King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Exodus 27

The altar of burnt offerings. (1-8) The court of the tabernacle. (9-19) The oil for the lamps. (20,21)

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The altar of burnt offerings

1 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.

2 And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.

3 And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.

4 And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof.

5 And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.

6 And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass.

7 And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it.

8 Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.

The court of the tabernacle

9 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:

10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.

11 And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.

12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.

13 And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.

14 The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

15 And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

16 And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.

17 All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass.

18 The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.

19 All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.

The oil for the lamps

20 And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.

21 In the tabernacle of the congregation without the vail, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the LORD: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Altar, of holocausts, in the open air, before the tabernacle. T. — Four square, or five cubits in length and breadth, and three in height, which the Rabbins measure from the grate, (v. 5,) or middle of the altar’s height. So high the altar was sunk in the earth, (C.) or was built of unhewn stone, on which the wood of the altar rested, being secured by plates of brass above, from the heat of the fire. It was hollow within, and had neither top nor bottom fixed to it. M.

Ver. 2. It. The altar, wood. The horns were for ornament, and were made of brass. Upon them also they might hang the grate, and instruments for sacrifice. C. — Some of the pagan altars consisted of the horns of animals, (Ovid) and were designed to shew what a number of victims had been offered in their temples. Their gods had frequently horns on their heads. Spencer Rit. iii. 4.

Ver. 3. Pans, &c. The Sept. have, “a crown or border, for the altar, and its covering, and its cups, and flesh-hooks, and fire-place, or pan.” Heb. also has five terms; which Calmet renders: 1. a small kettle to receive the ashes under the grate; 2. fire-shovels; 3. bowls to receive blood (mozrokoth, which term the Vulg. does not perhaps notice); 4. flesh-hooks; 5. chafing-dishes. The Protestant version has also the basins or broad cups, phialas, of the Sept. H.

Ver. 5. Midst. Hanging down half way. On this, the wood designed to consume the victim, was placed. The Sept. and Vulg. refer which to the rings, and the present Heb. refers to the grate, or net. But it seems to be inaccurate. The rings were fixed about the middle of the altar’s height, to the same holes, through which the bars intended for its removal were put. The altar stood upon feet, which took up half the height, and let in air below the grate, to fan the fire, and to prevent the brass from melting. All the altars described in the table of Isis, are of this nature. C. — The Sept. do not distinguish the grate from the hearth, or little altar, (arula) as they use the word hearth, escharaboth, (v. 4. and 5,) and place it about the middle of the altar, or where the feet supported the box or frame of the altar, which was almost a yard high. The hearth may therefore denote the bottom of the frame, where the grate was suspended by four rings.

Ver. 9. Court. This inclosed the tabernacle, and the altar of holocausts, being 50 yards long and 25 broad. At the bottom, or western end, there were ten pillars, and on the north and south 20, ornamented in the same manner, and supporting curtains of cotton. But on the eastern side, 10 yards were left, with four pillars in the middle, for an entrance, supporting a richer veil, and on either side three pillars of brass, adorned with circles of silver, as all the rest were. H.

Ver. 10. Engraving. Heb. and Chal. “circles,” adorning the chaptrels, (M. v. 17,) or rather the body of the pillars. The chaptrels were covered with plates of silver.

Ver. 19. Tabernacle, with respect to this court; for surely the utensils prescribed in the former chapter, were to be of gold. The Sept. do not mention the tabernacle. C.

Ver. 20. Pestle. That it may be as free from dregs as possible; quasi luxurians defluxerit. Colum. xii. 20. The Heb. and Sept. are silent about the pestle. The olives must, however, be a little bruised, before they will yield their oil. H. — Always: four of the seven lamps were extinguished every morning. Josep. iii. 9. 1 K. iii. 3. Hecateus (ap. Eus. præp. ix. 4,) assures us, that a light was kept always burning in the tabernacle. The temple of Hercules, at the Straits, its priests and ceremonies, bore some resemblance with the tabernacle and usages prescribed by Moses. It was probably erected by the Phenicians. C. — “The wood seemed to be incorruptible. Women and swine are kept at a distance. White linen covers the priests at the altar; that which adorns their head is most beautiful, and brought from Pelusium. Et Pelusiaco præfulget stamine vertex. They offer incense in long ungirded robes, but the vestment in which they sacrifice, is distinguished with a Latus clavus, or with broad studs of purple, (like the Roman senators.) They go barefoot, their heads shaved, and they observe continence, castumque cubile. They keep a perpetual fire burning on the altars. But no images or statues of the gods have filled the place with majesty and sacred fear.”

Sed nulla effigies, simulacraque nota Deorum,

Majestate locum & sacro implevere timore. Sil. Italic. iii.

Ver. 21. Aaron. Here God declares that the sons of Aaron are chosen by him to perform this office. They were not anointed priests till C. xxix. H. — Light. Thus God admonishes us to let our good works always shine before men. Bede Taber. iii. 1.