Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
1. The writer of Hebrews mentions the ‘golden θυμιατήριον’ first among the pieces of furniture which belonged to the Holy of Holies ( Hebrews 9:4). He had in view Exodus 30:1-10, which is generally regarded as one of the latest strata of P. His words raise a question as to the meaning of the word θυμιατήριον, and another as to the position of the article so named, both of which questions have been the subject of much controversy. (1) Authorized Versionand Revised Version, following the Vulgate-‘aureum habens thuribulum’-render θυμιατήριον by ‘censer’; but Revised Version margin and American Revised Version, like Clement Alex., Calvin, and most modern scholars, translate it as ‘altar of incense.’ Etymologically the word-a neut. adj.-may mean anything employed in the burning of incense, whether a censer in which, or an altar upon which, the act is performed. When θυμιατήριον occurs in the Septuagint- 2 Chronicles 26:19, Ezekiel 8:11, 4 Maccabees 7:11 -it no doubt means ‘censer,’ being a translation of מִקִטֶרָת, while the altar of incense is τὸ θυσιαστήριον θυμιάματος (or -των) in Exodus 30:1; Exodus 30:27, Leviticus 4:7, 1 Chronicles 6:49, etc. But it is also certain that θυμιατήριον became the usual Hellenistic name for the altar of incense, and Philo ( Quis rer. div. haer . 46, Vit. Mos . iii. 7), Josephus ( Ant . iii. vi. 8, viii. 2, 3, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) v. v. 5), and the versions of Symmachus and Theodotion use the word with this meaning in Exodus 30:1. Unless the writer of Hebrews follows the same usage, he entirely ignores the altar of incense in his description of the furniture of the tabernacle, which is scarcely credible. (2) Prima facie , the author of Hebrews has fallen into error in naming this altar among the furnishings of the most holy place. He may be supposed to have been misled ( a ) by the ambiguous instructions regarding it given in Exodus 30:6 : ‘thou shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy-scat that is over the testimony’; ( b ) by its designation as ἅγιον τῶν ἁγίων in Exodus 30:10; and ( c ) especially by the fact that in Exodus 25:23-40; Exodus 26:35, only the candlestick and the table are mentioned as standing in the holy place. Such a mistake on the part of the writer, whose acquaintance with the ritual practice of Judaism was second-hand, would not prove him the Monstrum von Unwissenheit that Delitzsch suggests. Still, it is not certain that he was really wrong. He does not say that the Holy of Holies contained the θυμιατήριον (contrast ἐν ᾗ in Hebrews 9:3), but that it had (ἔχουσα) such an altar. Evidently he was thinking, not of the local position of the altar, but of its intimate relation to the ministry of the inner sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.
2. In Revelation 8:3; Revelation 8:5, λινβανωτός, which is strictly ‘frankincense,’ the gum exuding from the λίβανος, is used instead of λιβανωτίς (or -τρίς) for ‘censer,’ corresponding to the πυρεῖον (πύριον) or θυίσκη (‘fire pan’) of the Septuagint. In the prophetic symbolism this censer holds (1) the lire which burns the incense that is added to the prayers of the saints, and (2) the fire, or hot ashes, of God’s vengeance, which are cast upon a hostile and impenitent world. See Incense.
Literature.-Thayer Grimm’s Gr.-Eng. Lexicon of the NT, tr. Thayer, s.v. θυμιατήριον; Schürer, History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).] ii. i. 295; T. Zahn, Introd. to NT , Eng. translation, 1909, ii. 363; H. B. Swete, Apocalypse of St. John 2, 1907, p. 108; Expository Times i. [1889-90] 74, ii. [1890-91] 18; see also article‘Censer’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Literature there cited.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
An instrument to seize or hold burning coals. Latterly the portable metal vessel for receiving from the altar burning coals, on which the priest sprinkled the incense for burning ( 2 Chronicles 26:16; 2 Chronicles 26:18-19; Luke 1:9). Korah and his company were told to take censers, with which they had furnished themselves as aspiring to share in Aaron's priesthood. So Uzziah. So Ezekiel 8:11. But Aaron was told to take "the censer" (Hebrew), namely, that of the sanctuary or of the high priest, and make atonement to stay the plague ( Numbers 16:46). On the day of atonement the high priest was to carry the censer of the golden altar within the most holy place, and put the incense on the fire in the censer "before the Lord" ( Leviticus 16:12-13).
Solomon made censers of pure gold, probably to take fire from the brazen altar, and to convey incense to the golden altar on which it was to be offered morning and evening ( Exodus 30:7-8; 1 Kings 7:50). In Revelation 8:3-4 the "angel" is not Christ, who always has His own title in Revelation, but a ministering spirit. The incense, i.e. Christ's meritorious obedience and death, is given to the angel that he may give it to (so the Greek) the prayers of all saints, to render them a sweet smelling savor to God. "The golden altar," moreover, is Christ Himself ( Hebrews 13:10), resting on whom alone prayer is accepted before God. How the angels' ministry exactly is exercised we know not, but we do know they are not to be prayed to ( Revelation 19:10).
If we send an offering to the King, the King's messenger is not to appropriate what is due to the King alone. In Hebrews 9:4 "the holiest ... had the golden censer "does not mean it was deposited there, for then the high priest would have had to go in and bring it out before burning incense in it, but that the golden censer was one of the articles belonging to the yearly service in the holiest place; it was taken into the holiest on that anniversary by the high priest. Its shape was probably that of a pan with a handle.
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Censer. There are two Hebrew words so translated, mahhtah and miktereth; the latter occurring only in the later books. 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11. It was a vessel or metal fire-pan to take up coals on which the incense could be placed. It was portable, and probably had a long handle. Censers are described among the furniture of the altar—the brazen altar," not the altar of incense. Numbers 4:14; and a special charge is given for the use of the censer on the day of atonement. Leviticus 16:12. Probably those of the ordinary kind were of brass or copper, comp. Exodus 27:3; but the Jews suppose that the one used by the high priest was of gold; and this supposition is to a certain extent corroborated by the fact that Aaron is bidden to use some particular censer—the definite article being prefixed to the word. Leviticus 16:12; Numbers 16:46. Korah and his company had censers, Numbers 16:6; Numbers 16:17; Numbers 16:37-39; but they were doubtless of the common sort. Solomon made golden censers. 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:22. A golden censer is mentioned in the New Testament. Hebrews 9:4. It is questioned, however, whether the golden altar is not rather meant. The R. V. frequently reads "fire-pans" for censers. The Greek word rendered "censer" in Revelation 8:3; Revelation 8:5, is derived from frankincense, implying that frankincense was burnt therein. The "vials," 5:8, have been thought to mean similar vessels.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words 
"a vessel for burning incense" ( 2—Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11 ), is found in Hebrews 9:4 .
denotes "frankincense," the gum of the libanos, "the frankincense tree;" in a secondary sense, "a vessel in which to burn incense," Revelation 8:3,5 .
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
A vessel in which fire and incense were carried, in certain parts of the Hebrew worship. Little is known of its form. The censer for the daily offering was at first made of copper, Numbers 16:39 . That used on the great Day of Atonement, (and perhaps others also,) was made of pure gold, 1 Kings 7:50 Hebrews 9:4 . In the daily offering, the censer was filled with coals from the perpetual fire, and placed on the altar of incense, where the incense was thrown upon the coals, Exodus 30:1,7-10 . On the day of atonement, in the Holy of Holies, the censer must have been held in the hand, and probably by a handle, Leviticus 16:12,13 .
There are two Hebrew words, which are translated censer in our English Bibles. The one signifies strictly fire-pan. The other signifies incense-pan, a vessel for burning incense; but we do not know its exact shape.
The censers of the Egyptians had long handles, like a human arm and hand, upon the palm of which the incense-cup stood. Those of the Greeks and Romans had chains, by which they were carried, like those now used in the Romish service.
In the New Testament, where the twenty-four elders are said to have golden "vials" full of odors, Revelation 5:8 , the meaning is vessels of incense, censers, not vials in the present sense of the word.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
A small vessel made of metal, to contain burning coals from the altar, on which incense was sprinkled by the priest, that a cloud of incense might arise therefrom. Leviticus 10:1; Leviticus 16:12 . Solomon made some of gold. 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:22; Hebrews 9:4; Revelation 8:3,5 . The same word is used when the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were put to the test; the censers were probably hastily constructed ones, for 250 were needed. Aaron ran with a censer and incense between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed. Numbers 16:6-48 . The same Hebrew word is translated 'fire-pan' in Exodus 27:3; Exodus 38:3; 2 Kings 25:15; Jeremiah 52:19 .
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Censer. A small portable vessel of metal fitted to receive burning coals from the altar, and on which the incense for burning was sprinkled. 2 Chronicles 26:19; Luke 1:9. The only distinct precepts regarding the use of the censer are found in Leviticus 16:12, and in Numbers 4:14. Solomon prepared "censers of pure gold" as part of the Temple furniture. 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:22. The word rendered "censer" in Hebrews 9:4 probably means the "Altar Of Incense".
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Exodus 30:1-9 Leviticus 16:12,13 Numbers 16:39 Miktereth 2 Chronicles 26:19 Ezekiel 8:11 1 Kings 7:50 2 Chronicles 4:22 Revelation 8:3,5 Hebrews 9:4 1 Kings 6:22
The manner in which the censer is to be used is described in Numbers 4:14; Leviticus 16:12 .
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
a sacred instrument made use of in the religious rites of the Hebrews. It was a vase which contained incense to be used in sacrifice. When Aaron made an atonement for himself and his house, he was to take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar of the Lord, Leviticus 16:12 . And Solomon, when he provided furniture for the temple of the Lord, made, among other things, censers of pure gold, 1 Kings 7:50 .
Holman Bible Dictionary 
King James Dictionary 
Censer n. A vase or pan in which incense is burned. Among the Jews, a kind of chafing-dish, covered by a dome, and suspended by a chain, used to offer perfumes in sacrifices.
Webster's Dictionary 
(n.) A vessel for perfumes; esp. one in which incense is burned.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
CENSER . See Firepan, Incense.
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Fig. 122—Egyptian Censers
Censer, the vessel in which incense was presented in the temple (; ; ). Censers were used in the daily offering of incense, and yearly on the Day of Atonement, when the high-priest entered the Holy of Holies. On the latter occasion the priest filled the censer with live coals from the sacred fire on the altar of burnt-offering, and bore it into the sanctuary, where he threw upon the burning coals the 'sweet incense beaten small' which he had brought in his hand (). In this case the incense was burnt while the high-priest held the censer in his hand; but in the daily offering the censer in which the live coals were brought from the altar of burnt-offering was set down upon the altar of incense. This alone would suggest the probability of some difference of shape between the censers used on these occasions. The daily censers must have had a base or stand to admit of their being placed on the golden altar, while those employed on the Day of Atonement were probably furnished with a handle. In fact, there are different names for these vessels. We learn also that the daily censers were of brass (), whereas the yearly one was of gold. The form of the daily censer we have no means of determining beyond the fact that it was a pan or vase, with a stand whereon it might rest on the golden altar. The numerous figures of Egyptian censers, consisting of a small cup at the end of along shaft or handle (often in the shape of a hand), probably offer adequate illustration of those employed by the Jews on the Day of Atonement. There was, however, another kind of censer (Fig. 122, No. 1), less frequently seen on the Egyptian monuments, and likewise furnished with a handle, which will probably be regarded by many as offering a more probable resemblance.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
a vessel in which incense was presented in the Temple, being used by the Jews in the daily offering of incense, and yearly on the Day of Atonement, when the high-priest entered the Holy of Holies ( 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11; Sirach 1:9). On the latter occasion the priest filled the censer with live coals from the sacred fire on the altar of burnt-offering, and bore it into the sanctuary, where he threw upon the burning coals the "sweet incense beaten small" which he had brought in his hand ( Leviticus 16:12-13). In this case the incense was burnt while the high- priest held the censer in his hand; but in the daily offering the censer in which the live coals were brought from the altar of burnt-offering was set down upon the altar of incense. This alone would suggest the probability of some difference of shape between the censers used on these occasions. The daily censers must have had a base or stand to admit of their being placed on the golden altar, while those employed on the Day of Atonement were probably furnished with a handle. In fact, there are different names for these vessels. Those in daily use were called מַקְטֶרֶת (Mikte ´ Reth, occurs only in 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11), from מַקְטָר , incense; whereas that used on the Day of Atonement is distinguished by the title of מִחְתָּה (machtah ´ , something to take fire With), or Coal-Pan (often "fire- pan" in the English version). We learn also that the daily censers were of brass ( Numbers 16:39) (according to the Mishna Tamid, 5:5, in the second temple, also of silver), whereas the yearly one was of gold (Josephus, Ant. 14:4, 4).
The latter is also said to have had a handle (Mishna, Yoma, 4:4), which, indeed, as being held by the priest while the incense was burning, it seems to have required. It is conjectured that this distinction is alluded to in Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3, where the angel is - represented with a golden "censer" ( Λιβανωτός , from Λίβανος , incense), and the twenty-four elders each with a golden "vial" ( Φιάλη ). In the Apocrypha, silver ( 1 Esdras 2:13) as well as golden ( 1 Maccabees 1:22) "censers" ( Θυϊ v Σκη ) are similarly referred to. Paul, in Hebrews 9:4, speaks of the golden "censer" as a thing which belonged to the Tabernacle, but the Greek word Θυμιατήριον , which there occurs, may signify "altar of incense" (see Bleek, Comment. p. 488; Meyer, Bibeldeut. p. 7 sq.; Mynster, in the Stud. U. Krit. 1829; 2:342 sq.).
The latter of the above Hebrew words seems used generally for any instrument to seize or hold burning coals, or to receive ashes, etc. such as the appendages of the brazen altar and golden candlestick mentioned in Exodus 25:38; Exodus 37:23 (in which senses it seems rendered in the Sept. by Ἐπαρυστρίς , Έπαρυτῆρ , or perhaps Ὑπόθεμα ) . It, however, generally bears the limited meaning which properly belongs to the former word, viz. a small portable vessel of metal, on which the incense was sprinkled by the priest to whose office this exclusively belonged ( 2 Chronicles 26:18; Luke 1:9). Thus "Korah and his company" were bidden to take "censers," with which, in emulation of Aaron and his sons, they had perhaps provided themselves (comp. Ezekiel 8:11); and Moses tells Aaron to take "The censer" (not A, as in the A. V.), i.e. that of the sanctuary or that of the high-priest, to stay the plague by atonement. The only distinct precepts regarding the use of the censer are found in Numbers 4:14, where among the vessels of the golden altar, i.e. of incense, censers" are reckoned; and in Leviticus 16:12, where we find that the high-priest was to carry it (here also it is "the," not "a censer," that he is ordered to "take") into the most holy place within the vail, where the "incense" was to be " put on the fire," i.e. on the coals in the censer, "before the Lord." This must have been on the Day of Atonement, for then only was that place entered. Solomon prepared "censers of pure gold" as part of the same furniture ( 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Chronicles 4:22). Possibly their general use may be explained by the imagery of Revelation 8:3-4, and may have been to take up coals from the brazen altar, and convey the incense while burning to the "golden altar," or "altar of incense," on which it was to be offered morning and evening ( Exodus 30:7-8). So Uzziah, when he was intending "to burn incense upon the altar of incense," took "a censer in his hand" ( 2 Chronicles 26:16; 2 Chronicles 26:19). (See Altar).
These intimations help us to conclude that the Jewish censers were unlike those of the classical ancients, with which the sculptures of Greece and Rome have made us familiar, as well as those (with perforated lids, and swung by chains) which are used in the Church of Rome. It is observable that in all cases the Egyptian priests had their costly incense made up into small round pellets, which they projected successively from between their finger and thumb into the censer at such a distance that the operation must have required a peculiar knack, such as could have been: acquired only by much practice. As the incense used by the Jews was made up into a kind of paste, it was probably employed in the same manner. See Sonneschmid, De Thymiaterio sanctissimi (Viteb. 1723); Deyling, Observv. 2:565 sq.; J. G. Michaelis, in the Mus. Brem. 2:6 sq., and in Ugolini Thesaur. 11; Wentz, in the Nova Biblioth. Brem. 5:337 sq.; Zeibich, De thuribulo aureo (Gerl. 1768); Kocher, id. (Jen. 1769); Braun. Selecta Aura, p. 208 sq.; Rogal, De thuribulis (Regiom. 1724; also in Ugolini Thes. 11). (See Incense).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
sen´sẽr : In the King James Version censer is used as a translation of two Hebrew words, namely, מחתּה , maḥtāh , and מקטרת , miḳṭereth ̌ . The former word is generally rendered "censer," sometimes "firepan," and in three cases ( Exodus 25:38; Exodus 37:23; Numbers 4:9 ) "snuffdish" It denoted a bowl-shaped vessel used for different purposes, namely, (1) a censer, in which incense was burnt ( Leviticus 10:1 ); (2) a firepan, made of bronze, used in connection with the altar of burnt offering ( Exodus 27:3 ); (3) a snuffdish, i.e. a receptacle to hold pieces of burnt lamp-wick removed by the tongs or snuffers ( Exodus 25:38 ). Probably in all these cases the same kind of vessel was meant, namely, a bowl-shaped utensil with a handle, not unlike a saucepan. The other Hebrew word (derived from the same root as the word for "incense") denoted a vessel for conveying incense ( Ezekiel 8:11; 2 Chronicles 26:19 ). The Greek word θυμιατήριον , thumiatḗrion , by which the Septuagint rendered miḳṭereth , is used also in Hebrews 9:4 , where the King James Version gives "censer," but the American Standard Revised Version is probably more correct, namely, "altar of incense" (see Commentaries under the word). Compare also Revelation 8:3 , Revelation 8:1 , where λιβανωτός , libanōtós , properly the adjective of "frankincense," is translated "censer."
- Censer from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Censer from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- Censer from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- Censer from Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
- Censer from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Censer from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Censer from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- Censer from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Censer from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Censer from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Censer from King James Dictionary
- Censer from Webster's Dictionary
- Censer from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Censer from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- Censer from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- Censer from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia