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FIREPAN (Heb. mahtâh). A vessel used for carrying live coals, as in Exod.27.3. The Hebrew word is rendered “censer” many times, and “snuff dish” three times by KJV (e.g., Exod.25.38; Lev.10.1; niv “wick trimmers”). The meaning is evident from the context. See also Censer.

FIREPAN (מַחְתָּה, H4746). A pan for carrying live or dead coals. It was used for three different functions in the sacrifice and worship of the OT.

1. It was used to carry coals to and from the altar of burnt offering (Exod 27:3; 38:3; Num 4:14), usually tr. “firepans.”

2. It was used in combination with the snuffers of the golden lampstand, prob. as a tray to catch the pieces of burned wick (Exod 25:38; 37:23; Num 4:9), tr. by KJV as “snuff dishes,” by other VSS as “trays,” “ash-trays” or “firepans.”

In some passages it is difficult to determine which of these specific usages is meant (1 Kings 7:50; 2 Kings 25:15; 2 Chron 4:22; Jer 52:19), although firepans for carrying coals are prob. intended, esp. in the latter case where the same terms as occur in Exodus 27:3; 38:3; Numbers 4:14 are mentioned in the list.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(machtah, "firepan," "censer," "snuffdish," from chathah, "to snatch up"):

A vessel for carrying coals. Brazen firepans were part of the furnishings of the altar of burnt offerings (Ex 27:3; 38:3, and in Nu 4:14, where the King James Version wrongly reads "censers," the context indicating a vessel belonging to the brazen altar).

See Censer.

The firepan or censer of the Hebrews was doubtless similar to the censer of the Egyptians, pictures of which have been found. It consisted of a pan or pot for the coals, which was held by a straight or slightly curved long handle. The style of censer used in recent centuries, swung by three chains, came into use about the 12th century AD.