Previous Next

Table of Contents

Incense


Incense, from the Latin “to burn,” “a mixture of gums or spices and the like, used for the purpose of producing a perfume when burned”; or the perfume itself of the spices, etc., burned in worship. The incense employed in the service of the tabernacle was compounded of the perfumes stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense. All incense which was not made of these ingredients was forbidden to be offered. Ex. 30:9. Aaron, as high priest, was originally appointed to offer incense each morning and evening. The times of offering incense were specified in the instructions first given to Moses. Ex. 30:7, 8. When the priest entered the holy place with the incense, all the people were removed from the temple, and from between the porch and the altar. Cf. Luke 1:10. Profound silence was observed among the congregation who were praying without, cf. Rev. 8:1, and at a signal from the prefect the priest cast the incense on the fire, and, bowing reverently toward the holy of holies, retired slowly backward. The offering of incense has formed a part of the religious ceremonies of most ancient nations. It was an element in the idolatrous worship of the Israelites. 2 Chron. 34:25; Jer. 11:12, 17; 48:35. It would seem to be symbolical, not of prayer itself, but of that which makes prayer acceptable, the intercession of Christ. In Rev. 8:3, 4 the incense is spoken of as something distinct from, though offered with the prayers of, all the saints, cf. Luke 1:10; and in Rev. 5:8 it is the golden vials, and not the odors or incense, which are said to be the prayers of saints.

Image

Altar of Incense.