Do not build the altar with stones hewn by metal

The Literal Commandment

If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it. (Exodus 20:25)

 

Profane literally means "marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred".1 If the Israelites make an altar of cut stones (i.e. using metal) then they will make the stones (and thus the altar) a common thing. Common things are not treated with the reverence that G-d demands in our activities involving Him.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

This commandment teaches us that we should consider every aspect of our service to G-d to be sacred. We should not treat any part of our service to Him in a casual manner. Messiah surrendered every minute of His life to yield to G-d and obey His commandments.

Messiah surrendered every minute of His life to yield to G-d and obey His commandments.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah fulfilled this commandment by not builting an altar with stones hewn by metal.

 

Traditional Observance

For the past 2000 years this commandment has been observed not only by not building an altar with stones hewn by metal but by not building an altar at all.

 

Other Notes

Although He was not sacrificed on a literal altar, Messiah was laid in a tomb that was hewn out of stone. (Mark 27:59-60)

This commandment is dependent upon a Temple/Tabernacle being in place. We are unable to literally fulfill this commandment today.

 

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Footnotes

1. Excerpted from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation; further reproduction and distribution in accordance with the Copyright Law of the United States. All rights reserved. [back]


Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 302
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 8
  • Mishneh Torah Book Service
  • Mishneh Torah Category 39- The Chosen House
  • Reference Exodus 20:25
  • Scripture Book Exodus
  • Chapter 20
  • Verse 25
  • English If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.
  • Hebrew כא וְאִם-מִזְבַּח אֲבָנִים תַּעֲשֶׂה-לִּי, לֹא-תִבְנֶה אֶתְהֶן גָּזִית: כִּי חַרְבְּךָ הֵנַפְתָּ עָלֶיהָ, וַתְּחַלְלֶהָ.
  • Greek 25 ἐὰν δὲ θυσιαστήριον ἐκ λίθων ποιῇς μοι, οὐκ οἰκοδομήσεις αὐτοὺς τμητούς· τὸ γὰρ ἐγχειρίδιόν σου ἐπιβέβληκας ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς, καὶ μεμίανται.
  • Parashah 17- Yitro
  • Positive/Negative Negative
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 40
  • Sef. Hach. Command Not to build an altar of hewn stones
  • Category Temple and Sacred Objects
  • We can fullfill today Yes

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