The Bronze Laver

also see:

The Encampment of the Children of Israel
The Children of Israel on the March

The laver was made from the bronze mirrors of the women

'The Bronze Laver' (Ex 30:17-21)

It was here at the bronze laver that the priests washed their hands and feet before entering into and coming out of the holy place. The laver was made from the bronze mirrors of the women and filled with water for the continual cleansing of the priests as they ministered in the work of the Lord.

Exod 30:17-21 "Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them-- to him and his descendants throughout their generations."

Its Name

The word "laver" means a bath or wash basin containing water for the purpose of washing. The Jewish priests were commanded to continually wash their hands and feet during tabernacle service.

Its Position

The laver was placed between the door of the Holy Place and the altar.

(1) It came after the altar (sacrifice first)

The appointed priest, as he entered the gate of the outer court, faced the altar, where he made a sacrifice for himself like any other Israelite. Once beyond the altar he was ready to act as a serving priest and so at the laver he prepared himself for the further service of God. He could then minister at the altar or in the Holy Place because he washed at the laver.

The altar always came first for the priest. Salvation and then service. God was approached by way of the blood and the water.

(2) It came before the door (wash before entering)

Within the door of the Holy Place were vessels that represented God Himself. No priest dare enter with any trace of uncleanness. "Be holy as I am holy" was commanded to the priests.

(3) It came after leaving the Holy Place (wash before going out)

In the outer court everything was bronze. Inside the Holy Place everything was gold. As the priest came out of Gods Presence and back into service he washed at the laver.

Notice the Laver at the Entrance to the Holy Place

Its size (Immeasurable)

No measurements or instructions are given as to the shape and size of the laver. The only thing mentioned is that it had a stand (Ex 31:9), which made it easier to wash, and it was made of solid bronze, no wood at all. Also it was made from mirrors:

Ex 38:8 He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

(1) It had no staves

How the laver was carried we are not told. The altar and other vessels had staves and rings by which they were carried but nothing is mentioned about the laver. Maybe there was a lip around the top edge as in the illustration.

It was here that the priests washed their hands and feet

Its purpose

The laver served one great purpose, the washing and cleansing of the priest from all defilement.

(1) It was for priests only

No one in Israel or the rest of the world for that matter could wash from the laver. What a privilege for the tribe of Levi.

(2) Moses washed Aaron and his sons only once:

Ex 40:11-16 "And you shall anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it. "Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and wash them with water. "You shall put the holy garments on Aaron, and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest. "And you shall bring his sons and clothe them with tunics. "You shall anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may minister to Me as priests; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations." Thus Moses did; according to all that the LORD had commanded him, so he did.

Here the word "wash" means to wash all over. This washing was done by Moses and it was once and final. There bodies were washed first, then their clothing.

(3) The priests were to wash only their hands and feet.

Ex 30:19-20 "for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. "When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die.

Certainly the hands of the priests would immediately get dirty after washing and then ministering at the altar. And so also their feet (since they were barefoot) would immediately get dirty the moment they touched the ground after washing (since there was no carpeting). Then what was the significance of just the feet and hands being washed?

(a) The Hands

The hands speak of what they did, their service, their work, everything they put their hands to was important and so their hands needed to be cleansed always, and daily. The initial cleansing was done only once, the daily cleansing was done continuously.

(b) The Feet

The feet represented where they went, their lives and ways. Their walk had to be a holy walk, so their feet were washed always, everyday.

A Type of Christ

As the altar points to the death of Jesus, so the laver points to the life of Jesus. Blood speaks of a life taken and water speaks of life given. The water in the laver speaks of Jesus, the living Word of God that enters us and gives us eternal life. Jesus said that we are clean because of His Word and that the knowledge of God that comes through His Word is eternal life and is described with the exact same terminolgy in the Hebrew as the sexual union of a man with his wife. As the priest would wash his hands and his feet while coming into the Presence of God (gold) and back out into the world (bronze) so we are continually being cleansed from the corruption of this world by the Word of God. When the Jewish leader named Nicodemus came to Jesus to inquire from Him about the kingdom of God Jesus replied, "unless one is born of the water and the Spirit (Hebrew idiom - "born from above") he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Water brings life to the physical world and so spiritual water (the Word of God) brings Gods spiritual life to us. When Jesus met the woman at the well he said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." When Jesus stood and cried, "If any man thirst let him come to Me and drink," it was on the great day of the feast of tabernacles when the Jewish leaders were pouring the water from the pool of Siloam (Heb. Sent) onto the pavement of the temple symbolizing that someday God will pour out the real water from heaven on His people as promised through the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezek 36:25-27 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them."

Eph 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

NOTE: The Greek word for "washing" here means a laver.

Jn 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

Tit 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration (spiritual rebirth) and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Jn 7:38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."