The Laver

Lesson 5 - Exodus 30:17 - 21


Of all the pieces of furniture in the Tabernacle, the Laver has by far the least amount of information given about it. In fact our text is the longest passage you will find in Scripture about this interesting work of brass. Yet, there was plenty for the Israelites to learn from it, and we may also have our understanding brightened especially in the areas of Salvation and Holiness. As important as it was to visit the Brazen Altar, it is equally important for the Christian to make a trip to the Laver.

The Description

Our text describes the Laver as a basin or pot made of brass with a pedestal upon which it rested. The priests filled the Laver with water, and they were to wash both their hands and feet with this water before they entered the Tabernacle or presented an offering upon the Brazen Altar. Obviously the priests would not have put their hands or feet directly into the Laver but probably had a pitcher which they could use to dip out some of the water from the Laver and pour it over their hands and feet into a smaller pan or basin. Alternatively, the pedestal may have itself been a lower basin to catch water flowing from the Laver through some form of valve. No shape or sizes are given, but there are some distinct differences with the Laver that might be used to get a better idea of its appearance and use.

The Material used in Construction

One verse, Exodus 38:8, is used to describe the construction of the Laver. There we are told that it was made from the "lookingglasses of the women" who had assembled at the Tabernacle for perhaps this purpose. They did not have the kind of mirrors that we have become so accustomed to, but the women could use a piece of polished metal to view their image. We can imagine the clearness of the water and the reflection from a basin made out of brass so polished that it had once served as a mirror.

The Mode of Transport

The Laver and the Golden Candlestick are the only pieces of furniture which did not have rings and staves used to move them. In fact, the Laver is the only piece of furniture which is not mentioned as being covered by the priests before the Kohathites could transport it (Numbers 4:5-14). One conclusion we might draw from this is that the Laver was not a very heavy item.

The Mention in Scripture

It is peculiar that when God described the design of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25 - 31, he gave the instructions for the furniture just prior to describing the area where it resided except for the Altar of Incense and the Laver. The Ark of the Covenant, the Table of Shewbread, and the Golden Candlestick are described just before the details of the Tabernacle; and the Brazen Altar is described just prior to the details of the Outer Court. The Laver is the last piece of furniture mentioned and its description comes almost at the very end of the whole design. Since the Laver is mentioned just prior to the anointing oil and the perfume used in The Most Holy Place, we might conclude from this that the water and act of washing was more significant than the form and shape of the Laver used to hold the water.

The Demonstration

No doubt the trip to the Laver was more than just a daily occurrence for the priests. After frequent washings every day, it must have left quite an indelible impression in their minds.


Let us consider first some ideas that the Laver would not have presented.


Now if we were to have tread the grounds of the Tabernacle as did the priests, what conclusions would we have surely come to at the Laver?

Praise God, at the Laver we may wash our hands in declaration of our innocence. We have been declared not guilty and our position now stands as if we had never sinned. There is no condemnation nor anything that would demand that we be sent to hell (John 5:24). Eternal security was not something invented in the New Testament, it was known by the priests at the Laver for centuries. However, for the Christian, this declaration of innocence is perhaps better pictured in baptism. Is this not "the answer of a good conscience toward God" to which Peter refers (1 Peter 3:21)? Is this not also the "full assurance of faith" found in Hebrews 10:22? What an awesome thought for one who was guilty to be able to now say "I am innocent"!