Tammuz 12, 5762 / Jun 22, 2002,
Tammuz 16, 5765 / July 23, 2005 see
Av 4, 5762 / July 13, 2002,
Av 1, 5765 / Aug 6, 2005 see
Tammuz 23, 5768 / July 26, 2008
Tammuz 21, 5771 / July 23, 2011
Tammuz 21, 5774 / July 19, 2014
Tammuz 21, 5777 / July 15, 2017
V'ashit Mizbe'ach / You Shall Make an Altar
SCRIPTURES (should be read first)
We are to have a prayer time morning
Firstly, we must be cleansed at the
laver. Having our feet washed represents having our walk before God cleansed by
learning to follow His Word. Having our hands washed means having our actions
before God cleansed by learning to follow His Word. What we undertake and how we
perform must come from a heart attitude that is purified by repentance and
learning to follow the Word of God.
Then we may come to God’s altar of
prayer. Our prayers are to be specifically according to God’s instruction – no
unholy mixtures of incense or “strange fire.” This is the meaning of “praying
according to His will.” It is the meaning of “praying in Yeshua’s Name” – asking
for that which is needed to fulfill our Father’s work as Yeshua instructed.
(V.1 & 10) “And you shall make an altar to burn incense upon: . . . it is most holy
is called the Golden Altar, the Incense Altar, and the Inner Altar (in contrast
to the Brazen Altar for offerings in the outer court). It was located in the
Holy Place, in front of the center of the veil, where the poles of the Ark of
the Covenant protruded from the other side. It was about 20" (1 cubit) square
and 40" (2 cubits) tall, with four extensions on its upper corners and two
carrying poles through support rings.
to be burned on this Golden Altar every morning when ashes of the wicks were
cleaned from the menorah, and every evening when flames were made to ascend from
the menorah. Perpetual or continual means every day regularly; it does not mean
required a special formula, which was not to be made for any other purpose.
Incense of any other formula, or this formula for any other purpose (such as
freewill offering), was called "strange fire."
Each year on
the Day of the Atonements (Yom haKippurim), blood from the Goat for Yahweh (the
elevation offering burned on the Outer Altar) was to be sprinkled on this Inner
Altar. The High Priest walked to the right of the Incense Altar to enter the
Holy of Holies once a year.
“For from the rising of the sun even to
the going down of the same My Name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in
every place incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure offering: for My
Name shall be great among the heathen, says Yahweh of hosts”
– Malachi 1:11.
prophet we learn that incense offerings to Yahweh relate to the world beyond
“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead
me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, and a
strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle for ever: I will
trust in the covert of Your wings”
– Psalm 61:1-4.
61 being tied to this week's Torah portion, we find that prayer is related to
the Incense Altar. We also find them relating to defense against sin and
dwelling forever in God's tabernacle. Praising the Name of Yahweh forever (v.8)
is a part of praying without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).
was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zachariah,
of the course of Abia: . . . And it came to pass, that while he executed the
priest's office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom
of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the Temple
of Yahweh. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the
time of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of Yahweh standing on the
right side of the altar of incense. And when Zachariah saw him, he was
troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not,
Zachariah: for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a
son, and you shall call his name John”
– Luke 1:5-13.
Being of the
course of Abia shows that Zachariah was serving the week following the Feast of
the Firstfruits (Pentecost), the tenth week of the Festival Year (the eight
courses of I Chronicles 24:1-10 begin with the first Sabbath of Nisan, and two
weeks are added for festivals when all priests served).
Zachariah did not recognize the man as an Angel, he might be fearful of seeing
someone at the (right side of the Altar) entrance to the Holy of Holies – where
entering would bring a man immediate death. And only a properly prepared priest
could enter even the Holy Place where Zachariah was. If he did recognize the man
as an Angel, why would he be so doubtful of an Angel's words?
the multitude outside was praying while Zachariah was at the Incense Altar.
“And another angel came and stood at the
altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that
he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which
was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers
of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand”
– Revelation 8:3-4.
the symbolism of offering incense on the Golden Altar, it may be clearly seen
from these passages that it is related to the prayers of God's people. The word
for "perpetual" or "continual" incense offerings is the same as the word for
prayer “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means to pray at all the
appointed times – evening, morning, and noon (Psalm 55:17 and Daniel 6:13-16;
remember that the Biblical day begins with evening).
Two types of
elevation offerings are noted. Animal sacrifices are burned at the Brazen Altar
in the Outer Court: their aroma ascends to the heavens. Incense offerings are
burned on the Golden Altar in the enclosed Inner Court: their sweet aroma also
ascends to the heavens. The former is the aroma of the sin sacrifice,
representing Yeshua's crucifixion, without which one's own torment will be as
smoke ascending forever. The latter is the sweet aroma of prayers of those who
bear His Name – His saints.
shall make an altar to burn incense upon" is seen as instruction to
establish a place for regular prayer – every day at the appointed times in the
appointed manner – no strange fire. (The Shemoneh Esrei and the Disciples Prayer
of Matthew 6:9-13 teach the appointed manner.)
usual, we see that the spiritual (prayer) and the physical (incense)
counterparts are seen together – not one or the other, not one without the other
– both are commanded, both were done together at the Tabernacle in the
wilderness and in the Holy Temple at Jerusalem.
We often consider the Commandments
of God: how we are to love Yahweh with all of our heart, soul, mind, and
strength; and love our neighbor as our self. But Yeshua gave us a “new”
commandment – a concept bringing the second commandment to a new level: from
loving our neighbor as our self, to loving one another as He loved us!
Consider: we might pray for physical
prosperity for our neighbor, as we would like for our self. But we should pray
for spiritual prosperity for one another, as Yeshua prayed for us. It often seem
easier to desire natural things, than to desire spiritual growth – which can
mean we have to change our habits, to repent.
What if every time we realized that
we had sought our own will instead of God’s, we had to bring an animal
offering? We are supposed to do what that represents – confess to God and
change our habits!
The half-shekel silver coin was
atonement for the soul. The rich could not give more and the poor could not give
less, indicating equality – no one could out-do anyone else. Believers should
see themselves as equals before God; it is wrong to think of one’s self as
greater or to hate another. It may also be seen here that adult men were
responsible to represent their families before God.
In Temple times, the coins would
be inserted into a trumpet (shofar) shaped receptacle and a blessing would be
recited. Donating the coins to the Temple would make them holy – dedicated to
God. Yeshua spoke of a similar situation as recorded in Matthew 23:16-22: “Which
is more important, the gold or the Temple that sanctifies the gold?”
The receptacles would be emptied
into a large vault room. On Erev Rosh Hodesh Nisan (the evening before
the New Year for Festivals), nine baskets full (Trumat haLishkah / the
elevated offerings of the vault) would be lifted up ceremonially and then used
for Temple service expenses for that year. The remaining coins (Shearei
haLishkah / the gates’ vault) were used for upkeep of the Temple courtyard
walls and gates, and for the pilgrimage festivals.
[Side issue: see
"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King
of the Universe,
Who chose us from among all peoples by
giving us Your Torah.
Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the
The Golden Altar
Reader 1* Amen. 1
"Moreover, you shall make an altar as a place for burning incense; you shall
make it of acacia wood. 2 "Its length shall be a cubit, and its width
a cubit, it shall be square, and its height shall be two cubits; its horns shall
be of one piece with it. 3 "You shall overlay it with pure gold, its
top and its sides all around, and its horns; and you shall make a gold molding
all around for it. 4 "You shall make two gold rings for it under its
molding; you shall make them on its two side walls – on opposite sides – and
they shall be holders for poles with which to carry it. 5 "You shall
make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.
Reader 2* Amen. 6
"You shall put this altar in front of the veil that is near the ark of the
testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is over the ark of the testimony,
where I will meet with you. 7 "Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on
it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. 8 "When
Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be
perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations. 9 "You
shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal
offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it. 10
"Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year; he shall make atonement on
it with the blood of the sin offering of atonement once a year throughout your
generations. It is most holy to Yahweh."
Reader 3* Amen. 11
Yahweh also spoke to Moses, saying, 12 "When you take a census of the
sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for
himself to Yahweh, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among
them when you number them. 13 "This is what everyone who is numbered
shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel
is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to Yahweh. 14
"Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the
contribution to Yahweh. 15 "The rich shall not pay more and the poor
shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to
Yahweh to make atonement for yourselves. 16 "You shall take the
atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the
tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before Yahweh,
to make atonement for yourselves."
Reader 4* Amen. 17
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 18 "You shall also make a laver of
bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the
tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. 19
"Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; 20
when they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they
will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in
smoke a fire sacrifice to Yahweh. 21 "So they shall wash their hands
and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute
for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations."
Reader 5* Amen. 22
Moreover, Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 23 "Take also for yourself
the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant
cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two hundred
and fifty, 24 and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of
the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin. 25 "You shall make of these a
holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a
holy anointing oil. 26 "With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting
and the ark of the testimony, 27 and the table and all its utensils,
and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28 and
the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its stand.
29 "You shall also consecrate them, that they may be most holy;
whatever touches them shall be holy.
Reader 6* Amen. 30
"You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may
minister as priests to Me. 31 "You shall speak to the sons of Israel,
saying, 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.
32 'It shall not be poured on anyone's body, nor shall you make any
like it in the same proportions; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you.
33 'Whoever shall mix any like it or whoever puts any of it on a layman
shall be cut off from his people.'"
Reader 7* Amen.
34 Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha
and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of
each. 35 "With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a
perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36 "You shall beat some of it very
fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I
will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you. 37 "The incense
which you shall make, you shall not make in the same proportions for yourselves;
it shall be holy to you for Yahweh. 38 "Whoever shall make any like
it, to use as perfume, shall be cut off from his people."
"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King
of the Universe,
Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living
Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.
Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the
"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King
of the Universe,
Who selected good prophets, delighting
in their words which were spoken truthfully.
Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the
Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,
and the prophets of truth and
Malachi 1:11 - 2:7
Reader 8* Amen. 11
"For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among
the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My Name, and a
grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says
Yahweh of hosts. 12 "But you are profaning it, in that you say, 'The
table of Yahweh is defiled, and as for its fruit, its food is to be despised.'
13 "You also say, 'My, how tiresome it is!' And you disdainfully
sniff at it," says Yahweh of hosts, "and you bring what was taken by robbery and
what is lame or sick; so you bring the offering! Should I receive that from your
hand?" says Yahweh. 14 "But cursed be the swindler who has a male in
his flock and vows it, but sacrifices a blemished animal to Yahweh, for I am a
great King," says Yahweh of hosts, "and My name is feared among the nations."
Reader 9* Amen. 2:1
"And now this commandment is for you, O priests. 2 "If you do
not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name," says
Yahweh of hosts, "then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your
blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it
to heart. 3 "Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will
spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken
away with it. 4 "Then you will know that I have sent this commandment
to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi," says Yahweh of hosts. 5
"My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an
object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. 6
"True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his
lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from
iniquity. 7 "For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and
men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Yahweh of
61 (To be sung.) For
the choir director; on a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David.
my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I
call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the
enemy. 4 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; let me take refuge in the
shelter of Your wings. Selah. 5 For You have heard my vows, O God;
You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name. 6
You will prolong the king's life; his years will be as many generations. 7
He will abide before God forever; appoint lovingkindness and truth that they may
preserve him. 8 So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I
may pay my vows day by day.
Psalm 62 (To be sung.)
For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
1 My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my
salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I
shall not be greatly shaken. 3 How long will you assail a man, that
you may murder him, all of you, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
4 They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
they delight in falsehood; they bless with their mouth, but inwardly they curse.
Selah. 5 My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from
Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall
not be shaken. 7 On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of
my strength, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, O
people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. 9
Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; in the balances
they go up; they are together lighter than breath. 10 Do not trust in
oppression and do not vainly hope in robbery; if riches increase, do not set
your heart upon them. 11 Once God has spoken; twice I have heard
this: that power belongs to God; 12 and lovingkindness is Yours, O
Lord, for You recompense a man according to his work.
Reader 10* Amen. 5
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the
division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name
was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God,
walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced
in years. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly
service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9
according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter
the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude
of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
Reader 11* Amen. 11
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of
incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear
gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid,
Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear
you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 "You will have joy
and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 "For he will be
great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will
be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. 16
"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17
"It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of
Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the
disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people
prepared for the Lord." 18 Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I
know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."
19 The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in
the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this
good news. 20 "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak
until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my
words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
Reader 12* Amen. 21
The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the
temple. 22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and
they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs
to them, and remained mute. 23 When the days of his priestly service
were ended, he went back home. 24 After these days Elizabeth his wife
became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying,
25 "This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked
with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men."
Revelation 8:3-4, 14:11
Reader 13* Amen. 3 Another angel
came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given
to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden
altar which was before the throne.
4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of
the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.
11 "And the smoke of their
torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who
worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
"Blessed are You, Yahweh
our God, King of the Universe,
Rock of Ages, righteous
throughout all generations.
You are the faithful God,
promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,
for all Your words are true
Faithful are You, Yahweh
our God, and faithful are Your words,
for no word of Yours shall
You are a faithful and
merciful God and King.
Blessed are You, Yahweh our
God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."