Laver of Bronze

The Bronze Laver of the Tabernacle Was Used for Cleansing

Bronze Lever
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The laver of bronze was a wash basin used by priests in the tabernacle in the wilderness, as a place where they cleansed their hands and feet.

Moses received these instructions from God:

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and put water in it. Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. Whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting an offering made to the LORD by fire, they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come." (Exodus Exodus 30:17-21, NIV)

Unlike the other elements in the tabernacle, no measurements were given for the laver's size.  We read in Exodus 38:8 that it was made from the bronze mirrors of the women in the assembly.  The Hebrew word "kikkar," associated with this basin, implies it was round.

Only priests washed in this large basin.  Cleaning their hands and feet with water prepared the priests for service.  Some Bible scholars say the ancient Hebrews washed their hands only by having water poured over them, never by dipping them in water.  

Coming into the courtyard, a priest would first make a sacrifice for himself at the brazen altar, then he would approach the laver of bronze, which was placed between the altar and the door of the holy place. It was significant that the altar, representing salvation, came first, then the laver, preparing for acts of service, came second.

All the elements in the tabernacle court, where the common people entered, were made of bronze.  Inside the tabernacle tent, where God dwelt, all elements were made of gold.  Before entering the holy place, priests washed so they could approach God clean.  After leaving the holy place, they also washed because they were returning to serve the people.

Symbolically, the priests washed their hands because they worked and served with their hands.  Their feet signified travel, namely where they went, their path in life, and their walk with God.

Deeper Meaning of the Laver of Bronze

The entire tabernacle, including the laver of bronze, pointed to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Throughout the Bible, water represented cleansing.

John the Baptist baptized with water in the baptism of repentance. Believers today continue to enter the waters of baptism to identify with Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection, and as a symbol of the inner cleansing and newness of life wrought by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. The washing at the laver of bronze foreshadowed the New Testament act of baptism and speaks of new birth and new life.

To the woman at the well, Jesus revealed himself as the source of life:

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13, NIV)

New Testament Christians experience life anew in Jesus Christ:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Some interpret the laver to stand for the Word of God, the Bible, in that it gives spiritual life and protects the believer from the uncleanness of the world. Today, after Christ's ascension into heaven, the written gospel keeps Jesus' Word alive, giving power to the believer.  Christ and his Word cannot be separated (John 1:1).

In addition, the laver of bronze represented the act of confession. Even after accepting Christ's sacrifice, Christians continue to fall short. Like the priests who prepared to serve the Lord by washing their hands and feet in the bronze laver, believers are cleansed as they confess their sins before the Lord. (1 John 1:9)

Bible References

Exodus 30:18-28; 31:9, 35:16, 38:8, 39:39, 40:11, 40:30; Leviticus 8:11.

Also Known As

Basin, bason, washbasin, bronze basin, bronze laver, laver of brass.

Example

The priests washed in the laver of bronze before entering the holy place.

(Sources:  www.bible-history.com; www.miskanministries.org; www.biblebasics.co.uk; The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, R.K. Harrison, Editor.)