Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Exodus 27

Verses 1-8

(Compare Exodus 38:1-7.) The great altar which stood in the court immediately in front of the tabernacle was commonly called the altar of burnt-offering, because on it were burnt the whole burnt-offerings, and all those parts of the other animal sacrifices which were offered to the Lord. It was also called the brazen altar, because it was covered with bronze, in distinction from the golden altar or altar of incense Exodus 39:38-39; Exodus 40:5-6.

Exodus 27:2

His horns shall be of the same - These horns were projections pointing upward in the form either of a small obelisk, or of the horn of an ox. They were to be actually parts of the altar, not merely superadded to it. On them the blood of the sin-offering was smeared Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 8:15; Leviticus 9:9; Leviticus 16:18. To take hold of them appears to have been regarded as an emphatic mode of laying claim to the supposed right of sanctuary (Exodus 21:14 note; 1 Kings 1:50).

Exodus 27:3

Pans - Rather pots as in Exodus 38:3; 1 Kings 7:45. On the use to which these pots were put in disposing of the ashes of the altar, see Leviticus 1:16.

Basons - Vessels used for receiving the blood of the victims and casting it upon the altar (see Exodus 24:6; Leviticus 1:5; etc.).

Fleshhooks - These were for adjusting the pieces of the victims upon the altar (compare 1 Samuel 2:13).

Firepans - The same word is rendered snuffdishes, Exodus 25:38; Exodus 37:23: censers, Leviticus 10:1; Leviticus 16:12; Numbers 4:14; Numbers 16:6, etc. These utensils appear to have been shallow metal vessels which were employed merely to carry burning embers from the brazen altar to the altar of incense.

Exodus 27:5

The compass of the altar - A shelf or projecting ledge, of convenient width, carried round the altar half way between the top and the base. It was supported all round its outer edge by a vertical net-like grating of bronze that rested on the ground.

Exodus 27:8

Hollow with boards - Slabs, or planks, rather than boards. The word is that which is used for the stone tables of the law Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18, not that applied to the boards of the tabernacle Exodus 26:15.

The brazen altar was a hollow casing, formed of stout acacia planks covered with plates of bronze, seven feet six in length and width and four feet six in height. Jewish as well as Christian authorities have supposed that, when it was fixed for use, it was filled up with earth or rough stones. If we connect this suggestion with the old rule regarding the altar of earth and the altar of stone given in Exodus 20:24-25, the woodwork might in fact be regarded merely as the case of the altar on which the victims were actually burned. The shelf round the sides Exodus 27:5 was required as a stage for the priests to enable them to carry on their work conveniently on the top of the altar. Hence, it is said of Aaron that he came down from the altar Leviticus 9:22. According to rabbinical tradition, there was a slope of earth at the south side banked up for the priest to ascend to the stage (compare Exodus 20:26).

Verses 9-19

The court of the tabernacle - (Compare Exodus 38:9-20)

Exodus 27:9

The south side southward - The south side on the right. See Exodus 26:18.

Exodus 27:10

Sockets - Bases. See Exodus 26:19.

Fillets - Rather, Connecting rods; curtain-rods of silver connecting the heads of the pillars. The hangings were attached to the pillars by the silver hooks; but the length of the space between the pillars would render it most probable that they were also in some way fastened to these rods.

Exodus 27:13

The east side eastward - On the front side eastward.

Exodus 27:16

An hanging - An entrance curtain, which, unlike the hangings at the sides and back of the court, could be drawn up, or aside, at pleasure. The words are rightly distinguished in our Bible in Numbers 3:26.

Wrought with nedlework - The work of the embroiderer. See Exodus 26:36; Exodus 35:35. On the materials, see Exodus 25:4.

Exodus 27:17

Filleted with silver - Connected with silver rods. See Exodus 27:10,

Exodus 27:19

All the vessels … - All the tools of the tabernacle used in all its workmanship, and all its tent-pins, and all the tent-pins of the court, shall be of bronze. The working tools of the sanctuary were most probably such things as axes, knives, hammers, etc. that were employed in making, repairing, setting up and taking down the structure. Compare Numbers 3:36.

The tabernacle - The word is here to be taken as including both the משׁכן mı̂shkân and the tent, as in Numbers 1:51, Numbers 1:53, etc. (see Exodus 26:1 note).

The pins - tent-pins.

Verse 20

Pure oil olive beaten - The oil was to be of the best kind. It is called beaten, because it was obtained by merely bruising the olives in a mortar or mill, without the application of heat. The finest oil is now thus obtained from young fruit freshly gathered. The inferior kind is pressed from unselected fruit under stronger pressure, and with the application of heat.

The lamp - i. e. the lamps of the golden candlestick. (See Exodus 25:37.)

To burn - See the margin “to ascend up.” It should be observed that the word does not properly mean to burn in the sense of to consume, but is the word regularly used to express the action of fire upon what was offered to Yahweh (see Leviticus 1:9).

Always - i. e. every night “from evening until morning.” Compare Exodus 30:8.

Verse 21

The tabernacle of the congregation - More literally, the tent of meeting. This is the first occurrence of this designation of the tabernacle, and the idea connected with it is that of Yahweh meeting with either Moses, or the priests, or (in a few cases) with the people gathered into a congregation at the entrance of the tent.

Without the rail, which is before the testimony - i. e. the holy place (see Exodus 25:16).

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 27". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-27.html. 1870.