King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 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)

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The altar of incense

1 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.

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.

3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.

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; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.

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

6 And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

7 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.

8 And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.

9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.

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: it is most holy unto the LORD.

The ransom of souls

11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.

13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.

14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.

15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

The brazen laver

17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.

19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:

20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:

21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

The holy anointing oil, The perfume

22 Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,

24 And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:

25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.

26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,

27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,

28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.

29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.

30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.

32 Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.

33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.

34 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:

35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:

36 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.

37 And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.

38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. An altar to burn incense. This burning of incense was an emblem of prayer, ascending to God from an inflamed heart. See Ps. cxl. 2. Apoc. v. 8. and viii. 4. Ch. — Nothing but incense was daily offered by the high priest upon this altar. On the day of expiation he touched the four corners with blood. It stood over-against the bread of proposition.

Ver. 2. Height. Ezechiel (xli. 22,) describes his altar of incense, a cubit higher.

Ver. 3. Grate, or covering. Some think the fire and incense were placed on this grate, and the ashes fell under the altar. But fire was taken hence, and put in the thuribles; (Num. xvi. 17. C.) or a brazen thurible was placed on the fire. Lev. x. 1. M. — Walls, or sides, of setim-wood. — Crown, cornice or moulding. See C. xxv. 25.

Ver. 6. Where, &c. Hence some infer, that its situation was in the most holy place. But God spoke also to Moses at the door of the sanctuary (C. xxix. 42. H.); and most people suppose, that it was placed out of the holy of holies, beside the veil. The golden censer, which S. Paul (Heb. ix. 4,) tells us was within, might be that of Aaron, which was placed there after the sedition of Core, (Num. xvi.) or one that might be left smoking before the ark, on the day of expiation. C. — S. Augustine, &c. believe, however, that it was in the holy of holies. q. 133. Orig. hom. 19. S. Greg. 1 K. xiv. &c.

Ver. 7. Aaron, or some other priest. They did it by turns, and were bound to observe continence during the time of their ministry. Lev. xv. 16. Luc. i. 9. C.

Ver. 9. Composition, than what is prescribed, v. 34. M.

Ver. 10. It. This altar, or this rite; all deserve a singular respect.

Ver. 12. Sum. David perhaps neglected this injunction. 2 K. xxiv. Josep. Ant. vii. 10. Yet we do not read that Moses took the half sicle when he numbered the people. Num. i. Whence others gather, that this sum was to be paid every year, as it was done in our Saviour’s time, for the support of the temple. Matt. xvii. 23. Vespasian ordered the Jews to pay the same money for the capitol. Josep. Bel. vii. 13.) After the captivity, the third part of a sicle was demanded. 2 Esd. x. 32. C.

Ver. 13. Half a sicle. A sicle or shekel of silver, (which was also called a stater) according to the standard or weight of the sanctuary, which was the most just and exact, was half an ounce of silver; that is, about half a crown of English money. The obol, or gerah, was about three halfpence. Ch. — A priest kept the weights and measures. 1 Par. xxiii. 29. The Egyptians and Romans took the like precaution to prevent any fraud; and Justinian required that such things should be kept in churches. Some have supposed, that the royal or common sicle was less than that of the sanctuary. But Moses admits of no distinction. Lev. xxvii. 25. Ezec. xiv. 12. Perhaps the weights of the Egyptians, &c. might differ from this, which Moses therefore particularizes so well. C. — Arbuthnot makes the weight of the sicle equal to 9 dwt. 2,57 gr. English Troy weight; and he values that of silver at 2s. 3,375d. sterling. H.

Ver. 15. Rich. The life of every man is equal in the sight of God, and He will not give the rich occasion to despise his poor neighbour. Thus also the number of people would be ascertained. M.

Ver. 18. Its foot also of brass, made of mirrors which the women gave. C. xxxviii. 8. It was double; one vessel being shallower, to wash the feet &c. and the other containing a quantity of water, which was let out by pipes. The pagans had lavers also; and our holy-water vessels should remind us of that purity and holiness which became the house of God. H.

Ver. 19. Feet. The priests went barefoot in the tabernacle. In the Misna we find the same law binds laymen. None were allowed to enter the temple of Diana, in Crete, with shoes on; and the Roman ladies followed the same custom, when they came down to the temple of Vesta. Huc pede matronam nudo descendere vidi. Ovid. Fast. 6. C. — The priest is ordered to put off his shoes on Good Friday, out of respect for Jesus Christ, who suffered on the cross. H.

Ver. 23. Spices. Perfumes were probably first invented in Arabia and Egypt. Ovid makes Bacchus the author of bloody sacrifices, and of incense offered to Jupiter. Fast. 3. — Myrrh. Heb. “the head of the myrrh of liberty,” or such as flowed freely and was most excellent, free from any mixture. Sudant sponte…stacten dictam. Plin. xii. 15. C. — Stacte takes its name from distilling. M. — Sicles; this is not expressed in the Heb., as this measure is commonly meant. — Cinnamon, a plant extremely rare. Matthcole assures us, that it is not now to be found in Arabia, no more than balm in Judea. — Calamus. Heb. adds the epithet sweet-smelling both to cinnamon and calamus, or cane, the latter of which grows in the Indies. Dioscor. i. 17. That which druggists sell, under this name, is not a proper ingredient for ointments.

Ver. 24. Cassia, not the common sort, which would spoil the perfumes, but the essence of iris, (Hebrew, kode) mentioned in the Sept. Ezec. xxvii. 19. Joseph. &c. C.

Ver. 29. Sanctified. But if he ought not to touch it, he shall be defiled the more: (Deut. xxii. 9,) a double effect, which we perceive in the Christian sacraments. C.

Ver. 31. Holy unto me, or set apart for the persons and things employed in my service. H.

Ver. 32. Of man. Some except the king of Juda, till the reign of Josias. Rabbins. — But they were anointed with common oil. M.

Ver. 33. Cut off. Excommunicated, and deprived of all the privileges of the Israelites; (C.) or even put to death for his presumption. M.

Ver. 34. Onycha. An aromatic root, shining like “the nail,” or perhaps the bdellium of Arabia, which is clearer than that of the Indies. Dioscor. Gallen Medic. It distills from a tree. Others affirm, that it is the shell of a fish which feeds on spikenard (spica nardi) in the watery places of India. — Galbanum, an unctuous gum, of a strong but not very agreeable smell when alone. — Frankincense, is a juice proceeding by incision from the trees of Saba. — Weight. The Rabbins say 70 or 74 pounds of each.

Ver. 35. Together. Heb. lit. “salted,” (Chald.) as salt was to accompany all the sacrifices. Lev. ii. 13. But it was not, perhaps, to be mixed with this perfume, no more than with the wine of libations. The word may signify “a thing used in embalming, pure and holy.”

Ver. 36. Place. On the table of perfumes, to be burnt morning and evening. C.