The altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits; and the corners thereof, and the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood: and he said to me, This is the table that is before the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The altar of wood.—This is what was known in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:1-3) as the altar of incense, and in the Temple as the altar of gold (1Kings 7:48), although here its dimensions are enlarged.
The corners thereof.—This doubtless includes the “horns,” or projecting pieces at the corners, which were always an important part of the symbolism of the altar. The expression “length” in its repetition is generally thought to mean (by a slight change in the text) “the stand” or “base.” Table and altar are used synonymously, as in Malachi 1:7.1 Kings 7:48).
Walls - The corner pieces of the altar, rising into projections called in Exodus horns, here corners.
Table - "table and altar" were convertible terms Malachi 1:7.The altar of incense.
Of wood; so the inward parts were made, and covered with gold, Exodus 30:1-10 1 Kings 6:20,22; and from this covering of gold it was called the
golden altar. Three cubits high; one cubit higher than that in the tabernacle of Moses, Exodus 30:2.
The length thereof two cubits; as long again as Moses’s altar of incense in the tabernacle.
The corners; the horns framed out of the four posts at each angle on the top of the altar. The sides of this altar, for it was made up on all sides, are here called
the walls thereof, made of wood, but covered with gold.
The table; some say it is spoken of this altar of incense; others say, the angel pointed him to the table of shew-bread, and spake of that.
Before the Lord; in the temple, not in the oracle, or holy of holies: this incense altar was placed without the oracle, as appears from the priests’ offering incense at it by courses, whereas none but the high priest might enter into the holy of holies. Exodus 30:1 and may signify the human nature of Christ, in which he mediates and intercedes; which is excellent as the cedars: fair and beautiful, strong, durable, and incorruptible: though its original is of the earth, as wood: or was made of a woman; of the earth, earthly; but produced without sin. This altar, both in the tabernacle and temple, was covered with gold; as it was fit it should be with some hard substance that would bear incense to be burned on it; and therefore was called the golden altar, Exodus 30:3 and so the altar at which our Lord officiates as Mediator and Intercessor is called a golden one, Revelation 8:3, which may denote the deity of Christ, that gives virtue to his mediation; or the glorification of his human nature in heaven, in which he ministers; and also the preciousness of his intercession, and the duration of it. The incense burnt on this altar may signify both the mediation of Christ, which is pure and holy, though for sinners; large and frequent, continually made, and very fragrant and acceptable; and the prayers of the saints which are offered up on this altar, which sanctifies them; and through the much incense, which perfumes them, whereby they ascend up to God, and are sweet odours to him, being fragrant and fervent, pure and holy. This altar in the tabernacle of Moses, and probably in the temple of Solomon, though its dimensions there are not given, was foursquare, Exodus 30:2 very likely so was this; and indeed the Septuagint version adds,
and the breadth two cubits; which, being the same with its length, made it foursquare; and so may point at the firmness, unchangeableness and perfection of this part of Christ's priesthood, his intercession, which is true of the whole of it, Hebrews 7:19 and it may be observed, that the altar here was a cubit longer, and a cubit broader, as well as a cubit higher, than the Mosaic one, Exodus 30:2. Kimchi says this altar was not like to that which Moses or Solomon, or the children of the captivity, made; it was larger than any of them; which shows that the intercession of Christ our high priest is larger and more extensive than that of the priests under the law; they offered incense only for the people of Israel: but Christ, as he is the propitiation, so the advocate for Gentiles, as well as Jews; though not for the whole world of men, yet for the world of the elect; and of all blessings of grace and glory for them, 1 John 2:1 and, moreover, that under the Gospel dispensation there would be more praying souls, and more use made of the Mediator, of his name, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and intercession; and a greater spirit of grace and supplication poured out, especially in the latter day; hence we read of Christ's much incense, John 16:23,
and the corners thereof, and the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood; that is, the horns that were at the four corners of it; and the top of it, which was its length and breadth; and the sides of it, called its walls, were all of wood, though covered with gold. The mystical sense of which has been given; only it may be observed, that the four corners or horns of it may denote the strength of Christ's intercession; and to which men have recourse, and lay hold on for their relief, even from all parts of the world, east, west, north, and south:
and he said unto me, this is the table that is before the Lord; that is, either the altar before described is the table before the Lord, which he has spread, and where his people feed in his presence; the intercession of Christ being a feast to the faith of saints: or it may be, that the divine guide of the prophet, turning himself to the right hand of the altar, pointed to the table of shewbread, which stood in the same place; and said this or that which stands yonder is the table before the Lord; and which also was typical of Christ, the true bread that comes down from heaven, who is the food of his people; for quality, the finest of the wheat; for quantity, enough and to spare; for savour, such as gracious souls desire always to have; for duration, continual bread, set forth by priests, and only eaten by them; and, like that,
bread of faces, as the shewbread is called (p); denoting the intercession of Christ, the Angel of God's presence; and who always appears in the presence of God for his people, bearing on him the names of the children of Israel, to which the twelve shewbread loaves answered. The "table" on which they were set signifies the communion saints have with Christ in his word and ordinances; which are called a feast, of which Christ is the sum and substance; and where, as at a table, he sits and favours them with fellowship with himself; see Proverbs 9:2 The Jews (q) have an observation upon this text, that it begins with an altar, and ends with a table; and further observe, that, while the temple stood, the altar atoned for a man, but now a man's table atones for him: but this is not a man's table, but the Lord's table; and Christ the sacrifice held forth on this table does indeed atone for a man.
(p) "panis facierum", Exodus 25.30. (q) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 55. 1. Chagiga, fol. 26. 1. Menachot, fol. 97. 1.The altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits; and the corners thereof, and the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood: and he said unto me, This is the table that is before the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. The altar was 3 cubits high and 2 long. LXX. adds that it was 2 broad.
the length thereof … of wood] and the base thereof, a simple emendation, after LXX., cf. Exodus 26:19 seq. The altar had corners, probably somewhat raised, but not horns. It was wholly of wood, and is called the table which is before the Lord. The term table is applied to the altar of burnt-offering Ezekiel 44:16 (cf. Malachi 1:7; Malachi 1:12). This is quite natural, as the flesh was the bread of Jehovah (Ezekiel 44:7). Ezek. does not name any other object in the holy place besides this table, and it is probable that he refers here to the altar-like table of shewbread, the cakes on which would also be considered an offering of bread for the Lord.Verse 22. - The altar. This was the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1, etc.), which stood in the holy place in contradistinction to the altar of burnt offering, which was located in the outer court. The altar of burnt offering in Solomon's temple was of brass (2 Chronicles 4:1), and in the tabernacle of shittim wood (Exodus 27:1); the altar of incense in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:1) and in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 7:48) was constructed of wood overlaid with gold, but in this temple only of wood. Plumptre, commenting on this, writes, "Possibly Ezekiel shared the feelings of Daniel (Daniel 9:25), that the rebuilding would be 'in troublous times,' and did not contemplate an abundance of gold as likely to be the outcome of the scant offerings of an impoverished people." The dimensions of this altar in the tabernacle were two cubits high and one cubit long and broad; in the Solomonic temple, though not stated, they were probably the same as in the tabernacle; in Ezekiel's temple they were three cubits high, two cubits long (and probably two cubits broad). The corners of the altar were most likely "the horns, or horn-shaped points projecting at the cornets." The length. Ewald, Keil, Smend, and others, after the LXX., change into "base," "stand," or "pedestal," on the ground that the length has been already mentioned, and that one does not usually speak of a length being of wood; but it does not strike one as peculiarly objectionable to say that the altar had corner pieces, a length, and walls (or sides) of wood, meaning thereby to intimate that it was wholly constructed of timber. When the prophet's attention had been directed to it, the guide who accompanied him observed, This is the table that is before the Lord, not because, as Bottcher conjectured, the altar was regarded as including the table of showbread, but because in the Law the offerings laid upon the altar had been spoken of as the bread of God (see Leviticus 26:6, 8, 17, 21, 22; and comp. Malachi 1:7); and because in this vision table and altar appear to be used inter-changeably (see Ezekiel 44:16).
Ezekiel 39:1-8. General announcement of his destruction. - Ezekiel 39:1. And thou, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I will deal with thee, Gog, thou prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. Ezekiel 39:2. I will mislead thee, and conduct thee, and cause thee to come up from the uttermost north, and bring thee to the mountains of Israel; Ezekiel 39:3. And will smite thy bow from thy left hand, and cause thine arrows to fall from thy right hand. Ezekiel 39:4. Upon the mountains of Israel wilt thou fall, thou and all thy hosts, and the peoples which are with thee: I give thee for food to the birds of prey of every plumage, and to the beasts of the field. Ezekiel 39:5. Upon the open field shalt thou fall, for I have spoken it, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:6. And I will send fire in Magog, and among those who dwell in security upon the islands, that they may know that I am Jehovah. Ezekiel 39:7. I will make known my holy name in the midst of my people Israel, and will not let my holy name be profaned any more, that the nations may know that I am Jehovah, holy in Israel. Ezekiel 39:8. Behold, it comes and happens, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah; this is the day of which I spoke. - The further description of the judgment with which Gog and his hosts are threatened in Ezekiel 38:21-23, commences with a repetition of the command to the prophet to prophesy against Gog (Ezekiel 39:1, cf. Ezekiel 38:2-3). The principal contents of Ezekiel 38:4-15 are then briefly summed up in Ezekiel 39:2. שׁבבתּיך, as in Ezekiel 38:4, is strengthened by שׁשּׁתיך, שׁשׁא, ἁπαχ λεγ.., is not connected with שׁשׁ in the sense of "I leave a sixth part of thee remaining," or afflict thee with six punishments; but in the Ethiopic it signifies to proceed, or to climb, and here, accordingly, it is used in the sense of leading on (lxx καθοδηγήσω σε, or, according to another reading, κατάξω; Vulg. educam). For Ezekiel 39:2, compare Ezekiel 38:15 and Ezekiel 38:8. In the land of Israel, God will strike his weapons out of his hands, i.e., make him incapable of fighting (for the fact itself, compare the similar figures in Psalm 37:15; Psalm 46:10), and give him up with all his army as a prey to death. עיט, a beast of prey, is more precisely defined by צפּור, and still further strengthened by the genitive כּל־כּנף: birds of prey of every kind. The judgment will not be confined to the destruction of the army of Gog, which has invaded the land of Israel, but (Ezekiel 39:6) will also extend to the land of Gog, and to all the heathen nations that are dwelling in security. אשׁ, fire, primarily the fire of war; then, in a further sense, a figure denoting destruction inflicted directly by God, as in Ezekiel 38:22, which is therefore represented in Revelation 20:9 as fire falling from heaven. Magog is the population of the land of Magog (Ezekiel 38:2). With this the inhabitants of the distant coastlands of the west (the איּים) are associated, as representatives of the remotest heathen nations. Ezekiel 39:7, Ezekiel 39:8. By this judgment the Lord will make known His holy name in Israel, and show the heathen that He will not let it be blasphemed by them any more. For the fact itself, compare Ezekiel 36:20. For Ezekiel 39:8, compare Ezekiel 21:12, and for היּום, see Ezekiel 38:18-19.
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