The Burning of Temple Incense

The Burning of Temple Incense

aaron and temple incenseThe burning of the Qetoret (Holy Incense) was central to all of the ceremonies conducted in the Temple as a key component required under the Law of Moses. Situated near the Arabian Peninsula along the spice route, large amounts of incense could easily be imported, where Israelites were well acquainted with the use of incense in religious worship having coming from the land of Egypt.
 
When Moses received instruction to build the tabernacle he was told to include an altar on which his brother Aaron was to burn incense every morning and every evening throughout all of Israel’s generations. Each morning when the menorah was cleaned and each evening when the lamp was lit, a priest burned the Qetoret (Holy Incense) on the small Golden Altar in the center of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:8).
 
The altar of incense, upon which the priests burned the Holy Incense was made of shittim wood, overlaid with gold and had four horns upon its corner, similar to Canaanite altars found in Palestine.
 
Incense in a covered vessel called a Bazach was brought in by the Cohen and placed inside another spoon-like vessel called a Kaf then covered with a cloth. A second Cohen performed the Avodah of the Mahtah (the pan), which the priest carried in his hand.
 
Aaron carried the incense using a pan he offered for the sins of the people in Numbers 17:11-12. Both of Aaron’s sons had his own pan (Leviticus 10:1) as well as the insubordinate Levites who sacrificed incense on pans, which were used afterward to cover the altar of burnt offering of the Tabernacle (Numbers 17:4). Apparently, every priest had his own censer.
 
Using tongs or a golden censer, the priests removed hot coals from the altar of sacrifice and placed them upon the altar of incense twice daily, after which the incense would be sprinkled upon. The prominent position of the altar of incense in the Holy Place was directly before the veil of the tabernacle or Temple.
 
A special offering of incense was made on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12-13), in which the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) entered the Holy Place, carrying in his right hand the pan for the incense, filled with live coals, and in his left hand the spoon-like kaf, containing the incense. After placing both of these utensils on the floor, the High Priest took the incense from the kaf with the hollow of his hand, and heaped it upon the pan containing the coals (Leviticus 16:12).
 
The High Priest then placed blood from the sacrifice upon the four horns of the altar of incense, foreshadowing the time when Yeshua, our High Priest would offer his own life for the sins of all mankind. Then the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, where he burned incense in a gold censer, just as our Messiah is in the presence of Yahweh on His throne in Heaven (Hebrew 9:6-15).
 

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