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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(קַטֵּר, kitter, קְטֹרֶת, ketoreth). The strong and offensive exhalations of animal bodies in a hot climate must be regarded as the original cause of the high value (Proverbs 27:9) ascribed to perfumery, and its generally extended use ( (See ANOINT); (See OIL); and comp. Plut. De Iside, ch. 80), although luxury and self-indulgence had much to do with its extension and refinement. It is still customary in the Orient, as it was of old, to perfume thoroughly not only rooms, clothing, etc. (comp. Song of Solomon 3:6), but in the houses of chief persons to sprinkle perfumes on the persons of guests, at their arrival or departure (comp. Maundl ell, Trav. p. 40 sq.; Harmer, Obs. 2:83 sq.; Rosenmü ller, Morgenland, 4:157). On anointing the beard, (See BEARD).
Perfumed fans were carried (Curt. 8:9, 23) before princes; and at their public entry into cities altars of incense were erected on the streets (Herodian, 4:8, 19; Rosenmü ller, Morgenland, 4:195). Such attestation of honor and means of enjoyment were at an early period transferred also to the gods, in the belief that they inhaled with pleasure the odors offered them (Deuteronomy 33:10), and this burning of incense is hence very often alluded to among the ceremonies of heathen religions (1 Kings 11:8; 2 Kings 22:17; 2 Kings 23:5; Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 7:9; Jeremiah 44:3 sq.; Hosea 2:13; Hosea 11:2; Isaiah 65:3; 2 Chronicles 25:14; 2 Chronicles 28:3; Ezekiel 6:13; Ezekiel 23:41; 1 Maccabees 2:15. Comp. Iliad, 6:269 sq.; Virg. AEn. 1:420 sq.; Ovid, Fasti, 1:839 sq.; 2:573; Aristoph. Vesp. 94 sq.; Lucian, Jup. Tranced. 45; Pliny, 13:1). Some deities were worshipped with no other offerings than incense and perfumes (Buhr, Symbol. 1:478), but their use was also included in the instituted worship of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 33:10), for the Israelites were required to add sacred incense to many of their sacrifices, which was burned with them on the altar (Leviticus 2:1 sq.; Leviticus 16:6; Leviticus 16:15); and daily, morning and evening, in trimming and lighting their lamps, an especial incense-offering was made upon its own separate altar over against the ark of the covenant (Exodus 40:27; Exodus 30:7 sq. Comp. Luke 1:9). No doubt the incense was useful in destroying the damp vapors in the confined space of the sanctuary, as well as the exhalations from the animals burned as sacrifices (Rosenmü ller on Exodus 30:7), but the purpose of the incense seems to have been religious. Thus the seer of the Apocalypse represents the angel in the heavenly sanctuary as burning incense after the type of the earthly. But it does not follow, because incense and prayer are often united (Jeremiah 1:16; Psalms 141:2; Bahr's other citations are irrelevant), that in the Jewish sanctuary the incense-offering had sensualized prayer (comp. Hofmann, Weissag. 1:144 sq.). Still less can we adopt Bihr's view (Symbol. 1:462 sq.) that incense is a symbol of God's name invoked in prayer. Besides the ingredients of this incense enumerated in Exodus 30:38, the Talmud adds seven other components, and hence calls the whole the eleven orders (עשר סממנין אחד, Midrash Shir Hashir, 12:4; 21:3; and R. Abr. ben-David, Comm. de svffitu ex Shilte Hangibor. in Ugolini Thesaur. xi). According to the Talmud, half a pound of this incense was to be burned morning and evening (Gem. Shebuoth, 10:2. See esp. Lightfoot, Her. Hebr. p. 715). Exaggerated accounts are given as to the distance from Jerusalem at which the incense could be smelled (Mishna, Tamid, 3:8). The most important incense-offering was that which the highpriest made before the ark of the covenant on the great day of atonement (Leviticus 16:12 sq.). The management of the daily incense in the second Temple is detailed in the Mishna (Tamid, 5, 6). One priest carried incense in a vessel (כִּ ), another burning coals from the altar of burnt-offering in a golden censer (q.v.), and, passing into the holy place, the latter scattered the coals upon the altar of incense, and the former spread the incense upon them (Tamid, 1:2 sq.). These priestly duties, like the others of the office (1 Samuel 2:28; 2 Chronicles 26:18), were daily distributed by lot (comp. Luke 1:9). But, according to the Mishna (Tamid, 5:2; Yoma, 2:4), those priests who had once performed the office were afterwards shut out from the lot, on the ground that, as the Gemara says that this duty enriches with divine blessings (Deuteronomy 33:10 sq.), this advantage might thus be as widely distributed as possible. (On these later Jewish superstitions, see G. Michaelis, Observat. Sacr. p. 71 sq.) It is possible that the distinction which this office gave the priest, bringing him into the nearest relation with the Deity of all the duties of the sanctuary, rendered such an arrangement proper. Perhaps also the belief that the special revelations of God would be made first to the priest thus officiating, may have contributed to cause this duty to be equally divided. (Comp. Joseph. Ant. 13:10, 3; Luke 1:11, and Wetstein, ad loc.) During the burning of incense in the sanctuary the people stood praying in the court (Luke 1:10), and, after the fulfillment of his office, they received from the priest his blessing (Reland, Antiq. Sacr. 2:5, 5). The burning of incense to the honor of Jehovah out of the national sanctuary, on high places, or in cities, was accounted illegal after David's time (1 Kings 3:3; 1 Kings 22:44; 2 Kings 12:3; 2 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 16:4. Comp. 2 Chronicles 32:12; 1 Maccabees 1:58). In the idolatries of the ten tribes of Israel, arranged by Jeroboam, the rning of incense found a place (1 Kings 13:1; 2 Kings 17:11). See Carpzov, Appar. p. 275 sq.; Braun. Selecta Sacr. p. 225 sq.; Schlichter, De suffitu sacr. Hebr. (Hal. 1754). (See INCENSE).
In secular life also, as above observed, the free use of perfumes was peculiarly grateful to the Orientals (Proverbs 27:9), whose olfactory nerves are more than usually sensitive to the offensive smells engendered by the heat of their climate (Burckhardt, Travels, 2:85). The Hebrews manufactured their perfumes chiefly from spices imported from Arabia, though to a certain extent also from aromatic plants growing in their own country. (See SPICES). The modes in which they applied them were various: occasionally a bunch of the plant itself was worn about the person as a nosegay, or enclosed in a bag (Song of Solomon 1:13); or the plant was reduced to a powder and used in the way of fumigation (Song of Solomon 3:6); or, again, the aromatic qualities were extracted by some process of boiling, and were then mixed with oil, so as to be applied to the person in the way of ointment (John 12:3); or, lastly, the scent was carried about in smelling-bottles (בָּתֵּי הִנֶּפֶשׁ, houses of the soul) suspended from the girdle (Isaiah 3:20). Perfumes entered largely into the Temple service, in the two forms of incense and ointment (Exodus 30:22; Exodus 30:38). Nor were they less used in private life: not only were they applied to the person, but to garments (Psalms 45:8; Song of Solomon 4:11), and to articles of furniture, such as beds (Proverbs 7:17). On the arrival of a guest the same compliments were probably paid in ancient as in modern times; the rooms were fumigated; the person of the guest was sprinkled with rose-water; and then the incense was applied to his face and beard (Daniel 2:46; Lane, Mod. Eg 2:14). When a royal rersonage went abroad in his litter, attendants threw up "pillars of smoke" about his path (Song of Solomon 3:6). Nor is it improbable that "other practices, such as scenting the breath by chewing frankincense (Lane, 1:246), and the skiny washing in rosewater (Burckhardt, 1:52), were also adopted in early times. The use of perfumes was omitted in times of mourning, whence the allusion in Isaiah 3:24, "Instead of sweet smell there shall be stink." The preparation of perfumes in the form either of ointment or incense was a recognized profession (רֹקֵח; A.V. apothecary) among the Jews (Exodus 30:25; Exodus 30:35; Ecclesiastes 10:1). (See OINTMENT).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Perfume'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/perfume.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26