What does Exodus 30:22-38 really mean?

Exodus 30:22-38 is about the consecration and sanctification of the priests and the tabernacle through the use of a special anointing oil made of specific ingredients, symbolizing the importance of holiness and separation for carrying out sacred duties.

22 The Lord said to Moses,
23 “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane,”
24 and cassia, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part),
25 And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the 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 with all its utensils and the basin and its stand,
29 You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy.
30 You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.
31 And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations.
32 It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.
33 Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.
34 The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part),
35 You shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.
36 You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.
37 And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the Lord.
38 Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.


Setting the Scene for Exodus 30:22-38

In Exodus 30:22-38, we find Moses in the Tabernacle, the sacred tent where the Israelites worship and offer sacrifices to God. The scene is set with Moses standing before the Lord, surrounded by the holy artifacts and incense burners. The air is filled with the sweet aroma of the sacred incense, creating a sense of reverence and holiness in the space.

Moses is joined by Bezalel, the skilled craftsman chosen by God to create the Tabernacle and its furnishings. Bezalel carefully follows Moses’ instructions as they prepare the sacred anointing oil, a special blend of fragrant spices and olive oil used to consecrate the priests and the Tabernacle itself. The room is filled with the rich scents of myrrh, cinnamon, and other precious spices as they mix the ingredients together, creating a potent and sacred oil.

As Moses and Bezalel work together, the presence of God fills the Tabernacle, enveloping them in a sense of awe and wonder. The intricate process of creating the anointing oil becomes a sacred act, symbolizing the consecration of the priests and the setting apart of the Tabernacle as a holy place where God’s presence dwells among His people.

What is Exodus 30:22-38 about?

The verse provides us with instructions on how to create holy anointing oil and incense that will be used in the tabernacle. The use of these special oils and incense is significant in many religious traditions, as they are believed to represent the presence of the divine and create a sacred atmosphere. This verse emphasizes the importance of using specific ingredients and following a precise process to create these sacred items.

Have you ever thought about the symbolism behind anointing oil and incense in religious rituals? The Israelites were not only following religious protocol but also acknowledging the sacredness of the space in which they used by creating these special items. It is a reminder of the importance of honoring and respecting the divine in our lives. We are invited to reflect on the rituals and practices that hold significance in our own faith traditions and how they help us connect with the sacred as we read these instructions.

Think about the care and attention to detail required to make these holy oils and incense. The precise measurements and specific ingredients emphasize the reverence and respect with which these items are to be created. We must pay attention to detail and be intentional in our daily lives as we seek to cultivate a sense of the sacred in all that we do, just as in religious ceremonies. This verse serves as a reminder of the sacredness that can be found in the simplest of rituals and the importance of approaching our actions with mindfulness and reverence.

Understanding what Exodus 30:22-38 really means

This passage in Exodus provides us with a glimpse into the meticulous instructions given by God to Moses concerning the creation of sacred anointing oil and incense. It underscores the significance of holiness and outlines the specific ways in which the Israelites were to worship and honor God. The phrase “Take the finest spices” emphasizes the idea of presenting our best to God, symbolizing purity and wholehearted dedication in our worship. Similarly, the mention of “A holy anointing oil” signifies sanctification and being consecrated for God’s divine purposes, highlighting the sacredness of the act of anointing.

Furthermore, the directive that the oil “shall be holy to you” reinforces the notion of the sacredness of these items and the reverence required in approaching God in worship. These key phrases not only provide practical instructions for the Israelites but also carry profound spiritual meanings that transcend the physical realm. In exploring related biblical passages, such as Leviticus 8:10-12, we see the anointing of Aaron and his sons, illustrating the concept of being set apart for God’s service and consecrated for a specific purpose.

Psalm 133:2 beautifully compares the unity of brethren to the precious anointing oil, symbolizing harmony and blessing that come from being in fellowship with one another. Additionally, 1 John 2:20 speaks of believers having an anointing from the Holy One, signifying spiritual insight and a deep connection to God. These passages not only provide historical context but also offer spiritual insights that are relevant to believers today. The passage in Exodus serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of approaching God with reverence and offering our best in worship and service.

Just as the anointing oil and incense were to be treated with utmost care and reverence, our relationship with God and our acts of worship should also be approached with a similar level of dedication and respect. By setting aside certain aspects of our lives for God and treating our spiritual practices with reverence, we demonstrate our commitment and devotion to Him. In essence, the detailed instructions for the anointing oil and incense in Exodus 30:22-38 serve as a poignant reminder of the sacredness of our relationship with God and the significance of honoring Him with our best offerings. May we, like the Israelites of old, approach God with reverence and dedication, offering Him the best of ourselves in worship and service.

What significance does the anointing oil have spiritually?

The anointing oil mentioned in the passage holds significant symbolism in the spiritual context. The ingredients of the oil, such as myrrh, cinnamon, and olive oil, each symbolize various spiritual aspects. For example, myrrh signifies suffering and death, pointing towards the sacrifice of Christ. Cinnamon represents the sweetness of fellowship with God, while olive oil often represents the Holy Spirit and consecration.

The act of anointing with oil itself is a sign of consecration and empowerment by the Holy Spirit. It signifies being set apart for God’s purpose and receiving His divine favor and blessing. The anointing oil is believed to bring healing, protection, and strength to the individual anointed, both spiritually and physically. The anointing oil serves as a reminder of the presence and power of God in the lives of His people. It symbolizes consecration, empowerment, and divine favor, highlighting the importance of being set apart for God’s work and receiving His blessings.


Reflecting on Exodus 30:22-38, we are urged to embrace purpose-driven obedience in our daily lives. Like the sacred anointing oil meticulously made to God’s instructions, let’s strive for unwavering obedience in our work and family spheres. This passage encourages us to seek divine guidance and embrace His teachings wholeheartedly, trusting in His divine plan for us. Will you wholeheartedly dedicate yourself to living out God’s purpose, just as the anointing oil was meticulously prepared to fulfill its intended role?