Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Exodus 30:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Take - unto thee principal spices - From this and the following verse we learn that the holy anointing oil was compounded of the following ingredients: -

    Pure myrrh, דרור מר mar deror, 500 shekels

    Sweet cinnamon, בשם קנמן kinnemon besem, 250 shekels. (probably from Arabia)

    Sweet calamus, בשם קנה keneh bosem, or sweet 250 shekels. cane, Jeremiah 6:20; - Calamus aromaticus.

    Cassia, קדה kiddah, (cassia lignea), brought 500 shekels. Also from Arabia.

    Olive oil, זית שמן shemen sayith, one hin, about 5 quarts.

Myrrh is the produce of an oriental tree not well known, and is collected by making an incision in the tree. What is now called by this name is precisely the same with that of the ancients.

    500 shekels of the first and last, make 48 lbs. 4 oz. 12 dwts. 21 21/31 grs.

    250 of the cinnamon and calamus. 24 lbs. 2 oz. 6 dwts.10 26/31 grs.

    Olive oil is supposed to be the best preservative of odours.

As the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are termed the anointing of the Holy Ghost, therefore this holy ointment appears to have been designed as emblematical of those gifts and graces. See Acts 1:5; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 1 John 2:27.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 22-33

Compare Exodus 37:29.

Exodus 30:23

Principal spices - i. e. the best spices.

Pure myrrh - Is a gum which comes from the stem of a low, thorny, ragged tree, that grows in Arabia Felix and Eastern Africa, called by botanists Balsamodendron myrrha. The word here rendered pure, is literally, “freely flowing”, an epithet which is explained by the fact that the best myrrh is said to exude spontaneously from the bark, while that of inferior quality oozes out in greater quantity from incisions made in the bark.

Five hundred shekels - Probably rather more than 15 1/4 lbs. See Exodus 38:24.

Cinnamon - is obtained from a tree allied to the laurel that grows in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and other islands of the Indian Ocean, known in Botany as the Cinnamomum zeylanicum. It is the inner rind of the tree dried in the sun. It was imported from India in very early times by the people of Ophir, and brought with other spices from the south part of Arabia by the trading caravans that visited Egypt and Syria. The mention of these spices in Exodus may be taken as the earliest notice we have connected with commerce with the remote East.

Two hundred and fifty shekels - about 7 lbs. 14 oz.

Sweet calamus - The fragrant cane (or rush) was probably what is now known in India as the Lemon Grass.

Exodus 30:24

Cassia - is the inner bark of an Indian tree (Cinnamomum cassia), which differs from that which produces cinnamon in the shape of its leaves and some other particulars. It was probably in ancient times, as it is at present, by far less costly than cinnamon, and it may have been on this account that it was used in double quantity.

An hin - Probably about six pints. See Leviticus 19:36.

Exodus 30:25

An oil of holy ointment - Rather, a holy anointing oil.

After the art of the apothecary - According to Jewish tradition, the essences of the spices were first extracted, and then mixed with the oil. The preparation of the anointing oil, as well as of the incense, was entrusted to Bezaleel Exodus 37:29, and the care of preserving it to Eleazar, the son of Aaron Numbers 4:16. In a later age, it was prepared by the sons of the priests 1 Chronicles 9:30.

Exodus 30:32

Upon man‘s flesh - i. e. on the persons of those who were not priests who might employ it for such anointing as was usual on festive occasions (Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 27:9; Matthew 6:17, etc.).

Exodus 30:33

A stranger - See Exodus 29:33.

Cut off from his people - See Exodus 31:14.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Directions are here given for making the holy anointing oil, and the incense to be used in the service of the tabernacle. To show the excellency of holiness, there was this spiced oil in the tabernacle, which was grateful to the sight and to the smell. Christ's name is as ointment poured forth, So 1:3, and the good name of Christians is like precious ointment, Ec 7:1. The incense burned upon the golden altar was prepared of sweet spices. 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. The like should not be made for any common use. Thus God would keep in the people's minds reverence for his own services, and teach us not to profane or abuse any thing whereby God makes himself known. It is a great affront to God to jest with sacred things, and to make sport with his word and ordinances. It is most dangerous and fatal to use professions of the gospel of Christ to forward wordly interests.