Exodus 30:10
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.
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(10) Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year.—This passage seems to determine the sense of Leviticus 16:18, where some have supposed that “the altar that is before the Lord” is the brazen altar. Once in the year, on the great day of atonement, the high priest, after entering within the vail and sprinkling the blood of the offerings upon the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14-15), was to “go out unto the altar that was before the Lord, and put of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, upon the horns of the altar round about, and sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times,” and so “cleanse it, and hallow it,” and “make an atonement for it” (Leviticus 16:18-19).

Exodus 30:10. Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year — Namely, upon the day of atonement, (see Leviticus 16:18-19,) when the high-priest was to take it in his way as he came out from the holy of holies. This was to intimate, that the sins of the priests who ministered at this altar, and of the people for whom they ministered, put a ceremonial impurity upon it, from which it must be cleansed by the blood of atonement. This altar typified the mediation of Christ: the brazen altar in the court was a type of Christ dying on earth; the golden altar in the sanctuary was a type of Christ interceding in heaven. This altar was before the mercy-seat, for Christ always appears in the presence of God for us; and his intercession is unto God of a sweet-smelling savour. And it typified the devotions of the saints, whose prayers are said to be set forth before God as incense, Psalm 141:2. As the smoke of the incense ascended, so must our desires, being kindled with the fire of holy love. When the priest was burning incense, the people were praying, (Luke 1:10,) to signify that prayer is the true incense. This incense was a perpetual incense, for we must pray always. The lamps were dressed or lighted at the same time that the incense was burned, to teach us that the reading of the Scriptures (which are our light and lamp) is a part of our daily work, and should ordinarily accompany our prayers and praises. The devotions of sanctified souls are well-pleasing to God, of a sweet-smelling savour; the prayers of saints are compared to sweet odours, Revelation 5:8; but it is the incense which Christ adds to them that makes them acceptable; and his blood that atones for the guilt which cleaves to our best services. Yet, if the heart and life be not holy, even incense is an abomination, Isaiah 1:13.

30:1-10 The altar of incense represented the Son of God in his human nature, and the incense burned thereon typified his pleading for his people. The continual intercession of Christ was represented by the daily burning of incense thereon, morning and evening. Once every year the blood of the atonement was to be applied to it, denoting that the intercession of Christ has all its virtue from his sufferings on earth, and that we need no other sacrifice or intercessor but Christ alone.See the marginal references. 9. Ye shall offer no strange incense—that is, of a different composition from that of which the ingredients are described so minutely. Once in a year, on the day of expiation, Leviticus 16:19 Numbers 29:7.

With the blood of the sin-offering of atonements; to note, that the prayers of the saints are acceptable to God no otherwise but through the blood of Christ, who was offered for the expiation of our sins.

And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year,.... On the day of atonement, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra explain it; and the atonement here referred to seems to be an atonement for the altar itself, see Leviticus 16:18 and as the altar of burnt offering was first expiated and then used, Exodus 29:36 so it seems the altar of incense had not only an atonement made on it, but for it: and this was done

with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; by sprinkling the blood of that offering upon the horns of it, as we learn from the afore mentioned place; and this shows that Christ's mediation and intercession is founded upon the virtue of his blood, and the efficacy of his atoning sacrifice, see 1 John 2:1.

once in the year shall he make atonement upon it, throughout your generations; which proves the insufficiency of all legal sacrifices of themselves to take away sin, since every year, as the apostle observes, there was a remembrance of it, Hebrews 10:3.

it is most holy unto the Lord; either the atonement made on the day of atonement, which was a most holy part of service, and pointed at the great atonement made by the most Holy One, the Son of God; or this altar thus expiated, and devoted to sacred use, was reckoned a most sacred one to the Lord, and so was to have nothing offered upon it but what he ordered; with which Jarchi agrees in his note,"the altar is sanctified to these things only, and not to any other service.''

And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.
10. An annual rite of atonement to be performed for it. The law presupposes Leviticus 16 (which prescribes the ceremonial of the annual Day of Atonement), and is thus later than it. Leviticus 16:16; Leviticus 16:18; Leviticus 16:20 prescribes a rite of atonement for the Holy place, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar of burnt-offering, but none for the altar of incense: the present verse supplies the deficiency.

upon the horns of it] by putting some of the blood of the sin-offering of atonement (the goat for the people of Leviticus 16:5; Leviticus 16:15-19) upon them: cf. Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18. The marg. for may be disregarded.

for it] to preserve it, like the other sacred objects, in its ideal holiness: cf. Exodus 29:36, with the note.

most holy] see on Exodus 29:37.

make atonement] both here and elsewhere make propitiation would be a better rend. of kipper, and propitiation, &c., of its derivatives (cf. propitiatory, suggested on Exodus 25:17 for kappôreth): not only is this the idea of the word, but kipper and its derivatives are usually represented in LXX. by (ἐξ)ιλάσκομαιἱλασμός, &c., which in the NT. are expressed in English by ‘(make) propitiation’ (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Hebrews 2:17 RV.): an important link of connexion between OT. and NT. is thus lost, when, of the two corresponding terms, the rend. is atonement in the OT. and propitiation in the NT. (note that in NT. ‘atonement’ occurs in AV. Romans 5:11 only, RV. reconciliation; in RV. never). For a fuller discussion of the meaning and use of the Heb. term, reference must be made to the notes on Leviticus 4, and to the writer’s art. Propitiation in DB.; see also H. M. P. Smith’s arts. in the Biblical World (Chicago), Jan., Feb., Mar., 1908. Here it can only be briefly explained that kipper is used in two applications: (1) with a human subject, to make appeasement or propitiation, Exodus 32:30 (see the note), Genesis 32:20, 2 Samuel 21:3 (cf. in the passive, the implicit subject being some act or rite, 1 Samuel 3:14, Deuteronomy 21:8 b, Isaiah 6:7; Isaiah 22:14; Isaiah 27:9, Proverbs 16:6); so in P, where the subject is always either the priest, or (rarely) an offering, and the means of effecting the propitiation usually a sacrifice (as ch. Exodus 29:36-37, Leviticus 1:4), but occasionally some other act or offering (as below, vv. 15, 16, Numbers 25:13 : see further details in DB. iv. 130); (2) with God as subject, to treat propitiously (EVV. to be merciful, forgive, &c.) either an offender (Deuteronomy 21:8 a, Deuteronomy 32:43, Ezekiel 16:63, 2 Chronicles 30:18) or an offence (Jeremiah 18:23, Psalm 65:3; Psalm 78:38; Psalm 79:9, Daniel 9:24). The actual meanings, and usages, of kipper can be determined from the OT. itself (see DB. l.c.). Whether, however, as used to be supposed, its primary meaning was either (Arab.) to cover, or (Syr.) to wipe away, is very doubtful. In Ass. kapâru, it seems, means properly to remove; kuppuru is to remove ritual impurity from a person or thing; and the word appears to have come into Heb. with the sense of ritual purgation attaching to it, and to have been developed there so as to express the ideas of purge away (sin) ritually, declare purged, remove guilt or cause of offence, appease, &c. See Langdon, Exp. Times, April 1911, p. 320 ff.; cf. Zimmern, KAT.3[212] 601 f.

[212] Die Keilinschriften und das A T., 1903, by H. Zimmern (pp. 345–653) and H. Winckler (pp. 1–342).

11–16 (cf. Exodus 38:24-31). The ransom of souls at a census. When a census of the people is taken, every man is to pay half a (silver) shekel to Jehovah as a ransom for his life, that no ‘plague’ break out among the people: the proceeds of the tax to be applied to the maintenance of the daily services in the sanctuary. It must have been a popular belief, current at the time when this law was drawn up, that a census was dangerous to the lives of the persons numbered (cf. 2 Samuel 24), whether because it was likely to give rise to feelings of self-satisfaction and pride, or because it tended to bring the sins and imperfections of individuals prominently before God’s notice: every adult male of the community was therefore to pay a ‘ransom’ (Exodus 21:30) for his life, by which he, as it were, purchased it for himself and secured it against peril of death. The Gallas of E. Africa believe that to count their cattle impedes the increase of the flock; and the Lapps, at least formerly, would not count themselves, for fear of the great mortality which they supposed would ensue (Frazer, p. 174 of the volume cited on Exodus 23:19 b). And an Arab is averse to counting the tents, or horsemen, or cattle of his tribe, lest some misfortune befal them (Burckhardt, Travels, p. 74 f.). In 2 Chronicles 24:6; 2 Chronicles 24:9 (in two passages added by the Chronicler to the original narrative of 2 Kings 12:7-9) it is stated that the tax here imposed was enforced—though not apparently upon occasion of a census—by Joash.

Verse 10. - Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in the year. Once in the year, on the great day of atonement - the tenth day of the seventh month - the high priest, after burning incense within the veil, and sprinkling the blood of a bullock and a ram towards the mercy seat, was to take of the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar of incense "to make an atonement for it - to cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel" (Leviticus 16:18, 19). This was not making it an altar of expiation, but merely expiating it. There was, however, another use for the altar, where it seems to have served for an altar of expiation. When the high priest had sinned in his official character, and offered a sin-offering for his cleansing (Leviticus 4:3-12), or when the whole congregation had committed an offence through inadvertence, and did the same (ib, 13-21), the high priest was to put of the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar of incense, "for the expiation of his own sin and the sin of the people" (Keil). In these two cases, the altar of incense served the purpose of the altar of burnt-offering, on which was put the blood of private sin-offerings (ib, 22-35). It is most holy. There seems to be sufficient reason for considering the altar of incense as, next to the ark and mercy seat, the most sacred object in the furniture of the tabernacle. This precedence indicates the extreme value which God sets upon prayer.

CHAPTER 30:11-16 Exodus 30:10Once a year Aaron was to expiate the altar of incense with the blood of the sin-offering of atonement, because it was most holy to the Lord, that is to say, as is expressly observed in the directions concerning this expiatory act (Leviticus 16:18-19), to purify it from the uncleannesses of the children of Israel. כּפּר, with על objecti constr., signifies literally to cover over a thing, then to cover over sin, or make expiation. In the second clause we have "upon it" (the altar) instead of "upon the horns of it," because the altar itself was expiated in its horns. The use of מן in מדּם is to be explained on the ground that only a part of the blood of the sin-offering was smeared with the finger upon the horns. (For further remarks, see at Leviticus 16:18-19.) The term "most holy" is not only applied to this altar, in common with the inner division of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:33), but also to the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 29:37; Exodus 40:10), and all the vessels of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:29), which were anointed with holy oil; then to the whole of the tabernacle in its holiest aspect (Numbers 18:10); and lastly, to all the sacrifices, which were given up entirely to Jehovah (see at Leviticus 2:3); - consequently to everything which stood in so intimate a relation to Jehovah as to be altogether removed, not only from use and enjoyment on the part of man, but also from contact on the part of unsanctified men. Whoever touched a most holy thing was sanctified thereby (compare Exodus 30:29 with Exodus 29:37).
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