the Fourth Week of Lent
Fausset's Bible Dictionary
It and the altar stood in the court of the tabernacle. Consisting of the laver itself and a base, both of brass. In it the priests were bound to wash their hands and feet in approaching the altar and entering the tabernacle, on pain of death. Constructed of the polished metallic looking glasses which the devout women (assembling at the door of the tabernacle of God's meeting His people) offered, renouncing the instrument of personal vanity for the sake of the higher beauties of holiness. The word of God is at once a mirror wherein to see ourselves and God's image reflected, and the means of sanctifying or cleansing (2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1:23-25; Ephesians 5:26; Exodus 30:18-19; Exodus 38:8). The women made a like sacrifice of ornaments ("tablets," rather armlets) for the Lord's honour (Exodus 35:22). On solemn occasions the priest had to bathe his whole person (Exodus 29:4; Leviticus 16:4). The kiyor , "laver," was probably the reservoir; the base received and held water from it, and was the place for washing.
Thus, the water was kept pure until drawn off for use. In Solomon's temple there was one great brazen "sea" for the priests to wash in, and ten lavers on bases which could be wheeled about, for washing the animal victims for burnt offering, five on the N., five on the S. sides of the priests' courts; each contained 40 "baths" (1 Kings 7:27; 1 Kings 7:39; 2 Chronicles 4:5-6). Ahaz mutilated the bases; and Nebuzaradan carried away the remainder (2 Kings 16:17; 2 Kings 25:13). No lavers are mentioned in the second or Herod's temple. Solomon's "molten sea" was made of the copper captured from Tibhath and Chun, cities of Hadarezer king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18:8), five cubits high, ten diameter, 30 circumference; one hand-breadth thick; containing 3,000 baths according to Chronicles, but 2,000 in Kings; 2,000 is probably correct, Chronicles reading is a transcriber's error.
It is thought that it bulged out below, but contracted at the mouth to the dimensions in 1 Kings 7:23-26. A double row of gourds ("knops"), 5 + 5 or 10 in each cubit, ran below the brim. The brim or lip was wrought curving outward like a lily or lotus flower. Layard describes similar vessels at Nineveh, of smaller size. The 12 oxen represent the 12 tribes of Israel the priestly nation, which cleansed itself here in the person of its priests to appear holy before the Lord. The sacrificial animals, the oxen, represent the priestly service.
The "oxen" in 2 Chronicles 4:3 instead of "gourds" or "knops" in Kings is a transcriber's error. The "holy water" in the trial of jealousy (Numbers 5:17), and in consecrating the Levites by purifying and sprinkling, was probably from the laver (Numbers 8:7); type of the true and efficacious sprinkling of Christ's blood on the conscience (Hebrews 9:9-10; Hebrews 10:22; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26); not to be so washed entails eternal death. The hands and feet need daily cleansing, expressing those members in general most exposed to soils; but the whole body needs but once for all "bathing" (Greek louoo ), just as once for all regeneration needs not repetition, but only the removal of partial daily "stains" (Greek niptoo ). John 13:1-10, "he that is bathed has no need save to wash (the parts soiled, namely,) his feet."
These files are public domain.
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Laver'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​fbd/​l/laver.html. 1949.