- This altar is the altar of burnt offerings. (Exodus 38:1-7)
- There were horns at each of the four corners. Their function is not elaborated upon, but both Adonijah and Joab laid hold of these horns when attempting to seek refuge from Solomon. (I Kings 1:50; 2:28) I will go into more detail when we get to those passages, but Adonijah had made moves to secure the throne for himself when David was old. Specifically, he had "exalted himself" (I Kings 1:5) by inviting the king's sons and all the royal officials of Judah to what basically amounted to a party to declare his own right to the throne. He neglected to invite officials from Israel or anyone else who had been loyal to David, like David's mighty men or the prophet Nathan or Zadok the priest...or his brother Solomon. When Bathsheba (Solomon's mother) and Nathan warned David of these things, David called for Solomon to be immediately declared king in his place, as he had promised. When Adonijah's guests realized that Solomon had been declared king by David, and that they had become unwitting partakers in Adonijah's rebellion, they fled the scene and Adonijah had taken hold of these horns on the altar.
- The ESV Study Bible notes that it was a common ancient Near Eastern custom to take asylum at shrines. (Exodus 21:12-14) However, even in that passage in Exodus, it allows for the possibility of being taken away for punishment even from the Tabernacle altar's horns, for the asylum was intended for when someone had accidentally killed another, not murdered him. Of course Adonijah had not murdered anyone yet, but if he had been declared king I am sure that Bathsheba and Solomon and others loyal to David would have been removed.]
- By the way, when Solomon found out that Adonijah was clinging to the horns of the altar for refuge, he promised that if Adonijah acted worthily, he would be spared, but if Adonijah continued in rebellion, he would die. Unfortunately, Adonijah later made another not-so-subtle attempt to usurp the throne when he requested one of David's former wives as a wife for himself. Being the oldest of David's living sons and having one of David's former wives would have lent Adonijah a certain credibility in the eyes of the people and strengthened his claim upon the throne. King Solomon recognized this attempt by his older brother to rebel against his own rule and gain the throne for himself, and had him killed. Joab, who fled to the horns of the altar, was also killed, for his support in this plan and also as punishment for his part in the previous murders of Abner and Amasa. (I Kings 2:13-36) Again, the idea of refuge at the altar did not include using it as an escape from willful murder.
- Verse 8 of this passage notes that Moses had been shown how the Tabernacle furnishings should look -- when he was on the mountain with God.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Exodus 27:1-8 The Altar of Burnt Offering
"Build an altar of acacia wood,
three cubits high;
it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide.
Make a horn at each of the four corners,
so that the horns and the altar are of one piece,
and overlay the altar with bronze.
Make all its utensils of bronze --
its pots to remove the ashes,
and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans.
Make a grating for it, a bronze network,
and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network.
Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar.
Make poles of acacia wood for the altar
and overlay them with bronze.
The poles are to be inserted into the rings
so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried.
Make the altar hollow, out of boards.
It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain."
Exodus 27:1-8 (NIV)