ALTAR (al'tCr), (Heb. miz-bay'akh, place of sacrifice, but used also for the altar of incense).
(1) Noah's Altar. The first altar we read of in the Bible was that erected by Noah on leaving the ark. According to a Rabbinical legend, it was partly formed from the remains of one built by Adam on his expulsion from Paradise, and ticular instances, such as those of Gideon (Jude. vi :20) and David (2 Sam. xxiv :t8). It is said of Solomon that 'he loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places' (1 Kings iii :3). Altars were sometimes built on the roofs of houses; in 2 Kings xxiii :12 we read of the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz. In the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, two altars were erected, one for sacrifices, the other for incense; the table for the shew bread is also sometimes called an altar.
(4) The Altar of Burnt Offering (Hcb. miz-bakh' haw-o-law', Exod. xxx:28; brazen altar, miz-bakh' han-nekh-s Exod. xxxix:30; table of the Lord, Mal. 12).
(a) Altar of Burnt Offering, belonging to the tabernacle, was a hollow square, five cubits in length and breadth, and three cubits in height. It was made of Shittim-wood (see SturrItit), and afterwards used by Cain and :1 bet on the iden tical spot where Abraham prepared to offer up Isaac In Gen. fol. 5t. 3. ; Targum, Jona than, Gen. viii :2o).
(2) Patriarchal. Mention is made of altars erected by Abraham ((,en. xii :7; xiii :.; xxii :9) ; by Isaac (xxvi :25) ; by Jacob (xxxiii :2o; xxxv: 1, 3) ; by Moses ( Exod. xvii :15).
(3) Hebrew. the giving of the law, the Israelites were commanded to make an altar of earth. They were also permitted to employ stones, but no iron tool was to he applied to them. This has been generally understood as an interdiction of sculpture, in order to guard against a viola lion of the second commandment. Altars were frequently built on high places, the word being used not only for the elevated spots. but for the sacrificial structures upon them. Thus Solomon built an high Place for Chumosh ( i Kings xi •;'). and Josiah brake down and burnt the high place.
"and stamped it small to powder" ( 2 Kings xxiii: 15).
This practice, however, was frirbidd, n by the Mosaic law (Dent. xvi :5), except in par overlaid with plates of brass. In the middle there was a ledge or projection, on which the priest stood while officiating: immediately below this, a brass grating was let down into the altar to sup port the Ore, with four rings attached, through which poles were passed, when the altar was re moved.
In Exod. xxvii :3. the following utensils are mentioned as belonging to the altar, all of which were to be made of brass: ( t ) siroth, pans or dishes to receive the ashes that fell through the grating ; (2) shovels forcipes, Vulg 1 for cleaning the altar ; (3) (nizrakalh (bosons. Audi. Vers.; OciXat, Sept.; patera .ca, lin, a, t;eseniusl, vessels for receiving the blood and sprinkling it on the altar; (.1) mic/agoth rileshshooks,' Audi. Vers.; Kpfdwat, fitc, inu r. Vulg.i, large forks to turn the pieces of flesh nr to take them off the tire (see I Sam • LI : (5) tuitchthoth (' fire pans,' \ uth V ers.: rd w up.Tov, Sept.) ; the same word is elsewhere translated censers (Num. .0 17 I : hot in EVA, xv :38. 'snuff dishes' (10 Solomon's Temple The altar of offering in Solomon's temple was of much larger dimensions, 'twenty cubits in length and breadth, and ten in height' (2 Chron. iv:1), and was made entirely of brass. It is said of Asa that he re newed—that is, either repaired (in which sense the word is evidently used in 2 Chron. xxiv :4) or reconsecrated the altar of the Lord that was be fore the porch of the Lord (2 Chron. xv :8). This altar was removed by king Ahaz (2 Kings xvi : 14) ; it was 'cleansed' by Hezekiah, and in the latter part of Manasseh's reign was rebuilt.
(c) In the Second Temple. Of the altar of burnt offering in the second temple the canonical scriptures give us no information excepting that it was erected before the foundations of the tern ple were laid (Ezra iii :3. 6) on the same place where it had formerly been built. From the Apocrypha, however, we may infer that it was made, not of brass, but of unhewn stone.