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Exodus Chapter 27
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The Altar
27:1 Make the altar out of acacia wood. The altar shall be square, 5 cubits by 5 cubits, and 3 cubits high.
27:2 Make protrusions on all four sides as an integral part of [the altar]. Then cover it with a layer of copper.
27:3 Make pots to remove its greasy ashes, as well as scoops, sacrificial basins, flesh pokers, and fire pans [for the altar]. All these instruments shall be made of copper.
27:4 Make a screen out of copper net to go around [the altar]. Place four copper rings on the four corners of the screen.
27:5 The screen shall be placed below the decorative border of the altar, extending downward until the middle of the altar.
27:6 Make carrying poles for the altar out of acacia wood covered with a layer of copper.
27:7 Place the poles in the rings so that the poles will be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried.
27:8 [The altar] shall be a hollow structure made out of boards. You must make it as you were shown on the mountain.

The Enclosure
27:9 Make the enclosure for the tabernacle in this manner:

On the south side, there shall be hangings made of twined linen. [Like all the other] sides, it shall be 100 cubits long.

27:10 It shall have 20 pillars and 20 copper bases. The hooks and bands for the pillars shall be made of silver.
27:11 The same shall be done on the north side. The hangings shall be 100 cubits long, with 20 pillars and 20 copper bases, with silver hooks and bands for the pillars.
27:12 The width of the hangings at the western end of the enclosure shall be 50 cubits, and it shall have 10 pillars and 10 bases.
27:13 The width of the enclosure at its eastern end shall [also] be 50 cubits.
27:14 [Of this,] the hangings on one side of [the entrance] shall be 15 cubits long, with 3 pillars and 3 bases.
27:15 On the other side, the hangings shall [also] be 15 [cubits long], with 3 pillars and 3 bases.
27:16 The entrance of the enclosure shall [be covered] with a 20 cubit embroidered drape made of sky-blue, dark red, and crimson wool together with twisted linen. It shall have 4 pillars and 4 bases.
27:17 All the pillars of the outer enclosure shall have silver hoops, silver hooks, and copper bases.
27:18 The length of the enclosure shall be 100 cubits, and its width shall be 50 cubits. [The pillars holding the hangings] of twined linen shall be 5 cubits high, and their bases shall be made of copper.
27:19 All the equipment used to make the tabernacle shall be made out of copper. The stakes [for the tabernacle itself], and all the stakes for the enclosure shall also be made of copper.

Oil for the Lamp
27:20 You, [Moses], must command the Israelites to bring you clear illuminating oil, made from hand crushed olives, to keep the lamp constantly burning.
27:21 Aaron and his sons shall arrange for [the lamps to burn] from evening until morning in God's presence, in the Communion Tent, outside the cloth partition that conceals the [Ark of] Testimony. It is a rule for all time that [this oil shall come] from the Israelites.



Commentary:

5 cubits...
  The dimensions of the altar were thus 7 1/2' x 7 1/2' x 4 1/2' (Rabbi Yose, Zevachim 59b; Josephus 3:6:8). According to others, the altar also had a base that was 7 cubits high, and therefore, it stood 10 cubits (15') high (Rabbi Yehudah, Ibid.; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 2:5).

protrusions
  Literally 'horns.' These were hollow boxes, one cubit square, and 5 handbreadths high (18' x 18' x 15') (Zevachim 54a; Yad, Beth HaBechirah 2:8; Maaseh Choshev 6:3). Others say that while this was true of the altar in the Temple, it may not have been true of the altar in the desert (Ralbag), and there the 'horns' may have been round and horn-shaped (Avraham ben HaRambam).

copper
  Or 'brass' that shone like gold (Josephus 3:6:8).

scoops
  (Rashi, videl in French). These were used to scoop up the ashes.

sacrificial basins
  To catch the blood of sacrifices and splash it on the altar (Rashi; Rashbam).

flesh pokers
  To turn over the sacrifices on the altar. They were in the shape of curved hooks (Rashi). Others say that they were like pitchforks (Or HaAfelah) or rakes (Ralbag).

fire pans
  To carry fire to the inside altar (Rashi). Some say that they were like large spoons (Ralbag). According to others, they were pokers for the ashes on the altar (Rashbam; Midrash HaGadol).

screen
  This was one cubit wide, covering the space directly above the middle of the altar (Maaseh Choshev 6:5). According to the opinion that the altar was 3 cubits high, it began 1 1/2 cubits (27') above the ground, and extended upward to 2 1/2 cubits above the ground. Some say that it protruded to catch any stray coals falling from the altar (Targum Yonathan on Exodus 27:5).

However, the Septuagint translates mikhbar here as esxapon, a hearth or place for offerings. It was made out of heavy copper netting to provide draft for the fire (cf. Josephus 3:7:8).

decorative border
  Or 'molding' (Zevachim 62a). According to those who maintained that the altar was 3 cubits high, this would be directly below the top of the altar. According to those who maintain that it was 10 cubits high, it was 3 cubits from the top of the altar.

The Septuagint translates karkov here as pureon, the place where the fire burns. Hence, the verse would then be translated, 'The [copper net] hearth shall be placed under the place where the fire burns.'

rings
  The rings on the screen (Rashi). See Exodus 38:5.

hollow structure...
  It was filled with earth when the altar was used (Exodus 20:21, Mekhilta, Rashi, ad loc.).

hangings
  Woven like fine netting (Rashi).

pillars
  These pillars had a cross section one cubit (18') square, and may have been round (Maaseh Choshev 5:4,5). Some say that they were covered with copper (Ibid.; Yalkut Shimoni 425). Others say that they were copper poles (Josephus 3:6:2).

bases
  Some say that these were imbedded in the ground like spears (Josephus 3:6:2).

bands
  Decorative bands going around the pillars (Rashi; Sforno). Some say that these bands held the hooks to the poles (Ibn Ezra). Others translate chashuk here as 'decorations' (Septuagint; Ibn Janach) or 'melted inlays' (Saadia). Besides these, the poles also had silver caps (Exodus 38:17; Maaseh Choshev 5:4; Josephus 3:6:2).

embroidered
  With pictures of animals (Josephus).

pillars
  Some say that these were like all the others (Maaseh Choshev 5:8). Other sources state that they were covered with silver (Josephus).

50 cubits
  Literally, '50 x 50 cubits.' Some say that this indicates that the open space in front of the Tabernacle was 50 x 50 cubits (Rashi).

5 cubits
  7 1/2 feet. This was the width of the hangings, and the height of the poles holding them (Rashi; Josephus). There is another opinion that they were 5 cubits taller than the tabernacle, and therefore a total of 15 cubits (22 1/2') high (Zevachim 59b, 60a; Maaseh Choshev 5:2; see Exodus 38:14).

stakes
  The bottoms of the curtains were tied to these stakes with ropes so that they would not blow in the wind (Bareitha 5; Rashi; Rashbam; Chizzkuni). Other sources indicate that ropes were attached to these pegs or stakes, and tied to the upper ends of the beams to prevent them from swaying in the wind (Josephus 3:6:2).

hand crushed...
  In a mortar (Menachoth 86b; Rashi).

Communion Tent
  See note on Exodus 25:22, 33:7. Or, 'meeting tent,' since the Israelites would gather around it (Radak, s.v.ya'ad). The Hebrew word mo'ed here can also be related to eduth, since both share the same root, and hence it can be translated, 'Testimony Tent.' Following the usual meaning of the word mo'ed, the expression can also be rendered, 'Festive Tent.'

Testimony
  See Exodus 25:16. The word eduth which we translated as 'testimony' can also be translated as 'communion' or 'token of communion.' See note, this verse, 'Communion Tent.'





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