The Courtyard and its Altar

Feb 15, 2015

וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּחַ עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת אֹרֶךְ וְחָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת רֹחַב רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְשָׁלֹשׁ אַמּוֹת קֹמָתוֹ׃

You shall make the mizbayach of acacia wood, five amot long and five amot wide—the mizbayach is to be square—and three amot high.

Exodus 27:1

לְכֹל כְּלֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן בְּכֹל עֲבֹדָתוֹ וְכָל־יְתֵדֹתָיו וְכָל־יִתְדֹת הֶחָצֵר נְחֹשֶׁת׃

all the utensils of the Mishkan, for all its service, as well as all its pegs and all the pegs of the court, shall be of copper.

Exodus 27:19

Moses is next instructed in building the Altar which is to sit in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. The Altar is to be a hollow box built of wood and covered in copper. Its utensils, too, should be copper. It is to have four raised corners, or horns, a base and a meshwork trim around its middle. Like the Table and Ark, it is to have wooden poles for carrying the Altar, this time covered in copper.


The courtyard itself is to be demarcated by an open-air enclosure made from linen curtains suspended between pillars. The pillars are to have copper sockets, and hooks and bands of silver. At the entrance to the courtyard, an ornate screen of the same woven fabric described in the Tabernacle covers will sit, allowing visitors to enter from either side.


The Israel Bible points out that the hollow Altar, which is to be filled with earth at every stop, symbolizes the temporary nature of the Israelites’ life in the desert. When they arrive in Israel, they are to build an Altar of stone, which represents their permanent home in the Promised Land.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

What do you think is the significance of plating the Altar in copper, when the other vessels in our portion are plated in gold?

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