10177. 'And you shall make an altar for burning incense' means that which is representative of the Lord, of His hearing and receiving with pleasure everything of worship that springs from love and charity. This is clear from the meaning of 'an altar for burning incense' as that which is representative of such things of worship as are raised up to the Lord. The fact that they are things springing from love and charity will be evident from what follows below. 'An altar' has the same meaning as whatever is placed on it; and this is so because the altar is that which contains and whatever is placed on it is the contents, and container and contents make a single unit, like a table and the bread that is on it or a cup and the wine that is in it.
 The reason why an altar and not a table was made for burning incense was that among the Israelite nation altars were the chief representative signs of worship springing from love. For fire burned on them, and 'fire' means the love and charity from which worship springs. Regarding altars, that they were the chief representative signs of worship, see Arcana Coelestia 4192, 4541, 8623, 8935, 8940, 9714.
 The reason why the altar of incense represented the hearing and receiving of everything of worship that springs from love and charity was that the creation of the cloud of smoke was a sign of that which is raised up on high, and the odour of the smoke was a sign of that which is pleasing, consequently of that which is heard and received by the Lord. And what springs from love and charity, this alone is pleasing to and received by the Lord. This also explains why that altar was overlaid with gold and was called the golden altar; for 'gold' means the good of love and charity, see the places referred to in Arcana Coelestia 9874, and what has been stated in Arcana Coelestia 9874, 9881.
 The reason why that alone which springs from love and charity is pleasing to the Lord, and is therefore heard and received by Him, is that love constitutes all that a person is; for a person is such as his love is. This explains why angels in heaven live as embodiments of love and charity. To them the form of love and charity is the human form, because the Lord, who is within them and gives them form, is - as to His Divine Human - Divine Love itself. From their faces therefore, from their speech, from their gestures, and especially from the spheres of their affections which flow out of them to a long way off, one can perceive clearly what kinds of love reign in them.
 And since love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour originate in the Lord, and since love is a spiritual bonding, whatever emanates from these is heard and received by the Lord. Any holy and religious respect paid to Him that does not spring from them is indeed heard but it is not received with pleasure. It is a hypocritical holiness and respect, something merely outward, devoid of anything inward. Outward holiness devoid of anything inward reaches no further than the outskirts of heaven and dwindles away there. But outward holiness springing from inward reaches right on into heaven, according to the essential nature of that inward holiness, thus reaches towards the Lord. For outward holiness devoid of that inward holiness is a product solely of the lips and movements of the body, whereas outward holiness springing from inward comes at the same time from the heart. Regarding these two kinds of holiness, see what has been stated and shown in Arcana Coelestia 8252-8257.
 In the tent of meeting outside the veil there was the table on which the loaves of the presence were laid, also the lampstand with its lamps, and the altar of incense. The loaves of the presence represented love to the Lord, the lamps of the lampstand represented charity and faith, and the incense on the altar represented worship springing from them, which is why it was burned every morning and every evening, when the lamps were 'adorned'. From this as well it is evident that the burning of incense represented worship of the Lord which springs from love and charity. The actual tent in which those objects resided represented heaven, where all worship is such. The loaves represented celestial good, which is the good of love to the Lord, see Arcana Coelestia 9545; the lampstand represented spiritual good, which is the good of charity towards the neighbour and the good of faith, Arcana Coelestia 9548-9561; and the tent represented heaven, Arcana Coelestia 9457, 9481, 9485, 9784, 9963.
 When the word 'worship' is used the holiness which is expressed by means of prayers, adorations, thanksgivings, and similar acts of devotion that emanate from inward feelings of love and charity should be understood. These constituents of worship are what should be understood by 'the burning of incense', as may be recognized from the following places: In David,
My prayers are acceptable, [as] incense before You. Psalms 141:2.
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8.
In the same book,
An angel holding a golden censer ... And much incense was given to him, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. The smoke of the incense went up from the prayers of the saints. Revelation 8:3-4.
 Since incense was a sign of worship and of its being raised up, thus of its being heard and received by the Lord, Moses commanded [those who rebelled against him] to take censers with incense in them, and to burn it before Jehovah, in order that they might consequently know whom Jehovah would choose, thus whom He would hear, Numbers 16:1ff. And when the people grumbled Aaron ran with incense, into the midst of the congregation, when a plague began, and in so doing stopped it, Numbers 16:46-48. In Malachi,
From the rising of the sun even to its setting Jehovah's name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense has been offered to My name, and a pure minchah. Malachi 1:11.
'A pure minchah' is added because the good of love is meant by it, Arcana Coelestia 10137. In Moses,
The sons of Levi will teach Jacob [Your] judgements and Israel Your law. They will put incense in Your nose, and burnt offering on Your altar. Deuteronomy 33:10.
The expression 'putting incense in the nose' is used because perception is meant by 'the nostrils', Arcana Coelestia 4624-4634. 'Burnt offering' is added here because by this too that which springs from the good of love is meant.
 But in the contrary sense 'burning incense' means worship springing from contrary loves, namely self-love and love of the world, for example burning incense to other gods, Jeremiah 1:16; 44:3, 5; burning incense to idols, Ezekiel 8:11; 16:18; and burning incense to the baalim, Hosea 2:13.
 Because the burning of incense served to mean such things as rise upwards to and are accepted with pleasure by the Divine it was also one of the religious practices among gentiles. The use of frankincense, censers, and incense-boxes by the Romans and other nations is well known from historical evidence. That kind of religious practice was derived from the Ancient Church, which was spread through many regions of Asia, such as Syria, Arabia, Babylon, Egypt, and Canaan. That Church had been a representative Church, thus a Church consisting in outward forms that represented inner realities, that is, celestial and spiritual things. A large number of religious practices, one of which was the burning of incense, were passed on from that Church to surrounding nations, and from these through Greece into Italy. Another practice like this was the care of the perpetual fire entrusted to chaste virgins whom they called the Vestal Virgins.
 The incense that was burned in the Ancient Church, and consequently in the Israelite Church, was prepared from fragrant substances, such as stacte, onycha, galbanum, and frankincense, because perception was meant by an odour, and delightful perception by a fragrant odour, see Arcana Coelestia 925, 1514, 1517-1519, 3577, 4624-4634, 4748, 10054. But 'frankincense' in particular means the truth of faith, and therefore when frankincense is mentioned in the Word oil, bread, minchah, or else gold, by which the good of love is meant, is linked with it, as in Isaiah,
All those from Sheba will come. They will bring gold and frankincense, and will proclaim the praises of Jehovah. Isaiah 60:6.
Similarly those who came from the east, in Matthew,
Wise men from the east came, seeking the Lord who had then been born ... opening their treasures; and they presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-2, 11.
In the Word those who were from the east and were called 'sons of the east' mean people who possessed the cognitions or knowledge of goodness and truth, see Arcana Coelestia 3249, 3762. 'Sheba' has the same meaning, Arcana Coelestia 1171, 3240. And for the meaning of 'gold' as the good of love, see the places referred to in Arcana Coelestia 9874 or Arcana Coelestia 9881.
 In Jeremiah,
They will bring burnt offering and sacrifice, and minchah, and frankincense. Jeremiah 17:26.
'Minchah' in like manner means the good of love, Arcana Coelestia 9992, 10137. From all this it is evident that in the Word 'frankincense' means truth that composes faith; for where good is spoken of in the Word, so too is truth, on account of the heavenly marriage, which is that of goodness and truth, in every single part of it, see the places referred to in Arcana Coelestia 9263[end], Arcana Coelestia 9314. For the same reason also oil as well as frankincense was placed on a minchah, Leviticus 2:1-2, 15, though not on a minchah required for a sin offering, Leviticus 5:11, nor on a minchah for jealousy, Numbers 5:15. The reason why they were not placed on these minchahs was that such minchahs were presented for expiation from evils, and as long as a person is at the stage of expiation he cannot receive the good of love or truth of faith, because evils stand in the way. It is different after they have been expiated or removed.
 The good of love cannot be imparted to anyone unless at the same time the truth of faith is as well. For good brings truth into being, and in that truth it acquires a particular quality and receives an outward form. This was why every minchah had frankincense on it, as did the loaves of the presence which were laid on the table in the tent of meeting, Leviticus 24:7, the good of love being meant by 'loaves', Arcana Coelestia 3478, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735, 4976, 8410, 9323, 9545, 10040, 10137.
Exodus 30:1; Ezekiel 8:10-11)