Monday, September 14, 2009

Amazing Temple Incense

"In April 1992, Vendyl [Jones] and his team discovered 600 kilos of "reddish-brown organic substance" in a carefully sealed rock silo in another part of the Qumran cave complex. Subsequent...analysis determined that this reddish-brown substance contains traces of at least eight of the eleven spices that were used in the manufacture of the Incense Mixture and burned in the Temple. In 1994, the incense spices were presented to Rav Yehudah Getz, late Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Places in Israel. A sample was also given to Rav Ovadiah Yoseph. Rav Ovadiah had his own chemist analyze the mixture to confirm its organic nature.

Then both rabbis requested that Vendyl Jones "burn" some of the incense for scientific purposes (not with fire but with hydrochloric acid). At their suggestion, he had the spices combined together with the Sodom Salt and Karshina Lye which were also found stored separately in the cave in Qumran. The results were astonishing. Although the spices had lost some of their potency over the two millennia (!!) since their burial, it was still powerful. The residue of its fragrance lingered in the vicinity for several days following the experiment. Several people present reported that their hair and clothing retained the aroma.

More amazing, the area in which the spices were burned changed. It had been infested with a variety of flies, ants, moths and other insects. After the Qetoret (incense) was burned, no sign of these pests was seen for quite a while. This is reminiscent of the Mishnah in Avot (5:5) which states that there were no flies in the area of the Temple, nor was a snake or scorpion ever able to harm anyone anywhere in Jerusalem as long as the Temple stood.

Rabbi Avraham Sutton

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