Exodus 30:34-38 The Incense of the Altar

The four ingredients to the incense may be a clue to what kinds of prayers God recieves:

  1. Galbanum – which was a bitter gum resin and Rabbi Shelomo ben Yitschak comments on this passage that galbanum is bitter and was included in the incense as a reminder of deliberate and unrepentant sinners. Galbanum (CHal-ban-um) is collected from the outside of a tree like pine sap that naturally oozes to the surface. Some rabbis noted that it was forced out of the inner heart of the tree by some stress or pressure, causing it to be abundant on the outside of the tree. Others noted that God made the tree with so much sap that it always had much to “give away”. I use this to indicate that some of the prayer we offer oozes out of our heart because of stress and pressures that we need to our out willingly to God.
  2. Onycha – which is probably operculum which comes from conchs from the Red Sea and I am guessing could possibly be representative of prayers from the “depths”… Exactly, some prayer comes from the depths of our lives that need to be carefully rooted out of the encased shells of our lives, and shared with the God who loves us. It is the only way deep issues can be healed!
  3. Myrrh – is tapped from the commiphora tree and I have not an inkling of what it represents, but am guessing it might have something to do with it being very expensive, sometimes more than gold. Myrrh is tapped like Maple Syrup. A tap is burrowed from the outside into the tree, piercing the exterior and “wounding the tree” to get the bitterness inside out. Some prayer, the rabbis taught, was to empty our souls of the bitterness trapped within us before God, who alone could handle it.
  4. Frankencense – is tapped from Boswelia trees and is milky white in color.  Other than that I have no idea what to do with it…Frankencense is “levonah” in Hebrew, (lavan=white). It is not only white in color, it makes a thick whitened smoke when it burns. Many Old Cityshops carry it and Catholic Churches use it in the incensers to this day. The point is that it’s addition to the incense was that, like the prayers of God’s people, it made an impact or a change that was evident to all. Prayer changes people and the spiritual atmosphere with a noticeable fragrance and color.