a fragrant composition prepared by the "art of the apothecary." It consisted of four ingredients "beaten small" ( Exodus 30:34-36 ). That which was not thus prepared was called "strange incense" ( 30:9 ). It was offered along with every meat-offering; and besides was daily offered on the golden altar in the holy place, and on the great day of atonement was burnt by the high priest in the holy of holies ( Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8 ). It was the symbol of prayer ( Psalms 141:1 Psalms 141:2 ; Revelation 5:8 ; Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4 ).
from the Latin "to burn," "a mixture of gums or spices and the like, used for the purpose of producing a perfume when burned;" or the perfume itself of the spices, etc., burned in worship. The incense employed in the service of the tabernacle walls compounded of the perfumes stacte, onycha, galbanum and pure frankincense. All incense which was not made of these ingredients was forbidden to be offered. ( Exodus 30:9 ) Aaron, as high priest, was originally appointed to offer incense each morning and evening. The times of offering incense were specified in the instructions first given to Moses. ( Exodus 30:7 Exodus 30:8 ) When the priest entered the holy place with the incense, all the people were removed from the temple, and from between the porch and the altar. Cf. ( Luke 1:10 ) Profound silence was observed among the congregation who were praying without, cf. ( Revelation 8:1 ) and at a signal from the perfect the priest cast the incense on the fire and, bowing reverently toward the holy of holies, retired slowly backward. The offering of incense has formed part of the religious ceremonies of most ancient nations. It was an element in the idolatrous worship of the Israelites. ( 2 Chronicles 34:25 ; Jeremiah 11:12 Jeremiah 11:17 ; 48:35 ) It would seem to be symbolical, not of itself, but of that which makes acceptable, the intercession of Christ. In ( Revelation 8:3 Revelation 8:4 ) the incense is of as something distinct from offered with the prayers of, all the saints cf. ( Luke 1:10 ) and in Reve 6:8 it is the golden vials, and not the odors or incense, which are said to be the prayers of saints.
in'-sens (qeTorah; in Jeremiah 44:21, qiTTer; in Malachi 1:11, qaTar, "In every place incense shall be offered unto my name"; the word lebhonah, translated "incense" in several passages in Isa and Jer in the King James Version, is properly "frankincense," and is so rendered in the Revised Version (British and American)):
The offering of incense, or burning of aromatic substances, is common in the religious ceremonies of nearly all nations (Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, etc.), and it is natural to find it holding a prominent place in the tabernacle and temple-worship of Israel. The newer critical theory that incense was a late importation into the religion of Israel, and that the altar of incense described in Exodus 30:1 is a post-exilian invention, rests on presuppositions which are not here admitted, and is in contradiction to the express notices of the altar of incense in 1 Kings 6:20,22; 7:48; 9:25; compare 2 Chronicles 4:19 (see discussion of the subject by Delitzsch in Luthardt's Zeitschrift, 1880, 113). In the denunciation of Eli in 1 Samuel 2:27, the burning of incense is mentioned as one of the functions of the priesthood (2:28). The "smoke" that filled the temple in Isaiah's vision (Isaiah 6:4) may be presumed to be the smoke of incense. The word keTorah itself properly denotes. "smoke." For the altar of incense see the article on that subject, and TABERNACLE and TEMPLE. The incense used in the tabernacle service--called "sweet incense" (keToreth ha-cammim, Exodus 25:6, etc.)--was compounded according to a definite prescription of the perfumes, stacte, onycha, galbanum and pure frankincense (Exodus 30:34), and incense not so compounded was rejected as "strange incense" (keTorah zarah, Exodus 30:9). In the offering of incense, burning coals from the altar of burnt offering were borne in a censer and put upon the altar of incense (the "golden altar" before the oracle), then the fragrant incense was sprinkled on the fire (compare Luke 1:9 f). Ample details of the rabbinical rules about incense may be seen in the article "Incense," in DB.
Figuratively, incense was symbolical of ascending prayer. The multitude were praying while Zacharias offered incense (Luke 1:10, thumiama), and in Revelation 5:8; 8:3, the incense in the heavenly temple is connected and even identified (5:8) with "the prayers of the saints."
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