holy ointment, Exodus 30:22-25. Its use, Exodus 30:26-28. None might make the like, Exodus 30:32,33. The composition of the perfume, Exodus 30:34-38.
Incense signifies the prayers of God’s people, Psalm 141:2 Revelation 8:3; which are not acceptable to God except they be offered upon the true altar, Christ. This incense also was useful to correct the bad smell of the sacrifices, which were offered on another altar not far from it. Yea, some sacrifices were offered upon this altar, as appears from Exodus 30:10 Leviticus 4:7. But here only the principal and constant use of it is noted.
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.See Exodus 27:2. Though these horns, as they were for another use, so they seem to be here of another form, and for ornament more than for service.
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.The top was made hollow like a grate, that the ashes might fall through it. The
crown was a border which encompassed the altar, that the things laid on it might not fall off.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Before the veil; before the second veil, in the holy place, and near to the holy of holies, and consequently to the ark and mercy-seat.
And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.Aaron was to do this for the first time, but afterwards any priest might do it, as appears from Luke 1:9; this not being done in the holy of holies, which was the high priest’s peculiar.
When he dresseth the lamps, i.e. cleansed them, and prepared them for the receiving of the new light.
And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.The even was the time when all the lamps were to be lighted, 1 Samuel 3:3. See Poole on "Exodus 27:20", See Poole on "Exodus 27:21".
Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.No strange incense, i.e. of any other sort than what I shall here appoint, Exodus 30:34, &c.
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.Once in a year, on the day of expiation, Leviticus 16:19 Numbers 29:7.
With the blood of the sin-offering of atonements; to note, that the prayers of the saints are acceptable to God no otherwise but through the blood of Christ, who was offered for the expiation of our sins.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
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.A ransom for his soul; a certain price for the redemption of their lives; whereby they acknowledge the right and power which God had over their lives, and that they had forfeited them by their sins, and that it was God’s mercy to continue their lives to them.
When thou numberest them, to wit, upon any just occasion, either now in the wilderness, or afterwards. It may seem that this payment was neither to be made at this time only, as some would have it; nor yet every year, as Josephus and others affirm, because it is not said to be a perpetual statute, as other things of constant observance are, but upon any eminent occasions, when the service of the tabernacle (which is the end and use of this collection) or temple required it, as may he gathered from 2 Kings 12:4, compared with 2 Chronicles 24:6. Compare Nehemiah 10:32 Matthew 17:24. And as now it was employed in the building of the tabernacle, so afterwards it might be laid out upon the repairs or other services of it.
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.The shekel of the sanctuary hath been commonly conceived to be double to the common shekel, yet divers late learned men seem more truly to judge that it was no more than the common shekel, consisting of half a crown of English money; which is called the shekel of the sanctuary, because the standard by which all shekels were to be examined was kept in the sanctuary, as afterwards the just weights and measures were kept in Christian temples, or other public places. See Leviticus 27:25 Numbers 3:47 Ezekiel 45:10-12. Add to this, that it was a part of the priest’s office to look to the weights and measures, as plainly appears from 1 Chronicles 23:29.
An half shekel shall be the offering; not less, lest it should be contemptible; nor more, lest it should be too burdensome for the poor.
Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.From twenty years old and above; the time when they began to be fit for employment, and capable of getting and paying money. Women and children are not included here, because they are reckoned in their fathers or husbands.
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.This was partly to teach them that all souls are of equal worth in themselves and price with God; that there is no respect of persons with God, and in God’s worship and service, but gospel graces, ordinances, and privileges are common and equal to all, Exo 12 16:18 Galatians 3:28 Colossians 3:11; that all persons are alike obnoxious to Divine justice, and are redeemed by one and the same price: partly to check the arrogance and vanity of the rich, who are very apt to despise the poor; and partly that by this means the number of the people might be exactly known when occasion required it.
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.For the service of the tabernacle; for the building and furniture of it, and the maintenance of God’s worship in it.
That it may be a memorial; either to the people, who hereby profess God to be their Lord and Owner, and themselves his subjects and tributaries; or to God, who hereby takes occasion to remember them, and to own them for his people.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,The frequent repetition of this phrase, and the shortness of these discourses, in comparison of the length of the forty days, show that God did not deliver all these laws and prescriptions at one time, but successively at several times, possibly upon the sabbath days.
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.See the accomplishment Exodus 38:8; to wash both the priests and the parts of the sacrifices. The altar, to wit, of burnt-offerings.
For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:To signify their natural impurity and unworthiness, either to handle holy things, or to come into the holy place, and their need of washing with the blood and Spirit of Christ, which was typified by this washing.
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:That they die not; for though the fault might seem small, yet the command was evident and easy, and therefore the disobedience was worse, arguing presumption, rebellion, and contempt. And God is more severe in the matters of his worship than in other cases.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
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,Take thou also unto thee: the words are very emphatical, and the Jews from hence do rightly infer, that this ointment was but once made, and that by Moses’s own hands. Spices: see Song of Solomon 4:14 Ezekiel 27:22; and compare Psalm 45:8 Amos 6:6.
Pure myrrh, Heb. myrrh of liberty; either,
1. Free from adulteration or mixture; or rather,
2. Freely dropping from the tree, which is esteemed better than that which is forced out of it.
Calamus; a sweet reed, of which see Isaiah 43:24 Jeremiah 6:20.
And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:Not the common kind of cassia, which we use in purging, but another kind of it, there being seven several kinds of it, as the learned note.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,This was only an outward ceremony, signifying the separation and sanctification of these things for the service of God; as the anointing of kings and priests noted their designation to their offices.
And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,No text from Poole on this verse.
And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.Not all of them, but only those who succeed him in the high priest’s office, as appears from Exodus 40:15 Leviticus 4:3,5,16; Exodus 16:32 21:10. This anointing of them signified both God’s election or calling them to this office, and the inward qualifications requisite for it, to wit, the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, which are oft designed by this word of anointing, as Isaiah 61:1 Daniel 9:24 1Jo 2:27, and the solemn setting apart of Christ, the true High Priest, for the mediatorial office.
And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.i.e. Reserved for my service alone, not employed to any profane or civil use, as it follows.
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.Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, except those whom God himself, the author of this law, excepts, to wit, the high priests, of which see Exodus 30:30; and some of the kings, of which see 1 Kings 1:39 Psalm 89:20, though others think the kings were only anointed with common oil.
It shall be holy unto you, as it is unto me, Exodus 30:31; you shall account it holy, as I do.
Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.The word stranger is commonly used to note the Gentiles, or such as were not of Israel’s race; but sometimes it notes those that are not of the priestly race, as Exodus 29:33 Leviticus 22:12,13; and so it seems to be here. And if any of the kings were anointed with this oil, it was done by God’s special appointment, who may dispense with his own laws.
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:Stacte, and onycha, and galbanum: the Jews themselves are not agreed what these were, and it concerns not Christians much to know, the use of them being abolished. It is evident they were each of them sweet spices, and therefore this galbanum was not of the common kind, which gives a very ball scent.
Of each shall there be a like weight, Heb. alone shall be with alone, i.e. each of these alone shall be with another alone, to wit, in equal quantity. Or it may note, that’ each of these was to be taken and beaten apart, and then mixed together. Or, it shall be alone alone, i.e. absolutely and certainly alone, the doubling of the word increasing the signification, and thus it doth not belong to all the ingredients, because the Hebrew verb is here of the singular number, but only to the frankincense; and the sense may be, that whereas the other things shall be tempered together, the frankincense should be alone, which may seem most agreeable both to the common use of frankincense, and to its differing nature from the other things mentioned, two of them at least being confessedly liquid things.
And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:Tempered together, Heb. salted; either,
1. Properly, for salt was to be offered with all offerings, Leviticus 2:13. And the Hebrew doctors tell us that six egg-shells full of salt were used. Or,
2. Metaphorically, well mixed together, as salt was with things either offered to God, or eaten by man.
Pure, of the best of each kind of drugs, the most perfect and uncorrupted.
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.Some of it; so much as is sufficient for the daily incense.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.No text from Poole on this verse.