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Exodus 30:22-38

Context
Oil and Incense

30:22 1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 2  30:23 “Take 3  choice spices: 4  twelve and a half pounds 5  of free-flowing myrrh, 6  half that – about six and a quarter pounds – of sweet-smelling cinnamon, six and a quarter pounds of sweet-smelling cane, 30:24 and twelve and a half pounds of cassia, all weighed 7  according to the sanctuary shekel, and four quarts 8  of olive oil. 30:25 You are to make this 9  into 10  a sacred anointing oil, a perfumed compound, 11  the work of a perfumer. It will be sacred anointing oil.

30:26 “With it you are to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, 30:27 the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, the altar of incense, 30:28 the altar for the burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its base. 30:29 So you are to sanctify them, 12  and they will be most holy; 13  anything that touches them will be holy. 14 

30:30 “You are to anoint Aaron and his sons and 15  sanctify them, so that they may minister as my priests. 30:31 And you are to tell the Israelites: ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil throughout your generations. 30:32 It must not be applied 16  to people’s bodies, and you must not make any like it with the same recipe. It is holy, and it must be holy to you. 30:33 Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts any of it on someone not a priest 17  will be cut off 18  from his people.’”

30:34 The Lord said to Moses: “Take 19  spices, gum resin, 20  onycha, 21  galbanum, 22  and pure frankincense 23  of equal amounts 24  30:35 and make it into an incense, 25  a perfume, 26  the work of a perfumer. It is to be finely ground, 27  and pure and sacred. 30:36 You are to beat some of it very fine and put some of it before the ark of the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it is to be most holy to you. 30:37 And the incense that you are to make, you must not make for yourselves using the same recipe; it is to be most holy to you, belonging to the Lord. 30:38 Whoever makes anything like it, to use as perfume, 28  will be cut off from his people.”

1 sn The chapter ends with these two sections. The oil (22-33) is the mark of consecration, and the incense (34-38) is a mark of pleasing service, especially in prayer. So the essence of the message of the chapter is that the servants of God must be set apart by the Spirit for ministry and must be pleasing to God in the ministry.

2 tn Heb “and Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying.”

3 tn The construction uses the imperative “take,” but before it is the independent pronoun to add emphasis to it. After the imperative is the ethical dative (lit. “to you”) to stress the task to Moses as a personal responsibility: “and you, take to yourself.”

4 tn Heb “spices head.” This must mean the chief spices, or perhaps the top spice, meaning fine spices or choice spices. See Song 4:14; Ezek 27:22.

5 tn Or “500 shekels.” Verse 24 specifies that the sanctuary shekel was the unit for weighing the spices. The total of 1500 shekels for the four spices is estimated at between 77 and 100 pounds, or 17 to 22 kilograms, depending on how much a shekel weighed (C. Houtman, Exodus, 3:576).

6 sn Myrrh is an aromatic substance that flows from the bark of certain trees in Arabia and Africa and then hardens. “The hardened globules of the gum appear also to have been ground into a powder that would have been easy to store and would have been poured from a container” (J. Durham, Exodus [WBC], 3:406).

7 tn The words “all weighed” are added for clarity in English.

8 tn Or “a hin.” A hin of oil is estimated at around one gallon (J. Durham, Exodus [WBC], 3:406).

9 tn Heb “it.”

10 tn The word “oil” is an adverbial accusative, indicating the product that results from the verb (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, §52).

11 tn The somewhat rare words rendered “a perfumed compound” are both associated with a verbal root having to do with mixing spices and other ingredients to make fragrant ointments. They are used with the next phrase, “the work of a perfumer,” to describe the finished oil as a special mixture of aromatic spices and one requiring the knowledge and skills of an experienced maker.

12 tn The verb is a Piel perfect with vav (ו) consecutive; in this verse it is summarizing or explaining what the anointing has accomplished. This is the effect of the anointing (see Exod 29:36).

13 tn This is the superlative genitive again, Heb “holy of holies.”

14 tn See Exod 29:37; as before, this could refer to anything or anyone touching the sanctified items.

15 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive follows the imperfect of instruction; it may be equal to the instruction, but more likely shows the purpose or result of the act.

16 tn Without an expressed subject, the verb may be treated as a passive. Any common use, as in personal hygiene, would be a complete desecration.

17 tn Heb “a stranger,” meaning someone not ordained a priest.

18 sn The rabbinic interpretation of this is that it is a penalty imposed by heaven, that the life will be cut short and the person could die childless.

19 tn The construction is “take to you,” which could be left in that literal sense, but more likely the suffix is an ethical dative, stressing the subject of the imperative.

20 sn This is from a word that means “to drip”; the spice is a balsam that drips from a resinous tree.

21 sn This may be a plant, or it may be from a species of mollusks; it is mentioned in Ugaritic and Akkadian; it gives a pungent odor when burnt.

22 sn This is a gum from plants of the genus Ferula; it has an unpleasant odor, but when mixed with others is pleasant.

23 tn The word “spice is repeated here, suggesting that the first three formed half of the ingredient and this spice the other half – but this is conjecture (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 400).

24 tn Heb “of each part there will be an equal part.”

25 tn This is an accusative of result or product.

26 tn The word is in apposition to “incense,” further defining the kind of incense that is to be made.

27 tn The word מְמֻלָּח (mÿmullakh), a passive participle, is usually taken to mean “salted.” Since there is no meaning like that for the Pual form, the word probably should be taken as “mixed,” as in Rashi and Tg. Onq. Seasoning with salt would work if it were food, but since it is not food, if it means “salted” it would be a symbol of what was sound and whole for the covenant. Some have thought that it would have helped the incense burn quickly with more smoke.

28 tn Or to smell it, to use for the maker’s own pleasure.



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