Exodus 20:25
Parallel Verses
New International Version
If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.

New Living Translation
If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.

English Standard Version
If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

New American Standard Bible
'If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.

King James Bible
And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
If you make a stone altar for Me, you must not build it out of cut stones. If you use your chisel on it, you will defile it.

International Standard Version
If you make an altar of stone for me, you must not build it of cut stones, because if you strike it with your chisel, you will profane it.

NET Bible
If you make me an altar of stone, you must not build it of stones shaped with tools, for if you use your tool on it you have defiled it.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
If you build an altar for me made out of stones, never make it with cut stone blocks. If you use a chisel on it, you will make it unacceptable to me.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

King James 2000 Bible
And if you will make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone: for if you lift up your tool upon it, you have polluted it.

American King James Version
And if you will make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone: for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it.

American Standard Version
And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And if thou make an altar of stone unto me, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones: for if thou lift up a tool upon it, it shall be defiled.

Darby Bible Translation
And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy sharp tool upon it, thou hast profaned it.

English Revised Version
And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Webster's Bible Translation
And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou shalt lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

World English Bible
If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of cut stones; for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it.

Young's Literal Translation
'And if an altar of stones thou dost make to Me, thou dost not build them of hewn work; when thy tool thou hast waved over it, then thou dost pollute it;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

20:22-26 Moses having entered into the thick darkness, God there spake in his hearing all that follows from hence to the end of chap. 23, which is mostly an exposition of the ten commandments. The laws in these verses relate to God's worship. The Israelites are assured of God's gracious acceptance of their devotions. Under the gospel, men are encouraged to pray every where, and wherever God's people meet in his name to worship him, he will be in the midst of them; there he will come unto them, and will bless them.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 25. - And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone - i.e., if, notwithstanding my preference expressed for an altar of earth, thou wilt insist on making me one of stone, as more permanent, and so more honourable, then I require that the stones shall be rough stones shaped by nature, not stones chiselled into shape by the art of man. For if thou lift up thy tool upon it thou hast polluted it. It is conjectured with reason that we have here an old traditional idea, which God thought fit under the existing circumstances to sanction. The real object was that altars should not be elaborately carved with objects that might superinduce idolatry. The widely prevalent notion, that nature is sacred, and that all man's interference with nature is a defilement, was made use of economically, to produce the desired result. No tool being allowed to be used, no forms of living creatures could be engraved, and so no idolatry of them could grow up.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone,.... If they chose instead of an earthen one to make one of stone, as they might in rocky places, where they came, and in such an one where they now were, Mount Sinai, under which hill an altar was built, Exodus 24:4,

thou shall not build it of hewn stone; which would require time and occasion expense, to hew and polish them in an artificial way; but it was to be built of rude and unpolished stones, just as they were taken out of the quarry, or found lying by the way, and which were laid up in an heap one upon another, and was done with little trouble, and without any ornament, and easily separated and thrown down, when become useless: the reason of this law, as given by Maimonides (w), is this,"because the idolaters of that time built their altars of hewn stones, therefore God forbad it, lest we should be like them, and that we might shun it in all things, he commanded the altar to be made of earth, as it is said, an altar of earth shalt thou make unto me; and if it could not be made without stones, that the stones should remain in their own natural form, and be neither hewn nor polished; as he after forbad a painted stone, and a plantation of trees by an altar; for in each of these there is one and the same intention and design, namely, that we might not worship him in the same manner in which idolaters used to worship their fictitious deities:"

for if thou lift up thy tool upon it; or, thy sword (x); it signifies any tool or instrument made of iron as a sword is, and here such an one as is used in hewing of stone; which, if lifted up on the altar, or on any of the stones of which it is built, to strike and hew them with:

thou hast polluted it; and so made it unfit for use: how this should be done hereby is not easy to say, no good reason seems to be assignable for it but the will and pleasure of God; who so appointed it, and reckoned that a pollution, and would have it so thought by others, which with men is accounted ornamental; his thoughts and judgment are not as man's: the Targum of Jonathan is,"for if thou liftest up iron, of which a sword is made, upon a stone, thou wilt profane it;''the reason which the Misnic doctors (y) give, and Jarchi from them, is,"because iron was created to shorten the days of men, but the other was made to prolong the days of men: and therefore it cannot be just that that which shortens should be lifted up and agitated over that which prolongs:''but Maimonides gives a better reason of it, as Abarbinel understands him, which was to prevent persons making images in stones (z), which image making is the thing guarded against and forbidden in the context; but still better is that of Isaac Arama (a), that the hands of the artificer were to abstain from the stones of the altar, lest that good which men obtain of God at the altar should be attributed to any work of theirs: though, after all, it is right what Aben Ezra, says, that it does not belong to us to search after the reasons of the commands, at least not in too curious and bold a manner, and where God is silent and has not thought fit to give any.

(w) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 45. (x) "gladium tuum", Montanus, Piscator, Cartwright. (y) Misnah Middot, c. 3. sect. 4. (z) Apud L'Empereur in Middot, ib. (a) Apud Rivet in loc.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

25. thou shalt not build it of hewn stone, &c.—that is, carved with figures and ornaments that might lead to superstition.

Exodus 20:25 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Altar of Sacrifice
24'You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. 25'If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it. 26'And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.'
Cross References
Exodus 20:24
"'Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.

Deuteronomy 27:5
Build there an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them.

Deuteronomy 27:6
Build the altar of the LORD your God with fieldstones and offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God.

Joshua 8:31
as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses--an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings.

1 Kings 6:7
In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

Ezekiel 40:42
There were also four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offerings, each a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit high. On them were placed the utensils for slaughtering the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices.
Treasury of Scripture

And if you will make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone: for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it.

and

Deuteronomy 27:5,6 And there shall you build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar …

Joshua 8:31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, …

build it of hewn stone. Heb. build them with hewing

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