fir'-pan (machtah, "firepan," "censer," "snuffdish," from chathah, "to snatch up"):
A vessel for carrying coals. Brazen firepans were part of the furnishings of the altar of burnt offerings (Exodus 27:3; 38:3, and in Numbers 4:14, where the King James Version wrongly reads "censers," the context indicating a vessel belonging to the brazen altar).
The same word is translated "snuffdishes" in Exodus 25:38; 37:23; Numbers 4:9, where it refers to golden firepans which belonged to the golden candlestick or lamp stand, and were used to receive the burnt ends of the wicks. In 1 Kings 7:50 and 2 Chronicles 4:22, although the King James Version reads "censers," the context points to the firepans belonging to the candlestick; as also in 2 Kings 25:15 and Jeremiah 52:19, translated "firepans" in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American). A similar firepan designated by the same Hebrew word but translated "censer" was used to carry the burning coals upon which the incense was thrown and burned (Leviticus 10:1; 16:12; Numbers 16:6,17).
The firepan or censer of the Hebrews was doubtless similar to the censer of the Egyptians, pictures of which have been found. It consisted of a pan or pot for the coals, which was held by a straight or slightly curved long handle. The style of censer used in recent centuries, swung by three chains, came into use about the 12th century AD.
George Rice Hovey
These files are public domain.