“The Tabernacle its construction and furnishings”, Part 10
“Build an altar of acacia (shittim) wood three cubits high (about 4 ½ ft.); it is to be square, five
cubits long and five cubits wide (7 ½ ft. X 7 ½ ft.). Make horns at each of the four corners, so
that the horns and the altar are of one piece and overlay the altar with copper (in Hebrew
nechosheth, mistranslated as bronze or brass)… make a grating for it, a copper network, and make a
copper 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.” (Exodus 27:1-5)
Note: the rings used for carrying the altar are not shown in this particular picture as we will be
addressing that particular issue shortly.
The various items used in the construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings were chosen by the
LORD specifically to represents certain facets of his plan (in some cases the purity or corruptibility of the
thing implied is intended in other instances its nature i.e. human, spiritual and or etc. might be
indicated) thus it is only natural that “wood” would typically represent the human nature likewise its
being a corruptible element well represents the corruptible nature of man, however when it is covered in
one of the various metals used in the tabernacle (copper, silver or gold) its meaning changes from one
of impurity to purity, completeness and or perfection whether that be actual or merely reckoned as so.
Thus it is that the “Brazen Altar” overlaid in copper represents the actual human perfection of the
Man Christ Jesus, his fleshly nature during his first advent.
“Copper, as Brother Russell suggested, represents human nature in its perfection (T18), which
neither angels nor any other creature (save man) have ever possessed, however mortality, the state or
condition in which death is possible, is common to other creatures besides man.
As if to show that he who would give himself a ransom for Adam and his race would be a man (i.e., not an
angel, nor any other being or creature and therefore mortal, God seems to have specified that the
altar of burnt offering should be made of shittim wood overlaid with copper. Here we have mute
testimony which says that the perfect humanity (copper) of Christ Jesus was identified with mortality
(shittim wood)—a corroboration of that New Testament doctrine which teaches that it was the man
Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all. (1 Tim 2:5, 6) "Notes on the Tabernacle"
“Copper as you know can endure a high degree of heat. Its melting point is about 1982 degrees…
Brass was not known and therefore not used at the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Brass is a
mixture of metals, but God did not allow such mixture. (See Deut 22:9–11) Then too, brass has a
comparatively low melting point and would not be practical for the Altar of Burnt-Offering, where the fire
was kept burning continually. (See Lev 6:12, 13)” (Chambers, Tabernacle Studies Illustrated, p. 92)
“Brass occurs in the Authorize Version of the O.T. as the rendering of nechosheth (i.e. the shining), and
other kindred forms, but doubtless inaccurately, as brass is a factitious metal and the Hebrews were not
acquainted with the compound of copper and zinc known by that name. In most places of the O.T. the
correct translation would be copper.” (McClintock & Strong, Cyclopedia, v. 1, “Brass”)
“In most places of the O.T. the correct translation would be copper, although it may sometimes mean
`bronze’ a compound of copper and tin. Indeed a simple metal was obviously intended, as we see
from Deut 8:9, 33:25, and Job 28:2. Copper was known at a very early period and the invention of
working it is attributed to Tubalcain. (Gen 4:22)” (Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, “Brass”)
It is interesting to note that geometrically a square represents that which is perfect and in regards to
the tabernacle there are only three perfectly squared items given in the layout of the tabernacle, the
“Brazen Altar”, the “Golden Incense Altar”, and the “Most Holy” itself. (It should be noted that the
square design of the pillar sockets are only given as a suggestion not necessarily as a fact).
The “Brazen Altar” representing the human perfection and sacrifice of the Man Christ Jesus, the
“Golden Incense Altar” representing the perfection of his obedience in sacrifice as accepted by the
Father, and the “Most Holy” representing the condition of his victory, divine perfection.
Now when it comes to the design and construction of the “Brazen Altar” itself there seems to be any
number of various interpretations as to its construction (as is readily seen by a quick serf on the web)
the two most troublesome areas however seem to be centered around the design and placement of
the grating its rings and etc., and as to whether or not the Altar had a “ramp” connected with it or
not. We will attempt to address both these shortly.
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