Adonai said to Moshe, “Take aromatic plant substances — balsam resin, sweet onycha root and bitter galbanum gum — these spices along with frankincense, all in equal quantities; and make incense, blended and perfumed as would an expert perfume-maker, salted, pure and holy. You are to grind up some of it very finely and put it in front of the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; you are to regard it as especially holy. You are not to make for your own use any incense like it, with the same composition of ingredients — you are to treat it as holy, for Adonai. Whoever makes up any like it to use as perfume is to be cut off from his people.”-Exodus 30:34-38
In the final part of chapter 30 we are presented with a list of ingredients that are to be burned on the Altar of Incense.
They are as follows:
Balsam is a type of tree and the ingredient used was the sap taken from the tree.
This one is a bit of a mystery. However, the original Hebrew here is SHEKELET and most agree it is referring to a sea creature we call a “mollusk”. Apparently, the gill cover of this shell-fish (yes, it’s an unclean animal) when burned emitted a strong odor.
This is a plant originating from Persia.
This ingredient is a white resin or gum obtained from trees grown in Arabia. Incisions were made in its bark that allowed the syrupy gum to flow out. Like onycha, it was also highly fragrant. And being that frankincense was one of the gifts given to the baby Yeshua, the memory of this expensive ingredient has been burned into the minds of believers for all eternity.
The presence of these ingredients undoubtedly point to the vitality of international trade even in these ancient times.
Now notice how the rules governing the use of this special incense mixture are similar to the holy anointing oil we discussed in yesterday’s post.
This special incense is to ONLY be used on the Golden Altar and never for common use.
And if somebody does use it in a common fashion, that person is to be cut off from his people.
When I say “common use”, I’m referring to using this incense as an air deodorizer.
No doubt, in those days, there were probably a variety of foul smells from the burnt sacrifices etcetera that permeated through every town and village.
As we go through the Torah, one important principle that will be continually impressed upon our minds is the difference between the common and the holy and how the two are not to be mixed.
However, just because something is “common” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
The important thing to understand is that there are some things the Lord has categorized as “holy” and thus must NOT be treated in a flippant or common matter.
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN EXODUS CHAPTER 31