Midrash Tanchuma relates how Moses didn’t understand God's instructions for how to construct the menorah. This highlights the complexity of the Torah’s instructions, which commentators from antiquity until today struggled to visualize. One approach, taken by Philo and Josephus, was to interpret the menorah symbolically.
Fire pans (maḥtot) are listed as part of the Tabernacle’s accessories for the menorah and the altar. They also play an important role in the stories of Korah’s rebellion and the death of Nadav and Avihu as incense censors. Archaeological excavations have uncovered what these items were and how they functioned.