Exodus 30

Listen to Exodus 30

The Altar of Incense

1 1"You shall make 2an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood.
2 A cubit[a] shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth. It shall be square, and two cubits shall be its height. 3Its horns shall be of one piece with it.
3 You shall 4overlay it with pure gold, its top and around its sides and its horns. And you shall make a molding of gold around it.
4 And you shall make two golden rings for it. Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall be 5holders for poles with which to carry it.
5 You shall make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.
6 And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the 6mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you.
7 And Aaron shall 7burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he 8dresses the lamps he shall burn it,
8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations.
9 You shall not offer 9unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it.
10 10Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the 11sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD."

The Census Tax

11 The LORD said to Moses,
12 12"When you take the census of the people of Israel, then each shall give 13a ransom for his life to the LORD when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them.
13 Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel[b] according to the 14shekel of the sanctuary (the 15shekel is twenty gerahs),[c]16half a shekel as an offering to the LORD.
14 Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the LORD's offering.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less, than 17the half shekel, when you give the LORD's offering to make atonement for your lives.
16 You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall 18give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to 19remembrance before the LORD, so as to make atonement for your lives."

The Bronze Basin

17 The LORD said to Moses,
18 "You shall also make a 20basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. 21You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it,
19 with which Aaron and his sons 22shall wash their hands and their feet.
20 When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering[d] to the LORD, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die.
21 They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall 23be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations."

The Anointing Oil and Incense

22 The LORD said to Moses,
23 "Take the 24finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of 25aromatic cane,
24 and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a 26hin[e] of olive oil.
25 And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the 27perfumer; it shall be a 28holy anointing oil.
26 29With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony,
27 and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense,
28 and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the 30basin and its stand.
29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. 31Whatever touches them will become holy.
30 32You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.
31 And you shall say to the people of Israel, 'This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations.
32 It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. 33It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.
33 34Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.'"
34 The LORD said to Moses, 35"Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part),
35 and make an 36incense blended as by the 37perfumer, 38seasoned with salt, pure and holy.
36 You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting 39where I shall meet with you. 40It shall be most holy for you.
37 And the incense that you shall make 41according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD.
38 42Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people."

Exodus 30 Commentary

Chapter 30

The altar of incense. (1-10) The ransom of souls. (11-16) The brazen laver. (17-21) The holy anointing oil, The perfume. (22-38)

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, ( Acts 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, ( Ecclesiastes 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.

Cross References 42

  • 1. For ver. 1-5, see Exodus 37:25-28
  • 2. Exodus 40:5; Leviticus 4:7; Revelation 8:3
  • 3. See Exodus 27:2
  • 4. Exodus 39:38; Exodus 40:5, 26; Numbers 4:11
  • 5. See Exodus 25:27
  • 6. Exodus 25:21, 22
  • 7. ver. 34; Exodus 31:11; Exodus 37:29; Exodus 40:27; 1 Samuel 2:28; 1 Chronicles 23:13; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 29:11; Luke 1:9
  • 8. See Exodus 27:20, 21
  • 9. Leviticus 10:1
  • 10. Leviticus 16:18; Leviticus 23:27
  • 11. Exodus 29:36
  • 12. Numbers 1:2-4; Numbers 26:2; 2 Samuel 24:2
  • 13. Exodus 21:30; Numbers 31:50; [Psalms 49:7]
  • 14. Exodus 38:24; Leviticus 5:15; Leviticus 27:3, 25
  • 15. Leviticus 27:25; Numbers 3:47; Numbers 18:16; Ezekiel 45:12
  • 16. Exodus 38:26; Matthew 17:24; [Genesis 24:22]
  • 17. [See ver. 13 above]
  • 18. See Exodus 38:25-31
  • 19. [Exodus 28:12; Exodus 39:7; Numbers 16:40]
  • 20. Exodus 40:7, 30; [1 Kings 7:38]
  • 21. Exodus 40:7, 30; [1 Kings 7:38]
  • 22. Exodus 40:31, 32; Psalms 26:6; [Isaiah 52:11; Hebrews 10:22]
  • 23. See Exodus 27:21
  • 24. Song of Songs 4:14; Ezekiel 27:22
  • 25. Ezekiel 27:19
  • 26. Exodus 29:40
  • 27. Exodus 37:29
  • 28. Exodus 37:29; Numbers 35:25; Psalms 89:20; Psalms 133:2
  • 29. Exodus 40:9; Leviticus 8:10; Numbers 7:1
  • 30. Exodus 40:11
  • 31. Exodus 29:37
  • 32. See Exodus 29:7
  • 33. ver. 25, 37
  • 34. ver. 38
  • 35. ver. 7; Exodus 25:6; Exodus 37:29
  • 36. ver. 25
  • 37. See ver. 25
  • 38. [Leviticus 2:13]
  • 39. See Exodus 25:22
  • 40. [Exodus 40:10]
  • 41. ver. 32
  • 42. ver. 33

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
  • [b]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
  • [c]. A gerah was about 1/50 ounce or 0.6 gram
  • [d]. Or an offering by fire
  • [e]. A hin was about 4 quarts or 3.5 liters

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of the altar of incense, its form and use, Ex 30:1-10 of the ransom of the Israelites, with the half shekel when numbered, Ex 30:11-16 of the laver for the priests to wash their hands and feet at before service, Ex 30:17-21 of the anointing oil, the ingredients of it, and what was to be done with it, Ex 30:22-33, and of the perfume, the composition and use of it, Ex 30:34-38.

Exodus 30 Commentaries