Exodus 27:20
And you shall command the children of Israel, that they bring you pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.
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(20) Thou shalt command the children of Israel that they bring thee pure olive oil.—This instruction had been already given (Exodus 25:2; Exodus 25:6), only not with such particularity. “Oil” had been required, but not “pure olive oil beaten.” By this is meant the best possible olive oil—that which was obtained by “beating,” or pounding in a mortar; which was free from various impurities that belonged to the oil crushed out, after the ordinary fashion, in a mill.

To cause the lamp to burn always—i.e., every night without intermission. Josephus says that three lights were kept burning both night and day (Ant. Jud., iii. 7, § 7); but there is nothing in Scripture to confirm this. The tabernacle would have received sufficient light during the daytime through the entrance curtain, which was of linen (Exodus 26:36), not to mention that the curtain may, when necessary, have been looped up. The lighting of the lamps every evening is distinctly asserted in Exodus 30:8; their extinction in the morning appears from 1Samuel 3:3.

Exodus 27:20. Pure oil-olive beaten — Not squeezed out by a press or mill, such being full of sediment; but which run freely from the olives when bruised or beaten with a pestle. To cause the lamp to burn always — Josephus, who was himself a priest, says, they burned the lamps day and night, three of them being kept burning all day, and the rest being lighted in the evening. And indeed to keep them burning by day as well as night, was no more than what was necessary, for otherwise the priest must have ministered in the dark at the altar of incense; there being no windows in the holy place. Now the pure oil signifies the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which are communicated to all believers from Christ the good olive, “of whose fulness we receive,” Zechariah 4:11-12. The priests were to light the lamps, and to tend them; to cause the lamp to burn always, night and day. Thus it is the work of ministers to preach and expound the Scriptures, which are as a lamp to enlighten, the church. This is to be a statute for ever, that the lamps of the word be lighted as duly as the incense of prayer and praise is offered.27:20,21 The pure oil signified the gifts and graces of the Spirit, which all believers receive from Christ, the good Olive, and without which our light cannot shine before men. The priests were to light the lamps, and tend them. It is the work of ministers, by preaching and expounding the Scriptures, which are as a lamp, to enlighten the church, God's tabernacle upon earth. Blessed be God, this light is not now confined to the Jewish tabernacle, but is a light to lighten the gentiles, and for salvation unto the ends of the earth.Pure oil olive beaten - The oil was to be of the best kind. It is called beaten, because it was obtained by merely bruising the olives in a mortar or mill, without the application of heat. The finest oil is now thus obtained from young fruit freshly gathered. The inferior kind is pressed from unselected fruit under stronger pressure, and with the application of heat.

The lamp - i. e. the lamps of the golden candlestick. (See Exodus 25:37.)

To burn - See the margin "to ascend up." It should be observed that the word does not properly mean to burn in the sense of to consume, but is the word regularly used to express the action of fire upon what was offered to Yahweh (see Leviticus 1:9).

Always - i. e. every night "from evening until morning." Compare Exodus 30:8.

20, 21. pure oil olive beaten—that is, such as runs from the olives when bruised and without the application of fire.

for the light … Aaron and his sons—were to take charge of lighting it in all time coming.

Beaten out of the olives with a pestle, which is freer from dregs than that which is squeezed out with a press.

To burn always, i.e. at all the times. appointed; daily, though not continually; as the lamb offered only every morning and every evening is called a continual burnt-offering, Exodus 29:42. For that these were lighted only at the evening, may seem probable from the next verse, and from Exodus 27:21 30:8 Leviticus 24:3 1 Samuel 3:3 2 Chronicles 13:11. But because Josephus and Philo, who were eye-witnesses of the temple service, and had no temptation to lie in this matter, expressly affirm, that some lights did burn in the day-time; and it may seem indecent and improbable that God should dwell and the priests minister in darkness, and there were no windows to give light to the tabernacle by day; it may be granted that some few burnt in the day, and all in the night, and that the latter is only mentioned in the places alleged, as being a more solemn time when all are lighted. And thou shall command the children of Israel,.... Here begins a new section of the law; an account being given of the tabernacle, and its parts, and the furniture thereof, next the several parts of service done in it are observed; and the account begins with that of the candlestick in the holy place, in order to which Moses is directed to command the people of Israel, whose business it was to provide for it:

that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light; for the light of the candlestick, to light up the several lamps in the several branches of it; and the oil to be brought and used there was not any sort of oil, as what is got out of fishes, as train oil, or out of nuts, as oil of almonds, but what comes from the olive tree; and this must be pure and free from lees and dregs, and must be beaten with a pestle in a mortar, and not ground in a mill, that so it might be quite clear; for being bruised and beaten, only the pulp or flesh of the olive was broken, but being ground in a mill, the stones were broken and ground, and so the oil not so pure.Jarchi and Ben Melech, from their Rabbins, observe, that after the first drop was pressed out, they put them into mills and grind them; but then, though the oil was fit for offerings, it was not fit for the light of the candlestick. Ben Gersom says, they put the olives bruised into a basket, and the oil dropped from them without pressing at all; and this was the choicest and most excellent for the light. The quantity to be brought is not fixed; but the measure fixed by the wise men of Israel, as Jarchi says, was half a log, that is, for every lamp; and this was the measure for the longest nights, the nights of the month Tebet, and so the same for all other nights:

to cause the lamp to burn always night and day, continually, as it was proper it should, that the house of God might not be at any time in darkness; as it would otherwise be, since there were no windows in it; and his servants minister in it in the dark, even in the daytime, at the altar of incense, and at the shewbread table, which is not reasonable to suppose; and though there are some passages of Scripture which seem to intimate as though the lamps only burnt till the morning, and then went out, and were lighted every evening; this difficulty may be solved, and the matter reconciled by what Josephus (l) relates, who must be an eyewitness of it, that three of the lamps burned before the Lord in the daytime, and the rest were lighted at the evening; and Hecataeus (m), an Heathen writer, speaking of the golden candlestick, says, its light was unextinguished day and night, particularly the lamp which was in the middle; also the candlestick is by the ancient Jews, and by Nachmanides, said to have been never extinct.

(l) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 3.((m) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 4. p. 408.

And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive {h} beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.

(h) Such as comes from the olive, when it is first pressed or beaten.

20. And thou, thou shalt, &c.] the emph. pron. marks the beginning of a new section (Exodus 28:1, Exodus 30:23, Exodus 31:13, Numbers 1:50).

pure] clear: LXX. ἄτρυγον (‘without lees, clarified’) καθαρόν.

beaten] Exodus 29:40, Leviticus 24:2, Numbers 28:5†. ‘Beaten’ oil was oil of the finest quality: it was obtained ‘by gently pounding the olives in a mortar; the pulp was then poured into a wicker or rush basket, which, acting as a strainer, allowed the liquid to run into a vessel underneath. The oil which would presently float upon the top was skimmed off,’ and this formed the oil in question. The commoner kinds of oil were obtained from the pulp remaining in the baskets (Kennedy, EB. iii. 3407, from descriptions in the Mishna).

to cause, &c.] to fix on a lamp continually: see on Exodus 25:37.

continually] i.e. not continuously (Exodus 25:30 Heb.), but regularly, as a standing practice, whether daily (as here, Exodus 29:38; Exodus 29:42, Exodus 30:8 al.), or whenever occasion required (Exodus 28:29-30).Verses 20, 21. - THE OIL FOR THE LAMP. It has been observed that this paragraph is somewhat out of place. It would more appro priately, according to human ideas, have terminated ch. 25. But "God's ways are not as man's ways, nor his thoughts as man's thoughts." It is frequently difficult - some-times impossible - for the keenest human intellect to trace the connecting links between one portion of God's word and the next. In such cases it is best not to speculate on the nature of the connection, but to content ourselves with laying to heart the lesson which each portion teaches separately. Verse 20. - Thou shalt command. Compare Exodus 25:6, where the general command had been given. Here certain additions are made as to the quality of the oil which was to be brought. The oil was to be pure olive oil beaten that is to say, it was to be olive oil purified from any admixture of that watery juice which the Romans called amurca; and it was to be of the kind which is obtained by mere beating or pounding in a mortar, and not by crushing in a mill. Oil of this kind, which is usually made from the unripe fruit, is reckoned much the best; it is clear and colourless, and gives a bright pure light with little smoke. To cause the lamp to burn always. It has been supposed from this expression that the lamp must have been kept constantly burning both day and night; and Josephus declares that this was actually so, at least with three out of the seven lights (Ant. Jud. 3:7, 7). But there are several places m Scripture which state, or imply, the contrary. (See especially Exodus 30:8; and 1 Samuel 3:3.) It seems to have been the duty of the high-priest to light the lamps every evening, and to give them a sufficient supply of oil to last till daybreak, at which time "the lamp of God went out" (1 Samuel l.s.c.) The supposition that "one light at least was always burning" (Kalisch), because no daylight could penetrate into the structure through the fourfold covering, ignores the fact that light would enter through the single curtain at the entrance, as well as the probability that some portion of that curtain may generally have been looped up. If we regard the lamp as extinguished during the daytime, we must understand "always" here to mean "regularly every night." "As for the breadth of the court on the west side, (there shall be) curtains fifty cubits; their pillars twenty; and the breadth of the court towards the front, on the east side, fifty cubits." The front is divided in Exodus 27:14-16 into two כּתף, lit., shoulders, i.e., sides or side-pieces, each consisting of 15 cubits of hangings and three pillars with their sockets, and a doorway (שׁער), naturally in the middle, which was covered by a curtain (מסך) formed of the same material as the covering at the entrance to the dwelling, of 20 cubits in length, with four pillars and the same number of sockets. The pillars were therefore equidistant from one another, viz., 5 cubits apart. Their total number was 60 (not 56), which was the number required, at the distance mentioned, to surround a quadrangular space of 100 cubits long and 50 cubits broad.

(Note: Although any one may easily convince himself of the correctness of these numbers by drawing a figure, Knobel has revived Philo's erroneous statement about 56 pillars and the double reckoning of the pillars in the corner. And the statement in Exodus 27:14-16, that three pillars were to be made in front to carry the hangings on either side of the door, and four to carry the curtain which covered the entrance, may be easily shown to be correct, notwithstanding the fact that, as every drawing shows, four pillars would be required, and not three only, to carry 15 cubits of hangings, and five (not four) to carry a curtain 20 cubits broad, if the pillars were to be placed 5 cubits apart; for the corner pillars, as belonging to both sides, and the pillars which stood between the hangings and the curtain on either side, could only be reckoned as halves in connection with each side or each post; and in reckoning the number of pillars according to the method adopted in every other case, the pillar from which you start would not be reckoned at all. Now, if you count the pillars of the eastern side upon this principle (starting from a corner pillar, which is not reckoned, because it is the starting-point and is the last pillar of the side wall), you have 1, 2, 3, then 1, 2, 3, 4, and then again 1, 2, 3; that is to say, 3 pillars for each wing and 4 for the curtain, although the hangings of each wing would really be supported by 4 pillars, and the curtain in the middle by 5.)

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