This was the place of sacrifice for the tabernacle. It was an acacia wood structure overlaid with bronze (cf. Exod. 27:1-2). It was a square, 5 cubits (about 18" x 5"; see Special Topic: Cubit) by 3 cubits tall. It had its own utensils (cf. Exod. 27:3) and was portable (cf. Exod. 27:6-7).

The special feature of this altar was its four horns, probably mimicking animal horns, which were a symbol of power for the Israelites. The blood of the animal was drawn out and part of it smeared on these horns, possibly a symbol of lifting the sacrifice to God.

Like all of the tabernacle furniture, this altar was expanded in Solomon's temple (cf. 1 Kings 6).
For specific procedures see Special Topic: Sacrificial Systems of the ANE.


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