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Verses 1-10

The Altar of Incense

v. 1. And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon; of shittim wood shalt thou make it, of the same Arabian acacia wood which was to be used for all the wooden appointments.

v. 2. 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. It was also ornamented with small. hornlike projections, the symbols of power.

v. 3. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, that is, its plate, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about, a heavy, decorated molding of gold, similar to that on the ark and on the table of showbread. Since the entire altar was so completely covered with gold, it was often designated simply as the golden altar, Exodus 39:38; Exodus 40:5-Ezekiel :; Numbers 4:11.

v. 4. 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, rings set solidly into the material of the altar; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.

v. 5. And thou shalt make the staves, the carrying poles, of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.

v. 6. And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the Ark of the Testimony, so that it occupied a position between the large candlestick and the table of showbread, before the mercy-seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. The altar of incense was thus brought into a direct and intimate relation to the mercy-seat, so close to the Most Holy Place that it could be considered as a part of its equipment in the wider sense, 1 Kings 6:22; Hebrews 9:4.

v. 7. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning; when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it, that is, when he trims and cleans the lamps of the large candlestick.

v. 8. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, putting back the lamps in place at the time of the evening sacrifice, Exodus 29:41, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations, as regularly as the sacrifice of burnt offering was made, Exodus 29:42.

v. 9. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, such as was not ordered for that purpose by Jehovah nor such as was not made according to His precept, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat-offering, the unbloody sacrifices of baked or fried cakes; neither shall ye pour drink-offering thereon.

v. 10. 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, namely, on the great Day of Atonement; it is most holy unto the Lord. The altar of incense thus served a double purpose: it was in use daily for the offering of incense, the aromatic substance whose odor was pleasant to the Lord, since it signified the prayer of the saints; and it served on the great Day of Atonement for the dedication of the blood of expiation, before the high priest entered the Most Holy Place. We Christians also let our prayers rise to the Lord like incense, that is, in the name of Jesus Christ the Savior, knowing that they are pleasing to the Lord for His sake.

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