An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. Ex. 20:24
Repeatedly the Scriptures speak of an altar made of uncut stones. In fact the very next verse says just that.
And if you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones; for if you wield your tool upon it you profane it. Ex. 20:25
So what is this altar of earth?
Hebrew has several words used for earth or land, eritz, erg, ybshh and adamah.
Eritz, used of the whole globe or a nation’s territory, most often the land of Israel, but also for the land of other nations e.g.
The land of Shinar. [Gen 10:10]
The land of Canaan. [Gen 12:5]
The land of Egypt. [Ex. 6:13]
The land of Israel. [2Kings 5:2]
All the nations of Assyria. [2Kings 19:17]
Yybshh is used of dry land
God separated the water from the dry land.[Gen. 1:9]
The people of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry land.[Ex. 14:29]
The children of Israel whine that they are dry because they have nothing but manna.[Num. 11:6]
They passed over the Jordan on dry ground. [Josh. 4:22]
Adamah is the word used here for this altar of earth.
The first time we see this word is during creation when the creeping things are said to creep upon the adamah.[Gen. 1:25]
There was no man to till the adamah. [Gen. 2:5]
It is a mist that waters the face of the adamah.[Gen 2:6]
Man is formed from the adamah and then named Adam.[Gen. 2:7; 3:17]
It is the adamah that is cursed.[Gen. 3:19]
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Gen. 3:19
Agr is our last word
The dust from which we were made, is as a synonym adamah, and they are often paired together in verses.
Man was form from dust. [Gen 2:7]
. . . then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Gen. 2:7
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Gen. 3:19
The Serpent’s curse
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. Gen. 3:14
Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 1 Pet. 5:8
This adamah is always used in relation to mankind.
There are 144 uses of the word in the Old Testament. In almost all of them there is an intimation to mankind.
Able’s blood cries out from the adamah.[Gen 4:10]
Noah as a type of Messiah
. . . “and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground which the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands.” Gen. 5:29
Men begin to populate the adamah. [Gen 6:7]
God will blot out man from the adamah.[Gen 7:4]
The house of Jeroboam is to be cut off from the face of the adamah.[1Kings 13:34]
The Lord will utterly destroy the house of Jacob from the face of the adamah. [Amos 9:8]
The Earthen Altar
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14
The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. Luke 11:31
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; Luke 12:51
I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8
. . . and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” John 12:32
There is only one altar that was made of this earth.
We laid it in a tomb outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
He is not here; for he has risen, Matt. 28:6a