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Exodus 20:26

26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.’

Exodus 20:26 in Other Translations

26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
26 And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.'
26 And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.
26 Don't use steps to climb to my Altar because that will expose your nakedness.'
26 You must not go up to My altar on steps, so that your nakedness is not exposed on it.

Exodus 20:26 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 20:26

Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar
That is, you priests, the sons of Aaron, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase the words; the altar of burnt offering built when the tabernacle was seemed not to require any, being but three cubits high, ( Exodus 27:1 ) but that in Solomon's temple did, being ten cubits high, ( 2 Chronicles 4:1 ) and therefore some method must be used to ascend it, and do the business that was to be done on it: now the Jews say F2, there was what they call "Kibbesh", a sort of a causeway made of earth thrown up, which rose gradually and led to the top of the altar, and was about thirty two cubits long and sixteen broad: and so the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases the words,

``thou shalt not go up by steps to mine altar, but by bridges;''

express mention is made of stairs to the altar in Ezekiel's vision, ( Ezekiel 43:17 )

that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon;
that part of the body which is not to be named, and ought not to be seen, and which would be exposed if there were many steps, and these at a distance from each other; which would oblige them to take large strides, and so be in danger of discovering those parts which would make them the object of contempt and ridicule with the people; since as yet breeches were not used, and the garments were long loose ones, which were easily turned aside, or the parts under them seen by those below; to prevent which, afterwards linen breeches were ordered to be made for the priests, and to be used by them in their service: Maimonides F3 thinks the reason of this was, because formerly the idolatrous worship of Peor was performed by uncovering of their nakedness before it; and so by this is expressed God's detestation of such an impure and abominable practice; but this is uncertain; however, this we may be sure of, that this is the will of God, that all immodesty and indecency, and whatever tends to create impure thoughts and stir up unclean lusts, should be carefully avoided in his worship.


F2 Middot, c. 3. sect. 3.
F3 Ut supra. (Apud L'Empereur in Middot, ib.)

Exodus 20:26 In-Context

24 “ ‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.
25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.
26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.’

Cross References 1

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