Exodus 30

The altar for incense

1 Use acacia wood to make an altar so that you can burn incense on it. 2 The altar must be square. Make it 45 centimetres long, 45 centimetres wide and 90 centimetres high. The altar's horns must be part of it, made from one piece of wood. 3 Cover all the altar with gold: its top, its sides and the horns. Build up an edge of gold around the four sides. 4 Make two gold rings for the altar. Fix them below the gold edge on two opposite sides. They will hold the poles for you to carry the altar. 5 Use acacia wood to make the poles. Cover them with gold.

6 Put the altar for incense in the Holy Place in the tabernacle. Put it in front of the curtain that hides the Covenant Box. It will be near the special lid that covers the Covenant Box. That is the place where I will meet with you.

7 Every morning, Aaron must burn sweet incense on this altar. He must do this when he goes in to take care of the lamps. 8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps in the evening. Incense must burn there as an offering to the Lord every day from now on. 9 Only offer proper incense on this altar. Do not offer any burnt offerings or grain offerings on it. And do not pour any drink offerings on it. 10 Once every year, Aaron must make the altar clean and pure. He must put some of the blood from the sin offering on the horns of the altar. A priest must do this every year from now on. The altar is holy because it belongs to me, the Lord.’

Money for the tabernacle

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 ‘When you count the number of the Israelites, each person must pay the Lord a price for his life. Everyone must do this at the time when you count them. Then no bad illness will happen to them as you count them. 13 Each person that you count must give six grams of silver. That is the proper weight that they use in the tabernacle. The silver is an offering to the Lord. 14 You must count every person who is 20 years old or more. Each person must offer his gift to the Lord. 15 Rich people must not give more than six grams of silver. Poor people must not give less than that. That is the offering that you must each give to the Lord. It is the price that everyone must pay for his life. 16 Receive these silver coins from the Israelites. Use the money to take care of the Tent of Meeting. Then the Lord will always remember that you belong to him. You have paid money for your lives.’

30:16‘Tent of Meeting’ was another name for the tabernacle.

The bronze bowl

17 Then the Lord said to Moses, 18 ‘Use bronze to make a large bowl for water. Also use bronze to make a base for it to stand on. Put it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar. Fill it with water.

19 Aaron and his sons must use the water from the bowl to wash their hands and their feet. 20 Every time they go into the Tent of Meeting, they must wash in the same way. Then they will not die. They must also wash before they go to the altar to make a burnt offering to the Lord. 21 If they wash their hands and their feet, they will not die as they serve me. This will always be a rule for Aaron and for his descendants, the priests.’

Special oil and incense

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 ‘Mix together these special spices:

  • 6 kilograms of pure myrrh,
  • 3 kilograms of sweet cinnamon,
  • 3 kilograms of sweet grasses,
  • 24 6 kilograms of cassia,
  • 30:24‘cassia’ is the name of a spice.
  • and 4 litres of olive oil.
  • 25 Mix these spices to make a special oil. A worker should use special skills to make it, so that it has a sweet smell, like perfume. It will be a very special oil to put on things that belong to me.

    26 Then pour some of this special oil on these things:

  • the Tent of Meeting,
  • the Covenant Box,
  • 27 the special table and all its tools,
  • the lampstand and its tools,
  • the altar for incense,
  • 28 the altar for burnt offerings and all its tools,
  • and the large bowl of water with its base.
  • 29 You must make all these things special for me. They will be very holy things. Anything that touches them will also become holy.

    30 Pour some of the special oil on Aaron's head and on the heads of his sons. Make them special for me. Then they can serve me as my priests. 31 Say to the Israelites, “This will always be my special oil for all time. 32 Do not put it on the bodies of anyone, except priests. Do not use spices like this to make oil for yourselves. It is holy and you must always think about it as holy. 33 Nobody must make a perfume that has a sweet smell like this oil. Nobody must put this oil on any person who is not a priest. Anyone who does not obey this rule will no longer belong to my people.” ’

    34 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Use the same amount of each of these sweet spices to make some incense: gum resin, onycha, galbanum and frankincense. 35 Give them to a worker who can use special skills to make the incense. It must have a sweet smell, like a perfume. Add some salt to it so that it is a pure and holy incense. 36 Beat some of the incense to make powder. Put this in front of the Covenant Box, in the Tent of Meeting. That is where I will meet with you. This incense will be a very holy thing for you. 37 Do not make any incense like this for yourselves. You must always think about it as very holy. It belongs to the Lord. 38 If anyone makes any incense like it for his own perfume, he will no longer belong to my people.’

    30:34‘gum resin’ is a sticky liquid that comes from a tree. ‘galbanum’ and ‘onycha’ are the names of spices.