As we are approaching the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur I am going to tread on a some-what controversial topic, The Holy Incense written about in Exodus 30. I understand the controversy and hope that those who oppose the thought that we can have modern-day apothecaries consider the Holy incense and Holy Anointing Oil are what they are. . . Holy unto the Lord. A portion of my setting aside time to write this blog is quite frankly because of the number of e-mails, written notes and queries from conference attendees on the subject. While the questions are valid, so is the call of God on my life. That is to bring a portion of Scripture to life through the fragrances of the Bible using the elements found in today’s botanicals. I like to call it “connecting you to the Creator of the Universe”.
Over the next few days during the time known as “The Ten Days of Awe” I’m going to share some insights on the ingredients of the Holy Incense known as Ketoret. (Ketoret also is spelled Qetoret.) I will be using the ingredient list from the Scriptures that list five ingredients. The Jewish prayer-book, The Siddur, gives the tradition of 11 ingredients that should be noted is not known with absolute certainty. Pray that you will find a few moments to read this blog over the next few days as we unfold the Ancient Secrets of Ketoret.
I am a simple and old-fashion, line-upon-line girl. Feel free to copy these notes for your personal study or to share with our Bible-Study group. And please feel free to comment or e-mail me with any questions. I really would like to know your thoughts on the Holy Incense.
Apothecary Cynthia Hillson
The Ancient Secrets of Ketoret ~ Part One
We begin with our Scriptural reference found in Exodus 30:34-38. (KJV)
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; [these] sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like [weight]: And thou shall make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure[and] holy: And thou shall beat[some] of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy. And [as for] perfume which thou shall make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.”
From The Siddur (the Morning Prayer service) before the incense offering prayers is the prayers for ashes and Tamid (which is the continual offering asking for God’s mercy).
“It is You, Hashem, our God, before Whom our forefathers burned the ketoret (incense-spices) in the time when the Holy Temple stood, as You commanded them through Moses, Your prophet, as it is written in Your Torah:”
“Hashem to Moses: Take yourself spices – stacte, onycha and galbanum- spices and pure frankincense; they are to be of equal weight. You are to make it an incense, a spice-compound, the handiwork of an expert spice-compounder, thoroughly mixed, pure and holy. You are to grind some of it finely and place some of it before the Testimony in the Tent of Appointment, where I shall designate a time to meet you; it shall be a holy of holies for you. It is also written: Aaron shall burn upon it the incense-spices every morning; when he cleans the lamps he is to burn it. And when Aaron ignites lamps in the afternoon, he is to burn it, as continual incense before Hashemyour generations.” Exodus 30:34-36, 7-8
The Siddur continues with a list of the 11 ingredients of the Holy Incense that comes from oral tradition. The morning service continues with the prayers for the other offerings (guilt, sin and peace) which when all said could fill up your morning. The point I am suggesting is the importance of the incense in the Jewish religion and their desire to come close to God is found in their daily prayers. I believe that we also need to be awakened to something that may possibly bring us closer to God and is the purpose of this study.
Before closing today it is of vital importance for me to share how holy the Lord considers the oil and incense, not just holy but extremely HOLY. The word holy in Hebrew is kodesh. It means to be set aside and kept separate. The concept of Holy includes not only the incense and anointing oil it includes our places of worship, our tongue and speech, God’s Word, marriage and family, Shabbat and the Holy City of Jerusalem. The true nature of something being Holy is to recognize the fact that holiness is something that needs to be guarded and protected. There has been enough misuse in our modern day culture, perhaps more from those of us who live in the West, on what true holiness is. I believe the Lord is giving us a time to consider what He considers Holy during this season prior to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.