Thou shalt make the horns of it - The horns might have three uses:
So David: Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar; Psalm 118:27. Horns were much used in all ancient altars among the heathen, and some of them were entirely constructed of the horns of the beasts that had been offered in sacrifice; but such altars appear to be erected rather as trophies in honor of their gods. On the reverses of several medals we find altars represented with horns at the corners. There is a medal of Antoninus on the reverse of which is an altar, on which a fire burns, consecrated Divi Pio, where the horns appear on each of the corners.
There is one of Faustina, on which the altar and its horns are very distinct, the legend Pietas Augusta. All the following have altars with horns. One of Valerian, legend Consecratio; one of Claudius Gothicus, same legend; one of Quintillus, same legend; one of Crispina, with the legend Diis Genitalibus; and several others. See Numismatica Antiq., a Musellio, under Consecratio, in the index.
Callimachus, in his Hymn to Apollo, line 60 introduces him constructing an altar of the horns of the animals slain by Diana:
- πηξε δε βωμον<-144 Εκ κεραων κ. τ. λ.
Martial has these words: Cornibus ara frequens.
(Compare Exodus 38:1-7.) The great altar which stood in the court immediately in front of the tabernacle was commonly called the altar of burnt-offering, because on it were burnt the whole burnt-offerings, and all those parts of the other animal sacrifices which were offered to the Lord. It was also called the brazen altar, because it was covered with bronze, in distinction from the golden altar or altar of incense Exodus 39:38-39; Exodus 40:5-6.
His horns shall be of the same - These horns were projections pointing upward in the form either of a small obelisk, or of the horn of an ox. They were to be actually parts of the altar, not merely superadded to it. On them the blood of the sin-offering was smeared Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 8:15; Leviticus 9:9; Leviticus 16:18. To take hold of them appears to have been regarded as an emphatic mode of laying claim to the supposed right of sanctuary (Exodus 21:14 note; 1 Kings 1:50).
Pans - Rather pots as in Exodus 38:3; 1 Kings 7:45. On the use to which these pots were put in disposing of the ashes of the altar, see Leviticus 1:16.
Basons - Vessels used for receiving the blood of the victims and casting it upon the altar (see Exodus 24:6; Leviticus 1:5; etc.).
Fleshhooks - These were for adjusting the pieces of the victims upon the altar (compare 1 Samuel 2:13).
Firepans - The same word is rendered snuffdishes, Exodus 25:38; Exodus 37:23: censers, Leviticus 10:1; Leviticus 16:12; Numbers 4:14; Numbers 16:6, etc. These utensils appear to have been shallow metal vessels which were employed merely to carry burning embers from the brazen altar to the altar of incense.
The compass of the altar - A shelf or projecting ledge, of convenient width, carried round the altar half way between the top and the base. It was supported all round its outer edge by a vertical net-like grating of bronze that rested on the ground.
Hollow with boards - Slabs, or planks, rather than boards. The word is that which is used for the stone tables of the law Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18, not that applied to the boards of the tabernacle Exodus 26:15.
The brazen altar was a hollow casing, formed of stout acacia planks covered with plates of bronze, seven feet six in length and width and four feet six in height. Jewish as well as Christian authorities have supposed that, when it was fixed for use, it was filled up with earth or rough stones. If we connect this suggestion with the old rule regarding the altar of earth and the altar of stone given in Exodus 20:24-25, the woodwork might in fact be regarded merely as the case of the altar on which the victims were actually burned. The shelf round the sides Exodus 27:5 was required as a stage for the priests to enable them to carry on their work conveniently on the top of the altar. Hence, it is said of Aaron that he came down from the altar Leviticus 9:22. According to rabbinical tradition, there was a slope of earth at the south side banked up for the priest to ascend to the stage (compare Exodus 20:26).
The tabernacle was so constructed that it could be taken apart and borne with the Israelites in all their journeyings. It was therefore small, being not more than fifty-five feet in length, and eighteen in breadth and height. Yet it was a magnificent structure. The wood employed for the building and its furniture was that of the acacia tree, which was less subject to decay than any other to be obtained at Sinai. The walls consisted of upright boards, set in silver sockets, and held firm by pillars and connecting bars; and all were overlaid with gold, giving to the building the appearance of solid gold. The roof was formed of four sets of curtains, the innermost of “fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubim of cunning work;” the other three respectively were of goats’ hair, rams’ skins dyed red, and sealskins, so arranged as to afford complete protection. PP 347.1
The building was divided into two apartments by a rich and beautiful curtain, or veil, suspended from gold-plated pillars; and a similar veil closed the entrance of the first apartment. These, like the inner covering, which formed the ceiling, were of the most gorgeous colors, blue, purple, and scarlet, beautifully arranged, while inwrought with threads of gold and silver were cherubim to represent the angelic host who are connected with the work of the heavenly sanctuary and who are ministering spirits to the people of God on earth. PP 347.2
The sacred tent was enclosed in an open space called the court, which was surrounded by hangings, or screens, of fine linen, suspended from pillars of brass. The entrance to this enclosure was at the eastern end. It was closed by curtains of costly material and beautiful workmanship, though inferior to those of the sanctuary. The hangings of the court being only about half as high as the walls of the tabernacle, the building could be plainly seen by the people without. In the court, and nearest the entrance, stood the brazen altar of burnt offering. Upon this altar were consumed all the sacrifices made by fire unto the Lord, and its horns were sprinkled with the atoning blood. Between the altar and the door of the tabernacle was the laver, which was also of brass, made from the mirrors that had been the freewill offering of the women of Israel. At the laver the priests were to wash their hands and their feet whenever they went into the sacred apartments, or approached the altar to offer a burnt offering unto the Lord. PP 347.3Read in context »