|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 5. - Thou shalt put it under the compass. The "compass" (karkob) is spoken of as if it were something well-known; yet it had not been previously mentioned. Etymologically the word should mean "a cincture" or "band" round the altar; and thus far critics are generally agreed. But its position, size, and object, are greatly disputed. Some hold that it was a broad bench, or step, on which the officiating priests stood at the time of a sacrifice, and that its position was about the middle of the altar. Others think that it was a mere border round the top, from which the net-work depended, and that the object of both was to catch anything that might fall from the altar. Others again, while placing it mid-way in the altar, regard it as a mere ornament, only projecting slightly, and forming a sort of finish to the net-work. This, which is the view of Knobel, seems to be, on the whole, the most probable one. That the net may be even to the midst of the altar. If the" compass" was at the top, the net must have extended thence to the middle. If it was mid-way in the altar, the net must have covered the lower half. To us this latter seems the more probable view. But the point is uncertain.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath,.... That is, the grate was to be put within the square compass of the altar, in the hollow part of it, for the wood and sacrifice to be laid upon it:
that the net may be even to the midst of the altar; and as the altar was three cubits high, this net or grate was let down by chains to its rings a cubit and a half, and being of such a depth was capable of containing a great deal.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. put it under the compass of the altar beneath—that is, the grating in which they were carried to a clean place (Le 4:12).
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