|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:1-8 In the court before the tabernacle, where the people attended, was an altar, to which they must bring their sacrifices, and on which their priests must offer them to God. It was of wood overlaid with brass. A grate of brass was let into the hollow of the altar, about the middle of which the fire was kept, and the sacrifice burnt. It was made of net-work like a sieve, and hung hollow, that the ashes might fall through. This brazen altar was a type of Christ dying to make atonement for our sins. The wood had been consumed by the fire from heaven, if it had not been secured by the brass: nor could the human nature of Christ have borne the wrath of God, if it had not been supported by Divine power.
Verse 2. - The horns of it. Literally, "its horns." Horns were not usual adjuncts of altars; indeed they seem to have been peculiar to those of the Israelites. They were projections at the four top comers, probably not unlike the horns of bulls, whence their name. Criminals clung to them when they took sanctuary (1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28); and the blood of sin-offerings was smeared upon them (Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 8:15; Leviticus 9:9; Leviticus 16:18, etc.). Victims also were sometimes, when about to be sacrificed, bound to them (Psalm 118:27). According to Kalisch, "The horns were symbolical of power, of protection and help; and at the same time of glory and salvation." His horns shall be of the same. Part and parcel of the altar, that is, not extraneous additions. Thou shalt overlay it with brass. A solid plating of bronze is no doubt intended, such as would protect the shittim wood and prevent it from being burnt.
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Which were either for ornament, or for keeping what was laid upon the altar from falling off, or for the fastening of the sacrifice to them, and were what criminals fled to for refuge, and laid hold on; and may denote the power of Christ, who is the horn of salvation to preserve his people from a final falling away, and from ruin and destruction, and his protection of those that fly to him for refuge; and these horns being at the corners of the altar may respect the four parts of the world, from whence souls come to Christ for everlasting salvation:
his horns shall be of the same; that is, made of the same wood as the altar itself and so may lead to observe the like things: or "upwards out of it" (b), the altar; prominent from it, as the Arabic version, and so the sacrifices could be bound to them, Psalm 118:27,
and thou shalt overlay it with brass; with plates of brass, that it may endure the fire, and preserve the wood from being burnt with it; this may denote not only the brightness, lustre, and glory of Christ, like the shining brass, but his great strength in bearing the sins of his people, and all the punishment due unto them, even the fire of divine wrath, without being consumed by it. Jarchi observes, that it was overlaid with brass, because it was to make atonement for the impudence of the forehead, which is as brass, Isaiah 48:4.
(b) "sursum exeo", Noldius, p. 615.
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