|<< Ex 29|
Exodus 30-32 Listen
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.
Notice that this altar of incense was about 18 inches square (1 cubit) on the top. It had one purpose, to burn incense unto the Lord. It was placed immediately outside the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. A special blend of incense (Exodus 30:34-38, see below) was burned on it in the morning and evening. The Levites carried it with poles through the rings just like the Ark of the Covenant and Brazen Altar. The location directly in front of the curtain that led to the Holy of Holies was strategic. Smoke from this altar found its way into the Holy of Holies. One special activity each year on the Day of Atonement involved using coals from this Altar of Incense (Leviticus 16, see notes) for the purpose of filling a censer for use directly inside the vail. It apparently was to create smoke that would prevent a clear visual image on the part of the High Priest of the Ark of the Covenant.
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.
We saw God's insistence in the building of this tabernacle that all donations be voluntary but not here. This appears to be a flat tax on all adult males to support the service of the Tabernacle along with a count - a census. All the adult men (20 years old and older) would be responsible for this "donation." Rich or poor - everybody paid the same amount for the continuing service of the tabernacle. This tax amounted to about 1/5th of an ounce of silver. That was then used in Exodus 38:25-28 (see notes) to make the sockets, hooks, and rods. Incidentally, 1/5th of an ounce of silver would have been little more than lunch money for even the poor. However, with this contribution from all the adult men, everyone had a financial stake in the building of the tabernacle. We also see this tax collected in Nehemiah 10:32 (see notes) when the exiles returned to their land. Moreover, this temple/tabernacle tax becomes an issue during the ministry of Jesus in Matthew 17:24-27 (see notes). This temple tax/census as specified here would have exempted the Levites, since they were never part of the count of 20+ year-old males. As a matter of fact, this tax was collected in order to support the work of the Levites.
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.
This laver doesn't seem to be very large, although we don't have any dimensions for it. It was made of brass - actually the brass taken from the mirrors of the women. Polished brass was the primary means of seeing one's reflection back then. This laver was placed just outside the tent door. The priests had to wash up (hands and feet) before entering "that they die not" (verse 21). Whoa! Maybe "cleanliness really is next to godliness" (an old-timer extra-scriptural saying). And just as we pointed out in Exodus 28 (see notes), their feet were uncovered (no shoes) after they washed them at the laver.
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.
God gives a specific recipe for making the anointing substance for this tabernacle in the wilderness and then some special tabernacle perfume - all to be applied to the tabernacle furnishings. So, do you like the new-tabernacle smell? I wouldn't advise making up your own brew of these two substances at home for personal use (verses 33 and 38). Look at Exodus 30:38, "Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people." This phrase, "cut off from" is used frequently in the Torah (first five books of Old Testament) for various offenses. No one can say for certain whether that means excommunicated from Israel or put to death. Sometimes the context seems to give a hint. In this passage, there's no way to be certain. Either way, don't try to duplicate that tabernacle smell at home. You will notice that Aaron and his sons were also anointed with this same oil in verse 30. David makes reference to this in Psalms 133:2 (see notes), "It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aarons beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments."
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;
7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,
8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,
9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,
10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office,
11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.
Hur's grandson, Bezaleel, is awarded the building contract. You will recall that Hur was placed in charge (along with Aaron) back in Exodus 24:12-18 (see notes) when Moses ascended the mountain. Hur was married to Moses' sister, Miriam. Hur must be very proud of his grandson, Bezaleel, who heads up this sacred project.
12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Here we go on this Sabbath-keeping issue again. Don't you get the impression that this was a very important component of keeping the Law of Moses. In verse 13 God says of Sabbath keeping, "...it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations..." And then here's the "cut off from" phrase again in verse 14 for the violators. Interestingly enough, we do see that "cut off from" with regard to keeping the Sabbath did mean death in Number 15:35 (see notes). For those people who are convinced that New Testament Believers are required to keep the law, they really need to consider these verses and then decide what they intend to do about the Sabbath. But then there's verse 17, "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever:" We don't keep the Sabbath because we are not the "children of Israel." Maybe you see it now; the whole Law of Moses was given as a covenant between God and Israel. As Believers, our covenant is based upon the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The Law of Moses belonged to the Hebrews; the cross belongs to Believers.
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Moses headed up to the top of the mountain way back in Exodus 24:15 (see notes). Hey! This kind of revelation doesn't come overnight! Moses has been gone for nearly seven weeks (40 days altogether, Exodus 24:18). The Hebrews become very restless. Somebody do something!
Secular historical sources tell us that the bull was an important symbol in ancient Egyptian life. The sun was revered as the valiant bull and the reigning Pharaoh as Bull of Bulls. But far more important in this connection is the fact that calf worship was almost universal among all the ancient Semitic peoples. So, when the Hebrews panicked, where did they turn? Aaron, of course - he and Hur had been left in charge. Aaron, Israel's future High Priest, is the answer man. When the people ask for a god, Aaron rolls into action. Hur seems to have stayed out of it. Aaron comes up with a golden calf. In retrospect, it seems like a goofy move on his part. Keep in mind, however, Aaron has had very little in the way of "priesting" instruction. Their cows seem to be, to some extent, sacred. When they were very hungry, they still didn't eat them, and he knew that, from time to time, God did command them to sacrifice some of their cattle on an altar. They only ate them when God told them to do so. I guess, given his background and experience, it just made sense to Aaron to make a golden calf.
Look at Aaron's comment upon completion of his masterpiece in Exodus 32:5, "To morrow is a feast to the LORD." He even uses the word "Jehovah" here in verse 5, but notice what he had said in verse 4, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Just to be clear, his statement in verse 4 regarding "thy gods" simply isn't compatible with his reference to "Jehovah" in verse 5. Aaron, at this point, was undoubtedly a very confused leader. It's interesting that, after Solomon's kingdom split, Jeroboam (king of the Northern Kingdom) quotes these words of Aaron in verse 4 to justify his two-calf worship in I Kings 12:28 (see notes) when he says, "...behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt."
7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
While on the mountain, God tells Moses what's going on down below with the people and the calf. God even quotes Aaron's words in verse 8, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Aaron declared those words to the people in verse 4. An interesting discussion takes place between God and Moses. God indicates that he can make a great nation (to fulfill his promises to the patriarchs) from the descendants of Moses alone. Moses pleads with God for the people to have another chance. It's amusing to see Moses' negotiating skills here. He reminds God that the Egyptians will get satisfaction out of the demise of the Israelites and then invokes the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (aka Jacob). Ok, Moses, take care of it.
15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
Moses makes his trip down off the mountain with the stone tablets containing God's commandments in hand. Look at Exodus 32:19, "And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount." Wow! Forty days' work down the drain! Now there's an interesting punishment in verse 20. Is that the equivalent of making kids put soap in their mouths? He ground up the golden calf into powder, sprinkled it into the water and made them drink it. Now that's some expensive water! Oh...a couple of other indications here make this occasion even more disgusting. In verse 25 we see that the people around the golden calf were "naked." Add to that the indication of verse 6 which says the Israelites "rose up to play." That Hebrew word for "play" (tsaw-khak´) there is the same one used in Genesis 26:8 (see notes) to describe the activities of Isaac and Rebekah and is translated "sporting" where it says, "Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife." Whatever this activity was between Isaac and Rebekah, Abimelech is certain that it's not appropriate behavior between a brother and a sister. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the "play" while they were "naked" around the golden calf here is something more than just bingo.
So, Aaron, what do you have to say for yourself? (Exodus 32:21-25)
21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.
23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)
Moses doesn't beat around the bush in talking with Aaron in verse 21, "And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?" If somehow Aaron believed he had done the right thing, this question from Moses should have cleared that misconception up immediately. How about Aaron's reply? Did you ever say the wrong thing under pressure and wish you could just take it back? I'm guessing that's exactly the way Aaron felt after his reply in verse 24, "And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." Now really, Aaron, who believes that? Look at verse 25 to recognize the magnitude of what Aaron had done as the first in command while Moses was away, "And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)" The people were acting like the heathens from whom God had separated them.
This turns out to be a banner day for the Levites. Moses and Aaron were descendants of Levi, but up to this point, the Levites were just one of the 13 tribes of Israel. There were 13 instead of 12 because of Joseph's two son, Ephraim and Manasseh, each getting a portion of Israel's inheritance (Genesis 48:5-22, see notes). Then there was that blessing pronounced upon Levi by Jacob in Genesis 49:5-7 (see notes) in which Jacob proclaimed that Levi's descendants would be scattered in Israel.
On this day, however, a special position in Israel is secured by the Levites when they step up to Moses' side in Exodus 32:26-29 after the golden-calf incident. As a result of their willingness to serve on that occasion, we see in verse 29, "For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day." That "blessing" is realized in Numbers 3 (see notes) when it is proclaimed by Moses that the Tribe of Levi would become the replacement for the firstborn sons of all the tribes of Israel. However, Exodus 38:21 uses a phrase with regard to them when it says, "for the service of the Levites." It is also to be observed in Exodus 38:26 that the numbering of the Tribes of Israel is identical to that of Numbers 1 (see notes) which excludes Levites. Therefore, while the formal declaration of the Levites' position as those set apart for service is not formally declared until Numbers 3 (see notes), it is obvious that it had been established in Exodus 38:21 (see notes).
Thus, both the words of Jacob and the special blessing by Moses given here were fulfilled, inasmuch as the Levites were scattered as the priestly order among the tribes of Israel, but as civil servants serving as substitutes for the honored firstborn position among the Hebrews.
26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
The Levites step up to the plate here as the designated police force for phase one of cleaning up the camp. They slay 3,000 by the sword. Who knows for certain what distinguished these 3,000 as worthy of death while others were spared. However, obviously there was a distinction. It appears that the distinction is found in Exodus 32:26, "Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORDS side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him." It looks like the sons of Levi were a few among many who came to the side of Moses. Those who did not come to the side of Moses were slain by the Levites. In other words, it was a choice.
It should be noted that verse 26 marks the turning point for the Tribe of Levi. You will recall that Levi (along with Simeon) was cursed by Jacob in Genesis 49:5-7 (see notes) for their murderous act against the men of Shechem. They were told by Jacob on his deathbed, "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." With the combination of that "scattering" curse by Jacob along with their noble act here as they stand with Moses, they later become the designated tribe of priests in Israel in Numbers 3 (see notes). However, Jacob's words are still fulfilled, inasmuch as they are scattered among the Tribes of Israel without their own specific tribal inheritance when they enter Canaan under Joshua.
What do we do now? (Exodus 32:30-35)
30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
We see in these verses that the rest of the Hebrews still must pay a penalty for the sin of calf worship they have committed. I guess we're already seeing how severely God will be dealing with the violators of the first four commandments. Moses makes a plea on behalf of his people.
In analyzing these 6 verses, let's recap what has taken place. The Levites have slain 3,000 of the stubborn sinners, the ones who did not correctly answer the question, "Who is on the LORD'S side?" Moses makes an impassioned plea in verse 32, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written." Whoa...that's heavy! What is this "book" anyway? Now don't jump to conclusions here. Obviously the 3,000 people slain by the Levites are blotted out of the "book." We're talking about physical (not spiritual) salvation here; "blot out" here means the loss of physical life (i.e. death). It would be a spiritual impossibility for Moses to lose his spiritual life here as he makes this offer before God. He is offering his physical life to God on behalf of his Israelite kin. In other words, "If you're going to kill them, just go ahead and kill me while you're at it." THERE ARE NO IMPLICATIONS OF SPIRITUAL SALVATION IN THIS PASSAGE.