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Exodus 30:18-21

Context
30:18 “You are also to make a large bronze 1  basin with a bronze stand 2  for washing. You are to put it between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it, 3  30:19 and Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and their feet from it. 4  30:20 When they enter 5  the tent of meeting, they must wash with 6  water so that they do not die. 7  Also, when they approach 8  the altar to minister by burning incense 9  as an offering made by fire 10  to the Lord, 30:21 they must wash 11  their hands and their feet so that they do not die. And this 12  will be a perpetual ordinance for them and for their descendants 13  throughout their generations.” 14 

1 sn The metal for this object was obtained from the women from their mirrors (see Exod 38:8).

2 tn Heb “and its stand bronze.”

3 tn The form is the adverb “there” with the directive qamets-he ( ָה).

4 tn That is, from water from it.

5 tn The form is an infinitive construct with the temporal preposition bet (ב), and a suffixed subjective genitive: “in their going in,” or, whenever they enter.

6 tn “Water” is an adverbial accusative of means, and so is translated “with water.” Gesenius classifies this with verbs of “covering with something.” But he prefers to emend the text with a preposition (see GKC 369 §117.y, n. 1).

7 tn The verb is a Qal imperfect with a nuance of final imperfect. The purpose/result clause here is indicated only with the conjunction: “and they do not die.” But clearly from the context this is the intended result of their washing – it is in order that they not die.

8 tn Here, too, the infinitive is used in a temporal clause construction. The verb נָגַשׁ (nagash) is the common verb used for drawing near to the altar to make offerings – the official duties of the priest.

9 tn The text uses two infinitives construct: “to minister to burn incense”; the first is the general term and expresses the purpose of the drawing near, and the second infinitive is epexegetical, explaining the first infinitive.

10 tn The translation “as an offering made by fire” is a standard rendering of the one word in the text that appears to refer to “fire.” Milgrom and others contend that it simply means a “gift” (Leviticus 1-16, 161).

11 tn Heb “and [then] they will wash.”

12 tn The verb is “it will be.”

13 tn Heb “for his seed.”

14 tn Or “for generations to come”; it literally is “to their generations.”

sn The symbolic meaning of washing has been taught throughout the ages. This was a practical matter of cleaning hands and feet, but it was also symbolic of purification before Yahweh. It was an outward sign of inner spiritual cleansing, or forgiveness. Jesus washed the disciples feet (Jn 13) to show this same teaching; he asked the disciples if they knew what he had done (so it was more than washing feet). In this passage the theological points for the outline would be these: I. God provides the means of cleansing; II. Cleansing is a prerequisite for participating in the worship, and III. (Believers) priests must regularly appropriate God’s provision of cleansing.



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