And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Measures.—The “measure,” the third part of the ephah, hence also often called shalish (a “tierce,” or “third”), was something less than three gallons. A trench to contain only six gallons seems too insignificant for the context; hence it is supposed that the sense is “large enough for the sowing (as in a furrow) of two measures of seed.”1 Kings 18:32-33. With the stones he built an altar — With the assistance of the people, who now readily yielded their helping hands. In the name of the Lord — By the authority of God and for his worship. He made a trench, as great as would contain two measures of seed — As capacious, say some, as a sack that would contain that quantity, namely, two third parts of an ephah. Others understand the words as meaning a trench of sufficient breadth and circuit to sow therein that quantity of seed, or about twenty pounds’ weight of barley: which must have been very large indeed. Fill four barrels with water — This they could quickly fetch, either from the river Kishon; or, if that was dried up, from the sea; both were at the foot of the mountain. This he did to make the miracle more glorious, and more unquestionable; to show that there was no fallacy in it, no fire concealed in or about the altar; but that the lightning which was to consume the sacrifice came from heaven; and came at Elijah’s invocation; and Josephus tells us, that Elijah invited the people to draw near, that they might search and spy everywhere, if they could find any fire secretly conveyed under the altar. Antiq. lib. 8. cap. 7.
he built an altar; which, though generally forbidden, he might do, because he did it by the command and suggestion of God, who can dispense with his own laws, and upon apparent and urgent necessity, and for a work of great mercy, (to which even by God’s command the ceremonial laws must give place, Hosea 6:6 Mark 2:27) even for the conversion of the Israelites, whom it was impossible to bring to the altar of Jerusalem at this time.
In the name of the Lord; by the authority of God, and for his worship.
Two measures, i.e. two third parts of an ephah; which shows that the trench was of a competent largeness.
and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed; or two seahs, one of which was the third part of an ephah, and two of them were more than half a bushel; and this trench or ditch round the altar was as broad as such a measure of seed would sow.And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)32. a trench] The LXX. has θάλασσαν = a sea, which is interesting in connexion with the name given to the great cistern which Solomon caused to be made for the temple-services. Cf. 1 Kings 7:23 above.
as great as would contain two measures of seed] The LXX. omits these words, which are not quite easy of explanation. The measure mentioned is a seah, which is the third part of an ephah. But whether the dimension applies to each side of the altar, so that on each of the four sides there would be a ditch of this capacity, or whether this was the capacity of the whole surrounding trench is not evident. It was clearly intended to catch the water that was poured over the sacrifice.Verse 32. - And with the stones [the twelve he had chosen out of the ruins. Cf. Exodus 20:25] he built an altar in the name of the Lord [not "by the command of Jehovah" (Bahr), but rather as the minister and for the service of Jehovah, or, as Keil. "by the authority and for the glory of Jehovah." Nor is it certain that "he called, as he Built it, on the name of Jehovah, and so dedicated it to His service" (Rawl.) See Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 33:20; Genesis 35:7]: and he made a trench [or channel, 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 36:2; Ezekiel 31:4. The word implies that it was for holding the water, not for keeping off the people] about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed [Heb. as the inside (lit., house) of two seahs of seed. These words have been variously interpreted. Keil, with Thenius and Wordsworth, understands that "the trench was so large that you could sow two seahs of seed upon the ground which it covered." But apart from the fact that בַּיִת must refer to capacity rather than superficial extent, one does not measure a trench, as Bahr observes, by the ground which it covers, but by its depth. He would follow Gesenius in understanding that the trench was so deep as to hold two seahs of seed; i.e., as deep as the grain measure containing two seahs. The סְאָה was the third of an ephah. Cf. Jos., Ant. 9:04. 5, and the σάτα τρία of Matthew 13:33.]
(Note: The following is the description which Herodian (hist. v. 3), among others, gives of Heliogabalus when dancing as chief priest of the Emesinian sun-god: Ἱερουγοῦντα δὴ τοῦτον, περί τε τοῖς βωμοῖς χορεύοντα νόμῳ Βαρβάρων, ὑπό τε αὐλοῖς καὶ σύριγξι παντοδαπῶν τε ὀργάνων ἤχῳ.)
עשׂה אשׁר ("which one had made").
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