Exodus 30:6
And you shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you.
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(6) Before the vail.—The ark was behind the vail (Exodus 26:33; Exodus 40:3), the altar of incense directly in front of it, nearer to the vail than either the golden candlestick or the table of shewbread. Hence the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of it as belonging, in a certain sense, to the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:4; see Kay, in Speaker’s Commentary). The “vail that is by the ark of the testimony” is distinguished here from the vail, or curtain, at the entrance to the holy place.

Before the mercy seat.—The altar bore a close relation to the mercy seat. It was the instrument by which the “mercy” there enthroned was made available to the penitent sinner.

Where I will meet with thee.—Comp. Exodus 25:22; Exodus 29:42-43.

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.The place for the altar of incense was outside the veil, opposite to the ark of the covenant and between the candlestick on the south side and the showbread table on the north Exodus 40:22-24. It appears to have been regarded as having a more intimate connection with the holy of holies than the other things in the holy place; and the mention of the mercy-seat in this verse, if we associate with it the significance of incense as figuring the prayers of the Lord's people Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3-4, seems to furnish additional pound for an inference that the incense altar took precedence of the table of showbread and the candlestick.6. thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony—which separated the holy from the most holy place. The altar was in the middle between the table of showbread and the candlestick next the holy of holies, at equal distances from the north and south walls; in other words, it occupied a spot on the outside of the great partition veil, but directly in front of the mercy seat, which was within that sacred enclosure; so that although the priest who ministered at this altar could not behold the mercy seat, he was to look towards it, and present his incense in that direction. This was a special arrangement, and it was designed to teach the important lesson that, though we cannot with the eye of sense, see the throne of grace, we must "direct our prayer to it and look up" [Ps 5:3] (compare 2Co 3:14; Heb 10:20; Re 4:1). Before the veil; before the second veil, in the holy place, and near to the holy of holies, and consequently to the ark and mercy-seat. Thou shalt put it before the vail,.... That divides between the holy and the most holy place; not within the vail in the holy of holies, but before it at the holy place, for there the altar of incense stood: Josephus (o) says, between the candlestick and the table, i.e. of shewbread, stood the altar of incense; now the candlestick and shewbread were in the holy place; and with this account the Talmudists (p) agree, who say, that the table was in the north, distant from the wall two cubits and a half, and the candlestick on the south, distant from the wall two cubits and a half, and the altar was in the middle, and stood between them: and Maimonides (q) gives the like account of its situation, which is here further described:

that is by the ark of the testimony; which vail was by it, before which the altar was placed; the ark of the testimony was the chest or coffer in which the law was put, and which was the testimony of the will of God, from whence it had this name; and it stood in the most holy place; and not by it in the same place, but over against it, in the holy place stood the altar of incense:

before the mercy seat, that is over the testimony; the mercy seat that was over the ark, a lid or cover to it, where the testimony was; and towards this, before the face of it, was the altar of incense, where the priest officiating, looked directly towards it; having that in view for the acceptance of the people's prayers to God through Christ, which they were making while he was burning the incense:

where I will meet thee; as he had before promised, Exodus 25:22.

(o) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 8. (p) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 33. 2.((q) Hilchot Beth. Habechirah, c. 1. sect. 7.

And thou shalt put it {c} before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

(c) That is, in the sanctuary, and not in the holiest of all.

6. the veil, &c.] See Exodus 26:31; Exodus 26:33.

by] before (as Exodus 27:21 for the same Heb.) would be clearer: in front of might then be used instead of ‘before’ (twice).

the testimony] i.e. the commandments written on the two tables of stone: see on Exodus 25:16.

meet with thee] cf. Exo Exodus 25:22, Exo Exodus 29:42.Verse 6. - Thou shalt put it before the vail. It might have been doubtful from what is said here, which side of the veil the altar was to be placed. The doubt is precluded by the narrative of what Moses actually did in Exodus 40:21-29, which makes it clear that the altar was placed with the golden candlestick and the table of shew-bread, outside the veil, in the "holy place," and not within the "holy of holies." Where I will meet with thee. See above, Exodus 25:22. להּ is to be understood ad sensum as referring to עולה. The daily morning and evening sacrifices were to be "for a sweet savour, a firing unto Jehovah" (see at Leviticus 1:9). In these Israel was to consecrate its life daily unto the Lord (see at Leviticus 1 and 2). In order that the whole of the daily life might be included, it was to be offered continually every morning and evening for all future time ("throughout your generations" as at Exodus 12:14) at the door of the tabernacle, i.e., upon the altar erected there, before Jehovah, who would meet with the people and commune with them there (see Exodus 25:22). This promise is carried out still further in Exodus 29:43-46. First of all, for the purpose of elucidating and strengthening the words, "I will meet with you there" (Exodus 29:42), the presence and communion of God, which are attached to the ark of the covenant in Exodus 25:22, are ensured to the whole nation in the words, "And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and it (Israel) shall be sanctified through My glory." As the people were not allowed to approach the ark of the covenant, but only to draw near to the altar of burnt-offering in the sanctuary, it was important to declare that the Lord would manifest Himself to them even there, and sanctify them by His glory. Most of the commentators have taken the altar to be the subject of "shall be sanctified;" but this is certainly an error, not only because the altar is not mentioned in the previous clause, and only slightly hinted at in the להּ in Exodus 29:41, but principally because the sanctification of the altar is noticed by itself afterwards in Exodus 29:44. The correct exegesis is that adopted by Baumgarten and others, who supply the word Israel (viz., regarded as a nation), which they take from the expression "children of Israel" in the previous clause. In Exodus 29:44, the sanctification of the tabernacle and altar on the part of God is promised, also that of His servants, and finally, in Exodus 29:45, Exodus 29:46, the abode of God in the midst of the children of Israel, with an allusion to the blessings that would follow from Jehovah's dwelling in the midst of them as their God (Genesis 17:7).
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