Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. And thou shalt make an altar ofshittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.
1. Facies etiam altare e lignis sittim: quinque cubitorum exit longitudo: et quinque cubitorum latitudo: quadrature erit altare: et trium cubitorum altitudo ejus.
2. And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.
2. Huic facies cornua in quatuor angulis ejus: ex ipso erunt cornua ejus, tegesque illud aere.
3. And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.
3. Facies deinde lebetes ejus: ad repurgandum cinerem ejus, et scopas (vel, forcipes) ejus, et crateras ejus, et fuscinulas ejus, et receptacula ejus: omnia vasa ejus facies ex aere.
4. And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof.
4. Facies etiam illi craticulam opere craticulato aeream, et ad rete quatuor annulos, in quatuor extremitatibus ejus.
5. And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.
5. Ponesque illud sub ambitu altaris inferne, et erit rete illud usque ad medium altaris.
6. And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass.
6. Facies praeterea vectes alta vectes e lignis sittim, et cooperies eos aere.
7. And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it.
7. Et inserentur vectes ejus in illos annulos: et erunt vectes in utroque latere altaris, dum portabitur illud.
8. Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.
8. Cavum tabulis facies illud: quemadmodum ostendi tibi in monte, sic facient.
1. And thou shalt make an altar. The altar of whole burnt-offerings (holocaustorum) is here described, which, however, it was called by synecdoche, for not only entire victims were burnt there, but also parts of them only, as we shall see in Leviticus. The burnt-offerings received their name from their ascending, 147 whereby the Israelites were reminded that they had need to be purified, that they might ascend to God; and at the same time were instructed that whatever corruption there might be in the flesh did not prevent the sacrifices from being acceptable and of a sweet savor to God. It is clear that from the first beginning of the human race there were burnt-sacrifices, suggested by the secret inspiration of God’s Spirit, since there was no written Law; nor can we doubt but that by this symbol they were taught that the flesh must be burnt by the Spirit, in order that men may duly offer themselves to God; and thus they acknowledged, under this type, that the flesh of Christ must receive this from the divine power, so as to become a perfect victim for the propitiation of God; thus, as the Apostle testifies, he offered himself through the Spirit. (Heb 9:14.) But fuller mention of this subject will be made elsewhere. The altar was so constructed that the sacrifices might be cast upon a grate placed within it, and thus they were covered by its external surface. The ashes were received into a pan, so that they should not fall about upon the ground and be trodden under foot, but that reverence might be inculcated even towards the very remnants of their holy things. 148 That the victims were bound to the four horns, which stood out from the four corners, is plain from the words of Ps 118:27, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” And this also is the beginning of a proper offering of spiritual sacrifices, that all the lusts of the flesh should be subdued, and held captive as it were unto the obedience of God. Wherefore even Christ, although in Him there was nothing which was not duly regulated, was nevertheless bound, in order to prove His obedience; as He had said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Mt 26:39.) The altar was carried on staves, to obviate the necessity of having more than one; else there would have been danger of their being compelled, by the very difficulty of carrying it, to leave it behind after it was made, if they were setting about a long journey; and this would have been the seed or ground of superstition, whilst no other could be built which was not spurious.
C. alludes to their Hebrew name, עלה, the primary signification of which is mounting upwards. — W
“Mais que la sainctete des sacremens,” etc. — Fr. be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.