We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Related Content

Commentary on Exodus

Jump to: Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
Text Commentary side-by-side
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

27.20–30.38 :

The Tabernacle activities. After describing most of the fixed, permanent items of the sanctuary structure made of the materials listed in 25.3–5 , the text turns to items made from the materials listed in 25.6–7 . These items are described along with the activities (particularly the regular [“tamid”], daily priestly activities) performed with them: oil for the lamps (of 25.31–40 ) that are kindled regularly, the vestments worn by the priests when officiating (and hence also their ordination), culminating in the regular daily sacrifices (chs 28–29 ), the incense altar and the incense burned on it regularly ( 30.1–10, 34–38 ), the census ( 30.11–16 ), the laver where the priests would wash before officiating ( 30.17–21 ), and the sacred anointing oil ( 30.22–33 ). The shift in subject matter from sacred objects to activities is reflected in the fact that in Jewish liturgical practice a new weekly Torah portion (“Tetzaveh,” “You shall…instruct”) begins here.

30.1–31.17 :

Supplementary instructions concerning the sanctuary. This section begins with instructions for constructing the incense altar, taking a census, constructing the laver, and for compounding the anointing oil and sacred incense (ch 30). These five supplementary instructions are followed by the designation of the chief artisans for the entire construction project and a final injunction to suspend all construction and manufacture on the Sabbath ( 31.1–17 ). There are phraseological similarities among the five subsections of ch 30, and their order could be due to the fact that first three deal with items made, respectively, of gold, silver, and bronze (see 25.1–31.17 n. ) and that items two through five employ materials acquired from special contributions, not those donated by the public at large or in response to the initial appeal ( 25.2–7; 35.4–9 ): silver from the census levy (v. 13 ), the bronze for the laver “from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent” ( 38.8 ), and the spices and oil from the chieftains ( 35.27–28 ). It is unclear, however, why all these items appear after 29.42b–46 , which seems to conclude the manufacturing instructions. Why were the incense altar and the laver not mentioned earlier along with the other items in, respectively, the Holy Place ( 25.23–40; 26.35 ) and the courtyard ( 27.1–19 ) where they will stand, and why do the census, the anointing oil, and the incense appear here? In subsequent lists of the contents of the Tabernacle, the incense altar, the laver, the anointing oil, and the incense are listed in their proper physical or functional location ( 30.26–28; 31.7–11; 35.11–19; 39.33–40; 40.1–15, 18–33 ). Their location here indicates that the material was organized according to principles that elude us and, perhaps, that they were added to this text (though not necessarily composed) at a later date.

30.1–10 :

The incense altar. This altar would stand in the Holy Place and was, accordingly, overlaid with gold. Its importance is indicated by its location directly in front of the curtain of the Holy of Holies, flanked by the table and the lampstand ( 40.5, 22–26 ). The burning of incense on it was, like the activities performed on the table and lampstand, one of the regular (“tamid”), daily activities of the Tabernacle ( 27.20–30.38 n. ; 27.20 n. ). It was .5 m (1.5 ft) square and 1 m (3 ft) high. Numerous incense altars, some with horns as prescribed here, have been found among archeological remains from ancient Israel and elsewhere. Burning incense was common in ancient religions. Since here it is part of the complex of daily activities inside the Holy Place that includes kindling lamps (v. 7 ), it is perhaps regarded as a natural feature of a courtly residence, creating a pleasing aroma inside. Maimonides holds that it is to counteract the stench of the animals being slaughtered and sacrificed (Guide of the Perplexed 3.45 ).

9 :

Alien, unauthorized, compounded with a formula different from that prescribed in vv. 34–36 . Or a burnt offering or a meal offering; neither shall you pour a libation on it: No food or drink offerings may be made inside the Tent. Only the “bread of display,” which is eaten by the priests, is presented there. This shows again that the offerings are tokens but are not consumed by God. See 25.23–30 n.; 29.38–42 n.

10 :

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16.16; cf. 4.18; m. Yoma 5.5 ).

30.11–16 :

Census. Apparently this regulation is placed here because the census involves collecting silver that will be used for the construction of the Tabernacle (v. 16 ) and because the donations serve as “expiation” (vv. 15–16 ), thus creating a link with (vv. 10 where “purification” is expressed by the same Heb word (“kaper”/“kipurim”; see Lev. 4.3 n. ). The juxtaposition of this law to the incense altar may also have been prompted by the apotropaic function (i.e., one that averts ill consequences) of the census donation in preventing a plague (v. 12 ), since incense sometimes has an apotropaic function (Num. 17.11–13 ). Censuses were normally taken for purposes of military ( 14 n.; Num. 1.2–3; 2 Sam. 24.9 ) or other forms of public service (Num. 4.2–3, 22–23, 29–30; 1 Chron. 23.24–32 ), land distribution (Num. 26.52 ) and redistri‐ bution, and taxation (known from ancient Mari). The link with expiation is evidently due to popular fear that counting people or listing their names might expose them to supernatural danger (Rashi; cf. 2 Sam. 24.1–15; 2 Chron. 21.1–14 ). Hence when a census was necessary, a payment would be made to “ransom” the lives of those counted and protect them from danger (cf. Num. 31.48–50 ). The same fear is known from many places in the world and evidently underlies the talmudic dictum not to count Israelites directly; where counting is necessary, objects representing each person, such as ostraca, are counted (b. Yoma 22b; Maimonides, Temidin 4.4 ). This practice survives in a Jewish custom for determining whether a prayer quorum (“minyan”) of ten is present: ten words of a biblical verse, rather than numbers, are applied to those being counted. Similarly, in the present case Rashi holds that it is the half‐shekels, not the people, that are to be counted, which would explain why all must pay the same amount (v. 15 ); that would be the only way to infer the number of people from the total collected. Although this regulation applies only when a census is taken, in Second Temple times it became the basis of an annual impost for maintaining the Temple (possibly reflected in 2 Chron. 24.4–10 [cf. 2 Kings 12.12–25]). The details are spelled out in the talmudic tractate Shekalim. Since the payment was due in the month of Adar (early spring), in order to announce it the present law, called “the Section concerning Shekels” (Parashat Shekalim), was added to the weekly Torah reading on the Sabbath of, or preceding, the New Moon of Adar (m. Meg. 3.4 ), and the Sabbath is called “the Sabbath of Shekels” (Shabbat Shekalim). Nowadays half of the common currency (e.g., one half‐dollar) is collected on Purim, which falls in Adar, and the proceeds are used for the support of synagogues and the poor.

12 :

Ransom, a payment made to escape death or physical punishment ( 21.30 ; Prov. 6.35 ).

13 :

Half‐shekel, of silver ( 38.25–26 ). The shekel was the standard weight. By the sanctuary weight: There were different types of shekel, varying in weight: the standard shekel, weighing ca. 11.4 grams, or .4 oz and possibly the same as the “shekel at the going merchant's weight” (Gen. 23.16 ), the “sanctuary shekels” (as here), and the “shekel by the royal weight” (2 Sam. 14.26 ).

14 :

From the age of twenty years up, i.e., of military age (Num. 1.3; etc.). The envisioned censuses would be for military purposes, since the Israelites were organized as an army ( 12.41 n. ).

16 :

Assign it to the service of the Tent of Meeting, rather, “for the (construction) work on the Tent of Meeting.” See 35.21 n. and, for the use to which the silver would be put, 38.25–28 . The items made with the silver will stand in the sanctuary as a reminder before the Lord, as expiation, that is, for favorable remembrance ( 28.12 n. ) which, by expiating, will prevent a plague. Cf. Num. 31.50, 54 .

30.17–21 :

The laver, a basin containing water for washing, is to be placed between the sacrificial altar and the Tent. Before entering the Tent or offering sacrifices (activities just mentioned in 29.38–42; 30.7–8 ) the priests must wash their hands and feet ( 28.4 n. ), with which they touch the sacrifices, the sanctuary, and its ground. Talmudic sources describe this as “sanctifying” the hands and feet (m. Yoma 3.2 ). Ramban explains it as an act of respect for God.

18 :

Copper, rather, bronze, like the other items in the courtyard. For the source of this bronze, see 38.8 .

20 :

That they may not die, 28.35 n.

30.22–33 :

The sacred anointing oil. The formula of the sacred anointing oil is now given, along with the instruction that it is to be used to sanctify the sanctuary and all its other furniture as well. It is to be a fragrant compound of olive oil and the finest spices, and because it is sacred to the LORD it may be used only for the stated purpose, not for everyday hygienic and cosmetic anointing; nor may it be duplicated or used by laymen.

29 :

Whatever touches them shall be consecrated, 29.35–37 n.

33 :

Cut off from his kin, 12.15 n.; 28.35 n.

30.34–38 :

The sacred incense, to be burned on the incense altar (vv. 1–10 ). Like the anointing oil, it is sacred to the LORD and may not be duplicated and used for any other purpose.

36 :

Put some before the Pact: See v. 6 .

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2020. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice