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The Altar of Burnt Offering


You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and it shall be three cubits high. 2You shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. 3You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. 4You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze; and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. 5You shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net shall extend halfway down the altar. 6You shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze; 7the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. 8You shall make it hollow, with boards. They shall be made just as you were shown on the mountain.

The Court and Its Hangings

9 You shall make the court of the tabernacle. On the south side the court shall have hangings of fine twisted linen one hundred cubits long for that side; 10its twenty pillars and their twenty bases shall be of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be of silver. 11Likewise for its length on the north side there shall be hangings one hundred cubits long, their pillars twenty and their bases twenty, of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their bands shall be of silver. 12For the width of the court on the west side there shall be fifty cubits of hangings, with ten pillars and ten bases. 13The width of the court on the front to the east shall be fifty cubits. 14There shall be fifteen cubits of hangings on the one side, with three pillars and three bases. 15There shall be fifteen cubits of hangings on the other side, with three pillars and three bases. 16For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, embroidered with needlework; it shall have four pillars and with them four bases. 17All the pillars around the court shall be banded with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze. 18The length of the court shall be one hundred cubits, the width fifty, and the height five cubits, with hangings of fine twisted linen and bases of bronze. 19All the utensils of the tabernacle for every use, and all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of bronze.

The Oil for the Lamp

20 You shall further command the Israelites to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the light, so that a lamp may be set up to burn regularly. 21In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that is before the covenant, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the L ord. It shall be a perpetual ordinance to be observed throughout their generations by the Israelites.

1. And thou shalt make an altar. The altar of whole burnt-offerings (holocaustorum) is here described, which, however, it was called by synecdoche, for not only entire victims were burnt there, but also parts of them only, as we shall see in Leviticus. The burnt-offerings received their name from their ascending, 147147     C. alludes to their Hebrew name, עלה, the primary signification of which is mounting upwards. — W whereby the Israelites were reminded that they had need to be purified, that they might ascend to God; and at the same time were instructed that whatever corruption there might be in the flesh did not prevent the sacrifices from being acceptable and of a sweet savor to God. It is clear that from the first beginning of the human race there were burnt-sacrifices, suggested by the secret inspiration of God’s Spirit, since there was no written Law; nor can we doubt but that by this symbol they were taught that the flesh must be burnt by the Spirit, in order that men may duly offer themselves to God; and thus they acknowledged, under this type, that the flesh of Christ must receive this from the divine power, so as to become a perfect victim for the propitiation of God; thus, as the Apostle testifies, he offered himself through the Spirit. (Hebrews 9:14.) But fuller mention of this subject will be made elsewhere. The altar was so constructed that the sacrifices might be cast upon a grate placed within it, and thus they were covered by its external surface. The ashes were received into a pan, so that they should not fall about upon the ground and be trodden under foot, but that reverence might be inculcated even towards the very remnants of their holy things. 148148     “Mais que la sainctete des sacremens,” etc. — Fr. be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. That the victims were bound to the four horns, which stood out from the four corners, is plain from the words of Psalm 118:27, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” And this also is the beginning of a proper offering of spiritual sacrifices, that all the lusts of the flesh should be subdued, and held captive as it were unto the obedience of God. Wherefore even Christ, although in Him there was nothing which was not duly regulated, was nevertheless bound, in order to prove His obedience; as He had said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39.) The altar was carried on staves, to obviate the necessity of having more than one; else there would have been danger of their being compelled, by the very difficulty of carrying it, to leave it behind after it was made, if they were setting about a long journey; and this would have been the seed or ground of superstition, whilst no other could be built which was not spurious.

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