Exodus 30

The Altar of Incense

1 “Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense.
2 It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high[a] —its horns of one piece with it.
3 Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it.
4 Make two gold rings for the altar below the molding—two on each of the opposite sides—to hold the poles used to carry it.
5 Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.
6 Put the altar in front of the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law—before the atonement cover that is over the tablets of the covenant law—where I will meet with you.
7 “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps.
8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the LORD for the generations to come.
9 Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it.
10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering[b] for the generations to come. It is most holy to the LORD.”

Atonement Money

11 Then the LORD said to Moses,
12 “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.
13 Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel,[c] according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD.
14 All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD.
15 The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives.
16 Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the LORD, making atonement for your lives.”

Basin for Washing

17 Then the LORD said to Moses,
18 “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it.
19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it.
20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the LORD,
21 they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.”

Anointing Oil

22 Then the LORD said to Moses,
23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels[d] of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels[e] of fragrant calamus,
24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin[f] of olive oil.
25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.
26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law,
27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense,
28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.
29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.
30 “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.
31 Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come.
32 Do not pour it on anyone else’s body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred.
33 Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.’ ”


34 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts,
35 and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred.
36 Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.
37 Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the LORD.
38 Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their 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 53

  • 1. Exodus 40:5,26; Numbers 4:11; 1 Kings 6:20; Ezekiel 41:22; Exodus 37:25
  • 2. S Exodus 25:6; Exodus 37:29; Luke 1:11; Hebrews 9:4; Revelation 8:3
  • 3. S Exodus 27:2; Revelation 9:13
  • 4. S Exodus 25:11
  • 5. S Exodus 25:12
  • 6. S Exodus 25:13
  • 7. Exodus 25:22; S Exodus 26:34
  • 8. S Exodus 25:6; Exodus 40:27; Numbers 3:10; Deuteronomy 33:10; ver 34-35; Exodus 27:21; 1 Samuel 2:28; 1 Chronicles 6:49; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 26:18; 2 Chronicles 29:7
  • 9. S Exodus 25:37; S Exodus 29:42
  • 10. Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 16:7,40
  • 11. Leviticus 16:2
  • 12. Leviticus 9:7; Leviticus 16:18-19,30; Leviticus 23:27,28; Leviticus 25:9
  • 13. Exodus 29:14; Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 6:25; Leviticus 7:7; Leviticus 8:2,14; Numbers 6:11
  • 14. S Exodus 29:42
  • 15. Exodus 38:25; Numbers 1:2,49; Numbers 4:2,29; Numbers 14:29; Numbers 26:2; Numbers 31:26; 2 Samuel 24:1; 2 Kings 12:4
  • 16. Exodus 38:26; Numbers 31:50; S Matthew 20:28
  • 17. Numbers 14:12; Deuteronomy 28:58-61; 2 Samuel 24:13; 1 Kings 8:37
  • 18. ver 24; Exodus 38:24,26; Leviticus 5:15; Leviticus 27:3,25; Numbers 3:47; Numbers 7:13; Numbers 18:16; Ezekiel 4:10; Ezekiel 45:12; Matthew 17:24
  • 19. Exodus 38:26; Numbers 1:3,18; Numbers 14:29; Numbers 26:2; Numbers 32:11; 2 Chronicles 25:5
  • 20. Proverbs 22:2; Ephesians 6:9
  • 21. ver 12
  • 22. Exodus 38:25-28; 2 Chronicles 24:5
  • 23. Numbers 31:54
  • 24. Exodus 31:9; Exodus 35:16; Exodus 38:8; Exodus 39:39; Exodus 40:7,30; 1 Kings 7:38; 2 Chronicles 4:6
  • 25. Exodus 40:31-32; Isaiah 52:11; John 13:10
  • 26. Exodus 29:4; Exodus 40:12; Leviticus 8:6; Psalms 26:6; Hebrews 10:22
  • 27. S Exodus 28:43
  • 28. S Exodus 27:21; Exodus 28:43
  • 29. Exodus 29:42
  • 30. S Genesis 43:11
  • 31. S Genesis 37:25
  • 32. Proverbs 7:17; Song of Songs 4:14
  • 33. Song of Songs 4:14; Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20
  • 34. S ver 13
  • 35. Psalms 45:8; Ezekiel 27:19
  • 36. ver 35; Exodus 37:29; 1 Chronicles 9:30
  • 37. S Exodus 29:7; S 1 Samuel 9:16; Exodus 40:9
  • 38. Exodus 40:9; Leviticus 8:10; Numbers 7:1
  • 39. Leviticus 8:10-11
  • 40. Exodus 29:37; Leviticus 6:18,27; Matthew 23:17
  • 41. Exodus 29:7; Lev 8:2,12,30; Leviticus 10:7; Leviticus 16:32; Leviticus 21:10,12; 1 Chronicles 15:12; Psalms 133:2
  • 42. S Exodus 28:41
  • 43. S Exodus 29:7
  • 44. S Exodus 29:42
  • 45. ver 25,37
  • 46. ver 38; S Genesis 17:14
  • 47. Song of Songs 3:6
  • 48. S Exodus 25:6
  • 49. S ver 25
  • 50. S Exodus 25:22
  • 51. ver 32; Exodus 29:37; Leviticus 2:3
  • 52. S ver 32
  • 53. S ver 33

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. That is, about 1 1/2 feet long and wide and 3 feet high or about 45 centimeters long and wide and 90 centimeters high
  • [b]. Or "purification offering"
  • [c]. That is, about 1/5 ounce or about 5.8 grams; also in verse 15
  • [d]. That is, about 12 1/2 pounds or about 5.8 kilograms; also in verse 24
  • [e]. That is, about 6 1/4 pounds or about 2.9 kilograms
  • [f]. That is, probably about 1 gallon or about 3.8 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

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