The altar. — V.1. And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare, a form which gave it great solidity; and the height thereof shall be three cubits. V.2. And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof, hornlike projections which were firmly attached to the altar, as though growing out of it. They are often mentioned, and their significance appears from the fact that the blood of the sin-offering was put upon them, and that people fleeing for their life took hold of them for their protection, Lev. 4, 7; 1 Kings 1, 50. His horns shall be of the same, that is, made of acacia wood, like the body of the altar; and thou shalt overlay it with brass. V.3. And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, the vessels which were used in removing the ashes of the fat, and his shovels, and his basins, or bowls, used for sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices, and his flesh-hooks, the great prongs for spearing the meat, and his fire-pans, in which the live coals for the kindling of the fires were carried: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass, of copper or one of its common alloys. V.4. And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass, probably for the purpose of catching such pieces of the sacrifices as fell from the altar; and upon the net shalt thou make four brazen rings in the four corners thereof, as sockets for the poles with which the altar was carried. V.5. And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, the projecting ledge, or shelf, on which the priest stepped when engaged in sacrificing or when replenishing the fire, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar. V.6. And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass, with the same metal of which all the instruments and dishes of the altar were made. V.7. And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be put upon the two sides of the altar to bear it. V.8. Hollow with boards shalt thou make it; as it was showed thee in the mount, so shall they make it. It is probable that the hollow space inside the altar was always filled with earth, chap. 20, 24, the place for the fire being in the center of this square and far enough from the wooden walls to obviate the danger of setting these afire. This altar was always in plain sight before all the children of Israel, reminding them of the fact that an expiation of sins was needed. The altar of the Christians is the cross of Christ, on which He bare our sins, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, 1 Pet. 2, 24; Heb. 13, 10.
The court of the Tabernacle. — V.9. And thou shalt make the court of the Tabernacle, an enclosed yard to mark the space set aside for formal worship; for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen, curtains made of byssus, of an hundred cubits long for one side; v.10. and the twenty pillars thereof, the posts between which the curtains were suspended, and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets, the rods connecting the several posts, shall be of silver. V.11. And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver, corresponding exactly to the enclosure on the south side of the court. V.12. And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits; their pillars ten and their sockets ten. This was on the side of the court in the rear of the Tabernacle, behind the Most Holy Place. V.13. And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward, where the entrance was, shall be fifty cubits. V.14. The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits; their pillars three and their sockets three. V.15. And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits; their pillars three and their sockets three. The entire length of the byssus curtains, which formed the enclosure of the court, thus amounted to one hundred and eighty cubits. V.16. And for the gate of the court, the great and only entrance, toward the east, shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework, the same material and workmanship as that used for the door-curtain of the Holy Place; and their pillars shall be four and their sockets four. V.17. All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver, the connecting rods were to be of this precious metal; their hooks shall be of silver and their sockets of brass, of copper or one of its common alloys, brass or bronze. V.18. The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits and the breadth fifty everywhere, wherever one chose to measure, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. V.19. All the vessels of the Tabernacle in all the service thereof, as they were employed in sacrificial worship, and all the pins thereof, the pegs to which the ropes of the Tabernacle were fastened, and all the pins of the court, the pegs which held the guy ropes of the posts, shall be of brass. V.20. And thou shalt command the children of Israel that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light to cause the lamp to burn always. The oil used in the Tabernacle was not that pressed out of olives by stamping with the feet or by means of an oil-press, but that which flowed from the ripe olives after they were cut or bruised. This oil was pure and clear, and therefore served well for burning in the Holy Place. V.21. In the Tabernacle of the Congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, before the Ark of the Covenant, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord, the lamps burned from the time of the evening sacrifice till the next morning. The Tabernacle is here for the first time called the “tent of meeting,” because the Lord met with the representatives of the people when He communicated with them from the mercy-seat. It shall be a statute forever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel. This refers both to the furnishing of the oil on the part of the people and to the lighting of the lamps on the part of the priests. Just as the children of Israel were to be reminded that their light was not to be quenched as long as they remained in the covenant of the Lord, so we Christians should remember that the light of our faith should ever be visible in good works.