Shemot (Exodus): Ki Tisa > Ch 30

The Incense Altar

  • Make an altar for bringing incense up in smoke; make it out of acacia wood.
  • Length: 1 cubit. Width: 1 cubit. Height: 2 cubits; its horns shall be [one piece] with it.
  • Overlay it with pure gold, its top, its walls all around, and its horns; and you shall make for it a golden crown all around.
  • Make two golden rings for it underneath its crown on its two corners, make [them] on its two sides, so that it should serve as holders for poles with which to carry it.
  • Make the poles out of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.
  • Place it in front of the dividing curtain, which is upon the Ark of Testimony, in front of the ark cover, which is upon the testimony, where I will arrange to meet with you.

Using The Altar

  • Aaron shall make incense of spices go up in smoke upon it; every morning when he sets the lamps in order, he shall make it go up in smoke. And when Aaron kindles the lights in the afternoon, he shall make it go up in smoke, continual incense before the Lord for your generations.
  • Offer up on it no alien incense, burnt offering, or meal offering, and pour no libation upon it.
  • Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year; with the blood of the sin offering of the atonements, once a year he shall effect atonement upon it for your generations; it is a holy of holies to the Lord.

Collecting silver for offering to G-d

  • G-d spoke to Moses, saying: When you take the sum of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted.
  • Everyone who goes through the counting, from the age of twenty and upward, shall give an offering to the Lord.
  • Amount: half a shekel according to the holy shekel (1 shekel = 20 gerars)
  • The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel, with which to give the offering to the Lord, to atone for your souls.
  • Take the silver of the atonements from the children of Israel and use it for the work of the Tent of Meeting; it shall be a remembrance for the children of Israel before the Lord, to atone for your souls.


  • Make a washstand of copper and its base of copper for washing, and place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water therein. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet from it.
  • When they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to serve, to make a fire offering rise up in smoke to the Lord, they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die; this shall be for them a perpetual statute, for him and for his descendants, for their generations."

Oil of holy anointment

  • Take for yourself spices of the finest sort: of pure myrrh five hundred [shekel weights]; of fragrant cinnamon half of it 250 [shekel weights]; of fragrant cane 250 [shekel weights], and of cassia 500 [shekel weights] according to the holy shekel, and one hin of olive oil.
  • Make this into an oil of holy annoinment, a perfumed compound according to the art of a perfumer; it shall be an oil of holy anointment.
  • Anoint with it the Tent of Meeting and the Ark of Testimony, the table and all its implements, the menorah and its implements, the altar of incense, the altar of the burnt offering and all its implements, the washstand and its base.
  • Sanctify them so that they become a holy of holies; whatever touches them shall become holy.
  • And with it anoint Aaron and his sons and sanctify them to serve Me [as kohanim].
  • And to the children of Israel speak, saying: 'This shall be oil of holy anointment to Me for your generations. It shall not be poured upon human flesh, and according to its formula you shall not make anything like it. It is holy; it shall be holy to you. Any person who compounds anything like it or puts any of it on an alien shall be cut off from his people.' "


  • Take for yourself aromatics, [namely] balsam sap, onycha and galbanum, aromatics and pure frankincense; they shall be of equal weight.
  • Make it into incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, well blended, pure, holy.
  • Crush some of it very finely, and set some of it before the testimony in the Tent of Meeting, where I will arrange meetings with you; it shall be to you a holy of holies.
  • And the incense that you make, you shall not make for yourselves according to its formula; it shall be holy to you for the Lord. Any person who makes anything like it, to smell it[s fragrance], shall be cut off from his people.

Rashi Commentary

  • balsam sap Heb. נָטָף. This is balm (צֳרִי), but since it is only the sap that drips (נוֹטֵף) from the balsam trees, it is called נָטָף (Ker. 6a), and in French, gomme, gum resin. The balm itself, however, is called triaca [in Old Provencal], theriac.
  • onycha Heb. וּשְׁחֵלֶת, a root of a spice, smooth and shiny as fingernails, and in the language of the Mishnah (Ker. 6a)
  • galbanum A spice with a vile odor, called galbane [in Old French], galbanum.