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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
From the time of Noah there are biblical records of people who erected altars, usually to commemorate special religious experiences that people had with God. Some stories record the offering of sacrifices on these altars (Genesis 8:20; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 22:9; Genesis 26:25; Genesis 33:20; Genesis 35:3; Exodus 17:15).
Even after the establishment of the tabernacle with its specially appointed bronze altar of sacrifice, Israelites at times erected altars to commemorate important events (Deuteronomy 27:5; Joshua 8:30-31; Joshua 22:10; Judges 6:24-26; 2 Samuel 24:18-25; 1 Kings 18:30). But these altars were not to be permanent or lavish. They were to consist simply of a mound of earth or a heap of loose stones, depending upon which material was available in the region. The altars were not to be so high that they required steps, in order to avoid any immodesty which might occur if a priest lifted up his robes while climbing the steps (Exodus 20:24-26).
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Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Altar'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/a/altar.html. 2004.