The Incense Service

"He shall take a shovelful of burning coals from the altar that is before the Lord, and a double handful of finely ground incense, and he will bring them (into the inner sanctuary) beyond the curtain" (Lev. 16:12).

A "Double Handful"

After having placed the shovelful of burning coals on the floor near the Sanctuary, other priests now bring their senior the two other items he will use to conduct the incense service:

a large golden spoon (empty) which was brought from the Chamber of Vessels, and a golden shovel, filled with finely ground incense, brought from the Chamber of the Avtinas Family where the incense is prepared.

From the verse above, the sages deduced that the High Priest must remove the incense from the shovel directly into his two palms, without the aid of a vessel; this is the Bible's requirement - "a double handful of finely ground incense." Thus, there was no set measurement of how much incense was to be brought. It was literally the amount which fitted into each High Priest's palms; the amount therefore differed for each man depending on the size of his hands.

 

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