22 Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
23 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,
24 And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin:
25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.
26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.
30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
31 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.
32 Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you.
33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.
34 And the Lord said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
36 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.
37 And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the Lord.
38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.
K.J.V. Bible Text
Today’s reading is a large portion of Exodus Chapter 30—all the way from Verse 22 through the end of the chapter (Verse 38). This large chunk of Bible text is used to describe a holy ointment to made “after the art of the apothecary” as a holy anointing oil. It is made with several different spices and is to be used to anoint the congregation in the tabernacle and the ark of the testimony as well as the objects in the temple from the laver to the altar. The oil will render these things holy and whoever touches them will also be holy. The Lord told the Children of Israel that they should continue the practice of anointing with the holy oil throughout their generations. They are warned not to put any of this ointment upon a stranger or they would be cut off from their own people.
The Lord also gave them a list of spices to use to make a sweet perfume. This was to be used only sparingly (beat very small) and put before the testimony of the tabernacle. This most holy perfume was not to be used by any of the people. It was for the Lord only and anyone who made anything to smell similar for his own use would be cut off from his people.
I freely admit that I have no idea why the Lord wanted the oil and the perfume to be manufactured and why it was called holy. Perhaps this was an instruction for the people merely to mark that which was holy for their observance, to maintain their respect and to keep them from defiling the temple.
I know one should not try to guess why the Lord did certain things in the early days when He was with the children of Israel, but I sometimes see a practical value as well as a ceremonial value to the actions he ordered—such as having the priests wash before going to the altar.
In the case of the holy oil and perfume, I can discern no practical use other than a good smell and a way to set all that belongs to the Lord away from the things that belong to the people of earth.
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