And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.
The altar of incense was to be about a yard high, and half a yard square, with horns at the corners, a golden cornish round it, with rings and staves of gold for the convenience of carrying it, Ezekiel 41:22, and it is there called an altar of wood, and there is no mention of gold, to signify that the incense in gospel times should be spiritual, the worship plain, and the service of God enlarged. It was placed before the veil, on the outside of that partition, but before the mercy-seat, which was within the veil. For though he that ministered at that altar could not see the mercy-seat, the veil interposing, yet he must look towards it, and direct his incense that way, to teach us, that though we cannot with our bodily eyes see the throne of grace, that blessed mercy-seat, yet we must in prayer by faith set ourselves before it, direct our prayer and look up.
 And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
Aaron was to burn sweet incense upon this altar every morning and every evening, which was intended not only to take away the ill smell of the flesh that was burnt daily on the brazen altar, but for the honour of God, and to shew the, acceptableness of his people's services to him. As by the offerings on the brazen altar satisfaction was made for what had been done displeasing to God, so by the offering on this what they did well was, as it were, recommended to the divine acceptance.
 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.
This altar was purified with the blood of the sin-offering put upon the horns of it every year, upon the day of atonement. See Isaiah 1:13.
 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Perhaps the repetition of those words, the Lord spake unto Moses, here and afterwards, Exodus 30:17,22,34, intimates, that God did not deliver these precepts to Moses, in a continued discourse, but with many intermissions, giving him time either to write what was said to him, or at least to charge his memory with it.
 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
Some think this refers only to the first numbering of them, when the tabernacle was set up, and that this tax was to make up what was wanting in the voluntary contributions. Others think it was to be always when the people were numbered; and that David offended in not demanding it when he numbered the people. But many of the Jewish writers are of opinion, it was to be an annual tribute; only it was begun when Moses first numbered the people. This was that tribute-money which Christ paid lest he should offend his adversaries. The tribute to be paid was half a shekel, about fifteen-pence of our money. In other offerings men were to give according to their ability, but this, which was the ransom of the soul, must be alike for all; for the rich have as much need of Christ as the poor, and the poor are as welcome to him as the rich. And this was to be paid as a ransom of the soul, that there might be no plague among them - Hereby they acknowledged that they received their lives from God, that they had forfeited their lives to him, and that they depended upon his power and patience for the continuance of them; and thus they did homage to the God of their lives, and deprecated those plagues which their sins had deserved. This money was employed in the service of the tabernacle; with it they bought sacrifices, flour, incense wine, oil, fuel, salt, priests garments, and all other things which the whole congregation was interested in.
 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.
The laver, or font was a large vessel, that would contain a good quantity of water. The foot of brass, it is supposed, was so contrived as to receive the water, which was let out of the laver, by spouts or cocks. They then had a laver for the priests only to wash in, but to us now there is a fountain opened for Judah and Jerusalem, Psalms 24:3,4. And it was to teach us, who are daily to attend upon God, daily to renew our repentance for sin, and our believing application of the blood of Christ to our souls for remission.
 Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels,
Interpreters are not agreed concerning these ingredients: the spices, which were in all near half a hundred weight, were to be infused in the oil, which was to be about five or six quarts, and then strained out, leaving an admirable smell in the oil. With this oil God's tent and all the furniture of it were to be anointed; it was to be used also in the consecration of the priests. It was to be continued throughout their generations, 1 Chronicles 9:30. Yet all agree that in the second temple there was none of this holy oil, which was probably owing to a notion they had, that it was not lawful to make it up; Providence over-ruling that want as a presage of the better unction of the Holy Ghost in gospel-times, the variety of whose gifts was typified by these sweet ingredients.
 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
The incense which was burned upon the golden altar was prepared of sweet spices likewise, though not so rare and rich as those which the anointing oil was compounded of. This was prepared once a year, (the Jews say) a pound for each day of the year, and three pound over for the day of atonement. When it was used it was to be beaten very small; thus it pleased the Lord to bruise the Redeemer, when he offered himself for a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour. Concerning both these preparations the same law is here given, that the like should not be made for any common use. Thus God would preserve in the peoples minds a reverence for his own institutions, and teach us not to profane or abuse any thing whereby God makes himself known.