Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Censer

Additional Links

[image]

a vessel in which incense was presented in the Temple, being used by the Jews in the daily offering of incense, and yearly on the Day of Atonement, when the high-priest entered the Holy of Holies (2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11; Sirach 1:9). On the latter occasion the priest filled the censer with live coals from the sacred fire on the altar of burnt-offering, and bore it into the sanctuary, where he threw upon the burning coals the "sweet incense beaten small" which he had brought in his hand (Leviticus 16:12-13). In this case the incense was burnt while the high- priest held the censer in his hand; but in the daily offering the censer in which the live coals were brought from the altar of burnt-offering was set down upon the altar of incense. This alone would suggest the probability of some difference of shape between the censers used on these occasions. The daily censers must have had a base or stand to admit of their being placed on the golden altar, while those employed on the Day of Atonement were probably furnished with a handle. In fact, there are different names for these vessels. Those in daily use were called מַקְטֶרֶת (mikte´ reth, occurs only in 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11), from מַקְטָר, incense; whereas that used on the Day of Atonement is distinguished by the title of מִחְתָּה(machtah´, something to take fire with), or coal-pan (often "fire- pan" in the English version). We learn also that the daily censers were of brass (Numbers 16:39) (according to the Mishna Tamid, 5:5, in the second temple, also of silver), whereas the yearly one was of gold (Josephus, Ant. 14:4, 4).

The latter is also said to have had a handle (Mishna, Yoma, 4:4), which, indeed, as being held by the priest while the incense was burning, it seems to have required. It is conjectured that this distinction is alluded to in Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3, where the angel is - represented with a golden "censer" (λιβανωτός, from λίβανος, incense), and the twenty-four elders each with a golden "vial" (φιάλη ). In the Apocrypha, silver (1 Esdras 2:13) as well as golden (1 Maccabees 1:22) "censers" (θυϊ v σκη ) are similarly referred to. Paul, in Hebrews 9:4, speaks of the golden "censer" as a thing which belonged to the Tabernacle, but the Greek word θυμιατήριον, which there occurs, may signify "altar of incense" (see Bleek, Comment. p. 488; Meyer, Bibeldeut. p. 7 sq.; Mynster, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1829; 2:342 sq.).

The latter of the above Hebrew words seems used generally for any instrument to seize or hold burning coals, or to receive ashes, etc. such as the appendages of the brazen altar and golden candlestick mentioned in Exodus 25:38; Exodus 37:23 (in which senses it seems rendered in the Sept. by ἐπαρυστρίς, έπαρυτῆρ, or perhaps ὑπόθεμα ). It, however, generally bears the limited meaning which properly belongs to the former word, viz. a small portable vessel of metal, on which the incense was sprinkled by the priest to whose office this exclusively belonged (2 Chronicles 26:18; Luke 1:9). Thus "Korah and his company" were bidden to take "censers," with which, in emulation of Aaron and his sons, they had perhaps provided themselves (comp. Ezekiel 8:11); and Moses tells Aaron to take "the censer" (not a, as in the A. V.), i.e. that of the sanctuary or that of the high-priest, to stay the plague by atonement. The only distinct precepts regarding the use of the censer are found in Numbers 4:14, where among the vessels of the golden altar, i.e. of incense, censers" are reckoned; and in Leviticus 16:12, where we find that the high-priest was to carry it (here also it is "the," not "a censer," that he is ordered to "take") into the most holy place within the vail, where the "incense" was to be " put on the fire," i.e. on the coals in the censer, "before the Lord." This must have been on the Day of Atonement, for then only was that place entered. Solomon prepared "censers of pure gold" as part of the same furniture (1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:22). Possibly their general use may be explained by the imagery of Revelation 8:3-4, and may have been to take up coals from the brazen altar, and convey the incense while burning to the "golden altar," or "altar of incense," on which it was to be offered morning and evening (Exodus 30:7-8). So Uzziah, when he was intending "to burn incense upon the altar of incense," took "a censer in his hand" (2 Chronicles 26:16; 2 Chronicles 26:19). (See ALTAR).

These intimations help us to conclude that the Jewish censers were unlike those of the classical ancients, with which the sculptures of Greece and Rome have made us familiar, as well as those (with perforated lids, and swung by chains) which are used in the Church of Rome. It is observable that in all cases the Egyptian priests had their costly incense made up into small round pellets, which they projected successively from between their finger and thumb into the censer at such a distance that the operation must have required a peculiar knack, such as could have been: acquired only by much practice. As the incense used by the Jews was made up into a kind of paste, it was probably employed in the same manner. See Sonneschmid, De Thymiaterio sanctissimi (Viteb. 1723); Deyling, Observv. 2:565 sq.; J. G. Michaelis, in the Mus. Brem. 2:6 sq., and in Ugolini Thesaur. 11; Wentz, in the Nova Biblioth. Brem. 5:337 sq.; Zeibich, De thuribulo aureo (Gerl. 1768); Kocher, id. (Jen. 1769); Braun. Selecta aura, p. 208 sq.; Rogal, De thuribulis (Regiom. 1724; also in Ugolini Thes. 11). (See INCENSE).

in Roman Catholic worship. (See THURIBLE).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Censer'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/c/censer.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Search for…
Enter query in the box below:
Choose a letter to browse:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z
Prev Entry
Cenrawath
Next Entry
Censorship