The incense altar (Ex 30:1-30:10)

“You shall make an altar on which to offer incense.   You shall make it of acacia wood.   It shall be one cubit long and one cubit wide.  It shall be square, and two cubits high.  Its horns shall be of one piece with it.  You shall overlay it with pure gold.  Its top, and its sides all around and its horns shall be gold overlay.  You shall make for it a molding of gold all around.   You shall make two golden rings for it.  Under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall hold the poles with which to carry it.  You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.   You shall place it in front of the curtain that is above the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the mercy seat that is over the covenant, where I will meet with you.  Aaron shall offer fragrant incense on it.  Every morning when he dresses the lamps, he shall offer it.  When Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall offer it, a regular incense offering before Yahweh throughout your generations.  You shall not offer unholy incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering.  You shall not pour a drink offering on it.  Once a year, Aaron shall perform the rite of atonement on its horns.   Throughout your generations he shall perform the atonement for it once a year with the blood of the atoning sin offering.  It is most holy to Yahweh.”

Now we have another small golden overlay acacia wooden altar for incense, much like the golden lamp stand in chapter 25, but smaller, one cubit square or less than two feet.  This incense table, like many of the Canaanite incense altars, is about 3’ off the ground, topped with gold, with two golden rings to hold the golden acacia poles. This altar goes in front of the curtain that is above the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the mercy seat.  Aaron shall offer fragrant incense on it every morning and evening when he goes to attend the lamps.  However, you cannot use unholy incense, a burnt offering, a grain offering, or a drink offering on it. This was strictly for incense, nothing else.  Once a year, Aaron would perform the rite of atonement on its horns.

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