Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.
1. Facies et altare suffimenti suffitus, ex lignis Sittim facies illud.
2. A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; four-square shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof; the horns thereof shall be of the same.
2. Cubitus longitudo ejus, et cubitus latitudo ejus, quadratum erit: et duo cubiti altitudo ejus: ex ipso cornua ejus.
3. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.
3. Teges illud auto puro, tectum ejus vel parietes ejus per circuitum, et cornua ejus: faciesque ei coronam auream per circuitum.
4. And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.
4. Duos etiam annulos aureos facies ei infra coronam ejus, in duobus angulis ejus, in utroque latere ejus: et per illos trajicientur vectes ad illud cum ipsis portandum.
5. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
5. Facies autem vectes illos ex lignis sittim, et teges eos auro.
6. And thou shalt put it 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.
6. Et pones illud ante velum, quod erit juxta aream testimonii, ante propitiatorium, quod erit super testimonium, ubi conveniam tecum.
7. And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
7. Et adolebit super illud Aharon suffitum aromatum singulis matutinis, quando aptabit lucernas adolebit illum.
8. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.
8. Et quando accendet Aharon lucernas inter duas vesperas, adolebit suffitum illum jugiter coram Jehova in generationibus vestris.
9. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.
9. Non offeretis super illud suffitum alium, neque holocaustum, neque minha: sed nec libamen libabitis super illud.
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.
10. Et expiabit Aharon super cornua ejus semel in anno sanguine oblationis pro peccato expiationum: semel in anno expiabit super illud in generationibus vestris. Sanctitas sanctitatum est Jehovae.
1. And thou shalt make an altar. God now issues His commands respecting the altar of burnt incense, whereby the people were assured that the odor of the worship under the Law was sweet to Him. This ceremony indeed also prevailed among the Gentiles; whence there is frequent mention made by heathen authors of incense-burning; but what its object was they knew not themselves, nor did they care to reflect upon its proper intention, since they conceived themselves to have done all that was required of them, by the bare sign itself. In this way, however, God would encourage His believing people, by giving them to know that the worship which they offered at this command sent up to him a sweet savor. Meanwhile He admonished them diligently to beware lest any uncleanness should profane their sacrifices, but that they should come cleansed and pure into His sight. And David applies this type specially to prayer, when he says:
"Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense.”
Therefore, as the other altar of which we have been hearing, was devoted to the victims for the purpose of propitiating God, so also this altar perfumed the sacrifices with the odor of its incense, that they might be acceptable to God. Hence it was placed near the ark of the testimony, though with the vail between, that its savor might ascend directly to God without any let or hindrance. There is no ambiguity in the words, except that some think there is a repetition where it is said, “every morning,” and “between the two evens;” 152 others suppose that there are two separate oblations, and this latter view is the more probable, i.e., that the incense was offered morning and evening. He afterwards forbids either the altar itself to be transferred to other uses, or any other kind of incense to be burnt upon it; of this he will speak elsewhere.
10. And Aaron shall make an atonement. We should observe here the correspondence between the two altars; for, as the Israelites were admonished that the sacrifices would not please God, unless all uncleanness were wiped away by pure and holy prayers, so also the altar of incense was purified by the sprinkling of blood, that they might learn that their prayers obtained acceptance through sacrifices. Although this was only done once a year, yet it was daily to be called to mind, in order that they might offer the death of Christ by faith and prayer, 153 and yet might know that their prayers had no sweet savor, unless in so far as they were sprinkled with the blood of atonement.
A. V., Margin, Ex 30:8.
“Ut fide et precibus adolerent mortem Christi.” — Lat. “Afin qu’en appliquant a eux la vertu de la mort de Jesus Christ par foy et prieres;” in order that applying to themselves the virtue of the death of Jesus Christ by faith and prayers. — Fr.