v1: This altar is not the bronze altar spoken of earlier in Exodus. This altar was called the incense altar and was found in the holy place. Twice a day (every day), the prayers of the people accompanied the smoke that went up with the incense offering (Luke 1:8-10, Rev 8:4). Note: This altar is not the same incense altar spoken of in Heb 9:4. On the Day of Atonement, once a year, an incense offering was made in the Holy of Holies(Lev 16:12-13). This offering in Leviticus is the same offering spoken about in Heb 9:4.
v3: Moulding – like a crown, a decorative part.
v4-5: Rings and poles were necessary for transportation.
v6: Put it before the veil – i.e. in front of the veil (not behind it – behind the veil were the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat)
v7-8: Tends the lamps – speaking about the menorah/golden lampstand.
v9: The incense offering was a unique offering. The incense offering stands alone – it’s separated from these other offerings which are made.
v10: On the Day of Atonement Aaron did an extra service on this altar [Note: Lev 16:12-13. Aaron would take the incense, together with some coals (from the general altar), from the Holy Place into the Holy of Holies. He would then, before the L-rd, place this incense upon the fire/coals on the altar(apparently) in the Holy of Holies. The cloud of incense would then cover the mercy seat. When he did this it saved him from death]
· The sin offering was offered up on the normal altar. The blood of this offering was placed on the horns of the incense altar, once a year, in order to make atonement for it.
v12: This census is not like the census that David did (1 Chron 21). The census he did was one of faithlessness and was not based on the instructions of G-d.
· This census, and payment, got the people ready for daily worship (as well as for the Day of Atonement once a year).
v13-14: All who were old enough to be counted in the census (males, 20 years and older) were liable to pay ½ a shekel.
· This ½ shekel coin was a unique coin and used solely for this purpose. This offering supported the work in the tabernacle, and later in the temple. It was given once a year to cover all the daily sacrifices that were made for the community – it did not include individual or high holiday (Passover etc) offerings.
v15: The purpose of this ½ shekel offering was for the atoning of their souls – in order that there might be a change in one’s spiritual condition. In this case everyone was seen as equal. They all gave a symbolic testimony in support of the temple service.
v16: Appoint it for the service of the tabernacle – spoken of above. That ½ shekel paid for the daily sacrifices/workings of the tabernacle (later, temple)
· A memorial – G-d would see it being done and would remember His covenant purposes, related to atonement.