Exodus 20:25

Hebrew Bible

23 You must not make gods of silver alongside me, nor make gods of gold for yourselves. 24 “‘You must make for me an altar made of earth, and you will sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I cause my name to be honored I will come to you and I will bless you. 25 If you make me an altar of stone, you must not build it of stones shaped with tools, for if you use your tool on it you have defiled it. 26 And you must not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness is not exposed.’

1 Kings 6:7

Hebrew Bible

5 He built an extension all around the walls of the temple’s main hall and Holy Place and constructed side rooms in it. 6 The bottom floor of the extension was 7½ feet wide, the middle floor 9 feet wide, and the third floor 10½ feet wide. He made ledges on the temple’s outer walls so the beams would not have to be inserted into the walls. 7 As the temple was being built, only stones shaped at the quarry were used; the sound of hammers, pickaxes, or any other iron tool was not heard at the temple while it was being built. 8 The entrance to the bottom level of side rooms was on the south side of the temple; stairs went up to the middle floor and then on up to the third floor. 9 He finished building the temple and covered it with rafters and boards made of cedar.

 Notes and References

"... The closest similarity to Exodus 20:24–26 lies in the instructions regarding the use of unhewn, or whole, stones (the opposite of the hewn stones of Exodus 20:25) and the prohibition against using a metal tool on the altar. Deuteronomy and Joshua also speak of offering whole burnt offerings and peace offerings, as in the Covenant Code ... This is carried out in Joshua 8:30–35, in which the altar is built, the ceremony is performed, the laws of Moses are read out loud from a book of the Law, and a copy is inscribed on the plastered stones. Deuteronomy 27, in its final form, and Joshua 8:30–35, which is directly dependent upon this final form, are post-Deuteronomistic additions ... It is within this larger comparative context that one must consider the specific detail about making the altar of unhewn stones. In a recent study, S. M. Olyan proposes that the concern for building an altar of whole, or unhewn, stones so that the sacred place would not be defiled is an “extension” of the notion that sacrificial animals are to be without mark or blemish when offered to the deity. He admits that the earliest evidence of this is Deuteronomy but suggests that the belief is earlier. Olyan fails to make clear the relationship of Deuteronomy 27:5–7 and Joshua 8:30–35 to their larger Deuteronomistic context, but Anbar, in an earlier study cited by Olyan, has argued that both texts are later additions to Deuteronomy. Olyan also connects the concern for whole stones in altar building with the remark in 1 Kings 6:7 that the Temple was also built of “whole quarry stone” so that no tool was heard in the Temple while it was being built. This is also viewed as an “extension” of the altar requirements to the whole Temple. There are, however, two major problems with the text of 1 Kings 6:7. The first is that it clearly contradicts the statements about the use of hewn stone in the Temple’s construction (1 Kings 5:31; 6:36; 7:9–12), and it is difficult to imagine how it could have been otherwise. The second problem is that 1 Kings 6:7 looks like a late addition, so that the extension of the prohibition against using building stone that has been shaped by a tool to the Temple can merely limit this activity to the quarry and ban it only from the sacred site itself ..."

Van Seters, John A Law Book for the Diaspora: Revision in the Study of the Covenant Code (pp. 64-65) Oxford University Press, 2003

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