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by Wayne Blank
"They shall wash with water, that they die not"
The first laver was made from brass, specifically, from the polished-metal mirrors used by Israelite women - which were likely part of the loot that the Israelites took from the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12:35-36).
"And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." (Exodus 38:8 KJV)
Aaron and his sons were given strict instructions regarding the use of the laver for washing. It would have cost them their lives to disobey.
"Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto The Lord [see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD]: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations." (Exodus 30:18-21 KJV)
Later, when the Temple replaced the portable Tabernacle, lavers were again used.
"Then made he ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths: and every laver was four cubits: and upon every one of the ten bases one laver. And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south. And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made king Solomon for the house of The Lord" (1 Kings 7:38-40 KJV)
The lavers were damaged by corrupt kings of Judah, and what was left was either carried off or destroyed by the Babylonians (see Why Babylon?).
"Also the pillars of brass that were in the house of The Lord, and the bases, and the brazen sea that was in the house of The Lord, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon. The caldrons also, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the bowls, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away." (Jeremiah 52:17-18 KJV)